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Friday, December 26, 2014
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"He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). "He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent" (Colossians 1:18).
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,We trust each of you had a delightful Christmas celebration with your family and friends yesterday. Of course some of you may still have plans over the next several days as you gather with others in the glorious celebration of our Lord's birth.
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?
Yesterday we enjoyed brunch with friends and afterwards visited a nursing home where we sang Christmas carols with the residents. So many of the familiar Christmas hymns we know by heart, including all the verses. What a joy to sing them out as the residents joined in as the familiar words struck some chord in their memory. After all, many of them have sung the beloved Christmas carols for 80 to 90 plus Christmas seasons.
For many years Brooksyne has enjoyed studying the hymns and has numerous books of hymn backgrounds which we sometimes share on this site. Some of the golden spiritual gems overlooked in familiar hymns are included in the verses deleted from modern hymn books. Our introductory stanza (above) is a lesser known verse from one of the best known Christmas hymns written by John F. Wade about 1743. It was translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841.
Most likely you will recognize the refrain:
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
Millions declare that Christ is Lord. So today we ask the following heart-probing question to our readers, Who is Christ to you?
1) For some Christ is popular. An ungodly entertainer may throw a shout-out thanking God at an awards ceremony. A politician may quote a Scripture text to score political points though he or she gives little regard to God in lifestyle choices or life principles. Consider the crowds and disciples that followed Jesus in John 6 at the height of His popularity, but when it got tough they abandoned Him and the cause for which He died. (See John 6:66)
2) For genuine followers, Christ is present in your life. The Psalmist declared, "Thou art with me." Jesus reassured the disciples on the mountain before He ascended to heaven, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Psalm 23:4, Matthew 28:16-20, Hebrews 13:5)
3) For some Christ is prominent. By prominent, I mean that it is well demonstrated and evidenced by others that you are a follower of Christ. Your family, co-workers, and neighbors know that you are a Christian. It is commendable that Christ is prominent.
John the Baptist is one of the great Bible characters. His God-ordained role was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. He did his work faithfully and earnestly desired that Christ become more and more prominent. One of the simplest, yet profound, statements indicating this is found in the daily text, "He (Jesus Christ) must become greater; I must become less." Another version states, "He must increase, I must decrease." That's not only an appropriate statement for John but is a godly mindset and heart attitude for each of us! This is an ongoing commitment that needs refreshing and renewal on a regular basis, whether in the mundane of everyday life or the major challenges we face over the years. Every day we should awaken with this theme on our hearts; "He must become greater; I must become less."
4) For a relative few Christ is preeminent. Yet this alone is the proper outlook for one who claims that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is God's gold standard concerning what His Son should be to us. Christ Preeminent, what a glorious truth!
From the Miriam Webster dictionary we find the following synonyms to describe one's preeminence: cardinal, chief, dominant, first, greatest, main, master, number one, sovereign, supreme. These adjectives well describe the attitude we should have toward Christ if He is preeminent in our lives.
This phrase from Colossians is translated differently in various translations. The NIV states, "In everything He might have the supremacy." In the NASV it reads, "He Himself will come to have first place in everything." The Greek word (proteuon) means "to be first, to have the first place, to hold the chief place." He is reigning as the preeminent Being in the universe. He always has been and always will be. The ESV states, "that in everything He might be preeminent."
I examine my life today and I encourage you to do the same. Is Christ preeminent in your life? Is He the reigning King of your heart's allegiance? May Christ's reign and preeminence be evident in each of our lives, not just during the Christmas season but all through the next year until we draw our final breath on this side!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, anything good or praiseworthy in me is simply a reflection of the abiding presence of Your Holy Spirit. I want to grow in Your grace and knowledge, and will do so if You are preeminent in my life. That means You will reign supreme and be of first importance to me, having greater influence than any other person or cause. I want to walk in humility today as I pray, "Jesus, must become greater in my life, I must become less." I ask You to be at the center of my thoughts, my attitudes, and my actions so that Your preeminence is seen in all I do and say. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Special Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. 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. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you! Note: We thank those who have contributed the last several weeks. Due to a very busy schedule we are behind in our thank you's and acknowledgments.
Some scenes from our Christmas
Earlier this week we were invited to the Christmas program put on by our Amish "grandkids" at their school (21 students altogether from 1st to 8th grade attend the school). We've grown so close to our friends over the past twelve years that they feel like family so the parents lovingly welcome our relationship with their children. We purposely did not take photos, but Ester who was sitting near the front managed to discreetly take this one of "Frosty the Snowman" which was actually one of our "grandkids". Unfortunately Frosty's head kept toppling off and Frosty kept falling over so the snowman lived up to his legacy "a jolly, happy soul."
On Christmas Eve Brooksyne (Mamme) and young Tirza (Sarah) presented a dramatic story, "Mary's Treasure Box". It was Mary's recollection of events of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem 40 years earlier, that she shared with her granddaughter, Sarah.
Leaving our church service on Christmas Eve I saw a large star similar to the star we showed on Monday. I drove by yesterday for a daytime view and if you look closely you can see the star's framework at the top. Our friend Darrel made the star, which measures about 10 feet, and is clearly visible from Route 283, the major highway between Harrisburg and Lancaster. He made the star by welding rebar.
Yesterday we joined the Hostetters and Martins for lunch. Afterwards we visited a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols and spread some joy. Ester took this photo after we entered the elevator.
Afterward we went to our Amish friends' farm and Eli James was pleased to show me his FarmAll petal tractor he received as a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad.
The children showed me some 3 week old Pomsky pups that will soon be for sale. They certainly have been exposed to lots of children's love. A Pomsky is a "designer breed", the offspring of a husky and a Pomeranian.
The sun was setting as we departed from the farm yesterday and Ester snapped a sunset photo with an interesting foreground. The white plastic covers corn for feed. Jesse was having troupble with crows tearing into the plastic to eat the corn so he tried some artwork. That didn't work but he did find a solution, not visible in the photo; dead crows on top of the plastic.
Last night we joined our neighbors, Jerry and JoAnn. They invited us over for some fellowship and a tour of their new home just up the road from us. One of my favorite photo subjects is a pantry of home canned goods. The missing jar of pickles is sitting on our counter to be sampled at a later date. Brooksyne had brought them some apple jam so they will sample our canned goods as well. See some more photos here, here, and here.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“O Come All Ye Faithful” Video Casting Crowns
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"We want to encourage you daily in your walk with Christ!"
Personal Ministry Update (Revised 12/10/14)
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Our other blogs:
"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!) (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.
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. Other versions are also occasionally used.
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