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The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lombard Street in San Francisco 10/18/18 (Click to enlarge)
Brooksyne took this prolific photo of the San Francisco skyline from Lombard Street
(Click to enlarge)

"The Antidote For A Hard Heart"

Personal Note: We have not posted Daily Encouragement messages this last week due to our trip to California. We arrived home safe and sound after midnight and are pleased to now resume our postings!

Message summary: Today we consider the vital importance of encouragement!

to our message on your audio player.

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion" (Hebrews 3:13-15). "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23-25).

As mentioned in the note above, we returned from our trip to California late last night. As you might expect we will share some photos from our visit over the next several days as well as some illustrative material.

San Francisco homeless 10-18-18Today we illustrate using a rather sober scene that is hard to miss when you visit the cities in California; the homeless. They are everywhere, lying beside the road, lying in the middle of an active parking lot. The photo to the left shows one lying up against the glass of an outdoor dining area of a swank restaurant with diners eating at tables on the other side of the glass.

According to authorities the reasons for those being in this condition vary; drug use and addiction, mental illness, the high cost of housing. My brother Mike, whom we went out to visit and who has lived in that area for over 50 years, asserts that there are young people who choose to live that way as a lifestyle, essentially forsaking and being "free" from the responsibilities of life.

One thought that comes to mind when observing human beings reduced to this awful condition is the phrase, "But for the grace of God, there go I." Regardless of the immediate reasons according to authorities we wonder where their lives went wrong. Surely no one sets out to live like this.

We believe that one common component in many of these cases is the lack of oversight and encouragement they needed but did not receive in their past. Now we realize to some this may seem simplistic but encouragement from our parents, family, friends, church and fellow workers is a powerful antidote to a hard heart. We have both been blessed all through life with many encouragers, including many of you reading this. We want to be encouragers!

This month we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this ministry which started in October of 1996. I had preached a sermon in the church we served in New England on a Sunday evening service on encouraging one another daily and that was the leading I had from the Holy Spirit as to how I was to "encourage one another daily". On Monday morning I sent a short email to two people in that congregation, both of whom still receive these messages. Though it's 22 years later, it’s still called "Today" so here we go again!

We'll share some more information about our ministry below for newer readers but today we want to consider the phrase "hardened by sin's deceitfulness" in the daily text. "Hardened" translates the Greek word "skleruno" which is the very same word from which we get the word sclerosis in English. You may be most familiar with this word in the description of a disease called arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and thickening of the arteries.

If you're over 40 you've probably had your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol contributes to the buildup of gunk (note: that’s not the actual medical term) in the blood vessels and that's not good. This is a health issue I deal with, although it has decreased and I'm still working on it. It's not all my fault as it's partly genetic from my mother's side, but the problem that I have to take responsibility for is the kind of foods I like that contributes to high cholesterol. It's a constant battle due to the abundance of great food!

Taking care of our physical health is important (see 1 Timothy 4:8) but it's even more important to take care of our spiritual health. The warning in the daily text is every bit as needed today as when it was written. We all know people whose hearts have become hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Today, we want to encourage you in your walk with Christ. We know the danger of a hardened heart. According to Scripture encouragement is a powerful antidote to a hard heart. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness".

We also urge you to consider one who needs encouragement. Perhaps the Spirit will bring to mind one who is discouraged about a matter, one who may even be struggling in their walk with God or one whose heart is becoming hardened.

It seems from reading the text the act of encouraging is beneficial both to the encourager as well as the one being encouraged. Let us be vigilant in the fight against hard-heartedness caused by the cholesterol of sin and make it our goal to encourage one another daily!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want our hearts to remain soft and pliable so that we do not lose our spiritual sensitivity to hear and obey Your voice. We remember those who once had soft, pliable hearts that have hardened over time. They no longer hear You or sense Your presence in their life. Their spiritual vision has darkened. Help us, Lord, once again on this day to taste and see that You are good. You are the Bread of Life that does not spoil. You satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst as we dip from Your spring of living water. The world only offers temporary substitutes that can entrap and draw us away from Your eternal pleasures. We want to remain vigilant in Your Word and heed Your ways so there is no buildup of sin that over time hardens our heart toward You. We want to be steadfast and stouthearted so that we will unswervingly hold to the hope we profess, for You who promised is faithful. Amen.

A Brief History of our Daily Encouragement Ministry

It was on Brooksyne's birthday in 1996 that I wrote the very first daily encouragement message and sent it to two people, Nigel and LaiFong, who remain friends to this day. I was their pastor at the time and now I calculate they have received some 5,500 messages from me/us in the last 22 years!

The first message was only a couple of sentences and a fledgling attempt to encourage. At that time I had no plans to write any more but sent another one the next day, and then the next and I just haven't stopped. For about the first 8 years I wrote them with little input from Brooksyne but in 2005 she took on a much greater role and now we essentially write them together. It takes us both about 4 hours for each message to do all the work necessary to prepare and post including the technical and administrative work, in addition to the frequent correspondence associated with our many readers who express need.

Here's a brief timeline:

October 21, 1996 - First email sent and slowly developed into a list (which initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 - The dailyencouragement.net website developed
2000 - Resigned from pastorate in New England and moved to Lancaster County to work for Marketplace Chaplains USA as a division manager.
2002 - Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager for large email lists) Subscribes and unsubscribes are user initiated as well as maintenance such as removing non-deliverable addresses.
2002 - Began one minute radio spots on WDAC extracted from Daily Encouragement messages and Scripture sources. Two different messages are aired twice weekly.
2004 - Resigned from full-time job with Marketplace Chaplains USA chaplain agency.
2005 - Developed html email (formatted with photos), began podcasting daily messages, set up blogs/RSS feeds, Brooksyne "officially" joined in the message preparation.
2006 - Received official endorsement as an "internet chaplain" from chaplaincy endorsement agency (I already had endorsement for corporate chaplaincy.)
Since 2006 we have essentially just kept on keeping on and that's been enough of a chore writing fresh messages daily since we also work as corporate chaplains and write for other publications!

Support: We are thankful for those who support our Daily Encouragement ministry with their financial offerings. Last year we received support from some 85 different contributors. Some give monthly, others periodically or one-time. If any reader would like to consider an offering to our ministry financially, information is here.

Brooksyne's Note: As we share the history of this web ministry I am reminded of our Lord's faithfulness and the diverse giftings He gives to those He has called. It is extremely humbling to us that God's Spirit speaks to the hearts of men and women all around the world through our daily messages. When we got our first computer Stephen and I would never have imagined the medium of computer technology giving us "a voice" to reach people all over the world. It continues to be a very exciting means for us to share messages from God's Word as they are lived out in our normal daily lives. Your prayers, feedback, and support spur us on and challenge us to remain faithful in this writing ministry.

Over the next several days (likely through next week) we will be sharing photos from our California trip, a variance from our rural Pennsylvania photos we normally share!

Painted ladies in San Francisco 10/18/18 (Click to enlarge)
The Painted Ladies, describing a particular style of housing, are a classic San Francisco scene.
(Click to enlarge)
We visited the Ghirardelli chocolate and ice cream shop and indulged in their famous and expensive hot fudge sundae split three ways. A bit of history:  Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was started in Stockton, CA in 1852 by Italian immigrant Domenico Ghirardelli. In 1893, the company bought the Pioneer Woolen Building on San Francisco's Northern Waterfront, which is now the site of the famous Ghirardelli Square. Interestingly, the company's famous filled squares were not introduced until recently in 1999.

Ester with cable car in San Francisco 10/19/18 (Click to enlarge)
We enjoyed riding on the very popular and famous San Francisco cable cars.
(Click to enlarge)

Ester at Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 10/19/18 (Click to enlarge)
On our first afternoon we excitedly drove to the Golden Gate bridge. Ester posted this photo on Facebook and readers thought she was on a dangerously high concrete wall. When Brooksyne took this photo she didn't realize she was creating the illusion of a very high wall as this was only about three feet off the ground but contrasted with the bridge in the background it looks taller than it really is.
(Click to enlarge)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Oh My Soul"
  Video  Casting Crowns

"As It Is In Heaven"  Video  Corey Voss

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and 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."

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