Saturday, September 27, 2008

Upheld By The Lord

He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Pretty simple song. A child's song, showing child-like faith and trust in the Lord God. It has various other verses to it, all teaching that God has this whole world held in His hands. It is a song of comfort and assurance. This is the theme I wanted to study out together with you today.

Tracing the words upheld and uphold in their various forms throughout the Bible show that the first time this word is used was by one of Job's friends who was rebuking Job for his doubts during his time of trouble:

Job 4:3-6 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

Even the best of believers can have doubts and struggles - including righteous Job. The rebuke was needed by him - and at times I am sure we need the same reminder (though given in a spirit of love and concern for us): you were an encouragement and comfort to others, exhorting them to keep their eyes on the Lord during their troubles, put your hope back on the Lord - remember the confidence you had in Him. He has not changed.

I like how it shows that Job was an upholder of others. In a similar way, the Lord upholds us through His Word, through the comforting work of the Holy Spirit, through our brethren, and through Bible-based materials He brings across our path.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines uphold as:

1. To lift on high; to elevate.

2. To support; to sustain; to keep from falling or slipping.

3. To keep from declension.

4. To support in any state.

5. To continue; to maintain.

6. To keep from being lost.

7. To continue without failing.

8. To continue in being.

His first definition for upholder is "One that upholds; a supporter; a defender; a sustainer."

Job was a supporter and a defender of many who were in need. Likewise, the Lord God supports, defends, and sustains us. Definition #8 above fits the song I quoted at the beginning of this study. The Lord holds this world - yea, even this whole universe - together.

Consider Paul's prayer for the Colossian church:

Colossians 1:9-17 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Webster's defines consist as "To stand together; to be in a fixed or permanent state, as a body composed of parts in union or connection. Hence, to be; to exist; to subsist; to be supported and maintained."

According to this passage of Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who holds this universe together. It is interesting to note that scientists state that they do not understand how atoms hold together. Protons and electrons have opposite charges and should fly apart from one another. Scientifically, there should be no reason this whole universe does not blow up and fly apart. Yet, we know it is because our Creator holds it all in His hands!

The first reference we find in the Bible for hold in the sense of God holding us up is:

Psalms 17:5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

One of Webster's definitions for hold is very appropriate here and in other passages about the Lord holding or upholding believers: "To embrace and confine, with bearing or lifting. We hold an orange in the hand, or a child in the arms."

It is a prayer of David, the man after God's own heart. As this study will go on to show, God has answered this prayer, and upholds all those who trust in Him. The Saviour who came to earth as a man to die for our sins on the cross of Calvary is the same one who holds believers in His hands:

John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Those Jesus has given eternal life to are those who can have that utmost assurance that they are held in the hands of both the Father and the Son.

Has there been a time and place in your life where you realized you were a sinner who had broken God's laws? That you were guilty before God and condemned to Hell? That going your own way in life is rebellion against the God who created you and desires to have fellowship with you? The Lord Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died so that you could be saved and cleansed from those very same sins that you committed against Him. He rose again from the dead and is calling out to you to come unto Him for salvation. Repent of your sins, your way of life lived apart from God, and turn to the Saviour to save you and to restore that broken relationship with God. When you receive Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation, the Bible teaches at that point in time you are born again and made a child of God, and that God becomes your Heavenly Father, adopting you into His family. Then you can have that tremendous assurance that you are securely held in God's hands - and nothing and no one, not even yourself, can ever take you from the Father's or the Son's hands. You are held there for eternity in the everlasting arms!

Psalms 18:35-36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

Verse 35 is one that has been coming to mind a lot lately: Thy gentleness hath made me great. Recently I preached on the fruit of the Spirit, and how gentleness was one of that cluster of fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us as we submit to His leading. But here we see God's gentleness is in view. Lord willing, that will be a message to tackle down the road, but I love to meditate on that thought!

Strong's Concordance gives this definition for holden up: "to support (mostly figurative):--comfort, establish, hold up, refresh self, strengthen, be upholden."

God's right hand is the place of honour - and here is where He holds believers up. He supports us, comforts us, establishes us, strengthens us, and even refreshes us there by His gentleness! Just like a loving parent (or other caring relative) will hold a baby in their arms, even so does the Lord uphold us in His! The comfort and love shown by the parent is only a small glimpse of the tender affection our Heavenly Father dotes on us.

The next two references are both found in Psalm 37:

Psalms 37:17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.

Psalms 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

The word for ordered here (and directeth in the verse below) means: "properly, to be erect (i.e. stand perpendicular); hence (causatively) to set up, in a great variety of applications, whether literal (establish, fix, prepare, apply), or figurative (appoint, render sure, proper or prosperous)."

Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Deviseth means: "properly, to plait or interpenetrate, i.e. (literally) to weave or (gen.) to fabricate; figuratively, to plot or contrive (usually in a malicious sense); hence (from the mental effort) to think, regard, value, compute."

The Lord has set up and planned our lives, the steps that believers are to take, and when we obediently, trustingly, follow in those footsteps God delights in the way we walk. A believer truly delighting himself in the Lord (see Psalm 37:4) will also delight in God's way, knowing the Lord is in control AND sees the end from the beginning, in His wisdom knowing the best way to lead us. The Lord has a plan for each one of us, but are we walking in it? Are we attempting to plot out or devise our own way, or letting the Lord direct our steps?

The word upholdeth used in Psalm 37 means: "to prop (literally or figuratively); reflexively, to lean upon or take hold of (in a favorable or unfavorable sense):--bear up, establish, (up-)hold, lay, lean, lie hard, put, rest self, set self, stand fast, stay (self), sustain."

Though we may fall, the Lord will hold us up. He will bear us up in His hands. He's got you and me brother in His hands, He's got you and me sister in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands.

The Hebrew word for utterly cast down used in verse 24 means: "to pitch over or reel; hence (transitively) to cast down or out." Though in times of trouble or struggle, we may lose our focus, may fall into sin and compromise, may grow weak in our faith - the Lord will never cast aside or cast out one of His children!!

The closer we draw to the Lord, the darker our sin is revealed in His sight - even our lack of trust when we are hurting and holding ourselves back from Him is sin; however, the Lord loves us and desires to restore us to Him and to cleanse us from the stains of our unrighteousness and sin. If He didn't care, He wouldn't chastise us to bring us to repentance, He wouldn't convict us through the work of the Holy Spirit. God loves His saints too much to leave them alone!

Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

It is interesting to note that the number seven in the Bible signifies completion. In the verse above, we see that a saved person falls seven times - keeps falling - in the eyes of the wicked, perhaps we are complete failures - but God's mercy, gentleness, love - and yea, even chastisement - raises us back up again!

The next time you fall flat on on your face and wander from God, in awe fall on your knees in repentance and remember that He still cares for you!

Consider how David's Psalm of repentance relates:

Psalms 51:7-12 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Yes, cleanse us and renew us, oh Lord; lift us up and uphold us by your Holy Spirit.

Psalms 63:7-8 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

First two definitions:

Followeth hard means: "to cling or adhere; figuratively, to catch by pursuit." Upholdeth means: "to sustain; by implication, to obtain, keep fast; figuratively, to help, follow close."

Here David is stating that was determined to keep clinging to and sticking to the Lord, and was going to catch Him by pursuing Him in faith. He wasn't slothful or negligent in his walk with the Lord - he was diligent to seek Him. As a result, we see that the Lord followed close to David, that He sustained him and kept him fast. Basically, we see that David, our example, clung to the Lord - and the Lord clung to him. Are you doing the same? Do you have that same confidence that God is holding you close?

As I have stated many times, as a poet, the book of Psalms is probably my most favourite book in the whole Bible (closely followed by Isaiah and Job, and then John). It is amazing how the theme of comfort and assurance runs through it. As we can see in this study, this book is so rich in verses teaching us how the Lord upholds believers. Consider these other passages:

Psalms 41:12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

Psalms 66:8-9 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

Psalms 71:5-6 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Psalms 73:23-24 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Holden here means: "to seize (often with the accessory idea of holding in possession)." The Lord is holding us fast, seizing us by His right hand, and He has promised never to let go!

Psalms 94:17-19 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

Slippeth means: "to waver; by implication, to slip, shake, fall." Held me up means: "to support (mostly figurative):--comfort, establish, hold up, refresh self, strengthen, be upholden."

When we waver in our walks with the Lord, when we fall, His mercy lifts us up! Oh my friends, does not this promise bring such tremendous comfort to your soul?

Psalms 119:117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

Wow, I can't believe how blessed I am today to be looking up and meditating on all these promises of God! Oh Lord, Your love to me is too wonderful for words!

Psalms 139:7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Psalms 145:14 The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Isaiah 42:1-7 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

This passage is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. I believe that we can learn from the way the Father holds the Son's hand, and glean a little more about how we ourselves are held in His hands.

The word used here for hold has a range of meaning: "to fasten upon; hence, to seize, be strong (figuratively, courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer."

God will fasten upon and seize hold of His people, will give them strength and courage, will help them.

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, these promises and passages of Scripture should give you a boldness and assurance in your daily walk with the Lord, in your service, and in your witnessing to others. If you are struggling or have fallen in your walk with the Lord, consider how many of these passages refer to the Lord lifting us up when we fall, and lift up your eyes and put them back on Him - your source of strength and hope.

Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

If you don't have that confidence and comfort, I think its time you starting digging deeper into God's Word and meditating on the wonderful promises within its covers. You have a vast wealth of treasure in the Bible - mine these precious jewels and store them up in your heart!

He’s Still Got The Whole World In His Hands

I was worried and discouraged -
Life had me quite upset.
I was ready to give in and break down,
But a still small voice whispered, "Not yet."

I was reminded of God's love for me;
A gentle assurance brought me hope.
The Lord is not limited by my situations,
And that reminder helped me cope.

His Spirit lives within me,
And I know I have been born again.
Whatever happens to this old world
I know it is still held in His hands.

Yes, He's still got the whole world in His hands,
Though sometimes I may not see;
But Jesus reminds me from His Words of Life
That with those same gentle hands He still holds me.

I need not fear for my tomorrows,
And my past is all but gone,
But when I look toward my future,
His bright promises shine on!

Deuteronomy 33:27a The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...

Upheld by the Lord in His everlasting arms.

Yes, He's still got the whole world in His hands, even when we can't see those hands - but better yet, He's still got you and me held securely there!

Poem written July 29th/02
Study written September 27th/08
(Preached in part on September 26th/08)
Jerry Bouey

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