Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Power In Our Hands

Our hands convey many messages—greeting, angry, loving, touching, and helping messages. These "hand messages" are very powerful. Think about a greeting message for instance. It can be warm or cold and indifferent depending on whether we are happy to see the other person. Angry messages can be harmful, hurtful and cruel. There is great negative power in angry messages from the hand.

Yet loving messages, touching messages and helping messages communicate powerful positive feelings like compassion, empathy, sympathy, concern, tolerance, kindness, mercy and charity. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever felt the difference between a negatively charged message and a positively charged message from the hands of another? I believe we have all felt this in one form or another throughout our lives. Our hands can be used to separate or unite.

The questions we need to ask ourselves is what do my hands convey? Do I separate or do I unite? If we convey positive messages to others then we earn love, respect and trust from those with whom we are in relationship. This is so important to strong, loving and lasting relationships with family and friends. It is important to show sincere care for another.

As I think about the power in our hands, I am reminded of the loving hands of God. I recall all his hands have done including creation, birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. I recall how his hands, through the Holy Spirit, directed other's hands to write the Holy Book; and I recall his messages of love written within those scriptures. Because of his loving hands, he draws us into an eternal, trusting relationship with himself and he teaches us to imitate the same powerful love from our hands toward others. Do we have this trusting relationship with God? Can we learn to truly imitate the power of his love through our hands? He promises to help us. Let's all yield to his loving hands. He even displays his hand in the clouds as a reminder to follow his love and his lead.
"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" Isaiah 41:10 (ESV). Picture posted on  Billy Graham FB page by CM DeCuir

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jasmine & Discipline

This morning I spent an hour or so pruning our jasmine that had been damaged during the winter months. There were so many dead leaves and vines that the new growth was unable to put out its fruit—little white flowers of extraordinary fragrance. While cutting away the dead vines I could see some of the blossoms hiding underneath, waiting to "put forth."

As I worked on this project, I thought of a lesson Jesus taught his disciples in the Gospel of John. He said,“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" John 15 1-2 (NIV). So I ask, have you ever received God's pruning? I have! It comes in the form of gentle and  loving discipline; yet it is so strong you know without a doubt it is from the heavenly Father. I remember the first time it happened to me, I wanted to go sit in a corner and stick my thumb in my mouth because I realized the truth in the matter. It is a very humbling experience.

And just like the jasmine that were waiting to "give out" for our pleasure and enjoyment, God's pruning helps discover and develop the good in us that is waiting to "give out" for His pleasure. The good in us is the sweet fragrance God enjoys when we are fruitful, serving Him and loving others with His love. However, I must stress, we cannot do this in our own humanness—and that is "the rest of the story."

Jesus went on to teach his disciples. He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" John 15:5-6 (NIV). I know from my own experiences that apart from Jesus I can do nothing! Apart from Jesus my love withers and dries up; but while I am connected to the vine, it fills up and overflows. When this happens to me I am thankful for His pruning, His correction and His discipline. It is another beautiful way He has of telling me I am His child.

My child, don't make light of the LORD's discipline, and don't give up when He corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those He loves..." Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT)