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Monday, December 24, 2007
Christmas gifts 
Christmas gifts

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"The Lasting Gift"

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

One of the most common pleasantries that you hear a lot the week or so prior to Christmas is "Are you ready for Christmas?" In most cases this really means, "Have you finished your shopping?" I politely say "Sure", since I don't believe people really want to hear that I don't Christmas shop. That's been delegated to Brooksyne for about 31 years now.  What very little shopping I do is rather stressful since I'm always clueless as to what I should buy Brooksyne.

However there are those who take spiritual preparation for Christmas very seriously. For them the weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of serious devotion and solemn reflection. I really admire folks who keep this major focus.

Children everywhere look forward to Christmas with great anticipation.  The growing number of presents placed under the tree intensify their excitement each passing day.  When Ester was younger our custom was to sleep under the tree on Christmas eve along with our dog. Now that Ester is older we've taken to our comfortable beds (the fact is I'm the one that's really gotten older and a clay tile floor just isn't very appealing, even if we sleep next to the family Christmas tree.)

In our home, like many, we have a brief family devotional time prior to opening our gifts, reading the Christmas story and praying.  This is really hard for children though (and for those of us who are "kids at heart")!  Then it's time to find out what the hidden treasures are.  Ester is accustomed to the procedure and will scarcely examine one opened gift before she rips into another.  Then it happens.  All the gifts are opened.  We all know that feeling.  Our moments of Christmas indulgence are over.  Finis.

Isn't that a microcosm of the satisfaction the things of the world give?  Don't get me wrong.  Ester appreciates her gifts and will for many months.  And this is true with the gifts we all received.  It's just that material things don't bring lasting satisfaction.  A lot of people will shop after Christmas seeking to find satisfaction in what the Christmas gifts didn't bring. Augustine said of God, "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

Our daily verse is a great statement to memorize and hide deep within our hearts as a reminder of the greatest and lasting gift God has provided. 
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  He loved us and acted on that love by sending His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  May we rejoice in this truth every day and may it never get old! May we live with an attitude of praise to the Lord for His lasting gift!

I pray that we all will experience abiding joy in the lasting gift that God has provided!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I'm so glad that the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are gifts from Your hand given in abundance to Your children in every season of our life.  They satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts and shape our character traits into the nature of Christ.  They have everlasting value that does not diminish with time but only heightens as we stay firmly grounded in You.  During this Christmas season, we thank You for the tender moments that both giver and receiver experience when meaningful gifts are exchanged.  And we most especially thank You for the Gift of Your Son, Jesus, whose kingdom was not for just the generation in which He was born, for His kingdom is eternal. And His gift of salvation has everlasting value and abiding joy for all who seek Him.  Amen.

Eagle carving

Today just as were completing the
prep for the message and getting ready to podcast we looked out our window in front of the desk where we work and saw a huge soaring eagle high above the trees!  I got my camera and rushed out to take a photo but by the time I got outside it was too far away.  We have nesting eagles all along the Susquehanna River about five miles from our house. It is really a majestic sight.  Tom Jenkins, a friend of mine in Arizona, makes wood carvings and sent me a photo of this eagle he carved.

New "In Remembrance of Me"  Tonight we will be reading this at our Christmas Eve service so we thought we would make an edition to share with our Daily Encouragement readers!  (Audio)  Here's the text in a pdf

New 2007 Weber family Christmas newsletter - We welcome all of our daily encouragement readers to read our annual Christmas newsletter. This year's edition has more photos than usual.

Resources for Christmas celebrations

It is our desire to share resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

Christmas Memories  Here's a collection of Christmas memories sent in by daily encouragement readers several years ago, along with an opportunity to share your own story. 

"In Remembrance of Me" pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Stephen and I have used this reading with great receptivity during  Christmas Eve services.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with the tune and some churches have already exhausted the usual list of Christmas carols.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"  

My First Christmas in heaven A poem Brooksyne shared two years ago in memory of my Mom. This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.

Here's a test for those who like tests!  
Christmas knowledge test

have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes with these posts, here and here.

Suggested Music

"O Holy Night"  (Audio)

"Silent Night"  (Audio)

"Mary, Sweet Mary"  (Audio)

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

Christmas playYesterday we went to the church my older brother Pat pastors in Easton PA and enjoyed their Christmas musical. Here are two of the characters in costume. Tina, played the part of a contemplative Mary and had to memorize a lot of material. She has been the administrative assistant in the church for nearly 20 years and always answers the phone with gracious joy. It was nice to visit with her and her husband Larry yesterday and many of our friends in that church, as well as visit my brother and his wife and each of their three children in their homes before driving back to Lancaster County last night through the heavy rain.

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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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