Grow Deep: What's in Your Hand Edition, Week 1
Week 1: November 5-11
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
For people like me who struggle with the pain and weakness of arthritic joints, daily tasks can be difficult. Arthritic hands make it hard to turn the knob to open a door or write a letter to a friend. Weak knees mean the joy of walking the dog is gone. The doctor says exercise, but how is that possible? I don’t even like to go grocery shopping; walking up and down the aisles makes it an unpleasant experience.
What is your struggle? Where is your pain? It might be physical, like mine, but it might also be emotional or psychological. It might not be sprained muscles, but strained relationships … maybe not sore joints but bruised feelings.
The one area where we all struggle is in our relationship with God. By nature, ours is a totally broken relationship. There is no way we can repair it by ourselves; broken bones need to be repaired by doctors. That same image of brokenness in the Bible is used to describe how Christ re-sets our broken relationship with God the Father through His death on the cross.
Our readings this week focus on our inherent weakness as human beings and on the power of God to bring strength into our lives. We begin with the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount and end up in heaven—quite a journey! On the way, we see the hand of God supporting the hands of His people as we accomplish the tasks laid out for us.
All Saints’ Sunday is celebrated this week, and it fits well as we see “crippled” hands transformed by Jesus in the Beatitudes. In those verses of Matthew, we "peek" behind the curtain and see Jesus revealing His hidden glory. Then, together with all the saints, we raise our hands in worship. The rest of the week, we will turn to Isaiah and Revelation (Old Testament and New) with alternating images of earth and heaven.
Sunday, November 5
Read: Matthew 5:1-12
We all want to be successful and approved by others. But so often in today’s society it is all-too-common, and in fact, perhaps even fashionable, to build ourselves up by highlighting and magnifying the weaknesses of others. Jesus encourages those who feel weak to be strong. In His kingdom, the powerful hands of Jesus provide strength in our weakness. As you read, note that the correct translation of “poor in spirit” is humble and “meek” means to have patience.
Reflect: Take time to ponder the list of characteristics that are blessed. Which characteristics are personally difficult for you? What kinds of “persecution” are you suffering as a Christian? How are you encouraged that Jesus can provide the strength you don’t have?
For the Family: Today we celebrate All Saints’ Day. What does it mean to be a saint? In these verses, Jesus teaches us how He wants us to live as His saints. Talk with your family about the attitudes Jesus describes.
Monday, November 6
Read: Isaiah 61:1-7
God has the power to replace bad things with good things. But He works through each of us to accomplish the task. He has appointed us as the deliverers of the message of hope for all who are captives of sin.
Reflect: How can you be a good neighbor to those in need? How are you God’s hands, doing His work? What does it mean that your hands can “bind up the brokenhearted?” What is the ultimate result and reward for the work you do for the Lord?
For the Family: The writer of these verses, the Prophet Isaiah, says that we are all to be “priests,” people who tell others about the Good News of Jesus. Why is it important to tell others about Jesus? Who can you tell about Jesus today? As you read and reflect, look for the transforming work of God’s powerful hand as He transforms the weak efforts of our hands into works of beauty.
Tuesday, November 7
Read: Revelation 5:1-10
The only one whose hands had the power to open the scroll that describes the journey of the Church through history is the Lamb of God, Christ Himself. The seven spirits of God mentioned in this reading come from Isaiah 11:1: 1) the spirit of the Lord, 2) wisdom, 3) understanding, 4) counsel, 5) might, 6) knowledge, and 7) fear of the Lord.
Reflect: What does it mean to have such a powerful person to call on for help, to hear your prayers, and to receive your praise? In what capacity do you “reign with Christ” on earth? As such, how are your hands to be busy serving others?
For the Family: Who is the Lamb in these verses? What were the people (the elders and the other creatures) doing when they fell down in front of the Lamb? Have you ever gotten down on your knees or opened your hands when you pray? Why not try that with your family today?
Wednesday, November 8
Read Isaiah 64:1-12
We are the work of God’s hands; His hands mold and shape us. He is the One powerful to save. Still, we sometimes try to save ourselves. What we do with our hands can sometimes demonstrate to God that we want to try to solve problems by ourselves.
Reflect: What is Isaiah seeking in the prayer that opens today’s reading? Why is the posture of hands in prayer appropriate in your personal struggles? Why is it a good thing that God’s grace and forgiveness do not depend on whether you are ready to receive it? How does God bless the work of your hands?
For the Family: Think about a time when you made something with Play-Doh. How did you use your hands to shape it into something special? What does Isaiah mean when he says that God is the Potter, and we are the clay? How does God use His hands to mold you?
Thursday, November 9
Read: Revelation 7:9-17
In all our readings this week, we see God as the great and powerful deliverer. Now we see those who have been delivered. This is one of the places where YOU are in the Bible. You are in this multitude.
Reflect: From what has God’s hand delivered you? What are your hands to be doing in response for being saved? What future blessings has God prepared to hand over to you?
For the Family: What was it that stained the robes in these verses? What made them white again? What stains us today? How do we become clean again? Thank God for sending His Son Jesus to cleanse us from our sins.
Friday, November 10
Read: Isaiah 65:17-25
Today is Martin Luther’s birthday. The legacy he handed over to us is knowing that God’s gift of salvation is accessed through faith. Our reading describes for us our future as the result of that salvation.
Reflect: As a Christian, what do you have to look forward to? Blessed by God, how is the work of your hands—your labor—never in vain? Why is what is described here not fantasy but reality?
For the Family: These verses reference a time in the future. When is that time? Who are God’s chosen? How do you know that you are one of His chosen? Thank Him for making you His own in your baptism.
Saturday, November 11
Read: Revelation 21:1-5
“Blessed are those who…” is the way this week began. Now we read about the blessings God has in store for us in the future.
Reflect: How does this reading encourage you in your life’s journey? Why is it possible to survive all your struggles when you know this is your destination? Check your hands. You are wearing Christ’s wedding band. How do you understand the image that you, as part of the Church, will be Christ’s bride? What kind of a husband do you think He will be?
For the Family: These verses were written by the Apostle John about a homecoming. What does the word homecoming mean? What homecoming is John describing? Share some reasons why this homecoming is important for us today.