God’s Open Hand

from Lynda Lindsey

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.  Psalm 145:15-16

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. Psalm 145:8-9

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. … For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:10;13

An iron fisted ruler is oppressive, controlling, harsh. To rule with a fist of iron speaks of a powerful, ruthless sovereign, one quick to punish and slow to grant mercy. To be tight fisted with money or resources is to be stingy, miserly, clasping everything for oneself while open handedness suggests generosity, kindness, and willingness to share. Psalm 145 bursts forth in joyous praise for our Sovereign King who is the exact opposite of an iron fisted ruler, the exact opposite of a tight fisted miser. God’s delight is to fulfill the good desires of those who revere and honor Him.

Our King reigns with righteousness and goodness over a glorious and splendid kingdom, one without end. He is generous and abounding in lovingkindness and mercy. His hands are open to His subjects and His gifts freely flow to His creation and His created ones. He is good to all, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and near to all who call on Him in truth. He undertakes mighty deeds on behalf of His subjects; He upholds those who are falling and raises up those who are bowed down. His ways are right and just; all His works are kind. 

Jesus, Messiah, King. During Jesus’ earthly ministry He stretched out His hands to heal, to bless, to touch the untouchables, to cleanse, to restore, to save. Everything and everyone the Father gave to Jesus is kept safe in Jesus’ hands. What is left but to praise God? To extoll and bless God, to declare all His mighty acts and deeds? Speak and declare His greatness. Sing. Tell and make Him known. Our record of debt has been paid in full by Jesus; we are forgiven and made new, all from the outpouring of blessings from God’s open hand! Walk gratefully and humbly in newness of life and rejoice!

Risky Business

from Lynda Lindsey

And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. Mark 12:41-42

And He called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:43-44

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:19

Jesus, watching people give their gifts and offerings, turned the occasion into a teaching moment for His disciples. The rich put in large sums out of their abundance, but Jesus lauded the poor widow who, in her poverty, put in everything she had. Proportionally, the rich, even by donating large sums, still gave only a small part of their great wealth. There was no risk involved; if God didn’t take care of them, they still had great financial resources from which to draw. The poor widow, however, faced great risk. Either God took care of her or she would die. 

Being totally sold out to God is risky business. Believers are called to live by faith, and  while it is risky, it also turns our walk with God into an adventure! Anybody can drop a few dollars in the collection plate; but giving a tithe, or more than a tithe? Risky, indeed! Personally investing in people’s lives, giving our time and energies? Risky again. Yet God’s accounting system measures not the size or amount of the gift, but the giver’s heart of faith. Devotion to God is costly, yet generosity towards God yields opportunities to experience God’s generous grace to us. 

God will supply our every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. His riches are infinite, so we need not worry nor anxiously wring our hands. God supplied the lamb for the burnt offering, sparing Isaac’s life. God supplied the Lamb of God for our sin offering, sparing us death. No good thing does God withhold from us. Our greatest need? A Savior. Take the risk. Accept God’s provision in Christ. Love and obey God wholeheartedly. Be totally sold out to Him. Serve others. Seek first God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness, and see Him add everything you need. Live the adventure; see what God will do!

Surely the Lord is in this Place

from Lynda Lindsey

And he (Jacob) dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it… Genesis 28:12-13 (a)

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:15-17

And He said to him (Nathanael), “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:51

Jacob, fleeing Esau’s wrath over the stolen blessing, set out for Haran to seek a wife. He dreamed of a ladder stretching from earth into heaven where the angels of God were ascending and descending. The Lord was there and affirmed Jacob would inherit God’s promises to Abraham. In addition, God promised Jacob: I am with you, I will keep you wherever you go, I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Jacob awoke awestruck and afraid, saying that even though he didn’t know it, the Lord was surely in that place; Jacob describes his encounter as the house of God and the gate of heaven. 

No wonder Jacob was awestruck! The Lord God Almighty, the existing One, the I Am, is. God, high and lifted up, holy, majestic and mighty, the Creator of everything, is a personal God; He desires a close relationship with His created ones. He seeks us out, and reveals and discloses Himself to us. He is the God who is there. There is no place we can go where God is not! God is with us, keeps us, and will never leave us. And Jesus! Jesus is our access to the house of God, the gate by whom we must enter. God brought Jacob back to the Promised Land, and God will lead us into our promised heavenly home where we will dwell with Him for eternity. 

How often do we encounter God, but we simply don’t realize or recognize that the Lord is there? God is our refuge, the One who strengthens, helps, and upholds us with His righteous right hand. God never leaves or abandons us, He makes our steps firm, and when we are weary and exhausted, He carries us on eagles’ wings. God preserves our very life. No matter what you are doing or where are you going, look about and rejoice, because wherever you are, God is surely in that place!

The Lord Makes Room for Us

from Lynda Lindsey

And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.” Genesis 26:2-3

“I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 26:4-5

So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:22(b)

Isaac was preparing to travel south from Gerar, the land of the Philistines, to Egypt to avoid a famine, when God intervened, instructing Isaac to remain and settle where he was. God promised to be with Isaac and to bless his obedience. God’s promises to Abraham would be Isaac’s as well: land, descendants too many to count and from whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. All because Abraham, by faith, believed and obeyed God! Amazing, because Abraham’s obedience often lapsed. Thankfully we aren’t counted righteous because of our works or how well we keep the law. God counts us righteous because of our faith.

God blessed Isaac’s obedience so richly that Isaac eventually moved outside the city to a valley broad enough to accommodate his vast flocks and herds. Here Isaac dug again the wells that had been stopped up during Abraham’s time. Even though the wells were often a source of dispute, the last well was uncontested; Isaac named it Rehoboth, signifying it as a broad and spacious place with room to grow bigger and more fruitful. The Lord God made room for Isaac. God always makes room for His family members; and if we’ve been counted as righteous by faith, we are in God’s family, God’s household of faith. 

Isaac’s statement, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land,” echos God’s desire that we will abide and dwell with Him in a relationship so intimate, so fruitful, that we never want to leave. Intimacy includes lingering in the presence of the beloved, staying longer than we intended. Intimacy involves both head and heart knowledge. We abide in Christ; Christ abides in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus enlarges our space and expands our vision. His grace is expansive; His love effusive. He makes room for us. Do we make room for Him?

Called Out, Set Apart

from Lynda Lindsey

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. Psalm 4:3 

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Psalm 4:1

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:6-8 

David was being slandered, his character and honor attacked. Psalm 4 is David’s confident expression that our always faithful God can be relied on to rescue those who put their trust in Him. Justifiably angry at being mistreated, David didn’t lie awake at night plotting revenge against his enemies. Instead, David pondered silently, remembering and rehearsing God’s goodness and past deliverances. Thus encouraged, David kept himself from sin, developed a more trusting relationship with God, and in addition, got a good night’s sleep. David’s past history of obedience to God made it easier to endure subsequent trials, and it’s no different for us.

David had long understood that God’s call included being set apart from the ungodly. David had long experienced God’s grace, so even in the midst of severe trials, David could joyously offer up right sacrifices to God with a pure heart and then lie down in peaceful slumber. God rescues, saves, and keeps us, and He keeps on keeping us. What confidence it is that our God, who began a good work in us, will bring it to completion. God calls us out of the world and sets us apart for Himself as His own special treasure. He is holy; He calls us to holiness. Each trial becomes an opportunity to trust God to hear our cry of distress and to act on our behalf to bring us relief. 

What God has worked in our past, is now working at present and will yet do in future is the basis for our spiritual growth and development. God finishes what He starts and He leaves nothing incomplete. May we, like David, trust the Lord to show us what is good. May we have gladness of heart, even when beset by enemies on every side, for when God be for us, who can prevail against us? May we lie down in peaceful sleep, trusting completely that the Lord God is the reason we dwell in safety. Called out, set apart, God’s treasured possession, partners in the Gospel, sharers of God’s grace, clearly all reasons to rejoice, but especially in the midst of trials!

Redeemed and Gathered In

from Lynda Lindsey

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. Psalm 107:6;13;19;28

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Psalm 107:43

El Roi, the God who sees me, is our redeemer and rescuer. He saves and gathers in the lost, those who are walking in darkness, those who are storm-tossed and in peril on life’s sea. Perhaps even more astonishing, God redeems and rescues those who bring trouble upon themselves through their own foolishness. God, ever compassionate, always for the least of these, raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flourishing, thriving flocks. To redeem something valuable, to buy it back, with the purpose of restoration or recreation has always been God’s plan for His people. Made in God’s image, but marred by the fall, we have a Redeemer whose ear is attuned to our cry for help.

Troubled? Wandering in desert wastes? Orphaned or homeless? Hungry, thirsty, faint; not just physically, but in the inner soul? Unsatisfied, even while sampling every known amusement the world offers? Cry out to the Lord and experience His deliverance and rescue. God, steadfast in love, tenderly gathers in those who cry out to Him. Troubles may still come, but God delivers us from our distress. God sets us on His straight highway which ultimately leads us to our heavenly home; He fills our hungry soul with good things such that we wonder at our slowness in seeking Him. Walking in darkness? In the shadow of death? A light has dawned! God’s Son, Jesus, the light of the world, is our deliverer! Seek His light and receive life, life abundant! 

Then what? Let the redeemed say so. Be grateful! Rejoice! Give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and His steadfast love. Seek the Lord’s counsel through the Word. Help others find God’s straight path. Proclaim His wondrous works. Sing joyously! Extol God in the congregation; praise Him among the elders. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these matters! Be wise. God has redeemed and gathered us in, given us everything we need for life, health, and peace; including meaningful labor here and an eternal home in the hereafter. God fulfills the desires of those who fear Him, and He hears their cry and saves them! Hallelujah! Are you in the company of the redeemed? Say so!