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The on line Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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December 19, 2013

Red Covered Bridge in Berks County, PA 12/16/13
The Red Bridge, originally known as Wertz's Bridge, at 220 feet is the longest single span covered bridge in Pennsylvania. Built in 1867 and one of five remaining in Berks County, the covered bridge allows pedestrians to pass over the Tulpehocken Creek to the Union Canal Bicycle and Walking Trail and the Berks County Heritage Center.
Click here to enlarge.

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"Hope Has Hands"

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this" (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Manger scene
All over the world those who follow Christ are considering His birth. Individuals may be reading an advent series of messages such as Max Lucado's "Five Days of Hope". In various ways we may decorate our homes, hoping to express our faith, such as a manger scene. Many churches have special programs, dramatic presentations and musicals.

For several weeks Brooksyne has been preparing our choir for a musical titled, "Hope Has Hands", which presents the Christmas story through the eyes of Simeon and Anna. Their hope for deliverance was finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus, through His miraculous virgin birth – One who would bring hope, freedom, and salvation.

Though I've imagined the story through the viewpoint of Joseph, Mary, the Shepherds and other Christmas characters I've given less thought to Anna and Simeon – the way they might have viewed the incarnate birth of the Christ child.

Consider some long waits you have experienced in life. In some cases what you desired finally came about. In other cases you still wait. And in some cases the wait will remain through this life and an understanding will come in eternity. I have considered that one thing we will not do in heaven is wait (although I don't claim to have full insight on this matter!)

Galatians 4:4
For centuries people lived and died waiting for Messianic prophecies such as those in our daily texts to be fulfilled. The very first prophecy was a promise by God during His judgment following original sin. It's often called the protoevangelium, the first gospel, the first promise of the Messiah who will conquer the devil. Throughout the Old Testament these Messianic promises accrue and Bible scholars have numbered over 300 of them.

Finally, "in the fullness of time" the infant Christ was born. Everything we could possibly hope for was provided in the person of Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man.
Phil Cross in his song "Hope Has Hands" describes the characteristics of Immanuel, the Christ child, with these words:

Hope has hands,
freedom has feet,
truth will stand,
the Word will speak,
the holy and lowly will finally embrace,
for love has a heartbeat,
and grace has a face.

The promise of a Messiah was fulfilled in the person of Jesus who became the Son of Man. From the cradle to the cross He gave His all that we might be freed from all our sins.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who is the visible form of the One who descended from heaven and presented hope, freedom, truth, love, an grace. He was the very essence of the Word of God. The wait for Messiah spanned some 4000 years and many prophets foretold His coming yet never lived to see it fulfilled. We're glad to be living at a time when we greatly benefit from the fulfilled prophecy of Christ being born to a virgin, living among us, dying for our sins, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. We now anticipate His second coming when He will gather the redeemed in the air forevermore to reign in His kingdom where there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. There's no better place for the believer to hang his hat and store his heart's treasures, those that have lasting, eternal value. Amen.

Red Covered Bridge in Berks County, PA 12/16/13
Walking through the Red Bridge (shown above) I snapped this view of an old stone farmhouse on the other side of the Tulpehocken Creek.
Click here to enlarge.

Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County, PA 12/16/13 (Click to enlarge)
Tulpehocken Creek

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

"Hope Has Hands"  Video  Greater Vision

"Immanuel, God is with us!"  Video  Michael Card

"Once Upon A Christmas"  Video  Selah

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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