“Thanksgiving”

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving clipart
Our local community paper placed this on the front page several years ago.

“Thanksgiving”

Brooksyne reading podcast 11/28/13ListenListen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to a continued weak voice that Stephen is dealing with, Brooksyne reads today’s podcast. Stephen stepped outside and took this rare photo through the window since we normally read the podcast together!

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:4,5). “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

Today is “Thanksgiving Day” here in America.  Although many will have turkey as is the custom I respectfully remind readers that it’s not “Turkey Day” as many have come to call it. I know Canadians celebrate a Thanksgiving Day in October, but I’m not sure of the customs in other countries.

Steincross farm

It’s a wonderful day in which many of us have a lot of great memories. Brooksyne and I especially remember gathering with our grandparents, aunts and uncles and many cousins on this day while growing up. At times there must have been nearly 50 people in that old farmhouse where my Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora would host the entire family. However most of us kids found plenty to do outside, playing in the barn and fields. But the dinner bell signaled us back to the house for a huge meal. I am sure many of you have similar memories and for you this will be a special day of making more memories.

The specific day we call “Thanksgiving” may well have originated here in America at the time of the Pilgrims in 1621, but God’s call for His people to be thankful goes back deep into the Bible period. In the various offerings ordained in the Law of Moses we find “thank offerings” commanded. Throughout Israel’s long history recorded in the Bible we read of special periods of thanksgiving.

In the New Testament being thankful is commanded again and again such as this verse, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).  And in a heavenly glimpse found in Revelation we find the twenty-four elders, who are seated on their thrones before God, falling on their faces and worshipping God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign”  (Revelation 11:17).

But probably my favorite Scripture verse on the subject is the majestic call to worship in Psalm 100. This was written about three thousand years ago and yet absolutely remains the call for God’s people today and every day.  “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”  Notice the repetition for emphasis: thanksgiving, praise, thanks, praise.  (This is known as Hebrew parallelism.)

Notice also the focal point of thankfulness is directed to the Lord.  In increasingly secular America there is a vague focus on being thankful without specifying to whom. The Scripture says, “Be thankful to Him and praise His name.”

The basis for our praise and thanksgiving should bless us as much as it did the initial worshippers. The very next verse states, “For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Based on a 33 year generation cycle (easy math) that would be 90 generations since the time of David.  And there’s no expiration date!  And this will be true all through eternity. His goodness, love and faithfulness endures and will do so forever and through all generations. We rejoice in that truth today and welcome you to join Brooksyne and me in thanks-living!

Be encouraged and thankful today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father, as we sing songs of praise and adoration to You, our blessed King.  Whether in seasons of prosperity or in seasons of want we find Your grace sufficient to meet each one of our needs.  You guide us, protect us, and You provide for us as we journey here below.  Every good and perfect gift comes from Your hand.  Thank You, faithful Father!  Amen.



We are aware as we prepare today’s message that many regular readers are off schedule and will probably never see or read this devotional. As an email post it will be among the scores of email to sort through next week here in America when people return to work and college students return to school. Many are connected today with family and close friends and will share a big meal together. However we also know how many now use smart phones, tablets and other portable devices to stay connected!

However we do prepare and share today’s message with a couple of people groups particularly on our hearts.

1) We consider many in other countries where this is just another day and you’ve come to expect a daily encouragement. Surely this a day where a call to thankfulness is always appropriate regardless of where we live and whether or not it’s a “holiday”. Some are in places where many of the material and temporal things that we will express thanks for here in America are unknown to them. Yet we share in common the infinitely more valuable spiritual blessings in Christ, which so many here in America have not experienced and will never even contemplate today.

2) We also consider hurting, lonely people that are on the email list or may read this message on the web. You may not feel connected today. You have faced loss and at times even feel despair. You wonder if you are loved and cared about, since God so often uses other humans as an expression of His own love and care. In the caring aspect of our face to face chaplain ministry Brooksyne and I consider those who just recently have expressed their hurts to us. And so many readers have written about the tremendous trials they face. We pray and sometimes weep as we read these emails. May any of you in this category truly find true encouragement and renewed hope as you read this perspective today.

Weber family 1991
Doing some reminiscing about extended family here’s a photo from over twenty years ago of Stephen’s family. Both his parents have departed this life to be with the Lord.

Tomorrow we will try to find an older photo of Brooksyne’s family



Today’s Suggested Music
and SupplementalResources

Each year we can expect a touching program on Focus on The Family program. Listeners call in and share testimony of thanks. They must select the most touching and compile them. As we complete today’s message at 9:00AM here in Lancaster County we had this on in the background. What moving perspectives! Listen to the Thanksgiving program here.

“Be Magnified”  Video   Kim Hill

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

“Thanks”
 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video  Don Moen

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

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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.

Purple finches 11/25/13
Several weeks ago I attached a birdfeeder directly to my office window. For awhile I didn’t see the birds having any interest. But the last several days they have been feeding, sometimes several at a time.

“A Sacrifice Of Thanksgiving”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to a continued weak voice that Stephen is dealing with, Brooksyne reads today’s podcast.

“And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted” (Leviticus 22:29). “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17). “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

We’ve had some cold weather in our area the last several days so I cranked up our coal stove practically to the maximum output. Due to my full blown cold and Ester’s recovery we are hunkered down. However we do realize many will be traveling and from what we hear on the news it is quite a mess out there!

Whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of celebrating family and plenty of food in comfortable surroundings, make sure you offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Scripture teaches that our praise glorifies God and, really, aren’t we also expressing our contentedness and thankfulness when we earnestly enter into praise. When we praise the Lord we enter into His presence, acknowledge Him as Lord, and give thanks for His steadfast love and care.

Many have wondered, “What is the distinction between worship and praise?” Though they are often used interchangeably, there is some distinction. Worship is properly acknowledging who God is by recognizing His many attributes (characteristics). Praise, on the other hand, is based upon the ways in which God’s attributes impact our lives. In other words I praise God for His mercy because He saved me when I was lost and without hope.

In our Scripture text we repeatedly see the words; sacrifice, thanksgiving, and praise. A sacrifice is something that is not forced upon us, but we offer it instead of our own free will. The Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as “surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something even more desirable.” How does that definition fit into your sacrifice of praise?

Consider Horatio and Anna Spafford whose youngest son Horatio Jr. died at four years of age in 1870 from scarlet fever. In 1871 the Spaffords lost their real estate holdings from the great Chicago fire. And then two years later their four daughters, Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta drowned as a French steamer they boarded sunk on the way to England.  Mrs. Spafford was among the 81 that survived out of 307 passengers and crew members. Could it get any worse for Horatio?

Yet he offered a sacrifice of praise when he penned the immortal words, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” When it seemed all was lost he offered up a sacrifice of praise to God, and in doing so, experienced peace like that of a calm sea even while the sea billows rolled. Horatio Spafford would not know at the time that his sacrifice of praise would be heralded for centuries by those of us who have found inner peace and joy when singing the words God spoke to his heart during his unimaginable loss.

The writer of Hebrews ended his letter with a call to praise the Lord.  “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

I encourage you to rest in the arms of our loving God and express your love to Him as you recall the ancient words of the Psalmist, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Let us, as His children, offer up our praise and thanksgiving to Him today!

Be encouraged today and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we give praise to You we are offering our heartfelt thanks for who You are and all that You do on our behalf. As we mature in our Christian walk we realize that there are many occasions when we must offer a sacrifice of praise since it doesn’t always come easily nor often enough. It is in those circumstances that we willfully choose to praise You out of obedient hearts desirous of pleasing You and glorifying Your name. May our words be fruitful and our thoughts praiseworthy in the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.



Brooksyne’s update on Ester: Ester is continuing her recovery here at home and enjoying the comforts of home immensely (so am I). Her pain, though present, is lessening and she is adjusting to using oxygen here at home. We look forward to our simple and small Thanksgiving celebration, for we have so much in which we can be thankful! And for that which we might not see as a blessing right now, we offer up as a sacrifice of praise knowing that God always has good things in store for us. But sometimes we must wait for His work to be fully accomplished and His will to be made known in these matters.



Today’s Suggested Music
and SupplementalResources

“We Bring The Sacrifice of Praise”  Video  Allelulia Singers

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

Thanksgiving hymn medley  Video

“It Is Well”  Video  Song, including hymn story, by Colin Battersby

“It Is Well” hymn story

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.

Thanksgiving Day

Amish farm in Lancaster County, PA
Amish farm in Lancaster County.
(Click on image to enlarge)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Give Thanks To The Lord!”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA.  Canada has a similar day but we’re unaware of how many other countries set aside a day for Thanksgiving. In the course of my chaplain work I inquired of immigrants from several different countries in Eastern Europe and Asia who said they don’t have such a holiday in their native lands. Our Thanksgiving day has a very specific historical beginning and the focus of thanks was directed to God as it should always primarily be.

William Bradford voiced the grateful spirit of the Pilgrims in November 1620 as they arrived in the new world after 66 days on board the Mayflower: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth…What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?”

Today we will be spending the day here at our home in Mount Joy enjoying a bountiful meal in the late afternoon. Over the lunch hour Brooksyne will play Thanksgiving hymns at Longwood Manor and Ester will visit among the residents.

Today we consider those who offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of hardship:
1) Those still recovering from the ravaging hurricane.
2) The continued turmoil in the Middle East, especially the beleaguered nation of Israel.
3) Those who are unemployed.
4) Those who are lonely on this family holiday.
5) Those who are in the very midst of a fiery trial.

Brooksyne and I give thanks for all our readers (and podcast listeners) and hope our American readers will have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, especially focusing on thanks to God, which was the original intent for the day when it was a solemn day for the Pilgrims along with Indians in 1621.

Today we want to share a Scripture reading from Psalm 136 that is very suitable for responsive reading, even for those with very young children who can simply respond, “His love endures forever.”

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

To Him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.

Who by His understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.

Who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

Who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.

The sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.

The moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

To the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.

And freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.

And who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Be encouraged today and give thanks to the Lord!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father. Whether in seasons of prosperity or in seasons of want we find Your grace sufficient to meet each one of our needs. You guide us, protect us, and You provide for us as we journey here below. Every good and perfect gift comes from Your hand. Thank You, faithful Father!  Amen.


Counting and Sharing our Blessings

Over the last several days we have done some remodelling work in our home office where our daily encouragement messages are prepared, as well as other office type work associated with our ministry. This room had been a bedroom/kitchenette we converted from a single stall garage for Stephen’s mother. She resided in it for three years before her death in November 2005. We express thanks to God for the energy and funds to complete this project! We give you a tour from the right corner of our office going clockwise.

Brooksyne's desk with built in bookcase 11/22/12
Our most significant improvement were bookshelves Stephen built over my desk  under the existing cabinets. This was a DIY project and we are pleased it came out well and is certainly functional for our office work. Brooksyne painted this side of the room granited. She painted the other walls a slate gray (quite different than the blue walls with a kitchen type border that we’d had for the past 10 years.)

Stephen's deskview 11/22/12
Apart from the fresh white paint on the doors that had been beige the view from Stephen’s desk  didn’t change. As you can see we have a beautiful day here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA!

Office wall with couch 11/22/12
Due to the central heat installed last fall we were able to remove the baseboard heat strip and thus move the couch and file cabinet closer to the wall. This room also serves as our occasional guest room with the couch converting to a bed.

Office countertop 11/22/12
Finally this view hasn’t changed much either. We chose to keep the fridge and sink area which comes in handy often. Brooksyne provided a special treat this morning – Pecan Pumpkin Muffins to start our day off this Thanksgiving morning. If you’re in our area, stop by for a treat. She made an abundant supply.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“He Is Good”  Video  Steve Green

“Always”  Video  Steve Green

“I Have A Song”  Video  Shannon Wexelberg A song written and beautifully sung by Shannon in combination with “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”

“Be Thou My Vision”  Video  The Martins

“Praise The King”  Video  Cindy Morgan

As we prepared our message this morning we listened to one of our favorite Thanksgiving programs. “Focus on the Family” has listeners call in with their stories of thanksgiving which are always so touching. Listen here.


Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

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

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

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

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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.

Autumn wagon, Lancaster Country PA
Fall Harvest Wagon

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“Thankful For The Detours”

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

At Thanksgiving season we tend to look back over the previous year and consider God’s blessings (at least we should). There are some years that are more notable, and some more pleasurable than others in regard to our personal experiences. I can easily remember the year I graduated from college and the year I was married. But I can also remember the year(s) when my routine life was suddenly disrupted by a booming trial. A week before Thanksgiving in 2002 I became very ill and entered into a most challenging season that spread out over the next year, underscored by four major surgeries.

This past spring Brooksyne was visiting with Mike Stillman, a friend of ours. He shared about his father Pat, who had successfully undergone hip surgery months earlier but more recently was tested for another matter. This testing was to rule out possible cancer or to confirm its presence.

Even as they were talking he got word that his father indeed was diagnosed with cancer. Mike didn’t have to say a word; it was evident in the troubled expression that appeared on his face. His family was charting new territory as they were entering into a testing period. Brooksyne could easily relate to Mike’s response as her father received a very similar report in 1999. For five months he battled the aggressive cancer before the Lord called him home.

Pat StillmanFor the next several months Pat Stillman’s life was routed on a detour that he hadn’t planned nor desired, but it was in the providence of God. This kind of detour requires a great deal of faith that the outcome will be favorable since the investment of one’s time, energy, emotions, finances, and dependence on others is tested to the max, with no absolute guarantees that the cancer will be eradicated. He had to prepare for the roller coaster ride of his life.

Following a successful treatment period over the designated time Pat’s body did respond favorably to the medicine. The outcome was favorable regarding his health, and the experience brought a fresh vigor in his walk with the Lord. He sums up his health detour with these words, “What an amazing God, and He cares for me. God loves me and He demonstrates it all the time. This particular time He opened my eyes and let me see that He held me in the hollow of His hand.”

Detour signRoad signs generally forewarn the driver if there is a detour just ahead. We, in our individual lives, are afforded no such notification. It might paralyze us with fear if we knew ahead of time dreaded future events before they unfold. What we can do is daily build on our Christian foundation so that we are prepared for that which we cannot foresee, as we place our confidence in Almighty God. He can give us the contentment and peace of enjoying the scenery while on a detour.

Some, like Pat Stillman experience a health detour. Others are on a vocational detour. Several weeks ago one of the companies we serve had to terminate several very skilled, long-term employees due to business conditions. We have been following up on these employees.

Life’s detours bring about a change of perspective that would be unknown if we always traveled the familiar route.

The daily texts are among the first Scriptures I memorized as a young Christian. I recall reading a book titled “Power in Praise” that developed a theme of praising God and expressing thankfulness in the midst of trials or “detours”.

Being thankful during the detour does not mean that we don’t pray for God’s intervention and seek for a resolution to our problem. Certainly if I’m on a detour while traveling I still have a goal to arrive at the proper destination in a timely fashion. However while following the detour I can choose to be annoyed by the change of routine that requires extra time in my schedule or I can enjoy the new landscape, adjust my schedule, and reach my final destination with a good, or at the very least an overcoming attitude.

The key to “enjoying the scenery” and being thankful during life’s trials is based on two foundational truths that should be the bedrock of our faith. We must be firmly persuaded that:

1) God is in absolute control.  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
2) He is ultimately fulfilling His purpose in our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Notice the progression of purpose in our daily text:

1) The trial is a testing of faith.
2) This testing of faith develops perseverance.
3) Perseverance must finish its work.
4) This work makes us mature and complete, not lacking anything.

So today if you’re on a winding, bumpy detour may you have the perspective of the apostle James and “consider it pure joy”. May you experience this outlook, “Contentment is enjoying the scenery while on a detour.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is not by mistake but by Your design that we experience the detours of life that give us perspective in a way that nothing else does. Though we see others who travail in difficulty, it is particularly difficult when we ourselves experience tough terrain that we seek to understand Your purpose for the trial we are enduring. Help us to persevere in the midst of uncertainty and unfamiliar landscape. May we find joy in the simple pleasures we overlooked when life’s journey was routine and uninterrupted by the surprise bends in the road or difficult detours that bring about delay or a change of plans. May the testing of our faith bring about maturity and give us a new perspective that makes us stronger in our faith and more effective in our witness to those around us. May they see a grateful spirit in us even as we undergo difficulty so that we glorify Your name rather magnify our problems. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Perfect Peace”  Video  Laura Story

“Thank You Lord, For The Trials That Come My Way”  Video A wonderful song that thanks God for trials, highlighting the good that comes from difficulty.

Pat Stillman’s testimony: “Cancer – An Opportunity For Joy” is a perspective written by Pat and shared with his family and friends.


Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

Here are several Thanksgiving classics that you may or may not have heard:

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

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

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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.

“Pilgrims On The Earth”

November 20, 2012

Amish farmhouse in upstate New York
We passed this old frame farmhouse in upstate New York, now occupied by an Amish family. I was intrigued by the wagonload of firewood for sale directly in front of their front porch.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Pilgrims On The Earth”

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). “Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). (From the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims.)

Come Ye Thankful People ComeMany of you likely sang “Come Ye Thankful People, Come” in your congregations this last Lord’s Day. Henry Alford penned this hymn in 1844. Consider this unusual statement written on a gravestone describing the Christian on a pilgrimage: “An Inn of a Pilgrim Traveling to Jerusalem.” That was the message on Alford’s tombstone!

Seven PilgrimsThe Miller family are friends who reside in Peoria, Illinois and have been a part of the Daily Encouragement list for many years. Several years ago they were travelling through the east and stopped to have dinner with us. They homeschooled all five of their daughters and are committed to the Lord and Biblical values as pilgrims on the earth.  A license plate on their car expresses who they are (though their number has now increased since one daughter is now married with a baby son on the way).

Around Thanksgiving season Brooksyne shares a program about the Pilgrims and their perilous journey to America in 1620 leading up to the first Thanksgiving feast held in mid-October of 1621. These pilgrims were initially referred to as Separatists and Saints. She did extensive research on this subject while we lived in Massachusetts.

She shares the story in a historically accurate, non-revisionist manner, with an emphasis on presenting the deep Christian convictions the Pilgrims held. Brooksyne presented this program in the public schools in Massachusetts when we lived there. You might imagine the vast sea of historical ignorance, deception, and denial her contrasting message brought in a heavily secularized Massachusetts school district only 25 miles from Plymouth, where the Pilgrims first settled!

Most of their treasures were left behind, but one treasured possession that pilgrim families refused to leave in Holland was their copy of the Scriptures. Its message would strengthen and guide them as they endured the mockery and ridicule from bawdy, foul mouthed sailors on their treacherous Mayflower voyage; it would anchor them over the long hard winter; it would sustain and console them as over half of their fellow pilgrims and family members would perish within a few months.

One of the great Biblical themes that deeply impacted these early settlers was the sense that they were pilgrims (hence their name!) They used this term not only in regard to their pilgrimage from the old world to the new, but in a much greater sense in regard to their spiritual pilgrimage. John Bunyan’s classic allegorical novel, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, reflects this sense.

Both daily Scripture texts were surely held dear by these people and the 1599 Geneva Bible, the version used by the pilgrims, translates these verses using the word “pilgrim”, as the KJV also does.

Still today, each of us are pilgrims on our earthly journey.  May those who follow find us faithful!

Be encouraged today on your pilgrimage,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, since this pilgrimage on earth is all we’ve known since birth, far too often we consider it a permanent dwelling. But the prophet Isaiah gives us a true perspective of our transient life when he writes, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.”  Help us to lift our eyes to the heavens and place our affections on the eternal truths of Your Word. We, as Your redeemed children, desire to be faithful as we walk this pilgrim pathway watching expectantly and longing for Your soon return. Amen.


Note from Brooksyne: In light of our message today the words of Gov. William Bradford come to mind when he was describing the scene of the pilgrims boarding the ship in Holland for their voyage to the New World on July 22, 1620, “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place [Leiden, Holland] for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.…and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leave one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.” What a proper perspective we do well to attain in our Christian pilgrimage, living in such a way that reflects our dearest country is not here and now, but that which is to come.

An online version of the Geneva Bible is here.

Here’s an outline of Brooksyne’s message on the Pilgrims


Our church provided this material as a bulletin insert Sunday for an historical perspective on Thanksgiving. Pastor pointed our when he was young this material was taught in public schools but not anymore.

Now Thank We All Our God
Written by FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison

 
Pligrims prayingThis Thanksgiving, we are given another opportunity to examine our hearts and ask ourselves what we are truly thankful for. As American Christians, we can surely thank God for our abundant harvest. Despite difficult economic times that have dragged on for years, America’s farmers, by God’s grace and their own untiring labors, have continued to bring forth the bounty of the earth. For this we should be profoundly grateful. Yes, this year’s Thanksgiving feast will be a bit more expensive than last year’s. But at an estimated $50 to feed a table of ten, this dinner is truly a wonder.

Simply to gather around a holiday meal and not have to hide, not have to close the shutters, is a blessing. For millions of our fellow Christians, this is not possible. Around the world, in North Korea, China, and especially in the Bloody Crescent, too often the breaking of bread is accompanied by the breaking of heads. We at Family Research Council will pause in our celebrations to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in other lands. Our hearts are attuned to the cry of the martyrs.

Last year, we saluted the Romeike family of Tennessee. These Christian home schoolers came to our shores to escape from the unjust laws in their native land– Germany. We welcome this dear family because we see in them the proper descendants of those first English Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. For millions of immigrants arriving here under our protection and under our laws, religious freedom is that beacon of light that draws them here. Ironically, it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who just weeks ago captured the attention of the world by saying it was Christians who are the most persecuted on earth. We thank God for Chancellor Merkel’s courage. We note that this pastor’s daughter has been willing to speak out when many of her male colleagues have cowered and denied the obvious truth.

Caring for our dear fellow Christians undergoing tribulations does not mean we do not care for those in other communities. Our hearts go out especially to the Jews in Israel, who daily endure rocket attacks. Their harvest celebrations are too often punctuated by the wail of an air raid siren. They must grab their toddlers and their gas masks and head for the bomb shelters. The Baha’i in Iran, the Buddhists in Tibet, and the Huigars in Xinjiang Province in China, each of these religious minorities faces cruel oppression. When we pray for our fellow Christians, we are not unmindful of friends in other religions who are likewise endangered.

We also recognize that while we as Christians are not yet meeting in catacombs in America, this home of freedom, there is growing intolerance for the public profession of our faith. FRC has raised the banner of belief. We have sounded the bell of freedom to warn of mounting threats to our free exercise of religion. This Thanksgiving is a good time to pray that we will see a revival of the faith in America and a renewal of our country’s commitment to its First Freedom. We ask for the freedom to worship, to be sure. But we will press for more. We will assert our rights as citizens of this Great Republic. We will insist upon the right to witness for Christ in the public square, knowing we must obey God rather than men.

We have recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. This magnificent work has done so much to shape our language, our thoughts, and our very image of our Lord. Still, it was this same King James of England and Scotland who threatened those long ago Pilgrims. “They will conform or I will harry them out of the kingdom,” he decreed. King James thought he could force these Christian dissenters to attend his church and pay taxes to support his clergy.

It was from resistance to this idea–that the government can dictate to the consciences of the people–that America was born. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving feast of 1621 would never have happened had they stayed at home in England and bowed their necks to the king’s yoke.

Thanksgiving is thus for us as American as the Fourth of July, as American as apple pie. And it is a special day for Christians to remember whom we thank for the blessings of liberty. Now thank we all our God.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Wandering Pilgrim”  Video  Twila Paris

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

Yesterday we shared a photo of a dog sitting in the driver’s seat waiting for its owner at a shop. Sam, a reader friend, suggests this caption: “I’m getting tired of waiting, but she took the keys with her.”


Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

We appreciated singing several traditional Thanksgiving hymns in our church service. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard.

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

“Give Thanks”  Video  Don Moen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

“Being Satisfied”

November 16, 2012

Preying Mantis (photo by Nancy Martin)
Our friend Nancy Martin sent us this outstanding close-up photo of a praying mantis she took at the very top of a six foot pine tree in her yard. Click here to enlarge. She mused as to what the praying mantis might be thinking such as
“I’m on the top of the world!”  or
“I will stay up here and not eat until …..”
Nancy wonders if any of our readers has a suggested caption?
My suggestion: “What a great view!”
Brooksyne suggests: “The view is worth the climb!”

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Being Satisfied”

“He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:15). “They all ate and were satisfied” (Matthew 14:20).Here in America and perhaps in other western countries the typical social greeting is, “How are you doing today?”  I’m not sure how often we really want to hear their true answer (the unabridged version, anyway).Generally the socially polite response is, “Fine, thank you” or they may respond with a question, “Fine, how are you?” Perhaps we picked a moment when all is going very well and they simply respond “Great”. Steve, a friend from our church in New England almost always responds with a big smile as he replies with an enthusiastic and emphatic, “Fantastic!!” Some say, “Better than I deserve.” One lady in a nursing home we serve always responds, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”I have a Laotian-American friend who has been in the states for 30 years, immigrating here as a young adult. He acquired an interesting nickname when the owner of the company couldn’t pronounce his Laotian name and he came to be known as Sooner, which sounded similar to his Laotian name. He speaks good English and is a supervisor in his department at a factory where we serve as chaplains. He taught me a new perspective about our cordial greetings.

Sooner asked me if I knew the typical greeting similar to “How are you?” in Laos, China and other parts of Asia. Well I didn’t and I suppose I never really thought much about it. I wonder if many readers know before I share this bit of trivia.

According to Sooner the earnestly asked question upon greeting one another would be “Did you eat?” Due to widespread poverty and lack of resources this is a very meaningful and thoughtful question in expressing concern for others.

If I greeted someone here in America using this phrase it would be seen as rather peculiar at the very least. We eat three times a day or more and can readily take our more than adequate resources for granted.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season we often use the common expression, “We have so much to be thankful for.” In fact we heard it just yesterday in a meeting we spoke at with older people at a group called “The Golden Nuggets”. And we really do!

The first daily Scripture text is a promise Moses gave the people of God prior to his death in his final sermon. “He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” He was reinforcing the blessing they would receive when entering the Promised Land.

The second daily text is from the feeding of the five thousand recorded in Matthew 14:19-21. Before Jesus fed the multitude “He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds” (v. 20). Matthew’s summary of the result was that “They all ate and were satisfied.” Thank God for the fullness of satisfaction in all of Christ’s provisions. Indeed, “all have I needed Thy hand hath provided.”

Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as we received Your Son, Christ Jesus as Lord, we continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as we were taught, and overflowing in thankfulness. May our words, our actions, and our thoughts be full of praise as we consider all that we have and choose not to dwell on that which we have not. Above every other blessing is the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who came into the world to save us from our sins. And the greatest gift yet to come is the inheritance that awaits Your faithful saints when we cross the stormy Jordan banks to our eternal dwelling in heaven. Our hearts are satisfied and filled with thankfulness to You. Amen.


In the course of study for today’s message I came across this Scripture gem which I intend to develop further in a future message. “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). What a blessing to die, “satisfied with life”!


The Bible directs us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances”.  Do you find that hard? I sure do! Yet I know God’s Word is true and is to be obeyed.

God desires that we have hearts of gratitude. Helen Keller, who overcame enormous obstacles in life dealing with both blindness and deafness wrote, “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”

What a tremendous perspective!  We might well reason that if anyone had a “right” to complain that she had little to live for, Helen Keller sure did. Yet she was able to say “so much has been given to me.”

This Thanksgiving season let us give thanks and embrace this healthy perspective:  Thankfulness is the soil in which joy thrives.


Some animal photosBurrowing owl
Yesterday a friend shared this photo of a burrowing owl.
My, don’t those eyes just seem to stare right through you?Feeding squirrel at Weber home
My photo is not as dramatic as our other two today but I was entertained by this persistent squirrel who just wouldn’t leave the bird feeder outside our office alone.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Satisfied”  Video  Red Mountain Church  As one comment states, “The idea of “satisfied” here is the answer to the old Rolling Stones song, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction.’”
Here’s a more traditional version by the Gaither Vocal Band  Video In December we will be going to the Homecoming concert at the Giant Center in Hershey!
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

Sign up herefor the free daily email encouragement.Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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.

Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving clipart
Our local community paper places a Thanksgiving proclamation on their front page.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

 

“Magnify Him With Thanksgiving”

“I will praise the Name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).

Thanksgiving dinner table

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. Some friends are joining us for this designated day of thankfulness and a wonderful extra large meal.  Brooksyne has been preparing since last night and we are cleaning the house extra well!

It’s a special day; with origins going back as early as 1621 at the time of the Pilgrims. In the course of our chaplain work we see a lot of folks that immigrated to America as adults primarily from Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. I am blessed by the strong work ethic and drive to succeed commonly seen in many of them.

During my recent visit I asked these folks about the Thanksgiving customs they practice from their original homeland. Each one indicated that having a specific day dedicated to Thankfulness was introduced to them after arriving in America. In fact only two countries actually celebrate Thanksgiving; the United States and Canada.

I asked further, “Do you celebrate Thanksgiving as a special day now that you’re living in the USA?”  Not really surprisingly they do, including the custom for many of roasting a turkey!  In fact, yesterday we learned from our Bosnian friends that turkey will be at the center of their feast today.

I especially consider Milan, a Bosnian friend, who left his home country in the late nineties when he was 49. He and his wife and two daughters came to America not knowing English and wearing only the clothes they had on (their baggage was lost in transit!!!)

Several weeks ago we had dinner with Milan, Zakira and their daughters in their beautiful new home. They have worked hard and done very well. What a blessing to offer thanks prior to our meal. They recounted the extreme difficulty of living through the war that wracked their country in the mid-nineties. They saw people, some of them friends, die in bombings. They had their home bombed out and all the windows shattered. Milan is just a few years older than I, yet he has experienced desperate living conditions where stability and comfort were foreign to their circumstances. “It is a special time for my family to participate in the custom of Thanksgiving here in America” he told me in a very solemn tone.

We all have so much to be thankful for, although our “blessings” vary from one person to the next.  Yet even as the world has denigrated the true meaning of Christmas, it seems the same is happening to Thanksgiving.  This began with a subtle change of the object of our thanksgiving being attributed to others rather than God.

Today I’m so thankful for my salvation, my family and friends, and my church. I have also been mightily blessed with much of the good things this world has to offer relative to so many. (Most all of you reading this have as well!)

Many songs have been written that express thanks to God. Today’s verse is taken from a Psalm of David and expresses an interesting way to “magnify” the Lord.  The Hebrew word for magnify is “gadal” and is translated throughout the Old Testament with words like advance, lift up, promote, increase, and boast.

I remember in my earliest days as a Christian singing a gospel chorus with the line “O, magnify the Lord with me.” It was my first pastor, James O. Howard’s, favorite chorus as I recall. It’s so old now I can’t even find it on YouTube but it went like this. Maybe this will stir up some old memories!

Magnify the Lord with me!
Blessed Lamb of Calvary!
For His Grace so rich and free,
Magnify the Lord with me!

Magnify the Lord with me!
Blessed Lamb of Calvary!
Jesus gave us liberty,
So Magnify the Lord with me!

I like the word “magnify” and here we are told “we magnify Him with thanksgiving.”  Let us indeed magnify the Lord by our thankfulness and remember; God’s call to a life of thankfulness is not limited to this day, it’s not seasonal, but should be a daily expression!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Today we want to share a prayer we earnestly pray for our family, friends and readers. It is from Colossians 1:3-14with slight adaptation.

ListenListen to this prayer on your audio player.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus

and of the love you have for all the saints

the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven

and that you have already heard about in the Word of Truth,

the gospel that has come to you.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing,

just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it

and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

You learned it from faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you

and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord

and may please Him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work,

growing in the knowledge of God,

being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might

so that you may have great endurance and patience,

and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,

who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Amen.

 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we complete our selection of music we’ve been sharing with a theme of Thankfulness.
“Be Magnified”  Video   Kim Hill

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

“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video  Don Moen

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

A highly recommended read:

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing WellNearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham / Thomas Nelson
Many people, even Christians, fear growing older. We don’t like to think about losing independence and control in our lives, but perhaps learning to accept these changes is the first step in dealing with them. After 93 years of living and decades of Christian service, renowned evangelist Billy Graham writes to encourage people of all ages to live with purpose and grace in Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. Graham also discusses the importance of building strong foundations in relationships, facing life’s transitions with trust, and understanding our glorious hope in Jesus. Join Billy as he shares the challenges of fading strength, but still standing strong in his commitment to finishing life well.


Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through this Thanksgiving Day here in the US (Thursday, November 24).

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

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

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

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

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


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“Thankful For the Thorns”

November 22, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flower arrangement on Communion TableThe “lovely” arrangement on our Communion Table this past Sunday.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

 

“Thankful For the Thorns”

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Rose arrangementFor many years Brooksyne has enjoyed creating attractive flower arrangements for our home and friends, as well as the churches we have served for the past five years. Among the favorite flowers she grows are roses and presently we have three rose bushes, though they stopped blooming a few weeks ago. Each Sunday she generally makes arrangements for the church using seasonal flowers, such as the fall mums over the past couple months.

However this last Sunday she prepared a rather unusual arrangement for the Communion Table; clipped rose stems without the roses as seen in our top photo today. With gloves for protection she clipped them low at the base of our rose bushes and arranged them for display. It was not very pretty to say the least and probably made the congregation wonder if she was losing her senses!

How many of you plan to order a Thanksgiving bouquet from the Florist Shop this Thanksgiving? Roses are a perennial favorite. Why not have the florist cut off the roses and purchase only the long, thorny stems for your Thanksgiving centerpiece?

ThornsSound a little strange?  In the Thanksgiving Resources listed below our daily message we feature a story called “Thankful for the Thorns”. Years ago Brooksyne played the florist when it was presented in skit form in our church.  But this last Sunday she read the story to our congregation and used the rather plain, somewhat disheveled roseless stems as seen in the Communion Table photo as an object lesson.

In the story the florist cuts off the roses and sells only the long, thorny stems. The thorny bouquet is a visual reminder to customers to be thankful for the thorns or painful times in their lives.  Whether experiencing the difficult moments personally or within our families, we have motivation to seek God more fervently, which allows Him to bring perspective, healing, cleansing and maturing in our faith.  The eventual outcome brings beauty and purpose into our lives, much like the beautiful, fragrant rose that is an outgrowth from the thorn covered green stems.

In past years we kept a small wrapped box in our dining room where we could drop in notes from time to time telling of the way in which God had provided a special blessing.  Perhaps we need to also include notes that record the “thorns” that appear in our lives to be reminded of the lessons God has taught us through the difficult times. We can also use it to comfort and encourage others who are being pricked by thorns in their lives.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, shares four experiences of spiritual and physical testing as he and his co-workers followed Christ.  In each example he showed how God proved His faithfulness in the midst of the severe thorns:

* “We are hard pressed on every side — but not crushed.”
* “Perplexed — but not in despair.”
* “Persecuted — but not abandoned.”
* “Struck down — but not destroyed.”

At times we’ve been a little “hard-pressed” in various challenges just as each of you have in varying degrees.  But we’ve also been challenged by God to trust Him when these “thorns” prick while developing fruit in our lives that can only be produced through these “prickly” experiences.  We find enormous consolation as we read and meditate upon the Scriptures.

Heart-rending emails arrive regularly from our readers concerning their thorns – some that prick and tear at the soul.  May you find the “God of all Comfort” to be your source of strength and hope.  “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort we ourselves received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

William Law, who lived in the early 1700′s, observed “Whenever you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at anything that is the effect of God’s providence, look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God.”

Today are you living with a healthy outlook, confident of God’s love and providential care, even during a season of “difficulty”?  Or are you focusing on the difficulty? Some people complain because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain; Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

(Prayer taken from the story, “Thankful for the Thorns”)

 


Brooksyne’s Note: “The Thorn of a Broken Ankle” Over three months I could bear no weight on my left leg so I used crutches and a wheelchair during that time.  There were so many valuable lessons I learned over that period of time.  The one I think of most often is the ability I have to park a long way from the store and walk with no assistance.  It’s something I took for granted and often whined when I couldn’t get a closer parking space. I know there are readers who are permanently wheelchair bound and even those who are bedridden. Our hearts go out to you and we know God provides special grace to you in these circumstances.

I can still recall the intense pain I felt when I accidentally stepped on a stem of thorns over 3 years ago.  Only days earlier I had the cast removed from my left leg due to my broken ankle that was reset and operated on. I had to give up all gardening the summer of ’08 and couldn’t wait to do some trimming of hedges and bushes when the cast finally came off.  Due to my foot still being quite swollen I was walking barefooted. First thing, I trimmed the very much overgrown rose bushes and did so verociously. Without thinking I threw the thorn filled stems behind me in the yard. I’d forgotten about the rose stems when I backed away from the bush and accidentally stepped on them. It was so painful I remember screaming and falling face forward due to the orders that I was not to bend my leg.  It was an painful experience (behind and in front of me).

Thankful for our doctors:

Ester with Dr. Mark CohenEster enjoys visiting with Dr. Mark Cohen, her pediatric cardiologist, who was the first American doctor to see her upon her arrival from Guatemala at 3 months of age. He specializes in pacemakers and has continued to care for her as an adult since her heart condition is congenital! Yesterday, during her 6 month check up, he told us of his planned departure from Hershey Children’s Heart Group. The news was met with a warm embrace while Ester shed many tears. She is very fond of him and has been helped greatly by his expertise and his genuine compassion when she is experiencing heart problems.

 


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today we want to share music with a theme of Thankfulness which we will add to this list and leave up through Thursday.

“Thanks To God For My Redeemer”  Video  This video is in Chinese and, although you can’t understand the words (unless you know Chinese!), it is is set to beautiful floral photos with an outstanding vocal and musical arrangement. It is also a reminder that we are part of a big worldwide family of fellow believers. Here’s an English version.  “Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain!” This last Sunday we sang it to the tune of “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”.  It was written in 1891 by August Storm, a Swedish believer. He was stricken with illness 8 years after writing this hymn and was an invalid until his death many years later.  He maintained a thankful spirit to the very end.

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

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

“Thanks”  Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Forever Grateful”  Video  Willow Creek

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video  Don Moen

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

Yesterday we referred to our friend Tommy Carpenter, whose wife and grandson were killed in an auto accident last month. Tommy writes, “Our grief has been deep, but we have found GOD’S GRACE to be greater than grief.”

A highy recommended read:

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing WellNearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham / Thomas Nelson
Many people, even Christians, fear growing older. We don’t like to think about losing independence and control in our lives, but perhaps learning to accept these changes is the first step in dealing with them. After 93 years of living and decades of Christian service, renowned evangelist Billy Graham writes to encourage people of all ages to live with purpose and grace in Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. Graham also discusses the importance of building strong foundations in relationships, facing life’s transitions with trust, and understanding our glorious hope in Jesus. Join Billy as he shares the challenges of fading strength, but still standing strong in his commitment to finishing life well.


 

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through this Thanksgiving Day here in the US (Thursday, November 24).

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

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

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

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

Amish buggy from hot air balloon
Lancaster County Amish farm taken from a hot air balloon.
Photo by Debra Zimmerman (Used by permission)
Click here for a larger size suitable for computer desktop

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“The Fruit Of Thankfulness”

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Today we will conclude our week of messages dealing with thankfulness by considering the fruit of thankfulness.

We enjoy listening to the Focus on the Family broadcasts and at this time of year they typically share touching testimonials of thankfulness by callers who record a brief message concerning an experience or perspective they share on thankfulness. Their stories are very moving and can have a transforming effect on the listener.

David Thanksgiving 11/25/10

Yesterday a man called in concerning a spiritual lesson he had learned from his three-year old son that especially touched me and will serve to illustrate our message today. In fact it’s one of the best perspectives on thankfulness I have ever heard! If you care to listen to this and other similar stories from yesterday’s broadcast we post a link to the Focus on The Family program following the message. Note: The above photo is not the little boy in the story below but rather three-year old David who spent the day with us yesterday, along with his family, as we enjoyed our day of Thanksgiving!

“I’m amazed at what my son Luke taught me about the power of thankfulness.  It happened when we took a long overdue family vacation.  His three year old word for thank you was “tonk ewe”.  I must have heard fifty times in one day “tonk ewe” from a little boy who, like most 3 year olds, often times doesn’t feel you’re doing enough for him.

He would say, Tonk ewe for bringing me to the beach, Dad.  Tonk ewe for bringing my toys.   Tonk ewe for vacation.  Tonk ewe we can camp, and tonk ewe for my sippy cup and on and on it went.  I had to look away as I knew he wouldn’t understand the tears welling up in my eyes.  I was instantly hit with thoughts of how much this vacation meant to him and wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner.  At that moment I wished I could do have done more for Luke and all he had done was say, “Tonk ewe”.

Later, after reflecting on that moment in prayer the Holy Spirit began speaking to me. You see, I’m not anymore spiritually mature than Luke.  My normal conversations with God reflect more about what I want from Him than what He has already done for me.  It made me think about how God must feel when I say, “Tonk ewe”.  Could I bring a tear of joy to my Father’s eyes for acknowledging all that He has done for me?  Could I touch the heart of the Creator of the universe by just saying, “Thank You”?  Thank You for daily food; thank You for the use of my eyes, my family, my friends, my home, for a job, for clean water every day, for the truth in Scripture, for Jesus’ sacrifice. My list could go on and on.

The fruit of thankfulness is such a blessing.  It’s called contentedness and peace.  God wants us to be grateful people toward Him and others (Psalm 100).  When we are thankful we experience contentment and peace. This Thanksgiving I encourage each of us to make a long list of the things that we’ve been given by God.  There won’t be one blessing on that list that doesn’t come from Him.  The more detailed the list the better.

One of the most astounding things Luke thanked me for was his sippy cup. The fact that he noticed something so small meant a lot to me and it will to God.  If a sparrow doesn’t die without God knowing it,  you know He is a God who cares about details…. so take your list, go away by yourself, go through each item carefully with the One who gave it to you and just say, “Tonk ewe.”

May the Lord regularly remind us of the value of thankfulness both by those expressing thanks as well as those on the receiving end. Surely our heavenly Father is blessed by the persistent, habitual, heart-felt expressions of gratitude from His children and we in turn also grow the healthy fruit of thankfulness which brings about contentment, peace and joy.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to be a grateful people.  We want to be mindful of our blessings and express thanksgiving regularly for that which we do not deserve but receive regularly because of Your merciful Spirit toward us.  It is far too easy to observe ingratitude in others and be blind to its presence in our own lives. When we’re tempted to grumble prompt in us a grateful response instead, so that we will bear the fruit of thankfulness which brings about contentment, peace and joy.  In the name of Jesus we pray these things.  Amen.


Thanksgiving meal 11/25/10
Our Thanksgiving meal, joined by Ken and Nila and their children and Tim, Ester’s boyfriend.
Brooksyne and Dawn with Thanksgiving pies 11/25/10
Brooksyne and Dawn preparing to cut the pies.
Cherry, Pumpkin, Pecan

Gardner family Thanksgiving 11/25/10
Mike and JoAnne Gardner and their two children, Adoree and Zane, joined us for dessert.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Focus on the Family broadcasts with testimonials of thankfulness:  November 25 November 26 (The testimony shared in today’s message in from the November 25 broadcast at the 8 minute mark.)

“Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”  Video

“Thanksgiving medley”  Video

“Drop Kick Me Jesus Through The Goal Posts of Life”  Video This song really has absolutely nothing to do with the message or theme of thankfulness, but came to mind last night when I was watching a football game with some friends and the punter dropped the ball and then kicked it similar to a drop kick. This brought about a recollection from Joyce Reid, a friend from our church in New England, who shared about singing this song as a youth in the fifties. It’s the world’s only Christian football waltz! As you listen to this song it speaks of “the big super bowl way up in the sky.”

Now a trivia question for football buffs. When was the last successful drop kick in the NFL?  See video (10 seconds) or here for details. This morning this site was already updated to explain the play from last night’s game!

Today’s photo of the Amish farm from a balloon was taken by Debra Zimmerman, daughter of our friends Cerwin and Doris High. More photos like this are on Doris High’s photoblog site.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.


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Ministry Update

“A Thankful Heart”

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving clipart
Our local community paper places a Thanksgiving proclamation on their front page each year.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
(Our responsive reading includes our guests for our Thanksgiving meal.)

“A Thankful Heart”

“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders”  (Psalm 9:1).

Today’s message will be a bit different. It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the USA, a national holiday and a great day to especially give thanks to the Lord and gather with family and friends.  Today we will be spending the day here at our home in Lancaster County enjoying a bountiful meal with family and friends.

Ester’s boyfriend, Tim, is with us and our friends, Ken and Nila Pierce and their two young sons David and Seth will join us for our meal. Later we have welcomed several more friends to join us for dessert.

Our table is all set and ready to go. Around 3:00 PM it will be loaded with food and surrounded with people.

Thanksgiving table 2010

Some of our international readers may wonder what a typical Thanksgiving meal looks like. Here’s Brooksyne’s menu for today’s meal:

Turkey, Stuffing (or dressing), Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Corn, Croissants with butter and choice of homemade cherry or rhubarb jam.  Our cold beverage is zesty rhubarb punch.  For dessert:  cherry pie with ice cream, pumpkin pie with whipped topping, and pecan pie along with a hot steaming cup of fresh ground coffee. We are genuinely blessed and give thanks for God’s provisions.

Brooksyne and I give thanks for all our readers (and podcast listeners) and hope our American readers will have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, especially focusing our thanks toward God, which was the original intent for the day when it was a solemn day for the Pilgrims along with Indians in the fall of 1621.

Today we want to share a Scripture reading from Psalm 136 that is very suitable for responsive reading, even for those with very young children who can simply respond, “His love endures forever.”

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

To Him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.

Who by His understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.

Who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

Who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.

The sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.

The moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

To the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.

And freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.

And who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Be encouraged today and give thanks to God with all your heart!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manA Thanksgiving Prayer:  In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father, as we sing songs of praise and adoration to You, our blessed King. Whether in seasons of prosperity or in seasons of want we find Your grace sufficient to meet each one of our needs. You guide us, protect us, and You provide for us as we journey here below.  Every good and perfect gift comes from Your Hand. Thank You, faithful Father! Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

“Thanksgiving medley”  Video Traditional hymn medley

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video Vocal

“Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart”  Video Instrumental

“Be Magnified”  Video I shared this song yesterday but it bears repeating.


Special Thanksgiving Resources

We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We will post these resources through Thanksgiving.)

Thorns“Thankful For The Thorns”: A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table (printable webpage) The Thanksgiving celebration includes family coming together along with the turkey and trimmings. Often there’s a lot of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of “Thankful for the Thorns” or the questionnaire we’ve provided in this link “A Thanksgiving family exercise” (pdf). We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

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

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

The Pilgrims Come to the New World:  Webpage

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony: This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)  Note: Although we spell it Plymouth today the old spelling was Plimouth.

CD label for "Stories of Great Hymns"“Hymns of Hope” Brooksyne has compiled eleven hymns that deal with the recurring theme of loss and ongoing trial and titled it “Hymns of Hope” based on Romans 12:12,  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” Amber Martin plays the hymns on the keyboard and Lauren Gingrich accompanies her on six of the hymns with the viola. Tracks 12-22 play each hymn softly in the background while Brooksyne shares a personal devotional thought, the biographical setting of the hymn text, and an intercessory prayer. We recorded this in the very modest and limited computerized recording studio of Daily Encouragement so that we could make this ministry project available to all who are in need of such encouragement.  Thus we realize the audio quality is not what most are accustomed to. You can go to this site to listen to the songs. You can download one song at a time if you find this to be of special blessing or know someone whose spirit might be lifted by listening to these meditative hymns.

“ThanksLiving” Bob Southard, a friend of ours shares a weekly online sermon. Here’s a pdf version of his thanksgiving sermon.

Resources used in Brooksyne’s research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.


Donate
Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Ministry Update

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