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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trees at sunset (Ester)
Trees at sunset
(photo by Ester)

"Wise Men Still Seek Him"

Message summary: During this season as we reflect on the Christmas story let us determine that, like the wise men, we too will seek after the Christ.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1). “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15).

Union Station, Washington, DCThis last weekend our friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, along with their two youngest children took a train trip to see some friends in southern Virginia. They got on the train in Wilmington, Delaware but had a stop at Union Station in Washington, a very, very busy train station especially during morning rush hour at the time they passed through. They had about 1/2 hour layover so they decided to get out and look around the station a bit.

But, lo and behold, they got separated and Jesse, carrying 2 year old Stephen, went on a frantic search for Anna Ruth, asking passersby if they had seen an Amish woman with a little girl (at times it's really helpful to look or dress a little different than others).

Well, someone had seen her - getting on a northbound train headed for Boston! Jesse ran down the platform along the train looking in the windows to see if he could find her. A conductor seeing his efforts had an announcement made on the train. However, Anna Ruth, realizing she wasn't on the same car with their luggage, had already gotten off and they were reunited. Whew!

But then they had to make a mad dash to their own train. When they got there the gate was closed and the train was slowly pulling out with their luggage on it. Jesse, God bless his soul, went running along the train banging on the side yelling for it to stop. A gate agent pulled him back, explaining the train would not be able to stop but they would remove their five pieces of unmarked luggage at the next stop and reload it on the next train where they would board.

Jesse, having a wonderful capacity to laugh at his own foibles, gives me permission to share his story. He knows I like to use stories to illustrate our messages and he and Anna Ruth got to thinking this would make a pretty decent Daily Encouragement intro and it did. I have a feeling some observing the scene probably said, "You won't believe what I saw this morning at the train station" as they visited among other federal office workers that day!

Most of us probably have some travel stories. It's part of what makes travel memorable and fun. We still laugh when we consider the server, in Eureka Springs Arkansas, who after our meal asked us "Are you ready for Deodorant?" (True story, see link below)

The three wise men But what about adventuresome travel stories in the Bible? Today let us consider the long trip made by the wise men from the east. Can you imagine the stories they had to tell upon their return!

Little is known about the identity of these wise men (or Magi), only that they were from the east. Even the customary "three" wise men is not specified but perhaps assumed since only three gifts were described.

Perhaps they were descendants of the Jews who had been captured and taken to Babylon about 600 years earlier. Although many of these exiled Jews returned to the land of Judah following the Babylonian exile, some did not but rather settled in that area (present day Iraq and Iran) where some still live as a tiny, extremely oppressed remnant.

In fact throughout the world to this day there are small remnants of Jewish people in virtually every country, including the most inhospitable parts of the Middle East. Actually these Jews, as well as Christians, have lived in areas now dominated by Islam long before the Islam religion was even founded. Up until relatively recent years they had lived comparatively peaceful lives before the increasing dominance of hate-filled strains of Islam that now dominate the news. The existence of these small pockets of exiled (and later dispersed) Jews throughout the world who keep their identity and faith is a wonderful sign of God's promise.

These wise men traveled to Jerusalem to make inquiry about a special birth. They were seeking after "He who has been born king of the Jews" and had made the long trek to worship Him.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Many of us have heard the phrase "Wise Men Still Seek Him". The genuinely wise still seek Him like the wise men from the east. They always have and always will. This wisdom is altogether different than the wisdom of the world. The wise who seek Him now may be among the elite and highly educated according to worldly standards or they may not be. Some of the wisest people in this regard have little of the world's education. And bluntly speaking, some of the most highly educated according to the world's standards are spiritually ignorant and unwise!

1) The genuinely wise seek Christ to worship Him just as the original wise men did. Their purpose in coming was forthright: we "have come to worship Him". In worship we declare our allegiance as we celebrate His supremacy and worth. In worship we recognize the Great One and our own neediness regardless of our position in life. He alone is ultimately wise: "To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen" (Romans 16:27).

2) The genuinely wise seek Christ to build their lives on the solid foundation of His teaching and the remainder of the Bible. In one of our Lord's teachings, the "Sermon on the Mount", He concludes with an illustration contrasting two builders: Those who built their house (life) on the rock of hearing and obeying His teaching He deemed wise. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock." The others, whom He deems foolish, heard but did not obey. "And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand" (Matthew 7:26). The wise man seeks to learn what Jesus teaches and lives by that teaching.

3) The genuinely wise are very careful about how they live. The apostle Paul speaks to those who seek Christ for wisdom, calling us to "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15).

Today as we continue to reflect on the Christmas story let us determine that, like the wise men in the original Christmas story, we too will seek after the Christ. We worship Him through our acceptance of His Lordship and through our adherence to His instruction.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have taught us to be very careful how we live, not as unwise but as wise followers of Jesus, the very essence of Truth. In today's society of noncommittal attitudes or "whatever rings your bell" way of thinking (or non-thinking) we choose to be committed, sober, and vigilant about the way we live our lives in accordance to what we believe. We walk as sensible, thinking people with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who don't know or care about the meaning of life here or the life yet to come. We care deeply about the temporal and eternal destiny of our lives and therefore we seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness above all. 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.

If you would consider making a donation to our ministry see here for more information.

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 easy 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,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Hadany Arch, Lycoming Mall 12/7/19
On our return trip from our visit to Wellsboro on Saturday we passed the Hadany Arch at the entrance to the Lycoming Mall near Williamsport, PA. It's probably one of the most unusual mall entrances in the country!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Wise Men Still Seek Him"   Video  Paul Overstreet

"When Love Was Born"  Video  Mark Schultz

"Are You Ready For Deodorant?" One of our travel memories!

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 you, your family or church 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 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.  Here's a great Communion Hymn for Christmas (Video)

"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.  Brooksyne read and wrote about the poem in this message.  

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

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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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