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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Berks County stone barn in snow 12/16/13
Stone barn along the Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County PA.
Click here to enlarge.

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"It's Not Complicated!"

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Corinthians 1:26-30). "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Monday evening we gathered with my brother Pat and his wife Laverne to share a meal near Reading PA. They brought along
their three year old granddaughter, Grace. As we waited for our meal Grace informed everyone that she wanted to sing a song and proceeded to sing a short children's song expressing her faith in Christ. She spelled the name J-E-S-U-S to the jingle tune of B-I-N-G-O, and finished with "And Jesus was His name-o"! The server came to take her order but Grace wasn't done and unashamedly continued till the little song was complete. What a delight little children bring to life!

The last two days we have used the unconventional method of drawing illustrations from a popular tv commercial series. If it's a football game Brooksyne will surely find more enjoyment in a commercial like this than the game itself!

Not complicated

Not complicated
Today we want to share one more commercial that is just plain adorable. It's an ad extolling a cell phone company's claimed superiority over the competition called, "It's Not Complicated". An adult is seated with several little children around a table and he asks them, "Why is it better to get what you want now instead of later?" This begins an exchange with a cute little girl that is worth watching! (Video link below)

Moving onto more critical, eternal matters let us consider the wonder of the Christmas story and overall Gospel message. It's not complicated and even a little child can understand the core truths.

However even the most brilliant and learned minds can only scratch the surface of the wisdom and knowledge of God. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"
(Romans 11:33). Elsewhere Paul writes of "Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2,3).

But today let us consider the simplicity of the Gospel. Today's first text was also written by the apostle Paul. He urges his readers, initially the Corinthian church, to
"consider your calling". We often consider the calling in regard to specific vocational ministry such as being called of God to be a missionary. But in this context he is referring to the calling we all have. The glorious calling to believe in and follow Christ.

"Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards" The key phrase is "wise according to worldly standards"  Actually so many who are wise according to worldly standards reject the truth of Christ! Consider the bastions of academia where supposedly the brightest excel. So often they are also havens of unbelief and skepticism.

1 Corinthians 1:27
"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise." It's so important to realize that the text is not saying the Gospel is foolish but rather it is deemed foolish by human standards of  wisdom. This is similar to Paul's classic text in 1:18, "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

The world has always ridiculed the core truths of the Christian faith; the Creation account, the virgin birth, the miracles of Christ, His atoning death on the Cross, His glorious resurrection, His ascension and promised second coming. This ridicule is increasing as predicted in the Bible, "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking" (2 Peter 2:3).

In our second daily text Paul writes of the "
simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" that characterized the Corinthian believers. Let us give thanks for the simple truth of the Gospel of Christ and renew our resolve to live our lives to please the Lord!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, thank you today for the simplicity of the Gospel, that it's not complicated. We profess our faith in the message of the Gospel as taught in the Scriptures. Thank you that you loved the world so much that You sent Your only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. In a world where so much is complicated we thank you for this wonderful truth and confess our faith in Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Barns Of Berks County

On Monday we drove through Berks County to see the Koziars Christmas Village which we shared about yesterday. Berks County is adjacent to and northeast of Lancaster County. It has a city, Reading, but also beautiful rural areas and picturesque barns.

Berks County yellow barn in snow 12/16/13
This barn across the Tulpehocken Creek has an unusual barn
yellow color!
Click here to enlarge.

Berks County stone barn in snow 12/16/13
Huge wreath on stone barn.
The vertical slits are known as "balistratus" and are for ventilation, although when I first moved from this area someone told me the settlers used them to fire their rifles if they were being attacked!
Click here to enlarge.

Berks County Christmas decorated barn 12/16/13 (Click to enlarge)
This stately white barn is decorated for the season!
Click here to enlarge.

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

"Strange Way To Save The World"  Video  Mark Harris  An intriguing Christmas song.

"Fullness Of Grace"
  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

"Father, How Sweet"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"We Are The Reason"  Video  Avalon

"Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)"  Video  Chris Tomlin

"It's Not Complicated - Cutest Grape"  Video  This is a 30 second video of the tv commercial we referred to above. It will brighten your day!

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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