The Power of Your Hands

But those who do right will continue to do right, and those whose hands are not dirty with sin will grow stronger. JOB 17:9

What if someone were to film a documentary on your hands? What if a producer were to tell your story based on the life of your hands? What would we see? As with all of us, the film would begin with an infant’s fist, then a close-up of a tiny hand wrapped around mommy’s finger. Then what? Holding on to a chair as you learned to walk? …

Were you to show the documentary to your friends, you’d be proud of certain moments: your hands extending with a gift, placing a ring on another’s finger, doctoring a wound, preparing a meal.… And then there are other scenes.… Hands taking more often than giving, demanding instead of offering.…

Oh, the power of our hands. Leave them unmanaged and they become weapons: clawing for power, strangling for survival, seducing for pleasure. But manage them and our hands become instruments of grace—not just tools in the hands of God, but God’s very hands.

Just Like Jesus

Unity in the Body of Christ

Ephesians 2:11-22

A great deal of friction and enmity is generated by those who see themselves as superior to others by virtue of their race, religion, or social status. Such attitudes destroy peace between individuals, communities, and even nations. The early church confronted this problem when it addressed the status

of non-Jewish believers. These Gentiles had been excluded from the commonwealth of Israel with all its privileges and covenants, so it was easy to view them as second-class citizens in the church despite their faith in Jesus. Even after Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit, the old ways of thinking were hard to abandon.

The apostle Paul spoke to this very problem in Ephesus when he said, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Eph. 2:13-14).

Today there continue to be many dividing walls between people. Human nature is no different in the modern age than it was in the first century: power, pride, and privilege still dominate in the kingdom of darkness. Unfortunately, many dividing walls also exist in the Christian community. Yet the gospel of Jesus Christ is just as powerful today in “mak[ing] the two into one new man, thus establishing peace” (v. 15). It doesn’t matter what the barriers are—we can overcome them by recognizing that we all have our access to the Father through the same Spirit (v. 18).

Reconciliation

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)

It is interesting to note that as important as is the doctrine of the atonement in Christian theology, the word itself occurs only once in the King James New Testament. It is in the very next verse after our text. “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (v. 11).

The Greek word is translated “reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians 5:18: “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” Thus, the doctrine of atonement is the doctrine of reconciliation. Men are separated from our holy God both by their sin nature and also by their actual guilt of committed sin. But through the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins, “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” That is, God has already reconciled sinners to Himself by the sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem is that sinners are not actually reconciled to God until they personally accept this free gift of God’s love to them.

But we who “have now received the atonement [that is, reconciliation] . . . joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11). A part of that joy should be in the fact that God has now “given unto us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Thus, it has become our great privilege to tell others that they can be completely forgiven and eternally saved. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). HMM

Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34.)

THE cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry may assume different shapes. I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may have to go on cultivating year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may be bidden to cherish kind and loving thoughts about someone who has wronged me—be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succor. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to he reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to “move among my race, and show a glorious morning face,” when my heart is breaking.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit. He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing, and then—as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round—I grow under the load.— Alexander Smellie.

“Use your cross as a crutch to help you on, and not as a stumblingblock to cast you down.”

“You may others from sadness to gladness beguile,
If you carry your cross with a smile.”

He acknowledged his sin and did not hide his iniquity and God forgave him

“I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

David’s grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible upon his outward frame: “his bones waxed old”; “his moisture was turned into the drought of summer.” No remedy could he find, until he made a full confession before the throne of the heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew no rest.

At last it came to this, that he must return unto his God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the mercyseat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven.

See the value of a gracewrought confession of sin! It is to be prized above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ’s sake. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, Thou art a God “ready to pardon!” Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.

There were also with Him other little ships

“There were also with Him other little ships.” Mark 4:36

Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and His presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship. When we sail in Christ’s company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord Himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as He fares; and when the waves are rough to Him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as He did before us. When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck.

When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Saviour arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbour. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He Himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in His wake, mark His signals, steer by His chart, and never fear while He is within hail.

Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day’s cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey Him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in Him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.