Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week Twenty - Impossible


 “…With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

A few years back we went through a full year of God proving what was truly possible with Him.  A part of our ministry had faced some truly serious challenges and there was no way humanly possible to sort things out, put things right, and come out with a good ending.  We had done all we could, but found ourselves facing a truly impossible situation.  Then, God stepped in.

He didn’t take the problem away, he just began solving things.  He moved us aside and showed that He was fully able to take care of His ministry.  It was then that I began to realize how much I was trying in my own strength to serve.  I had put my whole life into God’s service, but failed to see my true position.  I was simply a tool in His hands.  When I changed my stance from Christian leader to God’s tool, other things began to happen.

I found more joy.  I experienced more of God’s miraculous working.  I felt less stress and irrational responsibility.  I knew and felt a closer relationship of care and concern coming toward me from the Lord.  I also found myself pointing others to God’s ability instead of giving them my advice.

Impossible situations are just that – impossible.  And for me, that’s fine.  Because, God loves to work in impossible situations, for there He can truly show His greatness.  That year was amazing, but you know what?  God hasn’t stopped showing me His ability to bless above and beyond what I can comprehend.  And, he hasn’t stopped bringing impossible situations before me.  Only now, I just step back and let God work it out.

Are you facing an impossible situation?  Have you exhausted all of your resources trying to fix it?  Why not just surrender it over to the God of the Universe?  You can be sure He knows how to get it sorted, for with Him “all things are possible.”



“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37

The Christmas story is full of impossible things – a virgin conceives, a barren woman is with child, angels speak directly to men, and the birth of God in human form.  All through the story we see God moving every event to bring His Son into this world, to protect him while an infant and to provide for these young parents.

We love this story and are not surprised by the involvement of the Almighty or the presence of angels.  Yet, we leave it there as a nice story for the holidays and fail to recognize that, just as all Scripture, it is there for our admonition and learning.

The truth is that God is just as involved in our lives today as he was with Mary and Joseph at the nativity.  He is moving and directing every event in our lives.  He is just as concerned about our protection and provision.  He is just as able to overcome insurmountable circumstances.  With God NOTHING shall be impossible.

If you take time to meditation on that simple statement, you will no doubt starting coming up with scenarios where you think God must not be able because things haven’t turned out the way you thought.  Well, those in the Christmas story might have occasion to feel the same way.  Mary never intended to be an unwed mother,  Zacharias never intended to go dumb, Joseph probably had no plan about moving to Egypt and both he and Mary would not have chosen to travel to Bethlehem so close to delivery nor have chosen to give birth to their first child in a stable.

Odd circumstances are not a sign that God is not working.  Rather, odd circumstances are the opportunity for us to see God at work.  I think the part we love about the Christmas story is the oddness of the situations and weaving them together to see the beauty of the Nativity.

We need to see our life as the same.  It is a weaving of odd situations and perplexing circumstances where all the while God is working to make what we see as impossible possible.

Are you facing odd circumstances?  Are you looking for the hand of God or throwing up your hands?  With God nothing is impossible….think about it!



“…it was impossible for God to lie…”  Hebrews 6:18

From the promise of a redeemer in Genesis to the promise of the restoration in Revelation we can know and believe that God is true and His Word will be fulfilled.  It is literally impossible for God to lie.  So when we read things in His Word that seem outrageous or extreme, we need only fall back on this foundational truth and rest in God’s ability to accomplish the impossible and to make all things work according to His plan.

He said he would love me…and he does.  He said he will provide for me…and he does.  He said he understands me…and he does.  I think we fail to believe that God is Truth.  Instead, we get so hung up in our problems that we begin to see them as truth.  Our eyes are on our situations instead of on our God.  We might know that God cannot lie, but we fail to see how that makes any real difference to our lives or to whatever we are facing.

The fact of the matter is that there is nothing we can face that is not based upon this truth.  God is TRUTH.  If we can get hold of this basic and foundational absolute, we will be able to look at life in a totally different way.

God will never lead us astray.  He will never fail to keep his promises.  He is totally and completely able to understand everything we are facing and he isn’t afraid.  He is honest in his actions toward us and will not withhold purpose and meaning if we will but ask.  He has no ulterior motive or hidden agenda.  He is upfront and clear about His intentions.  We struggle because we do not believe that God is good, he is love and He is truth.

Do you doubt God’s intentions toward you?  Do you think He cannot be trusted to understand or handle your situation?  Do you think that He is a trickster?  Better be adjusting your thoughts and submitting your heart and life to this truth.  It is impossible that he be any other way.

”…let God be true, but every man a liar…”  Romans 3:4 
He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.”  John 3:33 



“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Think of all the things we do to try to please God.  We read our Bible, pray, attend church, deny ourselves various entertainments, subject ourselves to codes and practices, all in an attempt to prove to ourselves and others that we are good Christian, that we are pleasing to God.  Sadly, we are slow to learn that just as we came to God by faith alone, he expects no less and nothing more than faith as our daily walk and example of our relationship with him.  “…having begun in the Spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

I’m not soliciting that we cast aside all Christian principles and practices, but rather, that we examine the motives behind our Christianity.  Without faith, we cannot please God.  Yea – it is impossible to please him in any other mode.

So, where does that leave us?  I have found that God is little impressed with what I do for him.  Rather, his fondest embrace is reserved for those times when I am simply alone with Him; times when my heart is childlike and fully trusting.  Times when I become aware that He is real enough to almost touch; when His goodness, holiness and beauty overtake my soul.  Only when my service is based in this deep love and submission is anything of real value accomplished or found pleasing to Him. 

Here is Hebrews 11 we read the works of men and women of faith.  If you take time to read the chapter you will see that though God lists their works, he impresses upon us the fact that they all believed God to be real and fully able to work in their lives.  This trust, this faith, was the basis of their lives and was exhibited in the outflow.

What is exhibited in your life?  Are you going through the motions, but have no real sense of the Master?  Do you understand that faith and works go together, but that faith is the underpinning truth and motivation?  Is God real enough that you could almost touch him?  It is impossible to please him any other way.



“And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”  Luke 18:27

Throughout my life I have been told that the things I desired to do were not possible.  I wanted to be an architect.  My Dad said, “Girls can’t be architects.”  I wanted to join the army.  My Dad said, “Girls don’t do things like that.”  So, I got married and was told, “Your marriage won’t last more than 18 months.” 

Then, I started Bible College and was told, “You can’t do that, you have three small children.”  And, as we went on to the mission field, some said, “They will never last.”

I’m so glad I didn’t listen to all the negative voices in my life.  They each thought the choices I was making were impossible.  I didn’t become an architect, though I know now that it would not have been impossible.  And, I didn’t join the Army – Praise God.  But I did join the Lord’s Army!  My marriage has passed the 40 year mark, I completed Bible College and later went on to get a Masters and the mission field is still my home.

Negative voices are scattered throughout our lives.  We make the choice as to how much weight they hold in our lives.  We make the choice to say we will trust and believe God, or halt and yield.  It isn’t a matter of rebellion or ignoring good advice, it is a matter of keeping your eyes on the Lord and believing that your dreams are possible inside the will of God.  I believe God plants the image of what He desires for our lives into our hearts.  We might not be able to fully verbalize them, but they give us aspiration to move forward with the Lord.  Following them is what some people refer to as following your heart.  I prefer to call it following the Lord.

Do you have aspirations?  Is there a path you believe God has for you?  Negative voices will try to hinder you by telling you it is impossible.  Get with The Voice and let Him show you the next possible step.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week Nineteen - Honour


“O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me: (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.”  Psalm 7:3-5

The Psalmist is serious about accountability in regards to the treatment of others.  He is very aware that his actions will be judged.  He is concerned that his treatment, even of his enemy, needs to be weighed by eternal standards.  He knows that the principle of cause and effect is one to which he is also accountable. It makes me wonder - how serious are we today about our treatment of others? 

When phrases like, “It’s your life, do what you want.” or, “No one has the right to judge you.” are the standard by which we estimate our actions and make decisions, then I doubt that we are holding ourselves to a Biblical standard.  Seems most people want the “honour”, but not the accountability or standard by which honour is earned.

The Biblical definition of honour is reputation, dignity and glory.  The Psalmist recognizes that his reputation is built upon how he treats others.  The dignity, to which he lives, is the same dignity that he must afford others.  And, any glory that would come from his life is limited to his awareness of the value of others.  To lay his honour in the dust is to lose his honour, reputation, and dignity because of failure in his treatment of others.

We are all affected by how others treat us.  No one is exempt from being influenced or swayed by the actions and opinions of others to some degree.  And, we are all accountable for how we treat others.  We can never expect to get far in life or have a good reputation if we are unkind, selfish or cruel.

What about you?  Do you see the accountability before you?  Or, do you think that no one matters but yourself?  Do you feel justified in returning evil for evil, or do you see that a higher standard is required?



“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” 
Romans 13:7

The definition of the word, honour, in this verse is different than reputation or dignity.  It has to do with value and reverence.  Value based on a price or rank is the idea.  For example, we would value a Ferrari over a Renault based on price and on rank.  Or, we would value a granite counter top over a wooden chopping board.  Not only would we see that one was more valuable than the other, we would also treat one with greater care than the other because it’s value deserves and demands greater. 

Another side of this is the deference we would show to the more valuable thing or person, for that matter.  If we were in the presence of the manager of a company we would potentially show more etiquette than if we were in the presence of his basic employee.  We would also be more ready to hear his ideas and instruction than to hear the same from the employee. 

We are instructed here in Romans to show such consideration to those to whom it is due.  So, we are to defer to those in authority, those who have positions of respect and leadership.  But also, it goes further.  Showing honour is a choice.  We can choose to show honour to the basic employee or the wooden chopping board as well.  Our attitude toward others and toward things is never dependent solely upon their perceived value, but upon our personal choice and estimation of their value.

In James we are warned about showing preference to the rich man and humiliating the poor.  Since God is no respecter of persons, we, too, are to value each person.  This is not a contradiction, but rather, an opportunity to shed light on both sides of how we honour and respect the dignity and value of others.  Humility is the key.  Pride is the inhibiter.

What about you?  Are you humble enough to show value to those above you and below you?  Or, does your pride go about looking to see who is praising you and your ideas?  Do you show preference to those above you and disdain for those beneath?  Are you respectful and honouring of authority?  Or, are you seeking to tear them down on your way up the proverbial ladder?



“Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me…”  John 8:54

Jesus is characterized by humility.  One good definition of humility is – knowing your place.  As we think about this verse we can see that Jesus knew his place.  Though thoroughly God and endowed with all power in heaven and on earth, he keeps himself in the right place – under submission to the Father.

We never see Jesus walking around telling the disciples or the followers to bow to him or telling them how great He was.  He knew that such boasting and pride were a direct opposite of his character.  There was no place for pride or self promotion in the life of Jesus.  His Father was in control and he was doing the will of the Father.  Any honour that would come his way would come through the Father and because of Jesus’ obedience.

We can know this is the opinion of Jesus not only because we can see the works he did and read the words he said, but also because of the choice of word used in this verse.  The word honour means to think, suppose or be of an opinion.  It has to do with praise and magnification, and to adorn with lustre or clothe in splendour, to make renowned.

Jesus knew that heaping praise and adoration upon himself was not the way to honour the Father.  This was the way of the shallow and self-centred. He also knew that all praise and adoration that would be bestowed upon him came through the Father.  He was content with that.

Do you go about pointing out your strengths and accomplishments to others in order to gain praise?  Do you “blow your own horn”.  Or, can you understand that obedience done in secret and without fanfare will be rewarded openly by God?



“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”  Proverbs 11:16

This proverb is so very instructive.  The word honour in this instance means glory and abundance.  It also has to do with dignity, reverence and reputation.  But before we take off on what this woman has, maybe we need to take time to see how she obtained it?

Just like respect is earned and not demanded, honour also comes to those who know it’s value and have taken the time to develop the character qualities to which honor is deserved. 

First, she is called a “gracious woman”.  A gracious woman is one characterized by kindness, grace, charm, and elegance.  She is not a brawler or a gossiper.  She is never ill-mannered or inconsiderate.  Her manner and carriage are those of class and refinement.  She has taken time to consider her attitudes and actions and knows the value of presenting herself well.

The honour that comes her way is important to her.  I doubt that it is because she is seeking the praise, but rather, that she is seeking to please her Lord and to keep a good testimony.  So, it is said that she “retaineth honour”.  This means that she maintains her manner so as to grasp, hold, or keep her honour.  She places great value on her reputation and guards it.

Since the idea of honour has also to do with abundance, and the remainder of the verse has a reference to riches, we can also assume that the gracious woman has benefited greatly from her choices.  She is, by her own actions and choices, able to retain not only her reputation, but also the abundance or blessings that have come her way.  She is a woman of prudence; a woman attentive to her business and demeanor. Truly, she is rare and immensely attractive.

Have you ever met such a woman?  How did she impress you?  What benefits do you see related to the choice to be gracious?  What honours to you think she would have received?  Would you be a candidate for the same?



“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”  Proverbs 3:9

The basis of the definition of honour in this verse is another totally different one than we would ever imagine.  It has the idea of weight, or to make heavy by placing honour upon.  It is also related to abundance and glory.

Sometimes we see our giving as just another box to tick.  If we have tithed and given to missions or another special cause, then we have done our bit.  But this verse is teaching more than the simple performance of a spiritual discipline.  It is about seeing the value behind the action and rendering our gifts as ways to actually honour the Lord – to place the weight of glory upon Him.

Someone once said, “We can never out give God.”  And truly, we cannot.  But if we want the rest of the verse to be real and tangible, then we cannot be flippant about our giving.  We need to see it as a real act of worship and recognition of God’s supremacy and honour.  As we submit to his directives in giving, we can then claim the rest of the promise.  He will abundantly bless.

There is an odd little proverb in Proverbs 24:27 that teaches to make things right in the field before you build your house.  I knew a man that took this to heart.  He bought a large plot of land and built a barn.  When people questioned him about it, he quoted this verse.  A few years later he built an amazingly beautiful house on the same property.  Because he had honoured the Lord in his giving, and followed the directives of that simple proverb, God had abundantly blessed.

I think sometimes we get things the wrong way around, we think that if we are not provided for first, then we cannot give to God or follow His methods.  The truth is that if we would first give and obey as a priority, we would be better positioned for God to bless us in the abundant fashion for which He is known.

How about you?  Do you just throw money in the plate with no thought about honouring God?  Do you just go through the motions in your Christian life?  Or, do you see that God wants to be honoured and obeyed in order to bless you abundantly?  It is a weighty matter!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week Eighteen - Heap


“I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.  But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.”  Job 16:4                                 

The story of Job’s friends, their offers of advice and subsequent conclusions makes for some intense reading, but ultimately, not one of them looked for the good in Job, they all were busy pointing fingers and heaping blame.  Meanwhile, their friend, Job, has lost his children, employees, income, health, and even the support of his spouse.

Job’s response to his companions is never one of pointing the finger back to them.  He has made the decision not to heap up words against them. He will not repay their condemnation in the same manner. If the shoe were on the other foot, he says he would use words to strengthen them and to bring comfort.

How many times have you been in Job’s shoes?  You may have not experienced his extent of loss, but you may have experienced friends who are so busy looking to find your faults that they only add to your sense of despair.  Or, have you been guilty of being like Job’s companions; too busy trying to discover where your friend is wrong, that you have heartlessly overlooked the depth of their grief?

It makes for some serious thought and some souls-stirring questions. Take time to honestly confront yourself with these questions:

Do my friends know that I would be supportive and comforting if they came to me in the midst of a trial?  Am I condemning in my thoughts and words toward my friends?  Do I think the best of my friends, or am I out to see them fail?  Do I use my words to strengthen my friends or exalt my own sense of self-righteousness?  In trials, do I point my friends to hope in Christ or try to think of something impressive I could say?  Do I treat my friends as I would want to be treated if I were in their position?



“But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.”  Job 36:13

To heap up wrath means to place wrath upon, or to appoint wrath for.  So, the hypocrite is just giving God ammunition by open rebellion and a heart full of sin.  Even when God tries to “bind” him, or to point out the error of his ways, the hypocrite refuses to bow, thus adding more punishment and more eternal accountability for his choice.

Another way to look at it this “heaping” is to say that the hypocrite heaps up, or holds wrath in his heart.  His motivations are based on his anger.  He wants things to be his way, not God’s way.  He refuses to yield to God’s punishment or correction.

By the way, the King James version defines this person as a hypocrite, but other versions use the terms “godless” or “profane”.  Either way it points to a person outside of Christ.

Proverbs 11:21 reads, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished…” God is very serious about sin and rebellion.  “No matter how tight the cooperation may be, no matter how smart they are, no matter how cleverly they are concealed, no matter the walls they have built, no matter their technique of hiding, no matter the kind of meeting they have held, no matter the agreement between them, the wicked shall not go unpunished.” (Daniel Olukoya)

Anger is a deadly poison.  To have it as the mainstay of life is unwise and unhealthy.  To stubbornly hold onto your own agenda is only to heap up anger in your heart as you fight against God’s moving and to place yourself ultimately before the hands of an Almighty God for eternal judgment.

What is the cure?  Lay down your weapon of anger.  Confess your sin of stubbornness and rebellion and throw yourself upon the mercy of God. You will never win the battle.  It will always cost you more than you want to pay.  You will not go unpunished.



“For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee”  Proverbs 25:22

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”  Romans 12:20

God’s Word paints some very unusual pictures.  Heaping coals of fire on someone’s head?  Literally, it means piling up hot, glowing briquettes of coal upon the head of your enemy.  Doesn’t sound very nice to me.  Yet, as we choose to follow the Lord’s command in the treatment of our enemies, that is what is taking place.

The focus is not, however, on seeing our poor enemy melting underneath the heat of the coals of our vengeance, but rather, to see him melt into repentance and friendship by our kindness toward him.  Or, on the other hand, our goodness toward him, may make his evil toward us more inexcusable, and thereby bring the heat of conviction upon him.

It makes me think of a cartoon picture of an enemy with steam coming out of his head when he cannot break down his victim.  The victim continues to repay every assault with kindness.  It just creates more anger and frustration in the enemy.

Our Lord’s actions had a similar affect on the people around him.  He was kind to the unthankful and to the evil.  When he was reviled he reviled not again.  His truthful responses simply blew the minds of his enemies.  The conviction of his words and acts heated them up and left them without excuse, yet they chose vengeance instead of repentance.

It isn’t always easy to be the “victim”.  Making that choice to repay ill with kindness takes spiritual fortitude and much prayer.  Yet, the love of God commands us to be forgiving, forbearing and patient.  Trying to get our “pound of flesh” out of a situation will never lead us to the end we desire.  Peace, joy and happiness cannot come out of a heart of vengeance.  They are the fruits of endurance and forgiveness.

Are you the victim or the enemy?  Have you felt the heat of conviction in your actions toward others?  Are you making choices that lead for peace?


“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  II Timothy 4:3,4

During my counseling studies I was presented with a rundown on how relationships break down.  It starts off with a hurt or offense, then a communication breakdown, feelings of rejection and unreceived offers of appeasement.  Then, once the conflict has broken out, the offended one seeks friends that agree with their position.  This is what has happened here. 

Sound doctrine has offended them.  They have either refused to communicate this offense, or not taken time to fully understand the position and begun to allow feelings to rule.  Every offer of appeasement or reconciliation has been rejected and they are in open conflict with God’s Word.  So, they look around and accumulate others who have found themselves opposing truth and go about to make their own truth.

The truth hurts, but that does not change the fact that it is truth.  Sound doctrine is vital, but that does not always make it easy to swallow.  In our day of secularism, humanism, relativism and all the other ism’s, we see man trying to make his own truth.  He is turned to fables, myths, legends, and false beliefs.  These teachers abound, and people are thronging to them.  Such is the manner of the broad way.

The narrow way, however, has but one Teacher, one Truth, and one Way.  He alone has made the way for broken relationship to be restored and sets the parameters for sound doctrine. 

To what are your ears attuned?


“For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God….”  Ecclesiastes 2:26


Ever notice that the bad guy is usually the rich guy?  In the old Westerns, the richer cattleman was troubled, power hungry and corrupt.  The poor farmer boy had only his horse and his good moral qualities.  But, in the end of the story, the poor boy got the girl and was rewarded, many times by gaining what the bad guy lost.

God has shown this same pattern through his Word.  The enslaved Israelites left their captors (Egypt) with wealth untold.  They then entered the Canaan land, “I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.”  (Joshua 24:13)  God took from the evil and gave to the good.  Then again, in the book of Esther, we see all of the wealth of Haman given to Mordecai.  (Esther 8:2)

The effort of gathering and heaping up is never related to the “good Christian” except in the idea of laying up treasures in Heaven.  All of our heaping up of the temporary causes us to lose focus on God as the provider and rewarder.  We are called to live life without the attachment to the things of this world, without the driving desire to accumulate wealth and stuffs.  If we use the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, we will be wealthy.  The tangibility of our wealth will be determined by our use of these gifts and by the hand of God, but tangible wealth should not be our main goal.

There is no reason, then, for us to covet the things of sinners, or to be envious of their gain.  Over and over we are taught that they will be cut down and wither, they will not prosper, they are full of trouble and they will be consumed.  Our focus should be on our own accountability and contentment before God.  “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.”  (Proverbs 15:16)  We need to leave the disbursement of wealth to God.  Remembering that - The good guy will win!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Week Seventeen - Hand


“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” 
Joshua 6:2

“…I have given into thine hand…  The word, “hand”, does mean hand, but is also figurative of control, power, strength, and direction.  God has given Joshua the city of Jericho and the inhabitants therein.  He will have power over them. 

God is also giving Joshua the responsibility for this task.  He is to lead and direct the children of Israel according to God’s instruction.  This is his first big battle since taking leadership from Moses.  It is no small thing.

This phrase really caught my attention as I was praying about the things God had placed in my hand: the responsibilities, the accountabilities, and the directions He was giving me.  At first, I trembled.  Then, I began to see that God would never place anything in my hands that He had not already sorted.  He would never give me anything so big that He had not already prepared for me, or decided would be best for me.

Just as when God told Joshua, “I have given...”, I must remember that God had also given me the things in my hand.  They are His gifts to me.  It is His plan for me.  I need not fear, but rise to the challenge knowing that I am not alone.  And neither was Joshua.  He had a promise to claim, and so do I – “…for the Lord thy God is with the whithersoever thou goest.”

Facing some tough times?  Wondering why you are being called to greater responsibility or accountability?  See it as something God has placed in your hand and then claim His promise.  He will take you through and the battle will be yours!



“…Is my hand shortened at all, that I cannot redeem?...”  Isaiah 50:2

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear…”  Isaiah 59:1 

Isn’t it great when God answers His own questions?  Is His hand shortened?  Is his power and control inadequate? No.  Maybe we need to have a look at this word, shortened, before we continue.  I always thought of it as God’s hand figuratively not being long enough. And that isn’t necessarily wrong, but the meaning of the word indicates to be impatient or angry.  It has to do with reaping and cutting down in harvest. 

Israel is far from God, but God is not far from them.  Though they have pushed against Him, he is still near them.  He still has the power to save.  He will not allow his impatience or anger to cut short His ability to bring them back.

The qualifier for Isaiah 59:1 is 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  God’s hand is not short or without power, but there is a principle here.  God will not mess with sin.  He will save you from it if you ask, but He will not live in it with you.

Don’t think that because you are “getting away with it” for the time, that God approves or is unable to sort you out.  Don’t think that He is not aware of the sin in your life or that he is simply being stubborn in not answering your prayers.  He is fully capable to move into your life at any time.

Isaiah 59:20 says, “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion…  God will show up!  And he is not without power to deal with the situation.



“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”  Isaiah 30:21 


“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
 Proverbs 4:26 & 27


“Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road.”  Dorothy was told.  Throughout her journey to the Emerald City, these words were repeated.

The voice of our parents and other influential people also resonate in our ears.  I don’t know how many times I hear their voices reminding me of instructions, warnings and encouragement.  God’s Word is another voice.  It, too, calls out to give direction and admonishment.  These voices are guides in our lives. 

Sadly, some people are guided by poor instruction, little encouragement and no warnings.  Their lives are seemingly without direction due to the fact of poor parenting, the absence of Godly influences, or open rebellion.  But that is where God’s Word can make repairs, restoration, and give a new confidence.  God is so very interested and involved in our path.

God’s Word is telling us that we all need these voices.  That little whisper in the ear to remind us of right and wrong has a part to play in our lives.  If we know what is right, we should then stay on that path.  If we are not sure, we should examine our path and make adjustments according to God’s Word.

Turning to the right hand or the left indicates that we are straying off the path, or that we are wandering. God wants us to make straight paths for our feet. (Hebrews 12:13)  Ours is to be a path characterized by a steady and confident walk.  We are not being blown about, but our eyes are to be focused and our steps are to be moving in one direction - Godward.

Are you wandering?  Are you wondering?  God’s Word has the instructions.  Find that path, and stay on it!



“…lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees…”
 Hebrews 12:12


“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.” 
Isaiah 35:3

These two verses read almost exactly the same, but they have two angles for us to consider. 

First is the angle of our responsibility.  In Hebrews 12 we have come through a lengthy passage on accepting chastisement and correction from God as his children.  Having told us that such discipline is for our good and coming from a heart of love, we are instructed not to be discouraged by discipline, but to get up and go forward.

Matthew Henry explains, “A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian’s hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but this he must strive against; that he may the better run his spiritual race…He must encourage and not dispirit others.  There are many that are in the way to heaven who yet walk but weakly and lamely in it.  Such are apt to discourage one another; but it is their duty to help one another forward in the way to Heaven.”

The other angle, in Isaiah 35, is the instruction to the prophets and ministers of God.  They are charged to strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees of the people. Who have been left fearful after conflict with the Assyrian army.  God’s Word had come to promise them gladness, rejoicing and the return of God’s presence and mercy. They needed to hear words of comfort.  Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come…he will come and save you.”  Such was the message of the prophet to this people.

This, too, is the design of the gospel, to strengthen the hands those that are weak and to help them stand. Christ said he was come to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, deliver captives, give sight to the blind and set people at liberty.  Truly, when the message of hope, preached and found in Christ, comes, our hands are lifted up and our knees receive strength.

We ought, then, to receive this message of hope for ourselves and then stand up and go forward with this message for others.



“…they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship…”
Galatians 2:9 


The right hand of fellowship is a symbolic phrase.  In contrast to the left hand, the right is culturally considered to be the stronger and of great prestige.  It is a sign of friendship, trust, and covenant.


Paul and Barnabas had just gone before the council in Jerusalem to gain approval for his mission to the Gentiles. This had been a serious dilemma for the newly forming church coming from a Jewish background, and, for the expansion of the gospel into the regions beyond and namely, into the Gentile nations. This “hands of fellowship” was a signet of their agreement and a sign of their blessing.


The shaking of hands upon greeting and at the end of a business deal in our culture comes from this same symbolic idea.  It is a sign of acceptance and a sign of trust.  


Let’s contrast this with a verse in Proverbs 11:21, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished…”  Here we see another handshake.  But this time the design is totally different.  Paul and the elders in Jerusalem made a sign of trust and covenant that bound them together for the good.  Here we see the wicked making covenant to continue in wickedness.  God lets them know that their covenants are not beyond his intervention.  Their plans for evil will be thwarted no matter how tightly bound they are in their devises.


So what does this mean for us?  Let’s be careful with whom we go into league.  Let’s be discerning about whom we enter into fellowship.  Let’s be assured that God will bring every work into judgment and therefore honest in our dealings and forthright with our companions.