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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kozier's Christmas Village, Bernville, PA 12/16/13
Last night we visited the Koziar's Christmas Village in Bernville, PA.
Christmas Village features the elaborately illuminated home and barn of the Koziar family, as well as many smaller buildings that have various Christmas themes. We were so pleased to see the presence of the holy Christ Child well represented among the displays. We'll share several more photos below.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"And Is Better" (Part 2)
"Grace and Truth"

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Large or in charge

Today we will illustrate with a second "And Is Better", a comparison taken from a car commercial we've actually enjoyed watching. A couple driving their new car are doubly pleased that the car gets "great gas mileage and it looks good". She then comments, "so much better than choosing good looks or great gas mileage". He laughs and says that "would be like somebody being large or in charge" and the scene shifts to a vision of a miniature executive standing on a conference room table asserting his power, yet speaking in a Mickey Mouse type voice, "There are three ways to do this, my way! my way! my way! Do I make myself clear!" I identify in part with those in the conference since I had a boss like this about ten years ago! (We have a link to the video below.)

Today let's look at two additional word pairings in John's account of the incarnation record where "and is better."

Power packed phrases from familiar Christmas songs can tell the Gospel story in very few words. Consider the familiar stanza: "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity, clothed as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel." Each of these four phrases from the second verse of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" represent scores of Bible verses presented by numerous writers, but especially those of the apostle John in chapter 1, verses 1-18.

John, the last living of the twelve disciples, wrote his gospel late in the first century. He had been among Christ's closest disciples and friends. He had heard the wonderful teachings and witnessed the great miracles. He had seen Christ die on the cross and had fellowship with the risen Lord. He had been there when Christ ascended back to the Father. And now for sixty years he had been obeying the great commission before putting his account down in writing for subsequent generations.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us..." This phrase sums up John's Christmas story. Up to this point in his gospel John has not used the proper name "Jesus Christ" and does not do so until the seventeenth verse, after which he never again uses the phrase "the Word" in reference to Jesus. That first Christmas morning the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. That's the heart of the Christmas story.

"And we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father..."
John saw in Jesus far more than others which saw in Him only the carpenter. His vision was sharpened by the eternal glimpse He had of God's only begotten Son. He was numbered in the inner circle of three, along with Peter and James, who witnessed God's glory in special ways such as the Transfiguration. "His glory was spiritually discerned - the glory of surpassing grace, love, tenderness, wisdom, purity, spirituality; majesty and meekness, richness and poverty, power and weakness, meeting together in unique contrast; ever attracting and at times ravishing the 'babes' that followed and forsook all for Him" (Jamieson, Faucet & Brown).

"Full of grace and truth." The Greek word for "full" conveys replete with and covered over. A few verses later John personally testifies of this grace, "And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). Let's consider that phrase "grace and truth". Theologian J.C. Ryle eloquently writes of the grace and truth that came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ: "This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ's Person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation, and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is very MAN. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very GOD."

This season we join hundreds of millions of believers around the world reflecting on this wonderful truth over nineteen hundred years after John wrote his account.  We believe that the Word did become flesh. As J.B. Phillips says, "The Christian faith is founded upon a well attested, sober fact of history; that quietly, but with deliberate purpose, God Himself has visited this little planet."

We remember and thank God for this glorious visit. Praise God for His life-changing visit! I again proclaim my decision to serve this great God who "
became flesh, and dwelt among us" and who indeed is, "full of grace and truth". Won't you join us?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Jesus, thank You for clothing Yourself in flesh and making Your home among Your own creation. You are both God and Man, completely divine and completely human. Rather than coming to us only through written precepts and the revelation of Your Word, You came to us through a Person's life, something we could tangibly see, physically grasp and personally identify with. You revealed the divine nature and perfect will of the Father through the Person of Jesus Christ. Grace flows through You in those whose lives are spiritually transformed and the lives of those who experience miracles and healings. Thank You for emptying Yourself and taking the nature of a servant as You walked in truth and obedience, knowing that it would lead to death on the cross. We praise You, Jesus, for You are exalted to the highest place.  We believe with joy-filled hearts that You became flesh and lived among us, and You are indeed full of grace and truth. Glory to God in the highest!  Amen.

Today we will leave the topic of "and is better" but as I've mused on the subject it seems there are at least several other Scriptural concepts that and is better and actually or is wrong. Our Father desires that we worship in "Spirit and Truth" (John 4:24). When Christ returns He will be called Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11) on a white horse. In regard to hymns we have the phrases, "Trust and Obey" and "Joyful and Triumphant".  Can you think of other Bible verses and hymns that have this dual pairings of words in which "and is better". (Send them to us and we will list in several days.)

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!

Stephen with his brother Pat 12/16/13
My brother Pat and I enjoyed an Italian meal at the Buca di Beppo along with our wives, Ester, and their granddaughter, Grace.

Kozier's Christmas Village, Bernville, PA 12/16/13
After our meal we visited Koziar's Christmas Village that was filled with people of all ages and sizes. This is a very large train display but the snow and ice kind of halted any train activity while we were there. This is an amazing sight to visit in Berks County only about an hour from our home.

Kozier's Christmas Village, Bernville, PA 12/16/13
The Snowman House (original stone farmhouse)

Kozier's Christmas Village, Bernville, PA 12/16/13
The Christmas lights reflected in the lakeside view makes it look like twice the lighting, thus twice the brightness. The only natual light in the photo is directly above the star!

Kozier's Christmas Village, Bernville, PA 12/16/13

A lean-to like shed where the holy family and heavenly hosts celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day"
  Video  Casting Crowns  This is such a nice version of this older Christmas song. We heard Casting Crowns sing it on Sunday night along with a children's choir and orchestra very similar to this recording.

We shared these songs yesterday but will do so again since today's message also used a portion from this song.

"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) - Large Or In Charge" 
Video  This is the tv commercial we referred to in our message today.

Finally we've launched these last two days with illustrations from a car ad. Here are several more we enjoy. "Nuts or Bolts" "Wet or Wild" or another favorite "Bed or Breakfast". (These links are all 30 second videos).

Koziar's Christmas Village

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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