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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wreath on stone barn
Each Christmas season we enjoy passing this wreath
on an old stone barn on the Strasburg Pike.

"Bundle Of Joy"

This week we will be considering joy, our theme for the third Sunday in Advent.

Message summary: Today we will examine the events surrounding the birth of John, an unlikely bundle of joy!

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"He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:14).

Bundle of Joy movie posterBrooksyne enjoys the classic movies (me, not so much) but I will still try to watch them with her on occasion... til I fall asleep [ten minutes or less, editor's note]! The other day she was watching an old movie called "Bundle Of Joy" starring Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. It was made in 1956 when we were both little bundles of joy (hopefully) to our parents. Little bundle of joy is an affectionate term used for babies. We've both far, far out grown that stage and that's one thing we will never be called again in this life! Now we are just big bundles!

Look at today's text again. "He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord." By itself since it's Christmas you likely assume this is a Scripture reference about the infant Jesus. Several years ago our local community paper which uses the front page for a witness used this text along with the sketching of the nativity scene just above their greeting: "Merry Christmas". In fact a search of graphics on this verse reveals that most of them treat it as a reference to Jesus.

Zechariah and ElizabethHowever the verse actually isn't referring to Jesus but to John! (Check the context in Luke 1:5-25). Zechariah and Elizabeth had not had their own children. The Bible informs us that, "Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old" (Luke 1:6,7).

But God had other plans for them and, like Abraham and Sarah, they became parents long after Elizabeth's barren child bearing age had passed. Today's text was an angelic assurance to Zechariah from Gabriel.

"He will be a joy and delight to you." After John's birth, recorded in Luke 1:57-66, the focus of the gospel turns to Jesus and we have no record of John's infancy or childhood. Surely Elizabeth had some help from a younger relative or house maiden during John's terrible two's stage. However Zechariah had received a promise that John would be a joy and delight and we are sure he was!

"And many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord." Indeed at the time of John's birth he created quite a stir. Luke 1:65,66 tells us "All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, 'What then is this child going to be?' For the Lord’s hand was with him."

The final childhood reference to John states, "And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel" (Luke 1:80).

A piece of art work hung in the hallway of my childhood home with a drawing of John the Baptist. I earnestly but mistakenly assumed in my early childhood his name meant that he attended a Baptist church like the one in our town of Belton, MO.

Indeed many rejoiced at John's birth and he had a role as the one preparing the way for the Lord. Due to his bold stand for righteous living through repentance his life was cut short and yet he is recognized today as one of the great characters in the Bible.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, we are warmed by the words of the prophecy delivered to Zachariah concerning the future birth of his only son, John, "He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord". When we read through the powerful messages John the Baptist preached in the Desert of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" we're reminded of the voice of the prophet Isaiah who described him as "A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him." Jesus followed in John's footsteps after he was thrown into prison and also preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." And now we who follow Christ share the same message with others, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." It is the evergreen message for all believers to convey to the unsaved. Help us to lovingly and courageously share this message of salvation that leads to eternal hope. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

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Special Year-end Financial Appeal: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). 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. Like many ministries, 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 approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. 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 would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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To donate directly online here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376

Make A DonationPlease Note: We also provide this familiar option due to the convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not be concerned regarding receiving an official tax deductible receipt. Click here to send an offering using PayPal. This will open to a page that states "Brooksyne Weber"

Thank you

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Joy to the World"  Video  This is the arrangement we heard at the Gaither concert last Saturday evening. Our choir sang along just like the choir in this youtube. It was fun to sing back and forth, "Joy" with the Gaither singers singing out and we did the repeat, "Joy".

"Joy To The World"  Video  David Phelps

"How Great Our Joy"  Video  Haven 

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.

"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 many 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

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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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