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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Michigan winter scene
(photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt, used by permission)

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"Can You Hear Me Now?"

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them" (Psalm 34:17).

Verizon manAnyone who’s ever talked to someone on a cell phone knows the frustration of a bad signal and has likely used the phrase, "Can you hear me now?"  Of course the phrase became a famous ad slogan that Verizon has run for many years.  It features a geeky technician sent to the most inaccessible places with a cell phone repeatedly asking, "Can you hear me now?" (Not surprisingly, he never gets a bad signal.)  In the latest ad he is frantically trying to get to the hospital to meet his wife, who is having a baby and thankfully (but again, not surprisingly) his cell phone works great!

Kneeling manI am so thankful that an immutable characteristic of God is His ability to always hear us.  We don't need to cry out "Can you hear me now?" for the Scripture forthrightly declares, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them."  The Lord always hears the cries of His children.  No bad signals, spotty coverage or low batteries. "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry" (Psalm 34:15).

But what of the times when the heavens seem as brass and we just don't think we are getting through to God.  Is He hearing us?  Most will testify to having these feelings at times.  Nothing speaks to us louder than the silence of God.

Nearly thirty years ago I was at a very low point in my young pastoral role. All ministry doors seemed to be slamming shut and I recall crying out in desperation to God for direction.

Brooksyne and I had followed our calling to plant a church 900 miles from our home in Missouri. We started meeting in our apartment because we couldn't find a suitable building to plant a church. After outgrowing the apartment we finally found a place to meet which was a former department store. Our small group of believers renovated the first floor and met together for a year, but now we were being evicted.

I was very troubled about what would happen to our fledgling group of believers.
  Fear had replaced my hope and discouragement had dimmed my vision at the time.  Not one to cry easily the tears began to pour out as I wrapped my arms around two wood studs in a dirty, shabby, unfinished 2nd floor of the building where we had been meeting. The owners had told us we could meet upstairs so Brooksyne and I climbed the long stairway and took a look at the deplorable mess around us.

God gave me an assurance of His faithfulness that unforgettable day as He spoke to me through Brooksyne. He gave her a vision for the shabby second floor that was unthinkable for a church setting at the time.  It became our place of worship for the next six years after a great deal of elbow work and further renovations.  Not only the second floor but as we grew in number we also renovated the third floor. In my finite reasoning I could not understand God’s plan in what seemed to be a setback for the work He had begun.   There are many reading this who came out of that church, now 31 years in existence.  I know they would attest to the fact that it wasn’t the building that drew them to worship together, but it was the body of committed believers!

Dave Kyllonen, the bass singer for The Couriers, has been in the same gospel singing group for 50 years. He shared in our Tuesday night banquet of an experience early in their singing days when they had a very difficult trip and were struggling financially.  They had made the tough decision to disband the group once they returned to their homes the next day.

On their long drive home, through the night, one of the members began singing, “I Know the Lord Will Make a Way For Me.”  A popular chorus at the time, the words declared God’s faithfulness toward those who live for Him. One by one they joined their voices together and their heavy burden dissolved into hopeful trust. By the time they had returned home they knew that they were to continue and the Lord has mightily blessed their ministry to this day.  

The key I believe is a firm knowledge of what God's Word says. There is a multitude of Biblical references to God hearing the prayers of His children.  We can always emphatically and confidently say when we call out to God, "Father, I know You hear me!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, surely Your arm is not too short to save, nor Your ear too dull to hear our prayers.  Our iniquities have separated us from You, Father, so we repent of those things that have distanced us from a holy God.  May our faith be renewed and our resolve to follow You be firm as we call upon Your name.  We desire to walk, not in our own finite wisdom, but in the infinite wisdom of Almighty God whose understanding knows no bounds.  May we be found faithful as we call out to You, for we know You hear us.  Amen.    

The chorus we mentioned that Dave Kyllonen spoke of:

I Know The Lord Will Make A Way For Me
(by Ben Speer)

I know the Lord will make a way for me.
I know the Lord will make a way for me.
If I live a holy life, shun the wrong and do the right,
I know the Lord will make a way for me.

He died to save me from my sin and shame.
He died to save me from my sin and shame.
Though my needs be great or small
He has suffered for them all,
He died to save me from my sin and shame.

Today's photo: Alvin Worthley is my national chaplain representative who has been a tremendous encouragement to our online chaplaincy ministry the last several years. He was at a meeting recently and met Howard J. Blichfeldt, a professional photographer who has many stunning nature scenes. Alvin suggested I contact Howard about using his photography on our site and Howard has given me written permission to periodically use his photos on this site.  He has a desire to see his photos used for the glory of God and has a series of inspirational photos with Scripture verses. He is considering using these in a regional magazine with a large circulation. 
"I am very excited about it because of the vast audience (believers and non-believers) who will see them and if only for a moment, have to wonder just Who it is that governs the heavens and the earth."  Here's Howard's website.

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
We had a beautiful snow last night and early this morning I stepped out into the brisk air to empty our coal ashes. Although it was still before sunrise the moon was shining brightly and I managed to take a "moonset" photo of the farm field across from our home!
As we prepare to send this message out later this morning it is a beautiful, but very cold, day here in Lancaster Country.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"God Will Make A Way"  (Audio)  

"He's Been Faithful"  (Audio)

"My Help"  (Video)

For many years, beginning in the early nineties as I recall, Integrity Music had a series of CD's with Scripture verses set to music. I believe over time we bought the entire series and played them often and in the process learned many Scripture verses.  One came to mind today when I recall a song in the series that states, "The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them."  I couldn't find this song online but did find a great full demonstration of this music, which is entirely Scripture.  
"All Creation Worships You"
Here's a link with a couple of other Scripture songs you can play.  

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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. Used by permission; 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 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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