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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
Last week the Faith In Action ministry held a live nativity scene in front of the Supreme Court.
Photo by Lee Smucker

"Merry This Thing"

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"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about'" (Luke 2:15).

Merry Christmas During this season political correctness runs amok and many feel they must refrain from any religious references lest someone be offended. One casualty has been the customary greeting "Merry Christmas" although there has been significant pushback by many very purposefully using the traditional greeting. In fact yesterday I was at a large warehouse store (Costco) and noticed the employees uniformly used the phrase with the customers.

In being considerate to those who may find the greeting, "Merry Christmas" offensive we propose our own greeting, although it can be a bit lengthy: "Have a merry day that I acknowledge the birth of Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior."

Yesterday I visited with Lee who visited Washington last week to participate in a Living Nativity scene in front of the Supreme Court. I don't suppose too many of you saw it on the evening news, that is, if the media covered it!

News reportersIn our age when an extraordinary news event takes place journalists and camera crews converge upon the scene racing to be the first to report the story. Their goal, of course, is to bolster ratings for the television networks, newspapers and magazines. 

I can picture it now in my mind: "Coming to you, live, in the little town of Bethlehem. You're hearing it first at WTLR…" The camera zooms in to feature an infant, newly born to very ordinary people, lying in a feeding trough as His mother rests from her long, demanding journey and subsequent delivery of her firstborn.

But, of course, the Christmas story took place when fresh news spread only by word of mouth or through an angelic visitor. The very first recipients of the message of the birth of Christ were a group of shepherds whose names are not recorded in Scripture. Shepherds were commonly despised and unwanted, working far outside the parameters of everyday folks in the community. Yet God chose them to hear the inspired announcement from a single angel later joined by a heavenly host who praised God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:14).   

The shepherds received this message as directly from the Lord and responded by promptly going to Bethlehem. Two bland, non-descriptive words in the text intrigue me as I prepare this message. The shepherds, surely in a state of wonderment and perplexity, call the blessed event "this thing". Thus the very first human designation for Christmas, the incarnation of Christ, is "this thing"!  Perhaps our greeting should be "Merry this thing!"

Shepherds adore JesusThe ordinary shepherds were blessed to receive this unexpected announcement from extraordinary beings, yet they could not fully picture in their minds just what to expect or the right words to describe this historic event. God did not require statesmen to be out in the field with the shepherds so that they could eloquently describe this incredible moment in history.

Today I thank God for "this thing" which the shepherds went to see.  The holy Son of God came as a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That's the redeeming message we must continue to focus on!

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we're so thankful for Jesus whose infant birth took place in a smelly stable and whose bed was a feeding trough padded with stubbly straw and hay. It was certainly not a welcome setting for the infant born King but we can now see the stable as a composite of this unwelcoming world toward King Jesus. We're so glad that He was willing to come to earth though He would be rejected by the majority. Yet we gratefully number among the many who receive Him as our personal Savior. We thank You that He came to deliver us from our fears and to release us from our sins. Through Your own eternal Spirit rule in our hearts today and raise us to Your glorious throne on Your appointed day.  In the name of Jesus 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!

Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
We are grateful for the various ways people seek to get in a witness for the Lord. The Supreme Court building is directly across from the Capitol. Faith and Action is headquartered near the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Nativity scene (Lee Smucker)
Our friend, Lee Smucker, took his father and two sisters to view the Live Nativity last week.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"  Video  Fernando Ortega

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"  Video  Instrumental

Resources for Christmas Celebrations
Personal, family and church
(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. We 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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