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Monday, February 2, 2009

Red barns in snow
Red barns in snow on Harvest Road in northern Lancaster County

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"The Ears Of The Lord"

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  But your sins have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:1,2).

Yesterday morning in church we sang the classic worship chorus by Twila Paris, "He is Exalted".  It's a song that exalts God and rejoices in the fact that His kingdom will never end.  When I sing or hear this chorus it always brings to mind an experience we had with Ester when she was about four years old.  As a baby recovering from heart surgery Ester underwent IV therapy and one of the medications caused her to experience permanent hearing loss.  Though she was wore hearing aids for several years certain word blends remained distorted and she memorized them the way she heard them.

Ester on Stephen's shouldersAdditionally her heart condition made it difficult for her to walk very far without shortness of breath so the easiest way to remedy that problem was to carry her on my shoulders.  One afternoon I put her on my shoulders as Brooksyne and I headed into a large store in Seekonk, MA.  As I did so Ester broke into joyful song in her voice that sounded much like Minnie Mouse singing, "He is exhausted, the King is exhausted on high.  I will praise Him.  He is exhausted, forever exhausted and I will praise His name." Well, Brooksyne and I had a good chuckle as we heard her singing these very mistaken words with a joyful and sincere heart.

Indeed God is not exhausted nor is He powerless.  His arm extends all the way from the portals of heaven to us here on earth as He sees our troubles and hears our pleas.  David wrote, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1).

Promises of God's provisions are all throughout Scripture but Isaiah warned the Israelites that their sins had put a wall between them and God.  Though they asked for God's favor He turned his ear because they chose sin over obedience.  They became hypocritical in their relationship with God because they engaged in religious ritual and fasting even while they continued to sin. 

In the previous chapter Isaiah lists the blessings of God in verses 8-12: 
1) His light and full joy of salvation and healing,
2) His protection and presence will be manifested in their lives
3) God's help in trouble through His answered prayer
4) The lifting of darkness and oppression
5) God's guidance, strength and fruitfulness
6) True restoration with the revival of God's standards and ideals.

When we seek God for His blessings and favor we must also come to Him with a broken and contrite heart.  Injustice,  lying, violence, rebellion and treachery are a few of the offenses Isaiah listed that caused God to withhold His blessings and turn a deaf ear as he wrote, "Your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear."

Isaiah's blunt warnings to the Israelites should also prompt us to do some introspection.  It isn't enough that we go to church every Sunday, teach a class or even read our Bible regularly.  If our attitudes and actions are not aligned with Scripture then we are superficial and simply going through a religious act.  Isaiah warns us that our prayers will go unanswered.

How much more victorious our lives are when we walk in obedience to God.  It brings joy to His heart and peace to our lives.  Tearing down walls that separate can be difficult, but the reward of uniting our spirit with God's brings great reward now and for all eternity.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, Your arm reaches down to us providing support and guidance.  It lifts us from the hopelessness of this world and redirects our attention to that which brings everlasting hope.  As we repent of our sins with a broken and contrite heart we are confident that You hear and answer our prayers.  We desire to unite our spirit with Yours, seeking Your favor and manifesting Your presence daily in our lives.  Amen.

Ken Pierce
Our friend, Ken, as he helps us out by removing the old but very well-glued ceramic tile in our kitchen.  He does so cheerfully and sings praise to God while he's busy at work.  As Brooksyne and I were downstairs preparing our message today we could hear Ken's joyful voice singing over the noise of the very loud demo hammer, "Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary".  Oh, that we would all go about our work with such a joyful and victorious outlook! Colossians 3:23

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Open Our Eyes Lord"  Video  Not only do we want the Lord to listen to our cries for help; He also wants us to listen with spiritual sensitivity as His Word is being proclaimed.  Last Thursday Brooksyne had the opportunity to pray with an elderly man in a hospice center who was on the verge of death. She then quoted the 23rd Psalm in faith trusting that God would speak to his heart through the proclamation of this familiar Scripture.  Two hours later he breathed his last. It's wonderful to know that God is with us in the "valley of the shadow of death" - it's an inner, unspeakable location that others, even our closest loved ones and spiritual leaders cannot enter.  But God can speak deep into the inner recesses of our quiet hearts - in the darkest hour just before the dawn of immortality.

"Give Us Clean Hands"
  Let nothing stand in the way of living in right relationship with God. With pure hearts, let us be the generation that seeks the face of God.

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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 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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