Daily Encouragement Net - A daily, Bible-based message of hope and encouragement.
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The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
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Monday, November 30, 2009
For many years we have observed this duck family in Donegal Creek near our home.
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"But the angel said to him: 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John'" (Luke 1:13).
Yesterday Brooksyne and I held a Memorial Service for families and residents of Longwood Manor, a nearby assisted living facility where we serve as chaplains. Seven residents had passed away over the past quarter and so we planned a service to honor them. At the end of the service Brooksyne read "My First Christmas in Heaven". Afterward we went around the room and greeted those who were in attendance. Brooksyne had a very interesting conversation:
I greeted Marian (not her real name) whom I've known for about eight years now through my hymn sings and chaplaincy at the facility. Marian has a disease that greatly impairs her mobility and makes her speech extremely difficult to understand. If I really, really focus and with the help of others I can sometimes understand what she is trying to say. Other times I don't understand but listen anyway to show her that I value her conversation.
She was most intent in communicating with me yesterday and I just could not understand her. With great effort she used her arms to give me gestures that was helpful. I thought she was referring to my playing hymns at the piano, but that was clearly not the message. One word I finally understood was "image" and it helped direct me in my interpretation of her message. After a lengthy time of playing charades (so to speak) I finally understood what she was saying. When I had read the Christmas poem earlier, in her spirit, she saw an image of Jesus standing behind me. Marian was so excited when I finally understood her message and she was clearly touched by what she'd experienced. Jesus had met her in a supernatural way during the reading of that poem and she wanted to convey that to me.
That brings to mind the Bible story where Zechariah resorted to using gestures to communicate. Luke describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as an ordinary married couple who lived upright lives in the sight of God. Elizabeth was barren so they had no children and "they were both well along in years." He served as a priest at a time when God was about to break a long, bleak period of prophetic silence. It had been 400 years since God had spoken through the prophet Malachi.
Yet Zechariah and his wife, like other godly Jews, fervently awaited the promised Messiah. His routine assignment in the temple on this particular day changed him forever after his encounter with a representative of the living God, none other than the angel Gabriel! And what a blessed message he received! "Your prayer has been heard." I wonder if Zechariah's mind went into fast mode to consider which prayer Gabriel was speaking of. Surely, he had given up on the request for a child many years earlier. Possibly the answered prayer was the Messiah's coming and Zechariah would play a part in this prophetic fulfillment in a most remarkable way.
We encourage you to read the entire account from Luke 1:1-25 (link below). Zechariah wanted to be sure he was really hearing things right. Do you blame him? Due to his initial unbelief Gabriel told him that he would be unable to speak until the birth of his son.
Following his lengthy encounter with the angel, Zechariah went outside the temple and saw those who anxiously awaited his appearance. "They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak." I can't help but wonder what kind of signs Zechariah made to describe his supernatural encounter with the angel. Did he look up toward heaven and shield his eyes to give the effect of a heavenly encounter with a dazzling, bright visitor? Did he point to his mouth to indicate that the messenger gave him a message? And how about the news of the coming birth….did he make a cradle of his two arms nestled together and rock an invisible baby? Surely, the crowd would have to wonder if John, well up in years, might be having the first signs of Alzheimer's (or whatever term they used to describe the deterioration of aging brain cells.)
The next challenge would be communicating the miraculous news to his wife, Elizabeth. I wonder if God had in some way spoken to her as well. What did she think when her speechless old husband walked into their house that night at a quicker pace, his face lit up, and his hands talking a mile a minute? We really don't know how God enabled Zechariah to communicate the good news to Elizabeth, but we do know that nine months later they rejoiced as they welcomed little John into the world. Their son would "bring many of the people of Israel back to the Lord their God. And he would go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Zechariah and Elizabeth were ordinary people touched by an extra-ordinary God who's very much at work today still touching and using ordinary people like you and me!
Just ordinary people, God uses ordinary people.
He chooses people just like me and you,
Who are willing to do as He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all.
No matter how small your all may seem to you.
Because little becomes much,
As you place it in the Master's hand." *
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are thankful for the miraculous birth of John the Baptist who prepared the way for the Lord Jesus who came as Savior to the world. We also thank You for ordinary individuals living blameless, upright lives who help prepare unbelievers to receive the gospel message. By their godly example and their communicating the truths of the Bible they become Your earth appointed messengers directing people's hearts to Jesus who is the only way to the Father. May we be among them. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Today's Scripture portion: Luke 1:1-25
It was a beautiful sunny day late yesterday afternoon and driving through the country to the church for choir rehearsal we passed this little rustic log cabin on Cold Spring Road. It sure looked like a nice place to sit out and enjoy a pleasant Autumn afternoon!
I have enjoyed old pumps since I was a child when there was one in front of my grandparent's home in Harwood, Missouri. I couldn't resist pumping this one to see if I could get water out, but alas was unable to get any. As a child my sister Genelle and I would race to the pump and vigorously pump till the water surged out!
The two photos were taken here (Google map)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Ordinary People" Video Sung by some ordinary people!
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"A Daily Prayer" - A blog simply posting the daily prayer. We keep this up each day since it's merely the prayer from the Daily Encouragement Net message!
"A Little Foolishness" - Humor/satire blog (a great outlet for non-serious writing but at times with a subtle message!) Last updated with the story of Mildred Swanson, who joyfully discovers her "spiritual gift" is sending forwarded emails! (Note: This material is satire!)
"Clear Minded" - Longer, periodic articles on specific issues impacting the faithful believer and church. (Actually this is my intent but I haven't done much with it!)
"Hymns of Hope" - Brooksyne along with two friends made a CD using classic hymns. Brooksyne tells the background story of the 11 hymns. All of these songs are also available for download on the site.
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Personal Mission Statement
"I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
How to become a child of God
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.
© Copyright 2009 Stephen C. Weber - All Rights Reserved
Daily Encouragement Net
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
495 Kraybill Church Road - Mount Joy, PA 17552
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