Monday, January 31, 2011

Lifting Our Hands

I think most of us have become comfortable with people raising their hands in church. We know that we are indeed encouraged to do so by Paul in 1Ti 2:8, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

Often when something becomes the 'thing to do', what we lose is the reason WHY we do it.

Do we know what it means to raise our hands to God ? or what it SHOULD mean ?

I realize over and over again how God has made His ways and words clear to us because they relate to the physical things we understand easily. The understanding of the spiritual often lies in understanding the physical.

We have so many readily recognized meanings of raised hands in our every day life that are symbolically true of the spiritual as well.

1. A Sign of Surrender --- We all have visual images in our mind of people taken captive with their hands raised in surrender. It is a universal sign that a person is 'giving up', that he has nothing left to fight with.

Is that what we are also saying to God ? "God, my hands are raised... I surrender to you ... Not my will .. but yours, O Lord!"

2. Clean Hands -- Who has not as a child been asked... or as a mother asked... "show me your hands" ? We recognize the importance of clean hands to our overall health.

I love Psalm 24:3,4 "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart."

Do we lift up our hands to the Lord saying... "Examine my hands - my heart - O Lord... are they clean ?? May I come before your throne, into your Presence?"

3. Reaching for the Father -- I love to see how quickly and naturally the small child reaches up their hands for the parent -- wanting to be picked up !

Is that what we mean when we lift our hands to God ? "Oh Lord, pick me up! I am reaching for you and you alone. Hold me where I am safe and secure!"

4. Lifting our hands to Honour -- I watch the concerts/public rallies/gatherings/sports events where a sea of hands are in the air honoring some hero.

Are we lifting our hands high to honor the One to Whom all honor is due ? Saying "To you alone is all glory and honor forever and ever... There is none other but You !"

5. Lifting our hands to Receive -- Little ones so naturally lift up their hands in expectation to receive something from the hand of their parents.

Are we also expectant when we lift our hands to God ? Do we desire what is in His hand to give us ? Do we reach up in faith to receive it?

6. Humility.. Raising our hands is an outward act of humility... Opening our body leaves us vulnerable ... we tend to want to protect ourselves by holding our arms tight around our body. As parents we are all amazed how quickly a child shows his independence by folding his arms tight and saying .. "NO!"

Lifting our hands to God is saying that we have nothing in ourselves... we are needy and longing for more ... "More of you, Lord and less of me, I trust not in my own riches or strength or wisdom."

"I would that men/women everywhere lift holy hands ... " The next time we are in a service or in our private time of prayer ... let the act of lifting up our hands be full of meaning to us and a wordless expression of prayer to God.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full

The question of seeing the glass half-full or half-empty has become a familiar defining of some one's outlook on life.
Interesting to note - in both glasses the liquid amount is the same. It is in the eye of the beholder whether the glass is in the process of being filled or in the process of being emptied.

Two people can find themselves in identical circumstances; one will see the meaning of his life draining out as in a half-empty glass, whereas the other will see his glass is only half-full leaving room for fulfilling purpose to be yet added!

Easy in theory.... not so easy to live out.

I love stories of people who inspire us with what they do when their cup is suddenly half-empty. and end up with a story worth telling !

I saw Leon Fleisher's interview on TV today. A well-known professional concert pianist. Then one day his cup was emptied.
A seemingly simple cut on his right thumb caused focal dystonia. His fingers froze into a permanent curl rendering his hand useless on the keyboard!
But music was his life and he determined that he would not choose to see his cup half-empty but rather half-full! So he became famous as a skilled pianist of concertos written for left-hand only accompanied by orchestra! For 40 years he continued as a one-handed pianist until doctors recently discovered that botox injections released his frozen fingers and allowed his right hand to once more join his left hand on the piano keyboard!

Fourteen years ago when I was diagnosed with auto-immune diseases, my first thought was of a half-full glass. I went to the Lord and with a troubled heart expressing to Him how I had been so willing to serve Him and had been so excited about the things I could do ! Also without my full involvement in our business our income would dry up!
The Lord's reply resonated in my spirit . He softly said... "What if you can serve Me better without perfect health?" "Yes!!" I responded. "My cup is truly half full !! Fill it, O Lord !!" and He did ! My challenges opened new doors greater than the ones that closed.

Joseph's cup was half-emptied when his brothers planned his death, he was sold into slavery, he was unjustly thrown into prison and forgotten. But God filled his cup by bringing him into a ruling position, second only to Pharaoh and through him saved nations , including his own family, from starvation.

Abraham's cup was emptied when he was told to sacrifice his beloved son... but God filled his cup by providing a substitute lamb and with countless descendants who followed his example of faith .

Paul's cup was often emptied by beatings, shipwrecks, stonings but God filled it by inspiring him to write most of the New Testament!

In Zarephath, a widow's cup was emptied when famine threatened her life and that of her son. But God filled her cup with the miracle of an unending supply of flour and oil when she gave her last morsel to feed God's prophet Elijah.

And Jesus' cup was emptied in suffering and death but God filled it with resurrection life! Not only for Him but for countless others who place their faith/trust in Him !

Is your cup half-empty today ??
Hold your half-full cup up to God and ask Him to fill it !

Monday, January 17, 2011

DNA - Two in One ?

Lydia Fairchild's nightmare began when she applied for social assistance.
A routinely required DNA testing revealed that while her boyfriend was indeed the father of her four children she was not the biological mother.
Even though her doctor vouched for the fact that he had indeed delivered her four children, his testimony could not stand against what was considered unarguable proof -- her DNA, which could not lie, did not match her children's.

Anxious two years passed with Lydia fearing her children would be taken from her.

Then, finally a breakthrough.

Her lawyer in his desperate search for some explanatory clues, discovered the information he was looking for.
What he learned was this. There are people in the world known as Chimeras. They are rare - only 40 known cases in the whole world.
A Chimera is a person who is literally two people.
In the womb life begins as fraternal twins, but for some unknown reason very early in their development they blend together and continue their development as one person. Interestingly, however, the original two DNA's do not blend.

Except where the DNA becomes an issue, as with Lydia, a Chimera would never know that they were really their own twin!

In Lydia, when extensive DNA testing was done, her hair and skin and internal organs were found to be of one DNA, but her reproductive system carried a second DNA - hence, her children had the second DNA. Routine DNA samples would never be taken from this part of her body.

Finally, in hearing the new evidence, the courts acquiesced, ruling that Lydia Fairchild was indeed the biological mother of her children.
Lydia's nightmare was over!
In hearing about this story on a TV documentary, and considering the facts, I realized that there was a spiritual significance in this story. Science confirmed or clarified something that in our natural understanding is difficult to understand.

God has truly put knowledge of Himself and His truth in His creation, as we are told in Rom. 1:20 "For since the Creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made....."

Christians accept by faith the statement that Jesus is declared by scripture to be wholly God and wholly man. For all of Jesus' thirty-three years of sojourning on this earth, He was regarded as a man. Nothing about Him attracted undo attention or set Him apart from other human beings - not until the 'God' part of Him began to be revealed in His ministry. Even then only those willing to see it ... saw it! The others hated him as a trouble maker and called for His death .. something they would never have done if they had seen Him as a 'supernatural' God !

We struggle to grasp intellectually the fact that Jesus was God yet was man at the same time. Yet, when presented with the fact that science has proven that one person can carry two completely separate DNA codes, something believed to be impossible - does that not suddenly make it easier for us the grasp that Jesus could indeed be TWO in one physical body?

Is it not altogether believable that two separate 'codes' defined who Jesus was ?


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Bed of Roses

photo credit to Jerome G. Rosen Jr. - as appearing in National Geogrophic magazing (Dec. 2010)

You have heard it said, "Life is not a bed a roses!"
It appears that is not always true - at times life quite literally IS a bed of flower petals.

I found a little piece in the December (2010) National Geographic that reports on a very fascinating discovery.
There is a species of bee found in the mountain slopes of Turkey and Iran whose unusual nest construction was recently observed by researchers.

The female Osmia avosetta bee responding to an inner clock knows it is time to build her nest . She begins by digging a shallow, two inch tunnel in the soft soil preparing for two or three chambers.

She then lines these chambers with flower petals that she meticulously separates with her teeth from the flowers growing in nearby fields. Petal by petal she carries them back to her construction site, gluing two or three layers together.
When satisfied with her petal nursery, she deposits an ample supply of food and lays a single egg at the mouth of the nest. Carefully, she folds an inner petal for a blanket over the egg, seals the door and folds over one last petal.
The whole process takes about two days.
When the nest hardens, it is weather and predator resistant and provides a warm and moist environment in which the larvae thrives.
It is regrettable that the beauty of its bed is lost on the larvae bee, since it develops in the dark and at that stage is without eyes to see!

How amazing this little bee is !

What single minded focus, what talent and ‘know-how’ to build such a perfect nest for its young! What wisdom is filed into its minuscule brain!
Throughout its life this tiny creature has no distractions from what she desires to do. She experiences no sense of drudgery. No anxiety over what may or may not be, disturbs her rest. There is no lack of supply to fulfil the purpose that drives her. She has no disquieting thoughts that perhaps her work might be in vain!
Her life is enviable.
What is it that makes her life so perfect that we of much greater intelligence stand in admiration and awe?

The answer is simple, is it not? This little creature lives her entire life perfectly following the wisdom and direction of the One who created her. She knows nothing of deviating from that wisdom and following her own pursuits or self-desires.

Does she not make us look foolish? Man, given free choice, seems rather unable - or unwilling- to single mindedly choose to follow the wisdom of God. We so easily gravitate to the age-old default “every man doing that which is right in his own eyes”.
Over and over God reveals His unfailing wisdom in His creation. Every flower is beautifully dressed. Every little creature is fed and cared for.
Do we have any reason to think that God would do less for us?
Yet, we doubt, we fear, we worry, we question. How foolish we are!

What greater honor can we give our heavenly Father than to trust Him completely, to look to Him for wisdom and direction for our daily lives, believing that every promise in the Book is true !!

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

The everlasting God , the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.

There is no searching of His understanding !” Is. 40:28 NKJV

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Focus for the New Year - are you Hungry?

We have just enjoyed the season of the year where celebration and food have been a focal point. And so it should be. God ordained that the table be a place of joyous fellowship!


Have you ever stopped to think how much of our life is focused on FOOD?
It is a rare day that we think of it the minimum three times – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Even when we aren’t actually eating - ‘food’ is never far from our consciousness
Have you ever measured the greatest distance between you and food at any point in your day? Or how long you can hold a conversation before there is a reference to food or drink?
We talk about ‘treats’ and food flashes into our minds.
We plan a celebration and food is the top of our to-do list.
We shop it, we cook it, we preserve it and prepare it - we work to pay for it!
We actually do very little that doesn’t sooner or later involve food or some process connected with it.

Have you ever thought about how much time we would have freed up in our daily lives if we suddenly had no need or desire for food?
From the day we were born, food has been an important all-consuming focus in our life. And the amazing thing is that we never tire of it!!
Have you ever heard anyone - unless they were very nauseous - express the wish that they would never have to eat again?
Probably not ... more often than not the focus is on trying to curb our eating .. not force ourselves to eat.

What is my point? I do have one!!!

God uses our insatiable need and desire for physical food as a picture of how we are to long for the things of God.
John 6:27 says in Jesus’ words, “Do not labour for the food that perishes but for the food which endures for everlasting life!”

If you think back over your day yesterday, what is the time ratio between the time you spent on physical food and the time you spent on spiritual food?
How much time did you spend,
Thinking about God,
Reading your bible,
Talking to God,
Talking about God in your conversations,
Learning about the things of God,
Working for the things of His Kingdom.

When you were last ‘hungry’, was it the pleasure of physical food that you thought of or was it spiritual food you yearned for to satisfy your hunger?

I would like to challenge us today to just think about the new year facing us …2011.
How important a place will God have in our activities and plans? How much time will we spend on our spiritual well-being?
This coming year when we daily enjoy the food that God has given us to so richly, both to enjoy and to sustain physical life … may we let it remind us that we do “not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4 NKJV

May you be blessed this New Year with all the blessings of God’s Life and Goodness and Truth! "
May you taste and see that God is GOOD! " Ps.34:8