Daily Encouragement Net Header
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Home   About Us  Archives   Free email subscription   ListenListen to these messages
Print Text only for printing
  Bookmark and Share  

 See here for more info.

<Previous Message                                                    Next Message

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Starry sky
Starry sky

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Bethlehem's Star"

"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2).

As we looked out the window of our home early this morning the sun was rising in the east yet we saw a full moon setting in the west! It was a brilliant sight looking more like a sunset as the day got brighter. Like many of you we set our alarm to awaken in the middle of the night so we could look up at the full lunar eclipse. The last time this took place was three years ago and we missed seeing that one.

What made this lunar eclipse even more newsworthy was that it occurred on the same day as the winter solstice. Today we usher in the winter season officially (and the days start to get longer - Yay!).  According to records the last time a total lunar eclipse and the winter solstice coincided was Dec 21, 1638 – that would have been about 18 years after the pilgrims landed in Plymouth 372 years ago.  I wonder if any stargazer or insomniac among the pilgrims noticed anything different that eventful night?

Since we don't own a telescope our view was limited in the early morning hour but we did see what appeared to be a quarter moon and the rest of the moon was a faint red color.  But as we observed we also scanned the clear night sky and saw the scores of stars which prompts today's study, a consideration of one very famous star. It could be called as our title suggests "Bethlehem's star" of as the text states, "His star".

Contrary to traditional Christmas pageantry and artist's portrayals of the nativity setting, Scripture indicates that the shepherds were present at the birth of Christ in Bethelem's stable, but not the wise men.

Careful consideration of Scripture actually reveals that the wise men who followed the star arrived some time after Christ's birth. They had first seen the star while in the east and had traveled to Jerusalem to inquire regarding the exact place of Christ's birth.

Just who these wise men (or magi) were remains a mystery. Possibly they were among those from the Jewish line who stayed in the East (present day Iran) following the Exile or perhaps they were proselytes who were very familiar with the Messianic promise.  After receiving the information that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem they went there with a specific purpose - to worship the Christ Child

For some reason, after initially seeing the star in the east, it was no longer seen for a period until after they had been to Jerusalem and were on their way to Bethlehem. (Compare 2:2 with 2:9,10.)

These men were earnest seekers.  The journey from the east to Jerusalem was likely long and hard, but they were persistent.   It was the reappearance of the star on the way to Bethlehem that prompted the response described in the KJV when they "rejoiced with exceeding great joy." The apparent redundancy in the English is an attempt to convey the richness of emotion that Matthew uses four Greek words to express.  The Amplified says, "thrilled with ecstatic joy."

Why were they filled with such great joy?  After all, at this point they had not yet seen Jesus (read the text carefully).  Clearly, it was the reappearance of the star that prompted their joy.  It reassured them that this was the real thing and also gave them the ability to continue their journey to find the Christ child.

But why?  I believe we have here an example of how God reveals Himself to the earnest seeker.  They had seen the star while in the East and then went to Jerusalem by faith. The reappearance of the star on their way to Bethlehem gave them an assurance that their seeking was not in vain!

At times the light of God's guidance is remarkably clear like the star seen by the wise men while in the east.  At other times God's leading is less clear, such as when the guiding star was no longer visible.  But like these wise men, as earnest seekers we walk by faith and obedience to God's Word.  Then we see again the clear, unmistakable light of God's guidance as the wise men did when they saw the star a second time.  Truly this is a time of great rejoicing. 

Where are you today in your walk of faith?  For some the answer will surely be, "I haven't seen the 'star' for a long time".  Keep seeking, believing, and following my friend. Remember this important truth: "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  Help me to journey in faith when the path is dimmed or obscured by that which You have planned for me.  When I can only see through a glass darkly, help me to trust You for what is yet to come.  May I have a believing, obedient spirit even when I don't fully understand Your plan. For Your thoughts are not my thoughts nor are Your ways my ways.  They are higher and wiser, for they are of divine origin, so help me to be mindful that You always know what's best and will lead me according to Your will and Your timing.  Amen.

Ester with Ryan and Gayle
The other night we went to a company Christmas banquet and heard Ryan, a local Christian entertainer. Ester had her photo taken with him and his wife, Gayle.  Ryan is a very skilled ventriloquist and can sure make a room full of people laugh!  Ryan & Friends  Here's a video

Jeremy, coal delivery 12/21/10
Today we had our annual coal delivery and I was pleased to visit with Jeremy, whom I worked with several years ago, as our delivery man. Jeremy and I worked for an Amish man who had a masonry business. I occasionally drove for him and on a few occasions even did some light "labor". What a joy to hear that Jeremy is staying faithful to the Lord and his church. It also blesses us to know that he faithfully reads our daily encouragement messages.  We appreciate the young people who let us know they're regular readers!

Brooksyne's Note:  Due to the number of responses we received regarding the mouse story on Friday and since Clement Moore included the little terrifying furry creature in his famous poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" I've decided to take up the subject matter once more.  I will seek to explain the photo with the mouse in the candle jar which people have written asking, "What's the story behind this?"

I arose very early last Friday morning and sat down in the family room where I often read the Scriptures and spend time in prayer.  That's just what I was doing when I heard Dottie scampering back and forth until she finally settled down in a corner. I got a bit suspicious and carefully creeped up to find that she had cornered a mouse, a pretty good sized one.  I didn't want to get Stephen up so I screamed inside my head instead of through my mouth.  I needed to find something very quickly so I could trap the mangled but still alive mouse. I grabbed the candle on the nearby table,  turned it upside down and put two five pound weights on top of it.  When Stephen awakened I told him he had a package to take care of in the family room.  He placed a flat surface under the lid of the candle jar and removed the rodent to the outdoors.  It was there that he took the photo.

"Prepare the Way" Follow Up:  We also got a lot of feedback concerning the humorous skit with Brooksyne sweeping the church while I was trying to conduct the children's service.  Dorothy, one of our regular readers, observed that the skit reminded her of the Italian legend of Befana.

Dorothy wouldn't have known, of course, that Brooksyne's first opportunity to take a lead part in a play was this very story of Befana.  She played Befana in sixth grade in her elementary school and that was the beginning of the many roles she has played in skits and plays over the years!

Befana was an old Italian lady who spent her days cleaning and scrubbing her house. One day three travelers stopped by. It turned out they were the three wise men who were following the bright star in the sky which would lead them to the newborn baby Jesus. They stopped to rest with La Befana and before they left they invited the old lady to come with them and meet the infant king. La Befana refused. She wanted to get back to her cleaning and felt she had wasted enough time as it was.

But afterwards, she thought the matter over and realized what a glorious opportunity she'd thrown away so she ran after the three wise men, broom in hand and apron still around her waist, to find them and go with them to meet the infant king. She is still running but time has changed her errand. Now, at Christmastime, she runs over the roofs in Italy bringing gifts to all the children every year on the 6th of January.

Dorothy wouldn't have known, of course, that Brooksyne's first opportunity to take a lead part in a play was this very story of Befana.  She played Befana in sixth grade in her elementary school and that was the beginning of the many roles she has played in skits and plays over the years!

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.)

"Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem"  Video  Our choir from last year's musical

"We Three Kings"
 Video  Instrumental

Here's an interesting perspective on the Star of Bethlehem.

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"  pdf

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

We 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"

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Permissions: Please feel free to pass on, reproduce and distribute any material on Daily Encouragement Net, in part or in whole, in any format, provided that you do not alter the wording in any way or charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. It is our desire to spread this material, not protect or restrict it. I do request that you keep the contact, copyright and subscription information intact.

Text only version for printing: To make a text only version for printing (without photos or any of the supplemental materials)
1) Open the basic text editor that comes with all computers (known as wordpad, textpad, etc.)  You can also use a program like Word and select paste text only.
2) Select and copy the text from the portion of the message you want to print.
3) Paste into the text pad. (The photos won't show up but you will have a brief text description of the photo which you can delete or just ignore.)
4) Format if you desire (change font, increase or decrease size, etc.)
5) Print!

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."

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com 
© Copyright 2010 Stephen C. Weber - All Rights Reserved
Daily Encouragement Net - 495 Kraybill Church Road - Mount Joy, PA 17552  USA

Contact us

Chaplaincy MinistriesNew feature: I am not much for publishing website statistics but sure enjoy geography. When I saw this widget that counts visitors by nation and state I thought it would be interesting to some of our readers. I installed the international widget 4/16/10 and the state widget 4/19/10 (thus the disparity in US state totals).  This widget only counts visits to the main page and daily archive.
free counters

Free counters!

"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"