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Monday, December 22, 2014

Longwood Gardens Poinsettia tree 12/19/14
Friday afternoon we took my sister Genelle and her husband, Cesar, to Longwood Gardens and saw many beautiful sights. Ester took a photo of this Christmas tree decorated with live Poinsettia blooms! We'll share more Longwood Garden Christmas photos over the next several days.

"The Gift You Can't Live Without"

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"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys
We knew we'd find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

Our email inbox is flooded with advertisements from retailers, online and brick and mortar kind, all vying for our last minute purchases before Christmas. It appears that anyone we did business with over the last 15 years has collected our email address and they've pulled out all the stops in the last couple days before Christmas. The subject line in an email is very important to these marketers since in many cases that is all we will read. The delete button is very handy, something we are also aware of, as we prepare these messages!

We received an email from one national retailer with an astounding claim with the subject heading, "Gifts you can't live without".

Among items that you can't live without, in case you're not aware, are $150 dollar headphones, a 65 inch smart TV and a trip to a Spa. Things that any of us might enjoy, but I suspect most of us are living just fine without them!

Brooksyne's Christmas gift In our home we appreciate gifts and try to please each other with meaningful expressions of our love. I bought Brooksyne a decorative wall shelf with an old-fashioned lantern at the Village Farm Market. And, I'm happy to report that she was quite pleased with my choice, added a snowman and some greenery and it sits in our bay window (much to Molly's disappointment since that's her usual spot to watch people who walk their dogs).

But I can only think of a few gifts that Brooksyne and I really can't live without. Our moms and dads gave us the gift of life, raised us responsibly, providing for our needs. We certainly would not be alive if they hadn't done their part! We normally don't consider the air we breathe, water we drink, our food, clothing and shelter as gifts but what a blessing they are. And then the gifts of human relationships, family and friends.

Many of us will give and receive gifts at Christmas, a custom that for so many is the main thing. The origin of giving gifts (at least in the Christian sense) probably goes back to the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Jesus or so we've been told for as long as I can remember.

As the years went by
We learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves
And what that means
On a dark and cloudy day
A man hung crying in the rain
Because of love, Because of love

But no gift we receive on this earth even remotely compares to the spiritual gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gift we can all receive and share regardless of where we live or how much of this world's possessions we have or don't have. Jesus Christ is certainly the greatest Gift and deserving of our highest thanks!

2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul concludes a section in his second letter to the Corinthian believers by expressing appreciation to them for abounding in good works and for their generosity in supplying the financial gifts needed by the Jerusalem believers. He concludes his expression of thanks with today's marvelous exclamation of thankfulness, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" Many years earlier Paul had been converted and moved from an attitude of hateful, volatile rejection to grateful acceptance of God's gift of salvation through Christ. Through the years his gratitude to God grew and that's the way it should be for all of us.

In this burst of praise he uses a very interesting Greek word to describe the gift. Linguists use the term hapax legomenon to describe a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript. The Greek word translated indescribable is used only once by Paul in all his writings. It essentially means, "not expounded in full." Other versions use phrases such as "beyond telling", "inexpressible", and "unspeakable". One words it this way; "a gift too wonderful for words!"

Indeed that is the case with God's greatest gift, a gift too wonderful for words, but deserving of our highest thanks. Today and each day let us join with Paul in thanking God for His truly indescribable gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord! And the wonder of this indescribable gift is that:

We are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You gave first and foremost as you selflessly gave of Yourself through the person of Jesus Christ. Your gift of grace defies human description, for the far-reaching effects in our lives is truly indescribable. It's too wonderful for words, but it brings unspeakable joy and glorious hope that makes our spiritual journey so worthwhile. We receive Your indescribable gift that brings forgiveness for our sins and reserves for us a home in heaven for all eternity. Thank You, Father! 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. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you's and acknowledgements.

Weber siblings 12/21/14
Yesterday three of the Weber siblings gathered at my brother's house in the Lehigh Valley along with their families. (Our oldest brother Mike who resides in San Francisco was not with us in this photo or the one below.)

Weber family 1962
We've changed a lot over the past 50 years plus.
Mom's standing over her "brood"- Genelle, Pat, Stephen!

Weber siblings with spouses 12/21/14
Here we are along with our spouses yesterday after we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Pat and Laverne's house. She prepares a great brisket that we thoroughly enjoy!

Brooksyne playing piano with Mollie
Mollie joining Brooksyne at the piano, whether or not she's invited.
Come to think of it, she's never once been invited!  Brooksyne, in the spirit of Christmas, is being more loving and patient than usual with our active border collie.

Lancaster city Christmas tree
On the way to Longwood Gardens last Friday we stopped by Lancaster City to walk through  Central Market and the downtown area.

Lancaster Central Market 12/19/14
We enjoy taking our out of town guests to Central Market, the oldest continuously operating famer's market in the USA. Genelle and her husband Cesar enjoyed it so much they went back the next day! This location that has been a Market for over 275 years.

Central Market alley with police horse in Lancaster PA
Police horse on Central Market alley in Lancaster, PA
(This was taken a number of years ago. I don't believe the Lancaster Police Department still has a horse.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"We Are The Reason"   Video  Avalon

"The Greatest Gift of All"  Video  Jeff & Sheri Easter

"The Greatest Christmas Gift"  Video  Colin Buchanan 

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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