Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16: 11
“Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it, but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the day; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.”
D. L. Moody
“As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, You have created me for joy, O God.
Share with me in finding that joy everywhere in the violet’s beauty; in the lark’s melody; in the child’s face; in a mother’s love; in the purity of Jesus.”
Traditional Scottish Gaelic Prayer
Today’s Study Texts:
1. “So Aaron replied, ‘ Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it a molten calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt’…The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.’”
Exodus 32: 2-4, 7
2. “And Moses, went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides. The tablets were the work of God, the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tablets.”
Exodus 32: 15,16
3. “Then they brought in the gold and silver vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them…immediately and suddenly there appeared the fingers of a man’s hand and wrote on the plaster of the wall, opposite the candlestick so exposed especially in the light in the king’s palace, and the king saw part of the hand that wrote.”
Daniel 5: 3, 5
4. “Early in the morning, at dawn, (Jesus) came back into the temple court, and the people came to Him in crowds. He sat down and was teaching them. When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in the middle of the court and put the case before Him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now Moses in the Law commanded that such be stoned to death. But what do You say?’ This they said to try to test Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger…When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?’ She answered, ‘No one, Lord!’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either.’”
John 8: 2-5, 8, 10, 11
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 6
“The Handwriting of God”
“God became earth’s mockery to save His children. How absurd to think that such nobility would go to such poverty to share such a treasure with such thankless souls. But He did.”
God Came Near
If I had been at the feast with Belshazzar, how would I have reacted when a finger began to write on the wall?
How can I focus my attention on what God is writing in my heart each day?
At the time of Belshazzar: “Immorality and impiety, vice and profaneness, strengthen the hands and advance the interest one of another. Drunken frolics were an introduction to idolatry, and then idolatrous worship was a “shoehorn” to further drunkenness.”
“The farther we move from God, the more we devalue man.”
The banquet was in full swing. With over 1,000 guests, drinking to their heart’s delight, we can only imagine what Belshazzar’s festive celebration was like. Maybe the more modern-day phrase, “Wine, Women, and Song” would give us some idea of the revelry which ensued. Needless to say, with the appearance of the golden vessels, from God’s temple in Jerusalem, Belshazzar probably thought he had put to rest any notion that the gods of Babylon would be threatened from any alien force from on high.
But surprisingly, just when the king least expected to encounter an interruption that would break-up the merriment, the frivolity was silenced by a finger – not some stationary sculpture. No this was a moving finger with the power of the Almighty to write on dry plaster and leave unexplainable words behind.
As I read this story, my mind was taken back in Scripture to the book of Exodus where we also find God writing with His finger. After over 400 years of bondage in Egypt, God came to the rescue of His chosen – the Children of Israel. Through the leadership of Moses, God delivered His Children from slavery. However, there was a significant problem with these “chosen” ones. Having spent 400 years under the whip of taskmasters and the orders of Pharaoh, God needed to remind His children of His long-term plan for their lives. He needed to take purposeless people and teach them how to live purposefully. So at the foot of Mount Sinai, this massive caravan, which God was preparing to be a nation, stopped and God called His servant Moses up into the mount where we are told, God delivered to Moses “tablets that were written on both sides. The tablets were the work of God, the writing was the writing of God.” Indeed, these tablets contained what is called “the testimony” or as we refer to them, the Ten Commandments.
God, in His immense mercy, with the might of His own finger, wrote out these ten instructions that He knew would, when obeyed, bring harmony to His children’s lives. But sadly, before Moses even made it down from Sinai’s crest, God told Moses that things down on the desert floor had gotten out of control.
Impatient because Moses’ mountain trip had taken longer than they liked, God’s children went to Moses’ brother Aaron and demanded that he make them a new god, one they could touch and see and hold. Seems that we earthlings have been acting quite the same way ever since. For how we love the gods today that we can cling to; and gaze at; and lust over. Somehow, we mistakenly think the things we come up with to take away our cravings rather than satisfying our inner hunger, turn into idols we end up worshipping. And just like the children of Israel, we dance around and up and down as we hang onto the gods of human invention.
By the time Moses got down to see with his own eyes what God’s “so-called” children were doing, those tablets, containing God’s gracious instructions for a better life for each of His children were, in unbridled anger, thrown to the ground and smashed to bits.
How important for us today to note that it was at times of great debauchery and gluttonous excess that we find God’s finger writing messages to His children here on earth. First, God wrote specific instructions on how our lives would be protected under the canopy of His care by obedience to His commands. Yet at the same time, God’s children were dancing around a golden calf that they so easily thought could replace the God of heaven and earth in their lives. Second, God’s handwriting brought a message of warning at a time of such swift spiritual decline and forgetfulness, when a sacrilegious ruler, sat in a drunken stupor, mocking the Mighty God of heaven and earth by drinking out of the sacred Temple vessels and acting as if nothing was too holy for him and all his cohorts to defile.
However, this was not God’s final personal note to His rebellious children here on earth. After writing out directions for us which have been largely ignored by most people down through time; after writing warnings which sent messages of impending doom; God in His infinite love and kindness, came down to earth personally in the life of His Son, Christ Jesus. And if you think God changed His way of communicating up-close-and-personal with us by writing with His own finger, then I invite you to come along with me to the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem early one morning where we find Jesus, our Immanuel, our God with us.
At this very early hour, one of God’s girls was being dragged center stage in a drama called, “Who’s the Adulterer?” There at the feet of Jesus, this woman, or as the supposed holy men referred to her – “such” – was dumped. Ready to claim that the Law of Moses said death by stoning was the correct punishment for “such” that hadn’t even been convicted, Jesus entered the fray, as God incarnate and took His finger again and began writing in the dust of this earth. No one knows what He wrote. Some say He was making a list of the sins of the accusers. Maybe that’s why they all slunk away in such a hurry because condemning consciences can make us squirm. But I’d like to share with you my thought that somewhere in the dirt of earth, God wrote out the words that He knew everyone of us would need to read many times over in our lives, “I love you!”
This for me is the lesson from the handwriting of God down through the ages. His finger wrote out directions for our spiritual protection; His finger has written out warnings to keep us focused on the purpose of our lives and best of all, His handwriting is traced into earthly dust by the blood spilled on Calvary’s cross – forming the words of our Fathers eternal message: “I love you!”
It is no hidden secret to our Garden family that I’m a great lover of old-time gospel music. Just the other night, when I needed a little spiritual pick-me-up, I went to my laptop “bookmarks,” which my husband thinks are going to end up taking all the memory of the computer, and I clicked onto one of my top ten favorite gospel singers, Albertina Walker. While she went to rest in Jesus a number of years ago, her voice still rings out loud and clear as she blesses me very often with two of the best songs ever recorded (in my book!). Her version of “O Lord, Remember Me” brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.
Today, as we look at the handwritten notes from our heavenly Father – a personal note with directions for daily living; a personal note warning us to keep over eyes fixed on God and not to let the things of this earth blind us to the glories above; and finally that very personal note that tells you He loves you today and always – it is with these notes in your mind that I’d like to leave you with an affirmation which contains the words to the gospel song, “When God Dips His Pen of Love In My Heart.” And I’d encourage you to take a moment and let Albertina Walker transport you to a place of such joyful love that without a doubt you will know that your Father’s love is enough to bring you home for an eternity with Him. (And by the way, with all your Garden family as well!!)
When God Dips His Pen of Love In My Heart
“When God dips His pen of love in my heart
And He writes my soul a message He wants me to know
His Spirit all divine, fills this sinful soul of mine
When God dips His love in my heart.
Well, I said I wouldn’t tell it to a livin’ soul
How He brought salvation and He made me whole
But I found I couldn’t hide such a love as Jesus did impart,
Well, He made me laugh and He made me cry, set my sinful soul on fire,
When God dips His love in my heart.
Well, sometimes though the way is dreary, dark, and cold
And some unburdened sorrow keeps me from my goal.
I go to God in prayer, I can always find Him there
To whisper sweet peace to my soul.
He walked up every step of Calvary’s rugged way
And gave His life completely to bring a better day
My life was steeped in sin but in love He took me in
His blood washed away every stain.
When God dips His love in my heart.”
Alison Krauss Lyrics
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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