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Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas choir 2015
Choir presenting musical "Breath Of Heaven" to Longwood Manor

"All Peoples On Earth Have Been Blessed"

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"All peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3). "Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people'" (Luke 2:10). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

Last night Brooksyne led a choir in the Christmas musical "Breath of Heaven" to the residents of Longwood Manor, a local nursing home. This year the choir has 31 participants with members from 8 to 80. In fact it has representatives of each decade from single digit to 80's. That would sure qualify for being intergenerational! The musical includes narration by "Mary and Joseph" and a presentation of the Gospel, declaring that through the Messiah all peoples on earth have been blessed.

Brooksyne has been leading Christmas programs and choirs for many years through much of our ministry together and has had many memorable experiences. One year when we lived in New England, in the late nineties, our choir had the privilege of singing a Christmas musical with the message of Jesus Christ the Messiah in a Jewish Synagogue in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  What a rich joy to express praises to Jesus Christ and proclaim Him as the Messiah who came and who has blessed all the peoples on earth.  In a place where the Jews meet weekly to express a four thousand-year-old faith that the Messiah will come, we boldly declared our faith that the Messiah has come!

All over the world, during the Christmas season, churches are presenting musicals, pageants, dramatic presentations and other messages celebrating the coming of the Messiah. We rejoice and pray for the multiple presentations all over the world of the greatest story ever told.

Nearly four millennium ago God called out a man named Abram and gave him the powerful promise found in the first daily Scripture portion. "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Although there are many ways that Abram, (later called Abraham) and his descendants have blessed all the peoples on earth, one way stands out: through Abraham the Messiah came. 

Our daily text is primarily a reference to the Messiah. Later in Abraham's life God repeated and elaborated on this promise in these words, "Through your offspring (seed) all nations on earth will be blessed" (Genesis 22:18).

Peter referred to this text in early apostolic preaching, speaking of Jesus in Acts 3:25, "And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed'." Paul wrote to the Galatians, "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU" (Galatians 3:8).

Readers of our daily encouragement messages are from all over the world. What a joy that there are recipients on every continent, including many countries that are considered "closed" to the Gospel. But, truth be told, no country, leader or law can block the power of the Holy Spirit reaching the hearts of those who yearn to know the Almighty God. I rejoice that God has kept His word to Abraham. Truly, all peoples on earth have been blessed.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah? Have you accepted Him as your Savior?  If you have you are blessed! If you have not you can do so at this very moment by saying our daily prayer in earnest, believing from your heart, and choosing to live for God according to the Scriptures.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. Not just for the Jews, but the good news is that Jesus was born for all people of all generations, from every tribe, tongue and language.  I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Saviour. I believe You are the promised Messiah who came to this earth to die for my sins. Please forgive me of my sins and come into my life. I receive You as my Saviour and will follow You as my Lord. Thank You for hearing my prayer, saving me from my sins, and providing a home for me in heaven for all eternity.  Amen.

Christmas choir 2015
Another view of the choir presentation last night as "Mary and Joseph" had a significant role in narrating their thoughts, experience, and response to God's miraculous incarnation through the young servant, Mary, and her espoused husband, Joseph.

Christmas choir 2015

JK Mechanical 2015 Christmas Banquet
Friday evening we attended a Christmas banquet hosted by JK Mechanical in Strasburg, PA. It was nice to visit with many of the employees and their spouses. Brooksyne and I have the privilege of beginning the evening by reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 and praying. It has long been a tradition of this company and we're so pleased that it continues each year.

Ncube anniversary celebration
We often refer to our friends, the Ncubes, who are in our church and neighborhood. Their real home is in Zimbabwe, Africa where Notsen is a pastor. They celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday and a few of their close friends got together and provided a surprise anniversary lunch. New to them was cutting the wedding cake and feeding each other as well as attendees clinking the drinking glasses to get them to kiss each other. We figure they're good for at least another 22 years since they're cutting the cream of coconut cake with our 39 year old wedding knife, but of course, we wish them as many years as the Lord allows them to live on this side.
For the curious here's the recipe for the cream of coconut cake.

Special Year-end appeal:

DonateWe want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. 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. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. Our ministry labor is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive a fee (of course this percentage varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation to our ministry see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

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Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Breath Of Heaven"  Video  Sara Groves  This is one of the songs used in the musical last night.

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.

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"  Video  Outstanding presentation with background story and touching photos (Artist not identified), but appears to be produced by a local church. This would be a powerful video to use in a Christmas Eve service.

"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.   This year we dedicate this to my Aunt Mary, who happens to me my last surviving aunt or Uncle on either side. Her husband, my Uncle Don, passed away early this year.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down on this archived message)

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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