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Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas wreath
Christmas Wreath in front of our home.

"The Verdict"

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"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

A number of years ago we attended a breakfast meeting at The Gathering Place in Mount Joy. David Hickernell, our local state representative, wanted to hear from a sampling of his constituents so Brooksyne and I were among the random sampling chosen. We enjoyed a breakfast followed by a brief presentation and an opportunity for questions.

One lady spoke up and expressed her concern regarding the moral direction in which we were headed as a nation. She boldly shared several verses of Scripture such as "Righteousness exalts a nation..." With moist eyes and a quivering voice, she warned of the direction toward judgment our nation is headed in. It was an anointed mini-sermon and many of us were in agreement with her. Of course the representative had to remain "religiously neutral", although I am pretty sure he would have also essentially agreed with her.

No more did she get done than another woman rose and denounced her view, stating quite piously, "I get very troubled when people bring the Bible into issues." She stated this was dangerous and just must not be done. There was a chill in the room and the representative's assistant quickly rose and pointed to her watch hoping to get him out of the sticky situation. The meeting was soon over.

This is an illustration of the battle that has long raged, what many have called opposing worldviews.

Biblical Worldview

The Biblical worldview fundamentally asserts that:
1) The Almighty God is the Creator, Ruler, Redeemer and Judge over all the universe.
2) He has revealed His will for man through His Word.
3) He has established non-arbitrary laws governing the conduct of His creation. 

By contrast the secular humanist worldview fundamentally asserts that:
1) God is merely a figment of the imagination or whatever one wants to believe, if anything.
2) The Bible is at best a collection of good stories, but not the rule of authority in our lives.
3) The rule of the Bible is arbitrary and subjective. 

This ancient battle between these two opposing worldviews is rising to a fevered pitch. Using a phrase from one of our Lord's parables many state, "We don't want this man to be our king." (See Luke 19:14). The "man" in the parable represents Christ.

Today let us consider a powerful verse that is in the same context as the very familiar John 3:16:
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

The NIV begins this verse using a modern legal term, "This is the verdict." In law a verdict is the formal finding of fact. We have all heard the judge ask, "Does the jury have a verdict?" Our text's use of the word reveals God's verdict on the human race.

Versions vary in the translation of this word due to the depth and richness of the Greek word "krisis". The KJV says "the condemnation", while the NASV uses "the judgment". The Amplified Version (a version helpful for insight but difficult to read) states, "The basis of judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this…" For the diligent student here is a Bible Gateway listing of many English versions of this text.

John 3:19
"Light has come into the world." The Greek has the definite article "the" before light and we believe it to be very significant. In the Gospel and Epistles of John "the light" is Jesus Christ (see John 1:4-9; 8:12: 9:5; 12:46; 1 John 1:5). Light coming into the world is at the very heart of the Christmas message.

"But men loved darkness instead of light." 
Again we have the definite article in the Greek prior to both light and darkness precisely reading, "But men loved the darkness instead of the light." (See here for Greek interlinear.) This is a matter of fact statement that explains much about human nature and the response to the Gospel.

For those of us living in the glorious light of Jesus Christ we marvel that anyone would choose darkness but many do "because their deeds were [are] evil." The next verse continues "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (John 3:20).  Additionally, when they come into the light they must deal with their evil deeds, confess, and repent. And, of course, many are unwilling to do that so they continue to go "undercover" in the darkness of their soul.

Today, we encourage believers all over the world to join us as we live in the light of Christ and and walk according to the light of His Word! May this statement be true of us today, that we love light rather than darkness! We come under the truth of Jesus Christ: "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God" (John 3:21).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your love comes like a light in the darkness, like the bright star in the east that burst forth in the Bethlehem skies. The hosts of heaven made it a song of joy and celebration as Jesus was born into the world, the Saviour for all mankind. In the darkness of night the light of Christ appeared drawing people near and far, then and now. Love enters the hearts of  many as they contemplate the message of Christmas, that it is a message of love and provision; love for all and provision for our sins. Love has come to us; love that brightens our lives and fills us with hope now and for all eternity. And at the same time there are many who are drawn to darkness like King Herod who sought to destroy the Christ child. We don't understand such thinking once we come into the light, but it was a reality then as it is now. Thank You for the freedom to choose, and Lord, we choose You! 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!

As we prepared today's message we consider how so many of the Christmas songs we love have the theme of light somewhere in the song. Can you identify the song by the posted line dealing with light?
  1. "Disperse the gloomy clouds of night"
  2. "Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light"
  3. "Son of God, love's pure light"
  4. "There shone a holy light"
  5. "Yonder shines the infant light"
  6. "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light"
  7. 'And to the earth it gave great light"
  8. "Light and life to all He brings"
  9. "One small light from the flame of a candle"
  10. "Led by the light of faith serenely beaming"
  11. "With a liberating light"
We'll post the hymn titles on Monday.

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

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"  Video  Selah  (This song has one of the lines we posted above in our hymn quiz).

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"  Video  Casting Crowns  We heard Casting Crowns sing this song in a concert several years ago at the Giant Center in Hershey. Next week we will share an interesting account of how this song was written.

"When Love Was Born"  Video  Mark Schultz

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.  Here's a great Communion Hymn for Christmas (Video)

"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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