In the Palm of His Hand

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands
Isaiah 49:16 New International Version (NIV)
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 49:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 This scripture has always been both comforting and intriguing to me.  I feel secure when I think about not only my name but my life being engraved or written on God’s hand.  It is a beautiful picture of love.  However, I am also curious as to how God really accomplishes this feat.  Is this a literal fact or a symbolic image?  Engraving involves carving or imprinting a name or image on a surface. I have heard the engraving process correlated to the crucifixion of Jesus. When the nails pierced through Jesus’ hands as He was nailed to the cross, it has been said that not only our sins but our names where in His hands.  Although a very painful picture, it is also a very personal portrayal of the engraving process Jesus was willing to endure for me.  My name and life were deeply etched into the palm of His hands that day over 2000 years ago.  With this assurance, I can place my human hand into His divine hand today with full assurance of His protection and power.  I say this with the assurance found in the following scripture.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you
Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

Not only is my name engraved on the palm of the Lord’s hand, but He holds my hand and leads me through each day and each activity I perform with my hands.  Sometimes this may mean I will hold the hand of someone else.  I may hold the hand of my husband as a way of showing him my love and demonstrating the oneness between us.  I may hold the hand of a small grandchild not only to show affection but also as a way to keep him or her secure and away from harm.  I may hold the hand of an elderly person as a way to steady him or her so they will not fall.  I see that the reason I hold another person’s hand may be one of the same reasons why God holds my hand!  I want to echo the words of David from the following Psalm. 

I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
Psalm 63:8 NLT

 My Reader, I could continue with my semantics about hands, but I know a picture can be worth a thousand words, so let me share the following images along with a few comments.  May this give you some direction for meditation regarding God’s hand upon you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your hand!

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Your hand or God’s hand?

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What did Jesus’ hand print on the cross look like?

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All the hands of God’s children are engraved on the palms of His hands!

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Does your hand reach out to God’s hand?

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Or is your hand fighting against God’s hand?

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Whose hand do you hold?

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Do you fold your hands in prayer thanking God for His hand upon your life?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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March Winds Are Blowing

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According to the calendar, spring will begin in two days. I will be glad when the weather feels like spring, but the calendar usually tells me it is spring before the weather feels like it. However, we can count on one weather factor during the month of March – it will be windy!

As I meditate upon the word “wind”, I perceive it from both natural and supernatural perspectives. Naturally speaking, wind occurs when air flows from high pressure to low pressure. This results in a change in the atmosphere and in the temperature. Although this weather phenomenon happens year round, we are often more aware of it in March as the weather fluctuates during this change of seasons. Turning my thoughts toward the supernatural realm, the wind is revealed as the Holy Spirit. The word “spirit” in both Hebrew and Greek means “breath” or “wind.” I experience different seasons in my life and it is during these shifts and changes that I rely most heavily upon the Holy Spirit to help me through the adjustments in my atmosphere and temperament. Let’s look at scripture for validation of this comparison.

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from and where it is
going;
so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

In this scripture, Jesus makes a comparison between the wind and the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus points out a similarity, I feel there is some validity for what I want to share. An online article by Dr. Donald B. DeYoung of Creation Research Society has helped me articulate the following four comparisons between wind and the Holy Spirit.

8636119077_57dbabe649_qFirst, wind is moving air, and fresh air is needed for life. Regarding the Holy Spirit, the Hebrew word for spirit is ruach, and it means “air in motion.” This word can also be interpreted “breath” or “life.” I am reminded of Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” I see definite similarities!

8636119077_57dbabe649_qSecondly, there is no material shape to the wind. Although we cannot see it with our eyes, we do experience the effects of wind. Neither is there is a visible shape to the third person of the Trinity. However, I experience the effects of the Holy Spirit as my life is being transformed and sanctified. Just as a gentle breeze can be invigorating, so can it be energizing for me to feel the work of the Holy Spirit. Listen to the words of Acts 2:2&5, And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting….and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

8636119077_57dbabe649_qThirdly, there is a force involved in both cases. Wind is a powerful force that we cannot stop or control. The moving of the Holy Spirit is the work of God and neither is it subject to human control. Zechariah 4:6 assures me that what is done is “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” The power of the wind can make it easier or more difficult for us to move depending upon which direction the wind is blowing and in what direction we desire to travel. We can apply this same statement to the power of the Holy Spirit. We can either obey His leading or oppose it. I pray I choose to yield to the power of God’s Spirit.

8636119077_57dbabe649_qLast, we can experience both the wind and the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways. Some days we may feel a gentle breeze upon our faces while on other days we may experience wind with the force of a tornado or hurricane. We also can encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit in various ways. At times, I sense His presence simply through a quiet sensation within my spirit while at other times His presence may be so strong upon me that I literally feel myself shaking. It is interesting to note that within the single chapter of Acts 16, the Holy Spirit chooses to move in two unique ways. First, let’s read a few words that describe how the Holy Spirit worked quietly within Lydia’s heart. we (Paul and Silas) were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking …a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her (Lydia’s) heart to respond to the things spoken.” – Acts 16:13-14 Later, the Holy Spirit reveals Himself more violently through an earthquake to a jailer. Listen to some selected phrases: “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake …. When the jailer awoke…he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘ …They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”Acts 16:26-31.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150:6

My Reader, it is March and the winds of nature are blowing. I pray the wind of the Holy Spirit is also moving upon your life. No matter which wind we are experiencing, one thing remains constant – God is in control. Colossians 1:16 says, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” May I conclude by encouraging you to do as the Psalmist suggests in Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath (that includes you!) praise the Lord!” As you feel the breeze of a March wind blow upon your face, let your breath praise the Lord today!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Human Beings not Human Doings

 

human-beingsWe are human beings, not human doings.” I do not know the origin of this quote but I like it. It is a phrase that has stuck in my memory bank and quite frequently these words come to the forefront of my mind. While using some scripture references and quotes from various books, I am taking time to unpack my personal interpretation of this quote today.

Science may define me as a human being, but the type of life I live may reflect me more as a human doing. Physically, I am a human but I want to go beyond this fact. I am both a “human being” (an entity) and I am a human “being” made perfect according to God’s plan. This takes me to two scripture references.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”
Exodus 3:14
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…”
Genesis 1:26

God is the great I AM and He is perfect. I can hear God saying I AM loving you – I AM forgiving you – I AM healing you. I could go on to list a multitude of ways the I AM statement could be completed but I will stop with three.

I am made in His image but I am not perfect. My first reaction to this fact is for me to be doing something to make myself more lovable, or to be doing something so I can be forgiven, or to be doing something that will allow me to be healed. However, what I truly need to do is claim scriptures that confirm that I am being loved, being forgiven and being healed by God. These effects will not be evident within me because of anything I am doing, but they will be the result of my being in the presence of God and allowing Him to work in me. Once again I go to scripture to learn how my “being” transpires without my “doing”.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Mark Batterson says in All In, “Religion is spelled do. The gospel is spelled done.” A religious person is caught up with trying to please his god by doing. For me, faith is based on what Jesus did for me when He died upon the cross. My faith entails a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives me the privilege of “being” in His presence. He did the “doing.” Jesus did it all so all I have to do is be His child. Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Yes, I will honor God by doing good works, but my motive will be to serve Him. My doing is not nearly as important to God as my being! However, I still want to know more about how I am able to “be” rather than “do”.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

While reading these words of Paul to the Galatians, I realize that I need to put to death my inclinations of doing for God when my goal is to attain His love. Instead, I am to concentrate upon being in the presence of Christ and then allowing His love to flow through me.

God desires me to do things for Him, but my doing must be the result of my being in His presence. My being should influence my doing. I am a human being a child of God to do good works, not a human doing good works to be a child of God. I desire to be a human being aware of the Lord’s presence in my daily life. My goal is to be a human doing with Him and for Him not to earn His awareness of me but for me to be aware of Him.

Max Lucado sums up this concept well with the following words, “No more performing for God. Of all the things you must earn in life, God’s unending affection isn’t one of them.”

For in him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28

If I live and move and have my being in the Lord, how do I best live as a human being rather than a human doing? Several writers help me answer my question.

In God Calling, Sarah Young writes as if Jesus is speaking the following words, “Trust Me enough to spend ample time with Me, pushing back the demands of the day. Refuse to feel guilty about something that is so pleasing to Me, the King of the universe.”

In The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson talks about how we tend to focus on what we are doing or where we are going, while God’s primary concern is who we are becoming in the process. He says that the will of God has much more to do with being than doing. “It’s not about being in the right place at the right time; it’s about being the right person, even when you find yourself in the wrong circumstances…. It (success) has nothing to do with how gifted or how resourced you are; it has everything to do with glorifying God in any and every situation by making the most of it.”

Steve Fry is the last author I want to mention. He says in his book I Am, “Who we are is more important to God than what we do.”

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

As a human, my being in the Lord’s presence is the best preparation for my doing for Him. My doing will have more depth and power when I am aware of being in His presence. I realize that I am not just a human doing my own thing to impress the Lord. I am a human being transformed into His likeness by being in His presence which prepares me for doing the works He has planned for me to do.

My Reader, may you and I remember that “We are human beings, not human doings.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Challenge for you: We are approximately halfway though Lent. This season of the Christian calendar is the time period of forty days when we prepare our hearts for Easter. It is a time of moving closer to the cross. Sometimes moving closer to the cross is accomplished more by being than doing. May you set aside time to be alone with the Lord this week. Be a human being rather than a human doing.



I See!

I see” is a statement composed of only two words. These two little words make a complete sentence but they can be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning for “I see” relates to being able to “see” with one’s eyes while another meaning relates to being able to “see” with one’s mind. I can see visually without being able to see with understanding. There is also the possibility of one being blind visually but still able to see with understanding. Today I am searching for scriptures that help me understand what I am saying when I utter, “I see.”

eye-1-mfDo you see this woman?
Luke 7:42

In this scripture found in the book of Luke, Jesus asks Simon if he sees a particular woman. Jesus goes on to describe in detail the woman’s past and present actions and feelings. Simon may have been able to visually see this woman while Jesus not only saw the woman as a person but he also knew and understood her background as well. My Reader, who and what do you see when you encounter a particular person? Your description may be entirely different from mine while both descriptions are accurate from our own perspectives. In his book Cast of Characters, Lost and Found, Max Lucado  shares an experience he had with a friend while in rural Pennsylvania. Both men saw a drifter who knocked at the door of a church where they were holding a conference. Listen to a quote by Lucado, “We both saw the man. I saw right through him. Stanley saw deep into him. There is something fundamentally good about taking time to see a person.” His friend helped the man in need while Lucado simply saw the man. His friend saw the man with a compassionate heart while Lucado merely saw the man with his eyes. I have to ask myself, “When I see people, do I really see them? What do I see when I see them? Do I understand why I see what I see? Do I comprehend why what I see exists? Max Lucado challenges us to “look at the face until we see the person.” I believe Jesus was presenting Simon with this challenge as well. There is so much more for us to see about a person than what the naked eye first beholds.

mirror-2-mfFor now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.
I Corinthians 13:12

When Paul wrote this verse to the Corinthians, he was not referring to the physical reflection we see in a mirror, but to our spiritual reflection. We will only experience full clarity of vision when we come into the Lord’s presence and personally see the Lord face to face both physically and spiritually. The New Living Translation gives me a fascinating picture of this verse, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” Referring again to Cast of Characters, Lost and Found, Max Lucado interprets this verse as referring to our “trying to see God through shattered glass.” While here on earth with our limited understanding, we simply cannot have complete comprehension. Everything is distorted through the lens of the human eye. I appreciate the imagery Lucado uses because there are times when my life appears to be shattered and my perspective distorted.

Another author who refers to sight as being spiritual revelation is Steve Fry.  In his book I AM, Fry quotes J. George Mantle from Beyond Humiliation and then comments, “Our deepest self is revealed by our attitude towards the cross. Only when we see what sin has done to the heart of God can we be truly grateful for God’s ultimate sacrifice.” (my emphasis) I also agree with the lines of a prayer by Steve Fry when he asks of the Lord, “Give me eyes to see what you are doing even when I don’t understand. Help me to trust you.”

I look forward to the day when I can proclaim “I see!” more accurately regarding people and the Lord. These verses of scripture have challenged my vision regarding both my physical sight and spiritual sight. However, my insight is stimulated even more as I ponder the significance of another verse in the Bible.

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She gave this name to the LORD
who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,” for she said,
“I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16:13

I become aware that not only can I see but that God sees! Since God is spirit, He does not see with physical eyes like I do but He still has the ability of seeing me both visually and with understanding. His view of me is perfect without any distortions.

This verse from Genesis is spoken by Hagar when she encountered the Lord. She had been treated harshly by Sarai and sent away. The Lord saw what had happened to Hagar and the angel of the Lord came to her with encouragement and direction. She then gave God the descriptive name of El Roi because of the revelation she has received. He came to her at a specific location and met her personal needs. She went on to announce that she had “seen the One who sees her.” A depth of understanding had been revealed to her and she was able to say, “I see!”

Kay Arthur has a wonderful book entitled To Know HIM by Name in which she describes the names of God through the mediums of words and art. When portraying El Roi, “the God who sees,” she delineates incredible characteristics of our God. His eyes are never shut. He knows us by name and He knows where to find us. He understands us! Since God sees all, He sees our sins and our failures as well as our positive accomplishments. Because He sees with understanding, He forgives when He sees that our hearts are repentant. Kay Arthur says, “He knows where (we) have come from and where (we) are going. He knows what (we) are thinking and feeling in the deepest part of their heart. He sees it all. Right now. At this very instant. You can’t, but He can.”

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I see” is a statement consisting of only two simple words, but they are powerful words. My Reader, what do you see? Are you able to see on more than one level? What do these two words mean to you? Reflect upon these questions as you meditate upon the lyrics of two songs. The first was written by John Newton in 1779 while the second is by Michael W. Smith, a contemporary song writer. Both song writers say “I see” from a spiritual perspective.

Amazing Grace
by John Newton
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Open the Eyes of My Heart
by Michael W. Smith
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You,
I want to see You.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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