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Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Christmas Eve

Lititz, PA manger scene 12/22/19
This lighted life-sized manger scene is at the main intersection in Lititz, PA*

"Full Of Grace and Truth"

Message summary:
J.B. Phillips says, "The Christian faith is founded upon a well attested, sober fact of history; that quietly, but with deliberate purpose, God Himself has visited this little planet." Praise God for His life-changing visit!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

"Merry Christmas Eve"
was our blessing this morning from Mike Stike, the announcer on WDAC, our local Christian radio station. Of course music this morning has been all about the birth of Jesus Christ!

Power packed phrases from familiar Christmas songs can tell the Gospel story in very few words. Consider the familiar stanza from Charles Wesley's hymn: "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity, clothed as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel." Each of these four phrases from the second verse of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" represent scores of Bible verses presented by numerous writers, but especially those of the apostle John in chapter 1, verses 1-18.

The Gospel of John does not have a Christmas story we normally read on Christmas morning like Matthew and Luke, chronicling the human dimension of Christ's birth. But John 1 is a powerful Christmas story.

John, the last living of the twelve disciples, wrote his gospel late in the first century. He had been among Christ's closest disciples and friends. He had heard the wonderful teachings and witnessed the great miracles. He had seen Christ die on the cross and had fellowship with the risen Lord. He had been there when Christ ascended back to the Father. And now for some sixty years he had been obeying the great commission before putting his account down in writing for subsequent generations, including those of us alive in 2019.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us". This phrase sums up John's Christmas story. Up to this point in his gospel John had not used the proper name "Jesus Christ" and does not do so until the seventeenth verse, after which he never again used the phrase "the Word" in reference to Jesus. That first Christmas morning the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. That's the heart of the Christmas story.

"And we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father". John saw in Jesus far more than others which saw in Him only Joseph's son, the carpenter. His vision was sharpened by the eternal glimpse He had of God's only begotten Son. He was numbered in the inner circle of three, along with Peter and James, who witnessed God's glory in special ways such as the Transfiguration. "His glory was spiritually discerned - the glory of surpassing grace, love, tenderness, wisdom, purity, spirituality; majesty and meekness, richness and poverty, power and weakness, meeting together in unique contrast; ever attracting and at times ravishing [those who] followed and forsook all for Him" (Jamieson, Faucet & Brown).

"Full of grace and truth". The Greek word for "full" conveys replete with and covered over. A few verses later John personally testifies of this grace, "And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16).

Let's consider that phrase "grace and truth". Theologian J.C. Ryle eloquently writes of the grace and truth that came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ: "This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ's Person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation, and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is very MAN. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very GOD."

This season we join hundreds of millions of believers around the world reflecting on this wonderful truth over nineteen hundred years after John wrote his account. We believe that the Word did become flesh. As J.B. Phillips says, "The Christian faith is founded upon a well attested, sober fact of history; that quietly, but with deliberate purpose, God Himself has visited this little planet."

We remember and thank God for this glorious visit. Praise God for His life-changing visit! I again proclaim my decision to serve this great God who "became flesh, and dwelt among us" and who indeed is, "full of grace and truth". Won't you join us?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, thank You for clothing Yourself in flesh and making Your home among Your own creation. You are both God and Man, completely divine and completely human. Rather than coming to us only through written precepts and the revelation of Your Word, You came to us through a Person's life, something people could tangibly see, physically grasp and personally identify with. You revealed the divine nature and perfect will of the Father through the Person of Jesus Christ. Grace flows through You in those whose lives are spiritually transformed and the lives of those who experience miracles and healings. Thank You for emptying Yourself and taking the nature of a servant as You walked in truth and obedience, knowing that it would lead to death on the cross. We praise You, Jesus, for You are exalted to the highest place. We believe with joy-filled hearts that You became flesh and lived among us, and You are indeed full of grace and truth. Glory to God in the highest! Amen.

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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,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Couple photo at Star Barn 12/19/19 (Click to enlarge)
Christmas Greetings from the Star Barn.
( Click to enlarge)

Our Christmas greeting to our readers: We're enjoying a busy Christmas season and will continue our activities tonight with the Christmas Eve service followed by our visit with the Lapp family. Christmas is a lot more fun where there's a house full of excited children so we will be just as excited to share together the good things of the Lord and watch our Amish "grandchildren" open their gifts. Included among our gifts are books which the children enjoy as they are avid readers.

Since I was a young girl I often heard the expression, "If I were the only one who needed to be saved I still believe Jesus would have come to earth and died for my sins." That always got to me since it very much personalized the salvation experience to my heart helping me to recognize God's immense love just for me, unknown as I am, with my life being insignificant to most.

Perhaps true, perhaps not, but this one thing I do know. I sure wouldn't want to be the only one who was saved because of Christ's shedding His blood for my sins. It would be a very, very lonely Christian walk, for some of the greatest joys of being a believer is the fellowship and kindred spirit I enjoy with those of like faith. When going through difficulty, how many of us have said, "What would I do without Christ?" or "What would I do without the family of believers?"

Stephen and I can adapt that phrase to express our greatest appreciation and love to you, our faithful dailyencouragement readers. We have met so many fine people from all walks of life and from all regions of the world and we are better for it in our spiritual walk and social life. We always enjoy your feedback and your stimulating comments that affirm or challenge us to think further on a subject matter. We're even glad for those of you who take the time to let us know a link is broken or a date is wrong, etc. If our messages were prepared for a blank screen and we didn't know any of you who read or benefit from our efforts, it would certainly be less fulfilling.

So we want to wish each of you a blessed Christmas. We are praying for those whose Christmas will be unlike any in the past due to the heartache you are presently experiencing, and for those who suffers from significant loss in your life. May our faithful Lord meet you and bring a deep settled peace in your heart as you reflect upon Him as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Prince of peace, the everlasting Father.

Lititz Cafe Chocolate & Bistro window 12/22/19
Strolling through downtown Lititz after attending the Moravian Love Feast Sunday evening. Take notice of the candy cane tree where the candy canes are hanging upside down, the gumdrop tree and various other confections.

Lititz Christmas window planner window 12/22/19
Striking window Greens accented with gold, silver and bows.

Stephen always makes sure we visit the caboose and train station.

Lititz Moravian church 12/22/19
The Moravian Church in Lititz, PA

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Somewhere In Your Silent Night"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Peace On Earth"  Video  Calvary Church worship team from this year's Christmas service

"I Call Him Lord"  Video  Collingsworth Family

Memories of Christmas (Part 1 of 2) Audio This morning Focus on the Family broadcast with touching stories shared by listeners.

Point of Grace 12/20/19"All Is Well"  Video  Point Of Grace  I (Brooksyne) love this song! Ester and I volunteered at the Point of Grace Concert last Friday evening and got a photo with Shelly, Denise (from Oklahoma) and Leigh (L to R).

Heather, who is no longer with Point of Grace, sings "All Is Well" in a way that sinks deep into my soul and brings tears most times I listen. Michael W. Smith wrote this song in 1989 and it is the theme of Frank Peretti's touching children's book written in 1991 "All Is Well, The Miracle of Christmas in July". I was so touched by the book that a friend and I scripted it for a Christmas drama at our church in northern Pennsylvania shortly after it was written. Parents and Grandparents, this is a good book for your children to enjoy and appreciate the goodness of those who give toward the less fortunate. It features a mother (either widowed or her husband left her) and her young daughter.

* Regarding the Lititz manger scene: From our local paper: 25 years ago the Square in Lititz did not resemble the silent setting for a peaceful manger scene. Residents marched about waving signs while drivers honked in support of a demonstration that was part of a seven-hour vigil in response to the American Civil Liberties Union’s request that the traditional Nativity in the square be removed. The ACLU cited a Supreme Court ruling, but residents decided that "this was one manger scene that was not going down without a fight." And so the scene remains and here's the story (pdf).

Here's an interesting perspective by singer Wayne Watson

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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