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Monday, December 19, 2011
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"The Wonder Of His Great Love"
"I call on you, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes" (Psalm 17:6-7).
Yesterday afternoon after church we stopped by to visit our friends Joe and Beulah Snavely. Joe is a 5th generation Lancaster County farmer, who lost his dairy barn in a fire on Saturday. Joe shared that he now realized how much his identity was wrapped up in the 200 year old barn. He expressed his gratitude that no lives or livestock were lost and the property was insured (in addition to farming Joe also sells farm insurance!) He told the newspaper reporter "all my memories are in the old German bank barn where I once milked cows for 17 years… It's a piece of history." Saturday night he was surrounded by about 30 family members and neighbors who had come out in support.
Joe is standing on God's promises and plans to rebuild the barn and press on in his service for Christ. I gathered with Joe and his son near the still smoldering remains and prayed with them, just one of many prayers the family has received from caring brothers and sisters. We dedicate today's encouragement message to Joe, his wife Beulah, and their three children. May they be filled with the confidence that David had in God; the certainty of His faithfulness and seeing us through trying times: "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer."
The very heart of David's prayer request was, "Show the wonder of your great love." Now surely David knew of God's great love when he wrote this, yet he cried out to God for a greater revelation or perhaps he was really asking God to bring back the fresh "awe" and "wonder" that comes when the great love of God is first revealed to us.
We also observe that it is during the hour of trial, such as the Snavely family is going through, that God's love is especially dear. All throughout the Scriptures we have an abundance of truth that discloses the love of God to us, yet we may want to make this our request today as well.
The apostle John wrote much concerning this love: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1).
In whatever way you may have been hurt or experienced the meanness of this world, no matter the kind of loss you may be undergoing this day, choose to rejoice in God's unsurpassed, eternal love and His abundant mercy.
Nearly 300 years ago (in 1719) Isaac Watts wrote the hymn, "Joy to the World." When you sing or hear this song that has become a Christmas caroll classic, take note of the glorious refrain that follows the fourth verse which magnificently expresses, "And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders and wonders of His love."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who died for us that we might be lifted from our sin and reconciled to You. Not only are we forgiven and reconciled to You, but we also are made joint heirs taking on our new identity as "children of God." What an incredible honor and selfless act of love that You would place us in Your Kingdom whose reign is for all eternity. This is the wonder of Your great love, indeed! Amen.
Lancaster County Barn Fire
American Gothic! Their daughter Kelsie is standing between them. Note, Joe is not wearing a barn-shaped cap, it is on the wall behind him!
This is the same tractor seen in our photo today.
A valiant effort was made to save it but the fire was just too intense.
Joe told me that as an insurance agent he had often been on the other end in losses like this but this sure gave him a deeper and more personal perspective on loss.
Here's an older arial photo of the Snavely farm (date unknown).
The barn that burned down Saturday is in the center of the photo.
This fall I shared this photo of Joe and Tyler with a load of pumpkins.Here's an article about the barn fire in our local paper.
Here's another neat photo of a happy farmer.
Last week I shared a photo of Brooksyne playing the piano at a Costco store and quipped regarding a little known extended Weber family fact, that my cousin Joy is a concert pianist and played at a Neiman Marcus store in the Kansas City area. An alert reader (my older brother Mike) informed me that this would have been a Nordstrom store. Sorry for the confusion; we don't have these stores in Mount Joy or in Lancaster County for that matter. However it does prompt a memory: Years ago we had an exhibit for our daily encouragement ministry at a three day ministry conference in Boston. It was at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay area (a rather affluent section of the city). We had a hotel and were planning to stay for several days when I discovered I had failed to pack underclothing, so Brooksyne set out to go shopping at the stores near the Center that had places like Neiman Marcus and Nordstom and found the only available underclothing was priced 3 or 4 times what we were accustomed to paying. We still chuckle about the "pricey underwear" when we see these exclusive department stores.
Forty years ago I committed my life to Christ at a rally in Kansas City Missouri. The evangelist was Lowell Lundstrom, who is still living and faithfully serving the Lord. This last week his wife passed away and a thoughtful reader notified me and also sent me a link to Lowell Lundstrom's testimony. Video (10:55 minutes) Website
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Joy To The World" Video Traditional version
"Joy To The World" Video Third Day
The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. However it would seem to me the final stanza also alludes to the daily text. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; "The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship." (How's that for a title!) Watts wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a Christmas song celebrating his first coming as a babe born in a stable though we almost exclusively associate it as a Christmas hymn.
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.
"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).
Are 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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