A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Yesterday this colorful load of pumpkins caught our attention from afar!
"The Peril Of Spiritual Sclerosis"
Message summary: Today we consider the vital importance of encouragement as a preventative of a hard heart!
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness" (Psalm 95:8). "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).
Today is a special day for our family. First of all it's Brooksyne birthday so that's real special! She has hit the milestone age of εξήντα πέντε, which is a purposeful challenge for any who might want to figure out how old she is. As she did last week for my birthday, Ester has a theme planned using this number.
This is also the day Daily Encouragement ministry started in 1996. I had preached a sermon the night before from the second daily text on the command to "encourage one another daily". I sent a short email to two friends, the leading I had from the Holy Spirit as to how I was to encourage daily. This Wednesday, twenty-four years later it is still called "Today" so here it goes out again!
The purpose of encouragement in the text is "so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness". "Hardened" translates the Greek word "skleruno" which is the very same word from which we get the English word sclerosis. Sclerosis is the "pathological hardening of tissue especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue" (Merriam-Webster). You may be most familiar with this word in the description of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening and thickening of the arteries.
Taking care of our physical health is important (see 1 Timothy 4:8) but it's vitally 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 first 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. We have seen it in our ministry and have personally experienced it on occasion. 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.
The act of encouraging is beneficial both to the encourager as well as to the one being encouraged. Let us be vigilant in the fight against hard-heartedness caused by the deceitfulness of sin and all make it our goal to encourage one another daily!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily 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. 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 6,000 messages from me/us in the last 24 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 readers who express a 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 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.
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 chosen to keep on keeping on and that's been enough of a chore writing fresh messages daily since we also work as 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.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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We want to thank all who financially support our ministry. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.
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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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