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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Spectacular at the Radio City Music Hall NYC
A photo of the Living Nativity scene at the Christmas Spectacular show at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. We took this photo from a concert we attended several years ago. The show included the Christmas story along with Scripture readings and traditional Christmas hymns. Hopefully that is still the case.

"The Everlasting Light Shineth!"

to this message on your audio player.

"The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us" (Psalm 118:27). "The LORD will be your everlasting light" (Isaiah 60:20). "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:1-4). "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Roxie and Dottie in front of coal stoveWe primarily heat our home with a stove, using Pennsylvania anthracite coal, otherwise known as hard coal. It takes a bit of work to maintain such as bringing in buckets of coal and emptying them into the hopper in the back. I fill the hopper in the back of the stove early each morning and the coal is slowly, automatically fed to the burner. A white hot portion of coals on the burner plate, only about 4x3 inches, is generally adequate to keep our house warm. From a distance when I see the warm, glowing light in the glass window I am confident it is burning properly. It's a very pleasant source of light especially when the room is dark.

Light can be glowing, beaming, piercing, dim and many other variations. It can be steady or blinking. But there is only one source of Everlasting Light.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

(From "O Little Town Of Bethlehem")

Light is one of the great themes of the incarnation. In fact I have identified seven well-known Christmas carols that include the theme of "light". Many of us have enjoyed the more recently written song by Graham Kendrick titled "Shine Jesus, Shine". About twenty years ago we had a children's Christmas musical in the church we served in New England titled, "Shine Jesus, Shine". The story line involves the stars vying for who will be called upon to be the famous star shining over Bethlehem when Jesus is born. It turns out that the humblest star, who is not expecting nor aspiring the esteemed role, is called upon for this service.

As is often the case in these types of Christmas programs a tiny Mary and Joseph, hand in hand, toddled up the center aisle to take their places at the manger scene built on a platform over the baptismal. As I watched the scene I saw the little boy posing as Joseph squirming nervously. I was afraid he would fall off the back of the makeshift platform, so I went behind the scenes to lend physical support during the remainder of the presentation by keeping him pushed forward! We suppose many of you can remember "unrehearsed" scenes from children's Christmas programs through the years. 

Psalm 118:27A wonderful truth is so simply expressed in our first daily verse: "The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us." "The Lord is God" merely asserts the Biblical truth of the one true God revealed in Scripture. In our New Testament understanding we declare, along with Thomas, that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God.

Isaiah 60:20"He has made His light shine upon us." All through history the redeemed have been able to proclaim this truth. The great prophet Isaiah in a Messianic prophecy declares, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2) and later declares, "The LORD will be your everlasting light" (Isaiah 60:20).

In the Apostle John's account of the incarnation he states concerning Jesus Christ,
"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men."

However in this church age we look back on the full revelation of Christ and understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Jesus Christ came to be the Light of the world, to reveal the knowledge and glory of God, and to shine brightly in a world darkened and dominated by sin. Is He your Lord and God? Today are you experiencing the penetrating power of God's light as it shines upon you?  Are others seeing its revelation of truth and ray of hope as it shines through you?  We sure hope so!

Make it your prayer today, "Shine Jesus, Shine!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the radiance of Your holiness is revealed in the light of Your Son, Jesus, who came to dwell among us.  We know that in Him there is no darkness at all.  Satan, the prince of darkness blinds and deceives us, but Jesus, the Prince of Peace, illuminates us with wisdom and truth through His earthly life revealed by Your Holy Word.  And now we have the light of Your Holy Spirit to guide us in a sin-darkened world as we sojourn below.  May this light that burns within us brighten our countenance and be our power source for truth, holiness, and courageous witness to those who have been blinded by the darkness.  Bring them into the light of Your salvation we pray.  Amen.

(I John 1:5 - 2:11 is a beautiful portion of Scripture dealing with believers who "walk in the light" in contrast to those "who walk in darkness.")

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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As mentioned in our message "Light" is a theme in many Christmas carols. The following lines are from older Christmas carols familiar to many of us. Can you identify the carol based on just the short phrase?

1) Son of God, love's pure light 
2) Yonder shines the infant light:
3) And to the earth it gave great light,
4) Light and life to all He brings,
5) But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
6) The everlasting Light;
7) Guide us to thy perfect light.

See below in Today's Suggested Music for the Christmas hymn these lines come from

Early morning sun through clouds (Doris High)
Our friend Doris High shares this photo, along with others in a collection of early morning photos, using a song from the musical "Oklahoma". Anyone care to guess what song that might be?  Answer is below
Today's Suggested Music.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"  Video  Acapella

"Shine Jesus, Shine"  Video  A majestic version recorded in the Royal Albert Hall in London

Answers to today's Christmas Carol Quiz

1) Silent Night
2) Angels from the Realms of Glory
3) The First Noel
4) Hark the Herald
5) I wonder as I wander
6) O Little Town of Bethlehem
7) We Three Kings

Doris High's photo blog with lyrics to song

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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