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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Message

Rural snow scene with Isaiah 9:6

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"Savior, Christ, Lord"

"A Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11b).  "In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord" (1 Peter 3:15).

Our family is preparing today for what we expect and hope to be a spiritually meaningful Christmas Eve. We will gather with our church family for a Candlelight Communion service  and then we'll visit with some friends in their new home afterward.  Many of our readers have special plans this evening that will include a family gathering, a Christmas eve service, a special dinner or something out of the ordinary which marks this special Christmas eve. Young parents will be up late tonight putting together toys, swing sets, and other such surprises for their youngsters to find early on Christmas morning.

Over the years most believers have blended the traditions of the commercialized Christmas with the traditions of the Christian church which usually means we take on way more than we can handle. Then we have difficulty prioritizing the activities which truly reflects the true meaning of Christmas over that which others expect of us or expectations we put on ourselves during the Christmas celebration.  There is always way too much "stuff" to do or too many obligations to fulfill.  Because of this clamoring for our attention we must very purposefully focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and the significance of His birth on earth and in our lives. As a contemporary chorus states, "It's all about You, Jesus."

Try to imagine the Scripture text today being proclaimed not in the midst of impressive banquets, parties, fancy clothes, shopping, baking, traveling, packages, decorations, and all the other "fluff" of the season. Instead, sit back and imagine it to be a glorious message in an otherwise ordinary night. Today's first text is proclaimed after 400 years of prophetical silence.  It is the very heart of the Christmas message:
"A Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." This brief but glorious message of the angel to the shepherds uses three titles to identify the infant born in Bethlehem:

1) "A Savior has been born to you." Prior to the birth of Jesus another angel assured Joseph concerning the mysterious events that were to accompany Mary's pregnancy and unborn child, "He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  What a gift our Savior is! This was the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Isaiah some 700 years earlier, "Behold, the virgin shall be with Child and shall bear a Son, and they shall His name, Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."

2) "He is Christ." Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. What these shepherds heard from the angel was the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise - their Messiah had come! Is it any wonder that they said to one another following this glorious announcement, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

3) "The Lord." Even at His birth He is the Lord which means "Master, Supreme Potentate". The tiny baby in the manger's Lordship extends
not only over the universe that He created and now sustains, but over all those He redeems. Musically this is expressed in a line in the great Christmas hymn, "Christ, the everlasting Lord."

The Biblical call to faith includes a submission to His Lordship.  Sadly many times the contemporary call to faith either ignores or downplays His Lordship.  But Peter called the early followers of Christ to "set apart Christ as Lord" in their hearts and we must do the same.

This Christmas rejoice as we remember the birth of our Savior, Christ and Lord, let us also submit our whole life to Him as our Lord.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, the angels' announcement to the shepherds is the same announcement heralded in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls who choose to accept Christ as their Lord, "A Savior has been born to you."  We set Him apart in our hearts from the common, ordinary things of life, for He is the Master of our lives.  We're so grateful for His completed mission on earth where He was rocked in a holy cradle, ridiculed on a hostile cross and restored to His Heavenly throne. "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!" dwell in our hearts we pray.  Amen.

More Central Market Photos
On Monday we shared some photos from a visit to Central Market in downtown Lancaster last Saturday. We stopped by again yesterday and will post several more photos!

Ric's Bread in Central Market
Brooksyne is checking out some freshly baked rolls.

Wendy Jo's Homemade Pastries in Central Market, Lancaster PA
A place I find quite tempting with delicious homemade pastries.

Long's horseradish in Central Market, Lancaster PA
A colorful stand is Michael Long's horseradish. He grinds the horseradish right before your eyes in the old fashioned grinder. As I approached the stand I noticed the distinct aroma of horseradish.  I commended him for the sharp marketing tool of using the fan to spread the aroma out from his stand. He informed me that the fan was for his sake due to the very strong, nostril-burning and eye-stinging effects of freshly grated horseradish. After visiting with him for a few minutes I experienced what he means! I had to walk away it was so strong.

Long's horseradish in Central Market, Lancaster PA
He blends in the grated horseradish with vinegar for the very tasty sauce.

Sweetheart celery in Central Market, Lancaster PA
Another interesting stand is one that sells only celery, using a special ripening method that makes the celery very sweet!

Christmas witness at Central Market
We appreciate Christmas witnesses such as this message on the whiteboard.

We had two heartening occasions concerning young people yesterday; one through an email and another during a visit.

Charest family Christmas photo 2010
We received a Christmas greeting from Joel and Adrienne Charest who served for several years in our church in New England back in the nineties working with the children. From the time we first met them they both had a strong call to serve Africa's children and have been serving in Mozambique. What a blessing to observe their faithfulness to God's call!

Tim, preparing to be a Bible translator
We met for the first time and visited a few minutes with Tim, a young man, working during Christmas break from college in a company we serve as chaplains. Tim is preparing to be a Bible translator to a tribal people. Now that's surely hard, sacrificial work.  We want to bless Tim in this pursuit.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber 2010 Christmas photo
Ester took a photo of us in our Christmas "garb" as we were leaving for one of Brooksyne's choir presentations last week.

Ester did it again; dressed Roxie up for Christmas.  Here's my take on Roxie's caption for this photo:  "OK, Ester!  This is the last goofy hat, clumsy antlers, and silly-looking red bows for 2010!"  (but, of course, New Years is next week.  Just wait and see!)
Ester wants to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas!

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.)

"O Come All Ye Faithful"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Silent Night"  Video  (Musician's unknown) "Jesus, Lord at Thy birth"

"O Holy Night"  Video  A five year old!

"I Need A Silent Night"  Video  Amy Grant

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"  Video  Shannon Wexelburg.

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"

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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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