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Take My Life ... My Hands

Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.  You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.  (Psalm 128:1-2 NIV)

When we dedicate our lives to God's service and act upon that dedication by striving to live holy lives we make ourselves available for God to use us.  But how do we know what to do?  What exactly are we to do with our hands once they are fit for the Master's use?  This is the dilemma isn't it?  Unless our efforts are God-directed, the fruit of our labor will be minimal.  However, if God is directing the work of our hands ... well, that's another story:

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere him. (Ecc 3:14 NIV)

From the hymn "Take My Life and Let it Be", we can look to the first verse again for a good prayer to aid us in our quest to please God. Take a look:

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.

What exactly does it mean to move at the impulse of God's love?  How can we know what God's impulses are?  I don't believe that we can mechanically calculate our actions so that they coincide with God's impulses of love.  After all, an impulse is an impulse.  However, I do believe that as God conforms us to His image through a daily walk with Him in His Word and in prayer, He will make us aware of what we can do for Him, whether it be within a ministry or in something as simple as an act of kindness to someone in need.  As we pray for opportunities to show God's love to others, He will give us an awareness of His will.  He will show us what to do with our hands.  He will bless us as we bless others...as we follow after love.

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that You are indeed love defined.  Knowing this, I know that your impulses could be nothing less themselves.  Move me in the direction you would have me to go.  Guide my hands to do the work you would have me to do.  If my plans aren't a part of your Plan, then redirect my thoughts and actions so that they align with your will and so that you can receive the glory and not me.  Thank you for your love. Thank you for being love. Thank you for wanting to use someone like me.  Amen.   


Take My Life ... My Life

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themelves but for him who died for them and was raised again. - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to explore more deeply the words to the hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be" because of the depth of its meaning and importance in our lives as Christians.  The song for me compels me to really think about my walk with God.  It is a prayer for me to let God take and mold my life.  Let's dig in.

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord to thee.

Take my life.  Telling God to take our lives is a serious matter.  To be consecrated means a) to be set apart as holy; make or declare sacred for religious use and b) to devote entirely; dedicate.  Consecrating our lives to God means that we are giving our entire lives to Him, not just our lives on Sunday mornings.  We should be motivated to serve God because of thankfulness for God's love and sacrifice for us.  We owe Him nothing less than our whole-hearted 24/7 devotion to Him because of what He did for us.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Yes, our reasonable service due Him for such a sacrifice for our sakes should be nothing less than giving back to God our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).  These are powerfully convicting words, aren't they?

To give our lives back to God as living sacrifices we must attempt to live holy and pure lives.  Notice that I say "attempt"!  None of us is perfect and even our best efforts we will never live our lives in a perpetually perfect state of holiness.  We must however, keep trying to do what God wants us to do and be who God wants us to be.  God has called us to holiness (1 Thess 4:7) so that we can be fit for His use to work out His will on this earth.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.  If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Tim 2:20-21 NIV)

Everything we do for God starts with who we are for God.  We must consecrate ourselves to Him.  It takes a lot of work, but it is the least God deserves.  Are you willing?

Dear God,

Thank you for the cross where you sent your son to bleed and die for the penalty of my sins.  As He gave His life for me, let me give my life to you.  Reveal to me the things I do and the thoughts I have that you want me to change.  Show me how to live my life more completely for you each day ... starting with today. 

Amen.

NEXT in the series: Take my hands ...


Take My Life And Let it Be

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1

Ever since I was first discipled, Romans 12:1 has been a very convicting verse for me, especially the last part that says "which is your reasonable service."  Our lives are to be living sacrifices - lives dedicated to being holy, pure and devoted to the things of God's kingdom work.  This is a very tall order to uphold but yet is expected of us to be carried out.  After all, it is our reasonable service, not our outstanding service.  God expects wholehearted devotion.  The verse was brought to my mind afresh this morning as I considered the words of the old hymn by Havergal & Malan, "Take My Life and Let It Be", now in the public domain.  We sang the song as part of our church worship and to me it was as convicting and thought provoking as ever.  In reality, the hymn should be our daily prayer to God as we set our lives in motion for Him.

Over the next several posts, I'm going to explore a section of the song more deeply.  But for this Sunday, let's merely sing and pray this song together to God as we consider how we can best devote our lives to His service, starting today.

TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE
Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879
H.A. Cesar malan, 1787-1864

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love,
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only, for my King,
Always, only, for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages for Thee;
Take my silver and my gold -
Not a mite would I withhold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my love - my God, I pour
At thy Feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only all for Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for who you are and for what you've done for me.  I pray that your words and your ways can so permeate my life that I can wholly give it to you minute by minute.  Thank you for hymns such as this that cause us to take stock of our lives and our devotion to you.  Take my hands, feet, lips and love and use them for your glory. Conform me to your image so that I can be ready for your use.  Amen.

NEXT POST: Take my life...


Hope in His Word

Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. - Psalm 119:43 NIV

I don't know what I would do without having God's word in my life.  Of all the things in this world, there is nothing more truthful and life-giving than the very words of God I can read each day from the pages of my bible. 

Psalm 119 is a wonderful devotion about the benefits and importance of God's word to a believer.  While I've read this particular psalm many times over, I'm not sure I've ever noticed what I'm about to write about in this post.  That is another thing about God's Word that is so intriguing to me - the fact that it speaks to us in many different ways depending on where we are in our lives at the time we are reading it. 

I hope (pun intended) that I will never be separated from my bible.  Like the psalmist says in Psalm 119:43, I have put my hope in God's "laws".  God's Word and hope are connected in many ways.  Hope in God's Word provides...

  • Light for the world - By applying God's word to our lives and trusting in the promises contained therein, our lives can shine to the world as bright testimonies of God's love for mankind.

May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. - Psalm 119:74 NIV

  • Salvation for the weak - By knowing God's word in our hearts we can know that God will provide for us; we can know of the wonderful future in heaven that is promised to those who have placed their trust in Him. We can have that eternal perspective in life.

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. - Psalm 119:81 NIV

  • Refuge for the weary - By reading God's word we can enter into the shelter and refuge of God.  Immersion in our bibles and in God's presence is a surefire way to get out of the storm.

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. - Psalm 119:114 NIV

  • Help for the worrisome - By memorizing God's word we can call to mind God's promises of provision for us during our times of greatest distress. Thinking on the pure things of God will bring us that peace that passes all understanding and enable us to put aside our concerns.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. - Psalm 119:147

Where does your hope lie?  In yourself?  In a friend?  In your spouse?  In your pastor?  Anchor your hope in God's word and it will never let you down.  If you don't know how to get started in "hoping in God's Word", email me and I would be glad to help.  Grab on to that hope today.  God's Word is truth.  God's Word is life.  God's Word is hope.


Enduring Faithfulness

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever.  - Psalm 118:1 NKJV

I'm going to start out by saying today that I sure wish that God was my internet service provider.  For the third day in a row, my expensive high speed internet service has been slow as molasses and essentially has been unusable at the time I've had the opportunity to post.  So, that is why I haven't posted in a few days.   My recent experience has given new meaning to the verses in Psalm 118:8-9:

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. (NKJV)

While friends, family, governments and internet providers may fail us from time to time, God will never fail us.  Can I hear an "Amen"?  His goodness and mercy endures forever.  He won't make promises that He can't keep.  He is never to busy to listen to our pleas for help or to lend a helping hand.  He is good, He is consistent and He is always there.  With the Creator of the universe on our side, what do we really have to fear? (Ps 118:6)

Our Psalmist David knew firsthand of God's enduring faithfulness.  Over and over in the Psalms we see David expressing his thankfulness for God's deliverance and protection in his life.  David says in Psalm 118:21

I will praise You,
For you have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

As I look at this verse I wonder how long it took David to allow God to become his salvation.  To me, the word "become" in this passage implies a growth process.  Since David was human like the rest of us, I'm sure that his strong faith didn't arise overnight but through many years of trials and testing, as he learned to put his faith in the One who was faithfully there.  As I walk through the journey of my life, God is becoming more and more to me as well, as I remember to let Him be there for me.   God is good.  Forever.  No matter what.  And I will praise His name.

To think about:

1) Looking back on your life, how can you see that you've allowed God to be your "salvation"?  Has your faith grown over time?

2) If your faith hasn't grown, what do you think may be hindering you in your faith journey?

3) Would you be willing to take some time today to journal your current concerns as a prayer to God for help?  God will listen and answer your prayers. 


Blessed Refuge

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  - Psalm 34:8 NIV

Yesterday, for the second time in a month, I did not want to go to church.   My calendar had been pretty busy, I was going to be out most of the afternoon playing golf (yes, I've played too much golf lately, but the weather has been so nice!) and I just wanted some extended time alone in prayer, bible reading and journaling.  However, when the time came to get ready to go, I did finally decide that I couldn't miss church because of the busyness I felt when I was going to spend 4 hours on the golf course that afternoon.  If anything was to be sacrificed, it was not going to be church.

Enough with my confessions though, although my church experience is a very integral part of this post.  The verse from Psalm 34:8 quoted above was printed at the bottom of my journal yesterday and as I read it after journaling about my current state of "overwhelm" I thought to myself..."How can God be a refuge if I don't spend some SERIOUS quality time with Him?"  As I pondered this concept and read and journaled away my morning, an hour and a half passed quickly as I took refuge in my Lord.  God was good.  God is good.  Finally I had to leave for church.

Much to my non-surprise, the music and content of the sermon spoke to me in the very areas addressed in my journaling earlier that morning.  Tears filled my eyes as I sang one of the last songs of the morning, "Made Me Glad" by Hillsong.  The chorus says:

You are my shield
My strength
My portion, deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
A very present help in time of need.

Psalm 46:1 says that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  I spent time in God's shelter yesterday, away from my concerns and cares.  What a wonderful time it was.  I'm glad that I let Him be my refuge.  I truly need nothing else in this life, I just wish I didn't have to be reminded of that fact from time to time!

Have you taken the time to crawl up into the lap of God and allow Him to be your shield, strength and strong tower?  When was the last time you spent some time with God without being concerned about rushing on to your next thing in the day, without a time constraint?  It had been awhile for me.  Try to carve out some lengthy time with God this week when you don't have to rush through your devotional time.  Let Him really be your refuge.  You'll be glad you did.


You Never Change

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.  Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.  But you remain the same, and your years will never end.  - Psalm 102:25-27, NIV

A lot of times we have said or heard the phrase "You never change" with a negative connotation.  We ourselves may have heard it as a personal critique of a particular attitude or behavior in our lives.  We may have said it to some of our loved ones within the recent past.   However, when we think of how God never changes, the phrase takes on a whole new meaning doesn't it?

God never changes, but then perfection doesn't need to change.  Never changing is a positive attribute if you are God.  If we aren't God, we can always find something in our lives to improve upon.  I'm so glad that God doesn't change.  I can trust that He will always have the same values, the same compassion and the same power.  No matter what I do, His unconditional love and unfailing mercy towards me will always be consistently and wonderfully available.  Among the many other gifts God provides us on a daily basis, His stability is definitely one of those gifts.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17, NIV

How stable are you with your emotions and your belief system?  Are you steady as a rock or are you like the double-minded man in James 1:8, unstable in all your ways?  When something happens in your life that shakes up your world, how do you react?  The more mature we are in our faith, the stronger we can stand when the storms of life rage against us - the more unchangeable we can become, holding firm to our core beliefs.

Tools for Tenacity:

1.  Daily discipline of bible reading.  Renewing our minds daily with the Word of God is the perfect start to a day focused on keeping upright.

2.  Prayer.  Combined with bible reading as we pray God's word and will over our lives is essential.  Through prayer, we can access God's strength to get us through the rough patches.

3.  Memorizing scripture.  The best defense is always a good offense.  :)  When storms arise, grabbing hold of a memory verse specifically relevant to your situation can fight off those emotions and strongholds.