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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Old well pump on Cold Spring Road in Lancaster County, PA
We pass this pump and wash basin along Cold Spring Road on one of our varied routes through the country to our church. I have enjoyed old pumps since I was a child when there was one in front of my grandparent's home in Harwood, Missouri. I couldn't resist pumping this one to see if I could get water out, but alas I was unable to get any.  As a child when we made the regular trip 90 mile trip from our home in Belton Missouri down to Harwood where my grandparents lived my sister Genelle and I would jump out of the car, race to the pump and vigorously pump till the water surged out!

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"The Unexpected"

"Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers" (Matthew 1:2).

Many years ago I became familiar with the expression that I am sure is known by many, "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform." I first heard it when Brooksyne and I were dating in Bible College. We often exchanged favorite Scripture verses and she shared the above quote. When I tried to find the reference I was stumped and told her I didn’t think it was in the Bible. She was confident that it was and yet she could not find a reference either. Finally she had to concede that it was not a Scripture but a very good quote.

Many years later (before the computer age) we found its origin in a hymn written by William Cowper in the 1700’s. All of us can testify to God working in mysterious ways to perform His wondrous works in our lives (some in far more pronounced ways than others). Cowper might word it a little differently if he were our contemporary writing today. Perhaps he would phrase "mysterious ways" to be "unexpected ways." Yet, as I think about it, God's ways are mysterious.

As we consider the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew we begin with Abraham, who was clearly promised a future offspring who would be a blessing to all people on earth (Genesis 12:3). The following two descendants of Abraham; Isaac and Jacob are also well-known in the Scriptures.

However when we come to the sons of Jacob we are thrown with an unexpected twist.
Since the narrative focus in Genesis focuses on his son Joseph we would expect Joseph to be the focus in the genealogy as well. (See this daily encouragement message.) But Matthew's genealogy continues, "Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers." In fact Judah is actually presented in a rather poor light in Genesis.

But Judah was clearly ordained to be in the Messianic line. As Jacob blessed his sons just before his death, Judah received a blessing that is Messianic in nature; "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his" (Genesis 49:10). This is an example of God working in mysterious or unexpected ways.

In our own lives we consider times when we experience twists and turns that seem to make no sense at all. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”  It's indisputable that we know only in part!

We see and experience only a small part of the bigger picture of God working out His plan for our lives. It's so easy to focus only on a part that is mysterious, unexpected and perhaps painful. But in doing so we may very well lose perspective of the bigger picture. Faith calls us to the bigger picture and the confident assurance that indeed "all things are working out for the good" according to His plan!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we choose to walk by faith and not by sight as we trust You in the mysterious working of Your divine plan in our lives. You go before us, walk beside us, and uphold us with Your righteous hand as You direct us according to Your Word. 

* In some of the old hymnbooks you will find the hymn, "God Works In Mysterious Ways, His Wonders to Perform" by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

William Cowper was a British poet and hymnist. He struggled throughout his life with depression, doubts, and fears and yet he wrote some very inspired works over his lifetime.  In our weakness, Christ is made strong.

Roxie dressed for Christmas
A number enjoyed our pet photos we posted in yesterday's message. Here's another photo of Roxie that I didn't post but thought you might enjoy. Just like teens roll their eyes when they think something is uncool so do dogs!  It's as though she's rolling her eyes away from the camera indicating, "Oh, no!  It was Santa's hat last year.  Now it's the red felt antlers that light up!  What will they come up with next year?  I wish I had the nerve to rebel like Dottie!"

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.)

"Trust His Heart"  Video

"God Will Make A Way"

"Press On"  Video

"His Eye Is On The Sparrow"  Video

"I Will Cast All My Cares Upon You"  Video

Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. As we find additional material that we believe will be a blessing we will add it to this list as well.

"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 and love 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?  
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!  "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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