A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
The blast furnaces at the former Bethlehem Steel Mill, Bethlehem, PA
The huge mill closed about 25 years ago. Rather than demolishing the blast furnaces they re-purposed the area as an historical and entertainment district called Steel Stacks.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"Hush The Noise And Hear The Angels Sing"
Message summary: All over the earth today many are receiving Jesus, the King of kings. Have you?
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:14). "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11,12).
Sunday morning we sang a selection of traditional Christmas songs in our church. Although we appreciate contemporary music and like most churches these days that's the main musical focus of the church we attend. But we also enjoy the traditional hymns, especially at Christmas.
Several years ago Brooksyne and I talked to an individual who attends one of our area's super "cool" churches and he said that they purposely don't sing traditional Easter or Christmas hymns. That really puzzled us so we questioned why! He told us the church leadership feels that the old and traditional will turn off "seekers", and that new and contemporary will compel them to attend. Of course, this thinking is not uncommon.
Thankfully, in our church we continue to sing the classic Christmas hymns sung for generations; the same songs sung in many churches, from house to house, on the streets, in nursing homes, mission stations, in cantatas and concerts from all over the world (excepting the covid surge that has cancelled many Christmas plans in 2020).
This last Sunday we sang "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", a song written as a poem by Edmund Sears in 1849 and set to music the following year. One account says the carol was first performed by parishioners gathered in Sears' home on Christmas Eve. It has long been assumed to be Sears' response to the just ended Mexican–American War.
As we sang and the words were projected to the screen a verse seemed to pop out at both of us simultaneously, as we turned and looked at each other. It was speaking to us regarding the times in which we presently live over 170 years later. We don't recall paying much attention to this verse before, possibly because it is no longer included in modern hymnals. Sometimes we can also miss things due to familiarity and at other times the events of life prompt a special consideration such as the following stanza. Read it slowly and consider its timely message:
Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.
"And man, at war with man," Nothing new here, in one way or another man has always been at war with man. Nation against nation, civil strife within a nation, and of course even in our homes and churches there may be strife.
"hears not the love-song which they bring." O that the people of earth would hear the love song from the angels. It's clearly heard if we would listen and recall their words that were spoken for "all the people".
"O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing." Our prayer is that men and women all around the world would "hush the noise" or "Bab-el sounds" (in v.2 of song) so that we can hear, comprehend, and receive the angel's timeless message, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."
Another very familiar Isaac Watts hymn, "Joy to the World" invites the listener to "let earth receive her King”, which is the proper response to the apostle John's invitation: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
The children of God are those of any generation, of any nation, of any race, of any economic level, powerful or powerless, who have received the King, who have believed in His Name. And all over the earth today many are receiving the King of kings. Brooksyne and I chose to receive Him in our teen years, over 50 years ago. Have you chosen to receive Him? If so, "Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! We will praise His name forever! His power and glory for-ev-er-more we will proclaim!"
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, there is nothing we can do in our own power or position to receive Your favor. The world is full of books, intellects, media "experts", and even religious scholars that offer the public temporary solutions or incomprehensible babble that leads us even farther from the truth of Scripture. And yet o'er the "ba-bel sounds" the blessed angels' message came through loud and clear, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." We thank You for sending Your angelic messengers who pointed the shepherds in the right direction to receive Christ as King. And today where all meek souls still receive Him, the dear Christ enters in, for which we are eternally grateful. 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
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Stephen & Brooksyne
Today we will share some more photos from our trip to Bethlehem, PA on Sunday.
Candles in all the windows, Bethlehem, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)
They are serious about candles in the windows as we saw in the wiring and the permanent built-in candle stands!
We enjoyed the historic doors
Signs of the times!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" Video Calvary Church includes an introduction from our worship leader, Dave Ross.
Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA
An additional thought: Edmund Sears, although best known for the Christmas hymn we wrote about today took a strong stand for right in his generation. After the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, he declared from his pulpit that "when the human and the Divine law are in conflict it is the duty of all to obey the latter." That sound like Acts 5:29!
On Sunday, June 16, 1856, Rev. Sears delivered a sermon entitled "Discourse" which not only condemned chattel slavery as evil, but also the slaveholders whom he called the "slave power." The sermon was deemed to be such a strong argument against slavery that it was published and circulated as a pamphlet by Massachusetts Abolitionists. "When wrong has become so organized as to make the state its permanent body," said Rev. Sears, then the state's functions and the men holding offices do the bidding of wrong and of evil. Rev. Sears continued, "... humanity dies out of it [the state], and demonism becomes its life and soul."
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
Bethlehem, PA Christmas tree
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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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