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Friday, December 19, 2014

When Love Was Born

"When Love Was Born"

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"I call on you, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes" (Psalm 17:6-7). "See what great love the Father has lavished on us!" (1 John 3:1).

Starlight shines
The night is still
Shepherds watch from a hill
I close my eyes and see the night
when love was born

Jay and Lu Kopp 12/14/14
Jay and Lu Kopp are friends whom we met shortly after moving to Lancaster County in early 2001. In fact as I recall they were in our Sunday School class the very first Sunday we visited the church we presently attend. For many years Jay taught shop class at a Vo-tech school (now known as Lancaster County Career and Technology Center). He now has a counseling type position assisting students one on one. He shared a recent discussion he had with a student that was overheard by an entire class.

He had been mentoring a young man who expressed his appreciation to Jay by proclaiming in front of the entire class, "I love you man".

It rather surprised Jay but he took it as a teaching opportunity to ask the young man if he knew what love meant. He explained that there are different kinds of love based on Greek words ending with an explanation of AGAPÉ, the highest form of love; an unconditional love that will sacrifice one's life for another. He said to the effect, "This is the kind of love Christians believe that Jesus demonstrated in coming to the earth and dying on the cross". From the back of the room a student shouted "Preach it."

Now isn't that a creative way to get in a public witness! Notice he stated "Christians believe" which made his statement a third person point of fact rather than stated as a personal testimony. That's creative!

When Love Came Down Christmas is a time we should give special consideration to this AGAPÉ love. Indeed it can be described as the time when love was born.

Emmanuel, Prince of Peace,
Love come down for you and me
Heaven's gift, the Holy spark
to light the way inside our hearts

May we be filled like David with the assurance of His steadfast love and faithfulness: "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." David wrote the Psalm during a time he was crying out to God for relief from
"the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me" (v.9). Don't you sometimes feel this way! And of course for many of our brothers and sisters this is quite literal. Just consider the horrors of the Islamic terrorists upon believers in Nigeria. Whenever I am prompted to complain I ask the Holy Spirit to bring these fellow Christians to mind turning my heart to prayer on their behalf.

The very heart of David's prayer request was, "Show the wonder of your great love." Now surely David already knew of God's great love when he wrote this, yet he cried out to God for a greater revelation or perhaps he was really asking God to bring back the fresh "awe" and "wonder" that comes when the great love of God is first revealed to us.

All throughout the Scriptures we have an abundance of truth that discloses the love of God to us, yet we should make this our request today as well.
"Show me the wonder of Your great love."

The apostle John wrote much concerning this love: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1).

In whatever way you may have been hurt or even now are hurting as you read this. In whatever manner you have experienced the meanness of this world. No matter what unexplained loss you may feel this day, choose to rejoice in God's unsurpassed, eternal love and His abundant mercy.

Isaac Watts
Today, let us consider how one of the most beloved Christmas songs seems to use the first daily verse although it is not usually associated with Christ's birth. Nearly 300 years ago (in 1719) Isaac Watts wrote the classic  hymn, "Joy to the World"  later compiled with the Christmas hymns.

When you sing or hear this classic Christmas Carol, take note of the glorious refrain that follows the fourth verse which magnificently expresses the wonders of God's love.
We wonder if Isaac Watts might have drawn inspiration from our first daily text?

And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus who came to this earth as a tiny baby with a mission to die on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins to reconcile us to You. Not only are we forgiven and reconciled to You, but we also are made joint heirs taking on our new identity as "children of God." What an incredible honor and selfless act of love that You would place us in Your Kingdom whose reign is for all eternity. This is the wonder of Your great love for all and the other wonder is that it is imparted to me personally. I can express agape' love to others because Jesus modeled it, taught it through Scripture, and the Holy Spirit graciously provides it through us as we lay down our own preference in deference to Your perfect will! May we live the Christmas story everyday as we serve others above ourselves through Christ Jesus our Lord. 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! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks and due to a busy schedule are behind in our thank you's and acknowledgements.

Stephen's note: It's been many years since my sister visited our area. Last night Genelle and her husband Caesar came up from Florida. Today we are taking them to visit Lancaster and see the Central Market and then to Longwood Gardens for a special Christmas display. Sunday we will be in the Lehigh Valley to visit my brother, Pat and his family. Three of the four Weber siblings together for a meal! (Our oldest brother Mike lives in California and will not be able to join us.)

Brian 12/17/14
Several weeks ago I was visiting with Brian, a young man who works as a machine operator in one of our companies. He has been setting up several new CNC machines and I commended him for his proficiency in using his skills for a difficult task. He told me he had learned from a great teacher and I thought he meant one of the older men in the shop. When I asked him he told me he was referring to his high school shop teacher, Mr. Kopp. Jay was his teacher over ten years ago.

Gene with grand-daughter 12/18/14
Gene is a colorful man we met in the course of our chaplaincy ministry. He worked every work day, finally retiring at 90 years old this year. He is a World War 2 veteran serving in the Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. Last night we visited with him and his grand-daughter, who was also in the Navy at a company Christmas dinner. We've mentioned Gene in several daily encouragement messages through the years here, here and here.

Jim Gambini visit 12/18/14
Drop in company is always a pleasant surprise at the Webers. Our friend Jim Gambini who is very busy as a Fed Ex driver dropped by for a few minutes in the early evening along his route. He told us he was expecting to be working till midnight! We refueled Jim with a fresh cup of coffee. He was our pastor the first several years we lived in this area and we have maintained a close friendship with Jim and his wife Wendy.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When Love Was Born"  Video  Mark Schultz

"The Wonder of It All"  Video  Gaither Homecoming Singers with Doug Oldham (for fellow old-timers!)

"Joy To The World"  Video  Jeremy Camp

"When Love Came Down"   Video 
Point of Grace

"When Love Came Down To Earth"   Video  Stuart Towend

"Christmas Offering"  Video  Casting Crowns

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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