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Monday, December 16, 2013

Silverstone Inn on Bowman Road, Lancaster County, PA 12/12/13
On our Friday post we shared this daytime photo of the Silverstone Inn on Bowman Road here in Lancaster County after the snowfall. Brooksyne commented at the time we took the photo "I wish we could see this at night". Well, Friday night we had a company Christmas dinner in Strasburg and passed by on our way home!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"And Is Better" (Part 1)
"Light and Life"

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:4).

"Light and Life To All He Brings"

Most of the time we tend to see tv commercials as an interruption or annoyance but essential if we are to view "free" tv. Yet a few commercials are very entertaining in themselves. Over the next several days we will be using a rather unorthodox method of illustrating our messages with popular tv commercials many of you have seen.

Loud or clearOne commercial shows a couple driving their new car. He is pleased with the car and states, "It gets great gas mileage and is fun to drive". She comments, "You know that beats getting great gas mileage or being fun to drive" He laughs and says that "would be like someone being loud or clear" and the scene shifts to a vision of a very loud coach barking out nonsensical directions to his team! (Link to video below)

Well, over the next two days let's consider how in regard to the Christmas story "and" is indeed better than "or"!

We've noticed how well-loved and familiar Christmas hymns are even though they're generally sung only during a very short season. A single line from one of these carols will illustrate for many, how well you know these songs, even though you likely didn't set out to memorize them. Consider this musical phrase, "light and life to all He brings". Many of you will identify the name of the carol from that single line. (The answer is provided by several versions of the song on YouTube video links below.)

Indeed the glorious message of the Incarnation is His incomparable blessing of "light and life to all He brings." In Friday's message we considered the topic of light. Today let's just consider the aspect of Christ's incarnation and how He came to bring "life." And it is at this point we will rejoice in the truth that "and is better than or".

Consider that, at the heart of things that really count, we have only two great quests in life:

One is for eternal life and Jesus provides this. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

The other is for abundant life (full and meaningful). Again Jesus has provided this. He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Again in this instance "and is better". We can sure be grateful it's not abundant life here or eternal life later! We have the tremendous blessing of receiving both when we receive Christ as our Saviour!

Today this abundant and eternal life is freely available to all. So many willfully reject Him; others shrug off this greatest of gifts and pay no attention, basing their focus instead upon the paltry substitutes the world offers. But the Bible declares: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Have you chosen to receive the greatest gift today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, it is through Jesus that we experience light and life because He came as light into the world and provides abundant life to those who follow Him. May we walk faithfully and earnestly in the light of Christ so that deeds of darkness are exposed wherever we go. May those still walking in darkness be drawn to Your light through the things we say, the songs we sing, the things we set before our eyes and the things we do as we represent You in the home, the workplace and wherever we go. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Tomorrow's message will express two pairing of words in regard to Christ's incarnation where "and is better than or". Here's a hint: "The Word became ____ and ____ among us; we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of ______ and _____." (See John 1:14)

"Hope Has Hands" presentation, Longwood Manor 12/15/13
Yesterday afternoon our church choir presented the Christmas musical "Hope Had Hands" to the Longwood Manor Personal Care residents.

The Story Concert 12/15/13
Last night we attended a Christmas concert "The Story Tour" at the Giant Center in Hershey. It featured a number of musicians and groups we often feature in our supplemental music section here on Daily Encouragement including Selah, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and quite a few other Christian artists, including a live orchestra and the children's Mennonite Choir from Lancaster.

Oren and Naomi Hostetter 12/15/13
The Bible says, "Render honor to whom honor is due" (Romans 13:7).
For ten years Oren and Naomi have led a ministry called "Golden Nuggets" which provides a monthly meal, fellowship and short program for the elderly. We've been invited a number of times as program guests and thoroughly enjoy their home-made food and heaven-made fellowship! (You'll also see their faces in our choir photo.)

"Light" in Christmas carols

On Friday we shared the following quiz regarding "Light" in Christmas carols
. The quiz: Identify the following carols by the specific phrases that refer to light.

1)  Son of God, love's pure light  
2)  Yonder shines the infant light: 
3)  And to the earth it gave great light,
4)  Light and life to all He brings,
5)  But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
6)  The everlasting Light;
7)  Guide us to thy perfect light.

We've provided the correct answers along with the first names of the fastest responders below the musical resources below.

DonateWe want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  Video  Chris Tomlin (This is the Christmas hymn referred to in the message that has the line, "
light and life to all He brings".

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  Video  An Acapella version from the Yoder family

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  Video  Paul Baloche

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  Video   Jason Waller

"And Is Better (Part 1) - Loud Or Clear" 
Video  This is the tv commercial we referred to in our message.

Answers to Christmas carol quiz:
1)  "Son of God, love's pure light" (Silent Night) 
2)  Yonder shines the infant light:  (Angels From the Realms of Glory)
3)  And to the earth it gave great light, (The First Noel)
4)  Light and life to all He brings, (Hark The Herald Angels Sing)
5)  But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall, (I Wonder As I Wander)
6)  The everlasting Light; (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
7)  Guide us to thy perfect light. (We Three Kings)

First correct responses: Shirley was the first to respond and included a song we had never heard of for #2 called "The Infant Light". We checked and there is indeed such a song with that phrase! Jane was the first to answer with all the carols we had in mind which are listed next to the phrases above.

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).

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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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