The Hand Of God

Hand of God
My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. —Psalm 63:8

When NASA began using a new kind of space telescope to capture different spectrums of light, researchers were surprised at one of the photos. It shows what looks like fingers, a thumb, and an open palm showered with spectacular colors of blue, purple, green, and gold. Some have called it “The Hand of God.”

The idea of God reaching out His hand to help us in our time of need is a central theme of Scripture. In Psalm 63 we read: “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me” (vv.7-8). The psalmist felt God’s divine help like a hand of support. Some Bible teachers believe that King David wrote this psalm in the wilderness of Judah during the terrible time of his son Absalom’s rebellion. Absalom had conspired to dethrone his father, and David fled to the wilderness (2 Sam. 15–16). Even during this difficult time, God was present and David trusted in Him. He said, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You” (Ps. 63:3). By Dennis Fisher

The superscription to this psalm indicates that David was a refugee in the wilderness when he wrote it, either at the time when he was fleeing from Saul (1 Sam. 23:14-15; 24:1) or fleeing from his own son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:14,23,28). Because David addresses himself as “king” (Ps. 63:11), some Bible teachers believe that he was fleeing from his son. His life in danger (vv.9-10), David sought out and trusted God for protection and safety (vv.1-2). Instead of allowing his troubles to overwhelm him, David sang of God’s lovingkindness (v.3), meditated on His presence (v.6), and rejoiced in His deliverance (vv.9-11).

Life can be painful at times, yet God offers His comforting hand in the midst of it. We are not beyond His reach.

Beneath His watchful eye
His saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard His children well. —Doddridge

God bears the world’s weight on His shoulder, yet holds His children in the palm of His hand.

The Making of an Encourager

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

People love encouragers, and the Lord intends for each of His children to be one. An encourager is able to stand beside someone else to give hope and the motivation to persevere through difficult times. We are not born with this ability fully developed, but we can follow several essential steps to become capable of supporting and empathizing with a hurting friend.

First, we must be willing to experience pain. The apostle Paul was an encourager; in verse 4 of today’s passage, he urges us to reach out to others with the “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” To experience comfort and have it flow through us, we must suffer some heartache. There’s power in the touch of a person who has been in the valley. Someone who experiences pain does not offer empty words, but hope.

Second, we need to learn the principles that are available to us in our suffering. If we can view our heartache as a class in God’s university, where our enrollment will produce a degree in encouragement, much of the sting will dissipate. The Lord teaches us to place our trust in Him alone, and then we can pass that wisdom on to others.

The most effective encouragers are those who say, “There was nothing I could do but cry out to God. Let me tell you what the Lord did in response.” If we try to escape pain, we will miss out on the principles that can be learned only from suffering; then we cannot be useful to others. Our loving Father builds encouragers from the material of a life willing to be broken.

Haste Makes Waste

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)

This is one of the great Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, promising a Savior who would be the sure foundation of the eternal temple of God; yet it was 700 years before the promise was fulfilled. God did not “make haste,” but His promise, nevertheless, was sure. No doubt many believing Jews wondered why it was taking so long, but in the “fulness of the time” (Galatians 4:4), Christ came.

It is so easy to rush ahead of God instead of waiting for His leading. With good intentions and admirable zeal, Christians plan great programs, establish new organizations, promote legislation, and become involved in a thousand-and-one good activities, all in the name of Christ and His kingdom. Such activism is urgent, they believe, because the time is short. Nuclear war is coming; maybe even Christ is coming; and we must hurry.

But the Scripture says: “Therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).

We must not fail to follow when He really leads through His Word, but all too often undue haste results in confusion and collapse. When our text is quoted by Peter (1 Peter 2:6), the phrase “make haste” is rendered by “be confounded,” or “be ashamed.” It is not honoring to God for Christian projects and activities to “be confounded,” so Christian believers must be careful not to “make haste.” “Wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). HMM

The Habit of Holy Thought

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. —2 Corinthians 10:5

What we think about when we are free to think about what we will—that is what we are or will soon become….

Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where it would? When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but what we are going to become. We’ll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts….

The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to think on spiritual things, especially if we train our thoughts by long periods of daily prayer. Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thought.

Take control of my thoughts and move me along in the development of the habit of holy thought. Amen.

Knowing God: Goal of All Christian Doctrine

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee. Psalm 5:1, 4

Among Christians of all ages and of varying shades of doctrinal emphasis there has been fairly full agreement on one thing: they all believed that it was important that the Christian with serious spiritual aspirations should learn to meditate long and often on God!

Let a Christian insist upon rising above the poor average of current religious experience and he will soon come up against the need to know God Himself as the ultimate goal of all Christian doctrine.

Let him seek to explore the sacred wonders of the Triune Godhead and he will discover that sustained and intelligently directed meditation on the Person of God is imperative. To know God well he must think on Him unceasingly.

Nothing that man has discovered about himself or God has revealed any shortcut to pure spirituality. It is still free, but tremendously costly!

Of course this presupposes at least a fair amount of sound theological knowledge. To seek God apart from His own self-disclosure in the inspired Scriptures is not only futile but dangerous. There must be also a knowledge of and complete trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer.

Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way, “the way, the truth and the life.”

To believe otherwise is to be something less than a Christian!

We Get Around It

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. JOHN 13:14

The lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to our hymnbook, where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion.

The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

To avoid the necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament, we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. We find ways to avoid the sharp point of obedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that “Christ simply could not have meant what He said.” Dare we admit that His teachings are
accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by “interpretation”? Dare we confess that even in our public worship, the influence of the Lord is very small? We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere!

Dear Lord, I have to admit that there have been times when I have conveniently ignored the clear instructions of Your Word. Help me to give someone a cup of cold water—in Your name—today.