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Friday, December 12, 2008
Bethlehem Christmas Tree on street lamp
Each street lamp in Bethlehem, PA
is decorated with a real lighted Christmas tree!

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"And Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife" (Matthew 1:6).

Here we have the fourth detail presented in Matthew's genealogy regarding great grandmothers of the Messiah.  The first three references specifically mention the proper names (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth) but here we only have the identifying description, "Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife." 

Her name was Bathsheba and the story can be found in 2 Samuel 11 & 12. This woman, whom the record describes as "very beautiful" took a public bath in view of the wandering eyes of King David.  The rest is classic sin and the attempt to cover-up.  But David is confronted by the courageous prophet Nathan which resulted in his confession of sin and restoration.

Now prior to this David had shown much evidence of his spiritual walk and maturity in the Lord. While still a young boy he had by faith conquered Goliath and patiently waited until it was his time to ascend to the throne.  Under his leadership the kingdom was doing very well.  Many of the Psalms had been written by this time and he had been referred to as "a man after God's own heart."  Yet the Bible records David's fall into sin and Matthew reminds us that this is indeed part of the story.  Not only did he collapse morally but he also engaged in criminal behavior.

What lesson is there for us today?  There are many lessons regarding the nature of temptation and the progression of sin. We wrote about this in our series about David and Bathsheba last week.  But I want to highlight this one today: God is still in the forgiveness and restoration business.  David's sin was not excused, but he was forgiven. 

God's nature is to forgive.  Are you burdened down under a load of sin today?  Have you sinned even as a believer?  Of course you have. We all have.  Is your sin a "big one" like David's? I don't read any restrictions in God's offer to the earnestly repentant.  His Word is very unambiguous: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  Why don't you accept this gracious offer of forgiveness today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we praise You because there is no dreaded sin in our life that surpasses the all-sufficient grace You freely give to all who believe.  It is through no merit of our own for we are deserving of death and eternal punishment.  But through the tremendous sacrificial death of Your Son, Jesus, we are freed from all our guilty stains of sin. No greater love can we know this side of heaven.  In the precious name of Your Son, Jesus, we give You thanks.  Amen.

Old order Mennonite meeting house
Yesterday we shared this mystery photo. We had quite a few interesting responses as to what it was, but actually it's an old order Mennonite meeting house north of New Holland, PA.  The stalls are for the horses during services. (I don't suppose your church has a garage for the cars!) The old order Mennonites are similar to the Amish but there are distinctions. The Amish have gray buggies, Mennonites are black; the Amish use scooters, the Mennonites use bicycles; Amish have church every other Sunday in homes and barns, old order Mennonites meet in "meeting houses".  There are also distinctions in dress and other practices.  During our years here in PA we have befriended many of the old order Amish and Mennonites and representives from each of these groups are on our email list. (They are permitted to use computers and email as part of their work).  In fact the most correct answer regarding the photo came from a friend in a group similar to this who is a minister.

Sunday we will be visiting an Amish church service held in the home of our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth Lapp near Strasburg PA.  Brooksyne just talked to her on the phone and Anna Ruth said they have over 24 families who will be gathered in their home for church on Sunday.

Longwood Manor Christmas party
Last night we attended a Christmas dinner and party at Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center where we have a part-time role as chaplains. Here's Charles and Kitty (with their daughter) who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  They are sure a delightful couple to visit. He is a pilot and flew the P-51 in the second world war. One time I also flew in a P-51 so we had an interesting conversation.

Longwood Manor Christmas party
Here's our friend Carl Smith with his mother Thelma.  Carl is Ester's job trainer and we had him over for dinner several weeks ago. Some may recall the photo we posted at that time. There were over 300 at the party and the place was jam packed.

Longwood Manor Christmas party
Yesterday our friend Darryl Eyler stopped by for a surprise visit. Several years ago we worked with Darryl in a chaplain EAP agency. His wife passed away three years ago after a lengthy battle with cancer and he has since remarried.  He is faithfully serving the Lord and continues to work as a chaplain. Here's a photo with his two daughters I took at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Mighty To Save" 

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
Here's an idea!  The best gift you can ever give your parents

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here's an idea!

Resources for Christmas Celebrations

It is our desire to share resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. We will continue to post these resources through Christmas Day.

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.

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

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.

Christmas Knowledge Test

have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

re you Christmas shopping online?
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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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