Farm in Blue Ridge mountains (Click to enlarge)Traveling to Nashville we passed this farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Parkway
Click to enlarge
Note: We are in Nashville, Tennessee visiting with Brooksyne’s sister and niece for Thanksgiving. As we suggested on Tuesday our internet access is limited where we’re staying (an RV owned by Brooksyne’s sister). We hope all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving regardless of where you may live! We don’t expect to post again while we are travelling. On the way to Nashville we drove a distance on the Blue Ridge Parkway and saw some beautiful scenery such as our photo above and several more we will post below.

Note: No podcast prepared for this message.

“The Sin Of Unthankfulness”

“Neither were they thankful” (Romans 1:21). “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Thankless lane in Rising Sun, MarylandWDAC, our local Christian radio station, often announces the temperature of neighboring towns and often includes “Rising Sun”, Maryland. It’s a small town with a pleasant sounding name that kinda brings a smile to your face when you hear it, sort of like Mount Joy or Mount Pleasant. However, in researching its name it appears that the town is actually named after a tavern!

Several years ago we drove through Rising Sun and passed a road named “Thankless Lane”. Now that’s a most unusual name for a road so we stopped and took a photo.  How did they ever come up with such a negative name, we wondered, and began to speculate. Was there a grumpy old farmer that one time lived on this lane who had a reputation for being unthankful? Perhaps a good deed was done for someone and the kindness was spurned by ingratitude. Brooksyne and I have determined that this is a road we wouldn’t want to live on either literally or spiritually.

We recently talked to a resident of Rising Sun and inquired about how Thankless Lane got its name. He didn’t know but recalled getting a traffic ticket on that lane for which he was not at all thankful, so the name “thankless” fit at the time!

Whatever the reason, there are a few folks who actually must identify their address as “Thankless Lane.”  Can you imagine the conversation?  “What is your name and address, Sir?” “My name is Thomas Hane and I live at 923 Thankless Lane.” “What was the street name again?” At least I know that’s how the conversation would go if I were asking the question. I would wonder if I was hearing the street name properly.

Today, following a day we are specifically to focus on Thanksgiving, we consider people who by their outlook in life live on Thankless Lane. Unthankfulness is one of the most dominant and universal sins in the human race. We see plenty of evidence of that all around us, and if we look within, we’re certain to find some within our own hearts as well. Let us consider the sin of unthankfulness.

We consider people who by their outlook in life seem to live on Thankless Lane. Unthankfulness is one of the most dominant and universal sins in the human race.  The Apostle Paul in his sweeping, panoramic view of human depravity in Romans 1 makes this dismal statement, “They neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him.” Later in his final epistle Paul lists some of the characteristics evident in the perilous last days. Among them we read that men will be…”unthankful”.

Being thankful is an often overlooked fruit of the maturing follower of Christ. Unthankfulness on the other hand is a mark of man’s depravity. And in this age of entitlements unthankfulness is ever increasing! I can recall several occasions in my life when the lack of gratitude was deafening as it was replaced by a grumbling, complaining outlook. The focus moves from “I’ve been blessed” to “I’m not getting what I deserve.” It’s a good thing we don’t get what we deserve, but instead we receive God’s abundant mercy and lovingkindness!

Jesus often asked questions to get his hearers to think, although He obviously knew the answer. In Luke 17:11-19 we read where He had healed ten lepers but only one returned to say, “Thank you”. We’ve often wondered what excuses the other nine had in failing to return and give Jesus thanks?

Three great truths concerning the importance of thankfulness can be derived from the leper who returned to give thanks:

  • Thankfulness matters to God. Jesus was disturbed that the others did not return with thankfulness to give Him thanks: “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?'”
  • Thankfulness is an act of the will. The healed leper chose to return and give thanks. He did so very publically and expressively. He “came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.”
  • Thankfulness is an excellent testimony. Others observed this and the story became part of the Scriptural record.

Will we be like the one who returned to give “Thanks” or like the nine who did not? Are you expressing thankfulness to God and to others? We sure hope you’re resting your head each night on Thankful Lane!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, each of us make our dwelling on Thankful Lane when we daily attribute thanksgiving to You who provides for all our needs. You give us shelter from the harsh elements, food on our tables, clothing for our bodies and people who love and care for us. We’ve been blessed beyond measure, both physically and spiritually as You provided for our greatest need; salvation. Worthy is the Lamb who died on the cross for our sins. We will eternally praise You for Your goodness to us. Amen.


Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles through twenty-nine Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. (Wikipedia)
Appalachian Trail over James River 11-25-14
As we climbed the Blue Ridge to get on the Parkway we walked a small portion of the Appalachian trail, crossing a foot bridge over the James River.

Blue Ridge Parkway vista 11-25-14
A majestic vista view. Scenic pulloffs for these views are all along the Parkway.
Blue Ridge Parkway mountain lake 11-25-14
Peaks of Otter Lake
Blue Ridge Parkway mountain 11-25-14
Another view of the Peaks of Otter lake and mountain but showing the rustic split rail fence.
Blue Ridge Parkway bridge 11-25-14
The bridges on the Parkway are very distinct.

Abandoned farmhouse near Blue Ridge Parkway 11-25-14
We had to exit the Parkway north of Roanoke, we assume due to a forecast snow storm. Coming down off the Ridge passed this fixer-upper.


Chaplains at Knoxville TFC chapel
In Knoxville, Tennessee we stopped by to visit with the chaplains at the TFC chapel for truck drivers.


Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We appreciated singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.”Be Magnified”  Video   Kim Hill

“In Everything Give Him Thanks”  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter

“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Togather, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

“Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul”  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns” (printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“Thanksgiving Medley”  Video  Nice selection of grand old thanksgiving hymns.

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Traditional version  Here’s a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

“Come We Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version  Here’s a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video  Don Moen

“When I Thank Him For What He Has Done”  Video  The Cathedrals

“Worthy Is The Lamb Crown Him .. Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“Thank You For Loving Me”  Video  Tommy Walker

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

“For These Reasons”  Video  Lincoln Brewster


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

“In All Things”

November 25, 2014

Thankfulness quote (photo by Sabra Penley (Click to enlarge)The answer is … We should!
Photo by Sabra Penley

Note: We have  travel plans the rest of this week and are not certain when we will be able to publish a fresh daily encouragement based upon access to the internet and whether I can get my old sluggish laptop computer I rarely use working again. We hope all our readers have a blessed Thanksgiving regardless of where you may live!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“In All Things”

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we approach Thanksgiving here in the US, though this message applies everyday and everywhere, we look back over the year for the many things in which we are thankful. For many of you it’s been a routine year, but for some of you an “impact event” has brought about changes you hadn’t anticipated. I recently heard a speaker talk about impact events. On a national level an “impact event” is something like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination over 50 years ago when we were children. For our parents it was an event like the Pearl Harbor attack.

But we all have personal “impact events” that vary among us. The death of a loved one, a serious accident, the diagnosis of a serious disease. Most of you can identify such events in your own life.

John and Faithe KeeferWe are blessed by our pastor John and his wife Faithe. They had an impact event this year. Several months ago they entered a hard journey they would not have anticipated. Faithe received a cancer diagnosis and after major surgery is now undergoing chemotherapy. They are very transparent and well-loved among our church family. With heavy hearts we stand with them in prayer as they go through this ordeal. As a committed couple they are applying the very Scriptures Pastor John preached from this past Sunday: “Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (I Corinthians 13:7).

David and Sabra Penley 5/4/14 (click to enlarge)This last spring when we visited San Antonio we visited with our friends, David and Sabra Penley. David connected with us several years ago when he came across Daily Encouragement while looking for photos of Pennsylvania. Many years ago he pastored in the northeast part of Pennsylvania prior to getting his doctorate and teaching at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. In early 2013 he had a significant impact event, a severe health crisis which forced him to retire from his teaching position.

When we met over lunch David and Sabra expressed a desire to continue ministry together. Sabra began blogging and more recently they began their “Simply One In Marriage”* blog together with a goal of providing online teaching to instruct and encourage others. I was reading the blog the other day and was struck by the question in our opening photo.

The phrase, “If God is working for our good in all things” is based on Romans 8:28, one of the great verses in the Bible that many have memorized. Paul declared, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” When I preach or allude to this text I often ask, “Do we really know and believe this?”

Sabra then asks, “If God is working for our good in all things, should we not be thankful in all things?” The answer is “Of course we should!” In fact elsewhere Paul wrote, “In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Our third daily Scripture provides a familiar but much needed perspective on life and trials: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Thankfulness quote (photo by Sabra Penley (Click to enlarge)

Today some of you have had an impact event this year and some are even now in the midst of an impacting trial. The Greek word for “trial” that James uses is very interesting. “Peirasmos” conveys a “putting to proof” or by implication, “adversity”. These times of testing are difficult but necessary in proving our faith in God to be genuine and effective. James tells us that our proper response when encountering trials is this: “Consider it all joy”. The world would say, “That’s preposterous!” But when we genuinely seek God’s perspective on this subject, we realize He is working for our good, which enables us to give Him thanks, even as the storm rages.

Just as the rings on a tree prove its endurance in the years of ease and years of difficulty, our enduring faith proves our walk with God to be genuine and mature, developing in us godly character. We faithfully serve Him during times of ease and during times of trial. Let us indeed realize that God is working for our good in all things and thus be thankful in all things.

When troubles trouble you and you think life’s not fair,
when you need someone and there’s no one there;
Remember all the times that you feel alone are the times
He’ll use to make you strong

In everything give thanks, with all your heart give praise,
for the Lord we serve will never let you down.
In everything give thanks, with all your heart believe
that the Lord can take a circumstance and turn it all around.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray that we will continue to mature in our Christian walk. Scripture, repeatedly, indicates that spiritual maturity is a result of enduring trials of various kinds. In the midst of these trials Your faithful promptings and guidance through Scripture, other believers, and the circumstances we face can be ignored or silenced when self gets in the way. Today we make every effort to add to our faith those characteristics that will sustain and grow us in our Christian walk. In doing so we will be effective and productive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, during times of ease but even more so during times of difficulty. Keep us faithful and growing, and expressing thanks in everything, according to the Scripture, “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward You.” In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


* David and Sabra’s blog is called “Simply One In Marriage”


Children singing (photo by Ester Weber)On Sunday the younger children sang several Thanksgiving songs and recited prayers. I (Brooksyne) was so impressed with the two year old (far left) who kept up with the older ones, both in hand motions and words thanks to a loving mommy who helped him learn his music and sat down on the floor in front of the children keeping him on track.  I enjoy working with children during the holidays. You never know just what they’ll say or do, but this time they really came through especially with the following hymn in which I share some amazing historical background:

Now Thank We All God: German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area where fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two.

As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day– nearly 5000 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

Yet, while living in a world dominated by sorrow, loss, and death, Rinkart wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children:

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom the world rejoices.
Who from our mother’s arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Special Thanksgiving Resources
We offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 27).

We appreciated singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.

“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

“Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul”  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns” (printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

Today and all through this week we will share a selection of Thanksgiving music.

“Be Magnified”  Video   Kim Hill

“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“When I Thank Him For What He Has Done”  Video  The Cathedrals

“Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“Thank You For Loving Me”  Video  Tommy Walker

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

“For These Reasons”  Video  Lincoln Brewster


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

“The Blessing Of Friends”

November 24, 2014

Maple Tree  This large maple tree is on Colebrook Road near our home.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The Blessing Of Friends”
“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

“And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself” (Acts 27:3).

Today as we begin a series of messages dealing with thankfulness let us consider the blessing of friends. All through life we have set out on collecting friends, then seeking to maintain contact. That can be a challenge but actually modern technology is a great aid in maintaining contact as well as restoring lost contacts.

David Simpson childhood photoDavid is my longest time friend I’ve maintained contact with, all the way back to first grade nearly 55 years ago. He just had a birthday, hitting the big “60” and his wife Sandy posted this childhood photo on Facebook. He lived across the street and we had the same classes all through Elementary School. In high school my family moved about twenty miles away in the Kansas City, MO area but we still stayed in touch. Dave served as the best man in my wedding and today is a successful businessman in Springfield, MO. Even more important he is a faithful follower of Christ.

Through life I have sought to collect friends: Bob from college, Mike and Tom from our earliest days of pastoring. All though life we’ve been collecting and of course through marriage most of our friends are mutual.

Bob and Laura Cooke 11/23/14Among our newer friends are Bob and Laura. In recent years they moved to our neighborhood from New Jersey and live around the corner in a big old stone farmhouse built in 1834. It’s heartening to know you still make new friends all through life. (We stopped by yesterday as they were working outside tending to their ducks and other outdoor chores.)

Today I want to consider enduring friendships as one of the greatest blessings in life for which we should be thankful.

Notice two phrases from our rather obscure daily text.  In reading this long narrative portion about Paul’s captivity it’s so easy to miss them.

Paul is on his way to Rome as a prisoner. He’s appealed to Caesar. He’s surely discouraged and weary from travelling the stormy seas and being under surveillance the entire time. Uncertainty is his only glimpse into the near future.

The ship stops at Sidon where Julius “courteously entreated” Paul.  This translates the only time in the New Testament that we see the Greek word “philanthropos”, the root for our English word “philanthropy.” Julius, a hardened centurion, assigned to guard Paul at all times gave him freedom to see his friends and later spared his life when others wanted to do away with him (Acts 27:43). What a positive example and stimulus for us to forge a friendship even in the midst of a hardship and being in the company of those we might not prefer. It reminds me of an acquaintance I recently met that chose to pray every day for his competitor/”enemy” instead of hurling insults or responding in kind to his combative tone.

There is no mention elsewhere in Scripture that Paul was ever in Sidon, but nevertheless he had some friends there. I wonder who they were and how he had met them.  We’re not told about the circumstances but it’s easy to determine they’re the kind of friends you want to have around all throughout life’s journey. Their presence in our lives refresh us when difficulties and disappointments would otherwise drain us of energy and motivation.

These friends had a part in Paul’s refreshing.  The word “refresh” translated from the Greek is a word found only in this passage throughout the entire New Testament. It has the sense of “kind attention”. That’s what Paul needed and that’s what these unnamed friends did as they provided for his needs; physically, spiritually and emotionally.

That’s what I’ve quite often needed and have experienced through so many good friends, including many of you on this list.  Thank you. And I encourage you to pass it on to others today as well. There’s a lot of refreshing needed in our lives as we deal with daily challenges that can deplete us of a positive outlook! We all need caring and devoted friends to stand with us. Today we urge you to thank God for the blessing of friends!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have given me many treasures that cannot be bought with money and friendship is among them. I thank You for the special friends who brighten my outlook and challenge me to be a better person. Thank You for my caring friend who loves me and never gives up on me even when I feel like giving up on myself. For that dear friend who comes alongside me and helps carry the burdens that I bear, I am especially thankful. My life is enriched and my spirit is refreshed as I share my heart with a close friend who does not criticize but accepts my frailties; who prays for me and expresses love for me in ways that build me up and strengthen me in the trials of life. Father, You are the greatest and most trusting Friend that I will ever know so help me to draw near to You so that You draw near to me.  Amen.


Note from ClarenceToday’s opening quote is from the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I’m always touched at the end when George Bailey receives a note from the angel Clarence reminding him, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” Clarence’s message is also a reminder to each of us. Friends are of tremendous blessing, especially when we endure hardships of any kind.
Dave Simpson 6/26/14Here’s a relatively current photo of my friend David Simpson when I visited with him in Springfield this last summer.

Decorated Amish buggie (photo by Lee Smucker)
In the little village of Bird In Hand there is a store locally known as the Amish Walmart. It’s Amish owned and heavily used by Amish although we have shopped there on occasion. Our friend Lee Smucker took this photo of an Amish buggie parked out front with some holiday lighting. “The woman explained that it’s getting near Christmas so they decorated their buggy.”

Pedro at White Oak Display 11/21/14
Pedro is a good-natured employee at White Oak Display who demonstrates a srong work ethic and a most pleasant disposition.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Special Thanksgiving Resources
We offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 27).

We appreciated singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Best Loved Hymns

“Come Ye Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

“Thanksgiving Medley” (We Gather Togather, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

“Thank You Lord”  Video  Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

“Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul”  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns” (printable webpage).

“A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

Today and all through this week we will share a selection of Thanksgiving music.

“Be Magnified”  Video   Kim Hill

“In Everything Give Thanks”  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

“I Want To Thank You”  Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

“Thanksgiving Medley”  Video  Nice selection of grand old thanksgiving hymns.

“Now Thank We All Our God”  Video  Traditional version  Here’s a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

“Come We Thankful People Come”  Video  Traditional version  Here’s a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video  Don Moen

“When I Thank Him For What He Has Done”  Video  The Cathedrals

“Worthy Is The Lamb Crown Him .. Crown Him With Many Crowns”  Video  Travis Cottrell

“Thank You, Lord”  Video  Dennis Jernigan

“Thank You For Loving Me”  Video  Tommy Walker

“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”  Video  Matt Redman

“For These Reasons”  Video  Lincoln Brewster


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
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Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Cardinal (photo by Doris High)
Cardinal at feeder
(Photo by Doris High)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Today we conclude our series of weekly messages from Romans 13:11-14

“Understanding The Present Time”
(Part 5)
“Behaving Decently”

“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:13,14).

Child getting paddling My Mom died 9 years ago this month (2005). I suppose I first heard the word “behave” from her and there’s no doubt I heard it a lot. In fact she usually sent me off to school with this daily reminder, “Now Stephen, I want you to behave yourself today.” But truth be told I didn’t always obey and I very distinctly recall my first spanking at school in either first or second grade. The principal used a big paddle but I survived and I am sure it was reinforced when I got home. (Note: The photo to the left is not really Stephen).

Child napping on matAs early as five years of age I (Brooksyne) had my first paddling in school. As a kindergartner I was required to bring a small rug with me on the first day of school which was placed in my locker until Quiet Time. When the teacher told all the students it was Quiet Time we were instructed to pull out our rug, lay down on it, and go to sleep or just lay quietly, not even a whisper was to be heard. But I couldn’t keep quiet and was probably warned repeatedly but didn’t heed. Miss Fulton called me out into the hallway and gave me one swat with the paddle. I probably cried myself to sleep after that. (Note: The photo to the right is not really Brooksyne).

There are far worse behaviors mentioned in the Bible than chatting with a friend during naptime or cutting in line in the cafeteria. Today we want to examine a straightforward command in the Bible in which we are to behave. As the behaviors worsen the consequences are far more reaching.

“Let us behave decently.”  Other English translations offer slightly different wording; “behave properly” (NASV), “walk properly” (ESV), “live decently” (NET) “live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly” (Amplified).

Behaving decently speaks of our conduct from day to day, our lifestyle, what we choose to look at, listen to, what we say or think — all these are bound up in what it means to behave properly.

Romans 13:12“As in the daytime.” This is a follow-up to the previous verse (v.12) that states, “Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Paul then specifies six specific deeds of darkness those who live in the light are not to practice. Revealing the timeless truths of the Bible each of these sins of the flesh are common in our age and every age among those who walk in darkness. They are expressed in three groups of two, what one commentator calls “negative couplets”:

1) “Not in orgies and drunkenness”;  The Greek word translated “orgies” (“carousings” in some versions) was used generally of “feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry”. Today’s the “let’s party” outlook that so many have is nothing new. We who strive to live as children of light do well to heed a timeless woe expressed in Isaiah 5:22, “Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink.” The apostle Peter firmly issues this call, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).

2) “Not in sexual immorality and debauchery”; The first word refers here to sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The second word means licentiousness and unrestrained lust. Other translations use the words “indecency”, “promiscuity”, “sensuality”. The New Century Version states, “There should be no sexual sins of any kind.” Sexual morality can be simply expressed as sexual intimacy expressed in a covenant relationship (holy marriage) between a man and a woman. Although we live in an age with a massive attempt to redefine marriage and morality the faithful contender for truth must not budge. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

3) “Not in dissension and jealousy”; These are relational sins that we often shrug off as no big deal. But they are opposed to the second greatest commandment, which is to love others as we love ourselves. Leon Morris observes, “Both indicate a determination to have one’s own way, a self-willed readiness to quarrel. All six of these vices stem from self-will; they are all the outreach of a determined selfishness that seeks only one’s own pleasure.”

The chapter ends with a positive injunction “Rather” (in opposition to the previous six sins of the flesh) we are to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to clothe ourselves in Christ Jesus, whose Spirit resides within our hearts. We pray that our behavior would honor You as we seek to behave decently and live according to the pattern of Holy Scripture, for “we were taught, regarding our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.” May lust of the flesh be burned up by the fire of the Spirit that ignites us as we redirect our affections, energies, and time to that which is righteous and eternal. Make us like You, Father, as we follow after You in righteousness and holiness.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

See Ephesians 4:22-24

Some notes by Pastor Steven Cole for further study:

“Carousing (orgies) and drunkenness.” Paul lists drunkenness and carousing as deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:21). But such things are not appropriate for believers. I’ve always had trouble understanding why people go to wild parties and get drunk. To me such parties are superficial and stupid. But venturing a guess, it helps them, at least for an evening, forget about their troubles. From hearing them brag about how wasted they got, it must give them some sense of being cool, at least with their fellow drunks. And, it often lowers inhibitions and leads to sexual encounters, which appeal to those who do not have satisfying marital relationships.  I’ve known a few who claim to be believers, but they still go out partying and drinking. But these are deeds of darkness, not fitting for children of light. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

“Sexual immorality and debauchery” It is also a deed of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), characteristic of unbelievers, not of believers (Ephesians 4:19-20). God has given the marriage relationship as the proper place for sexual relations. To engage in any sexual activity outside of marriage is to participate in the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:3-12). Let me remind you that no one who is walking in the light, suddenly and without warning, falls into sexual immorality. Sexual sin always begins when we toy with it in our minds. We relish lustful glances by replaying them in our thoughts. We sneak a peek at pornography, which leads to more frequent and longer looks. Eventually, the temptation to flirt with a tempting woman comes and it sucks us into the fatal act (see Proverbs 7). The key to avoiding it is to judge every sinful thought as quickly as it happens and to make no provision for the lusts of the flesh. Much of our sin can be traced to the fact that we made provision for it by toying with it. (Pastor Steven Cole, Your Present Walk and the Coming Day)

For these quotes from Pastor Steven Cole and other insights into this passage see the Precept Online Bible commentary on this passage.


A few photos from our chaplain ministry yesterday

Smucker workers 11/20/14
Our first stop yesterday was before 7:00 AM to S.S. Smucker & Sons, a home improvement company. We visit with the men before they head out to the jobsite. These men were preparing for a day of gutter work and Adrian (center) is showing a huge frozen hunk of gunk he dug out of a gutter the previous day. Later in the day we happened to drive by the jobsite where they were up on the roof working but stopped to visit a few minutes.

Inside Village Farm Market
We view our ministry as letting Christ shine through us wherever we are. In the mid morning we stopped by “The Village Farm Market”, a locally run store where the owner, Keith, appreciates our visits. He renovated an old bank barn leaving the stone walls and exposed beam ceiling, which is now covered with hanging baskets.

James at Vallorbs 11/20/14
James is a new employee at Vallorbs, the last company we visited yesterday afternoon. He moved down from Brooklyn where he regularly attended the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. He told me it was Pastor Jim Cymbala’s mother’s 100th birthday.
I asked him how he was doing and he answered, “I’m greatly blessed and highly favored” which happens to the title of a song we enjoy (see below). I expect to learn more about James but I got some idea of his earnestness when I heard he came for his job interview to be a machine operator wearing a suit.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Come Broken – Just As I Am”  Video   Travis Cottrell  Outstanding song with excellent visual. This song really breaks it down to the truth that it’s all about Jesus and not what I have to offer Him. The contemporary arrangements and additional lyrics to this traditional hymn really gets your attention in a fresh, new way and will surely touch your heart.

Today’s message is a serious call to followers of Christ to behave decently. We urge all who have not been living in the light to come home to Him who forgives. A wonderful phrase in Ephesians describing those who have placed their faith in Christ includes another list of sins of the flesh (past tense) “such were some of you”.  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

As I prepared this a story from a Max Lucado book I read many, many years ago came to mind and due to the internet search I found this condensation online. It is worth the brief read!

In “No Wonder They Call Him the Savior”, he tells the story of Maria and her daughter Christina. Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent living at home having only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood-burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she ran away, breaking her mother’s heart. Her mother knew what life on the streets would be like for her young, attractive daughter, so Maria quickly packed to go find her daughter. On her way to the bus stop, she went to a drugstore to get one last thing—pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all the money she could on pictures of herself. With her purse full of small black-and-white photos, she got on the next bus to Rio de Janeiro. Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. At each place she left her picture–taped on a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, or fastened to a corner phone booth. On the back of each photo she wrote a note. It wasn’t too long before Maria’s money and pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The tired mother cried as the bus began its long journey back to her small village. A few weeks later, Christina was coming down the stairs in a seedy hotel. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laughter was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare. A thousand times she had longed to trade all those countless beds for her secure pallet. And yet the little village seemed too far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back Maria had written this: “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.” And Christina went home.

God is the same way. He wants us to come home. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It doesn’t matter what we’ve become. We can always come home to Him. It is like Maria, reaching out for her daughter even when her daughter didn’t realize it. It is like God reaching out to us while we are living a life of sin and we are lost and yet, Christ is there…reaching….longing…desiring to bring us home. It is prevenient grace—it has kept us, as Newton writes, “safe thus far.”

We dedicate this message to a friend who recently “came home”.

“Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored”   Video   Gaither Vocal Band

“Take My Life”  Video  Scott Underwood

Our friend Doris High, who took the photo of the cardinal, has an outstanding nature photo collection in her post “Enjoying Our Winter Birds & Animals”


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Ephesians 5:8-10 Clouds and sun in Delaware (photo by Duke)Sunburst, blue sky and cotton-like clouds over Delaware!
(Photo by Duke)
Click to enlarge

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

This week we are sharing a series of messages from Romans 13:11-14

“Understanding The Present Time”
(Part 4)
“Living As Children Of Light”

“They grope in darkness with no light” (Job 12:25). “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness” (Proverbs 4:19) “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12)  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).

Yesterday I heard a testimony for Christ at a CBMC meeting in Lancaster. CBMC is an international ministry active in over 90 countries of Christian businessmen who seek to live for Christ. I have been a part of CBMC since 2001. Although I am not a businessman per se, I have been blessed in our corporate chaplaincy work by the relationships I have established.

CBMC 11/20/14

Our speaker was Stephen Bloom (2nd from right in photo) who is a Pennsylvania state representative. He was raised in a non-Christian home and during his college years was an atheist/agnostic. He shared his journey of coming to faith in his mid-twenties and his growing relationship with the Lord since praying to receive Christ.

Distressed by the direction in which he sees our country heading he first became a state rep in 2010. His mission statement unambiguously expresses his faith: “Lord willing, to serve in the public square as a loving witness for Jesus Christ and an effective champion for life and liberty.” He heeds Christ’s command in letting his light shine before men in such a way that they may see his good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven. (See Matthew 5:16).

Romans 13:12

A key component for all of us who strive to understand the present time is living as children of the light!

It’s interesting that one of the many distorted pictures Satan presents as “having a good time” is going into places of darkness. Perhaps you can easily conjure up such a place in your mind. For me a casino, bar, brothel, “adult” bookstore and other such places represent places of “deep darkness”. What a deceitful lie many have come to believe! In reality an ancient word from Job is so pertinent, “They grope in darkness with no light.”

Christians are often portrayed as a disgruntled, judgmental type of people who really don’t know how to enjoy life. I contrast that portrayal with my experience as a follower of Christ for over 40 years. Being in a joy-filled church service, gathering around our big dining room table for a home Bible Study, enjoying activities with men on a campout (Stephen) or sharing with women at a fellowship (Brooksyne). A fruitful happy marriage and the blessing of family and friends are among the many joys of living in the light. The tremendous prayer support and encouragement from the body of Christ extended to me in times of need leads me to say along with so many others in times of crises: “What would I do without the body of Christ?” My brothers and sisters who uphold me in prayer and encourage me with their words and actions. I’ll take that kind of life over the dark, often dangerous, and godless places that those who walk in darkness are drawn to!

Let it shine The radiant light of God’s Holy Word exposes and dispels darkness. When God’s servants live as children of light, darkness is dissipated.

All of us, in one way or another, are affected by darkness. By God’s grace and through His might, as believers we want our light to shine brightly to expose and then dispel the darkness! We cannot dabble in darkness and still live in the light. God has not called us to blend in but rather we are to stand out as those whose lives are filled “with goodness, righteousness and truth”. When we try to blend in we are putting ourselves at danger since one force will eventually overtake the other.

Live as children of lightThe fourth daily text says we were once darkness but are now light in the Lord and thus we are to live as children of light and find out what pleases the Lord.

We must have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. In our present day when crusaders of darkness are applauded and in some instances upheld as “courageous” role models, let us hear the resounding call God has placed upon us to “live as children of light!”

Shining candle
There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, You are the Light of the world. And because You reside in our hearts we are a reflection of Your holy light. The world we live in is dark and growing even darker as Satan’s sinister and deceitful schemes are being played out. Help us not to dismiss the darkness that is spreading lest the darkness overshadow us in time. Instead we ask You to empower us through the light of Your Holy Spirit to shine in a wicked and decadent society. We come against the darkness by speaking against wickedness in all forms. And, Lord, help us to be consistent not only in what we speak but the manner in which we live, for our actions often speak louder than our words.  May the “fruit of the light consisting in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” be evident in all we do since we have “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  It is in Your name, Jesus, that we pray.  Amen.


“Groping in darkness” comes from an interesting phrase found in a section of Job that deals with leaders. “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away. He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people and makes them wander in a pathless waste. They grope in darkness with no light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:23-25). That is certainly a portion worthy of further consideration.


Let me share a couple more takeaways from the testimony I heard yesterday at the CBMC meeting by Stephen Bloom. He shared that while in college he mocked Christian speakers who came to the campus (Penn State). I can’t remember the exact details but he shared that he saw a prayer list with his name on it and how that really touched him although he didn’t surrender his life to Christ until several years later. He shared how in politics especially during a campaign, it’s difficult to keep a good spirit but the Lord directed him to pray each day for his opponent.

His website


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Carry Your Candle” Video  Kathy Troccoli

“Light Your World”  Video  NewSong

“This Little Light Of Mine”  Video   Addison Road

“This Little Light Of Mine”  Video  Soweto Gospel Choir

“God of Brilliant Lights”  Video  Aaron Shust

CBMC


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Fall foliage with pond in Delaware (photo by Duke)Delaware pond with fall foliage
(Photo by Duke)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

This week we are sharing a series of messages from Romans 13:11-14

“Understanding The Present Time” (Part 3)
“Alert And Sober”

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Romans 13:11,12). “So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). “But you, be sober in all things” (2 Timothy 4:5). “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13) “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).

Drunk man on floor In the course of nearly 40 years of ministry we have some colorful stories as we seek to reach out. Brooksyne recalls an incident very early on when we were reaching out to a man named Curtis who was attending our new church plant in the very beginning when we held services in our apartment. One night we heard a loud banging about 2:00 AM and I reluctantly went to the door.

Curtis, in his early 20’s, was stone drunk and came to our house for a place to stay. We had two young foster children at the time which made us very uncomfortable with such an arrangement so we pulled out a sleeping bag and had him sleep downstairs until he slept it off. We had a long talk the next morning and prayed with him about the matter. He came a few more Sundays before he lost interest in spiritual things. We lost track of him long ago but pray even today that he has turned away from such a dangerous and irresponsible lifestyle and set upon a course of living alertly and soberly!

Today’s passages, especially 1 Thessalonians 5:6, call us to live alert and sober. That is such a necessary element in understanding the present time. Today we often use the word “sober” in regard to being free from the intoxication of drugs and alcohol and that would certainly be included. We have seen so many, many lives detrimentally impacted and ruined by drugs and alcohol in our line of ministry.

But today we consider “sober” in the broader sense, as that of having a clear mind. So many have their minds clouded by a vast variety of the world’s input such as media and entertainment nonsense. Electronic devices along with their bells and whistles so easily distract and dilute our alertness to other far more important matters. We consider by observation those who are glued to a tiny screen hour after hour playing video games. Even what is called academia can severely cloud the mind with so many of the most foolish notions come out of acedemia. Paul urges Timothy to “Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).

The Precept online Bible commentary states concerning this spiritual sobriety, “Take things seriously being aware of their real importance and be ever mindful of their consequences in time and in eternity. The sober saint approaches life, not as a jest, but as a serious matter for which he is answerable to God. Let us not become intoxicated by Satan’s three vintage wines – the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:15,16).”

D. Edmond Hiebert Bible teacher D. Edmond Hiebert writes that sober “denotes a condition free from every form of mental and spiritual loss of self-control; it is an attitude of self-discipline that avoids the extremes of the ‘reckless irresponsibility of self-indulgence on the one hand, and of religious ecstasy on the other.’ It inculcates a calm, steady state of mind that evaluates things correctly, so that it is not thrown off  balance by new and fascinating ideas. Such ‘level headedness’ is a constant Christian need.”

We must be on our guard lest we be seduced into this topsy-turvy, touchy-feely system of beliefs based on popular and politically correct notions of morality, especially to the exclusion of critical or sound judgment. To hold to ancient, proven truths is being viewed more and more as old-fashioned and will likely bar you from the “cool, hip or cutting edge” in-crowd (not that I’m really trying to get in that setting anyway!) Here in America and around the world a battle for the heart, soul and mind rages.

I believe among the greatest challenges for believers in any age is being sober-minded. It is certainly true today. We live in a time of moral confusion and I believe Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh got it right when they wrote, “We are called to take His light to a world where wrong seems right….” in the inspiring song, “People Need the Lord”.

In the final verse of our daily Scripture selection, “self-controlled and sober-minded” (ESV) comes from Paul’s final letter to Timothy. Other versions translate the phrase “be of sound judgment and sober spirit” (NASV), “control yourself at all times” (NCV), “keep a clear mind” (NLT). The NIV states, “Keep your head in all situations.” Greek scholar Fritz Rienecker points out that in this passage Timothy is called “to be in a vigilant, wakeful, considerate frame of mind, taking heed of what is happening and pursuing a course with calm and steady aim.”

Today as men and women who strive to understand the present time let us heed the clear Scriptural call to be alert and sober!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You have called upon us to be sober and vigilant believers who are instant in season and out of season. We’re ready to spring into action to do Your bidding when we might least expect to be called upon. May the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, be evident in our attitudes and actions as we live out our daily lives and relate to others while living self-controlled and sober minded lives. Through Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.

See Galatians 5:22, 23

Let us address a point in the message that may cause confusion for some and even a point that some skeptics may sneer at. “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Romans 13:11,12). What was Paul referring to, especially in the latter phrase, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here”? See here v.11 and here v. 12 for some interpretations! Regarding verse 12 the Full Life Study Bible observes: “Paul believed in the Lord’s imminent return to transfer the faithful of his churches to heaven, an event that Paul believed could happen even in his generation. Christ warned that He would return at a time when the faithful were sure that He would not come. For this reason, God’s children must always be spiritually ready and must ‘put aside the deeds of darkness'”.


I’ve never met Duke, but he has befriended and discipled Ken, a man we met several years ago in the course of our chaplain work. Ken moved to southern Delaware (or perhaps the eastern Maryland shore) but through Daily Encouragement we’ve stayed connected and he has introduced his friend Duke (don’t even know his full name) to us. Today’s photos were shared by Duke and gives a bit of a different outlook considering the frigid, winter-like weather we are having in our area!

Sandpipers along Delaware shore (photo by Duke)
Sandpipers on the Delaware shore

Ocean wave along Delaware shore (photo by Duke)
Waves like this remind us of a sermon we heard nearly 40 years ago based upon John 1:16.  “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” The Living Bible states, “blessing upon blessing heaped upon us!” Jeff Ronald, who preached the message, illustrated this concept by the never ending ocean waves thrust on the seashore.

WW2 lookout tower in Delaware (photo by Duke)
A World War 2 lookout tower that guarded the entrance to Delaware Bay. We wrote about these towers here.

Kember print Isaiah 53:5
Duke found this Kember print is a Thrift Shop in Delaware, adding to our Kember print photo collection. Do you have a photo of a Kember print you can send us? Please send an email to this address with the photo as a jpg attachment. In subject line put “Kember print” and specify where you are from and if you want to tell the story behind it or how it has been meaningful to you.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Asleep in the Night”   Video   Keith Green Over 30 years after Keith left this earth his lyrics continue to powerfully speak to our age.

“May The Mind of Christ My Savior”  Video   Jake Armerding

“Speak O Lord”  Video  Kristyn Getty

“People Need the Lord”  Video  Steve Green


Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne
To receive the “Daily Encouragement” each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the WordPress rss feed or through a WordPress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Sunrise at JK Mechanical with first snow 11/14/14
Sunrise at JK Mechanical office near Willow Street, PA
(Photo taken by Ester)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

This week we are sharing a series of messages from Romans 13:11-14

“Understanding The Present Time” (Part 2)
“The Call To Not Be A Safe Church”

“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:11-14).

I recently read a blog article about being a “safe church”. Now who wouldn’t be in favor of having a safe church?

Defibrillator We are thankful for good leadership who strives to keep church safe in a variety of ways; safe, in the sense of having protections against predators; safe, in the sense of removing physical dangers that may cause harm. I consider Galen, Ken and other dedicated trustees in our church who work hard to keep our church a safe place.  You might also consider people in your church who work hard behind the scenes. Many churches, even smaller ones, now have defibrillators available for any who may have an immediate need to have their heart shocked back into proper rhythm.

Sound doctrine Another positive sense of being a safe church is a place where the pastor and leadership are committed to sound Biblical doctrine. You can listen to messages from the pastor’s sermons, guest speakers, Sunday School, youth and children’s ministries and be assured that your family is consistently being taught the truth.

However the “safe church” blog article I referred to was written in the sense of “a safe church” not being a good thing! He wrote of a “safe church” being one that anyone can attend and always, regardless of their lifestyle, feel comfortable with the messages being preached.

Biblical warningsThe safe church in the writer’s view is where, “the messages are affirming everyone in who they are without regard to their… well, eternal state.” A safe church in this sense does not address the moral issues of our day. After all, someone might be hurt or offended. Of course there are now many “churches” that even affirm sinful behavior. But many, many more, including so many in the category of “evangelical”, are just silent on these matters.

Yesterday we had opportunity to listen to Alistair Begg’s “Truth for Life” radio broadcast where he presented an excellent message dealing with “Graven Mistakes”. (link below) I believe it was Alistair who also said to his people (to the effect), “Some feel that a good sermon will make people feel comfortable, but I feel that a good sermon will challenge the people.”

Today’s Scripture section contains some hard-hitting truths that I suspect many safe churches would stay away from addressing if the leadership’s goal is solely intent on making the congregation feel comfortable. We encourage you to read it again slowly and allow the grave meaning to sink deep into your spirit: “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:11-14).

Quoting again from the blog article, “You will never hear such words [such as the Romans passage above] in a safe church. They are too busy trying to give uplifting little ditties to make you feel good about yourself, no matter how sinful you really are.”

Several years ago I had an interim pastoral role in a small country church. In the course of preaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)* God laid upon my heart a Biblical message dealing with sexual morality. As I preached I observed a young college-aged girl who grew noticeably uncomfortable. As I greeted the people at the conclusion of the service I detected a distinct coldness from her. Later I spoke to her mother who told me that she indeed was quite uncomfortable with the message.  “I would not be comfortable bringing my friends to a church like this”, she related to her mother. She did not come back and it saddened our hearts to consider that she, along with growing numbers of youth and adults in recent years, are embracing lifestyles not aligned with the teaching of Scripture, due to its acceptance and endorsement through the media, education, politicians and the experimental social engineers of our day.

Sound doctrine A vital part of the high calling to preach the whole inspired counsel of God’s Word includes, “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The preaching of convicting passages from God’s Word should not be ignored, nor should “uncomfortable” passages be paraphrased in such a way as to be more palatable based upon the culture of our day or because some might perceive the message to be unloving. The truly loving message from the ministers of the gospel is to do everything possible to call sinners to repent and cease indulging in sinful attitudes and behavior that can lead to loss, destruction, and eternal damnation.

This repentance remains the Biblical call for all believers who want to truly follow God.  We must be sober minded and behave decently. Let us “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature”.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we seek to be alert and sober-minded in this generation where messages come from every direction seeking to confuse, delude, and undermine that which we learn from Your holy Scriptures. Instead of feeling despair help us to see it as a challenge to more deeply embrace and live the ancient Holy Word. Its truth does not change according to the whim of society. We resolve not to interpret Scripture in light of our generation, but instead we interpret our generation in light of Scripture, clearly defining right and wrong, good and bad as taught in Scripture not in the “scholarly” academia of our time. We must keep our head in all situations on a personal level as well as that which affects our society at large. We desire a clear mind, trusting spirit, and a steady aim at following You no matter the cost. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


* “Whole counsel of God” is phrase used by Paul in his message to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. The sense seems to be that he preached on every aspect of God’s Word. The NASV renders it, “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” The faithful preacher will see that He preaches a balance from all of God’s Word. Certainly messages on God’s love, faithfulness, grace and forgiveness will be at the forefront but also messages on living holy lives and specifying what the Bible affirms as sin. One dynamic I have noticed in the last several years is an amplification of any preaching on moral matters to those who have been conditioned by the world to be sensitive to this truth.


Willow Valley stone farmhouse and barn first snow 11/14/14
Willow Valley stone farmhouse and barn
Last Friday morning we had our first light snow cover of the season. We first saw it in an area south of Lancaster City in Willow Street.
(Click for larger view)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Monuments”  Video  Legacy Five  One of Brooksyne’s favorite songs that speaks of the monuments we must leave for our children to find the way home. “Don’t move the landmarks set up for your children so they can find the way home.”

“Heroes Of The Faith”  Video  Legacy Five  Listen to this song and consider someone in your life who left a legacy of faith. Are you leaving a legacy of faith?

“Is Your Church Safe?”  Article referred to in the message

“Truth for Life” with Alistair Begg  An excellent Bible teacher

Finally: Yesterday I came across this video that demonstrates just how crazy things are getting as man abandons God. “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25). If you choose to watch this keep in mind that these people almost certainly would have no problem with the killing of unborn babies.


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