Monarch butterflies (Photo by Doris High)Monarch butterflies (photo by Doris High)

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“A Tribute To A Laboring Man”

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

As I prepare today’s message I hear Brooksyne using what is known as a labor-saving device; a very loud food processor in our kitchen. She’s pureeing green peppers to make juice for her jalapeno jam. But much labor is still involved on her part and on the part of many others as she makes her jams, pie fillings and salsa. We rightly consider the grower but also those involved in transport, warehousing and those who work hard in the food markets. There are many others such as people who made the machinery to plant and harvest the crop and people who make parts for that machinery.

Last week I drove through Lancaster city and saw a familiar sad sight. Several young adult men just hanging out and shooting the breeze early in the morning on the porch of their row house. Now of course I don’t know the full story. These men may have jobs at a different time but unquestionably there are scores of people in America and a growing segment who don’t and won’t work, relying on someone else’s labors instead.

That same morning Brooksyne and I drove into a shop that makes machine parts and spoke to Dave who had already been laboring several hours. He is a father with a wife and several children who has a traditional (and Biblical) sensibility that he needs to work to provide for his family. I thanked Dave for his hard work and personal responsibility.

Gene WeberMost of us in my generation were raised like that with a model of a hard working dad. Of course Mom worked hard also! But as a male my model for hard work, personal responsibility and providing for family came from my dad. Today I want to remember him. He was a laboring man. During the depression he had to quit school so he could help provide for his family. He went off to service in World War 2 and married my Mom in 1944 followed by 4 baby boomers. My dad learned several trades in “the school of hard knocks” and much of his life worked in heating and air conditioning installation and service. Some of my great childhood memories were those of going to work with him.

Labor is a cooperative relationship we have with God. He provides but we have a role in utilizing that provision. In the midst of your activities today consider all that you will view or utilize where some aspect of labor is involved. As you eat your meal consider all whose labor made that possible.

When we work we are expressing obedience to God as we provide for our family. We generally consider the fourth commandment in regard to the Sabbath Day and rest but it also includes these words, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). In a commandment primarily known for its teaching on the Sabbath, how vital to also hear the positive command to work.

Our second daily text is so needed in our age of increasing dependency on government and others. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family…” This was part of the social fabric in previous generations. Paul is not giving a new teaching here but rather a reminder and reinforcement that from Creation the foundational social unit has been the family. In God’s design the basic level of provision comes from this family unit. Immediate family would have the sense of parents and children, while relatives would be our extended family as we know it today. This is a pattern we are moving farther and farther away from, surely to society’s peril.

Today who can you honor and thank for their hard work?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, today we acknowledge Your command that we are to labor for six days and rest on the Sabbath. In our labor we seek to be productive while also providing for the needs of our family. We thank You for the giftings You have given us to implement in our daily work, for the skills we are able to hone as we labor in our work and for the knowledge You give us to carry out our responsibilities. Today we ask Your blessinsg upon all who labor. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.


Auto Convoy truckBrooksyne’s Note: Mom was an excellent homemaker who sewed all our clothing, canned many shelves of food every summer that supplied our family of seven with plenty of veggies, beans, pickles and jams. We didn’t get them from the produce market but grew them in our huge garden. My dad farmed a little on the side but drew most of his income from being a truck driver and butcher. For many years he drove for Armour Meats. Later, he drove an Auto Convoy for about 25 years. What I liked about Daddy’s job is that we children, after we got our driver’s license, went with him to the Auto Convoy car lot and drove the brand spanking new Fords right up to the Auto Convoy where we’d park them. Daddy then drove them onto the convoy’s ramps, climbed up on the big rig and tied down the vehicles in preparation for his next trip. As I write about this memory I can almost breathe in the new car smell of those vehicles we drove. Though we never could afford a brand new car we at least got a peak of the newest and latest on the market and got to test drive them without having to deal with any car salesman or outstanding car payment.


Moses statue at Sight and Sound Theater foyer in Lancaster PA
Statue of Moses at Sight and Sound Theater foyer in Lancaster County PA

Friday evening we went to see “Moses” at the Sight and Sound Theater. Like all shows at the theater we were not disapponted and appreciate the efforts to bring the Bible to life using music and drama. We were blessed by unused tickets from a bus group that had come up to see the show from the Freindship Baptist Church in Raleigh North Carolina.


Mailbox tomatoes in Lancaster County PA 8/29/14
Roadside produce is abundantly available here in Lancaster Country PA including these tomatoes at the Stolzfus mailbox for $1.00!

Red cannas in Lancaster County PA 8/29/14
Red Canna Lilies with bronze leaves


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“We’ll Work ‘Til Jesus Comes”  Video  Gaither Homecoming Singers While this song is probably primarily referring to our work for the Lord I believe a good application is work in general as well!

“Follow You”  Video  Leeland

“Legacy of Love”  Video  David Phelps


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Strasburg train (Photo by Nick Nichols)

Nick Nichols took this photo of the Strasburg railroad steam engine.

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“The Peril Of Man-determined Morality”

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Through our years of ministry we have had people with Down syndrome in our churches including the one we attend now. This past Sunday, after spotting me in the church foyer, Connie headed right in my direction and reached up toward my tall shoulders to give me her heartfelt hug. It seems that people with Down Syndrome are quite affectionate and like to greet family and friends with a bear hug of sorts. We also have two neighbors we are quite fond of who have Down syndrome children.

Sandy w/ Ester (about 1996)Sandy, who’s now with the Lord, faithfully attended our church in Massachusetts. (The photo to the right shows Sandy with Ester nearly 20 years ago.) The minister that I followed had pastored the church for 22 years and Sandy was very close to him. There was a concern by some that his retirement might bring about some anxiety or even anger on her part. However Sandy quickly accepted me as her pastor and she certainly provided some colorful moments during our eight years of service in that New England church.

People often affirm a preacher’s words with an “Amen” and, of course, we preachers like that. On those occasions when I got a round of amens or said something that made the congregation laugh out loud, Sandy would turn around and look at others in the congregation. Then she’d smile real big, point to me in the pulpit and said rather loudly (or maybe I should say, “rather proudly”), “That my pator. I just lub (love) my pator”.

One Saturday morning Sandy joined the ladies in a women’s fellowship at the church and suddenly they realized that she was missing. They frantically looked for her with no success and then Brooksyne got to thinking she might have gone looking for her pastor. Sure enough, she went next door to the parsonage and there was Sandy pounding on the front door and looking intermittently through the window for her pastor. She was very disappointed to learn that he was out of town and could not greet her.

Sandy’s niece and husband lovingly cared for her many years after her mother was no longer able to do so. Every Sunday morning Sandy would rise at the crack of dawn, get dressed in her Sunday best, Bible in hand. The longer she waited for her niece to get up the more frustrated she got, certain that she was going to be late for church (hours before it was even time to go)!

Many will testify that people like Sandy provide a somewhat unexplainable richness to life.*

One of my favorite contemporary commentators is Gary Bauer. I receive a daily email called the “End Of Day Report” with his observations on current issues. I quote here from a statement he made in Monday’s edition:

“There was so much death in the headlines last week that I didn’t have time to comment on the rantings of another death advocate. He’s not one of the boys from Hamas, ISIS or Islamic Jihad, but the noted biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins. He’s become popular among the cultural and political left for mocking those who believe in God.Having decided long ago that there is no God, Dawkins decided to apply for the position himself, creating his own morality in the process. But since there is no right or wrong, how he goes about creating his own version of morality is a mystery.Here is his latest decree: According to Dawkins it would be “immoral” if a mother knowingly gave birth to a child with Down syndrome.

In taking this position, Dawkins puts himself on the same moral level as the barbarians of ISIS, who also claim the right to decide who lives and who dies. Unfortunately, because he lives in the heart of the West and has all the appropriate degrees from prestigious universities, his barbarism comes dressed up and might even seem compassionate to some warped minds.

The pagan Romans were known for their barbaric cruelty to the disabled. Babies born with physical defects were often abandoned and left to die from exposure to the elements. For all his education, Dawkins has arrived at the same place.

But make no mistake about it. Dawkins represents an evil philosophy that has shown itself throughout history. From the ovens of Auschwitz to the deserts of the Middle East, the world has been plagued by men who believed that some people had no rights they were bound to respect. ISIS says, “Kill the infidel.” Dawkins says, “Kill those who don’t measure up to my standard of a life worth living.”

As the thinking of men like Dawkins continues to take root in Judeo-Christian civilization, it will be more difficult to muster the moral courage necessary to defeat the other death worshipers who are marauding across the Middle East and parts of Africa. The cheapening of life makes it easier to look away, while saying, ‘We should mind our own business’.”

The Bible teaches that one of the truest evidences of an authentic follower of Jesus Christ is our attitude and our response toward those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” One of the last lessons He taught before His death was on this subject. In Matthew 25:32ff He uses representative examples of those who might be referred to as losers, the unlovely, the damaged in society, etc.

Our approach toward the “least of these” according to Jesus is proof of our true discipleship. In this parable the way we deal with the “least of these” determines whether we are a sheep or a goat. Each will experience a different eternal outcome.

I am heartened by examples of grace demonstrated to the least of these. All over the world today both institutionally and individually true followers of Christ are actively demonstrating compassion to a hurting, broken and sin-filled world. Some will give up their own life’s ambitions and resources to help others find meaning and purpose in life.  Consider the medical doctor who has spent much of his career, risking his own health, working at a mission hospital deep in Africa where he treats a huge population of Ebola.

In our own little world we have seen it often; those who give their time and energy to protect the unborn by reaching out to those in a crisis pregnancy; those who expand their family to welcome displaced, abused or orphaned children; those who regularly visit the prisons bringing the hope of the gospel to inmates who might otherwise perish in hell; the street preacher who faithfully proclaims the Scriptures in the public square to mostly scoffing, uninterested passersby; compassionate people who embrace and lovingly engage the mentally and/or physically handicapped, dedicated workers who risk their lives to deliver Bibles to closed countries where believers are desperately desiring a copy of the inspired Word of God.  And, of course, there are so many who cannot go or do but give abundantly of their finances to support those who can. This is only a partial list of so many examples we could write about today.

The needs are vast and always will be until we’re called home. The opportunities are unending and wide-ranging so that when we respond to God’s leading He utilizes our giftings, our skills, our knowledge, our training and experiences in life. He equips us for that which He calls us to do.

Today, let us ask ourselves, when we come into contact with people regarded by the world as the “least of these”, “How does God want me to reach out to those the world considers the least in human value?”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Loving Father, we don’t want to turn the other way when You bring into our view the hurting and neglected people of the world. When we see the hungry or thirsty, the stranger in need of clothing, the sick and frail, those imprisoned, and the countless other oppressing needs among us Your loving compassion compels us to reach out in whatever way we can to be an extension of Your kingdom. For we know that when we do it for those considered the least on earth we not only empower and bless them but we also obey and please You. May the “evidence of the grace of God” be visible in our attitudes and in our actions as we respond to the opportunities You give us everyday. In the name of Jesus we pray.


Theological note: From the perspective of our desperate need and God’s amazing grace we are all in the “least of these” category. But I also consider the intellectual arrogance of people like Dawkins and their regard for people like Sandy. A powerful Scripture verse comes to mind: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23,24).

Another Note: Observing readers may note that the message title did not necessarily match the Bible verse and exposition. The study of “man-determined morality” is certainly something to study but will have to wait another day. However it is an infection wreaking havoc on a society; rejecting God, His Word and standards. Just consider the redefinition of marriage in our own age. Mankind raises a defiant fist to God declaring “I’ll do it my way”. But God will not be mocked and mankind will reap what is sown. (Galatians 6:7-9)

Gary Bauer makes a powerful point in this phrase concerning Dawkins, “Unfortunately, because he lives in the heart of the West and has all the appropriate degrees from prestigious universities, his barbarism comes dressed up and might even seem compassionate to some warped minds.” I consider the deadly lure for many of academic prestige and acceptance and consider this Bible verse, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

A very personal note: Today’s message also brings back a memory from about 23 years ago. Ester came to us in 1989 with a severe heart condition and immediately required surgeries and intensive medical care and months of hospitalization. In 1991 we made our first visit to Guatemala and stayed with a prosperous family in that area who generously hosted us during our four day visit. Ester was 18 months old at the time and stayed with a family in our church back in Northern Pennsylvania. It gave us an opportunity to explore her birthplace and pursue our future adoption with the officials there. During a conversation with our host, an MIT educated leader in the country who knew of Ester’s health matters, he discouraged us from adopting due to her health problems and also because of her ethnicity (Mayan Indian descent which was looked down upon by his ethnic background). I still recall his words, “You don’t want to adopt her. We can get you a good one.” I suppose he meant well and perhaps made his suggestion in our interest, but it did reflect a devaluing of life, both her ethnicity and fragile health.


A Reader’s Note: Yesterday we shared an illustration concerning morning glories and Jim, a friend from New Braunfels Texas, made this observation: “If you desire, you can reverse the story and look at the negative side. The Morning Glory can be compared to the “Little Sins”. One “Little Sin” doesn’t seem harmful, and we put it out-of-mind. However, like the Morning Glory, it sends out roots in every direction. Soon, more “Little Sins” begin to show up, and before long they can overwhelm. It takes more than a bit of “weeding” to get rid of them. They have to be destroyed with a powerful “agent”. That “Agent” is the Blood of Christ.”


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“To the Least of These”  Video  Matt Papa

* Even some in the secular left take issue with their revered Dawkins on this matter. See this opinion piece from the New York Times. I especially cite this article for those who may wonder if Dawkins really made this outrageous statement (see first paragraph).

“End Of Day” report archives are here.

Today’s photo is from our friend Nick Nichols collection of Strasburg, PA. Brooksyne, Ester, my brother, Michael, and I are going over that way this evening to watch “Moses” at the Sight and Sound Theater. Yesterday we were blessed with four complimentary tickets! We hope to also stop by to see our Amish friends in that area and check out their harvest.


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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.

Morning glories in garden shed 8/23/14

Note: Due to a very busy schedule and early morning chaplain visitation a podcast will not be prepared for this message.

“Blooming In A Dark Place”

“You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:4). “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

Each year we seem to get a lesson from the Morning Glories which are prolific around our place each summer even though Brooksyne hasn’t planted any for about 11 years. We’ve surely pulled them up by the thousands but they continue to grow. We are blessed not only by flowers that Brooksyne intentionally plants all around our home but “volunteers” that spring up wherever we happen to dispose of the clippings. Some of our clippings make their way beside the farm road across from our house along the front row of the corn field.

In addition to a beautiful cornfield we have Morning Glories growing up along the corn stalks! These plants have not benefited from Brooksyne’s feeding, watering or weeding, yet they grow; blooming where they are planted providentially by God usually in the full sun, demonstrating the character quality of perseverance.

Morning glories in garden shed 8/23/14But this year one of the volunteers is brightening up the inside of our garden shed, blooming in a very dark place unless we open the door or turn on the light. This volunteer Morning Glory is climbing up the bright outside of our garden shed but still manages to bloom on the dark inside through the crack in the wood siding.

I recall first hearing the phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted” from our years in Bible College in the seventies. The saying has the sense that we are to let God use us and seek to be fruitful wherever we are. Sometimes we may find ourselves providentially planted where we would rather not be, sometimes in what sure seems like dark places. A true test of character is whether we bloom or wilt in these difficult places.

Peter does not specifically identify the “dark place” in our second daily text. It seems most natural however to view this dark place as the world as it presently exists. Peter is likely using “dark place” as a metaphor to describe this corrupt world system. However “advanced” our secular civilization becomes, this world in its willful rebellion to God (whose essence is light), lies in the darkness of sin, ignorance, despair and death which keeps people from seeing God’s truth until His light shines into their hearts. (Precept Austin commentary)

Warren WiersbeWarren Wiersbe, who has long been one of our favorite Bible teachers, comments regarding the Greek word “auchmeros” used here for dark. It “is the picture of a dank cellar or a dismal swamp. Human history began in a lovely Garden, but that Garden today is a murky swamp. What you see when you look at this world system is an indication of the spiritual condition of your heart. We still see beauty in God’s creation, but we see no beauty in what mankind is doing with God’s creation. Peter did not see this world as a Garden of Eden, nor should we.”

Today we want to encourage our readers who live or serve in what may seem like a dark place. Some of us plant, others water but God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). And the God who ultimately gives blooming ability to the morning glory in our dark garden shed can bring growth and blooming wherever you are, even if it’s a dark place!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that You shine Your light through us most especially in unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are to let our lights shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify You in heaven. There are times when we cry out, “No More! I just can’t do this anymore.” But Father, in Your infinite wisdom You give us daily strength and spiritual resolve to carry on in the darkest of circumstances so that the light of Christ might be made manifest in our lives. We will carry the light of Your salvation through our words, our actions, and the way in which we seek to be fruitful and bloom where we are planted. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.


Brooksyne’s Note: One of the common attitudes residents express in nursing homes is, “This is where I live, but this isn’t home.” How could it be in comparison to their individual homes where they grew their families and lived their lives for 50 years or more!  Often I select the hymn, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” and occasionally share the background story where Ina Ogdon expressed the true meaning of the message we shared today about blooming where you’re planted. I challenge the residents of the nursing home that instead of feeling “cornered” or trapped in a nursing home that God has called them to brighten the corner at their dining room table, in their hallways and in the midst of activities for this is where God has led them during their golden years.  Here’s the story:

In 1912 Ina Duley Ogdon received an invitation to be a Chautauqua Circuit speaker.  This was a great opportunity for her since Chautauqua Lake was a place in upstate New York where performers, musicians, lecturers and motivational speakers were invited who were famous throughout the country.  At the time it was the most popular spot where people by the thousands came to visit. Theodore Roosevelt called it “the most American thing in America.”

Miss Ogdon, a brilliant orator, had felt God’s calling on her life. Upon receiving the invitation, she excitedly considered the thousands of people that she might influence for the cause of Christ.  But as she was packing for the upcoming tour her father was seriously injured in one of the new-fangled “horseless carriages.”  Ina, deeply disappointed and somewhat angered toward God for allowing this tragedy to happen, eventually cancelled her travel plans to care for her father.  After making her peace with God about the matter, she determined in her heart that she would be happy and remain “true to the many duties near” her.  She would do her best to “brighten the corner” where God placed her.

Ina completed this poem over the next year.  It became the theme song of Billy Sunday’s evangelistic ministry for twenty-two years.  Instead of reaching only thousands in her lifetime Ina Duley Ogdon’s inspired words have reached out to millions from 1913 right up to our lifetime.

“Brighten the Corner”

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do.
Do not wait to shed your light afar.
To the many duties ever near you now be true;
Brighten the corner where you are.

Chorus:
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear;
Let not narrow self your way debar.
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the Bright and Morning Star.
Ever from your humble hand the bread of life may feed;
Brighten the corner where you are.

Just as the Morning Glories brighten our dark shed so we too can brighten the corner in which we find ourselves!


Some photos of morning glories around our home:

Morning glories outside garden shed 8/23/14
Here’s the same Morning Glory as in our lead photo, growing up outside our garden shed. After Brooksyne pulled out about a hundred Morning Glory “babies” over the summer months she finally gave up and I provided a trellis so they would grow up, not out.

Morning glory on back fence

Morning Glories grow up along our backyard fence. Truth be told, I find these some of the most beautiful flowers even though they grow wild like a dandelion and can actually be an intrusive flower, choking out other flowers. I know Brooksyne has pulled the young roots of thousands of morning glories this year that appear between the rocks in our back yard walkway.

Morning Glory Collage

A collage of morning glory blooms growing up the corn stalks in the farm field across from our home, likely originating from the plantings in our yard over ten years ago.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Carry The Light”  Video  The Continental Singers

“Brighten the Corner Where You Are”  Video  The Statesmen Quartet

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.

Lancaster County harvest scene (Click for larger view)
This morning’s view of harvest fields on Rockvale Road  Lancaster, PA  (Click for larger version with Scripture verse)

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“A Word About ‘Contemporary’ Music”

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3). “Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth! (Isaiah 42:10). “And they sang a new song” (Revelation 5:9).

Church in Harwood MissouriIn our nursing home ministry we use a large print hymn book with songs well known to the residents that many have sung since their childhood. This last Sunday I made the point that many were songs I recall singing in the little white frame church my grandmother attended in Harwood Missouri that I often visited as a child. Many of you know these songs such as “The Old Rugged Cross”, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”.

A group of elderly residents dealing with Alzheimer’s comes over from a memory care unit. One thing we can count on is that many will sing out an old hymn even though other aspects of their memory have been greatly diminished.

Longwood Manor hymn sing I was especially touched this last Sunday when they brought in an older lady who appeared to be in a stupor like state with her head bowed down and eyes closed. She was actually sitting in a room away from the main gathering when our service began. But some of the nurse’s aids observed that she was singing along and wheeled her in to be with the other attendees. It was nice to observe the younger nurse’s aids being sensitive to this.

There are many opinions about contemporary music in the church. We strongly believe the church needs to have a balance between older and newer songs, although the precise balance is rather subjective. We need to be singing music from previous generations reminding us that our faith is not a current fad, that Jesus is Lord of the past. We need to be singing newer songs reminding us that God still gives new songs to His people, and that He is Lord of our now.

Our church sings both contemporary and traditional church music and we are pleased with this balance. Sometimes people may actually be unaware whether a song is contemporary or traditional and we sang such a song this last Sunday. We have enjoyed “God of the Ages” for many years, first singing it as we recall in the church we served in New England. Although it is contemporary in the sense that it was written (or at least became popular) in our lifetime it is sung to an older Gaelic melody popularized in the song “Morning Has Broken”. By the way the older you get the wider span you have regarding what constitutes “contemporary”!

Everything we sing was contemporary at one time. After all it had to be new to the generation that first sang it!

Thankfully, gifted musicians continue writing new songs for the church, fulfilling the Biblical call to “Sing to the Lord a new song”. Margaret Clarkson who wrote “God Of The Ages” lived from 1915 until 2008 and blessed the church with a number of songs. But my favorite is “God Of The Ages” which chronicles God’s providential care over His creation past, present and future.

God of the ages, history’s Maker,
planning our pathway, holding us fast,
shaping in mercy all that concerns us:
Father, we praise you, Lord of the past.

God of this morning, gladly your children
worship before you, trustingly bow;
teach us to know you always among us,
quietly sovereign, Lord of our now.

God of tomorrow, strong overcomer,
princes of darkness own your command:
what then can harm us? We are your people,
now and forever kept by your hand.

Lord of past ages, Lord of this morning,
Lord of the future, help us, we pray:
teach us to trust you, love and obey you,
crown you each moment Lord of today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, for Your creation which reaches back to the beginning of time and for that which is created this very moment we recognize You as our sovereign Lord. All that we have and all that we are is an act of Your generous and benevolent mercy extended to all generations, past, present and future. God of this morning, we thank You for the opportunities this day provides for us to sing to You a new song and to bring glory to Your name. God of tomorrow, we trust You for that which will bring about rejoicing and that which will bring forth sorrow, gain or loss. Blessed be the name of the One who gives and takes away. God of past ages, You are the same yesterday, today and forever. We trust in You – forever faithful, changing never God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.


Prayer for the persecuted:  Once again today our hearts are grieved as we hear reports about Christians fleeing for their lives and for those being murdered for their faith in Christ by the Isis terrorists and other radical Muslim groups. Our hearts go out to their families and their fellow believers. Let us faithfully pray for these dear brothers and sisters in the faith and for those who have the power to make a difference.


Two other thoughts for consideration on today’s topic:

I recall a song popular when we were young Christians titled “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music”. At the time it seemed like a strange title but as I have aged it seems so generationally and culturally proud. After all who is determining what “good music” is here? Maybe the title should be, “Why Should The Devil Have All The Music I like”. Then perhaps one should also check his preferences in music if that’s what the devil has!!!

2) The designation “contemporary” itself is poor. For instance new southern gospel songs are being written but we don’t typically call that genre of music contemporary.


Our friend Lee Smucker sent us a couple of photos of local scenes that our readers often comment on:
Amish boys jumping on trampoline (Lee Smucker)
These Amish boys were practicing their baseball while jumping on a trampoline which makes for a great action photo though it also makes for a nervous Brooksyne as she viewed this photo. Trampolines are far more dangerous than parents and children realize when left unsupervised. On the other hand it is always a refreshing sight to see children enjoying the great outdoors free of electronic devices.

Morning glories on garden shed 8/23/14
A neighbor out giving his pet goat a ride in the wagon.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“God of the Ages”  Video  Charles Billingsley This is not the Margaret Clarkson song referred to in the message but another by the same title we enjoy. There is actually a third song with this title written by Daniel C. Roberts over 100 years ago!

Margaret Clarkson biography

Sonshine Society is a resource we use in our nursing home ministry.


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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.

“Passing The Test”

August 26, 2014

James 1:2-4, Sylvan Lake, SD (Photo by Chris Lehman)Sylvan Lake in South Dakota (Photo taken by our friend Chris Lehman)
“Passing The Test”

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player.

“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).

In early 2005 I conducted the marriage ceremony for Mike and JoAnna Gardner. JoAnna had grown up in our church and met Mike in college. It’s been a blessing to see them grow as a family these last nine years, both in the sense of adding children but also spiritually.

Mike is a stonemason (installing bricks, stone, and concrete work). Several years ago he had an opportunity to teach a course at Stevens College, filling in for a teacher. It provided the possibility of an open door for permanent employment as a teacher so, of course, Mike and JoAnna were both very excited about this opportunity and we recall joining them in praying about it along with many other church folks.  But alas the door did not open. They were very disappointed of course but stayed steady and carried on living life responsibly and trusting God as Mike went back to his former construction job. The word, “wait” seemed to speak peace to JoAnna’s heart.

I encouraged Mike at that time and commended him for passing a test which so many fail; properly handling life’s disappointments. Too many respond to life’s disappointments by turning to the bottle, drugs, immorality or other forms of destructive sins. We have seen that happen time after time over our years in ministry.

Since we provided premarital counseling to Mike and JoAnna this topic of inevitable disappointments came into discussion. There are times when plans just don’t work out the way we would hope and there are other times when delays seem as grim as a door shut in our face. But I bring you back to our story about Mike and JoAnna and the message she heard from God, “Wait!” Their waiting paid off and last month the door again opened for Mike. He is now an instructor at Stevens College in Lancaster!

Our 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.”

In my life I first recall learning the concept in this verse from Merlin Caruthers who wrote a book titled “Power In Praise” which highlights this verse. His focus was praising God in all situations, good or bad.

Today some of our readers find themselves in the midst of a testing period and others are going through an extended 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 to “consider it all joy” when you encounter trials (take note of the plural in the word, “trial”).

You might ask yourself, “What was in the water he was drinking?” But in fact there is a reason to be joyful during the testing since it’s common to all who call themselves a Christian. It provides an opportunity for you to prove your faith to be genuine and it also provides an opportunity for others (Christian and non-Christian) to witness the way you deal with your difficulties.

Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe writes, “Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to ‘count it all joy!’ If we live only for the present and forget about the future, the trials will make us bitter, not better.”

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, not lacking in godly character.  We faithfully serve Him during times of ease and during times of trial.

When we were young a song popular at the time conveyed an interesting perspective concerning trials. In fact it was the first song I heard Brooksyne sing as a pianist and soloist.  Its text was applicable to our lives in Bible College as very young believers in the faith.  And now some 40 years later we can see and understand more fully the wisdom in the text and how it relates to our daily lives:

Thank You, Lord, for the trials that come my way.
In that way, I can grow each day as I let You lead.
And I thank You, Lord, for the patience those trials bring.
In that process of growing I can learn to care.

But it goes against the way I am to put my human nature down
And let the Spirit take control of all I do.
For when those trials come, my human nature shouts the thing to do
And God’s soft prompting can be easily ignored.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray that You will help us to grow in Your grace and knowledge, 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 soft prompting or guidance through Scripture, through other believers, and through the circumstances we face can easily be ignored 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 so doing 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 keep us growing, in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


In 2 Peter 1:5-8 believers are challenged to, “Make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” We might refer to these qualities as the “tree rings” of spiritual maturity.  Peter further indicates that if we “possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

Another great Scripture verse concerning today’s topic is 1 Peter 4:19, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Although this is in the context of suffering in persecution the principle I see is the phrase, “commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” which applies to life’s disappointments.

For further study in James 1:2


Gardner family 8/20/14
Mike and JoAnna with their growing children 8/20/14
Stephen teases the children about stinkbugs (since we have plenty in our area). This has earned him the nickname “Stinkbug”!

Mike porch extension 8/23/14
Mike helped us with a small home improvement project last week of extending our front porch out several feet. Prior to this project it had been too narrow to practically and comfortably use for sitting. But Mollie was a bit confused since she thought Mike had come to play. She just wouldn’t leave him alone expecting him to toss the Frisbee over and over!

Porch extension 8/25/14
The almost finished project. We need one more deck board, will paint the face boards gray and then place some lattice over the openings. Now we can rock to our heart’s content without fearing that we might just rock ourselves right into the flower bed. Just about every evening we have a fabulous sunset that we enjoy watching.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Praise The Lord” 2013 version Video  1979 version  Video  Imperials

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

“God Will Make a Way”  Video  Don Moen


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.

“Message From A Boat”

August 25, 2014

Martin farm pond 8/24/14
Last night we had a Galilean service around Galen Martin’s farm pond. It was a beautiful and cool evening for late August.
“Message From A Boat”

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player.

“That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables” (Matthew 13:1-3).

Preaching from boat at Galilean service 8/24/14 (Click for larger view)

Last night our church held a Galilean Service. We gathered on the lawn surrounding the farm pond, sang several songs, shared testimonies and prayed before I was invited to climb on board the boat from which I was going to preach! It was a beautiful evening and a distinct experience from that of preaching behind the pulpit. Truth is, I had never heard of a Galilean service prior to moving to this area and have learned since that it is not unique to our church. Prior to stepping down into the boat Pastor advised me, “Stay in the Word and stay in the boat.”

Throughout our ministry of nearly forty years now we’ve have had a number of experiences in farm ponds. Brooksyne recalls her youthful years in Oklahoma when she, along with her teen peers, were immersed in a muddy farm pond. The very first baptism I performed as a Bible College student/pastor was in a muddy pond in southern Missouri. I came out sloshing my feet as I forcefully fought sinking in the deep mud each step I took. The farm pigs generously shared their watering hole with us that summer afternoon.

Studying the life of Christ a lot happened near and on the Sea of Galilee.*

  • On at least one occasion Christ taught on a boat which is likely the origination of the Galilean service idea. (Today’s text)
  • Jesus called His first disciples:  (Matthew 4:18-22).
  • Jesus walked on the water as well as Peter. (Matthew 14:22-33)
  • Jesus rebuked the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • Jesus commuted using the sea of Galilee (Mark 5:21)
  • Jesus gave some fishing advice (Luke 5:1-11)
  • Jesus’ final teaching in the Gospel of John was by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-14)

Today’s text may have been a strategic plan by the Lord to be better heard. He initially was sitting by the sea but after a large crowd gathered He got into a boat and sat down, thus we have an example of preaching while being seated. I sat down on the bench seat of the aluminum boat during the entire message. I had the feeling that standing in the small boat, with my large frame and height of 6’2″ I would likely have tipped over. Of course it would have been more entertaining for the onlookers should that have happened, but that was not my mission.

Jesus provides an example of flexibility in ministry in order to most effectively reach people. I am not sure how comfortable it was sitting in a boat while preaching to people along the shore but it likely had both a visual and acoustical advantage.

Perhaps this setting could help us to be more resourceful and creative in reaching out to others as we speak God’s truth in our needy world?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for Jesus and His compassionate approach in reaching people of all ages, all backgrounds and various ethnicities. The parables and messages He shared as the crowds gathered are life-transforming as they enlighten the hearts and minds of those who have ears to hear the truths He spoke. Likewise we too can share the life transforming message of the gospel to people in all walks of life and every derivation of sin. None is beyond the all-powerful reach of the Savior who died that we might live victoriously here and eternally in the hereafter. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

* In all cases the body of water was not specifically identified as the Sea of Galilee and other names are also used for the same body of water.


Grandpa Galen with grandchildren (8/24/14)
Grandpa Martin holding two of his grandchildren.

Galilean service (8/24/14)
Ester took this distant view.

Brooksyne swinging Prentice 8/24/14
After the service the congregation lingered and Brooksyne passed by this old-fashioned swingset as Prentice called out, “Swing me!” She happily obliged and Prentice eagerly showed her his tricks on the swing and his intelligence. He boasted, “I can count to 120 and proceeded to do so as she pushed him on the swing over and over again.

Walter and Randi Waldvogel luncheon with Sue Gill 8/23/14
Saturday afternoon Walter and Randi Waldvogel stopped by for lunch along with their friend Susan Gill. Waldvogels relocated to Lancaster County a couple years ago but Susan still lives in the Long Island area. She’s a long time reader of Daily Encouragement so it was especially nice to meet her face to face.

Peach pie 8/23/14
Saturday, Aug. 23, was the day we commemorate Ester’s adoption that was finalized only 17 years ago (long complicated story), though she was with us from three months of age. I wore my Guatemalan attire in celebration and baked this juicy peach pie to share with our friends.

Mark and Carolyn Pulliam 8/23/14
Later Saturday afternoon Mark and Carolyn Pulliam stopped by, played a game of horseshoes and visited with us on our deck.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Farther Along”  Video  Dailey and Vincent (Note: takes about 12 minutes for the music to start!)

“Micah 6:8″  Video  Maranatha Singers We were blessed when Marsha, who was in a church we served over twenty years ago, wrote and reminded us how we used to sing this song in church and she still remembered!

“Mount Pleasant Galilean Service 2014 message”  Video  For any who may care to see me preach from a boat! The summer setting is beautiful. (Our friend Mike Martin made the recording.) Here’s the fuller video with folky intro and beautiful scenery.


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.

“Born Again”

August 22, 2014

Bitzer's Mill Covered Bridge 8/21/14Yesterday we drove through the Bitzer’s Mill Covered Bridge over the Conestoga River. We always enjoy driving through the many covered bridges here in Lancaster County.
“Born Again”
ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

In 1976 the late Chuck Colson wrote a book simply titled “Born Again” which is the story of his dramatic conversion to Christ. In August of 1973, with the Watergate prosecution preparing its case against him and the press corps circling like sharks, Colson knelt on the floor of the office of Raytheon CEO Tom Phillips. While Colson fought back tears in an embarrassed state of silence, Phillips prayed for him and for his soul to be saved. The media were, of course, cynical about his conversion and assumed it to be a ploy to reduce his sentence or even to be acquitted. Skeptics expected that, after his release from prison, he would leave his Christianity behind. Not so, for he became one of the key voices in evangelical Christianity and a friend to those imprisoned along with their family members through the Angel Tree ministry.

I met Tom Phillips in a meeting in Boston about 15 years ago who, as best as I can determine, is still living. Most all of us who are born again can recall the person(s) that God used to lead us to Christ.  I was blessed by Colson’s ministry for years; reading many of his books as well as hearing him speak live on several occasions and listening to his broadcast on “Breakpoint”. Following his conversion he certainly lived a life of spiritual fruitfulness evidencing his conversion in 1973 right up until his entry into heaven on April 21, 2012.

Forty-three years ago today, as I was preparing to enter my junior year in high school, I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Several months earlier I had been confronted with the Gospel message through the witness of my older brother Pat who became a born again Christian while in the military.

But I initially rejected Christ’s claims on my life. Those were rather miserable months as the Holy Spirit worked in my life to convict me of my sin and my need for Christ. On Sunday evening August 22, 1971 I reluctantly went to an evangelistic service in a convention hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The preacher proclaimed the Word of God, the Holy Spirit dealt with my heart, and that night I accepted Jesus Christ into my life and became “born again”. Like Colson I have sought to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

Our first daily text are the words of our Lord to Nicodemus. This is the primary verse most of us recall when we consider the Bible’s teaching concerning being born again.

In 1 Peter he is writing to the believers in the first century church.  Like us, they had never seen Christ during His earthly ministry (1 Peter 1:8) but at the proclamation of the gospel they had believed in Him for their salvation.  Peter says they “have been born again”, the same term used by Jesus when He witnessed to Nicodemus. This is one of the Biblical terms used for conversion.

This new birth is “not of perishable seed, but of imperishable.” This indicates the spiritual, eternal dimension of the work of the Spirit and Word of God in our lives.

Note these two powerful qualities of God’s Word:

1) The Word of God is living. The writer of Hebrews uses this very phrase when he says the “Word of God is living” (4:12).  The living God imparts spiritual life through His living Word.  I once read the story of a street evangelist who had placed his hat on the ground and drew a crowd by pointing at it and shouting, “It’s alive”.  When a group had gathered around him he lifted up his hat to reveal a Bible!

2) The Word of God is enduring. The Psalmist wrote, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal” (119:160).  No other written work comes even remotely close to the Bible in its enduring qualities.  Peter concludes the chapter with this powerful truth: “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

Today we join hundreds of millions of believers around the world who are born again; those who are reading and applying the truths of Scripture; those earnestly seeking to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance”. Many will be proclaiming this life-giving Word to others as I am through this encouragement message. And today scores of highly dedicated translators will be working in the remotest areas of the world to translate God’s Word so that all might know of God’s love and His redemption plan.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come!”  How powerful and enduring Your Word is. It is ever-living, ever-relevant and ever-active in the lives of believers all over the globe conviction people of their sin and calling them to repent that they might be born again. More than just print on a page, the Word of God penetrates the heart; guiding, instructing, convicting, delighting, comforting and performing Your supernatural work in our lives. Increase our love and passion for reading Your Word faithfully so that we may grow in understanding and appreciation for all You have to show us. We seek to bring You glory as we witness to others that we are born again. We pray that our lives “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” as a visible witness to others of Your awesome lifechanging power in our lives. Through Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.


Marlin's office view in Lancaster County PA 8/21/14
Our day began early yesterday with a visit to a home improvement company. This is a partial view from our friend Marlin’s office. It only gets prettier as you look to the large farm to the right (not pictured) During the late summer season many of the farm buildings and houses are “corned in” as they say around here. It is inspiringly beautiful as you travel the roads and farm lanes and see the healthy tall corn and other vibrant fields of produce.

Old order road scene in Lancaster County PA 8/21/14
You never know what types of conveyance you will encounter on the roads in rural Lancaster County!

Old order road scene in Lancaster County PA 8/21/14
Another view of the convoy. These friendly old order Mennonites each waved to us as we passed them on the farm lane.

Roadside stand in Lancaster County PA 8/21/14
Lancaster County roadside stands vary from beautiful to very simple such as this one we passed yesterday on a back road. We did purchase two huge cantaloupes from these discarded grocery carts at $1.00 each

Apples and peaches in Lancaster County PA 8/21/14
Brooksyne bought a bushel of peaches at this old-order orchard east of Ephrata, PA. She has her work cut out today so I’ll help in other areas to free her up for canning. Next week maybe we’ll probably share some canning photos!

DJ Paglia 8/20/14
We enjoy visiting with DJ Paglia, a preacher friend here in Lancaster County and also a fellow chaplain. For many years he and his wife have served Keystone Wood Specialties, a local cabinet maker. What’s especially remarkable is that DJ and his wife Anna Mary are approaching their late eighties! He is preaching three weeks in a row in a local church here in Mount Joy and brings joy to so many folks.

Elizabethtown Fair machinery (photo by Ester)
Ester took this photo at the Elizabethtown Fair of some old machinery adapted to sharpen pencils!

Conestoga Wagon jack
Elizabethtown Fair: My brother, Mike, took this photo of a wagon jack made in Maytown in 1771, used to hold the wagon up when the wheels were removed. (Maytown is just a couple miles from our home where we serve as chaplains in a nursing home.)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Born Again”  Video  Homecoming Singers

“Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”  Video  Homecoming Singers

Born Again”  Video  Evie Karlsson We recall this song by a much younger Evie back in the late seventies when we heard her at a large Jesus Festival called Fishnet event in Virginia.  Video

“How to be Born Again” a short article by Billy Graham

Colson reflects on his conversion to Christ 35 years earlier. Article

Finally today:
Lowes clearance price
When shopping we both tend to keep an eye out for clearance items but we thought we would pass on this one. You would think if Lowes really wanted to clear this item they could do better than dropping the price a penny!!!

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.

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