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Engraved on palms of hands

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Engraved on the palms of His hands

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are ever before me.

                                                                        ISAIAH 49 16

 

 

Do you have a strategy for remembering things?  Perhaps tying a know in a handkerchief – I never could understand how that one worked.  When I was teaching school I used to get frustrated with those youngsters who repeatedly forgot messages home.

I would put the note in their socks – or inside their lunch box – but when everything else failed I would take up a marker from my desk and write the reminder on the back of their hands.  I guess that if I was teaching now there’d be some instruction forbidding me from doing that!

The purpose was clear – to get a message home.   I often see adults where I work now who have telephone numbers or similar written on their own hands – and it makes me smile as a I remember.

Sometimes it may seem to us that GOD HAS FORGOTTEN US.  Perhaps He delays for purposes that He only knows – and we become frustrated.

In this passage in Isaiah God’s people say:  “The LORD has … forgotten me…”. However often we tell ourselves that God never forgets – there are times when it seems He has.

The LORD understands such weakness – we must frustrate Him – as it does the teacher of small children – so He issues this lovely promise:

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are ever before me.

It is the latter part of that promise that I want to underline for you today:

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

So reflect with me this morning upon the significance of what He says:

That the God      of creation

                        of supreme workmanship

                        of tender care

                        and loving support

has engraved us on the palm of His hands

·       God’s hands

·       God’s writing

God’s Hands

(1)    We are surrounded by the evidence of HIS CREATING WORK – the work of His hands

12 It is I who made the earth

and created mankind upon it.

My own hands stretched out the heavens;

I marshalled their starry hosts.                             Isaiah 45 v 12

13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,

and my right hand spread out the heavens;

when I summon them,

they all stand up together.                                   Isaiah 48 v 13

His work shows that He cares – His power, His plan, His purpose

From the minutest structure to the vast immensities of space

See! says God – I have engraved you on the palms of these hands.

(2)    We see too the evidence of HIS HANDS AT WORK SUSTAINING

He has not ceased His creating work – even though He rested on the Sabbath!

See God still at work

“by Him all things hold together”

We depend upon the MAINTAINED MASTERPIECES OF HIS WORKMANSHIP

Navigating by the stars

He maintains the great CYCLES of life – water, seasons, life itself.

We see Him at work in PROVIDENCE

We recognise His works of GRACE

He is BUSY on our behalf.

See! says God – I have engraved you on the palms of these hands.

(3)    In the evidence of HIS LOVING CARE OF US

 

With Jeremiah we stand in the potter’s house to see in human terms the workmanship of God – the wonder of divine grace

re-shaping

re-organising

re-storing

I recall my mother as she reached the end of her life after a long and busy life serving God in Nigeria – one of the things that troubled her in the closing months of her life – when others cared for her – she worried that she COULD NO LONGER SEE HIM AT WORK

And we had to remind her that the care she received from others WAS EVIDENCE OF THE GOD AT WORK

Can you find the evidence of God’s workmanship in your life?

Historically we see GOD at work with HIS HANDS – WRITING THE LAW

And over and over again the scriptures use human language to describe the ministry of God’s care:

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.              Isaiah 41 v 10

13 For I am the Lord, your God,

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.                                                           Isaiah 41 v 13

God’s Writing

See! says God – I have engraved you on the palms of these hands.

HOW has He engraved us on His hands?

We ask for proof of     His love

                                His care

                                His remembrance

and we are ushered by Isaiah into the New Testament

Enter an upper room all locked against possible enemies

See a little group of disciples and this time Thomas is with them

COMES JESUS in the midst

Of course – the evidence is there in Jesus

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”                                      JOHN 20 27

38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.                LUKE 24 38

And that evidence is there still

“Come see His hands and His feet,
the scars that speak of sacrifice,
hands that flung stars into space,
to cruel nails surrendered.”         
        Graham Kendrick

Those hands that were pierced for us at His crucifixion fulfil the Prophet’s words beyond expectation.

See! says God – I have engraved you on the palms of these hands.

By such a work of love does God write you and me on His hands

-         by the wonder of His creation

-         by the wonder of His sustaining work

-         by the miracle of His restoring work

but most of all by the work of Christ upon His cross

My name from the palm of his hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on his heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.        
                Toplady

In conclusion I ask you to look at your own hands.   Consider the marks there that bear witness to your own life.

Is there someone you would write into your hand?

>>>>>>    

Some time ago now I visited an infant school.

I was talking to a group of children – when a small hand reached up and took a grip on mine.   I do not know whether it was seeking comfort or reassurance – but I remember two emotions – one of tenderness, and the other – bordering on embarrassment.

Are we too embarrassed to reach out for that Hand that bears our name?

O dearest Lord, thy sacred head

O dearest Lord, thy sacred head
With thorns was crowned for me,
O pour thy blessing on my head
that I might think for thee.

O dearest Lord, thy sacred hands
with nails were pierced for me,
O shed thy blessing on my hands
That they may work for thee.

O dearest Lord, thy sacred feet
with nails were pierced for me
O pour thy blessing on my feet,
that they may follow thee.

O dearest Lord, thy sacred heart,
with spear was pierced for me,
O pour thy blessing on my heart
That I may live for thee.

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