Elizabethtown barn art, Lancaster County 9/19/18 (Click to enlarge)

We sure admire the skills of the artist who painted this barn near Elizabethtown, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)
“The Attractiveness Of Sin”

Message summary: Sin can certainly be attractive and pleasurable, but it’s always deadly. The choice before us: Pleasures for a season or Pleasures for all eternity.

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“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).

Spotted lanternfly 9/21/18 (Click to enlarge)Yesterday I was visiting with Linford, who showed me a Spotted lanternfly, which prior to this I had never heard of before. It is an attractive insect as you can see by the photo I took.

But Linford went on to tell me the Spotted lanternfly, although attractive, is actually an invasive and destructive insect causing considerable danger to plants and forests here in southeast, PA. It was recently introduced to the US and is thought to have arrived in 2014 in a shipping container, likely at the Port of Philadelphia, which handles more than 50,000 shipping containers a month. More produce comes through this port than any other in the nation. This article headline states, “Spotted lanternfly battle is on: Can Pennsylvania stop this invasive threat to trees and plants?” (link below)

Stink bugToday let us consider invasive pests in our own lives. Sometimes like the Spotted dragonfly they’re attractive, unlike another, rather ugly pest which we have sure have had enough of – the stinkbug! By the way the stinkbug is also believed to have its US origins here in Pennsylvania; the first documented specimen was collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September, 1998. Now we have plenty of them and although I have been known to tease children by stating we put them on pizza as a topping that’s not an appetizing notion!

Sin can certainly be attractive and pleasurable. After all, the writer of Hebrews forthrightly refers to “the pleasures of sin”. I have an ex-con friend who is an overcoming addict and I asked him to explain to me why partaking of an utterly destructive substance, like heroin, is so appealing. He told me to consider something considered pleasurable that most of us have experienced (he was actually quite explicit), and then to imagine an intensity of pleasure ten times that. Now that would be tempting! In fact his explanation is probably the most helpful I’ve ever heard regarding the incredible appeal of drugs.

As followers of Christ we can so readily be seduced by the attractiveness of sin. Just as my initial observation of the Spotted lanternfly was “that’s sure an attractive bug” so is sin’s appeal. As faithful followers of Christ we must ever be on our guard against this seduction. I consider these candid words to the old hymn, “I Must Tell Jesus”.

“O how the world to evil allures me,
O how my heart is tempted to sin”
At almost 64 years of age the attraction, appeal, allurement and temptation of sin still beckons so I must daily determine, “I will serve and obey the Lord”.

Sadly, a few moments of sinful pleasure is often exchanged for a lifetime of sorrow, scars and regret. Dabbling in sin can lead us where we never intended to go, hold us much longer than we ever planned to stay and hurt more people than we could ever have imagined.

Finally today, let us consider the wonderful joy and lasting pleasures in living for Christ. I can proclaim with the Psalmist, “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). Let us resist the passing “pleasures of sin” and fully embrace the “eternal pleasures” extended to us by our loving Father!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:  Father, as we read about Moses we learn a great deal from his act of obedience. His choice to deny himself the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin for a season was foundational to his life. It also provides an example and Biblical foundation for our lives. We’ve gained so much from the spiritual truths taught through Moses’ applied wisdom, his discipline, and his obedience in recording Your truths and principles. Help us not to partake of the forbidden fruit that litters the path of life however attractive and pleasurable it may be. Help us to keep our eyes on the eternal pleasures that await us as we walk in obedience to You. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Village Farm Market, Lancaster County 9/20/18 (Click to enlarge)We stopped by the Village Farm Market for lunch yesterday and it was in full autumn mode including pumpkin pie.
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Little boy in Amish pickup, Lancaster County 9/20/18
This little boy, riding in the back of an Amish pickup, gave us a big wave when we passed.
Logan's desk, Val-Co 9/20/18
Popular now are the adjustable desks that rise so you can stand when you work. Logan, a young engineer at Val-Co, has his entire desk raised on these platforms and uses a high swivel chair when he wants to sit. Pretty nifty in my view!

Logan's desk, Val-Co 9/20/18

Brooksyne visiting with Natalie who was excited about her new desk arrangement which gives plenty of work space!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Jason Crabb 9/20/18Last night Brooksyne and Ester served at a Jason Crabb concert here in Lancaster. We have enjoyed his music for several years and are more familiar with Jason’s southern gospel genre. He sang several favorites including “He Knows What He’s Doing”.  Brooksyne was impressed with the personal approach he had with those who stood in line to greet him. She indicated that his gifting is music with a powerful spiritual message but he also has a preacher’s heart full of compassion and truth.
“He Knows What He’s Doing”  Video  This is one of our favorite songs by Jason Crabb.
“Sometimes I Cry”  Video  Jason Crabb Another favorite of ours that Jason sang tonight has touched our hearts when we hear it, because it really speaks the truth to those who walk with Christ. We know what is expected of us when we’re with other believers but there are those private times when we just give it all to the Father and sometimes the tears just won’t stop.

“Operational Freedom”

September 20, 2018

Lampeter Cafe 9/14/18 (Click to enlarge)

The Lampeter Cafe
Click on photo to enlarge

“Operational Freedom”

Message summary: The lifelong mission of each true disciple of Christ is to influence and impact others in regard to their eternal destiny.

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“I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:9).

George and Mary Duff 9/16/18About 15 years ago I worked with George Duff who was the general manager of a hotel where I supervised a chaplain team. He “retired” a short time after I met him but has continued in the Lord’s work. Retirement from his secular job freed him up for a greater degree of service in the Lord’s work. In our service Sunday George and his wife Mary were honored for their work for the Lord and the church.

Many in our generation benefitted from the sound financial advice of Larry Burkett. I suppose he is similar to what Dave Ramsey is now although Burkett, who is now with the Lord, was far less flashy.

I recall when he had a guest on his radio program and they were discussing preparations for retirement. That was about 15 years ago when the retirement years seemed a long way off for me. Not so much now as I will turn 64 next month and yesterday received information about Medicare.

Larry BurkettThe guest made a very interesting point sharing that he preferred to use the phrase “operational freedom” to describe the retirement years. Essentially he was describing the greater flexibility available.

That got me thinking then and more so now at this phase of my life. Although I don’t expect to begin to retire for several more years I don’t expect to ever fully retire! Periodically I express in this devotional perspective my personal mission statement: “I am created by God to bring Him glory.  Through God’s Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life’s goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity.”

I believe we all should have a similar personal mission statement. The lifelong mission of each true disciple of Christ is to influence and impact others in regard to their eternal destiny. Although we surely do so in different ways, we all have this call, whether we’re in “professional” ministry or not. God has a plan for each one of us in the accomplishment of His purpose.

Paul’s conversion on the Damascus road began a long life of service for Christ. Many years later he writes to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway slave, and identifies himself as an “old man” (the KJV reads “the aged”). Another version renders the passage, “Philemon, before I tell you what I need from you, remember that I’m an old man, and a prisoner at that.”

Paul did not let external conditions hinder his ministry. While in prison and thus very limited and unable to go about establishing churches he did what he could; he wrote letters, several which are a part of our New Testament instead of wallowing in self-pity and a “why me” attitude”.

When he was old he didn’t retire but continued to serve in appropriate ways as God enabled him. In fact it seems he wrote right up to near his time of death. In 2 Timothy he expresses the awareness that “the time has come for my departure” (4:6).

I know that many readers of these daily encouragement messages are older as well. In fact many are “retired”. But I encourage you instead to consider yourselves “operationally free”!  There are many ways you can serve. I consider the thousands that are involved in RV mission projects including those who plan to help families devastated by the effects of Hurricane Florence. Veda, my previous church secretary, had been retired from secular work for many years and was such a blessing to me and our church family. Many others come to mind. You are operationally free to use these years for God’s glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. God’s not finished using you!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we’re grateful for the many Christian believers who volunteer their service for the kingdom of God. It is often difficult to get enough hours in a day to fulfill our tasks and still have time for Christian service but we know there is reward in doing so and lives are blessed because of it. For those who are near retirement or those no longer vocationally employed we pray that You would lead them into Christian service that will build up the body of Christ while also fulfilling their calling to “work till Jesus comes when we’ll be gathered home”. Amen.


Lampeter Cafe 9/14/18 (Click to enlarge)

The Lampeter Cafe is housed in a beautifully restored colonial home built in 1760. It has been home to a livery, tavern, wainwright and blacksmith. It was recently refurbished and repurposed as a cafe. We had breakfast there last week following an early morning chaplaincy visit. Good food, reasonable prices and a neat atmosphere!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Finish well”  Video  Karen Peck and New River
“We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes”  Video  Master’s Praise Vocal Group
“He Won’t Leave You There”  Video  Jason Crabb Tonight Brooksyne and Ester will be volunteering at a local Jason Crabb concert.

“Four Essentials to Finishing Well” Message by Jerry Bridges Video  For many years I have been blessed by the ministry of Jerry Bridges (who is now with the Lord). I met him many years ago at Gordon-Conwell.

A well done service honoring George and Mary Duff  Video

“The Man Who Ate Locusts”

September 19, 2018

Herrs Mill, Lancaster County 9/16/18 (Click to enlarge)

Herrs Mill is one of many historic grist mills still standing in Lancaster County.
(Click on photo to enlarge)
“The Man Who Ate Locusts”

Message summary:  May the Lord empower us today to stand as John did no matter the consequences! As the apostle Paul said “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”
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“John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6).

Last night and again early this morning I was outside and heard the distinct sound of hundreds, or more likely, thousands of insects. As the days get shorter and nights cooler the sounds are fading compared to the volume heard in August. It’s a sound I recall hearing wherever I have lived. There is actually a field of science devoted to these sounds known as bioacoustics.

LocustsOne of the critters making the noise is the locust which brings to mind the colorful prophet John the Baptist. Probably the thing we find most interesting in the daily verse is that John the Baptist ate locusts. After all, we still wear clothing made with animal hair and leather belts. Most of us also enjoy the sweet taste of honey (which is essentially bee spit). We spread honey last night on our corn bread and this morning we’re enjoying honey butter on our biscuits.

But most in our culture draw the line at eating locusts. Entomophagy is the scientific name for insect eating. There are more than 1,450-recorded species of edible insects, many of which are lower in fat, higher in protein, and have a better feed to meat ratio than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. So locusts were actually a good diet choice for an active prophet!

John the Baptist is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. His start in life was unusual and his death gruesome.  He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a godly infertile couple, who were both “well along in years” (or as the KJV colorfully puts it “well stricken in years”).

Zechariah was a priest who had a mighty encounter with an angel of the Lord informing him that he would have a son. I’ve wondered what in the world his wife thought when her speechless husband got home and had that twinkle in his eyes! Anyway, she became pregnant and they received a blessing they surely hadn’t planned for.

John’s mission in life was very clear and he fulfilled it well in his brief lifetime. His mission was summed up in the words, “Prepare the way for the Lord.” Jesus commended him with these words, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” John died in his early thirties as a result of his stern rebuke of Herod followed by Herod’s order to have him beheaded. (Matthew 14:10)

On this day, as we live out our lives and seek to please God in a world with many Herods, let us recall the faithfulness of John the Baptist. I note particularly his bold declaration to Herod, renouncing his sin. He was not interested in being liked or living on the politically safe side but in speaking out for God’s truth. And for that he literally* lost his head.

May the Lord empower us today to stand as John did no matter the consequences! As the apostle Paul said “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we count our lives on earth as nothing compared to the glory of heaven where we will worship You for all eternity. Among us will be John the Baptist who will tell us of the way He was used to prepare the way for Christ’s mission on earth. We’ll listen with keen interest as Elizabeth tells of how the disgrace she felt among family and peers due to her barren state was lifted after learning of her miraculous pregnancy. Zechariah will speak of his amazing nine month silence before baby John arrived. Heaven will be filled with people through all the centuries who have amazing stories to share. We will be in personal fellowship with each of them; no longer will the time line separate us nor the geographic location. What a glorious day it will be when we come together around Your throne singing Your praise with every generation blending their voices together. We give glory to the Holy One of Israel right now and for all eternity. Amen.

Donegal Springs Road, Lancaster County 9/16/18A very early Sunday morning on the way to choir sound check along Donegal Springs Road in Mount Joy. The sun was seeping through the fog and it turned into a refreshing sunny morning after many dismal days of cloud and rain.
Herrs Mill, Lancaster County 9/16/18 (Click to enlarge)
Another view of Herrs Mill built in the 1730’s
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Amish boys going to youth service, Lancaster County 9/16/18
The Old Windmill Farm is on a long gravel farm lane. These young Amish boys are using it as a shortcut on their way to youth group, which is a rite of passage for Amish young people and a means of solidifying the social units. We have been to Amish youth groups which begin Sunday afternoon usually with field games such as volleyball and ends in the evening with a hymn sing. Of course they have a huge meal as well!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Jesus, Only Jesus/Majesty/Cornerstone” Video Medley from Sunday’s service with the Calvary Church Choir and Orchestra
* Literally has become one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. It seems so often when it’s used it’s really not literally true. However even the dictionary now has this informal meaning: “used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.” For further study see this article Did We Change the Definition of ‘Literally’?
Yesterday we shared a photo of two horses peering out of a barn window. Ed, from northern Pennsylvania suggests a caption with the horses saying, “We would like to order 3 8X10’s and 20 wallet size”.

“A Prayer To A Holy God”

September 18, 2018

Praying man Father, like Isaiah, I was born into a sin-filled world and recognize that I am unclean before You, apart from the saving blood of Jesus Christ. I also declare along with the prophet, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I have unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” and am made aware of this when I focus upon You the King, the Lord of Hosts. I envision You, high and lifted up with Your glorious raiment filling the temple. Falling to my knees I cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is and who is to come.” Come, Lord Jesus, come! Amen.

For this message, photos, links to music and other resources related to this message see our archive version on the website. https://www.dailyencouragement.net/archives/2018-09-18.htm

“A Lesson From Trains”

September 18, 2018

Thomas the Tank, Strasburg RailroadThomas the Tank Engine on the Strasburg Railroad.
“A Lesson From Trains”
Message summary:  Are you “walking in the light”?

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“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

A popular tourist attraction here in Lancaster County is the Strasburg Railroad, which provides not only a train ride for tourists but is also the oldest continuously operating railroad in the western hemisphere. It still provides freight service for local farms and businesses hauling grains, bulk feed additives, dry fertilizers, lumber, steel, bedding, and bio-fuel.

This last weekend was one of the more popular weekends for the Strasburg Railroad when Thomas the Tank Engine attracts people from near and far for a special ride. Sunday afternoon we visited our friends on the Old Windmill Farm, celebrated a couple of the children’s birthdays and heard the distinct sound of the train whistle, although the train itself is over the ridge and thus unseen from the farm.

I have liked trains since I was a small child. Like most boys growing up in the sixties I had a train set and made my first cross country trip out to California on a train. We live near an Amtrak station in Mount Joy and can take passenger trains to anywhere Amtrak goes. About fifteen years ago we rode across the state to Pittsburgh but we mostly use it for trips to Harrisburg or Philadelphia.

We also ride tourist trains in various places we visit, Brooksyne and Ester kindly indulging me. Generally there’s a trade though, like going to the Yankee Candle flagship store when we are in New England!

An old chorus we sang in Bible College was taken from Isaiah 6:

I saw the Lord, I saw the Lord,
He was high and lifted up and His train filled the temple,
He was high and lifted up and His train filled the temple,
The angels cried holy, the angels cried holy, the angels cried holy is the Lord.
What do you suppose would be the natural way for a child, especially one who likes trains, to understand this verse and song? I am sure more than a few children have visualized heaven’s throne room having the best model train set imaginable, a train set so big it filled the whole temple!

Well, it turns out that is not the meaning of this verse, which is probably a bit disappointing to a child who loves trains but the real meaning is much greater. The NASV elaborates, “the train of His robe”. Isaiah’s vision is one of the many glimpses we have into the heavenly realm.

Isaiah’s response to this vision is so spiritually instructive, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). Indeed when we come into the presence of God we are cognizant of our own sinfulness.

But God, as is His nature provided a provision for Isaiah: “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:6,7).

That was the customized provision in Isaiah’s vision. The New Testament provided a solution applicable to all following the completion of Christ’s mission, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Are you “walking in the light”?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, like Isaiah, I was born into a sin-filled world and recognize that I am unclean before You, apart from the saving blood of Jesus Christ. I also declare along with the prophet, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I have unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” and am made aware of this when I focus upon You the King, the Lord of Hosts. I envision You, high and lifted up with Your glorious raiment filling the temple. Falling to my knees I cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is and who is to come.” Come, Lord Jesus, come! Amen.

Another reference in the Bible to a train capable of being misunderstood by a child concerns the visit by the Queen of Sheba to visit Solomon, “And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart” (1 Kings 10:2). Can’t you just picture that long train track coming up all the way from Ethiopia and the train cars filled with all kinds of goodies!

We had fun day Sunday afternoon on the Old Windmill Farm, celebrating birthdays for Moses, the oldest, and Stephen, the youngest child. In praying for them I considered them to be the bookends of the seven children of Jesse and Anna Ruth Lapp.
Brooksyne with mules, Old Windmill Farm 9/16/18 (Click to enlarge)
I had fun leading a team of mules as the Lapp family, along with Stephen and Ester, rode on the hay wagon through the fields. I was surprised they offered me the chance but I jumped at it as I still remember like yesterday when Grandpa Sherrell let me lead his team of mules, as a young teen, after we had done a day’s work of plowing his fields on his 200 acre farm on top of the mountain in Batson, Arkansas. It was a bit harder to lead Jesse’s team since I had to stand and guide the mules. Grandpa had a bench seat, as I recall, on his wagon. Stephen tried it for a few minutes as well. A fun time was had by all, me the most, and we returned none the worse for wear back to the barn. I’m sure the mules were relieved!
Goats, Old Windmill Farm 9/16/18
Can you guess whose baby I’m holding!

Horses, Old Windmill Farm 9/16/18
Any ideas for a caption for this photo? Here’s what I think they might think as they look at me, “What is like to have such a little nose?”
Baby pigs, Old Windmill Farm 9/16/18
The baby pigs are learning to go down the slide, a favorite of Old Windmill Farm guests.
Throwing hay from barn loft, Old Windmill Farm 9/16/18
Pitching a few bales of hay down from the barn loft to the wagon.
Earlier this summer I pitched some hay up into the loft. See here (Scroll down).

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Jesus, Only Jesus”  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

“Hallelujah”  Video  Triumphant Quartet

“The Great I Am, Still Is”  Video  Triumphant Quartet

The area around the Old Windmill Farm is a great place for those who love trains. In addition to the Strasburg Railroad mentioned in our message, there’s the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the National Toy Train Center and even the Red Caboose Motel where you can stay in cabooses! Note: BTW, If you like airplanes in Stockholm you can stay in an airplane hotel?

Finally today:

Front porch view 9/17/18
Saturday morning neighbors harvested their corn across from our home so our seasonal view has changed. Yesterday we had the inevitable but less than glamorous aspect of country living. Can you guess what that was? The answer is here (photo).
Star Barn, Lancaster County 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)

The Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA
Click on photo to enlarge
“The Sight Of Encouragement”

Message summary: I know many people whose very presence is a source of joy. Just seeing them from a distance brings a measure of encouragement.

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“The brothers there [Rome] had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15). “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

Ron Hoover 9/16/18Yesterday as I was departing our church service I spotted Ron Hoover, a friend who was coming in for the second service. (Brooksyne was not with me as she was singing with the choir in both services.) He was visiting the church since it was the last Sunday for his granddaughter and husband (Grant and Sarah) before they leave for Austin, TX to serve in a ministry position.

Ron and I visited briefly which brought to mind today’s rather obscure text. It reminded me that at the sight of some people, like Ron, one is instantly encouraged!

Paul’s journey to Rome is recorded in the latter chapters of Acts. It was a wearying journey with lots of disruptions along the way, including a harrowing shipwreck. As Paul approached the great city some brethren had heard he was coming. They adjusted their schedules, laid aside other commitments and traveled from Rome so they could come out to personally greet him: “The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us.”

Today’s Scripture portion records Paul’s joy-filled response when this group of brothers met him and his fellow workers. Paul had never been to Rome prior to this and these brothers are not identified by name. Perhaps they were men he had met elsewhere in previous ministry locations. However I wonder if he even knew these men. Perhaps he was just overjoyed that the church cared enough to send out these brothers to meet him.

“At the sight of these men” Try to picture the scene with us. Before there’s any evidence that Paul had even spoken to them his heart must have been warmed at the sight of these welcoming brothers. What an energizing joy this must have brought him. Early on in Paul’s Christian walk he was discipled by Barnabas, a man who had attained a nickname meaning, “Son of encouragement”. Many passages of Scripture indicate that Paul was a man who encouraged others (e.g. Acts 20:1,2). And now others were encouraging him! That’s the real blessing of mutual and reciprocal ministry.

I know many people like these men and I hope you do as well. Their very presence is a source of joy. Just seeing them from a distance brings a measure of encouragement.  I use the term “energy giver” to describe these kinds of people. A reading of Romans 16 will indicate Paul’s rich reservoir of human support and friendship among his Christian brothers and sisters in Rome alone.

“At the sight of these men” Paul did two things:

1) “He thanked God.” The sight of these men prompted an exclamation of thanks to God. Now that’s a high standard regarding the impact of our presence to others. When people see us do they thank God?

2) He “was encouraged.” Regular readers know this is a major emphasis in my life and is at the very heart of this “daily encouragement” ministry. I pray that my presence may bring spiritual courage to those whom I interact with day by day.

We offer several challenges to our readers today:

1) Value the people that God has placed in your life. Are you developing and adding to those who bless you? Do you recognize them as “instruments sent from God”? Do you thank God for them and let them know how much you value their friendship?

2) Seek to be a friend such as these men whom Paul saw on his way to Rome. Find ways to encourage others and share God’s love with a world in need. May we be the sight of encouragement to others!

3) Do not compartmentalize your efforts to be an encourager! Everywhere you go seek to leave your mark; at work, in the marketplace, wherever.

4) Pastors and church folks: Are you visiting the shut-ins, those no longer able to attend regular services who may be homebound or in nursing homes? Many of these places have chaplains, but the importance of continuity from the past cannot be overestimated. You are their connection to the “real world” and their life as they once knew it. Your visit will be a blessing and you will also be refreshed as I was yesterday when I saw Ron!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we think of the people in our lives that refresh us at the very sight of them or at the mention of their names. They have poured into our lives fruitful blessings by their kind actions and words, by their exemplary lifestyle and so often by their personal overcomings of life’s hardships. May we be not only recipients of such tender mercies, but diligent dispensers of lovingkindness toward others. May our actions and words refresh them.  Not that it should be our major motivation, but we know that when we refresh others, we ourselves are refreshed. So as we bless others, we too are blessed and we honor You as well. Amen.

Saturday morning we participated in a charity walk that benefits Brittany’s Hope, an adoption ministry. The event was held at the Stone Gables Estate, a beautiful property here in Lancaster County.
Longhorn cattle at Ironstone Ranch 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)

Texan longhorn cattle on the Ironstone Ranch
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Lincoln funeral train at Ironstone Ranch 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
The funeral train that transported the body of Abraham Lincoln passed through the property from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. This is a replica of the engine.
Click on photo to enlarge
White Oak team at Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA 9/15/18
We joined some employees who participated and their guests from White Oak Display.
Brittany’s Hope is dedicated to aiding abandoned children around the world.
Star Barn near Elizabethtown, PA 9/15/18 (Click to enlarge)
Ester was one of the official (volunteer) photographers for the event and took our photo in front of the Star Barn.
Click on photo to enlarge
Eric Marin and family 9/15/18

Regina and Eric Martin’s family all participated in the 5K run (minus the youngest, Noah).
Lloyd and Mary Ann Miller with grandson 9/15/18
MaryAnn and Lloyd Miller with their grandson who participates each year with his family which includes two siblings adopted from Vietnam.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Orphans Of God”  Video  Avalon

“Orphan”  Video  John Waller tells a beautiful story!
The Ironstone Ranch and Star Barn are on the Stone Gables Estate located here (Google map) The Star Barn is recognized as one of the most photographed and artistically painted barns in America.
Finally today:

Herrs mill Covered Bridge 9/15/18

David Abel, the businessman who has developed the Star barn property, has a real heart for historical preservation as well as his wife, Tierny. They recently bought a dilapidated covered bridge in eastern Lancaster County for 1 dollar and are in the process of having it moved and restored on the Stone Gables Estate property!
Amish team and wagon, Lancaster County Amish farm 9/6/18 (Click to enlarge)

Windshield view

“Consider Blessings, Resist Temptations”

Message summary: Keep your focus on God and His blessings today!

Note: Due to heavy schedule and weariness we did not prepare a podcast for this message.

“And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (2 Samuel 12:8).

Have you noticed that the devil tempts us with only the seemingly positive outcomes from forbidden momentary pleasure. The devil does not disclose the long term consequences that we’ll deal with as result of giving into sinful desires.

  • Have you ever seen a tobacco ad that shows someone wasting away in the late stages of lung cancer?
  • Have you seen an alcohol ad that shows the aftermath of a DUI accident or an abusive father?
  • What about a gambling ad that shows the desperation of a chronic gambler?
God, in His love and concern for our future, reveals the long term consequences if we seek Him in the midst of our luring temptation.

David was a man after God’s own heart but one night he got his eyes off the Lord and onto temporary pleasure which led to a succession of serious events; lust, adultery, murder, cover-up, deception and more.

When it was over David thought he had all his bases covered. He thought he was getting away with it. He thought he could avoid the consequences. David thought to himself, “I’m OK”. But he wasn’t OK. God was watching. God is always watching. Chapter eleven of 2 Samuel ends with these words: “But the thing David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

The words in our daily verse were a part of the prophetic rebuke that David received from the courageous and godly prophet Nathan. They were presented as a result of David’s immoral dalliance with Bathsheba and all the accompanying sins. Nathan proclaimed a message of judgment and serious lasting consequences. That’s not a popular message today, but one very much needed.

Let’s consider the daily Scripture portion: “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” This is the Lord speaking to David through Nathan. Its first focus was to David and all the blessings he had received from the Lord. Nathan reminded him of how the blessings of God had been so abundant in his life. David had sought the Lord from his earliest days and surely knew all this.

In a broader application consider the abundance of God’s blessings in your life. Indeed we proclaim, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” The eternal God speaks to each of us today. Listen to His voice, “And if all this had been too little”. Our response should be, “It’s not too little, God, it’s more than enough. It’s infinitely more than I ever deserve.” It was true for David and it’s no less true for each one of us.

But God says, “I would have given you even more”. That’s powerful. God is ever ready to give us more and keep on giving. That’s His nature.

Consider God’s marvelous provision in our lives today.  Let this brief selection of verses feed your spirit:

  • Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). 
  • Paul wrote about “Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
  • Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (1:3).
  • To the Corinthians he writes, “For in Him you have been enriched in every way” (1 Corinthians 1:5). He reminded Timothy of “God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 5:17).
  • Peter writes, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).
  • And finally the classic statement in Romans “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

We exhort you, keep your focus on God and His blessings today!

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

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we praise You from whom all blessings flow. Your blessings are abundant and continuous. When tempted by the things of this world may we recall your blessings and also remember the most certain consequences of sin. Help us to give You praise continually, for every good gift comes from above.  For the gifts of family, friends, food, health, material provisions, and above all the gift of salvation we give You heartfelt thanks. Amen.

Ester and Marita at Shaws 1998 While living in Massachusetts Ester’s adopted granny, Marita Murphy (above), worked as a bagger at Shaws Supermarket. Marita gave her a Shaw’s apron and Ester enjoyed pretending to be a bagger. Who knew that she would become a bagger many years later at Darrenkamps which is now closing all four of their stores.
Marita went to be with the Lord about a week ago and Ester wrote a tribute on her Facebook page that we will share here:
What can I say about my “Granny” Marita Murphy. Well, first thing I can honestly tell you is that she loved the Lord with all of her heart & wasn’t afraid to admit it. She had a compassion about other people and always had them on her prayer list. The fondest memories were sleeping over at her apartment for the weekend. The only problem was when it was time for bed I wouldn’t shut up. So she created a game for us to play to shut me up at night. It was the “quiet game”. So in other words you were not allowed to talk until morning. Eating eggs with rye bread & fudgsicles, going for bike rides, walking to the park, spending the day with her at work, helping her bag groceries at Shaw’s and of course listening to Dan & Louie on cassette tapes. She always managed to have one in her car so we could listen to it. She was the kindest most caring thoughtful lady I knew and when she smiled she could light up the whole room. She also loved playing her saxophone whenever she got a chance to. As I got older we would spend an hour or two on the phone talking about what was going in my life & how my friends were doing. She’d would always ask me how the people in the church were doing & ask if I have spoken to anyone from there lately. She’d also ask me about any fun trips we’ve taken lately. Asked how mom & dad were and of course the pets would be included in the conversations. I would write her now and then with a pic of me for her to keep. She also told me from the time I was 4 yrs old that reading your Bible would help to you understand it & what God wants you to do. At the end of the phone calls, after I moved away, we would pray for each other & say I love you to each other. Granny was the most influential person in my life ever and I will miss her so very much. I can’t wait to see you again someday Granny.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“He Giveth More Grace”  Video    Larry Ford

“If That’s What It Takes”  Video  The Isaacs

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