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Monday, December 17, 2007
Photo by Doris High
This weekend we had an ice storm, which can wreak havoc on travel and vegetation. However it can also be very beautiful.
(Photo by Doris High)

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"The Wonders Of His Love"
"I call on you, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes" (Psalm 17:6-7).
Addison along with Bob and LuanneOur pastor is a grandpa and yesterday he shared an illustration concerning his year old grand-daughter, Addison, who spent the weekend with him and his wife, Luanne. Pastor Bob shared of their deep love for Addison, their first grandchild, and spoke of her parents who are very loving toward her. Addison's mother sacrificed her own health needs so that she could give birth.  As a grandfather Bob enjoys watching from a distance as Addison's parents warmly interact with their baby girl.  With two sets of loving grandparents and extended family, Addison is continually lavished with loving affection and given loads of attention. Up to this point in her life all she has known is love.

However as much as her parents and others who love her would like to shield her, she will inevitably experience the hatred, meanness, and rejection that comes from growing up in a sin-filled world. Pastor shared various ways she might experience hurt and the possible responses she might have such as bitterness, dependency or complacency. He concluded with the best option available; receiving and embracing God's enduring love.
The daily text expresses the confidence that David had in God and the certainty of His faithfulness in answering prayer: "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer."
The very heart of David's prayer request was, "Show the wonder of your great love."  Now surely David knew of God's great love when he wrote this, yet he cried out to God for a greater revelation or perhaps he was really asking God to bring back that fresh "awe" that comes when the great love of God is first revealed to us.  All throughout the Scriptures we have an abundance of truth that discloses the love of God to us, yet we may want to make this our request as well.
The apostle John wrote a great deal concerning this love: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1.)  The Amplified Version expresses this verse: "See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God!  And so we are!"
Whatever we are dealing with, however we may have been hurt or experienced the meanness of this world we do well to focus on and rejoice in God's unsurpassed, eternal love. 

Nearly 300 years ago (in 1719) Isaac Watts wrote the classic Christmas hymn "Joy to the World." I would imagine there are very few readers who will not sing this at some point this Christmas season. Take note of that glorious phrase in the refrain magnificently expressing "And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders and wonders of His love."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, thank You that You loved us so much that, though we were born into sin, You died for us so that we might be lifted from our sin and reconciled to the Father.  In addition to receiving forgiveness and reconciliation we also become joint heirs taking on our new identity as "children of God."  What an incredible honor and selfless act of love that You would place us in the family of believers with the King of kings and Lord of lords as our Father.  This is the wonder of Your great love, indeed!  Amen.

Stephen's note: As my Pastor shared the opening illustration I consider my loving mom and dad and extended family and the blessing of being raised in a home full of love.  So many of you have that blessing, and perhaps often take it for granted. If your parents are living you really should express
your gratitude to them.  I sure wish I could again today but both my parents have gone on.

In our years of ministry we have seen the other side as well. I am afraid we have all heard those stories of an infant rushed to the hospital after unimaginable abuse by a parent entrusted with their care.  On our local news just yesterday we heard of a baby beaten by his father who has suffered permanent brain damage and may even lose his life.  What a tragic contrast to our opening illustration.

Ester with FlorenceWe are pleased when Ester takes on the characteristics of her grandma in expressing compassion and personal interest in others (especially the seniors.) Yesterday before she had any idea I would be taking this picture I walked to the back of the church and saw her visiting with Florence Zimmerman while holding her hand. Florence is recovering from recent surgery and is a real overcomer, something she shares in common with Ester!

Saturday evening I attended a company Christmas banquet at one of the companies we serve as chaplains. (Brooksyne directed our Christmas musical and Ester participated in the choir and thus were unable to attend.) This company is quite "diverse" with employees from all over the world. We really enjoy visiting with them and although language can be a barrier we have learned that interest and a friendly smile go a long way in bridging the communication barrier.  Although many of them are limited in thier English skills it's interesting that with persistence we can communicate. This family has five daughters and almost filled a table.  The father clearly understood when I suggested if they had one more child his family would fill the table!

Family at Christmas banquet

"Light" in Christmas carols
In Friday's message I shared a short quiz concerning the theme of light in Christmas carols and asked readers to see if they could identify the carol by the phrase.
1)  Son of God, love's pure light  
2)  Yonder shines the infant light: 
3)  And to the earth it gave great light,
4)  Light and life to all He brings,
5)  But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
6)  The everlasting Light;
7)  Guide us to thy perfect light.
The answers are posted below along with another quiz.

Suggested Music

"The Love Of God"
 (Audio) This was the main theme and song in the Christmas musical Brooksyne directed this weekend. This is a great version by "4 Him" but I really believe our choir sounded even better!

"Joy To The World"  (Audio) Traditional

"Joy To The World"
 (Audio) Contemporized by "Third Day"

"Joy To The World"  (Audio) Acoustic instrumental

"How Deep The Father's Love" (Audio) Although this is not specifically a Christmas song it's interesting to listen in light of the season.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

Answers to Christmas Carol Quiz

1) Silent Night
2) Angels from the Realms of Glory
3) The First Noel
4) Hark the Herald
5) I wonder as I wander
6) O Little Town of Bethlehem
7) We Three Kings

The only 100% correct response came from a public school music teacher who informed us that in her small school district they still sang Christmas songs and thus she was familiar with each of these. I sure hope the ACLU doesn't find out!

Christmas Carol Quiz

This quiz askes that you identify the Christmas songs using the following clues.

1. Quadruped with Crimson Proboscis
2. Eight p.m. to Six a.m. without noise
3. Minuscule Hamlet in the Near East
4. Ancient Benevolent Despot
5. Exuberance Directed to the Planet
6. Listen, Aerial Spirits Announcing
7. Trio of Monarchs
8. Yonder in the Hay Rack
9. Cherubim Audited from Aloft
10. Assemble Everyone Who Believes
11. Hollowed Post Meridian
12. Fantasia of a Colorless December 25
13. A Dozen Twenty-Four Hour Yule Periods
14. Befell During the Transparent Bewitching Hour
15. Frigid Homo Sapien of Crystallized Vapor
16. Desire a Pair of Incisors on December 25
17. I Spied my Maternal Parent Osculating
18. Perambulating Through a December Solstice Fantasy
19. Adorn the Vestibule
20. Tin Tintinnabulums

The answers will be posted with Tuesday's Daily Encouragement message or if you feel you know the answers send us an email!

Christmas musical
I want to share one more photo of Brooksyne and our choir from our Christmas musical.
They really did a great job!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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