1 Don't Lift Up Your Hands In Despair
"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." Psalm 63:1-4
The introduction to this chapter in my Scofield Bible says, "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah." With the troubles and cares of this world today, I often feel like I am in a wilderness. We need God. We need God in our churches, we need God in our homes, we need God in our communities, and we need God in our government. Hear the yearning in the voice of David when he says, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is..." We, too, are in a dry and thirsty land. Many are searching for something to fill the void in their lives. What does David do in this time? Many of us lift up our hands in despair. But David lifts up his hands in praise. How can David still praise God in the wilderness? "Because thy lovingkindness is better than life..." Are you thirsting for the things of God? Lift up your hands in praise to one and only Holy God.
2 Our Holy Father
"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8
Happy Father's Day to all you fathers. Today I want to focus on our heavenly Father, the one and only true and living God. He is our Father in the sense that He made us. He created us. The book of Genesis begins with the story of creation. Genesis 1:3, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Genesis 1:6, "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Genesis 1:9, "And God said..." Genesis 1:11, "And God said..." Genesis 1:14, "And God said..." God spoke all of creation into existence. But when we come to the creation of man, the scriptures change. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Genesis 1:26 & 27) God is our Father. He is the Potter and we are the clay. God sent the prophet Jeremiah to the potter's house. "The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter: saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18:1-6) God is also our Father in that He bought us. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." He has not brought us into slavery, but brought us into His Family. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:14-17) We can praise the Lord that we are the work of His hands.
3 The Good Hand Of God
"And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." Nehemiah 2:5-8
Yesterday we looked at the hand of God in our creation. Today, we see the words of Nehemiah, "the good hand of my God upon me." God is good. Those words flow graciously from our lips when things are going good. But, sometimes when times get tough, we neglect to give God praise and glory. In the days of Nehemiah, things were bad. Look at verses 17 & 18, "Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. and they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." They were in distress, but not in dispare. Again, Nehemiah said, "the hand of my God which was good upon me..." God is good. Even when times are bad, God is good. Don't forget to praise God for His good hand upon you. And remember, even in the storms of life, God is good.
4 Tables Of Stone Written With The Finger Of God
"And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." Exodus 31:18
God led the children of Israel out of Egypt and called Moses up to Mount Sinai where He wrote the law in tables of stone. Man could not keep the law, so sacrifices were continually offered to pay for sin. Throughout the books of the Old Testament, we see the failure of man to live under the law. Praise the Lord, one day, in the little town of Bethlehem, the spotless Lamb of God was born in a stable. He came to be the final sacrifice to pay for the sin of the world. We are no longer under the law, but we are under grace. Our sin debt has been paid and all we have to do is accept God's free gift of salvation. We are not under the law of the Old Testament written in tables of stone, but God has given us a New Testament written in our hearts. "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (II Corinthians 3:3-6) Are you still trying to follow the law, written in stone? Yield to the Holy Spirit and let God put His love in your heart. Confess that you are a sinner, lost and on your way to hell. Believe that Jesus came and gave His life to pay for your sins, and accept His free gift of salvation.
5 The Mighty Hand Of God
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" I Peter 5:6
When I looked for verses on the mighty hand of God, almost all of them referred to the mighty acts of God as He led the children of Israel out of bondage in the land of Egypt. Look at the description in Deuteronomy 4:34, "Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?" I think that we are prone to forget the power behind the mighty hand of our Almighty God. Most of us would rather think of the power of God to turn the water into wine, and we forget the power of God who turned the water into blood throughout the land of Egypt. We think of the Son of God who raised up people from the dead. We don't think about the fierce Egyptian army who were all drowned in the Red Sea. We call our Lord and Saviour "The Good Shepherd" and rightfully so, but He was also the Lamb of God, given for the sins of mankind. We serve a loving God. He is also a powerful, awesome God who is all deserving of our worship. It is so amazing that a great and powerful God could reach down and love someone like you and me. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (I Peter 5:6-7) What a wonderful, loving, awesome God we serve!
6 God's Hand Of Mercy
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:21-26
The book of Lamentations is a book of sorrow. Jeremiah was a prophet during the times of the Babylonian captivity of the children of Israel. You can hear the sorrow in his voice as he reports on the judgment of God. "For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed." (Lamentation 1:16) In Lamentations 3:18 we read, "And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:" But, then he remembers the mercies of the Lord, "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." We serve a God of mercy. I am reminded of the words of Paul to the church of Ephesus. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:1-7) God has graciously extended His hand of mercy to us and lifted us up out of the depths of sin. He gives us hope.
7 The Hand Of God's Judgment
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:31
We looked yesterday at God's hand of mercy. Today we see His hand of judgment. As Christians, we often think of how God will judge the lost in their condemnation to hell. I praise the Lord for His wonderful gift of salvation and eternal life. Those who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will not face the judgment of eternal darkness without God, but God will judge His people. This verse is preceded by "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge his people." (Hebrews 10:30) There will surely come a time of judgment. The third chapter of Ecclesiastes begins with, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) Several "times" are listed and in verse 17 Solomon says, "I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work." We also see this in the New Testament in II Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." This brings me to the Words of our Lord, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2) If we all examined our own lives as closely as we judge those around us, we would be much slower in judging others. Let's pray with David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
8 God's Hand Of Righteousness
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
We have talked about the hand of God all week. We saw the hands of the Potter who created the heavens and earth. We looked at the good and merciful hands of our God, as well as the mighty and powerful hands of our Judge. All of these are attributes of our Almighty God. When I think of God's hands, I think of the hands that lifted me up, out of the deep depths of sin. We were lost, sinking down into despair, without hope, until the Lord reached down and lifted us up. "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." (Psalm 40:2) I don't know about you, but I don't always live on the mountain. Sometimes I walk through the dark valleys. I grow weak and weary in my Christian walk. I fail to follow in His footsteps. I'm glad that I can turn to His Word and find hope and help. Let's read our verse above once more. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) There is nothing within ourselves to lift us up, but praise the Lord He will uphold us with His hand of righteousness.
9 The Hand Of The Lord Is Upon Me
"Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him." Ezekiel 1:1-3
I finished the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, and began reading in the book of Ezekiel this morning. Because I have been thinking on verses for our theme on the Hand of God, I noticed these words in the first chapter, "...the hand of the LORD was there upon him." Sometimes we go through trials and storms and we are tempted to think that God has forgotten about us. We open the books of Ezekiel and find him by the river of Chebar with the other captives. We can feel their anguish in Psalm 137, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?" (verses 1-4) They were carried away into captivity and hung their harps on the weeping willows. The cares of this world can cause us to weep and we lose our song. We feel captive to these burdens, whether they are spiritual, physical or financial, whether they affect us or our friends or family. In the midst of these troubles Ezekiel did not forget about God, and throughout the book, we read that the hand of the Lord was upon him. "So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me." (Ezekiel 3:14) "And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face." (Ezekiel 3:22) We see this expression again in 8:1, 33:22, 40:1, and at the familiar valley of dry bones in 37:1. "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest." (Ezekiel 37:1-3) Don't give up. Keep trusting in the Lord and remember that His loving hand is still with you, leading and guilding you along the way. "Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD... And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD." (Ezekiel 37:11-14) Don't lose hope. God is still on His throne.
10 A Hand Of Compassion
"And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed." Mark 1:40-42
This is only one of the many miracles of Jesus we read about in the New Testament. Many times we read that Jesus was moved with compassion. His love for us was not only apparent in His death on the cross, but in His daily walk on this earth. His compassion and love moved Him to reach out and touch this leper. In Bible days, those sick with leprosy were out-cast. Leprosy was such a terrible disease, they had to leave their families and friends and live away from other people. It was so contagious, they could not go near other people. There is no telling how long it may have been since this leper had been touched by another person. Jesus had the power to heal Him by His word, as we see "And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him,and he was cleansed." But Jesus was moved with love and compassion and He reached out His hand and touched this man. I end with these words from the little book of Jude. "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference:" (Jude 21 & 22) Reach out in compassion and make a difference in the lives of others.
11 The Breaking Of Bread
"And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets." Luke 9:12-17
We are familiar with this story of how Jesus fed the multitudes with two fish and five loaves of bread. Imagine watching the hands of Jesus as He broke the bread and performed this great miracle. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks to God the Father and He provided bread for the multitude. At the passover we also see Jesus breaking bread. "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) Again, He gave thanks to God the Father, and He provided for the multitudes. He gave His life for my sin. He gave His body, a sacrifice for you and me. Did the disciples remember His words in John 6:47-51? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." After the Lord was crucified His disciples were discouraged and downhearted. Two walked along the road to Emmaus and Jesus walked along with them. He talked with them about the scriptures. "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:30-32) They went back to Jerusalem to the other disciples "And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread." (Luke 24:35) They watched His hands break the bread and heard His prayer of thanks and they remembered. One day we will see our blessed Lord break bread. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready... And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb..." (Revelation 19:7 & 9) What a day that will be!
12 Jesus Washed The Feet Of The Disciples
"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." John 13:1-15
The same Jesus who had all power to heal the sick, and feed the multitudes, stooped to a servant's position to wash the disciples' feet. These verses clearly give the story, so I don't need to explain it, but I would like for you to notice the third verse. "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;" We would all do well to think on these words. Jesus knew He came from God and He knew He was going back to God, For a short while on this earth He lowered Himself to be an example to us. We know our beginning. We humble ourselves before God and confess our sin, believing that He alone can save us. We know that throughout eternity we will be with Him in heaven. We can follow the example of Jesus for this short time we have on earth and serve others.
13 Jesus Cast Out The Merchants In The Temple
"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise." John 2:13-16
This takes place more than once. Our scriptures above are at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and we read another account in Matthew 21:12-13, which is towards the end of His life on earth. "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." How did the temple become a place of merchandise? I can imagine a family getting ready to go to Jerusalem and a little girl crying out, "Please don't take my little lamb to sacrifice." Mother then says, "It is a long way to Jerusalem, and taking the lamb will slow us down. We could buy a lamb when we get there." Then Father says, "This is a perfect lamb. He would bring us more money when he is grown, and we can give a portion in an offering to the Lord." In another house, the story is different. Mother says, "When are you going to take these lambs to the market? We don't have room for them all." And the Father remarks, "I can't get a good price at the market. I will take them to the temple. Surely there are some who lost their lambs on the way. I can make more money at the temple." These are just stories in my imagination, but for whatever reason, people were buying and selling in the temple and the Lord threw them out. I thought about these possible excuses and I wondered about our worship services. Christ is our sacrifice, so we don't offer sacrifices anymore, but do we offer anything to God? Do we give Him our leftover time, or whatever is leftover in our bank accounts after everything else has been paid? When we go to church are we prepared to worship, or do we run out of the house and go in late, thinking "Bless me quickly, Lord, so I can go on back home"? God has blessed us abundantly. Do we give a worthy portion back to Him, or do we keep promising Him that one day we will give Him a little more of our time or our talents? Of the things that He has abundantly blessed us with, do we give to those in need, or do we try to sell every little thing that we no longer need? The next time you go to the Lord's house, take time to worship. Praise the Lord for His blessings and give a portion back to Him. I wonder what Jesus would do if He came in body to our churches today.
14 Jesus Blessed The Little Children
"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16
I want to thank the Miller family for reminding me of this story of Jesus putting His hands on the little children and blessing them. (God has blessed them with seven children and they are faithful to His calling.) God has put a special place in my heart for children. He blessed us with five children and now we also have three grandchildren. I enjoy planning Christian activities for the children at church. (You can find some of these on the Activities and Questions pages.) We need children in our churches to grow and fill the gaps that are left when the older people leave this world. Jesus took time to bless the children. It is very important for us to take time for children. It is also important for us to feed the children. When we plan meetings for our children at church we try to feed their physical bodies, but we also try to feed their spiritual bodies. Jesus took the little children in His arms and blessed them. He also reminded the disciples to feed these little lambs. "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." (John 21:15) Jesus also said, "Feed my sheep", but the first time He said, "Feed my lambs." Are you doing your part to feed the little children? I think that Sunday School teachers have a great impact on little children. Be a special friend to the children. In today's world, they need Christian love and understanding. Follow Jesus' example and bless the children.
15 If My People
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
God appeared to King Solomon after the dedication of the temple and made this promise to the children of Israel. But through Christ we too can become sons of God. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13) I was not born as a child of Abraham in the flesh. But, through the grace of God, I have become a child of God through the salvation of my Lord Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate freedom in America. I thank God for allowing me to be born in America, and especially for allowing me to become a part of the family of God. God has blessed America. But many in America have turned away from God. As Christians, we need to humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God, and turn from our wicked ways. This is the only hope for America. This is the only hope for the world. This web site has been read in Spain, Trinidad, New Zealand, France, Australia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. God has people all over the world, and all His people need to turn back to Him.
16 Christ Gives Us Freedom And Liberty
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1
We are celebrating our freedom and liberty in America. Our country was founded on Christian principles and we should do all we can to uphold those standards. Today I want us to look at the freedom and liberty we have through Christ. We are born in sin and bondage. But praise the Lord, God made a Way for us to be free from sin. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1-4) For the past week we looked at the things Christ did with His hands. Today we see the greatest of all for the souls of men and women, boys and girls. He stretched out His hands and let them nail Him to a cross to become our sacrifice. Do you have this freedom today? Accept the freedom you can find in Christ. Believe in the Lord to save you and don't doubt like Thomas. "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:24-29)
17 The Hand Of The Lord Can Keep Us From Falling
"And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." Matthew 14:22-33
Are the winds contrary in your life? Do you feel tossed about by the winds and storms that life can bring? Jesus can calm your fears with those gentle words, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." When the waves are rocking your boat, go to Jesus, just as Peter listened when Jesus said, "Come." Don't get your eyes on the howling winds, but keep your eyes on the Lord and call out to Him and He will lift you up. Christ can keep you from falling. I close with the closing words of Jude in verses 24 & 25. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
18 Jesus Touches Blinded Eyes
"And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him." Matthew 20:29-34
There are many stories in the New Testament of Jesus opening blinded eyes. This one shows the compassion of Jesus as He touched their eyes. Jesus had the power to heal with just the sound of His voice, but on several occasions we see that He touched them. I want to praise the Lord today that He touched me. Just as the words of that famous old hymn by John Newton, "Amazing Grace", "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see." We come to Jesus just as these two blind men. We recognize that He is the Lord. These blind men called to Jesus, "O Lord, thou Son of David." They did not call Him the Son of Joseph, but they called out to the Son of David. We also see that they did not let others hinder them from calling on Jesus to touch them. As people around them told them to be quiet, they cried out even more. How many lost souls are hindered by the things of the world, or even by the lives of those around them? Don't let a little foolish pride keep you from calling out for mercy from the precious Son of God. Jesus had compassion on them and touched them. He touched my eyes many years ago, and now I can see Him for who He is, my Lord and Savior, my friend that has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He is my Rock and my shield, my provider and protector. He is the water to my soul in a dry and thirsty land. Before we can have our eyes opened to the things of God, we must first realize that we are blind. Look at the closing letter to the church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22. "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Hear Him today.
19 The Hand Of The Lord Was On Elijah
"And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel." I Kings 18:41-46
Pastor Jeff Woods used these verses to encourage our church last Wednesday night. His message was titled, "When There Is Nothing." You may be a preacher or Sunday School teacher and you feel like you prayed and delivered the message God had given you, and there was nothing. You may sing with all you've got for the glory of God, and it seems as though there is nothing. Don't quit or give up. Just keep praying and looking up. Elijah sent his servant to look towards the sky seven times. On the last time he saw "a little cloud". Elijah had already told Ahab, "... there is a sound of abundance of rain." He knew from his past experiences that God would not fail. And after seven times of "there is nothing" God sent the rain. This was a great encouragement to me, because I often feel like nothing good comes from my efforts. Many times we don't see the results of our labor. In continuing with our focus on the hand of the Lord, we notice that "the hand of the LORD was on Elijah;" and he outran a chariot. We often feel like the men and women of the Bible were super-heroes. Look at the words of James, "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." (James 5:16-18) He was a "man" just as we are men and women today, but he prayed earnestly. Keep on praying. Keep on looking up. And you may find the hand of the Lord on you.
20 Jesus Marvelled Because Of Their Unbelief
"And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." Mark 6:1-6
In verse 2 the people asked, "From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?" They saw the power demonstrated by the hands of Jesus. But, in the next verse they answered their own questions with unbelief. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him." The people thought they knew Him, and they did not believe in Him. Because of their unbelief, Jesus did not perform any great miracles there, except healing "a few sick folk". We saw yesterday how the men and women of the Bible were people just like us. It may be that we don't see those great and mighty miracles because of our unbelief. I don't know that we take the Word of God to its fullest meaning and fully trust in the power and wisdom of God Almighty. If we want the hand of the Lord on our lives, we must believe in Him and allow Him to be Lord of our lives.
21 The Spirit Of The Lord Was Upon Samson
"Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done." Judges 14:5-6
When I was growing up I liked to play with the Sunday School cards that had been my mother's as a little girl. I remember the one of Samson standing between the two columns with a hand on each one, and the roof beginning to fall in around him. That story made me feel so sad and I can still see the picture in my memory. When the hand of the Lord was upon Samson, he was the strongest man that ever lived. In the scripture above, he killed a lion as easily as if it had been a small lamb. Again in Judges 15:14 we read, "And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands." When Samson walked in obedience to God, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he won great victories. When he disobeyed God, and turned away from his vows, he became as any other man. "And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines... And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head;... And she said, the Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house." (Judges 16:18-21) When we follow God's Word and walk in His will God can use us mightily for His glory. When we turn away from God in disobedience, God may remove His hand from our lives, and we may be as Samson, and not even realize it until it is too late.
22 The Hand Of The Lord Upon The Church
“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 11:19
These verses are referring to the church at Antioch. Verse 26 tells us that the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. The believers were so much like Christ, people began to call them Christians. The hand of the Lord was upon them and many people were saved. How much do we want to see lost people saved? How great is our desire to have the hand of the Lord upon our churches and our lives? Do we want the power of God so much that we live like Christ? When the world looks at you do they see Christ? Tomorrow is the Lord's Day and we can pray and ask God to bless our worship services. We can sing praises to our God. We can bow our heads in worship. We can fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We can do all these things at church. But it is not good if we leave Christ at church. We need to walk with Him day by day and take His Word with us everywhere we go. We need to live a life during the week that others will know that we are Christians. I close today with this familiar Psalm.
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." Psalm 100
23 What Is In Your Hand?
"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod... " Exodus 4:1-2
For the past two weeks we have talked about God's hands and the hand of the Lord. Now I want to take some time to look at our hands. God told Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and serve God. Moses had excuses, like we often do, and one of them was that the children of Israel would not believe him. God asked Moses, "What is that in thine hand?" God then explained how He would use the rod to make the people believe. In verse 17 God said, "And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs." And in verse 20 it becomes the rod of God. "And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand." Moses obeyed God and the rod of Moses became the rod of God. A couple of things really stand out to me in these few verses. The first is that God can use what is in our hands. Likewise, He puts in our hands what He wants us to use. Secondly, when we use what we have for God's glory, it is no longer ours, but God's. God may be asking you today, just as He asked Moses, "What is that in thine hand?" What are you holding that you can use for the Lord? Are you willing to give it back to the Lord and let it become God's? Moses carried the rod throughout the journeys of the children of Israel. He held it high as God sent the plagues on the land of Egypt. He held it high as God parted the Red Sea. I don't believe that God asks us for things which He has not given us to begin with. Open your hands and your heart and give what you have to the Lord, for His glory and honor.
24 Speak To The Rock
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Numbers 20:7-12
Once again we see Moses with the rod. Before we study these verses, let's look back in the chapter and see the setting of our story. Verse 1 tells us that the whole congregation has come to the desert of Zin. We also read that they didn't just pass through the desert, but that they abode there. And there, Miriam died. We also pass through desert places in our journey through life. Sometimes we may feel like the wilderness has overtaken our progress and we too, wander in the desert. We may even lose close friends or family members in these valleys. The next few verses tell us that there is no water and the people complained to Moses. Listen to the anger and resentment toward Moses and the Lord. "And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them." (Numbers 20:3-6) Moses and Aaron did all they knew to do, they went to God and "fell upon their faces." God answered their prayer and told Moses to take the rod and speak to the rock. We can hear the frustration and anger of Moses as he yells to the people, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" Then he took his rod and hit the rock twice, He did not follow the Word of God. In His great mercy God filled their thirst as the water gushed from the rock, but Moses did not get to enter into the Promised Land because of his disobedience. This is a sad chapter. In the first verse Miriam died. In the last two verses we see the death of Aaron. In Deuteronomy 34 we read of the death of Moses. God carried Moses to the top of Pisgah and showed him the Promised Land, but He did not let him enter in. Life can bring hardship. Death can bring pain and separation. Our road may take us through the deserts. But keep on following the Word of God. Speak to the Rock. Don't let the anger of the moment bring sin and judgment that will bring you pain for the rest of your life.
25 You're Not Too Young To Keep The Light Burning
"And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth." I Samuel 3:1-10
This was a favorite Bible story for our evening devotions when my children were small. We let them take turns pretending to be Samuel and Eli as we told the story. Hannah took little Samuel to the temple, as we see in I Samuel 1:27-28, "For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there." I Samuel 2:18 tells us, "But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod." We don't know all that he did with his little hands, but I believe part of his job was to make sure the light did not go out in the temple. The children of Israel were commanded in Exodus 27:20, "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." Verse 3 above begins, "And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple..." Eli was old and he was beginning to go blind, so I believe little Samuel kept the oil in the lamps and kept the light burning. This was also true in a spiritual sense. The sons of Eli were very wicked and God would soon remove them from the temple. Little Samuel would grow up to become the most familiar priest in the Old Testament. God put him there, to keep the light burning. We must be careful to make a place for our children in our churches today. They need to keep the light burning as the older generation goes on to glory. Let the children be a part of the worship services. God called Samuel when he was a small child. Don't discourage the little hearts and hands that want to help. Let them help keep the light burning.
26 David Took His Sling In His Hand
"David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance." I Samuel 17:37-42
If The Family Feud game had the question, "Name someone in the Bible who used what was in his hand..." I think David using the sling would probably be the number one answer. Many of us learned this story as children. David was a young shepherd boy and God used him to defeat Goliath. King Saul tried to give David his armor, but David used what was in his hand, his sling. I have often thought of the lesson here, to use what God has placed in your hands, but in studying the book of I Samuel God showed me that after this great victory David moved on to better things. The sling and five smooth stones were God's instruments in David's hands and God gave the victory. But David didn't stop with a sling and vice smooth stones. Verse 54 of this same chapter tells us that David put his armor in his tent. He was ready and willing to learn to use the armor. Many children learn to draw and write with crayons. But, as they get older they learn to write with pencils and pens, and even computers. God gives us victory in our lives when we use what He has given us. I believe that different battles call for different weapons. Paul said, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11-12) Use what's in your hands. And don't be hesitant to grow in the Lord and move forward with "the whole armour of God" for greater victories.
27 Gideon Blew A Trumpet
"Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him." Judges 6:27-34
If you are not familiar with the story of Gideon please read the 6th and 7th chapters of Judges. The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat by the winepress. He wasn't out in the open where the wind could carry away the hulls of the wheat, but he was hiding down in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. The angel said, "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." (vs 12) I'm sure that Gideon did not feel like a mighty man of valour, hiding from the enemies. He said, "Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" (vs 13) After Gideon built an altar unto the Lord, God told him to throw down the altar of Baal and cut down the grove. That night, with the help of ten servants, Gideon did all that God had said. Again, he does not seem like a mighty man of valour, as he did it at night. But I like verse 34. "But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him." The trumpet was the sound of war. "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." (Numbers 10:9) Yesterday we talked about the whole armor of God. It is time for Christians to stop hiding and take a stand against sin. Once Gideon blew the trumpet, other Israelites came to join the fight. If we can be like Gideon and take a stand for what's right, then it may give courage to others around us to stand with us. Are you hiding your Christianity, or are you sounding the gospel trumpet and letting your light shine?
28 Are You Wringing Your Hands?
"And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground." Judges 6:36-40
We have heard the story of Gideon's fleece, and that phrase has come to represent any small test we put to God to find His will. I know that in my own life I have prayed, "God, if it's Your will for me to do this..., then You show me by doing this..." Sometimes it is hard to know exactly what to do in certain situations. I believe we should pray and seek God's will, even over the smallest tasks. But, in Gideon's case, and many times in our own lives as well, God has already told us what to do. God has told us in His Word to praise the Lord. We don't need to ask God if He wants us to praise Him. God has also told us to trust Him. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Are we like Gideon? He basically said, "God, I know You told me that You were going to use me in this great victory, but if You really mean it, will You do this little thing for me?" The beautiful part of this story is that God did answer Gideon's prayer through his fleece and in the morning Gideon wringed a bowl full of water out of the fleece. God is patience with us in the same way. We don't put our fleece out by the door, but we often find ourselves wringing our hands just as Gideon wringed out the fleece. We know God has shown us the way to go. We feel the leading of the Spirit to trust in God, but we sit and wring our hands. "How am I going to make it?" Our fingers twist and turn as we question God, "What do I do now?" "Where do I go from here?" There are times in our lives when we are searching for God's direction, and I believe that it is good to make sure we are following God's leading. But I also know that we could have more peace in our hearts if we stop fretting and wringing our hands, and put our trust in the Lord.
29 We Can Not Save Ourselves By Our Own Hands
“Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.” Judges 7:1-3
Gideon may have been feeling better about going against the Midianites, now that he had put his fleece out before God not once, but twice. He blew the trumpet and the Israelites joined him for an army of thirty two thousand. This must have given him courage. Surely he remembered the words of the angel of the Lord, "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." (Judges 6:12) He is gaining confidence... and he may not believe it when the Lord said, "The people that are with thee are too many..." He thinks, "What? We are still outnumbered. We don't have the weapons of war that the Midianites have. How can there be too many?" The Lord says, "... lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." God wants His children to trust in Him to save them. He wants to deliver them, but He wants them to know that He is the Deliverer. As I was reading the story of Gideon and listening for God's message, I was drawn to these words, "The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." (Judges 7:2) People have not changed that much over these thousands of years. How many lost people today are trying to save themselves by the works of their hands? They believe that if they do enough good, to cover over their bad, they will go to heaven. The problem with this philosophy is that they are lifting themselves up as gods, making themselves equal to God. There is only one Saviour. He is Jesus Christ my Lord. He came to give His life to pay for my sin and your sin. The only way to heaven is to believe on Him. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;" (Titus 3:5-6) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) And in closing, let me tell you that God wants to save the lost. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (I Timothy 2:4-6) Don't depend on the works of your hands to save you. Trust in the Lord Jesus today.
30 Reaching Out For The Water Of Life
"And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there; and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place." Judges 7:4-7
As we continue with the story of Gideon I have prayed that God would show me something to say about this portion of the the scriptures. I have heard sermons of explanation, one being that the three hundred kept crossing the water, bringing the water to their mouths in their hands while the remaining of the ten thousand knelt down on their knees on the side of the bank. I also heard that those that knelt down were not careful and observant as those who brought their hands to their mouths. Another idea is that this is just the means that God used to divide the people. Instead of debating these theories, I want to follow our Bible study on "hands" and look at how these men used their hands in this story. They put out their hands and brought the water to their mouths. This reminds me of the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?... Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:10-14) The Samaritan woman knew that there was water in the well, but she saw that Jesus did not have any means of getting the water from the well. Jesus told her that He is the Living Water. The water of life is available to all who believe, but many will not accept it. Just as the men in our story of Gideon cupped the water in their hands and drank it, we must reach out to Jesus and drink of the Living Water. Salvation is full and free, but we must receive it. If you come in on a hot day and you are thirsty, the water in the refrigerator won't do you any good until you drink it. You have to reach out and take it. Jesus can fill your spiritual thirst, but you must receive Him into your heart as Lord and Saviour. Why not reach out to Him today.
31 Strengthen Your Hands In The Lord
"And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian." Judges 7:7-15
God knew that Gideon was still unsure about going to battle with his army of 300 against the host of the Midianites and Amalekites, who are compared to grasshoppers in multitude. These verses tell us that their camels were as the sand by the sea for multitude. God sent Gideon to the camp to overhear what the enemies were saying about him and the children of Israel. I believe this little trip did more to strengthen Gideon's heart, than his hands. We see that God encouraged his heart, and strengthened his hands. We see more examples of God strengthening their hands as the Israelites faced opposition in rebuilding the temple. "And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel." (Ezra 6:22) "For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." (Nehemiah 6:9) We, too, can find strength in the Lord as promised in Isaiah 41:10, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Do you feel weak and heavy laden? Pray to the Lord and feast on His Word and He will strengthen your hands.
32 Trumpet, A Pitcher, And A Lamp
"And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites." Judges 7:16-23
The day, or should I say night, of battle has come. The three hundred are not armed with swords and shields, but with trumpets, lamps, and empty pitchers. Gideon divided his army into three groups of one hundred each. As the enemies slept, the men with Gideon marched into place around them with trumpets in their right hands. In their left hands they held torches, dimly lit, in pitchers. Suddenly in the darkness of night, Gideon blew his trumpet, and the sound of 300 more trumpets followed. That was a very startling awakening for the sleeping enemies. Just at that moment the small Israelite Army broke their pitchers. They did not have guns back then, but I imagine it must have sounded like guns piercing through the night. At the same instant, the dim torches burst into full light as the pitchers broke around them. The enemies were so startled, they drew their swords on one another. This is a perfect lesson on how God can give us victory if we follow Him and use what He has placed in our hands.
33 "The Sword Of The Lord, And Of Gideon"
"And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands." Judges 7:17-19
The Lord has shown me so much from this little study of Gideon. We began with Gideon blowing a trumpet, and we have come to the battle as once again, Gideon blew a trumpet. The enemy armies awoke in the middle of the night to three hundred men blowing trumpets and shouting, "The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon." The angel of the Lord could have slain all these men as He did in II Kings 19:35. But, God chose Gideon to lead this small army against the great hosts of the Midianites and Amalekites. We face battles of our own as we try to walk a Christian walk in an ungodly world. God has chosen us to be a light to shine in the darkness. First, let us take the sword of the Lord, as Gideon did. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" We can not fight spiritual battles without salvation and God's Word. Next, let us sound the trumpet, and take a stand for good against the evil in this world. The trumpet can also be a warning. I read these powerful verses in Ezekiel 33:2-8 yesterday morning. "Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." We must sound the gospel trumpet and warn lost sinners of their need of salvation. Finally, just as the men broke the pitchers, that surrounded their dim torches, we need to break away anything in our lives that keeps our light from shining. Break away the pride and stubborness. Break away the anger and bitterness. Break away the sin that we think is hidden. Let your light shine bright for the glory of God. Be a soul-winner for the Lord
34 A Snare To Gideon
"Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you. And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks. And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house." Judges 8:22-27
It would be great to stop with the story of Gideon before we come to chapter 8, but God's Word is truth. We read of the good, and how God uses people for His glory, and we read of the bad, and how God's people turn away from serving Him. Gideon won this great victory and God used him to deliver the children of Israel from under the hand of Midian. But Gideon took the gold, and lavish jewelry, the spoils of battle, and made an idol. Verse 27 tells us that all Israel fell to worship it and it "became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house." We may follow the Lord and win great victories, but we can never let down our guard. Don't forget all the good God has done for you. Remember where He brought you from. Keep Him first in your life and don't let the things of this world come between you and God. Be careful of what you take in your hands and don't let the spoils of victory bring you down.
35 God's Holiness Is Above Us
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6
I want to tell you what God did for me today. I have been praying for some co-workers and asking God to show me how I can be a witness to them. I try to take every opportunity to give God the glory for what He has done for me and be a Christian example in every way. As I lay in bed last night I thought about how I could plant the seed that could grow in their minds and hearts and lead them to the knowledge of salvation. God showed me that I could begin by telling them that God is a holy God. God is way up here, (with my hand held high) and man is down here, (with my hand held low). All day I listened for just the right time to witness and prayed that one of them would ask me a question that would lead to a Biblical conversation. Time went on, and I kept praying. As we were shutting down our computers and gathering our things to take home my co-worker held up a book in his hand and asked, "Have either one of you read .......?" We both said no and he began to talk about this book, which is a very popular book right now in Christian book stores. He said, "Well, I'm having a hard time getting into it because it kind-of goes against what you think about God." Then I wanted to praise the Lord when he said, "Most people think of God up here (with his hand held high) and this book brings Him down to earth." I told him that someone had given me a copy of the book and I had thumbed through it, but I would not read it because it seemed to bring God down to man's level. He said, "God, in this book, is a black woman, and that goes against the idea of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." God had answered my prayer. I had waited for these questions all day, and now there were no distractions as we walked out into the parking lot and I was able to begin sowing the seed of salvation. I told him that God is holy and God is way up here (with hand over head). I told him that man is down here (with hand low) and that the only way man can get to God is through Jesus. I explained that God is so holy and man can't reach His level, and man should not try to bring God down to man's level. Jesus came to earth as a man to give us salvation, but we are not to try to put God and man on the same level. I tried to tell them that we must humble ourselves to God and trust Jesus as the only way to God. Please pray that God will let this seed grow in their hearts and lead them to salvation. It is amazing to me that this man who has told me he doesn't know much about God has a higher respect for God than the professed believers who are using this book in Bible studies to show God's earthy side. God is holy. "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." (Revelation 4:8)
36 A Doorkeeper In God's House
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10
We just ended our week of Youth Jubilee. Souls were saved. Lives were touched. I am thankful for my pastor and his wife who have this burden for the youth. We feel blessed that so many traveled to come be a part of this special week. There were many who served in the background to help make this week the glorious blessing it was. Thank you to all who helped prepare and serve the meals. Thanks to those who served the colas, water, and tea. Thank you to those who gathered the trash, those who cleared away the dishes, and that special one who vacuumed the floor again and again. I believe that God will not only reward the preachers and singers who helped provide the spiritual feeding, but He will also reward the "doorkeepers" and those who helped with the physical feeding. Most of all, I am thankful that God loved me and gave His only begotten Son to die for me so that I could be a part of His great family.
37 Let Us Rise Up And Build This Good Work
"Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." Nehemiah 2:17 & 18
Missionary Milton Nunes from Brazil was visiting our church a short while back and he had a brick with him. He asked us to think of all the wonderful sounds that had been absorbed into that brick through the years. It was from Camp Ebenezer in Brazil. He gave story after story of young boys and girls that had been saved at the Camp and the lived that had been changed over the years. The walls of the building had decayed and it needed to be rebuilt. Our youth group wanted to help rebuild the Camp, so we began building a wall display in the fellowship hall. We added a new index card "brick" for each $5.00 donation. The theme verse for this mission project is from this verse, "Let us rise up and build." We can't all go to Brazil to help build the wall, but we can help strengthen the hands of those that do this good work. We can help in giving. We can also pray that God will supply their needs and bless their work. We need to pray that God will give them victory over the opposition. Look around you and see fi there is some good work you can do for God. Maybe your church needs repairs that you know how to do. You may have a "green thumb" and could spend a Saturday working on the yard around your church. If your church has a project that you are unable to take an active role in, then strengthen the hands of those that are doing the "good work". Help the missionaries. Give them your support. Pray for them. Don't let Satan tempt you to hinder the work of Christian believers, but join hands with the workers and say with them, "Let us rise up and build."
38 Prayer For Strength
After looking at verses in Nehemiah yesterday, I decided to pull one of the devotions from our study on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. If you would like to see more from Ezra and Nehemiah, please go to A Time To Build.
"Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner... For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." Nehemiah 6:1-4 & 9
I am sure that Nehemiah and the Jews who worked on the wall were getting discouraged by Sanballat and Tobiah by this time. The more that they progressed on the wall, the more of a challenge they faced from the opposition. Notice the prayer of Nehemiah, "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." When you don't think you can go on any farther, remember this simple prayer. When I was younger, I used to like to push mow the yard. I enjoy being outside, and it gave me some exercise. As I get older, I can't mow as long as I could before, so I mow off sections and it takes me longer to do the yard. Last weekend I mowed off a section that was bigger than usual and I realized that I was going to have a hard time finishing that part. When it seemed like my energy was about gone, I prayed that God would give me strength to go a few more rounds. After about ten minutes, I thanked God for helping me, and prayed that He would give me strength to go another ten minutes. With His help, I was able to finish the part I had begun. As I thought about that I realized that I should pray often for God to "strengthen my hands." David said, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?... Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalm 27:1 & 14) Have your adversaries tried to beat you down? Has your strength failed? Trust in the Lord and pray the simple prayer of Nehemiah, "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."
39 Use Your Gifts And Talents For Others
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them, When he was come, they brought him unto the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Acts 9:36-40
God has given each of us different talents. We can use our hands and talents to make a difference in the lives of others. Here is the story of Dorcas. We read that she was “full of good works and almsdeeds”. She gave of herself to others. She had a talent of weaving or sewing and making clothes and she used her talent for others. My mother has a wonderful talent for sewing. Her close friends know that she has sewed for weddings and special occasions, and made beautiful curtains, but not many know that she has also sewed for children and widows just to give them something new to wear. She has used her talent to help others, not to be seen or noticed, but just to make a difference in their lives. You may not have that special talent for sewing. But you can pray and ask God to show you what you can do for others. There was a woman in our church who enjoyed baking pound cakes. She often brought cakes to church to give to others. She used her gift to bless others. If you like to bake pies or cookies and you don’t need to eat the whole thing, share a portion with someone and let them know you are thinking of them. Look at your hands. What talent has God given you that you can use to make a difference to others?
40 Holding Up The Hands Of Your Leaders
"Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Exodus 17:8-14
Moses was a great leader for the Children of Israel. He was a friend of God, as we read in Exodus 33:11, "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle." God used him to lead the Children of Israel across the Red Sea on dry ground, but he was also a meek man. ("Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.") (Numbers 12:3) He is often called the servant of God and he was feared by the people. "On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life." (Joshua 4:14) He was faithful..."Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house." (Hebrews 3:2) He appeared with Christ on the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17 and Luke 9. Moses is mentioned in many books throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. Our study of Moses in Sunday School was the beginning of my thoughts on this devotional theme. Moses held the rod of God in his hand and God did many mighty works. But in our verse above we see that Moses' hands were heavy. I think that many times we see the great leadership of our pastors and we forget that they grow weary, just as we do. We see their strength and we forget that they have weaknesses. Instead of standing in amazement at the work they do, we should do all we can to uphold their hands. Aaron and Hur stood by Moses and held up his hands. When they did so, the Israelites won the battle. Are you giving your full support to your pastor and church leaders and holding up their hands? Our pastors may be doing all they can do and their hands may be heavy. Let's lift up our hands in support to them. Let's hold up their hands and praise God for the victory.
41 The Hands Of A Wise Woman
"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14:1
We are coming to a close on our study of "hands". We looked at the hands of God, and the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We saw how people in the Bible used their hands. We are finishing our course with things we can do with our hands. Today I would like to leave you with some of the verses from Proverbs 31:10-31, which describe a virtuous woman who uses her hands wisely. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, ... She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
42 Lift Up Your Hands In Praise
"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." Psalm 63:1-7
The Lord has been so good to us, He deserves our praise. David begins this Psalm, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." We can begin each morning with praise to our God. As you wake up, lift your hands in praise to God. Thank Him for giving you a new day. As you go through the day, lift your heart and hands up to the Lord. Psalm 119:164 gives us a good example of how often we need to praise our God. "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." As we continue with our Psalm above we see that David also praised God in the night. "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." Sometimes when I go to bed at night I start thanking God for all the big and little blessings He has given me. When I begin to praise Him, He blesses me even more, and sometimes I lift up my hands to praise Him while I am in bed. It is wonderful to meditate on the goodness of the Lord while you drift off to sleep. One night as I looked up I could see the ceiling fan by the soft glow of the clocks and electronic devices in the room. The four blades on the fan looked like a cross against the white background of the ceiling. I felt even more blessed and praised the Lord for His most precious gift of eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection on that first Easter. We have talked about many things we can do for the Lord with our hands. This one is really easy and simple, but can bring joy and peace to our soul and we praise Him with a thankful heart.
43 Lift Up Holy Hands In Prayer
"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." I Timothy 2:8
It is good to bow our heart and body down before our Almighty God in prayer. It is a wonderful privilege to join hands and hearts with other believers in prayer. It is comforting to go to God in our prayer closet when there is no one else that we can tell our problems to. Here we see another way that we can approach the throne of grace. Paul told Timothy, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." We can pray everywhere. We don't have to travel to a special place, or confess to an earthly priest. We can lift up our hands to God any time, any place, in faith. When I awake at night, I often pray to God until I fall back to sleep. I have been greatly blessed while praying as I drive back and forth to work. I can bow my head and give thanks before I eat at home, and in restuarants. You may be in a college dorm, away from your church, home and family. You may be sick and not able to go to church as you would like to. But don't forget to pray. Talk to God. Keep yourself holy in His sight and lift up your hands in faith and praise to your Lord and Savior.