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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amish buggy in rain
Doris High shares this photo on her blog from a trip this last Sunday.
It must have been raining hard.
Rain was getting in the back of the buggy so they opened an umbrella.
Try doing that in your car!

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"Light and Life To All He Brings"

"In Him was life" (John 1:4).

The last couple of days we've been sharing about our musical "Hope Has Hands" which our choir presented this last weekend. In my impartial and unprejudiced opinion they did an outstanding job.  Thanks to a couple of generous friends who recorded and edited each song, the musical is now available on YouTube. It's not a professional production since that would certainly break our modest church budget, but it is an example of people with sincere biblical faith who eagerly sing about the birth and redemption of our Lord Jesus.  Our little frame country church was as full as it's been since we began our pastoral assignment in January of this year.

One highlight for me was the congregational singing of the Christmas hymns. Prior to the musical Brooksyne led the congregation in singing two familiar carols. It sounded GREAT! With just the piano for instrumentation the congregation joined in melodic voice with the familiar refrains of "How Great Our Joy". When we sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" the voices blended in harmony and when the "Glo-o-o-r-ia" ran up and down the melodic scale I could almost hear the heavenly hosts join in singing with God's people.

Before dismissing we stood and sang, "O Come All Ye Faithful". We sang the last verse acapella and with the refrain, "O come let us adore Him" getting louder upon each repetition, it practically raised the roof!  There's no setting that compares with the gathering of God's people singing praise to Him at Christmastime and Easter – the most important dates on the Christian calendar! When the redeemed sing truths revealed in Scripture it's like a picture of heaven where praise is unending:

"Day and night they never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.' Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being'" (Revelation 4:8b-11).

During the Christmas season it seems we always attend a variety of functions at church and elsewhere that includes the singing of Christmas carols. Tonight in our midweek service Brooksyne will invite our congregation to gather around the piano and select their favorites so we can rejoice in the messages of these timeless carols.

I notice just how well-loved and familiar these Christmas hymns are even though they're generally sung during a very short season. A single line from one of these carols will illustrate, for many, how well you know these songs even though you likely didn't set out to memorize them. The stanza, "light and life to all He brings, ris'n with healing in His wings"…. many of you will identify this carol just from that single line. (The answer is at the bottom of this devotional below the footers.)

Indeed the glorious message of the Incarnation is His incomparable blessing of "light and life to all He brings." Today let's just ponder the aspect of "life." Consider that at the heart we really have only two great quests in life.

One is for eternal life and Jesus provides this. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

The other great quest is for abundant life (full and meaningful) and again Jesus has provided this. He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

Today this life is freely available to all of us in Jesus Christ. So many willfully reject Him; others shrug off this greatest of gifts and pay no attention, basing their focus instead upon the paltry substitutes the world offers. But the Bible declares: "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). Have you chosen to receive the greatest gift today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Jesus, because You came as light into the world we, the redeemed, are "children of the light." May we walk faithfully and earnestly in the light of Christ so that darkness dissipates wherever we go. May those still walking in darkness be drawn to Your light through the things we say, the songs we sing, the things we set before our eyes and the things we do as we represent You in the home, the workplace and wherever we go. In Your name we pray, Amen.

Tomorrow's devotional will focus on the aspect that "light has come into the world."

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.)

Yesterday I shared the first video of several songs I plan to share from our Christmas musical "Hope Has Hands" presented last weekend. Mike Martin, a friend in our church, spent a great deal of time yesterday getting these videos up on Youtube so we can share them with others.  I will share the rest of the musical one song at a time over the next several encouragement messages.

New! "The Word Became Flesh" is the second song in the musical and is based on a Scripture text from John 1:14  Video

The Christmas carol that has the line referred to in today's message, "light and life to all He brings" is "Hark The Herald"  Video

Let me share some interesting features. The musical had a narration part and I read the part for Simeon. We don't know how old Simeon was but it's assumed he was older. The part of Anna was read by Wilma, a retired pastor's wife in our church. She fit the part so well as far as her age, her zeal and her sincere faith. She is 84, the very same age the Bible tells us Anna was at the time!  Wilma's husband, Pastor Jesse Dourte, was also in the choir on the right side in the back (see at 3:12). He's in his mid-eighties and joined right in.  The Dourtes pastored the church many years ago while they were raising their family.  Three of their children came out as a support and encouragement to their parents, sitting on the very front row!

Discover Joy Church, Mastersonville, PA
Discover Joy is a country church built in 1878. It was renamed Discover Joy several years ago I suppose in an attempt to make it more contemporary sounding but for many years it was the Mastersonville Brethren In Christ. Like many small, rural churches it has struggled for years and last fall was considered for closing. It's sad to see a church close so I approached the bishop and requested an opportunity to serve the church as pastor in a part-time capacity. (We of course continue our calling to this daily encouragement ministry as well as our corporate chaplain ministry.) He agreed to give it a year and recently lifted that restriction and I am now serving for an indefinite period. We have a very small congregation with attendance averaging in the thirties. There are some very devout, faithful people who really want to keep the little church going in their community. I'm sure the full house with well over 100 in attendance on Sunday evening was very encouraging! If you, like me, are geographically inquisitive here's where Mastersonville, PA is (Google map)

Although a bit less in attendance and size it sort of reminds me of the small church I went to as a child in Harwood Missouri when we would visit my grandparents.
My Mom went there while growing up.  As I recall my sister Genelle and I were the only children, along with about 7 older ladies, so I guess that they usually just had the older ladies!  I just remember how excited they were when Georgia Mae's kids would come and they pulled a curtain in the front to separate us from the rest of the church to have Sunday School for us.
Church in Harwood, Missouri
The photo shows some of my cousins gathered outside the church in April 2006 at my Mom's burial service.
The last I heard this church is now closed.
The church is located here in Harwood Missouri (Google map)

Pets after bath 12/16/09
This morning we gave our cat Dottie and dog Roxie a bath, something neither one is very fond of. Roxie, although kept inside most of the time, still deals with the typical doggie smell. Cats don't normally have an odor but apparently Dottie had come close to a skunk when she was staying in the barn and has had the faint skunk smell on her for weeks. Here's a photo of them relaxing after their ordeal in one of their favorite spots underneath our steps. 

I came across an interesting story last night that caught my attention since it took place at Maxham elementary school where Ester attended as child in Taunton Massachusetts. It illustrates how increasingly nutty things are getting. See here.

Resources for Christmas Celebrations

It is our desire to share online resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. We will continue to post these resources through Christmas Day. As we find additional material that we believe will be a blessing we will add it to this list as well.

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. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  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.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.  

Christmas Knowledge Test

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

re you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
"The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents"

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
"The Blessing"

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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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