The more terrible the storm, the more necessary the anchor.

William S. Plumer

He Sees Us

“You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

            When you feel as though no one knows the depth of pain, remember that there is One who sees.  You are not alone, for God sees you and knows your needs.  In the Old Testament we read how God’s angel met Hagar in the desert when she fled from the cruelty of Sarah. God meets us where we are and gently cares for our needs as well.  We can rest assured that our God sees our pain and challenges, and He understands. 

            We are not invisible to God.  Just as Hagar was comforted by God, so we can find our comfort in knowing that God sees all. It’s easy to think that when bad things happen, God doesn’t see our situation or care about our problems. Be patient. Wait on Him. Have faith in the God who sees and has a plan that is bigger and more eternal than we can imagine.

He Carries Us

In the last few months of his life, Hudson Taylor told a friend, “I am so weak I cannot write. I cannot read my Bible. I cannot even pray. All I can do is lie still in the arms of God as a little child, trusting Him.”[i] There are times when we feel as though we cannot take another step forward. All we can do is be still and like a child rest in God’s precious arms. It is in our most difficult hours that God carries us. His arms are able and strong and can hold us close when we feel like we can’t go on.

            In Isaiah we read about God’s comfort for His people, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”[ii]My friend, keep your eyes on Him. In times of difficulty, do not despair. Picture yourself being carried by your loving Father as He holds you close to His heart.

Save your people and bless your inheritance;
   be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:9

[i] Streams in the Desert, L. B. Cowman, edit. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997) p. 188.

[ii] Isaiah 40:11

Redeeming God

Who redeems your life from the pit.

Psalm 103:4

            The pit.  Been there? There are simply times in our lives when we find ourselves in a rut. It may be an emotional pit of feeling down or blue.  It may be in a money pit where you find yourself in a hole which keeps draining more and more of your finances. The job pit may seem like you are tirelessly working without enough recognition or pay. Maybe you are even in a spiritual pit – a lull where you feel alone.  Take heart my friend. God is a redeeming God and He is able to redeem your life from the pit.

            He can bring new life into worn out frustrations. Isaiah reminds us that He makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters.  When life seems to be at rock bottom, He is able to lift us up. Look up my friend, whether you are in a pit of your own making or one you didn’t choose. Look up and seek Him. He is the God who redeems your life from the pit.

Are You A Good Listener?

“Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.” ― Graham Speechley.

Born in New York City in 1912, Ben Feldman is considered to be one of the most outstanding salespeople in history. At one point, he held the world record for the most life insurance product sold by a salesman in a career. Born to immigrant parents Isaac and Bertha Feldman, Ben was one of nine children. When his family moved to Ohio, his first sales job was in his family’s wholesale poultry business.

As an adult, he started his career in life insurance sales. When asked to share his insights at speaking engagements, he often refused due to stage-fright. After a while, he agreed to speak to audiences, but only if he was interviewed from behind a curtain so he couldn’t view the audience.  Despite his fear of speaking on stage, he seemed to have a gift in talking with people one on one and helping them understand the value of life insurance.

He often said that salespeople must learn to listen with three ears.

We should listen to…

…What they say.

…What they don’t say.

…What they would like to say, but don’t quite know how to say it.

What made Ben Feldman such an outstanding salesman? In large part, it was his ability to listen beyond what was being said, so that he could truly understand his client and explain his product in a way in which they could comprehend its value.

What an important lesson for us in our personal life as well as in our work environment – every person we encounter desires to be understood. Whether we are communicating with family, friends or people in our work place, let’s take a lesson from this great salesman and deliberately listen with three ears. Of course we should listen attentively to other peoples words, but also listen to what they don’t say by observing expressions and body language. Finally, listen to what they want to say, but just don’t know how to say it by asking good questions and trying to understand their perspective.

With whom will you apply this principle today?

Prayer Must Not be Our Chance Work

Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer.   Spurgeon

In his book entitled Prayer, Timothy Keller describes a conversation he had with his wife during a particularly challenging time in their lives. His wife Kathy urged him to pray with her every night and she used the following illustration to convince Him:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it for some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.*

Kathy recognized her desperate need to go to the Father for everything in her life. Last week I read through the book of Daniel and was inspired by his courage and faith, but more than that, I was moved by his commitment to prayer. Think about it, Daniel prayed even when the public policy was against him, and he could be thrown in the lion’s den.

If Daniel took life-risking measures to pray three times a day, then why am I not willing to get up a little earlier and spend time with the Father. Great work happens on our knees. God gives us insight on our knees. We grow more in love with Him, on our knees. We find comfort and peace on our knees. May we be determined not to make prayer a chance thing in our lives, but an essential part of each day.

Here’s one of Daniel’s prayers of praise after God:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Daniel 2:20-23

Why wouldn’t we want to pray to a God like that?

* Tim Keller: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God