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Circumstances for Clapping Hands is a blog about reasons to give praise to God, despite my circumstances. As Henry David Thoreau once addressed, “There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” The challenges: 1) Find value in everything you do and 2) Find joy in doing it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Down & Out?

"When mistakes are made, even serious ones, there is always another chance. What we call failure is not falling down but the staying down." - Mary Pickford

I don't often give much credence to verbiage shared by Hollywood, yet I think Ms. Pickford hits it on the nose. As I'm sure it happens much in an actor's life, so to does failure affect the Christian's walk daily.

But how does failure really influence us? It's simple, by discouraging us to try again. I know the feeling, I've experienced it daily. Whether it be by way of occupation, relationships, or other, we fail everyday.

Our biggest failure to date however, might be one we often overlook. A daily search for forgiveness from the only true provider of such.

I've realized lately that as Christians we do take for granted personal forgiveness. How often do we actually stop and ask for forgiveness after a sin, big or small? Truth is not very often, thus neglecting an important exercise in our daily relationship with God. In forgetting to do so, I believe we mis-out on some future blessings designed specifically for us?

Just a thought or two...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting It Right...

Recently, I’ve taken interest in the severity of different types of sin. I know many would say that some sins are worse than others, while more would say, “sin is sin.” Leaving that topic for another day, one sin often displayed throughout the Bible that I find most interesting is that of Pride. Easily recognizable then, it is still very prevalent in today’s world as well.

Proverbs 6:16-19 states, "These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren."

This passage caught me a bit off-guard. Considering every offense that God detests and endures from His creation, the first on the list is pride.

As I’ve continued my daily Bible reading, the Old Testament refers to numerous kings who suffered from their inability to be humble. King Hezekiah (2 Kings), who I read about today, even after faithfully serving the Lord throughout his life fell prey to the consequences of pride. After showing the Babylonian visitors his abundance in wealth, his kingdom was eventually “ran-sacked” by the Babylonian Empire.

In the New Testament, pride is the sin that caused the Pharisees to reject Jesus, choosing rather to follow personal interests instead of Old Testament prophesies.

Think about this. How often does pride rear its ugly face during the course of our day? More often than not, I would bet we put ourselves in situations where pride controls what could be a promising situation.

Take some time to examine yourself, especially your heart. Take some notice as to how you react when criticized. Is your initial reaction anger and/or resentment or a willingness of acceptance and a desire to improve?

Truth is, we have influence over our reactions. Perhaps more so than we’d like to believe. With God’s help, our ability to control prideful behavior and actions becomes more promising. As God humbled himself for us, perhaps we should humble ourselves to His word(s).

* Some thoughts found within this post were shared by Sovereign Grace Bible Church.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Purpose In Prayer

I’ve once heard it said, “In the midst of uncertainty, God always remains certain.”

The Bible is full of situations and circumstances where individuals encounter varying levels of uncertainty. Some endured ridicule, others starvation, and many more the threat of injury or loss of life. What I find most interesting, is that when levels of uncertainty intrude upon our daily activities, we miss the opportunity to learn from biblical examples.

What’s the point? A frustrating truth that has taken hold within many Christian circles is the notion that God equals immediate prosperity. But biblically, that’s not always the case.

Moses and his time spent communicating with God, never physically entered the Promised Land. Job in all his faith was agonizingly tortured, Jeremiah beaten, Zechariah stoned, and even the disciples were ridiculed. Why? I believe to prove that prayer reveals God's plan for you...not necessarily your plan for you.

One important point I would like to make clear is that the action of prayer, though always offering an immediate response, does not always offer one that is agreeable to you. The purpose of living by faith is to improve our trust, most noticeably towards God’s opinion or plan. Through the act of prayer, God reveals himself more intimately, and his plan for our lives.

By living God’s will, many who faced difficulty have been blessed for their faith. No, not immediately but eternally and that’s the point. By living simply and following God, each was exalted. I believe the author of the book of Hebrews said it best when he remarked, “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.” This is a pivotal statement when examining the value of prayer. Perhaps we should listen to what is being said, even if it’s not what we want to hear. Even better, perhaps we should follow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Slapped In the Face...

It's not often that a person blatantly ignores God. Or is it?

This morning I read of a dream Solomon had while King of Israel. Having been made both wealthy and wise, he had flourished under the guidance of the Lord, yet still found a way to fail.

In the dream God praised Solomon for his service, but warned him of the harsh consequences should he choose to follow other gods. Simply put: follow the God, live well-worship other gods, lose lots.

A command told via dream that couldn't be questioned. An edict so simple, it couldn't be misunderstood. Yet, in the end it was ignored and the nation of Israel was punished through a series of unfortunate events.

Think about this: How often do you ignore a simple command that leads to a harsh consequence?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

God Did What?

For the past week I've committed myself to reading the Bible daily. Though done numerous times, I have found this particular endeavor quite enjoyable. Reading familiar stories of Saul, David, and Solomon (you guessed it...I'm reading 2 Samuel) it's amazing how (though familiar) each story offers new insight.

The notion of God's forgiveness comes to mind. How often do we actually think about the fact that God forgives ALL sins? What's more, how often do we really appreciate God for his ACT of forgiveness?

Even well before the crucifixion, we see God's grace and mercy for his people. David alone could attest to this. Chosen to succeed Saul, David was blessed beyond imagination, but through one deceitful action (with Bathsheba) he suffered multiple consequences. Yet, God still continued to bless him post affair. Even more astounding was David's ability to recognize God's favor throughout (the good and bad.)

How often do we stop to see God working in our lives (even through the bad times)? Do we ever really think that God can take something bad and use it for good? Based on previous events I believe He can, after all He did with Solomon (David and Bathsheba's son).