Getting Into the Right Hands

“Into Thy hands I commit my spirit”
Luke 23:46 (KJV)

Having had several surgeries with several surgeons I admit to having a fascination with their hands. Odd, isn’t it?

I like to see a surgeon with hands that seem very deft and quick in motion. I know that all the education and experience of the doctor will be expressed in those hands as they work effectively on my medical issue.

Jesus is at the very end of His public ministry and had already spent several hours on the cross experiencing the hell His people deserved. Now it was finished and He could physically die and be buried to rise the third day according to the will of His Father in heaven.

Jesus placed Himself back into the loving sphere of His heavenly Father as He completed His mission. He had been in the hands of the Jewish leaders and then the Romans for hours. The Jews stated He was a blasphemer worthy of death. The Romans through their governor Pilate pronounced Him “Not guilty” five times.

Then both parties agreed to have Jesus crucified.

Such was the legal system of the day. It was rough justice—if it could be called “justice” at all. All through the two sets of trials Jesus did not raise His voice in protest with one solitary exception (John 18:23).

Now that the crowds had done all they could to mock and torment Him, and now that He had endured God’s wrath for sin, Jesus knew the suffering was finished and sought the safety and love of being in His Father’s hands once again.

How important it is to be sure of whose hands we are in, in our times of grief and suffering.

A story I love to tell is of a Welsh preacher in the late 1920’s who was visiting the state of Michigan on a speaking tour. He was lent a model T Ford to drive himself to where a very large audience was waiting to hear him speak. Unhappily the car let him down and all he could do was steer it to the side of the road and hope some motorist would take pity on him.

Finally a man stopped and asked if he could help. He got the medical doctor turned preacher to describe the symptoms of the car as it spluttered to the side of the road. Nodding his head the good Samaritan assured the preacher the car would be fixed in no time. Sure enough the man was as good as his word. He soon flipped the crank at the front of the car and the engine purred to life.

The preacher shook his new friend’s hand and told him his name and asked the mechanic what his name was. The man stood tall and proud and said, “My name, sir, is Henry T. Ford.” In the hands of its creator the car could not fail to have its mechanical problem solved and run as it should.

If our lives are going to get back on track and be what they should be then we must get into the hands of our Maker. Have you come to your Creator and humbly submitted your concerns to Him? Whose hands are you in? Your own or your Maker’s?

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Picking a fight with God

“I am angry enough to die.”
Jonah 4:9

We all have our own view of who God is and how to make a connection with Him. Again and again in these devotionals I seek to encourage all of my readers to develop a personal relationship with their Creator. In every devotional I seek to make clear how God has told us to come to Him. Jesus is the only way to God and we cannot come with anything in our hands to recommend us.

If we come to God we must leave behind us any thought of using our own works of merit to entice God to want us. We cannot earn our way into His good graces. We come just as we are. A second thing about relating to God that I desire to make clear is the fact that being upset with God is not going to drive Him away.

There are people who believe that it is very dangerous to complain to God about how He is treating us. They have the view that God will somehow cast us off if we tell Him we have had enough of what is coming at us in life. Obviously I would never advocate the name calling of God that I have heard from some people in their objections to how the world works.

Regardless of how tough things get, I believe we never should “pick a fight” with God. Obviously we cannot win, and it is inappropriate for the creature to tell the Creator how His world should run. Nevertheless, I do recognize that at times a person’s patience may run out—due to our trials—and criticisms of God come out of our mouths. The world will not end when this happens—nor need we fear a lightning bolt will come out of the clouds to strike us dead.

In fact this was the situation of Jonah in Jonah 4. He was extremely upset with what God had done and felt he wanted to die to get away from the world. God did not strike him dead for foolish talk. God actually tried to reason with His rebellious prophet. Alas, the little book on Jonah closes with the final scene showing Jonah “hopping mad” at life.

Perhaps you have felt anger at what is happening in your life as Jonah did. God wants to reason with you if you will listen. If you are still rather heated about your problem, try and cool down and then speak to God and tell Him your dislike of the issue in front of you.

If you are a parent you may have had occasion to require of your child that they swallow some distasteful but needed medicine. You are not happy to make them miserable, however you know the unpleasant “stuff” will bring them to a better day. Maybe you need to see the problem you have as some bitter remedy for an ailment.

God is worthy of our trust just as you are worthy of your children’s trust. Tell Him you do not like what is happening. He does not mind that at all. Describe how frustrated you are about life. Your Creator will listen patiently to all you have to say. Then if you are ready to listen, He will direct you on how to cope and survive the thing that threatens you.

Will you come to your Maker and pour out your heart today? I encourage you to come in Jesus’ name and ask God for all you need to cope and rise above what weighs you down. He is waiting to hear from you today.

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I Thought You Knew

“Jesus saw the rich…
He also saw a poor widow…”
Luke 21:1-2 (NIV)

Some time ago I sought to reconnect with a friend from years ago. We enjoyed each other’s company and I appreciated the expertise he had in our hobby of ham radio. We often went to ham fests together to look over the many used pieces of equipment for sale, eagerly looking for something we could not live without. We would also try and sell some of our own surplus equipment. He was a person of many interests and our chats en route to and from the site for the sale were lively and interesting.

For reasons I cannot remember, we lost contact with each other for several years. I finally emailed him to see how he was and to reconnect with him. The email he sent back was somewhat garbled and I could not understand much of what he sent to me. I tried to phone but he had moved and it took several weeks to find out his phone number to call him.

When I finally called his house a surprised son told me that his father had passed away some weeks before. He said to me, “I thought you knew.” Well, I did not know or I would have come to the funeral and offered my condolences to the family.

One of the frustrations in my work is that occasionally I overlook someone in need. I seek to keep myself organized and on top of things but then it happens—someone gets lost in the shuffle. I would like to think I never miss someone but, alas, it is not so.

It may be that you are one of those people who have been lost in the shuffle by those who should be supporting you in your time of need. It hurts to be forgotten or ignored by others. Maybe you are a person who has always appeared on top of everything and so no one would imagine you need encouragement yourself. That can be especially lonely.

However you reach out for the necessary assistance, always remember that the Lord sees you and takes note of your need. This is the beauty of our text today. No one, rich or poor, is unnoticed by the One who made us. You are always on God’s radar and you should never forget it.

One thing you may do to get the help you need is to ask for help from the God who sees you. He never turns a deaf ear to our needs when we come humbly to Him through Jesus.

When our Lord was among us 2,000 years ago He had many friends among the poor and unknown, and also had some friends in the highest places.

Will you turn today to the One who made you, who preserves your life daily, and before who you will stand some day, and ask from Him the grace and mercy you need to deal with the issues before you?

Jesus invites any and all of us to come to Him. He promises that those who come to Him He will never turn away. (John 6:38).

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The Wrong Way to do Right

“[They were] indignant because
Jesus healed on the Sabbath.”
Luke 13:14 (NIV)

Some of us were raised in a day and society when our kind of Christians had many rules to follow. We could not read the comics on Sunday, we could not get into our play clothes and go out with our friends on Sunday—we could not do very many things at all on Sunday. The general idea was that if we obeyed all these rules we would be good Christians and pleasing to God.

Sadly, no one ever could tell us why it was “sinful” on Sunday to read something amusing. Nowhere in the Bible was it recorded that children should not play with their friends on Sunday.

Jesus lived in such a restrictive culture in His day. How to obey the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy was a source of all kinds of debate. The teachers of the law taught many rules to keep and never used the Scriptures to support their teaching. For example, no one could fetch a bucket of water from the well using a rope—but if you used your belt instead of a rope it was OK. Physicians could never help a patient on the Sabbath unless the person would die if they did not intervene. This was the very thing that got Jesus very upset.

In the context of our verse today, Jesus told off the teachers who criticized Him for healing the woman who had suffered for so many years from her illness. He rightly pointed out that they all would lead their ox or donkey out of the stall to have a drink of water and slake their thirst on the Sabbath. So, why not relieve a person’s suffering on the Sabbath?

Jesus rightly indicated that we are much greater worth than an animal in God’s sight. Does not God care for us as much as the animals we own? Of course He does and He desires to have our needs met every day of the week. The Sabbath is not defiled because we work to meet others’ needs on that day.

God wishes us to be refreshed and relaxed on Sunday even more than on any other day of the week. He planned for people to have a day in seven for rest and refreshment.

We may work hard the rest of the week but Sunday is for us to enjoy as we wish. Certainly worship of God and doing acts of mercy are especially good on Sunday. That goes without saying. However let us not spoil our “day off” from regular work with rules that destroy the very plan God had for the day.

Some dear people I meet with have given up on worship on Sunday because of childhood teaching about Sunday and how to keep it. They sensed from their religious instructors that God is a spoilsport and wants us miserable on Sunday.

If you were not taught that Sunday is a day to rest and recreate yourself—but rather it is a day to obey lots of rules that make life miserable—see the liberty Jesus gives you to reclaim the day for good and positive things such as worship and praise to God and otherwise simply enjoying His creation how you choose.

Don’t be caught in the trap of the wrong way to do right and give up on your Christianity altogether.

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Our Bright Future

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty…”
Isaiah 33:17

Many years ago my father taught me to drive the family car. For some reason he got me onto the highway rather early in the process. Perhaps he thought I was doing well enough to get into the faster lanes. Whatever the reason, I soon learned a good lesson in driving and also in life.

When I first started out on the highway, it was not busy—and that made things easier. I tried to align the corner of the driver’s side front fender with the center line on the road. That was the wrong thing to do. By concentrating on the immediate road ahead I began to over steer and was constantly trying to make corrections to keep the fender on the dotted line.

My father quickly sensed what was wrong. He told me to look farther down the road and that would allow me to steer properly without seeking to make so many tiny corrections. He was right, of course, and so when I did what he suggested things went much better.

I learned that day that there was a lesson in life as well as in driving to glean from my time on the highway. My worries about what was happening in my small world seemed to be put into much better perspective when I took the long term view.

Another example might help shed light on the issue I am raising today. When I first attended art galleries, I wondered at the big rooms that accommodated the works of art. I thought it was a poor use of space to reduce the number of walls by having such wide corridors and rooms.

Then I learned that in order to appreciate a work of art, it was good to stand some distance away and be able to encompass the entire scene at once. Having your nose on the canvas deprived you of the full pleasure of all that was to be seen. Indeed the painting did not make much sense until you viewed it from a longer perspective.

The God who made us has made His self disclosure, the Bible, a book filled with the long term view of life. Our verse today gives the believer a most exciting and desirable perspective on life. It allows us to see past the “blips” of life and focus on what is ours forever instead of what is temporary.

Our Creator greatly desires us to have the long term view in mind always. He knows only that will keep us on track. Too much attention to the issues of today spoils our view of eternity. Anne Ross Cousins composed delightful verse and a couplet from one of her longer poems goes as follows:

The King there in His beauty,
without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey,
though seven deaths lay between:

At this time we, who are the children of God, now see dimly what will then fill us with wonder and amazement. Thinking on what is down the road for us is the greatest factor to keep us on course today. May the beauty of our God fill your horizon today and keep you from stumbling.

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