Rom 5:3-5 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” NIV
Have you ever wondered why thousands upon thousands of people are healed through the power of God’s Spirit during outreach crusades in Third World countries, while only hundreds (sometimes even less) are healed during similar crusades in the Western world? Why the difference?
When I bought this up in prayer to my Forever friend, His answer surprised me: “The difference between the two groups is that the second group does not come to me empty handed. Their hands are so full, that I cannot bless them!”
Is this why I can’t seem to find one story about Jesus healing a Pharisee in the Bible? Their hands, too, were quite full — Luke 18:11-12: “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'” NIV
We can’t be fully blessed if we are not empty handed! Corrie ten Boom illustrated this powerfully when she narrated her encounter with a former SS officer who had been quite cruel towards her sister Betsy who died at Ravensbruck concentration camp. When he approached her after the war and asked her forgiveness, she wanted to spit in his face, as deep down she was disgusted by what he used to do. However, instead she cried out to the Lord and claimed the promises of Rom 5:5. God’s love filled her up and she reached out to that former soldier, embraced him, and forgave him in the faith. Humanly, this was impossible. But it was possible in Corrie’s life because she always approached her loving Heavenly Father empty handed. When we come empty, God can fill us up with His presents from above.
Just last Sunday I experienced the power of the promises from Rom 5:5. After supper my family and I were heading for worship, when all of a sudden I noticed that Donovan’s bird named Mexico, had something wrong with his head. After further investigation, my youngest son confessed he had accidentally stepped on him an hour earlier. He hadn’t told us, but apparently he had told his brother. My reaction to this event will be examined a bit closer next week, as God had wonderful messages to teach me and anyone else in similar situations like mine.
But back to Mexico, Donovan’s bird. He didn’t look too good, and there didn’t seem to be anything that could be done about it, as the vets were all closed for the night in our region. There was nothing left to do but lift him up in prayer.
However, after we prayed for the bird, I still felt uneasy. I poured out my heart to God and asked for His guidance. Empty handedly, I approached my Heavenly Father and He opened His doors from Heaven. He encouraged me to open my Bible to the text I was going to study that night. The text was Romans 5! When I read verse 3 to 5 in the Message version, God spoke loudly out to me. The text says:
Rom 5:3-5 “We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (THE MESSAGE)
Wow! I felt compelled to share this powerful text with my children. As we were pouring over this text, we felt joy filling us up and we started to praise the Lord and sing praises to the Lord. We thanked God for giving us the opportunity to go through the experience of this trial, and we patiently waited for what He was going to do next. Donovan spent the rest of the evening singing songs of praise over and over again. Even when I went to tuck him in bed, he was still singing to the glory of the Lord.
Can you guess what happened next? Does God send anyone away who comes empty handed to Him? Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus turn someone away who came empty handed. The impossible became possible. Mexico survived and was doing better the next morning! Praise be to God!
We brought Mexico to the Vet the next day. The vet’s words about the situation were as follows: “That bird is LUCKY to be alive!” Well, we all know that luck had NOTHING to do with it! Thank you Lord! Isn’t God awesome?!
My friend, how do you approach your Father in heaven? Are your hands so full that God cannot bless you? Drop those things. They are temporary anyway. Come to Him empty handed and praise Him for always coming through even when you are in your worst troubles. Patiently wait for Him and stay alert for what He is going to do next. You won’t have enough containers to hold everything He will pour into your life through His Spirit.
No problem is too difficult.
Do you have a problem with unforgiveness? Claim Rom 5:5.
Do you have a problem with getting along with others? Maybe even your spouse? Claim Rom 5:5.
Come to Jesus, trusting and praising Him. He will give you rest over your life’s storms!
John 3:30-31 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” NKJV
(To access the entire “Empty-Handed Leads to Fullness From God” devotional series, please click here.)