Reflections

In His Hands

Last Sunday, there was the dedication of a new-born baby at church and all the Sunday school children were gathered together, and they sang: “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,” complete with actions and much joy. And it got me thinking deeply on the truth of that song.

As I sat listening to those words of truth, I thought of the magnitude of God: His omnipotence, His omniscience and His omnipresence, and I was reminded of David’s musing in Psalm 8, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars...what is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

That song helped me to reflect as well on all the benefits we receive at the hands of God. It caused me to think of how God’s hands provide for us in the natural realm in the form of food, clothing, shelter and every physical need, and spiritually in the form of transformation. Surely, Ezra was inspired when he wrote: “...the hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him...”

And as I thought of transformation by God’s hand, my thoughts rambled on to Jeremiah’s experience at the potter’s house. Just as the potter’s hands form his clay, God’s hands shape and mold us, re-creating us day by day into the persons He wants us to be.

I thought too, about another context in which God uses us in acts of kindness as His hands, even His feet, serving our fellow men as channels of His good in this life.

This text came to mind: “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, so we are to wait on God for His mercy.” Later, I found it at Psalm 123:2. This further inspired me, helping me realize that only God is the Giver of good and perfect gifts, blessing us with His grace even more than we deserve.

When we consider that only God is the Giver of all good and perfect gifts, we come to realize that in the b-r-o-a-d-e-s-t sense of the word, He is our Provider, Protector and Director, all because of His love, and it is of no use looking elsewhere for benefits but to God: our omnipotent Source. He has the whole world in His hands, that which we can see and cannot see.

“...The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him...” (Ezra 8:22).

Lessons From Some Singing Birds

It was an early morning in last spring. I stood at my bay window, deep in unpleasant thought on an issue that seemed to overwhelm me. I was unhappy. My attention was drawn to some birds flitting to and from a pine tree on my front lawn, and they were chirping merrily. This went on for quite some time. A thought crossed my mind: "Here I am feeling unhappy and these birds are having a whale of a time, making themselves merry."

As I stared at them and listened to their songs, I thought to myself: "These birds must be happy!"

But what made them happy? What did they have that I did not? Then another thought crept in: What did I have that they did not? The answer came swiftly: "You have the power of choice. You too can sing!"

Then came the thought of the captive Jews in Babylon, saying: "How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?" I felt some sort of agreement with that. "How shall I sing when I do not feel like it?" Then came another thought, this time a confirmation: "Through the power of the Spirit within me, I have the ability to disperse darkness and I too can sing!" I reminded myself that I was created to surmount obstacles. Yes, I can be as merry as those birds even in the midst of how I feel. I began to sing and one song came after another. Some lyrics I made up as I went along. Next I was dancing, all by myself.

In my spirit I was transported to another place—a place where I was beginning to feel good about myself. I was feeling happy! We cannot buy happiness, we cannot lease or borrow it, but we can exchange feelings of gloom for feelings of happiness and cheer. We have access to a Power within us that can help us do it.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22)

Our Father's Gardening

FOLLOWING THE MASTER – A Lenten Devotional

Third Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2016

Our Father’s Gardening

Copyright 2016 Monica Hernandez

AEvery branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit@ (John 15:2. KJV).

Last Fall, I talked with an avid gardener who told me how she spent a few days pruning some trees in her garden. She explained how she cut back branches that were either dead, ugly or not growing like they should. She said her garden looked much better than before and was anticipating a new look in her garden next Spring and Summer.

That reminded me of Jesus= teaching about His Father=s spiritual gardening in His kingdom, cutting away branches that do not produce and pruning those that produce so that they might produce even more.

As I pondered that truth more deeply, I was reminded of the truth that God sees and knows all things, even our most secret thoughts. And He knows just what needs to be cut off from our lives and what should be pruned and kept. Sometimes, though, God’s cutting and pruning in our lives can be painful.

Often His gardening involves the cutting off of relationships and activities; sometimes, too, it can be personal unproductive habits that need to be broken.

However, if we would hold to the truth that “all things work together for good to those who love God,” we would be comforted and guided to His expected end.

The truth is: Our Father, the Master Gardener knows exactly what needs to be cut off from our lives and what needs to be pruned for more production, and He does the work. And in the eyes of our Father, it is all love and mercy because He is sparing us deeper hurts and bringing us closer to Him

In our natural gardening, we sow seeds and plant seedlings that would give us beautiful flowers and foliage. Just so, when our Father does His spiritual gardening in our lives, He allows us to become aware of new spiritual seed-ideas to be sown, which would bring our lives into a more harmonious way. 

And these new seed-ideas are to be nurtured with peace, love and truth

Today, will you spend some quiet time with God, seeking to know the His will for your life? Will you work along with Him in patience and humility as He does His gardening in your life?

SUGGESTED READINGS: John 15:1-8; Romans 8:28; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 1:6.

PRAYER: A Dear God, touch my heart today and reveal to me how I can work along with you in my life. Amen.@-

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Just as we nurture our plants in the natural realm, we need to nurture our spiritual

seed-ideas with the nutrients of peace, love and truth.

Confident Living

FOLLOWING THE MASTER – A Lenten Devotional

17th Day of Lent

February 29, 2016

Confident Living

Copyright 2016 Monica Hernandez

"...Thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear, and with a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts..." (1 Samuel 17:45, KJV).

At First Samuel, chapter seventeen and verse forty five, we read of David confronting Goliath, the giant. But David was confident that he would bring his opponent down, and despite the five smooth stones he had gathered in a nearby brook, and his sling, his mightiest weapon was his deep faith and trust in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

What was the basis for David=s confidence? His confidence was built on knowledge, not mere hope or mental assent to something that he had heard but a deep assurance that God would fulfil his needs and bring Israel=s enemies down as promised in His Word. Therefore, standing on the promises of God, he fought Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts.

Besides standing on the promises of God, David knew God. Having walked in covenant relationship with God, David followed through on the principles of receiving from God, approaching Goliath with an abiding faith in the name of God for victory.

Not only did David have faith in the Lord of hosts, but he also had a boost of confidence in himself as he remembered how he once killed both a lion and a bear.

When we face our battles with that same kind of faith and confidence as David had, our victory is assured. Followers of Jesus, our Master, have a mighty weapon: the name of the Lord, for the Bible says that Athe name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.@

At this time, are you facing adverse forces that resemble Goliath--forces that seem bigger and stronger than you--and determined to bring you down? Remind yourself of David, and the manner he handled his challenge: have faith in the Lord and build confidence in yourself as a child of God.

SUGGESTED READINGS: 2 Chronicles 20:17; Psalm 20:6-7; Psalm 46:1-3; Proverbs 3:23, 26; Isaiah 12:2.

PRAYER: "Today I stand on the promises of God and call on His name. My victory is assured. My God will open a way for me where there seems to be no way and bless me with victory and an abundance of all good. Thank you, Lord."

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and

they are safe.

Reflections on God's Grace - Part 2

FOLLOWING THE MASTER – A Lenten Devotional

16th Day of Lent

February 27, 2016

Reflections on God’s Grace – Part 2

Copyright 2016 Monica Hernandez

AAnd of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16, 1, KJV)

Though many Old Covenant saints knew the graciousness of God, yet the fullness of God’s grace was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, our Master. Salvation, God’s greatest gift, comes to us by His grace and we receive it through faith in Jesus Christ.

Thomas à Kempis says in his book, Imitation of Christ:Grace is a supernatural light and strength, which God gives us, out of pure love, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and by which we are enabled to work out our salvation. Nothing is more necessary of grace; it is an article of faith, that without it we can do nothing to save our souls.”

Every good gift and every perfect gift comes to us by God’s grace, and many are the graces of God to us, His children. He bestows to us food on our tables, comforts for our souls and bodies, health and strength, wisdom and understanding, divine guidance and protection.

Our Lord never slumbers nor sleeps and keeps us through the night, when we are helpless and aware of nothing, and it is all by His grace. He is our Keeper and Preserver.

Life is a network, with God as the Source of all good things. And as He outspills Himself into the world through His grace, we are fed, housed and entirely provided for, and when we live in tune with Him, we receive many more benefits.

Our lives are filled with needs. And when we have a need, by God's grace, He sends others to assist us; just the same, when others are in need, God uses us by His grace to bless them. And when we minister the Word to others, whether in a spiritual or natural need, it is God's grace in action. We must therefore be thankful that God uses us as His servants to bring to pass His grace in this world.

As you spend some time in reflection on God’s grace in your life, give thanks and praise Him for them, and share as best you can.

SUGGESTED READINGS: Psalms 121: 1-8; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; Philippians 4:19;

PRAYER: AThank you Father, for every grace you bestow in my life Amen.@

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

By God=s grace, I am given my portion of good things.