Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Daily Encouragement (10/21/14) "Blessed Assurance"

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New York maple 10/18/14
The fall foliage was past peak in central New York this last weekend but we still managed to see some pretty trees such as this maple at the Amish home we visited. See below for an observation about the colorful chairs under the tree.

Note: Due to busyness and weariness a podcast message will not be prepared for this message. We have early morning chaplain visits and a special treat for Brooksyne.

"Blessed Assurance"

"Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22).

Today we have two birthdays in our house. Fifty-nine years ago Brooksyne made her arrival into this world as a newborn baby. She is named after her father Brooklyn with her Mom developing the hybrid "Brooksyne" which she has often assisted people in pronouncing by stating, "like the scene of a brook, turn it around and it's Brookscene."

Today I would like to share a photo of Brooksyne that is actually several years old although at least in my eyes she hasn't aged much! She is standing beside the tombstone of Fanny Crosby in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Fanny Crosby wrote more than 3000 hymns and poems which are still sung and beloved by many. In fact I am sure virtually all of our readers have sung a hymn written by Fanny Crosby. Yet perhaps summing up her life are the words to "Blessed Assurance" which of all her hymns was chosen to be on her tombstone.

Blessed assurance can be a testimony we all share but today on Brooksyne's birthday we especially consider:
  • The provisions of God in our past,
  • The presence of God in our present and
  • The promises of God in our future.
A reflection on these truths does indeed lead to blessed assurance!

Fanny Crosby tombstone
Brooksyne with Fanny Crosby tombstone in Bridgeport, Connecticut

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood."

The message from this hymn text is one that is such a blessing to hide deep in our hearts; a musical expression of praise and glory to God for His work of salvation in our lives. Crosby writes about the assurance Christ gives us of His redemptive work in our lives here on earth and a foretaste of the glorious rejoicing that will take place through all eternity.

In today's text from the book of Hebrews we read a wonderful phrase, "Full assurance of faith". What a great blessing this assurance is. Assurance, not a commonly used word apart from theology, comes from the word assure which in turn comes from the word, sure. It speaks of the certainty of our salvation "with no doubt as to our acceptance when coming to God by the blood of Christ". (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary) Clarke's commentary states, "Being fully persuaded that God will accept us for the sake of his Son, and that the sacrificial death of Christ gives us full authority to expect every blessing we need."

There is surely a sound Biblical basis for Fanny Crosby's song. It's one of the greatest blessings of life to have a full assurance of faith.  May the Lord fill your heart with His blessed assurance today. 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, as heirs of Your salvation, we have been purchased with the sacrificial blood of Your precious Son, Jesus. He gave His all that we might be saved from the eternal consequences of sin and have our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We have the blessed assurance that we are redeemed from sin and saved for eternity in heaven. Thank You for such wondrous love and abundant provision on our behalf. Amen.

Fanny CrosbyFanny Crosby is surely one of the most prolific hymnwriters in the history of the church. I am sure most of our readers regardless of language, nationality or even musical taste have sung her hymns. In fact this past Sunday morning we sang "I am Thine O Lord", one of her many well-known hymns. Other hymns you may recognize are "All the Way My Savior Leads Me", "Close to Thee", "To God be The Glory", "Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, and so many others still sung in many churches.

Fanny Crosby is buried at the Mountain Grove Cemetery along I-95 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The cemetery was designed by the famous circus founder PT Barnum. In fact his monument is very near that of Fanny Crosby's.

Fanny Crosby tombstoneOn a small, very weathered stone at the foot of the grave that we assume to be the original tombstone we read these words, "Aunt Fanny.....She hath done what she could."  Although blinded shortly after her birth she faithfully served the Lord. She overcame her disability to leave a lasting impact for Christ.  She once shared this remarkable outlook, "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me."

A reader sends this thoughtful response to yesterday's message: I know you enjoy history and your message about "Obedient Disobedience" reminded me of a little known Lancaster County event in the fall of 1850. The Fugitive Slave Law which required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate in this law had just been passed. A group of local men gathered in the tiny village of Georgetown to discuss what their response to this law would be. After much discussion they drew up a set of resolutions which stated, "That the highest principles of justice and humanity, as well as the fundamental principles of Christianity, require that we should not assist in the recapture and return of a fugitive from slavery; and that in a choice between our obligations to these principles and to any law in opposition to them, we cannot for a moment hesitate to say we will obey no such law.... and that we will harbor, clothe, feed, and aid the escape of fugitive slaves in opposition to the law." And then they had the audacity to sign the document and submit it to the Lancaster newspaper to be published.

Nigel & Laifong Lee familyThe other birthday: 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 there pastor at the time and have received over 4,500 messages from me! The first message was only a couple of sentences and a fledgling attempt to encourage. At that time I had no plans to write more but did 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 greater role and now we essentially write them together.

Here's a brief timeline:

October 21, 1996 - First email sent and over time developed into a list (which initially merely a group list added to manually one by one.)
1999 - The www.dailyencouragement.net website developed
2002 - Moved to professional listserve (automated list manager for large email lists) Subscribes and unsubscribes are user initiated as well as maintenance
2002 - Began one minute radio spots extracted from Daily Encouragement messages
2004 - Resigned from full-time job with 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 and Civil Air Patrol chaplaincy.)
Since 2006 we have essentially just kept on keeping on and that's been enough of a chore writing fresh messages daily!

Support: We are thankful for those who support our ministry with their financial offerings. Some give monthly, others periodically or one-time. Our prayer has been that offerings would be essentially 1/2 of our family income since we work together. If any reader would like to consider supporting 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. Join us in continually giving thanks for His abundant blessings that far outnumber the grievous burdens of each day.

More New York trip photos

Amish children playing 10/17/14
As soon as we got out of the van Friday afternoon, after the 300 mile ride, the children began playing. Here's an unusual pony ride!

Amish children jumping on trampoline 10/18/14
These children had a great time jumping on the trampoline and would jump off to see it on the tiny iPhone screen. The small cabin I stayed in is in the background.

Amish boys on hike 10/18/14
The older boys headed out to play in the woods.

Amish campfire chairs 10/18/14
A family spot around the campfire. I like the colorful chairs someone dropped off.

Wood stove in New York cabin 10/18/14
The wood stove in the cabin kept me plenty warm.

Amish propane lantern in cabin 10/18/14
No electric in cabin but I had a lantern light!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  Homecoming version (traditional)

"Blessed Assurance"  Video
  Matthew West (a bit more contemporary)

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Stephen and Brooksyne Weber 38th anniversary photo (click on photo to enlarge)Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
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Our other blogs:
"A Daily Prayer" - A blog simply posting the daily prayer. We keep this up each day since it's merely the prayer from the Daily Encouragement Net message!
"A Little Foolishness" - Humor/satire blog (a great outlet for non-serious writing but at times with a subtle message!) (Note: This material is satire!)
"Clear Minded" - Longer, periodic articles on specific issues impacting the faithful believer and church. (Actually this is my intent but I haven't done much with it!)
"Hymns of Hope" - Brooksyne along with two friends made a CD using classic hymns. Brooksyne tells the background story of the 11 hymns. All of these songs are also available for download on the site.

Personal Mission Statement "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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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.
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