Our hands are powerful communicators, saying so much without a spoken word.

 

I remember sobbing at the altar in anguish when a hand gently rested on my head. Like an Aaronic blessing, it lifted me to hope and peace. I didn’t hear a spoken prayer, but this simple action demonstrated intercession and the unconditional love of God.
There have been many other times when my mother, father, friends, husband, and even strangers’ hands have blessed my life through a touch on the shoulder, arm, or hand. We have two remarkable tools at the end of our arms to do God’s work! Hands can say: “I’m here.” “I’m sorry.” “I’m listening.” “You can do this.” “I care.” And much more.
This morning, I finished reading the book of Ezra and I kept noticing the phrase, “the gracious hand of our God was upon us.” It’s mentioned six times in just two chapters! It spoke volumes to me and I found myself repeating it throughout the day as a prayer. Lord, let your gracious hand be upon us.
If you take a closer look at these two chapters from Ezra, they point to six ways God’s hand was on them and can be on all who seek Him today.
He Grants Political Favor:  Even though Israel had been in captivity in a foreign land for generations, God had a plan to restore them. And He did it through the pagan kings that held them in bondage. “The king had granted [Ezra] everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (Ezra 7:6, italics added for emphasis).
Lord, let your gracious hand give us favor with political leaders to accomplish your plans and restore your people to godliness.
He Gets Us There: Ezra 7:9 says, “[Ezra] had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.” Just like Ezra, when an assignment is from God, He will get us where we need to go, even if the road looks impossible and full of obstacles.
O Lord, set our course and give us stamina to face every hurdle along the way, trusting you to help us reach the destination.
He Brings Help: God not only gave Ezra support from the king and his officials, but encouraged him to bring brothers alongside: “Praise be to the Lord…who has…extended his good favor to me before the king… Becausethe hand of the Lordmy God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:27-28).
Father, give us help from those in authority over us as well as fellow workers.
He Provides Spiritual Leaders:Ezra 8:15-18, “When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there…I…ordered them to go…bring attendants to us for the house of our God.  Because the gracious hand of our God was on us, they brought us Sherebiah, a capable man.”
Lord, we need capable leaders for the kingdom. Bring us godly men.
He Brings Families Home:Ezra 8:21-23, “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might…ask [God] for a safe journey for us and our children… I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him…and he answered our prayer.”
We look to you for safe passage through this life.
He Protects Us from the Thief:Highway bandits were a traveler’s nightmare in Ezra’s day. “We set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way” (Ezra 8:31). Our enemy’s tactic is to rob our joy and frustrate God’s plans. 
May His gracious hand protect you from the enemy. 
Lord, help us touch others with the same gracious love you show us. 

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