“A Spiritual Audit”

August 20, 2014

Colossians 1:10

“A Spiritual Audit”

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player. (Note: We have been making podcasts for several days but I had forgotten to reinsert the link!!!)

“But let a man examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28a). “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Energy auditYesterday we had an energy audit from a representative for PPL, our local electric utility. He walked through our home, suggesting ways we could save on our electric bill and even made some small improvements to increase our energy efficiency. His advice was quite helpful but the audit also included some free energy saving items like LED bulbs. Free is usually good!

To me a helpful feature of an audit is a check-off list such as status of insulation, windows and doors, hot water heater, HVAC system and so forth. This can be helpful in analyzing and I tend to be a very analytical person. For instance he told me that for each degree the temp is lowered in the summer (A/C) it will increase the A/C portion of my electric bill by 1%. I suppose I personally determine it’s worth having the temperature set to where we are comfortable based on this!

Today’s short first Scripture verse is in the context of sharing Communion at the Lord’s Table. Before one eats and drinks of the emblems representing the broken Body and shed blood of Christ he is to examine himself. Of utmost importance in this personal exam is the answer to these foundational questions, “Do I have saving faith in Christ?” (Romans 10:8,9). “Do I have any unconfessed sin in my heart?” (1 John 1:9).

The second text speaks of a vitally important test, “Am I ‘in the faith'”? In his article “The Place Of Self-examination” by S. Lewis Johnson he comments concerning this verse, “There are literally millions of professing Christians who need to pay attention to this statement of the apostle. They have entered into a shallow commitment to Christianity, they’ve joined the church, they’ve been baptized or they’ve done other things that might make them think that they are genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They’ve been encouraged to think that, by men who’ve not been careful to point out that there is more to becoming a Christian than subscribing to a statement. They don’t hate sin. They don’t love holiness. They do not pray. They do not study the word of God. They do not walk humbly with God. These individuals, so many of them stand in the same danger in which the Corinthians stood. And the apostle’s words, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves,” are valid words that each of us should ponder.”

Self-examination or a spiritual audit is important so that we correct ourselves on a regular basis to make certain we continue to bring glory to God in the manner in which we live our lives.

Colossians 1:10-12 provides a list of audit items for our consideration. I will phrase them as personal questions:

  • Am I living in a manner worthy of the Lord?
  • Am I pleasing Him in all respects?
  • Am I bearing fruit in every good work?
  • Am I increasing in the knowledge of God?
  • Am I being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might?
  • Am I attaining steadfastness and patience?
  • Am I joyously giving thanks to the Father?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I ask myself, “Am I living in a manner worthy of Your name? Do I seek to please You rather than myself? Does the fruit of my labor reflect the Spirit of Christ living within my heart? Do I have a zeal for the things of Christ and a desire to know Him better, to reflect His character every day in my life? Am I steady or do I sputter in my Christian influence?” Father, in all these things I want to be more like Christ, consistent in the ways that bring glory to Your name and growth in my spiritual nature. I want my spiritual walk to be the most important pursuit of my life as I journey here below so that I may influence as many as possible to live for Jesus. It is in His name that I pray. Amen.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Search Me, O God”  Video  Steve Green

“Lord, I Want To Be Like Jesus”  Video  Fernando Ortega

Mountain scene with Daniel 5:23 (Photo by Doris High, click to enlarge)Mountain scene photo by Doris High (Click on photo for larger view)
“Weighing On The Scales Of Scripture”

“Tekel: You’ve been weighed on the scales and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27).

This week we are joining a fun contest at one of the companies where we serve as chaplains. It’s named after the TV show “The Biggest Loser” and is a weight loss challenge among those who need to take off a few (or more) pounds. Each week we weigh in and at the end of the contest the biggest loser gets a prize as well as a healthier body!

Bathroom scale When I step on the scales if the number’s in my favor I step on it often. But other times I purposely avoid it fearing that the number of pounds will reveal too many food indulgences. Now we will both be responsible for a weekly weigh in and will need to report (accountability) whether the number is good or bad.

More importantly we should regularly weigh-in “on the scales” of God’s Holy Word. I am not sure how to apply this illustration but the Holy Scriptures do give an account of a man who had been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Other versions state “deficient” or “too light”.

In Daniel 5 King Belshazzar has a strange experience with a finger writing on a wall the inscription, “MENĒ, MENĒ,  TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.” It was so distressing that “the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together” (Daniel 5:6).

He first summoned his own advisors who were unable to provide an interpretation. Daniel was called in to provide the interpretation. He demonstrates the characteristics of a true prophet, boldly and fearlessly speaking truth to power. In fact he refused to even accept the prize the king offered to whomever interpreted the meaning (5:17).

When Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall for Belshazzar he revealed a message Belshazzar didn’t like: “Tekel: You’ve been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”

God revealed the king’s sins to Daniel, that he praised gods of silver and gold, gods that couldn’t see, hear or understand. He concludes with a stunning statement well considered by all. “But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways” (Daniel 5:23). Since he didn’t honor God his reign was put to an end. “‘MENĒ’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.”  This prophesy had no delay. “That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain” (v. 30).

Let us regularly weigh in and aspire not to be found wanting! When we weigh-in on the scales of Scripture let us consider God’s estimation as we prayerfully ask, “Am I conforming to the likeness of Christ?” The Scriptures will reveal our progress or lack thereof and we must respond accordingly.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You that the veil was taken away when we left this world and turned to You.  We, who now have unveiled faces contemplate Your glory even as we are being transformed into the image of Christ with ever-increasing glory, which comes from You. But even still our flesh battles our spirit from day to day as we travel through this life so we must regularly weigh-in on the scales of Your Holy Word to see where we are lacking. We need regular perspective from Your Holy Word, lest we form attitudes and behaviors that reflect the pattern of this world. We want to be transformed daily by the renewing of our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus that we might be more and more like Him. It is in His name that we pray. Amen.

See II Corinthians 3:16-18, Romans 12:2

Matthew Henry Study Note based on Romans 12:2 –  He [Paul] entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings… Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory. The great enemy to this renewal is, conformity to this world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though it lay in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the flesh, and mind earthly things. The work of the Holy Ghost first begins in the understanding, and is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the whole man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to God.

Reader’s Note:  This thoughtful note in response to yesterday’s message from a New York reader regarding “The Hopeless Cause”: “I am convicted as I read today’s Daily Encouragement. How many folks missed out on a chance for a new identity because I judged them as too far gone and rebuffed any contact with them and failed to show the intense tender loving care needed?

Dog and cat 8/18/14
Free entertainment in the Weber’s front yard. Our neighbor, John, walked by with his dog while our cat, Dottie, was out front. She scrambled up the oak tree for safety and Krystal scrambled right after her (all the while being held back by John).

Dog and cat 8/18/14
Part dog/part bear. Krystal was determined but couldn’t even make it to the first limb no matter how many attempts she made. Dottie had nothing to fear!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Lord, I Want To Be Like Jesus”  Video  Fernando Ortega

“Make Me More Like You” Video  Chosen Ladies Trio

“My Greatest Love is You”  Video   Hillsong  Brooksyne’s Note: As I listened to the lyrics of this song I thought, “Dig deeper into the Scriptures, live in a way that reflects that you love Jesus more than anyone or anything, and you will be lacking in nothing.”

The following poem was written in response to the message, “A Hopeless Cause” that we shared in yesterday’s Daily Encouragement. Thank you, David Short, for your inspiring poem:

Revived, Restored

Lifeless, wilted, forlorn, hopeless,
Drooping with lack of nourishment.
Colorless and deflated to the eye,
Yet, hidden deep below – a spark.

Out of sight, a vivacity for life;
Flowing, alive, resilient with energy.
Sustenance is shared, the vital flow begins
Imperceptible yet effervescent with nutrients.

Radiant hues appear, strength returns;
Artistic form invades the plant with verve.
Structure, and cohesive identity occurs;
Restoration develops a pace, with delight.

Revived with skill and craftmanship
Beauty permeates the structure.
Wholeness, togetherness, completion;
The past transformed, New Life displayed.

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.

“A New Creation”

August 18, 2014

Butterfly with Scripture verse (Photo by Greg Schneider)
Photo taken in Centre County, PA by our friend Greg Schneider.
(Click on photo to enlarge and for better clarity)


“A New Creation”


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “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” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Lowes clearance flower (hopeless cause) 7/8/14

Six weeks ago we found this verbena flower on a clearance bin at Lowes. I named it “Hopeless Cause” and even the manager raised his eyebrows as we took it to the register. We figured, even if we can’t revive this pitiful plant, the metal planter with coco liner and planting soil was worth the price we paid (a dollar as I recall). At that time we posted the above photo and asked our readers: “Do you suppose we can bring it back to life?” The manager said to us, “If you can possibly bring this flower back to life bring in a picture to prove it.”
Lowes clearance flower (hopeless cause) after renewal 8/18/14

After six weeks of TLC here is the plant as of this morning! My contribution was that I replaced the plastic hanger with a chain. Brooksyne provided the very much needed Tender Loving Care “but it was God who made the plant grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). To aid the Lord’s revitalization of this Verbena plant Brooksyne cut off the dead leaves and vines almost to the root, watered it daily, placed it in the sun, and fertilized it weekly. This plant essentially received a new identity so today let us consider the topic of a new identity.

Years ago I received an offer that caught my attention.  It stated that for the introductory price of only $19.95 I could have a brand new identity.  The deal promised that the “best thing about having a new you is that you have PERFECT credit, you can take a vacation on your newly found credit and never worry about the bills if you don’t want to.”  I wonder if they extended credit so buyers could put the $19.95 introductory price on that same credit card? I would guess that enough suckers couldn’t resist the offer making this innovative thief a small fortune.

There are many who earnestly seek a new identity. It may be in regard to their facial features, body size, age marks, a seedy past, or whatever else troubles them and doesn’t go away on its own. The products that “promise” results line store shelves, fill the air waves and cram my junk email folder.

2 Corinthians 5:17Scripture promises a genuine offer of a new identity that’s been proven valid for over 2,000 years. Millions can testify to the integrity of this promise: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Bible commentator Glen Spencer describes the Christian as a new creation…”a creation of God’s redemptive work. He is a new creature with a new Director, a new Determination, a new Demeanor, new Delights, new Desires, and a new Destiny. If our life is not different since we professed Christ as our Saviour—we need to examine our life in light of God’s Word.”

In another text Paul uses a wonderful phrase to describe this change. After listing a group of sins that will prohibit entrance into the Kingdom of God he writes, “Such were some of you.” He then describes the transformative change, “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.”

When we genuinely commit our life to Christ we become a new creation and receive a new identity. The first daily Scripture text is one of the first verses that I ever memorized after accepting Christ in 1971. The change in my life was both immediate and progressive.  Men and women from “every nation, tribe, people and language” have accepted this new identity and many are doing so every day. The promise is freely available to each of you reading this. Have you accepted Christ’s offer? It is the real deal and the only one that has immediate, lasting, and best of all eternal value!

Come just as you are.
Hear the Spirit call.
Come just as you are.
Come and see, come receive,
Come and live forever.

Life everlasting.
And strength for today.
Taste the Living Water,
And never thirst again.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there is no sin too great that Your mercy is not greater. We were born with a sin problem, but You provided the solution for our sin sick souls through the wondrous sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We could never be good enough, rich enough, famous enough – nothing we offer is enough. Anything we have to give is sin-based because of our human condition and all that Christ offers is sin-less because He is the Lamb without blemish. Only Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is enough to pay for our sins. His payment made in full makes us a new creation, taking away our old attitudes and behaviours born of this world and replaces them with the new attitudes and behaviors born of the Spirit. Thank You for the living water that quenches our eternal thirst through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Brooksyne’s Note about the Verbena: I tried to sway Stephen away from the burned up verbena but he has seen me revive many plants over the years and was confident that it would happen again. Thankfully it worked. But to be honest there were three plants and one I did toss as it was truly dead. The other two I cut right down to the top of the roots. For those interested in trying to save those destined for the recycle bin, with your fingernail scratch the stem of a plant or bark of a tree. If you can find a green cast inside the layers of the stem of the plant, the bark or branch of a tree that’s a sign of life. If instead the branch or stem snaps off and the layers inside are brown the roots are dead as well (usually). If you suspect your plant is dead but you are not sure, the fastest way to tell if it is dead is to check the stems. The stems of the plant should be pliable and firm and will have a green cast on the inside if they are still alive.

Ester Update: Ester continues to recover from her digoxin overload last week that landed her in the hospital three days. The one recurring problem is her arrhythmia which was overnight and still today. Hoping and praying that it will go away so we can avoid calling the doctor. Thank you for your continued interest and prayers, dear friends.

Mike with John and Joan 8/16/14
My brother Mike received a sense of the neighborliness we enjoy when John and Joan stopped by Saturday to give us some freshly picked squash and green beans.Ester with t-shirt 8/16/14
Ester and Brooksyne attended a concert Saturday night where they served as volunteers. Ester is pointing to her creatively packaged t-shirt one of the singers from Soul’d Out Quartet gave her. When she told him “medium”, he pulled out this tiny thing. They vacuum pack the shirts to be about 4″x6″ and she’s excitedly showing her uncle and me as we were sitting out in the barn/shed waiting for their return. For songs from the Soul’d Out concert as well as Mark Bishop’s see below in our song selections.

Brooksyne's Blackberry cobbler 8/17/14
Brooksyne enjoyed hearing Mark Bishop sing at the concert Saturday. He also reminisced about the summers in Kentucky when it got so hot that the whole family sat out on the big porch after dinner to cool off (no A/C then). They began harmonizing as they sang hymns and gospel music on the porch and eventually formed the Bishops Trio. He smiled as he also recalled his mom’s blackberry cobbler topped with ice cream that was spectacular on a hot summer evening. That prompted Brooksyne to stop at Giant on the way home and load up on blackberries which were half price. So last evening she baked us a blackberry cobbler, the kind her mom always made, after the five kids picked blackberries either in Tulsa or when they visited the grandparents in Arkansas; saving some for cobbler and others for blackberry jam. Sure wish you could have been here for the treat last night – it was oh, so good. See recipe below.

View from front porch 8/18/14
Early this morning we had this spacious view from our front porch with fog over the cornfield.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Come Just As You Are ”  Video   The Maranatha! Singers

“Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”  Video  Homecoming singers

I really enjoyed Mark Bishop and Soul’d Out Quartet Saturday evening. Perhaps you’d like to hear some of their songs:

“Can I Pray For You”  Video  Mark Bishop My all-time favorite that I turn up when it comes on the radio. Mark writes all his music and it is filled with excellent Bible honoring teaching.

“I Can Rejoice”  Video   Mark Bishop

“You Were There”  Video  Soul’d Out Quartet

“I Believe”  Video   Soul’d Out Quartet My favorite from this group. The bass is outstanding on this old favorite that has been revived. I believe you will enjoy it as well.

Recipe for Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Cobbler Crust

4 C. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 C. shortening, cold
1/2 C. butter, cold
10 Tbsp. cold waterMix flour, shortening and salt together with a pastry blender till blended. Add water to the well blended flour mixture. Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Divide dough in half. Roll one half of the dough on a slightly floured surface with a rolling pin and place in a large oblong dish. Push dough up the sides.

Blackberry Filling

1 & 1/4 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. salt
8 Cups blackberries (or combination of blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In small bowl stir sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, cinnamon, and salt. Drop berries in a large bowl, sprinkle with sugar mixture, and gently toss to distribute evenly. Immediately transfer to the dough lined pan. Dot with butter.

Roll out reserved dough half and place over filling or cut in lattice strips and weave over the filling. (Optional: Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and spread over pastry or 1 egg white, or tsp. milk. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.)

Refrigerate cobbler until the dough is firm, 30 minutes. Meanwhile place on oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat at 375. Bake cobbler till crust is golden and filling is bubbling about 50 to 60 minutes. (Filling should be thickening though it will thicken more upon cooling.)

Hibiscus at Longwood picnic 8/14/14I took this photo of a Hibiscus plant at a Hawaiian picnic last night.
“A Warning Against Deception”

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Yesterday we visited our local Costco Warehouse. One of the appealing aspects of shopping in these types of stores are the free samples of tasty morsels offered in the hopes that one will purchase the item. Some of the foods are exotic and not our typical fare but we enjoy them since they’re free and are often delicious.

Costco samplesI stepped up yesterday to a display with a young, friendly black lady who was offering a sample of multigrain chips. She smiled and said “Thank You” as I picked up the sample. I stepped away for just a few seconds to eat the chips (and search for some more free samples). When I walked back to the chip display an older white lady was handing out the chips. I quipped, “My, you have sure changed” to which she said, “Well, I’ve been at this spot all day, never moving.” She then smiled and explained that she had stepped away for just a moment at the time I had walked by and the younger black lady had filled in for her.

Sometimes funny experiences like this can prompt serious spiritual lessons. The confusion I had with the chip ladies is easily explained but life is full of masquerades and counterfeits that are much harder to detect.

The value of the genuine spawns the counterfeits and masquerades and thus it should not surprise us when we confront masquerades in the spiritual realm as well. Paul often confronted and warned against counterfeit teaching and masquerading apostles. That’s one of the duties of a caring shepherd. In 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 Paul dealt with the topic of false apostles who preach a different Jesus than the one he preached. This portion of Scripture is a warning in general about counterfeit teaching, a warning just as applicable today as the day Paul wrote it.

In another Scripture Paul specifically exposes the false teaching of two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus. These troublemakers, who were once teachers of the genuine gospel, had wandered from the truth, denying the resurrection, and were thereby destroying the faith of those who chose to embrace their false teaching (2 Timothy 2).

Paul describes the counterfeits he dealt with in 2 Corinthians as “false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” The relentless attack on the genuine faith that Paul encountered continues unabated today and is actually increasing in my view. We face it from the scientific realm, media outlets, the political arena, educational field, entertainment industry and even the religious establishment. On the personal level we daily face the flaming arrows of our enemy who seeks to move us off the right course. We must always be on our guard against spiritual masquerades.

The chief masquerader is Satan himself. It’s his very nature to masquerade as an angel of light. In the Bible he initially came on the scene masquerading as a cunning and clever snake. In his deceptive craft he convinced Eve that he was able to impart wisdom and that he was looking out for her best interest. The word “masquerade” means “to transform one’s outward appearance, to disguise.” Not only did Satan disguise his outward appearance but also his inward motivation. In our daily text the original Greek “masquerade” is translated in the present tense indicating this is something Satan habitually does.

It is not surprising that Satan’s servants also “masquerade as servants of righteousness.” We must continue to examine and discern all that we see, read, and hear so that we base our standard on the genuine Word of God, which remains and always will be the firm foundation of truth!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we ask You to not only open our eyes to that which is around us, but we ask You to open the eyes of our hearts so that we might envision that which is true and that which is false on a spiritual level. When we hide Your Word in our hearts we more quickly discern that which masquerades as good, but its source is from one of Satan’s servants “masquerading as a servant of righteousness.” Because Your Spirit reigns in our hearts and knowledge from Scripture fills our minds, we affirm that which is Scriptural and reject that which is heresy. May we ever be vigilant in attaining Scriptural knowledge and fervent in prayer as we encounter the gods of this age. In the matchless and true name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Ester Update: We have good news with Ester’s release from the hospital about 6:00 last evening. Her digoxin level is within normal parameters and, in fact, for the first time that I can remember they are taking her off the medication to see how she does without it. So now she finishes her week of antibiotics for the UTI and is on prescribed iron due to the anemia they also found. Before too long she should be up and at ‘em, like her usual self. Thank you again for your prayers, inquiries and genuine interest.

Village Farm Market peaches 8/14/14
Always a great sight; fresh, locally grown peaches at the Village Farm Market. Yesterday I visited with Keith, the owner of the farm market, which is along 322 east of Ephrata PA and he invited me back to the food prep area where a busy group pf Plain women were baking peach pies!

Lancaster County tobacco crop 8/14/14
We saw this colorful tobacco across the road from a company I visited yesterday near New Holland, PA. We certainly do not endorse the use of tobacco products as they are commonly used but do enjoy their beauty as a crop.

Longwood Manor pig roast 8/14/14
Last night Longwood Manor, a nursing home where we serve as chaplains, had a meal for the residents and families which included an authentic pig roast!

Longwood Manor family care 8/14/14
We realize this is a dark picture but enjoy commending those who do well in life in fulfilling a basic command from God to honor their father and mother. In the course of our service we not only minister to the residents and staff but family members as well. Fern is a longterm resident whose health has greatly declined in the past year or two. Her son Andy and his wife Nancy and their children regularly come to visit with Fern and in the course of time we have become friends.

Patty at Longwood Manor pig roast 8/14/14
Last night they had an Hawaiian theme and Patty, who had invited us to the event, was delighted to have her photo taken between two of the entertainers. She even did a little Hawaiian dance, as best she could, as we took the photo. We shared a message about Patty here.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Keep Me True ”  Video   Jabu Hlongwane

“Overcoming Discouragement” by Sabra Penley  Allow this selection of Scripture verses to strengthen your faith! pdf  (Sabra and her husband David are friends from Texas)

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.

“Grace Be With You”

August 14, 2014

Amish team in barnAll suited up for their Workday
“Grace Be With You”

Note: Due to Ester’s hospitalization (see below for update) a podcast was not prepared for this message.

“Grace be with you” (2 Timothy 4:22).

Many of you perhaps, especially in America, have heard the popular advertisement that asks, “How do you spell relief?” We’ll just let you think about that question if the expected answer doesn’t immediately come to your mind and we’ll provide the answer below. It seems years ago that I preached a sermon asking this question and then presented it as an acrostic with spiritual truths for each letter.

Today we ask you, How do you say or write goodby? Of course we often say “goodby” but we have many other forms of closing our communication such as “See ya later”, “Have a good one”, or “Take care”. We may make it more spiritual with a phrase such as “God bless you” or just “blessings”. Many are aware that I will often put forth a challenge with my farewell such as, “Stay faithful”.

The apostle Paul wrote thirteen books in the New Testament specifically identifying himself as the writer (sometimes with others). Many also consider him the author of the book of Hebrews though the author is not internally identified. Each of these books has a common closing phrase also known as a valediction where Paul expresses a desire that grace be upon his readers. Check this out!

Forty-one years ago in August 1973 we both began our Bible School education and we are so thankful for the teachers that gave us a love for God’s Word. They stressed the plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures. The word “plenary” means “full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified.” Our college education had a very heavy emphasis upon the Bible itself and I frankly grieve at the direction many former Bible Schools have gone with a lesser emphasis on the Holy Scriptures. In fact, this past year, my Bible College has closed.

I still recall a lesson from an enthusiastic professor sharing that in the Greek language (which the New Testament was originally written in) there are two distinct words for the English word “you”. singular (su) and plural (humon).* As I recall this lesson came during a study of the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). The professor was emphasizing that although these letters were initially written very personally to these two individuals the use of the second person plural pronoun in the valediction indicated that the Apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) used the plural pronoun to indicate that he actually had a wider readership in mind than merely Timothy or Titus. Indeed we all read these words this morning nearly 2000 years after they were written!

The daily text is believed by most to be the very final words written by the apostle Paul which are recorded in the Scriptures. He concluded with the brief benediction used in various forms at the conclusion of each of his epistles.

“Grace be with you.” Now again, although the letter is clearly addressed to Timothy, the pronoun here is plural and I include myself in the recipients and pass the blessing on to each reader and urge you to keep passing it along to others. Indeed, grace be with you. And that’s altogether sufficient for everyone of us and every situation we face today!

Grace alone which God supplies,
Strength unknown He will provide;
Christ in us, our Cornerstone,
We will go forth in grace alone.

Every promise we can make, every prayer and step of faith,
Every difference we can make, is only by His grace.
Every mountain we will climb, every ray of hope we shine,
Every blessing left behind, is only by His grace.

Every soul we long to reach, every heart we hope to teach,
Everywhere we share His peace, is only by His grace.
Every loving word we say, every tear we wipe away,
Every sorrow left behind, is only by His grace.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is by grace that we are saved, not of works lest we boast of the power we have to save ourselves. Instead we boast only in the privilege of knowing You and the power of Your resurrection. You exercise  lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth and Your grace knows no bounds. We are grateful recipients of Your boundless grace and merciful kindness. May it spur us on to exercise mercy and grace to those around us. In the gracious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* Here in Pennsylvania (especially up north) there’s an interesting attempt at adapting for the plural “you” by just adding an s at the end such as, “You’s have a nice day.”  However, yous ain’t in the dictionary. (In fact my spell checker has a squiggly red line under yous as well as “ain’t”). In English the same word does double duty for the singular or plural second person pronoun.

Ester Update:  Ester’s digoxin level is now within an appropriate level as of this morning. If everything checks out well today Ester will come home. Her Uncle Michael who is visiting from California came to the hospital in the late afternoon yesterday and stayed with her through the evening giving me an opportunity to come home earlier than usual. Thank you, readers, for your kind prayers and reassuring words concerning Ester’s ongoing health matters.

I took my brother Mike for a stroll through “Root’s Market”, an old-fashioned produce type market here in Lancaster County which also sells about anything.

Root's Market checker game 8/12/14
A game of checkers being played with much contemplation

Root's Market golf balls 8/12/14
An enterprising stand owner sells these used golf balls (likely collected out of water hazards) in egg cartons!

Root's Market popcorn on cob 8/12/14
How about some popcorn freshly popped while attached to the cob?

Twin summer squash from Jesse 8/10/14
At the beginning of Sunday School this past week our friend Jesse Dourte excitedly pulled from his plastic bag, twin yellow squash, that he wanted to show the class. Though he and Wilma are now in their 90’s they still grow a large garden and Wilma (pictured) still mows their lawn. She is a twin and the Dourtes have three sets of twins as great grandchildren. It was only right that they would also grow a set of twin vegetables or as Jesse presented them, “Siamese twins” since they are actually attached in the middle. They presented Stephen and me the “double blessing” so we took them home and decided that we would separate the twins and enjoy them for dinner on Monday evening (photo and recipe below).

Summer squash casserole 8/10/14
Summer Squash Bake topped with chopped pecans (always a southerner at heart)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Grace Alone”  Video   Maranatha Singers

“How Do You Spell Relief?” was a popular ad slogan for Rolaids, an antacid! Here’s a newer ad (Video) and one from 1976, the year we got married (Video)

Summer Squash Bake I took this recipe from my Taste of Home Quick Cooking 2001 annual recipe book which is also provided at the link. (The corn in photo looks like twins but not siamese). We’re enjoying sweet and juicy summer corn from our neighbor’s produce stand.

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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.

August 13, 2014

A leaning silo in rural VirginiaLeaning silo in rural Virginia
“Let Us Pursue The Knowledge Of The Lord”

Note: Due to Ester’s hospitalization (see below) a podcast was not prepared for this message.

“But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (Daniel 12:4). Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth” (Hosea 6:3). “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

In 1977, the year we graduated from college, James Martin wrote a book titled “The Wired Society”. In what at that time surely seemed like science fiction he predicted a planet networked by personal computers foreseeing the concept of the internet, e-commerce, tele-commuting and other technological breakthroughs we now take for granted. At the time though many of his predictions surely seemed bizarre.

Now consider what many of us hold in our hands known as smart phones. We can instantly communicate with people from all over the world, read the latest news often as it happens and instantly research virtually any topic imaginable. Indeed knowledge is increasing!

In 2001 Martin wrote another book, “After the Internet: Alien Intelligence” in which he made some stunning predictions about where technology is taking us. If he is as correct in this book as he was in his earlier one we are moving into some frightening territory. He envisions us entering a brave new world in which alien intelligence can redesign and reinvent itself at electronic speed and without the control of human engineers. Indeed, alien intelligence will become so complex that humans will not even be able to understand the computers’ processes. Ultimately the question becomes: Will we control the machines, or will they control us?

The last half of Daniel’s book deals with prophecies that stretch far beyond his own day. Daniel lived about 600 years before Christ’s incarnation or some 2,600 years ago. Of course all through human history knowledge has been increasing. However in our time there has been an exponential increase in the rate of new knowledge and we see that indeed, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” Where is all this headed?

Daniel associated this particular increase of knowledge to the “time of the end”. But the call to God’s chosen people is no different than it’s ever been. We are to grow in the knowledge of the Lord

Today’s second and third verses are a timeless call regarding our primary pursuit of knowledge. “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord” and “increasing in the knowledge of God”. Let us stay faithful to God and His established plan for our lives and pursue our knowledge of God above all!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we have seen throughout Biblical and modern history that Your people perish due to lack of knowledge. Additionally, nations crumble due to disregard and disrespect toward Your teachings that instruct us in the manner of which we should live our lives. The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are dispensed from Your invisible realm so we are confident that when we seek the heart of our Father we are also increasing in spiritual knowledge that comes from a loving relationship with You. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, our Helper, whom You sent to teach us and to bring to remembrance all things that You have taught us through Scripture. Your knowledge will preserve us through the fiery trials of this life and the unknown future from which we will navigate our spiritual journey. We need not fear, but we must trust You for all that comes our way. As the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians we pray, that we may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Ester Update:  Our daughter Ester has been feeling very weak, tired, and her saturation level had dropped for two to three days. Yesterday Brooksyne took her to the ER in Hershey where Ester’s pediatric cardiologist met her and ordered a number of tests to rule out blood clots, etc.  After spending the day and evening in the ER she was admitted to the hospital late last night after finding that her digoxin level was too high (she has been on digoxin [digitalis] all her life). The normal range for digoxin level is 0.7 to 2 micrograms/ml and Ester’s was 3.8. She was retested this morning and her levels are still unacceptable. Couple that with a urinary tract infection they discovered and she had good reason to feel washed out. We’ll see how the day progresses and give thanks in the meantime that no blood clots were found which is always a concern. We thank you in advance for your prayers spoken for Ester and our family.

Of course in preparing and sharing these daily encouragement messages we are using some of the very technology that James Martin wrote about to communicate Biblical truth. We are not doing so in some state of the art news studio, but from a typical computer right from our own home in rural Pennsylvania, USA. Technology has been mightily used to spread the Gospel through the printing press, radio, the Internet and many other modern inventions, for which we give thanks to God.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Knowing You”  Video  Robin Mark

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.

Flower wagon at Blue Gate in Shipshewana Indiana
Another flower wagon at Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana Indiana.

“Are You On The Side Of Truth?”

ListenListen to us read this message on your audio player.

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me”.”‘What is truth?’ Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘I find no basis for a charge against Him (Jesus Chist)'” (John 18:37,38).

Today’s message is in part prompted by a sordid new expression of rebellion and godlessness too graphic to describe in this opening paragraph but given the downward spiral is not surprising. * It seems like a validation of Paul’s statement in Romans 1:30, “inventors of new forms of evil”. One of the great casualties of our increasing drift from a foundation of Biblical morality is truthfulness. Psalm 51:6 states, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being.” Today let us examine a lesson from Christ’s final hours before His sacrificial death on Calvary.

The last person recorded to have a one-on-one conversation with Jesus prior to His death was Pilate. It’s plausible that Christ might have spoken to others on the Via Dolorosa and many are familiar with His last words from the cross. But His last recorded conversation was with Pilate.

This conversation so typifies humanity’s response to Jesus. Pilate is an enigma. On the one hand he was very reluctant about proceeding with the conviction, sensing that Jesus was not guilty with his famous words, “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4). But on the other hand he was a typical politician “wanting to satisfy the crowd” (Mark 15:15), thereby developing his helpful alliance with Herod; “that day Herod and Pilate became friends” (Luke 23:12).

Jesus had said to Pilate, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” to which Pilate responds with the probing question, “What is truth”?  That is the crucial question humanity has always dealt with and we recognize it most especially in our postmodern era.

Jesus had said hours earlier to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Pilate asks the question, “What is truth?” I believe it’s significant that he does not give Jesus an opportunity to answer. Instead the text records, “With this he went out again to the Jews”.  Pilate was face to face with truth but his ears were not open to truth.

I firmly believe we have entered a period in history prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

One of the great spiritual responsibilities we have is exercising discernment and teaching those whom we influence to do so as well. There is a cacophony of voices that call out to us to go against the truth. We are exposed to these voices at all ages, but our youth are particularly vulnerable.  We need to constantly commit to hearing the voice of God, foundationally through His authoritative, inspired, and inerrant Word, the Holy Scriptures.

Pilate seems at one point to have the correct revelation that Jesus is a king when he said, “You are a king, then!”  Since Pilate’s body language (which often speaks louder than words) is not described by John, did he say it in jest as he raised his eyebrows and grimaced at those who stood nearby?  Whatever the circumstance, he certainly did not act appropriately and of course was instrumental in the false conviction of Jesus.

I am so enriched by what our Lord Jesus said to Pilate and through the Word He says to us, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”  Christ knew who He was and why He had come. He came to testify to the truth.

But let us consider the latter portion of our Lord’s response. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  I certainly want to be on the side of truth and thus I want to hear the voice of truth. Lord, give us discernment to truly tune in to hear, listen to and heed Your voice today! The lesson for us today: let us listen to the One who is the author Truth, even if it goes against the answers we want to hear!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I want my heart to be committed to Your Truth and righteousness, for You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. I place my complete trust in You and reject the godless trends and vain philosophies promoted by the world regardless of how popular they may be, what celebrity or famous person promotes them or how they may be validated by the wisdom of this world.  Like our Lord Jesus stated, “Thy Word is truth.” May Your words be embedded in my heart and mind through the faithful study of Scripture so that I might not sin against You and so that I will recognize truth from error. Keep me faithful and true.  Amen.

Some more scenes from our trip

Blue Gate flower cart 8/7/14
Shipshewana has lots of flowers in creative planters such as this garden cart.

Stuffed bear at Shipshewana gift shop 8/7/14
This stuffed bear at a Shipshewana gift shop brought back a childhood memory of visiting some friends of my folks, Warren and Juanita, who had a large bear rug. I must confess it scared me to death as a child.

Repurposed item at the Blue Gate gift shop 8/7/14
We enjoy repurposing and found this creation in Shipshewana gift shop interesting.

Family meal at the Blue Gate restaurant 8/7/14
A family style dinner for two of us at the Blue Gate restaurant in Shipshewana, Indiana! This was in addition to our salads and a small loaf of bread.

Mike Weber playing Frisbee 8/11/14
Stephen’s older brother Mike is visiting from California and they are both enjoying an attempt at youth renewal with some Frisbee toss. (What you don’t see is Mollie, our border collie, in the middle wondering why it isn’t being tossed to her. She probably thinks Frisbees were made for dogs, not humans.)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“The Voice Of Truth”  Video   Casting Crowns

“Truth is Marching On”  Video  Talley Trio

Some say His birth was of a virgin,
some think His miracles can be explained away
Some say that He was just a good man,
even though He died, He wasn’t really raised
Skeptics rise and speak their lies.

Truth is marching on, truth is marching on
Down the corridors of time, Invincible, Divine
Until all that’s false is finally gone
Truth is marching on

There will always be cynics and scoffers
Our faith has always had its noisy enemies
They may rise up but only for a moment
Yet we see evidence through the centuries
It’s Jesus Christ, He’s the Way, the Life

A reader from the United Kingdom sent us this poem this morning that relates to and reinforces today’s message.

Lord, grant me the wisdom
to have an undivided heart.
One totally given to You.
One with crystal clarity,
fully engaged in obedience to You

Lord, grant me an uncluttered mind.
There is such a flood of options,
all seeking to catch my attention.
Brush out all the peripheral material
and create space for clear thought.

Lord, grant me an unshackled spirit
vibrant with energy
to pursue Your purposes.
Released and free to serve you
with vivacity and joy.

Lord, grant me an unlimited vision
to see potential on every side.
A world vision, rich and complete,
to see “Your Will done on earth,
as it is in Heaven” Amen.

David Short – United Kingdom

* Here is a link to the disturbing article that we referred to in the first paragraph describing the new form of rebellion against God’s design. Caution: It is bizarre and graphic.


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