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Friday, December 21, 2012

Photo of manger scene

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"Because He Lives"

"But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons" (Galatians 4:4,5).
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:17,18).

God sent His son, they called him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove
My Savior lives 

Early this week I (Brooksyne) awakened to the words of a familiar Gaither tune, “God sent His Son. They called Him Jesus. He came to love, heal and forgive…” And then the words to the chorus further brightened my spirit, "Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives."

I believe this song brought
hope and renewal to my heart since I had gone to bed the night before with such heaviness of heart from the 24/7 coverage of the school massacre that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

This hymn classic is commonly sung at Easter, but for the first time I considered its Christmas message as well: "God sent His Son", a picture of Emmanuel, "God with us".

When sorrows like sea billows roll…Emmanuel. In the midst of unspeakable loss…Emmanuel. When uncertainty arises….Emmanuel. When tragedy strikes…Emmanuel. When our health declines…Emmanuel. During a major career change…Emmanuel. When I've really messed up...Emmanuel.

In each of life's challenges, big or small, God is with us. He clears our path, sharpens our vision, renews our hope, and guides us with His right hand. Now that’s good news, dear friend!

In our Scripture text the apostle Paul does not refer to the Christmas story as recorded in Matthew and Luke. Instead he reflects on the events of Christ's incarnation (birth).  His intriguing phrase, "When the fullness of the time came" describes that wonderful moment in space and time when God acted on our behalf in sending His Son to redeem a lost and very needy people.

And now 2,000 years later we place our hope in the wonderful truth that He lives forevermore. “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:17,18).

And then one day I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's final war with pain
And then as death gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and
I'll know He lives

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, what assurance fills our heart when we consider the spoken promise of Jesus, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." It is in keeping with the name given at Christ's coming to earth, "Emmanuel" - God with us. You are with us before we draw our first breath. You are with us when we struggle to draw our final breath. And You are with us in all life's struggles between our first and final breath. You guide us with Your right hand, not from a distance checking in with us here and there. You are our friend who sticks closer than a brother. We thank You, Father, for Your giving and we thank You, Jesus, for Your coming. Amen.

A note of humor from a reader: After reading Thursday's Daily Encouragement, I just had to send this to you. When I was about 12 or so, my dad, who was a minister in the Church of the Brethren for many years, took me with him when he went to preach at a small church in Perkasie.  I sat in the first row (where he could keep an eye on me, I suppose) and was fascinated at the carved wooden letters on the front of the pulpit which read - "Sir, we would see Jesus".  On the ride home I mentioned to dad that that was neat and he said, "Yeah, but you didn't see the message posted on the back of the pulpit which only I could see."  I asked him what it said. He told me the sign on the back said, "The sermon can be preached in 20 minutes"  (Back in those days my dad was not a 20 minute preacher and apparently took umbrage of that idea).  He thought for a while, then said, " Huh, they want to see Jesus in 20 minutes".

No L buttonWednesday's message featured a button symbolizing "No L". Spoken aloud, it sounds like the name of the Christmas song, "No-el"!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Because He Lives"  Video  
Gaither Vocal Band

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"  Video  Selah

"Immanuel"  Video  Charles Billingsley

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).

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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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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