“Standing Your Ground”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Survivor tree (photo by Nancy Martin)
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Standing Your Ground”
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering” (Hebrews 10:32). “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

In America we can watch a lot of football at this time of year with college bowl games and the professional postseason.  I know this is a subject that will not “connect” to everyone, including many who live here in the USA, let alone other countries, so I’ll keep the illustrative portion of the encouragement brief.

Goal line standConsider the goal line stand. You’re on the defense and the opposing team has the ball on the one yard line with 1st and goal. You are a lineman and your job is to keep the opposing team from moving the ball that one yard, although they have four opportunities to do so. You must stand your ground!

Today so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are standing up against tremendous opposition in this great contest. Using football as an illustration may have a sense of trivializing the very real contest in which they battle.

The first daily text is a commendation to the first century Hebrew believers who had stood their ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. The Greek word translated “contest” is “athlasis”, which is a root of the English word athlete. All we who follow Christ are involved in this great contest, what the Apostle Paul calls “The Race” (2 Timothy 4:7). Some approach this contest in a passive sense, as if we are just standing on the sidelines as spectators.

Others rightly recognize that we are in the midst of this great spiritual battle and God’s call is that we actively stand our ground. The apostle Paul alluded to this stand when he commissioned followers of Christ to, “Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

The early believers to whom the Book of Hebrews addressed were enduring persecution because of their uncompromising stand. They stood their ground even in the face of tremendous suffering. In fact as I prepare this message from the comfort of my home office looking out across peaceful farm fields I feel so far, far removed from their plight. Last night we received an email from a daily encouragement reader in a country where many of our brethren are undergoing severe persecution. Today may God help us and all that read this to remember them in prayer as they stand up in the midst of the great conflict.

And may the Lord empower each of us with grace to stand our ground in regard to the particular issues we will deal with today and this new year. I especially have on my heart a call to all earnest followers of Christ to stand our ground regarding faithfulness to apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42, Jude 3) and Biblical standards of morality (Galatians 5:19-20, Colossians 3:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:2-4) The Bible speaks of a great falling away that will occur in the end times (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and I wonder if we are seeing that before our very eyes.

Nevertheless, stand your ground; for if you don’t stand you’ll surely fall!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, You warned Your listeners as You sat on the Mount of Olivet that at the end of the age nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes will be commonplace. Believers will be handed over to be persecuted and many will turn away from the faith as wickedness increases. In the midst of such dark desolation we cling to the bright promise, full of hope and motivation for those who walk steadfastly with You; he who stands firm to the end will be saved. We will conquer the enemy, for the battle is not ours, but Yours, Lord Jesus!  Amen.


Personal Note: Last Friday we shared the story of five year old Marvin who lived with us on two occasions when he came to the U.S. for surgery. Now, almost 23 years later, we received a response from him about his experience of coming to a strange land to live among strangers. He receives our Daily Encouragement and somehow has it translated since he follows us closely.  Brooksyne posed the question and here’s the response he sent: We think our readers will understand what a blessing it is for us to receive this note.

“When I got Estados Unidos I felt sad because I was away from my parents, but you immediately made me feel the love you expressed in your hugs, loving correction to my disobedience, to fulfill the whims of a child and take pictures and prepare those tortillas meals so delicious, and of course toys. I remember the people and children who visited us and its special affection they gave me, all that fear was far away, I received love that left a mark on my life and had trust in you. Now in our family, when we sit at the dining table we pray holding hands, just as you did to me. I also take lots of pictures, just as you did with me. I may conclude that the love of God can do anything. When I returned home I told my parents how wonderful to be in a home where Christ lives. I wish a happy New Year 2012 to you and your family.”

We are posting Marvin’s note for the benefit of a good number of readers who would have known him and been among those he referred to as “I remember the people and children who visited us and its special affection they gave me, all that fear was far away, I got love left a mark on my life…”  Unlike earthly treasures, when we share a spiritual treasure, such as the love of God, it never depletes, but spread out to others, and often comes right back to us in fuller measure.


Marvin with Shawna and Sharon

Here is a photo taken over twenty years ago when Marvin was up in the States with us. He is with two sisters, Shawna and Sharon, who were in the church we served at that time in northern Pennsylvania.  Marvin was proud to wear his tie to church that Brooksyne bought him. In fact he liked it so much he often wore it at home. He came from a devout Christian family. Here’s a photo of Shawna and Sharon at the Shady Maple where we met them for lunch several years ago. Both are married with children and also faithfully serve the Lord.  3 John 1:4

Marvin teaching Sunday SchoolHere’s a current photo of Marvin (arrived this morning) with his Sunday School class in Guatemala. It appears he still likes to wear a tie! He is married with two children and works as a forester with the Guatemalan Forestry Department. Something else interesting regarding Marvin’s career choice is that we had a lot of foresters in our church in northern PA!

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Precious Lord, Take My Hand”  Video  Selah

“Precious Lord, take my hand.
Lead me on, let me stand”

“Be Strong and Take Courage”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“We Shall Stand”  Video  Maranatha Singers

Survivor tree (photo by Nancy Martin)Here’s a photo of the tree after the storm with the split limb fallen on the ground.
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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

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

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“From Everlasting To Everlasting”

Monday, January 2, 2012

Front view from our home with ScriptureA front sunset view from our home.
Click on photo to enlarge
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“From Everlasting To Everlasting”

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (Genesis 1:14). “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:17).

Dillsburg pickle dropIn our area many communities imitate the dropping of the ball in New York City and personalize it with an item that reflects their own town. In fact according to the list in Wikipedia our surrounding area in Pennsylvania tops the list where objects are dropped during events on New Year’s Eve. A dill pickle (left photo) is dropped in Dillsburg, while a 100-pound stick of Lebanon bologna is dropped in Lebanon north of us. They make Mars candy in neighboring Elizabethtown where a crowd gathers around a large candy bar dropped from the extension ladder of a fire truck! My brother lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, 90 miles away, where Crayola drops a ten foot crayon at 8 P.M. to accommodate little children’s bedtimes.

I’m not sure how the dropping of the ball or other items on New Year’s Eve originated (although I am sure I could look it up). For many it’s a festive way to signal the passing of another year. However we are at an age where we are content simply to watch the ball drop in NYC if we manage to stay up till midnight!

Certainly there are many customs all over the world to mark this important turn of the calendar year. It should be without exception that we, as believers, reflect upon the faithfulness of God personally and in the cosmic realm as we embark upon another year of seeking to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. We desire that this bring rich assurance that can be applied immediately and also placed in reserve for the inevitable challenges ahead. We want to encourage readers by examining an aspect of God’s incredible steadfastness and faithfulness so fitting to ponder today.

From the very beginning of creation God ordained the year as a time unit.  Along with days and seasons these are the three time units ordained at creation. All three are related to the creative work of God on the fourth day.

The annual unit represents the precise time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun a single time, along with its rotation marking days and movement on its axis, which marks seasons. It’s been absolutely fixed since the fourth day of Creation. What an incredible statement to express God’s faithfulness! Indeed the hymn writer summed it up, “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

As the new year of 2012 begins each of us deal with vacillating circumstances. This should remind us of our fundamental need to place our trust in God because He who has fixed the “sun, moon and stars in their courses above” loves us and cares deeply for us today. All may change, but Jesus never, glory to His Name! Rest in this promise: “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.”

One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the rock that never fails You never fail

One thing I know that I believe
Through every blessing I receive
You are the only one that stays, You always stay

You’ll never change, You’re still the same
You are the everlasting God
You will remain, after the day is gone
And things on earth have passed
Everlasting God

(see video link below to listen to this song)

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Yesterday, today, and forever You are the faithful, changeless One, Father. Your works in the past are testimony to Your majesty, power, and provision for our lives today. Your presence today steadies our walk as You lead us in the paths of righteousness while we forge ahead in 2012. Your future blessings are waiting to be unfolded in our lives as we faithfully yield to You our heart, our soul, and our mind. We look to You for everything we need for life and godliness in this present age as we await Your soon return. Come, Lord Jesus, come!  Amen.


Grace and gratitude

Last week we shared some background information about the photo of the praying elderly man (known as Grace) and inquired from our readers regarding the history of the praying woman photo (known as Gratitude). A careful researcher found this interesting article.


Jack Brown, a reader of this series from Michigan, sent us an interesting study he had done on God’s promises that will bless our readers as they face 2012.

God’s Promises For The New Year
  • He will be with us. (Genesis 3:12)
  • He will never leave us nor ever forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • He will equip us with everything good for doing His will and work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:21)
  • He will provide fresh mercy and grace every day for each day’s need. (Lamentations 3:22)
  • He will accept our worship as we treat those in need with benevolence and live lives dedicated to integrity and purity. (James 1:27)
  • He will be reliable and trustworthy. (James 1:17)
  • He will give us wisdom generously when we ask Him for it consistently. (James 1:5-6)
  • He will grant us grace and lift us up when we choose to live humbly. (James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:6)
  • He will give us new beginnings in Christ. (1 Peter 1:3)
  • He will restore, strengthen and steady us. (1 Peter 5:10)
  • He will care for us if we will give our cares to Him.. (1 Peter 1:7)
  • He will forgive all our sins if we will acknowledge them, turn from them and dedicate ourselves to stay away from them. (1 John 1:9)
  • He will produce the character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in us by His Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • He will love us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • He will bless us, forgive all our sins, heal all our diseases, redeem our lives from destruction, crown our lives with love and compassion and satisfy the needs of our lives. (Psalm 103:2-3)
  • He will give us courage, strength and grace to redemptively deal with all we face. (Philippians 4:13; Psalm 31:2)
  • He will grant us success as we take in and live out His Word. (Joshua 1:8)
  • He will be our light, protection and salvation. (Psalm 27:1-2)
  • He will hear and respond to our prayers. (Psalm 17:6)
  • He will transform us by continually renewing our minds so we can think and live in His ways. (Romans 12:1 and following)
  • He will bring further along to completion what He has begun in us. (Philippians 1:6)
  • He will keep working into us His will and purpose so that we will do and want to do His will and purposes. (Philippians 2:13)

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Everlasting God”  Video  New Life Worship  (This is the song which we posted the lyrics at the bottom of today’s message. It is written by Glenn Packiam.

“From The East Unto The West”  Video  The Odes of Solomon  We heard this song on our local Christian radio station today and it has a contagiously catchy melody!

“Eternity”  Video  Brian Doerksen

List of items dropped on New Year’s Eve.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

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.

“By His Hand He Leadeth Me”

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wisconsin barn (photo by my cousin)

Wisconsin barn
This photo taken by my cousin who wrote,
“Old….and still so beautiful!
I just love those really old, stone foundation barns you still see around Wisconsin.”
So do I, regardless of where they are!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“By His Hand He Leadeth Me”
“He leadeth me beside still waters, He restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:3). “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13). “For He Himself knew what He would do” (John 6:6). “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever” (Psalm 138:8).

Marvin with StephenOne of the great experiences and tender sights of life is watching a little child reach up to take the hand of an adult. Today I consider a specific experience I recall that took place nearly 23 years ago. For a season in our lives we hosted children from other countries who came to the states for critical medical care which is how Ester initially came into our lives (she was our fourth child from Guatemala).

In January 1989 Marvin, a small five year old boy, came to us from Guatemala due to an extremely critical breathing issue. You can only imagine how scared he was. Due to the severity of his condition we immediately took him to Erie, Pennsylvania where the doctor had agreed to care for him (prior to his arrival). Although we knew very little Spanish (actually next to none) and he knew no English we were to be his American family and provide the kind of love he’d received from his family back home.

He quickly recognized the security we offered as he reached his little hand up to take mine. Marvin instinctively knew that we had become an essential part of his life. He grew confident that we were his guide to better health, making it possible for him to safely return to his own family in Guatemala. As his caregivers we fully understood the intention of Marvin’s trip to America and his stay with us during his surgery and recovery.  Yet for a five year old Spanish child to meet so many strangers that couldn’t communicate with him, and to live among them in a strange land, without his loving parents, surely was a great mystery in his young mind.

The confidence he demonstrated when reaching up to take our hand is a great illustration of the confidence we can have in taking God’s Hand even when we really don’t understand, being fully aware that He always knows what He is doing.

In his daily devotional book titled “From Day To Day”, Frank Gaebelein shares a perspective that has blessed me and is so pertinent to our own experience in walking with the Lord by faith. He is commenting on the third daily verse, “For He Himself knew what He would do.”

“When the Lord Jesus asked Philip how bread might be secured for the hungry crowd, it was important for Him to test the faith of Philip-important not for Himself but for Philip’s sake that he might have a lesson in the infinite resources of the Lord. “For He Himself knew what He would do.” This is always true of our Lord. There is comfort in the fact that He can never be taken by surprise. Though the circumstances of our lives sometimes seem plan-less, when they are in Christ’s control we may be sure that our Lord knows what He is doing. To really trust such a Master really means security from worry and concern.  Christ indeed knows His business; ours is the responsibility of obeying His commands.”

As I seek to apply this verse to my life what a joy and comfort to know that the eternal Christ does not change. He knows exactly what He is doing, why He is doing it, who He  will use to bring it to pass, and how it will all come about. We become the wiser as we learn to trust His plan instead of our own. “We may make our plans, but God has the last word” is a Proverb that can instill peace in one’s heart when God seems rather silent about a matter (Proverbs 16:1). He perfects our plans or may choose to overrule them, even those with good intentions, for the greater good of our Christian walk as we submit our planning agenda to His management.

This is our final encouragement message for 2011. We can testify that God has led us and are assured that He will continue to lead us. The phrase “He leadeth me” is in the present tense so it is our present and ongoing declaration.

Brooksyne and I realize that the coming year will certainly bring challenges in various ways, as it always does. We find great assurance that indeed our Lord knows what He will do and we can confidently reach up and take His hand. We cling to this complimentary promise from the Psalms, “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8). And that is true for each dear child of God, including you!

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, we want to be Your faithful follower as You fulfill Your purpose in our lives. The Psalmist traced Your hand to the secret place where all Your ordained plans were written for his life before he drew his first breath. We too can trace Your hand in the origin of our birth right up to the present day in which we close out another year. We need not fear when we take hold of Your hand, for You will help guide us through the uncertainties and puzzlements that will frequent our path, for You fully know what Your intentions are for our lives. We trust You for the days ahead and the new year that will unfold before us. We will not fear nor dread the future, since it is through eyes of faith, that we see the victory ahead!  In the precious name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


An observant reader inquired regarding the image of the praying man we use next to the daily prayer and Brooksyne found this interesting article. We are still looking for info regarding the similar image we use of the praying woman and welcome input from any readers who might be able to help us. In the course of searching we found this unrelated photo.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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.


Marvin recovered from his surgery, returned to his family in Guatemala, and returned for a second surgery the next year. The doctor informed us that he would need laser surgery each year until he was at least 12, but Marvin experienced a miraculous healing from God and required no more surgeries. We visited him and his family in Guatemala about 20 years ago and had a memorable meal in his grateful family’s small two room village house. We lost contact but reconnected in recent years when he found us through Daily Encouragement and later Facebook. He periodically calls us and it’s a blessing to hear his voice though our communications are extremely limited, though he does a little better with English than we do with Spanish!

Marvin at Zaculeu Mayan archaeological site
 This current photo of Marvin was taken at the Zaculeu Mayan archaeological site in western Guatemala (article). He is doing well healthwise and is now a forester with the Guatemalan Forestry Department. He is married with one son and a child on the way (last we heard). Most importantly he is serving the Lord and active in ministry in his local church! His favorite quote on his Facebook page is “Porque no me avergüenzo del evangelio, porque es potencia de Dios para salvación a todo creyente” (Romanos 1:16). Here’s are two newspaper articles about Marvin when he was treated in Erie, Pennsylvania. in 1989. Marvin1Marvin2

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Over the last several days we’ve received numerous messages of readers bearing burdens both acute and ongoing. Today’s message and song selections are intended to bring you assurance in the One who said, “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand”  Video  Selah, along with the Homecoming singers

“My Life Is In Your Hands”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers (a smaller road group from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir). I found this comment interesting, “To answer all who are curious this is a prison where the video was taken, that you are either on death row or serving for life. It was one of the most notorious prisons in the country until they hired Warden Burl Cain. He is a devout Christian and loves God. He fought the Louisiana government for the private funds donated to him to build a church inside the prison grounds. He was successful, thanks to God Almighty! More prisons need Wardens like him. He is a friend of mine and I’m a better man for knowing him. Praise God!!!!!”

Listen to this song considering that context!

“Lead Me Lord”  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

“He Leadeth Me”  Video  Candi Pearson  Great version with outstanding fiddle solo

“He Knows My Name”  Video  Maranatha Singers

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“God’s Reliable, Everlasting Love”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lake Lure in North CarolinaLure Lake in western North Carolina

(Click to enlarge as desktop background)

“God’s Reliable, Everlasting Love”
“We know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16). “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness'” (Jeremiah 31:3). “God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:5,8).

As we prepare our final encouragement messages for this year we consider the various burdens and uncertainties so many of you are dealing with. In some cases Brooksyne and I can visualize who you are and the situations in which you struggle. You may be a family member, a friend, a present or former parishioner. Perhaps you’re among those we meet in our chaplain service or you’re a faithful long-time reader of the Daily Encouragement, maybe one who has shared a personal burden with us.

At creation God established the annual unit of time (Genesis 1:14). The passing of years is can be like a chapter in one’s life to do some reflecting as well as looking ahead to the next phase in our life’s journey. Each of us can look back to particular milestones this past year.

Perhaps you are looking ahead to 2012 with optimism; in your life things are going well and you feel pretty secure.  Your health is good, your job seems secure, and you have exciting plans for the New Year.

But others face the New Year with a great sense of uncertainty. It may be physical pain, a wayward child, financial hardship, or the loss of a loved one. Today’s message is for both.

Settle deep in your spirit that our one and only certain source of hope is Jesus Christ. He alone is the anchor for our soul, holding it firm and secure. This is expressed so well in the great hymn, “The Solid Rock”, especially in the line, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  Hope that is built on relationships, finances, work or education will eventually let us down, but hope that is built solidly on Jesus increases with intensity as our earthly journey moves us closer to the Promised Land.

We selected verses today that express three unchangeable truths concerning God:
•  His Steadfast Love:  He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
•  His Abiding Presence:  He will never leave us. (Hebrews 13:5)
•  His Eternal Immutability:  He is always the same. (Hebrews 13:8)

As we ground our faith in these truths we can, regardless of present circumstances, experience the hope, peace and assurance that is at the very core of living an abundant life.

“Jesus Will Still Be There” is a song made familiar by Point of Grace. It reminds us of a most certain reality; that Jesus will still be there. His love will never change, no matter what changes around us. As we end one year and move into another He is a never-changing presence and lasting security in our lives.  We can absolutely rely upon His everlasting love!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, we seek to be unwavering in our faith and confident in Your plans for our life as we stand on Your unending promises. You promise never to abandon us; instead You carefully guide us through the steep hills and dark valleys as we cling to You. Even as we daily experienced Your goodness and faithfulness in 2011 we will be sustained by Your constant presence and guidance in our life and in those we love in the new year of 2012. You are faithful and we are grateful that we can stand on the Solid Rock, firm and secure.  It is in the Name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Jesus Will Still Be There”  Video  Point Of Grace

“You Will Never Walk Alone”  Video  Point Of Grace

Ester with Point of Grace

Point of Grace: Brooksyne & Ester attended a Point of Grace Concert several years ago during the Christmas season and Ester got her photo with the three singers whose music we feature today.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“Yet Will I”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)Winter scene in rural Michigan

Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Yet Will I”

“The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Van accident damage Over the next several days we tend to reflect on the previous year while also contemplating what lies ahead in the New Year. We received a greeting from a thoughtful friend that, among other things, expressed, “May you have an uneventful year!” That phrase can be taken many ways, but in this context she was referring to Brooksyne’s traffic accident in September when a driver hit our van from behind. The van was totaled but it could have been so much worse (there were no serious injuries).

Actually we want an eventful year but just eventful with events that are pleasing to us! But that is not a promise we have. Today let’s consider the great statement of confidence and faith that concludes the rather obscure book of Habakkuk.  We can read this as a promise for events we might face. Habakkuk was written as Judah was about to be destroyed by the Babylonians and the remnant taken captive. The better known prophet during this time was Jeremiah. It was a desperate time.

Habakkuk scene

Since the economy was agriculturally based Habakkuk describes the equivalence of a severe economic depression.  Based on the wider context of the book (the pending judgment upon the nation of Judah), I believe he’s describing a situation in which practically everything that can go wrong does, a “worst case scenario.”

What response does he have during such times?  Twice he states the will to live in an attitude of joy and in both cases the immutable (unchanging) source of that joy is expressed: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Consider the single phrase “yet will I”; few in letters but packed with meaning.  It conveys the sense of “in spite of” or “notwithstanding.”  Habakkuk was determined to keep his faith in the Lord. He chose to experience the reservoir of deep abiding joy that is derived from his relationship with an unchanging God, rather than the ever-changing circumstances in his life.

Jesus prayed to His Father in His final “High Priestly” prayer: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13).

As we look back over the events in our lives this past year, some have been pleasurable, and others a trial. There are also ongoing issues that we carry from one year to the next.  But our struggles are somewhat minimal compared to those devastated by destructive earthquakes, deadly tornadoes, natural disasters, wars or those living in persecuted lands. Over the last several days our brethren in Nigeria have seen fierce and deadly persecution from Muslims. Considering their plight and praying for them keeps matters I am experiencing in perspective.

Nevertheless some of you are dealing with a trial and doubtless for some it’s a very serious matter. Today and through our life, let us quote Habakkuk and make this our own personal victorious declaration: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights” (3:19).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, we’re reminded by Habakkuk that our deep abiding joy is not derived from abundance in provisions nor even the people in our life. But rather our joy comes from You as we choose to rejoice in You, whether or not our pantry is overflowing. We rejoice in knowing that You are our strength who enables us to descend the rigorous, steep terrain. When we reach the height of the mountain we can look back at the disappointments and hardships we climbed through as You made our feet sure-footed like those of a deer. Keep us steadily faithful through the climb as we once again affirm our faith in You, Sovereign Lord, and rejoice in the work You are accomplishing in our lives. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Living By Faith”  Video  Homecoming series  This old hymn came to mind as I prepared today’s message. I don’t suppose I’ve sang it for some twenty years since we sang from the old brown hymnbook but its truth continues today!

Habakkuk 3  Video  A dramatic reading

“I Will Rejoice”  Video  Jolene Riley  Today’s first text put to music.

“I Will Praise Him”  Video  The Isaacs (Acapella)

News article about Nigerian persecution of Christians.

Today’s photo in rural Michigan was taken by our friend Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard is a friend of this ministry who desires to honor the Lord through his photography. We had snow storm in late October which was very unusual for our area but since then we have been rather lacking in snow. Today it is windy and cold but clear with no snow in the forecast. I happen to like snow! (At least in December – February).

Ou van: Just in case you see a photo of our white van in the future, we will explain:  Our van was totaled following the accident but since we really liked the van, we chose to have it repaired by a Vo-Tech Body Shop since there appeared to be no mechanical damage and received a settlement from the insurance company for slightly less.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“The Grace Gift”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ridge Run Road farm near Mount Joy, PAThis classic Lancaster County farm is on Ridge Run Road near Mount Joy.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“The Grace Gift”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Lexus adThis Christmas season, as usual, we were besieged by advertisements regarding gift ideas. Marketers know a jingle or slogan is helpful in selling their product and this Christmas advertising season featured a car company with the slogan, “A December To Remember” along with a catchy jingle encouraging us to surprise a loved one with new luxury car for Christmas. The announcer states, “Let’s be honest, no one ever wished for a smaller holiday gift.”

Well, I don’t suppose very many of our readers received a new Lexus for Christmas and truth be told it would certainly be a gift to remember and a costly gift at least to someone!

We are also besieged with “free offers” though we intuitively know (at least most do) that there’s almost always a catch. Various offers appeal to our desire to “get something for nothing” (which is alluring to our greed nature).

Today we would like to consider a longstanding free offer that is genuine, still valid and available to all. And in fact it is something we receive for nothing, though it comes at a tremendous cost from our Benefactor who gave His all on our behalf.

The daily Scripture text was one of the very first verses I committed to memory over 30 years ago. (It is part of the “Romans Road”, a description of the plan of salvation using selected texts from the Book of Romans.)

Today I want to focus on the words, “free gift”. This translates the single Greek word “charisma”, which is itself derived from “charis.” Charis is that wonderful word normally translated “grace” in our Bibles. Of course many will recall the simple, yet descriptive definition of grace as, “unmerited favor.” It would also be accurate to translate this as “grace gift” and should be our greatest focus this Christmas season and at all times. No other gift even comes close!

Today amidst the pile of gifts, inexpensive or costly, meaningful or meaningless, this one stands out. There are no catches and the offer stands ready at this very moment. There are no waiting lines or no limited supply. It is available to all ages, “to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Revelation 14:6). Millions now living and millions more now with the Lord can testify to its veracity and lasting value (for those who like to read reviews on products).

River of lifeNear the very end of the Book of Revelation we read, “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

What’s your response to the free gift of salvation? We urge you to receive it today and rejoice that you have been chosen by God to receive this grace gift of eternal life through salvation in Jesus Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, it’s a fact that the vast majority want something for nothing. If they get their wish it might bring temporary pleasure, but it cannot satisfy the soul’s longing and the item will have a perishable shelf life. When Jesus gave His all as a sacrifice for our sins You made available to us the free gift of salvation that is for all eternity. We cannot pay for our forgiveness nor can we repay Jesus for His sacrifice for our sins. We can’t save up for our real estate in heaven, nor do we hire a designer, for Jesus is there now providing and preparing a home for us.  All we give in return is a heart surrendered to His plan for our lives here on earth that will be more fully experienced in the great beyond. May our hearts be set on things above where Christ is seated at Your right hand, rather than things on the earth. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Lord I Offer My Life To You”  Video

For the tech minded: Nigel Lee is a friend of ours who lives in the Boston area. In fact he and his wife were the very first recipients of a daily encouragement in 1996! Nigel is a scientist and wrote an interesting article in a Boston publication. Nigel has also written articles drawing a spiritual connection such as this one he wrote for daily encouragement years ago.

Example of a Lexus “December to Remember” ad  Video

John Deere santa near Maytown, PALast week we shared a photo of Santa in a New Holland front loader. Around here it’s not unusual to see a tractor in the front yard.  We passed this one all decorated including Santa on a John Deere tractor!
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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“A Trustworthy Statement”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas farm Elizabethtown, PA
We pass this “Christmas farm” near Elizabethtown, PA.
We usually see it from a four lane highway (Rt 283) on our way to Harrisburg but this view is from Ridgeview Road. This photo is from Lancaster Farming used with permission.

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“A Trustworthy Statement”
“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Seniors along with Brooksyne at the Messiah Village Christmas party 2011Our family had a touching experience Friday evening in a Harrisburg hospital room. Naomi, an elderly friend whose photo we featured last Tuesday playing the harmonica, was admitted to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.  After a long day of many tests in the E.R. it was nearly 8:00 PM before we were able to see her. With Christmas just around the corner the hospital seemed unusually quiet as we walked into her dark room where she lay curled up in the bed. She awakened at our greeting though she was confused and didn’t recognize us.

Knowing Naomi’s love for music Brooksyne knelt down at her bedside, took her hand, and began to sing “Away In a Manger”.  Halfway through the 1st verse she began to hum along. By the third verse Naomi began to softly sing the words with Brooksyne.  I thought how appropriate the lyrics were as I looked on and considered the fragile state of our dear sister:  “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.”

Over the last several days earnest believers gathered all over the world to give focus to the true meaning of Christmas. We worshiped through song, read Scripture, prayed, heard the Christmas narrative, partook of communion, in addition to other ways we honored our Lord. We gathered in churches, homes, classrooms, hospitals, rehabs, prisons, soup kitchens, and in many other settings to express our faith in the very heart of the Christmas story; “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Biblical truths are being mocked and ridiculed and sadly there are those in the visible church who feel we must compromise in disbelief to be accepted by the world. After all there are those who concede that the Creation record in Genesis is a legend, the Biblical miracles aren’t real, and the Bible characters are myths. It should not surprise us that the critical events in the life of our Savior; His birth, death, and resurrection are similarly ridiculed.

The epistles give little emphasis to the birth of Christ. Apart from the historical record in the narratives of Matthew and Luke, and the prophecies foretold centuries earlier, we have no other information on our Lord’s birth. It’s not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles or in the epistles with any detail. Actually there’s no record of the early church celebrating Christ’s birth as we do today.

But they certainly believed in it! Paul introduces a saying that appears to be an early creedal statement of the primitive church. He introduces it as a “trustworthy statement” (literally a “faithful word”), easily memorized, and perhaps used to teach and reinforce the faith in earliest believers. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” is an absolutely trustworthy statement that impacts the lives of every human born into the world and evident in those present during the time of Christ’s appearing:

  • It was declared by Mary, during her visit to Elizabeth, in the Magnificat: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46).
  • It was the reassuring message from the angel to Joseph: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:22)
  • It was the message of the angel of the Lord to the frightened shepherds: “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
  • When Simeon took the infant Jesus in His arms he declared: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:30).

This message “deserves full acceptance.”  Although most of the world’s population has not accepted this truth; from its earliest declaration, to this day and throughout eternity it truly deserves full acceptance.  I have accepted this truth, live by it, and trust that each of you have as well: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, how grateful we are that Jesus came into this world to save sinners; to turn despair to hope, darkness to light, and death into life. All that we have need of and presently rely on is abundance from Your generous Hand. You are worthy of our trust and deserving of our fully surrendered life. From the cradle to the cross Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Lord of earth. We celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus, our Savior, and give thanks for all that it means to us. Amen.


Weber family Christmas photo 2011Greetings to our family, friends, church and ministry connections, business associates, Daily Encouragement readers and supporters. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and God’s abundant and unending blessings in your New Year. We enjoyed another year of service for the Lord in a variety of ways. For those who may be interested here’s a ministry update.

Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Lord I Lift Your Name On High”  Video  Maranatha Singers  “I’m so glad You came to save us”

Our friend Mike Martin shared today’s Christmas farm photo with us. It is from the Lancaster Farming newspaper and was taken by Stan Hall.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“Unto Us”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Message

Infant Jesus along with Mary and Joseph“They shall call His name Jesus”

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“Unto Us”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6a).  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11b). “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The busy holiday season will soon come to a screeching halt, but in the meantime most are still shopping, visiting, cleaning, sending cards, wrapping and delivering gifts, baking and preparing for the eve of Christmas and Christmas day itself. Out of town guests have arrived or will soon arrive. On my walk yesterday I noticed that our neighbor’s parents from Texas were setting up their motor home in their daughter’s driveway, hunkering down for the big day with the grandchildren.

As children we remember looking forward to Christmas because of all the special events that surrounded the holiday. Thankfully we grew up in Christian homes where we learned much about the first Christmas by playing Bible characters. Brooksyne has fond memories of participating in Christmas plays, including that of an angel who made the glorious announcement, “For unto You is born this day in the city of David….” Not only were these plays performed in church settings but, growing up in a less secular society, many of the Christmas hymns and pageantry were presented in the public schools.

Due to the further secularization of our society today many remain ignorant of the origin of the Christmas celebration. They sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and don’t really comprehend the reason why it’s wonderful. What a sense of emptiness we’d have if at the center of the Christmas celebration we knew not the Christ of Christmas, the reason He came, and what He accomplished after His arrival. That’s why, every year, believers purposely focus on the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Christ along with the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament.

The first two daily texts are easily recognized by Christians, often recited by children at the annual Christmas program. One was prophetically declared by Isaiah some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the other by an angelic visitor to some lowly shepherds at His birth. In a few words they contain the essence of the gospel message. They describe the greatest and most lasting Gift.

I know you hear it repeated every year so let us repeat it once more:  The challenge during this season is to remember the real message of Christmas. It’s not the gifts we give or receive from others. It’s not the abundance of gadgets that retailers offer to materialistic America. It’s the gift of God’s Son to an unreceptive, apathetic, undeserving, and mocking world. Will you gratefully receive His gift this Christmas?

The writer of Hebrews begins his rich epistle in such an interesting and powerful way. All other epistles except 1 John begin with some identification of the human author. Hebrews starts right off in a stately manner dealing with God’s message to mankind and the absolute preeminence of His Son.

However let us notice just one tiny phrase in the daily Scripture text which really is a “Christmas” verse, “He has spoken unto us by His Son.” Aren’t you glad God has spoken and indeed continues to speak! The late Francis Schaeffer wrote a book titled, “He is here and He is not silent.” How very true.

He speaks to us in many ways, but primarily and fundamentally through His Son. What a great blessing it is that He has not ignored us! After the Fall God began His quest for us and called to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” He’s been speaking to His people and calling them ever since. Today He continues to lovingly hearken to the human race, but relatively few pay attention.

What about you? Are you listening? Are you responding in faith and obedience? Let us rejoice that God has indeed spoken to us!

Be encouraged today and have a joyous Christmas,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, even as You spoke to the prophets of long ago You still speak to the hearts of Your people. You’ve called us out from among the world to stand for righteousness in a godless society. Much of the Christmas celebration is like noisy gongs and clanging symbols because it is lacking the major story of the Christ Child. As we contemplate the Christmas story young Mary is a prime example of one whose yielded heart withstood the ridicule and awkwardness of her special role in the miraculous conception and birth of the Savior of the world. You continue to speak to those who choose to fear the law of God rather than the whims of man. Help us to turn away from noisy gongs that blare and turn our hearts toward Emmanuel who shares with us Your love. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Weber family Christmas photo 2011Greetings to our family, friends, church and ministry connections, business associates, Daily Encouragement readers and supporters. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and God’s abundant and unending blessings in your New Year. We enjoyed another year of service for the Lord in a variety of ways. For those who may be interested here’s a ministry update.

Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider making a year-end 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we will provide a variety of Christmas music available by clicking the YouTube video link. We’ve enjoyed hearing many of these songs over the radio and we’ve been especially blessed by a Christmas CD “Love Came For Me” by Shannon Wexelberg. She has done some new arrangements of the traditional carols along with original songs that she wrote. Her lyrics are convicting and reassuring, her vocals are outstanding.

“Love Came For Me”  Video  Shannon Wexelberg

“Emmanuel-Hallowed Manger Ground”  Video  Chris Tomlin

“A Son, A Saviour”  Video  Maranatha Singers

“O Holy Night”  Video  Selah

“Joseph’s Lullaby”  Video  MercyMe

“Joseph’s Card”  Video  Michael Card

“Magnificat (with Wexford Carol)”  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty  You might want to follow this song with the Bibe open at Luke 1:46-55 passage where Mary bursts forth in praise following the angel’s announcement.

“Joy Has Dawned/Angels We Have Heard On High”   Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”   Video  Shannon Wexelberg


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

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Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“God Sent His Son”

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Scooters along Amish school
Scooters beside Amish one room schoolhouse. The Children arrived early, practiced their parts for the Christmas program, and now the guests arrive.

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“God Sent His Son”

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5).

I have a friend who works for a large supermarket chain. She told me that the employees of her store were instructed not to greet customers with “Merry Christmas” but rather “Happy Holidays”.  Now I have heard of this politically correct dispute for years but I can hardly imagine corporate energy being expended on such foolishness in micromanaging how one person greets another! She pointed out the inconsistency since they play Christmas music (including sacred songs) and sell Christmas cards, including religiously themed cards and other items.

Several years ago we were sharing in a nursing home when we approached the room of a Jewish woman. I whispered to Brooksyne, “She might not want to hear the Christmas carols.”  Brooksyne asserted that she would be fine since she regularly attends the hymn sings that Brooksyne leads in.  We went in and sang a sacred carol and she sang right along!  As we left singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” she expressed her heartfelt appreciation that we had stopped by!  I suppose the new pc (politically correct) message had not yet reached our Jewish friend.

Here in the United States (and probably in many other countries) public Christmas expressions are increasingly seen as insensitive and unacceptable.  This is a relatively recent development brought on by the sensitivity police and those easily offended.  The incessant efforts of godless groups like the ACLU persistently seek to remove any hint of Christ from the public square and this is most pointedly seen at Christmas.

However there are those who still boldly express their view of the season. Along the main street in our town we have a large auto dealership with a lighted sign which states “Christ Is Born.” Our entire front page weekly merchandiser newspaper featured Luke 1:14: “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at His birth” along with the sketching of the nativity scene just above their greeting:  “Merry Christmas”.

Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe observes, “In this day when pluralism is interpreted by most people to mean ‘agree with everybody about everything and don’t make waves,’ Christians need to remember that they are different and must test everything by the Word of God. There are many religions, but there is still ‘no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved'” (Acts 4:12). That name, the Name above all names, is Jesus.

Today let’s remember the heart of Christmas:  “God sent His Son.”  This is the vital truth and the greatest source of joy and encouragement.  Jesus Christ is the greatest and most sacrificial gift given to all humankind!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, You are life’s greatest Treasure as You emptied Yourself of equality with God and chose to be made in human likeness taking on the very nature of a servant. Thank You for coming to us and meeting our most critical need, the need of salvation.  May we not be timid or embarrassed to openly voice Your presence in the public square even as great hosts of angels proclaimed Your earthly arrival in Bethlehem. Your salvation message brings hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and release for those help captive in the ravages of sin’s wasteland.  You did not descend to earth in order to conquer or enslave, but to draw the hearts of humankind to Yourself through the incredible sacrificial love that poured forth from Your body on the cross of Calvary.  What personal wondrous love is this!  Amen.


Here’s an interesting perspective from a Jewish man:  I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

 


Reflections From Yesterday

Amish school in Lancaster County PA
Apparently Amish school Christmas programs were held in many one room schools yesterday throughout Lancaster County. We passed this school on the way to the school program we were invited to attend. I am not sure what the tour bus is there for. The one we attended was as full as any building I would ever care to be in with the children and their families so I can’t see where they would put people on a tour bus!!! We, along with four other non-Amish (English) guests,  had been invited.

Our Classroom Visit:  The particular Amish school we visited, where two of the children are friends of ours, had an extensive 100 minute program – many recitations from children of all ages, plays, skits, and music.  It was a rainy day so it was nice to sit next to a window since they have no electricity.  The school house has plenty of windows and was jam packed with the children’s desks and backless, hard benches for guests.   I would estimate that there were about 100 people gathered in this small one room schoolhouse along with many, many babies – all being passed around and cooed by loving mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc.

What impressed us most was the number of hymns the children sang, many of them with five or more verses, and the 25 or so children from grades 1-8 who knew all the words and sang them with such robust that it sounded like a 100 voice choir.  With the exception of very small children there was hardly a peep as all eyes and ears were fastened on the small center platform where the children recited, acted, and sang. There was no need for microphones as all the children of all ages projected beautifully (the teacher must really have drilled in the need for speaking up.)  If a baby would not cease fussing Mom took the infant outside and cradled him or her under the porch roof (how’s that for a comfortable nursery!)  Also, you didn’t see kids or adults getting up to go the bathroom since outdoor toilets are not a cozy hangout for most.)  We made sure we took care of matters before we arrived as I’m sure others did as well.

It was a delightful time as we viewed the order of the classroom and the discipline of teaching children to memorize.  Many of them had multiple speaking parts in long plays, besides their individual recitations and the many songs – it’s a long lost discipline that was much more common two generations ago in our public school system.  See here for reflections of another visit to this same schoolhouse along with more photos.

Amish buggy
Ester rode to the school in the buggy with our friends as we followed close behind.

Sam SmuckerAfterward we had a warm visit with a new friend, Sam Smucker, along with two of his children. Sam grew up Amish and left that particular faith group as an adult.  Besides being a businessman for over 50 years, Sam has been a very active Gideon, placing Bibles in the hands of those who could find answers to life’s greatest questions through the written Word. Sam is a recent widower after 61 years of marriage, but he is doing very well with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the loving support of his family.Hannah, his wife who passed away on Dec. 10th, had an inspiring message inscribed on the wall that read; “Everyday holds a possibility for a miracle.”  Sam and his family assured us that Hannah not only believed that quote but lived by it.
Bill Hoke Memorial:  Late yesterday afternoon we attended the Memorial service for our friend Bill Hoke. He was one of my (Stephen’s) first friends in Lancaster County whom I met in 2001 shortly after moving here. He was a great friend to many and a very caring brother in the Lord. I knew many at the sevice and most of them due to my association with Bill. He was a great connector.

Frontloader
We passed the headquarters for New Holland farm equipment
who apparently hired Santa as a frontload operator!


 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Immanuel”  Video  Charles Billingsley


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider giving a year-end gift 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


 

Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


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Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)

“True Worshipers”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Wreath on stone barnWe enjoy passing this wreath on an old stone barn on the Old Strasburg Pike.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“True Worshipers”
“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him'” (Matthew 2:7,8). “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

Here in America we are already in the midst of the next presidential race although the election is still over 10 months away!  Among the hot topics is the pursuit of religious or value voters and regardless of the politician’s political ideology attempts are made by many to use the name of Jesus to gain voters (when the group of potential voters serves their own political interest.)

When catering to a specific voting constituency political candidates jostle to use Jesus, a sort of “getting my picture taken beside Him” approach attempting to convey that “I too worship Him.”  Although only God knows their real heart and motive, many of them hardly pass the “you shall know them by their fruit” test!

Herod was the first to have a political interest in worshipping Jesus.  He feigned interest as he sought the advice of the Magi to find out where Jesus was.   His insincere explanation for needing their advice was so that “I too may go and worship Him.”  However the text goes on to reveal that Herod’s motive was jealousy and the real intent of his search was to find Jesus and kill Him.  He certainly had no plan to worship the newborn King.

Shepherds adore JesusThe Magi (wise men) however appeared to have the purest of motives in their quest.  They had responded to the star seen from the east (some authorities feel as far away as present Iran) and began a long, arduous journey to seek out the Child.  When they had worshipped Him and gave of their gifts they were instructed in a dream to take another way back, rather than reporting to Herod.

They, along with the shepherds, Anna, and Simeon are the very first true worshipers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Later, during His ministry, Jesus spoke of “true worshipers” as those who worship God in “spirit and in truth” and taught his hearers, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”  What about you and me today?  Are we true worshipers, the kind of worshiper the Father seeks?  That’s my heart’s desire today, and I trust that it is yours as well!

Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Jesus, You teach us that our act of worship is not confined to a cathedral setting nor does it require professional ministerial training to carry out true worship.  It comes from the heart of the true believer who acknowledges that You are the long awaited Messiah, the One who is called Christ.  We worship You in Spirit, for though we cannot humanly see or touch You, we come to You in complete sincerity with a spirit that is directed by the life and activity of the Holy Spirit.   We worship You in truth because union with You requires believing and speaking the truth.  May we be the kind of worshipers that pleases the heart of the Father.  Amen.


Today we have a very busy schedule, chaplain visits from early morning till early afternoon, then attending a Christmas program at an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the afternoon, followed by visitation and a memorial service for our friend Bill Hoke (whom we mentioned in a footnote in yesterday’s message)


Piano playersI’ve seen two concert pianists play at the same piano, but never three
(Maybe because three adults won’t fit on the same piano bench.)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Angels From The Realms Of Glory”  Video  Third Day


Make A DonationHave our daily encouragement messages been a blessing to you this last year? As we approach the end of the year, we ask you to consider giving a year-end gift 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 of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry.


Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

“In Remembrance of Me” pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

“When Christ Was Born” pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of “How Great Thou Art”. It’s a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
“O Come Let Us Adore Him”  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).


Are you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop. This Christmas many of our readers will be shopping for gifts that have spiritual and lasting value as well as a means of witness and encouraging others.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne


Donate

Please help us continue this free encouragement ministry

Sign up here for the free daily email encouragement.

Ministry Update  (Revised 12/11)