I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119:48 ESV
Hands raised in worship.
I have been part of it when a song strikes a chord in my soul. the action of lifting my hands in worship acknowledges a longing for my whole being participate with a heart that is lifted to the throne room of God. You, Lord, have done great things is usually the reason for my hands to reach out in a worship service.
Other images come to mind when considering “lifting up my hands”. Hands over our heads can be a sign of surrender. We raise our right hand and swear we will tell the whole truth, while volunteers show their eagerness to serve with hand stretched high. Hands thrown upward can also be a sign we’ve simply had enough of how something is going.
But when we look at the Hebrew word for hand—kalf— in the Psalm 119 verse above, we see something else. It describes the palm or hollow of the hand. The hollow of the hand is made for scooping, holding, or carrying things. Combined with the word nasa’— I shall lift up—it gives the idea of picking something up and carrying it in your hand.
Now, doesn’t that give us a different picture?
We lift our hands to receive from God who is the Giver of good gifts. His Word certainly qualifies as one of those good gifts. In receiving it, we can move on to touching it and allowing it to touch us.
Let’s not stop there. Our hands can do so much. How about cradling the word as you would do something precious? Grasping it as in never letting go, and sometimes even hanging on for dear life. Feeling it as you would when gliding your hand over something of beauty, feeling its texture. All these actions further expand my view of my hands coming in contact with God’s Word.
I pray that I follow the Psalmist’s actions. . .
and continue to reach out towards the very thing that allows me to know God and His ways. When my hands are full of His words, they are always at my fingertips to be used in my actions or offered to others who seek to know God, too. What better way is there to live than having one’s hands full of God’s precious words?
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
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And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Mark 8 ESV
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
My kitchen has the lovely smell of bread rising.
Flour mixed with yeast gives off the beautiful aroma of the anticipation of something wonderful to come. I can remember my mother’s kitchen smelling the same on days she was baking what we called Light Rolls. They were going to accompany a big pot of white beans and ham that had its own wonderfulness. Without that warm roll with butter melting into the surface of the steamy bread, the beans by themselves would not have been the same.
Oh, man. . .
Before drooling takes over, I want to look at the verse that started this line of thought.
Although most of us equate leavening with sin and its ever-increasing desire to take over, here Jesus uses the concept in a different way. This particular teaching on the kingdom of heaven is a one-liner, found tucked amongst the stories about planting of seeds and finding of treasure. [See Matthew 13] The leavening found in this portion of scripture is intended to give the idea of how a very small thing can make big changes.
The kind of leavening Jesus is referring to is what we know as sour dough. No packets of yeast could be found at the grocery store for his listeners. They were able to picture the concept because virtually every household would make bread in the same way. The starter, as bakers refer to it today, was a little piece of dough reserved from the batch before it. That piece was full of yeast that was alive, and once it was mixed into flour and water, it would also bring life to them.
I love this little bit of scripture and how it points to small beginnings that, at first, cannot be seen from the outside. The woman hides the bit of dough into the flour. This is somewhat like hiding God’s living Word in our hearts. I know in my own case, it started small. A verse here and there, but it grew. The more I incorporated God’s word into my heart, the more I wanted to know. The more I knew, the more I had to share with those around me. It grew and grew, taking over and changing my thoughts and actions.
Now, take the individuals who have infused God’s words into their lives and have grown in the ways of kingdom life, and mix them in a world that is dead. Life will begin to take hold as the effects of God’s Word spreads. The process will generate change, bringing God’s kingdom to our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities.
God’s little bit of leaven hidden in our lives can produce some really great results.
The scent of goodness and life that comes as it grows will alert everyone around us that something wonderful is happening—the kingdom of heaven spreading into all the earth.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
A recipe is certainly in order for this post. This one makes a delicious loaf. If you would like to start your own sour dough, save a pinch of unbaked dough in a lidded container for your next batch. When ready to use it, incorporate it into the dough with the water and an additional 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast.
Over time, your sour dough will get more sour as the starter develops. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, just start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info keeping sour dough starter. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info for keeping sour dough starter.
No-Knead Artisan Bread
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add a splash of water if needed for right consistency. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or towel, and let rise for 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place lid on pot, bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until bread in golden.
- Cool on wire rack.
- Eat with plenty of butter. Yum!
Even in the small things, God reveals himself to the world through His work in your life.
It was a long night spent sitting in cramped quarters. What was I thinking? About half way in, I began to think my traveling days were over. I reached my limit of “discomfort by choice.” And then there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Hours to Arrival ticked down and anticipation of reaching my destination began to build. You see, I got on this plane because I believed it would transport me to the place I wanted to go and even in the midst of exhaustion brought on by a long flight, a sleepless night and thoughts of “Are we there yet?” I never lost faith that I would eventually find my way to the Arrival Gate.
What is your definition of faith? Webster’s defines faith as:
a firm belief in something for which there is no proof
something that is believed with a strong conviction.
It is something believed but not only that. Webster uses words in this definition such as firm, complete, strong when it comes to that belief.
In air travel you cannot “sort of” get on the plane. One foot on land with the other in the air is just not going to work. You have to get completely on the aircraft to reach your destination. That is also the way with faith. You have to be ‘all in’ to get where arrive at the place God is taking you.
There is, however, an element of faith that is also a continuous journey. When flying, there are always a few fellow passengers wrought with anxiety. They believe with certainty that this time may just be the time they will crash and burn. They pace the aisles or pop a sleeping pill just to get through. This may not be too far from the truth in how we treat our own lives. We get up each morning and tentatively set our feet in route to see if God’s promises still apply to today’s set of problems and worries. We struggle with the pain and discomfort as we wonder if this part of this trip through life will ever end. And then, as promised we see the glimmer of hope that God is indeed delivering us safely to our appointed destination.
I think that destination just might be a complete faith; one that firmly, completely and with strong conviction puts our confidence in God’s word and his ways. I believe God is developing in us a habit in which we trust him on everything. He proves Himself over and over that there is nothing outside his power to bring the best possible outcome in us. As we go, we develop more and more assurance in Him with a confidence that He will do He says he can do. Each day that we plant our both feet firmly in that confidence brings us closer to arriving at Complete Faith.
In Romans 4:18-23, Abraham is described with the words “against all hope…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”
It goes on to say, “This is why ‘it was credited to him righteousness.” These words ‘it was credited to him righteousness’ were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him…” [Emphasis added.]
Righteousness. Now, that’s a pretty great perk. Let your faith grow. Be “all in” when it comes to trusting the Lord. You do not want to miss out on what God has for you.
As for me and future travel? I will continue. Living would not be as satisfying if not for the lessons God teaches through the sights and sounds of this great excursion called life.
The Lord will indeed give what is good…” Psalms 85:12
You count on it!