“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.
“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.
Last night I was watching this television show that just began for what I believe is a week long program. Although I am not much of a television buff, I tuned in to this NBC show because of the title, “Take It All.” The show has contestants selecting unknown prizes from a screen or deciding to “steal” a gift from one of their fellow contestants. Whoever has selected the most valuable of the prizes moves on to the next round of play. The last round has the two final contestants facing off in a last standoff. Each contestant selects one small container which has some cash amount listed inside. Each contestant must make a selection which will determine if they keep the prizes they earned earlier, the cash that is in the container they just selected, and possibly even the other contestant’s prizes.
I sat and watched as the older gentleman the host called “Santa” told his opponent that he could be trusted, that because he believe God placed them both there for a reason and that they both could be blessed, that he would select to “keep mine.” If both contestants selected “keep mine” they would both take home what they had earned. If she decided to select “take it all,” but “Santa” said he would only “keep mine,” she would take it all. The contestant said she didn’t know if she could trust him. Earlier in the game he tried to take items from other contestants. She didn’t trust him. The last move of the game, she picked to “Take it All.” It could have been an issue of greed; however, she again and again said she did not trust this man because of what his actions showed earlier in the game.
I thought about what she said and also what he had proclaimed before the big decision was made by both contestants. He did stick with his word and selected to “keep mine.” And yet, this lady did not trust him because of his actions before, something I think happens with a lot of Christians. Whether we like it or not, as a Christian, we are a representative of Christ. If we spend some time doing things that are not well representing Christ, and then later try to say that we are to be trusted, people may not see the true Christ. I am not saying that this man was falsely representing Christ. What I am talking about here is trust. If we are to be witnessing to people, there is a relationship that is involved. If we show people two different parts of us, the true us and then a different us, how could a person trust us? How can a person be brought to Christ when shown such a difference?
The lady in the show won everything—the money and prizes she had, plus everything that the other man had earned. She truly did “take it all.” Although we are taught to not take everything, to be generous, we are also taught to be truthful, to be faithful, to be like Christ. If we are not real with people, when we finally tell them about Jesus, about what He did for our lives, for how good He is, people may have already decided long before by your actions that you were a dishonest person and your words will have little meaning.
Verses to consider:
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25 [ESV]
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.” – Titus 1:16a [NASB]
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18 [NIV]
Do you wash your hands? It is a strange question for me to ask. Most people would think that I was making a suggestion about your hygiene; however, I am not talking about washing your hands as part of a routine for good hygiene. In Matthew 27, when Jesus was standing before Pilate, there was a great push for His crucifixion. Pilate did not want anything to do with what was to come, and so he washed his hands before the crowd and claimed his innocence in the matter.
If we turn a few chapters back in Matthew, we read about judgment. We do not like to discuss judgment, but Jesus painted a clear picture. He gave us an important image, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matthew 25:42-43 NASB).
When I ask if you wash your hands, I am referring to helping your fellow brothers and sisters. Do you wash your hands and move along, ignoring reality, ignoring the needs of others? Or do you help to take care of the needs around you? Jesus said if we feed a person who is hungry, it is as if we are feeding Him. If we clothe someone who is without clothing, it is as if we are providing Him with clothing.
Helping others does not always take some overabundance of finances and belongings. People who have so little are like the widow who gave so much– providing for the needs around them without concern for letting go of something. I have seen people who do not have a large savings help to buy food and clothing for another family. I have seen families barely getting by invite others into their homes for dinner. I have seen people barely scraping by provide for the needs of others.
So I ask you today, do you wash your hands? Do you say that it’s not your problem and you won’t be bothered by it? Or do you pull up your sleeves and see what you can do for others? What you can do for Jesus?
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
– Acts 20:35 [ESV]
This past week was Vacation Bible School. As always, it was a week filled with praise and worship, learning, forming friendships, and enjoying fellowship. This year the theme was Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus Was a Kid. With the theme in place, one can easily imagine the set consisted of present day items fixed to look like the Nazareth of old.
We attempted to stick to our theme as closely as possible so that the children would have an authentic glimpse into Nazareth. This even included hiding the cell phones and carbonated drinks that plaster our world, for shekels and edible bugs (yuck). Though the heat was nearly unbearable, many of us donned attire to suit the occasion.
A child in my group was a bit of a troublemaker at times. I took the behavior as a testing. Before the week was over, he acted in a manner which was caught by a few of the other children. He took the fake shekels that were being stored in one of the shops of Nazareth. Yes, I am talking about fake, plastic coins that we were using to allow the children to participate in an authentic marketplace atmosphere.
At that very moment, with these children pointing fingers, and this other child standing there guilty, I paused, not knowing what exactly to say. I must admit that part of me wanted to laugh, because it was a silly situation. Putting on my serious face, I told him that sneaking the plastic shekels may have gone unnoticed by me, but it did not go unnoticed by God. Then I began to ask why he would want to take something anyway.
I thought a lot about that episode. The boy changed and was great the rest of the time. He is a good kid. I thought of the episode for another reason. It got me to think about how many of us take the fake plastic shekels. I’m not talking about purposely stealing, but I am talking about taking from God.
Taking from God doesn’t only mean dipping into the collection plate or not tithing. Taking from God is not using your skills you were gifted as you were purposed. Taking from God is not using your time wisely. Taking from God is when you tell God you are His, but yet you’re not even consulting Him about anything in your life. Taking from God is spending more time talking to someone in a day then you do with Him all month. Taking from God is giving someone or something else more time, more consideration, more care, and more attention that you give God. It doesn’t matter what it is.. Whatever it may be, nothing can take priority over God.Life is hard. Life is busy. We only have 24 hours in a day. We can look at that in two different ways though. We can say that there are only 24 hours to try to get everything done. Or perhaps we can look at things differently. We can say God has blessed me with 24 hours in this day, more than enough than I deserve. No matter what excuse that can be created as a reason for not having time for God, the excuse will never be good enough.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 [NASB]