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Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Message

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"Unto Us"

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6a).  "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11b). "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The busy holiday season will soon come to a screeching halt, but in the meantime most are still shopping, visiting, cleaning, sending cards, wrapping and delivering gifts, baking and preparing for the eve of Christmas and Christmas day itself. Out of town guests have arrived or will soon arrive. On my walk yesterday I noticed that our neighbor’s parents from Texas were setting up their motor home in their daughter’s driveway, hunkering down for the big day with the grandchildren.

As children we remember looking forward to Christmas because of all the special events that surrounded the holiday. Thankfully we grew up in Christian homes where we learned much about the first Christmas by playing Bible characters. Brooksyne has fond memories of participating in Christmas plays, including that of an angel who made the glorious announcement, “For unto You is born this day in the city of David….” Not only were these plays performed in church settings but, growing up in a less secular society, many of the Christmas hymns and pageantry were presented in the public schools.

Due to the further secularization of our society today many remain ignorant of the origin of the Christmas celebration. They sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and don’t really comprehend the reason why it’s wonderful. What a sense of emptiness we'd have if at the center of the Christmas celebration we knew not the Christ of Christmas, the reason He came, and what He accomplished after His arrival. That’s why, every year, believers purposely focus on the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Christ along with the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament.

The first two daily texts are easily recognized by Christians, often recited by children at the annual Christmas program. One was prophetically declared by Isaiah some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the other by an angelic visitor to some lowly shepherds at His birth. In a few words they contain the essence of the gospel message. They describe the greatest and most lasting Gift.

I know you hear it repeated every year so let us repeat it once more:  The challenge during this season is to remember the real message of Christmas. It's not the gifts we give or receive from others. It's not the abundance of gadgets that retailers offer to materialistic America. It's the gift of God's Son to an unreceptive, apathetic, undeserving, and mocking world. Will you gratefully receive His gift this Christmas?

The writer of Hebrews begins his rich epistle in such an interesting and powerful way. All other epistles except 1 John begin with some identification of the human author. Hebrews starts right off in a stately manner dealing with God's message to mankind and the absolute preeminence of His Son.

However let us notice just one tiny phrase in the daily Scripture text which really is a "Christmas" verse, "He has spoken unto us by His Son." Aren't you glad God has spoken and indeed continues to speak! The late Francis Schaeffer wrote a book titled, "He is here and He is not silent." How very true.

He speaks to us in many ways, but primarily and fundamentally through His Son. What a great blessing it is that He has not ignored us! After the Fall God began His quest for us and called to Adam and Eve, "Where are you?" He's been speaking to His people and calling them ever since. Today He continues to lovingly hearken to the human race, but relatively few pay attention.

What about you? Are you listening? Are you responding in faith and obedience? Let us rejoice that God has indeed spoken to us!

Be encouraged today and have a joyous Christmas,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, even as You spoke to the prophets of long ago You still speak to the hearts of Your people. You've called us out from among the world to stand for righteousness in a godless society. Much of the Christmas celebration is like noisy gongs and clanging symbols because it is lacking the major story of the Christ Child. As we contemplate the Christmas story young Mary is a prime example of one whose yielded heart withstood the ridicule and awkwardness of her special role in the miraculous conception and birth of the Savior of the world. You continue to speak to those who choose to fear the law of God rather than the whims of man. Help us to turn away from noisy gongs that blare and turn our hearts toward Emmanuel who shares with us Your love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Weber family Christmas photo 2011
Greetings to our family, friends, church and ministry connections, business associates, Daily Encouragement readers and supporters. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and God's abundant and unending blessings in your New Year. We enjoyed another year of service for the Lord in a variety of ways. For those who may be interested here's a ministry update.

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Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today we will provide a variety of Christmas music available by clicking the YouTube video link. We've enjoyed hearing many of these songs over the radio and we've been especially blessed by a Christmas CD "Love Came For Me" by Shannon Wexelberg. She has done some new arrangements of the traditional carols along with original songs that she wrote. Her lyrics are convicting and reassuring, her vocals are outstanding.

"Love Came For Me"  Video  Shannon Wexelberg  

"Emmanuel-Hallowed Manger Ground"
 Video  Chris Tomlin

"A Son, A Saviour"
 Video  Maranatha Singers

"O Holy Night"  Video  Selah

"Joseph's Lullaby"  Video  MercyMe

"Joseph's Card"  Video  Michael Card

"Magnificat (with Wexford Carol)"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty  You might want to follow this song with the Bible open at Luke 1:46-55 passage where Mary bursts forth in praise following the angel's announcement.

"Joy Has Dawned/Angels We Have Heard On High"   Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"   Video  Shannon Wexelberg

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?

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. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

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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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