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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wonders of His love

"The Wonders Of His Love"

Message summary: Today let us consider the wonders of His love!

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"Show the wonder of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes" (Psalm 17:7). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "See what great love the Father has lavished on us!" (1 John 3:1).

In studying for today's message we noticed something we hadn't considered previously. The word "love" is not used in any of the well-known Christmas narratives (Matthew 1,2 and Luke 1,2). However the theme of God's love is abundantly revealed throughout the Bible. Christmas is a time we should give special consideration to AGAPÉ love. Indeed it can be described as the time when love was born.

David wrote Psalm 17 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 Christian believers in so many places. So often it doesn't even make the major news in part because I believe there is an attempt to intentionally suppress such news. But here's a recent account of a gathering of believers in Egypt several days ago. Whenever we are tempted to complain we ask the Holy Spirit to bring these fellow Christians to mind turning our hearts to compassionate prayer on their behalf.

The very heart of David's prayer request in Psalm 17 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.

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." And we might also add, "Help me also to show the wonder of Your great love to others as You reveal Yourself to me."

John 3:16 is surely among the most familiar verses in the Bible and is the first reference to love in John's gospel. Later the same The apostle John wrote 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).

Perhaps you have been hurt in the past or you are presently experiencing pain, either physical or emotional. If you have experienced the meanness of this world or feel deep personal loss today, choose to rejoice in God's unsurpassed, eternal love and His abundant mercy available to all who draw near to Christ.

Today, let us consider how one of the most beloved Christmas songs seems to use the first daily verse although this verse 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 hymn, take note of the glorious refrain that follows the fourth verse which magnificently expresses the wonders of God's love.

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

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily 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 are also 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 and example! May we live the Christmas story everyday as we serve others above ourselves through Christ Jesus our Lord. 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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Thank you

Brooksyne and Ester at American Music Theater 12/26/17

The day after Christmas is often a day of rest and recovery from the hustle and bustle of the celebration. That was our plan, but when I got a call at 1:00 PM inviting us to the American Music Theater to enjoy "Home for the Holidays" Christmas Show in Lancaster I jumped at the opportunity. The AMT is a 30 minute drive and it started at 3 PM. Our neighbors were sick and unable to fill their seats so Ester and I went in their place, unfortunate for them but an opportunity for us. The show included the popular songs for the holiday but then the second half included the sacred message of Jesus' birth and the wonderful songs and Christmas carols reflecting the marvelous good news.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Joy To The World"  Video  Traditional version

"Joy To The World"  Video  Third Day

The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. However it would seem to me the final stanza also alludes to the daily text. The song was first published in 1719 in Watts' collection; "The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship." (How's that for a title!) Watts wrote the words of "Joy to the World" as a hymn glorifying Christ's triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a Christmas song celebrating His first coming as a babe born in a stable though we almost exclusively sing it as a Christmas hymn.

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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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