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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poole Forge nativity scene
A tender manger scene at the Poole Forge Ironmaster's Mansion

"See Him In A Manger Laid"

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See Him in a manger laid, Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth!

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger" (Luke 2:7).

We enjoy hearing stories of touching and sometimes humorous Christmas memories. Have you ever got together and shared the stories you have?  If you think about it you probably have some!

Children in Christmas playAbout twenty years ago when we pastored in New England we had a musical drama called “Little Christmas Lamb". It featured a poor orphan girl with ragged attire and worn-out shoes played by Cleusa Alfama, a ten year old Portuguese girl who attended our church. Brooksyne found some shoes so worn out that the soles flopped up and down each time she walked across the stage. This caused the congregation to laugh repeatedly every time Cleusa walked. Ester was only 4 years old at the time and didn't understand drama vs. reality. She was terribly upset at what she perceived to be people making fun of Cleusa with her clippety clop shoes.

About 2/3 through
the play Ester spontaneously ran up to the platform, turned around to the congregation, and gave them all a scolding look as she shook her finger at them. It looked like a miniature mama shaming her badly behaved children who were being scolded for poking fun at this poor girl. Brooksyne was directing the play and was unable to get to Ester, but Gesenia, a kind woman in the congregation came forward to get Ester and settle her down.

Ester with Cleusa

Seeing how shaken Ester was by the poverty stricken orphan Brooksyne took her to the shoe store the next day and together they bought Cleusa a new pair of shoes. Ester wrapped them and gave them to her for Christmas. It served as a wonderful lesson for her to see the proper Christian response to a person in need (even though it was a bit "staged"). We found the above photo in our pre-digital collection.

A very familiar symbol of Christmas is the crèche or manger scene with Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and usually it includes the wise men bearing gifts (although a careful reading of Scripture reveals they came to visit the infant Jesus later).

When we lived in New England we recall a Christmas party with other ministers where we each shared a memory. Rich Weitzel, a pastor friend of ours, shared a memory concerning the manger scene.

His young son was intrigued by the manger scene in their home and frequently rearranged it by moving the baby Jesus to the front, rather than in the center of the scene where He was surrounded by Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, wise men and angels.

Rich was constantly putting the scene back in place and, a bit flustered, finally asked his son, "Why do you keep moving Baby Jesus?" The little boy explained, "Daddy, I want everybody to see Jesus."
Manger scene with cross shadowThe very first place the infant Jesus was physically placed, following His birth, was in a manger. The manger was a feeding trough for animals. The specific composition of the manger is not specified in Scripture, but it was likely made from wood or perhaps from a hollowed out log.

One can see Mary wrapping her newborn baby in cloths and gently placing Him in the manger. What an interesting detail and sign of the humble start on earth for the incarnate, eternal Son of God. He was surely lovingly, gently and purposefully laid in the manger. The eternal Son of God, by whose command the world was formed, was placed in an animal-feeding trough.

The final physical place where Jesus was placed on earth was a cross. As a symbol we now see crosses made of stone, metal, jewels, and other materials (even plastic!), but the old rugged cross upon which the dear Son of God died was most certainly made of wood.  In fact Peter writes, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree."  He was not lovingly placed on the cross by the hands of his tender, loving mother
.  Rather, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter cried out to the crowd, "You, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross" (Acts 2:23).

This Christmas season let us keep a sense of awe when we view the manger scene. My friend's young son wanted everyone to see Jesus and that should be the goal of every earnest believer. Jesus Himself stated, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32).

Today let us lift up the One Mary laid in the manger!

See Him in a manger laid, Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth!
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, with us sing our Savior's birth.
Glo-ori-a in excelsis de-o
Glo-ori-a in excelsis de-o

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Jesus, we know that You no longer physically occupy a place where we can see, touch, or talk with You face to face. But You reside within the hearts of those who make room for You. We place You on the throne of our hearts where Your principles and Your divine guidance are the authority and rule for our lives. Though the world may cast You aside we place You front and center of all that we do so that all who see us will also see You. May the love You shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit also be spread around to those whom we regularly have contact with through Christ our Lord in whose name we pray. Amen.

DonateSpecial Note: We 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 (and support) is essentially 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 for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

Do you have a touching or humorous Christmas memory please share it with us!  Perhaps we can share on Daily Encouragement. Email us here.

Yesterday we referred to nominal Christians and received a brief note from Joyce, who was a part of our congregation in New England: "I remember my Mom, when she heard someone mention the term "nominal Christian". She remarked, 'I don't know what a nominal Christian is, but to me it sounds like a dried up one!'"

And then my cousin Anna Lee from Tulsa reported there is a man in her church who customarily identifies himself as "phenomenal". And that he lives what he speaks!

More manger scenes from the Poole Forge ironmaster's mansion tour.
There must have been 25-30 manger scenes of various types in the display!

Poole Forge nativity scene

Poole Forge nativity scene
"Some Children See Him"  Video  Don Moen

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Be It Unto Me"  Video   This appears to be a local church presentation.

"Mary's Song"  Video  Sara Groves

"Mary Did You Know?"  Video  Mark Lowry

"Angels We Have Heard On High"  Video  Home Free Vocal Band

"Carol of the Bells"  Video  University of Mobile Christmas Spectacular

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 over the 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).

Are you Christmas shopping online?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
Here's an idea!  "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents"

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here's an idea!  "The Blessing"

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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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