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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowy path
We are usually the first to place footprints in the snow
on our favorite walking path!

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"Let Earth Receive Her King"

"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).

At seven years of age a thoughtful child wrote out an acrostic, spelling out the letters of his name and expressing his strong faith in God.

I –  I am a vile polluted lump of earth
S – So I've continued ever since my birth
A – Although Jehovah, grace doth daily give me
A – As sure this monster, Satan, will deceive me
C – Come therefore, Lord, from Satan's claws relieve me

W – Wash me in Thy blood, O Christ
A – And grace divine impart
T – Then search and try the corners of my heart
T – That I in all things may be fit to do
S – Service to Thee, and Thy praise too.

I wonder how many of you have ever formulated such an acrostic for your name?   I sure haven't!

This Christmas season many of us will sing carols with words so familiar that we may pay little attention to their rich meaning.  Let us consider just one line from a great Christmas carol that most of us know well and will likely sing sometime during the season.  It was written nearly 300 years ago by Isaac Watts and is still sung all over the world.  He wrote a number of other great hymns that we sing to this day, but this is probably his hymn that is most universally sung.

There is a single line in the hymn I want to focus on today:  "Let earth receive her King."  I consider the conflict all over the world, particularly in the land of Christ's birth.  Bethlehem is essentially closed up due to terrorism and violence. And there are so many places of strife from domestic to foreign.

The prayerful imploring of Isaac Watts is just as appropriate today as it was when he wrote it and when John wrote the words of the daily text: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." The children of God are those of any generation, of any nation, of any skin color, of any economic level, powerful or powerless, who have received the King, who have believed in His Name.  And all over the earth today many are receiving the King.  Have you received Him?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, there is nothing we can do in our own power or charm to receive Your favor, but we do receive Your forgiveness as we believe on Jesus and the wondrous work of His redemption through death on a cross.  Then we are no longer orphans but are adopted into the family of believers who call You Father.  And the amazing blessing is that You call us Your children.  We receive You as our Father, our Savior, and our blessed eternal King.

As we age and I suppose attain veteran status in Christian ministry a real blessing is seeing those who come behind us staying faithful and expressing their faith in the Lord.  I received this note the other day from a young man who grew up in a church we pastored about 20 years ago. He went on to college and has done very well professionally. He is one of so many whom we stay connected with through Daily Encouragement. But as he approaches midlife he is doing some solid soul-searching and perhaps you, as a reader, might relate to his thoughts below:

How timely, as I turn 36 today, I feel as though I am standing at crossroads professionally and spiritually. Professionally, you can imagine that this year has been challenging as the markets wreak havoc. I can’t help but feel personally responsible for my client’s money, yet understand that there is only so much I can do. Management continues to push for the same levels of production as previous years giving no quarter to the environment we live in. We have monthly meetings where eight of us meet to discuss our business, offer constructive criticism, and make suggestions. I’ve come to the realization that my goals are very different than most of the other participants.

Their goals are to make more money, work harder every year.

Mine are to be home more and develop my relationship with God, my wife, and the kids. Though I have benefitted professionally, I don’t know if I will continue with this group.

Spiritually, I need to develop a more personal relationship with God. I haven't "gone off the deep end" by any stretch, but I haven’t given Him the attention/credit He deserves. It’s so easy to focus on business and the kids. I find myself mentally punching the time clock when we arrive at church on Sunday, then punching out until next Sunday. I know better. I would ask that you pray for wisdom and guidance regarding my spiritual and professional struggles. Thank you.

On a more positive note, I am blessed with a loving, supportive wife and 3 awesome kids..

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.)

Most of you recognize the text referred to in our message is from the Christmas hymn, "Joy To The World"  Audio

Interestingly, "Joy the the World" is known as a Christmas carol but it doesn't focus on the birth of Christ.  Isaac Watts based this text on the last half of Psalm 98 which celebrtes the coming of the Lord to judge the world in righteousness.  The Psalmist calls on all creation to sing and shout for joy at the Lord's coming.  There is nothing in the Psalm or in Watt's paraphrase that specifically mentions the birth of Christ, just the Lord's return in judgment.   This song certainly should be sung each Christmas and otherwise since God calls on us to have bifocal vision:  we need to look back and praise God for the gift of Jesus.  But we also need to keep our focus looking forward to Christ's return when God will bring a righteous conclusion to all things.  Then we will fully enjoy the "wonders of His love" for all eternity.

(Adapted from "Complete Book of Hymns")

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.

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!

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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