Grow Deep: What's in Your Hand Edition, Week 4
Week 4 – November 26-December 2
Hands of Surprise
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of Your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
Last week we celebrated our national day of thanksgiving. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with family and friends to celebrate God’s blessings in our lives. I remember as a kid going to Grandma’s house to celebrate with my cousins and aunts and uncles and eating all the wonderful delights that we associate with the holiday. For me, though, Thanksgiving is not just a time for celebrating with family and enjoying good food; it is also a time for reflection. I try to reflect, not only on the blessings I have received from God’s hand, but also on the ways I can be a blessing to others in the year ahead. I want to use what God has put into my hands for the benefit of those around me.
This week’s readings begin with a sermon. Jesus wants us to open our eyes to see Him undercover in the places where we live, work, shop, and do business. As you read the daily Bible verses this week and consider the questions for reflection, look for Him. Think about ways you can use your own hands to touch the lives of those around you with the love of Jesus. Take the time to put your faith into action. Be alert to the opportunities that God gives you and respond to them. There will be family, friends, or even strangers at home or work or school or shopping this week who will need a hug, a phone call, a word of encouragement, or forgiveness. These needs or opportunities may never present themselves again! Be there for the people around you and for Jesus.
There will be times this week, too, when you and I will fall short of God’s expectations for us. Ask for forgiveness and get back on track with a new behavior. Finally, in all circumstances, trust God and praise Him for His wondrous ways and for opening His hand to give you all that you need.
Sunday, November 26
Read: Matthew 25:31-46
Do you want to be a sheep or a goat? It’s your choice. Jesus clearly tells us how our faith in action will determine that. Take the time out of your busy schedule to notice and help the hungry, the sick, and the lonely. Reach out, make the effort. Jesus will bless you both
Reflect: Can you think of a specific time when you reached out to help someone who needed help at that exact moment? How do you think your act of kindness helped them? How did it make you feel? Thank God for the opportunity to give of yourself to another.
For the Family: Who are the people in your life with whom you want to share God's love? What is compassion? What is passion? How is passion a part of compassion?
Monday, November 27
Read: Hebrews 12:4-12
No one likes to be disciplined or to follow a lot of laws, rules, and regulations. But rules and regulations are meant to protect us. As Christians, we sometimes violate the rules and guidelines that God has given to help and protect us. We often fail to obey and follow His commands.
Reflect: Most of us do not enjoy discipline, but most of us realize we need it. What would happen to us if our parents had not given us rules, boundaries of behavior, or discipline when we needed it? Thank God that He loved us enough to establish rules that protect us and provide for our every need.
For the Family: How do you feel after being unkind to another person? What is remorse? Pray for God to put remorse in your heart when you hurt another person, so you can sincerely apologize and seek forgiveness.
Tuesday, November 28
Read: James 1:22-27
Sometimes Christians are described as hypocrites. Why? Because many of us live our lives as if our faith makes no difference on a daily basis. James cautions that as Christians, we need to live out the Word of God that we receive Sunday in worship and as we spend time in God’s Word daily. We need to put our faith into action … every day!
Reflect: James gives us direct instructions about what to do when we hear the Word of God. When you look in the mirror at the end of the day, who do you see? Do you see a person who lived out his/her faith in action or is your reflection one of inaction or missed opportunities? Thank God for His help to live and serve others … to use the resources He has put into your hands to grow His Kingdom.
For the Family: Trace the outline of your hand. Write the names of friends, neighbors, and/or family on each finger. Pray for God to help you show kindness by words and actions to each of these five people.
Wednesday, November 29
Read: James 5:7-12
Patience and perseverance … these are not two traits practiced perfectly in our society today. We are a now society; we want quick and easy fixes without the sacrifice that may need to be made to live a life that is pleasing to God. James tells us to be patient, have perseverance, and to do the right thing, the right way at the right time.
Reflect: Tough it out; don’t quit. When the storms and challenges of life surround you, how do you stay steady and strong, trusting in God to get you through the storm? Can you think of other verses of Scripture that assure you of God’s strong hand guiding and protecting you in the storm?
For the Family: Pray again for your five "finger people" from yesterday. Have they ever been unkind to you? Can you forgive them? Be patient and pray.
Thursday, November 30
Read: Psalm 100
In this Psalm, David gives a short, yet grateful, praise of thanksgiving to God. David experienced a lot of high points and low points in his life just as we do. Whatever his situation in life was or whatever situation our life is, God cares for us. His love, His goodness, His presence is with us every day and forever.
Reflect: David praised God with gratitude and joy! How can you, like David, have an attitude of thanksgiving and joy? Think about the things you are grateful for today! Think about the reasons you are joyful. How has God sustained you and carried you through the highs and lows in your life?
For the Family: Continue to pray for your five "finger people," thanking God for specific things you love about each of them.
Friday, December 1
Read: Luke 6:27-31
Revenge. Our culture says it’s the right thing to do when someone has harmed you. But is it really the right thing to do? An old proverb says that before starting out on a path of revenge, first dig two graves. When we are consumed by hate and pain, revenge can take over our lives and destroy us. Jesus guides us in a new direction when we experience the hurts of life … and it’s not revenge!
Reflect: It’s said that hurting people hurt people. How can that understanding help you deal with your hurt? How does God tell us to respond to our hurt? Think of someone who has hurt you. Take time right now to pray for that person.
For the Family: What is an enemy? Do you have an enemy? Why does Jesus tell us to love and pray for our enemies?
Saturday, December 2
Read: Luke 9:46-47
“I’m on the school board”, “I went on a mission trip”, “and I made over 100 hospital visits.” I, I, I. There is nothing wrong with serving on the school board or going on a mission trip or making hospital visits. But what really matters is the reason why we do those things and for whom. The disciples sacrificed a lot, endured a lot, and perhaps had reason to flaunt their accomplishments. But it took a humble child to show them that serving is not about them or what they do; it’s all about Jesus.
Reflect: Do we sometimes act like the disciples? Do we take too much pride in our Christian accomplishments? How do we balance humility with pride while using our time, talents, and treasure to serve God? Pray that God will keep your eyes focused on Him in humility as you serve.
For the Family: How do you feel when someone welcomes you into their group? Thank God that you are learning how to be welcoming and to care for other people.