Lift Up Those Hands!

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! Psalm 134:2

So I will bless you as long as I live. in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4

Songs about lifting hands are some of my favorites to sing for my friends at the nursing home. These choruses not only lift our moods by singing God’s word, but they give us a personal physical way to be involved with the worship. After we had sung one of these today, I paused and asked the question, “Why do we lift up our hands?” It is amazing that even in the memory care unit where I was today just how engaged my friends can be.

When my dad was still alive one of his principle duties as the head usher was to quietly take attendance at church. But back in our grammar school days that task was not completed quite so subtly. I remember that when the teacher called my name, I eagerly flung my hand up in the air to say, “I’m here!” In that same way God is taking attendance of His people. When we come to worship, God is delighted when we lift our hands up straight and high and call out, “I’m here Jesus!”

Then we recalled another reason for lifting up our hands and that is for the police. When the squad car comes flying up to our house and the officers jump out with their guns drawn shouting, “Show us your hands!” we better quickly obey. They want to see evidence that we are surrendering to their authority. Of course God is not pulling up to our curb in His heavenly squad car, nonetheless, to come into His sanctuary with anything less than full surrender is to miss the greatest blessings that He has in store. “Lord I don’t understand everything that is going on in my life and I don’t like much of what I do, but I trust you. I am lifting up my hands in surrender. Whether you show me what is going on or not I am deciding to give you all my praise.

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There are probably many other reasons we should lift up hands, but one that is most meaningful to me is from when our boys were small. After a long hard day at work, I would trudge up the stairs to our little apartment, hoping for a shower, supper and rest. But just before I opened the door, I could hear our kids shouting, “Daddy’s home!” Then as it swung wide, two little sets of hands reached up to me as they excitedly called, “Pick me up daddy! Pick me up!” When we come into God’s house, whether we are only two years old like our children or nearing ninety like my nursing home friends, we should never miss the chance to lift up our hands and shout “Pick me up Daddy!” At the cross God reached down to everyone who lifts up their hands. Then He lovingly stooped low to pick us up and hold us close to Him!

Quiet Sunday Praise

In the grip of Covid and Crisis; my heart hungers for simpler and sweeter times. But it is easy to forget that those also had their own measure of sorrows and conflict. How wonderful to hear the gentle voices of Lindsay and Brackin sing this old Quaker hymn reminding us that there is no better moment than today to lift our Utmost praise for our Highest Lord and Savior. May God bless you with His unshakable peace and uninterrupted joy!

Thank You Notes

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.       Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV

“Have you written a thank you note yet?” Mom inevitably asked every year right after Christmas. Talk about writer’s block: After I had penned a heartfelt “Thank you for the cap gun.” to my grandparents, I was completely out of ideas. But as word painfully followed word in those brief literary tomes, I slowly learned to be grateful for people who had loved me enough to send me a gift.

In Ephesians the Apostle Paul sounds a little like my mom. He wants to make sure that the Ephesian believers learn how to be thankful, to God and to express their gratitude by praise.“Great!” You might respond; “But I already do that in church.” Well, yes corporate worship is important; however thank you notes need to be written individually. If personal worship seems intimidating, Paul gives us three clues on how to begin. Just as my childhood thank you notes began with the basics, so praise can start with simply speaking to God with the familiar words of Psalms and hymns. That speaking can be like setting a tea pot on to boil. Little by little the temperature rises and bubbles begin to form. Those bubbles become songs that form in our hearts and begin to flow out in melodies towards God. But if you leave that tea pot on long enough you will begin hear a loud whistle. That is when our melodies  turn to joyful thanksgiving to God for all He has done and given us in Christ. That it is the very best thank you note of all!

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