Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Open Hands

“When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” – Psalm 104:28 [NIV]

If you have your hands closed, chances are it is going to be hard for you to grasp something. You have to open your hands up to have something placed in them. You have to have your hands open to receive something. As well, you have to have your hands free for you to help someone. Closed hands aren’t so helpful.

Today’s verse makes reference to God opening His hands to provide food to all creatures. The Psalmist notes that when He opens His hand, His people are “satisfied with good things.” Consider the good things that God has blessed you with—food, shelter, provisions, friends, family, skills, etc. Remember His open hands and do likewise. Open your hands for someone today.

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Patiently Remembering

“But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” – Psalm 106:13 [NIV]

When something is right in front of us, it is hard to miss it. When something is fresh in our minds, it is more likely to be remembered. The Israelites were able to remember the Lord when they were in the middle of a situation and He was providing them with their needs. But it did not take long for them to forget what he did and impatiently seek to find their own way in the world.

Again and again we are told to remember God’s Word and to teach it to our children. There are feasts in the Old Testament that were held to help remember. In the New Testament, Jesus participated in these feasts and during the Last Supper, He gave His disciples a new way to remember—Holy Communion.

Still today, there are moments when we forget what He has done and there are times when we are too impatient to wait for His plan. We take things into our own hands. We don’t wait. Today, make a point to remember what God has done already in your life and ask Him to show you the path to continue on for his plan to unfold.

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Grass Eating Bull

“They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” – Psalm 106:20 [NIV]

I get very sad when I read today’s verse because it mentions something so horrible. To think that the Israelites exchanged God for some man created image to worship instead of worshiping the one true God, our Creator, our Sustainer, our Redeemer. It’s sad.

Sadly, we are all guilty of this too. At one time or another, we have exchanged God for something else that came first in life. Perhaps it was a job, a relationship, money or pleasure. The list is endless. We are all guilty.

Today look at where you are currently at with your relationship with God. Is He number one or is something else first on your list? Where are you spending your money? Where are you giving your time? What means most to you? You don’t lose out by having God first in your life—you’re richly blessed. Are you focused on your glorious God, or is there a grass eating bull in your life?

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Maker of All

“Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.” – Proverbs 22:2 [NIV]

The Lord is Maker of us all. Whether we are rich or poor, tall or short… whatever nationality, religious affiliation, etc., the Lord is Maker of us all. The Bible says that we are all made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV). We are all made in the image of God.

Today do not look at the differences that separate us but this truth that too often gets overlooked. When someone is not doing something like you would do it, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone pulls their car out in front of you, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone disrespects you, hurts you, or tests your patience, remember that they are made in the image of God. When you see people very different from you, remember that they are made in the image of God.

We are all faulty image bearers. We all have need for a Savior. Let us be encouragers and be wise with our words. Let us speak God’s truth into the lives of one another.  Encourage one another. The Lord is Maker of us all.

Read Understand Apply

“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8 [NIV]

I love this scene. They were gathered together reading God’s Word, and there were actually people there trying to make sure that the people understood what was being read to them. Some people cannot read. Some people cannot understand what they read. They may pronounce the words properly. They may be able to read everything on the page, but they might not understand what they just read. The comprehension is important.  The NLT says “clearly explained the meaning” and “helping the people understand each passage.” Each passage. I just love this.

It is important for us to understand what we read, whether it is a letter from our insurance provider, our bank statements, an article in the newspaper, a work memo… and it is crucial that we understand what the Bible says. We can read it every day, but we need to be able to understand it to actually apply it.

If you notice in Nehemiah 8, first they read the Law, then they interpret the Law, and then they apply the Law. This is what Bible reading is all about. This is exactly how we are to read our Bibles. First we read His word, then we see what God has to say to us in the context of the passage, and then we then apply it to our lives—we do what He says. Read – Understand – Apply! That’s why it is important that we understand. If you don’t understand, don’t hide and pretend; seek out some godly assistance, purchase a reputable Bible commentary, and pray about it. Read – Understand – Apply!

Dirty Hands

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” – Isaiah 49:16 [ESV]

Although I was told time and time again to not write on my hand, I continue to write things on my left hand so I do not forget what is important. As I was teaching a lesson this past weekend, a child asked what was written on my hand. It so happened to be a verse from Nehemiah. The night before I was reading from Nehemiah and found some verses I wanted to revisit. Most of the time you will find that my left hand has a fresh verse or remnants of past verses that have faded with the numerous hand washings, and I am okay with my dirty hands. They are reminders of what is important to me.

It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah that notes how God has us engraved on the palms of His hands. Imagine all of us, His sinful, flawed children, all written on His perfect hands. Can you see how important you are to Him? Can you grasp that you, YOU right there, matter to Him?

Too often we get caught up on being received well by those around us. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated. We want to feel important. At times we find ourselves discouraged in these areas of our life. Today is a good day to remember just how important you are to the Most High God. Remember, He has your name written on His hand. You don’t have to do anything to get your name there—He put it there because He loves you. You are special. You are important.

 

Five Times Nehemiah

“Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” – Nehemiah 6:4 [NIV]

People were trying to intimidate Nehemiah so that the building project would cease. The Bible says that messengers came down a total of four times to basically harass Nehemiah, and his response was that he couldn’t come down because he was doing a great work. Then Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, sent his aide with a letter and again with the same message. The fifth time, the response didn’t change. Nehemiah was not leaving the project to meet with the group trying to halt the work. He sends a message, a very short message (why waste time writing a dissertation when there is no need) back telling Sanballat he was making things up. He prayed and continued to work.

Talk about standing firm. Nehemiah understood what he was supposed to do and he did not let anyone try to tell him otherwise. He kept pressing forward with the project God gave him to do and allowed God to handle the rest. He did not leave his work for a moment to go talk to these troublemakers to try and change their minds. He didn’t spend time pointing fingers at those trying to cause friction, but kept on pressing forward.

When we are doing a good work, we too have people around us trying to get us to stop. Whether it is on purpose or without thinking, people do try to thwart our good works at times. The question is, do we respond like Nehemiah, firmly planting our feet to get the work done? Do we allow the threats, the lies, and the words spoken to simply roll off our backs and continue onward? Or do we stop the project to spend time defending the project and ourselves? Remember, this isn’t about us—and God does not need us to defend His work.

Thinking It Over

“After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!’ Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.” – Nehemiah 5:7 [NLT]

I love the beginning of this verse. “After thinking it over, I spoke” is what Nehemiah says. It doesn’t say, “When I found out, I became frustrated and immediately took action.” Nehemiah thought about it, pondered, took counsel, consulted with himself… the HCSB says, “After seriously considering.”

Now Nehemiah had set to rebuild the wall. He waited three days before he even spoke up about what he wanted to do because he wanted to see for himself. He examined the area. He then delegated the workload so no one was burdened. It then comes to his attention that there are people who are very poor because of injustice. Nehemiah did not rush in to verbally attack those who were guilty. Instead, he thought about it. He took the time consider everything before he went forward to make accusations. In doing so, he calmly proclaimed the problems and there was then justice for these poor people.

Today consider your words and your emotions. We are to be slow to speak and we are to watch our anger (James 1:19-20). Again and again we are reminded. It’s hard to keep our mouths in check at times, but once something is said, it cannot be taken back.

Amidst the Storm

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” – Acts 16:25 [NIV]

Something stood out to me while seeing the news coverage of the Boston Marathon Bombing and the devastating Oklahoma Tornado. I witnessed so many people praising God amidst the storm. It reminded me of Paul and Silas singing hymns and praying to God amidst their own storm, while locked away in prison. They praised God during the storm and then came an earthquake which freed them from their chains.

Perhaps we haven’t experienced what the people of Boston and Oklahoma experienced, but we all have storms of some magnitude in our lives. We have suffering. We have pain. We have situations. We have troubles. We have difficulties. We have struggles. We have diseases. We have injuries. We have problems. These storms, small and large, come. Do we praise God during the storms? Do we sing to the Lord during the good and bad?

Paul and Silas sang to God and there came an earthquake. The news coverage showed a Boston victim praising God and walking the next week despite a leg amputation. A lady prayed to God amidst the storm and gave Him glory during the interview, and her missing dog was found in the rubble on live television.

Whatever storm you are going through today or whatever storm may soon come your way—keep on praising our heavenly Father. He is always good. He is always worthy of praise.

God Gives More

“Amaziah asked the man of God, ‘But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?’ The man of God replied, ‘The LORD can give you much more than that.’” – 2 Chronicles 25:9 [NIV]

Amaziah, king of Judah, was preparing for battle. He gathered the people together to get them assigned to their commanders. He even went and hired a hundred thousand men from Israel to help with the battle.  Then he got a visit from a man of God telling him that the Lord was not with Israel and if the Israelites showed up for battle, it would ensure a loss. Then Amaziah wanted to know about all the money he had given the Israelites. He did not want to lose his investment. The man said that God can give more.

Today remember that God can give more. We don’t take enough time to consider how God has already blessed us or how he can bless us. Many times when we experience a loss, we do not think of the good that could come out of it. Amaziah was losing his investment, but wasn’t that better than losing the battle? It is important to look at what truly matters in life—to remember the purpose of life. God can give so much more. He already has.