A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Friday, December 18, 2020
"The God Of Love"
Message summary: It may surprise you that the word "love" is not found 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 and indeed in the Christmas narratives.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"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).
Bethlehem, through your small door
Came the hope we've waited for
The world was changed forevermore
When love was born
Today we consider "love", the fourth of the four customary themes during the advent season. In previous messages this week we have considered hope, peace, and joy.
In his advent devotional "God Is In the Manger" Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes regarding the angel's joyful announcement to the lowly shepherds:
"Only the humble believe Him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that He does wonders where people despair, that He takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly...God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as His instruments and performs His wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; He loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken."
It may surprise you that the word "love" is not found 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 and indeed in the Christmas narratives. Christmas is a time we should give special consideration to AGAPÉ love. Indeed the incarnation has been 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.
The very heart of David's prayer request in Psalm 17 was, "Show the wonder of your great love". David surely 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" we experience when the great love of God is first revealed to us. An old Gordon Jensen song comes to mind, "Bring Back The New Again".
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 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 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 suffering, either physically or emotionally. 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. Over 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.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily 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 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.
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 click here. This will open to a page that designates the offering to: WEBER,STEPHEN CHAP, Specialized Chaplaincy Ministry ID: 700001-237376
Please 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"
Stephen & Brooksyne
Today we will share some photos Ester took yesterday following the snow storm when we went for scenic country ride.
Donegal Springs, about 1 1/2 miles west of our house.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Snowy hay bales in field.
A view of the Susquehanna River from Koser Park in Bainbridge, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)
This rustic cabin is near Bainbridge, PA
Railroad tracks in Bainbridge, PA. Looks like trains have already been through!
This stand of snow laced trees is near Bainbridge, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"When Love Was Born" Video Mark Shultz
"Bring Back The New Again" Video Gordon Jensen
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. This page was first posted in 2005 soon after my Mom passed away.
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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