Meditations

O Love That Wilt Not Let me Go

I appreciate followers of Jesus who are willing to be honest about their struggles. They minister and encourage through their pain. I want to be that kind of Christ-follower . . .

When my “torch flickers”

When the pain is seemingly unending

God is there. He is.

Amazing grace. . .

 

 

Words: George Ma­the­son, in the Church of Scot­land mag­a­zine Life and Work, Jan­u­a­ry 1882.

Music: St. Mar­garet (Peace), Al­bert L. Peace, 1884 (MI­DI, score). Alternate tunes:

Matheson said about this hymn:

My hymn was com­posed in the manse of In­ne­lan [Ar­gyle­shire, Scot­land] on the ev­en­ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar­ri­age, and the rest of the fam­i­ly were stay­ing over­night in Glas­gow. Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self. I am quite sure that the whole work was com­plet­ed in five min­utes, and equal­ly sure that it ne­ver re­ceived at my hands any re­touch­ing or cor­rect­ion. I have no na­tur­al gift of rhy­thm. All the other vers­es I have ever writ­ten are man­u­fact­ured ar­ti­cles; this came like a day­spring from on high.


O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/l/oltwnlmg.htm

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Meditations

A Psalm for an Election Year

I have gone “blog quiet” for weeks . . . and my first post to break the silence is political???

Not really. Don’t click “delete” yet . . .

1917148_1114527731905586_1998735829395602311_nI have been reading Tim and Kathy Keller’s devotional on the Psalms, and “it just so happened” (yes, that is tongue-in-cheek) that we were on Psalm 33 during the week of “Super Tuesday” primary elections, and Virginia, where I live, was holding primary elections. Politics has been in the news non-stop.  Social media is rife with postings and tweets and opinions and warnings. . .what do we do with all of “this?”

Psalm 33 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

The very first thing to do, is to praise our great God. Give Him thanks — even if you don’t own a lyre or harp; even if you only have one partially-working vocal cord so “making melody” is no longer an option. Give thanks because God is perfect and holy. Give thanks because you can trust that ALL His work is done in faithfulness. Give thanks because His steadfast love exists. Give thanks because He is righteous and just. Give thanks because HE IS GOD.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

As if we need a reason, or proof of God’s “worth” to praise and trust Him. When God speaks, it happens. Period.
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

And here begins the “why” I said this is a psalm for an election year. . .we can be thankful for God and His Word. We can trust that God’s sovereignty will prevail.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
13 The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

God is on His throne — His seat of power and authority. He is not merely a passive spectator of world events. He is the Creator.

16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Here is the reality — governments and rulers and regimes and powers come and go, rise and fall. They always have. The one constant is that God has always had faithful followers, and He has always preserved them. When I say “always preserved” I am not discounting martyrs, or suffering, or adversity. But here is the reality — even death is not destruction. Death is “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Much of the New Testament was written under cruel and ungodly governments, where religious liberty was non-existent. We in America have lived under a wide range of liberties and comforts. If that begins to change, will God still be God? In what is our trust, really?
20 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Our hope must be in God and His faithfulness. No elected official can save us. No government can save us. Yes, we must advocate for justice, and support righteousness, and promote peace. We must be good citizens and pray for our leaders (Romans 13 comes to mind), whether or not they are actively following God’s ways. We don’t know all the details of God’s sovereign plan, and how He will use current events to accomplish His purposes.

But we can trust His holy name. We can be thankful. We can give Him glory. We can tell others that He is the ultimate answer. That’s what we can do.

And then trust God to be God . . .

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Meditations

Integrity and Normal Life

Psalm 15 A psalm of David (NLT)
Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.
This is not technically a political post — this is a life post. I am “re-memorizing” (meaning I memorized it some years ago but it needs a healthy review) this psalm and wondering. . .

Jesus truly is the only one with complete and utter integrity. God is perfect; I am not. However. . .disciples are called to imitate their teacher . . .but that is for another post.

In an election year (or extended season, as it seems to be) there is so much talk, and criticism, and innuendo about a candidate’s past actions, and present ideologies and plans and whatever else can fill the present 24-hour news cycle. Whom do we believe? What is important, and what can just be passed over as human nature?

And then I look at this psalm. Five simple verses. No, I am not promoting salvation by works. I know that there is none who does good, no not one (Romans 3) but I also know that God’s Word is true, not just for the faithful follower of Jesus; God’s Word is true, and His principles are right (as the Creator, does He not know how man should live?)

What if we held up this psalm to a candidate’s life/voting record/youtube videos? What if these traits were promoted as standard behavior at work? at school? in our homes? in our churches?

I repeat — salvation is only by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He who knew no sin became sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of  God (2 Corinthians 5). Morality will not save me. But God has established rules to govern society, and whether or not a person is a follower of Jesus, they will benefit from following these basic rules. Integrity; truthfulness; kindness; generosity . . .when did these traits become so rare?

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Meditations

Real Thanksgiving

I noticed I have been quiet of late. Not really, just quiet as far as this blog goes . . .

In January, I began an intentional journey of Scripture memory. “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin and/or Winston Churchill; in  my experience, if I just say, I’ll get to it — I seldom do . . .

I have seen God work in amazing ways through His Word! Such a short statement for such tremendous truth. God has answered my feeble request so far “above and beyond” — and proved that God is bigger than brain injury, or vasospasm, or ______ (whatever the obstacle)

It’s November, the typical month set aside for giving thanks. Nothing is more fitting for this time of year, than the Psalms’ own doxology. Let these power-packed, truth-filled, God-exalting (yep, Piper influence bleeds through) statements bless you today (and no, I did not add the exclamation points; they are in my Bible)

Psalm 100 (ESV)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Amen.

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Meditations

Freedom or Idolatry?

 1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Idols don’t always look like idols. Sometimes they come couched in an attitude, or an expectation. Sometimes they rise up after being dormant for a long time . . .

Today I left my cell phone on a store shelf. I was grinding coffee, and I got distracted and left my wallet and phone on the shelf. It was at least 20 minutes before I even realized I did not have it with me. Back to the shelf — it was gone. A kind employee helped me find that the wallet was returned (i.e. just left on a cashier’s station) but the cell phone, and the cash in the wallet was gone.

I can’t tell you how many “choices” I have had since that one incident. Attitudes. Fears. Frustrations. But one in particular surprised me, because I thought this particular idol had been long dead . . .

“How could you be so stupid!” I felt that well up in me, roll on my tongue and almost erupt from my mouth before I caught myself. Wow. I thought that habit was gone.

But God is faithful, as in the above text. He made me aware of what I was about to say before I said it, so I could make the choice to declare the statement a lie, and send it back to the pit from whence it came.

I have had the opportunity today to be thankful —

for the kindness of an employee who literally walked the store, calling my cell from hers, to see if we could hear the ring;

for a gracious and loving husband who simply said, “I’m sure I have lost a lot more money; order a new phone.”

that I didn’t have all my cash in the wallet.

What I am most thankful for, however, is that I have a choice. I am no longer a slave to every negative emotion or thought. Christ has paid for every one of them, so that I can be free.

Free to choose to believe the truth despite what I “feel;”

Free to forgive the thief;

Free to be grateful for what I have been given, rather than resentful of what is withheld (thank you, Elizabeth Elliot, again).

Free.

 

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Meditations

Soul Calesthenics

1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. . .

Memorizing God’s Word has saved my life.

Literally.

I do not know why God has not chosen to take away the intrusive depressive thoughts that assault my soul. Yes, I have asked. He has answered.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I am intensely grateful that Pastor Charles Spurgeon was honest about his battle with depression. . .

“I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to. But I always get back again by this–I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also.” C.H. Spurgeon

What I do know, is that every time the assaulting thoughts come in —

God is there. Every time. His faithfulness is constant.

When Jesus told his disciples that “[He would] ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17), Jesus kept his promise.

God has given me His Word. His Word strengthens my soul. His Word comforts me in my affliction. His Word assures me that He is enough. Ephesians 6: 10ff. . .

When I take up the belt of truth, I choose to believe God’s Word is true, despite what I feel;

when I put on the breastplate of righteousness, I believe that in Christ I am a new creation;

when I put on the shoes of the readiness (preparedness) given by the gospel of peace, I believe that God loves me, and He is for me. In Christ, I am no longer an enemy of God, but His dear child;

when I take up the shield of faith, I believe that God is true, and He always tells the truth (and the devil always lies);

 

when I put on the helmet of salvation, I am assured that I am God’s beloved child;

when I take up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, I believe that God has given me the tools to fight. And I can pray always with all prayer and supplication (specific prayer in concrete situations) and know that God is not only listening, but He has given me the tools to win!

But that does not mean that the fight is not bloody, or hard-won, or exhausting. . .

You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have. — Corrie ten Boom

He truly is enough. . .and my soul is getting stronger . . .

 

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Meditations

Expectations and Repentance

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

This quote had been rolling around in my head all day. . .and then I read it on a Facebook post by Steve Saint (I-TEC).

Words. Easy to say. Easy to type. Easy to live, when life is going well and people like you . . .

This statement got me thinking — what part of “come and die” is difficult for me?

One word kept coming up . . .

Expectations

Expectations have been the source of much of my emotional “upset” of late. Expectations I thought were long-dead. Sigh. . .

Expectation that if I faithfully follow my diet regimen, take my medication — that I will feel better; but as Job acknowledged. . . Since man’s days are determined and the number of his months depends on You, and since You have set limits he cannot pass. . .” Job 14:5 HCSB

(by the way, I am NOT saying don’t listen to the doctors, but that ultimately it is God who is in control of even the specifics of my health and strength)

Expectation that if I am pleasant and nice to people, they will be pleasant and nice to me; but Jesus said . . .Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:31-36 HCSB

Treating others as I want to be treated, even if (and when) they do not return the favor; being merciful, rather than resentful; trusting God with my heart and my feelings . . .

Expectation that people will see how much we have sacrificed, and really appreciate it (oh, how self-serving and petty that sounds as I type it!!); again, the words of Jesus. . . The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” the Lord said, “you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.  “Which one of you having a slave tending sheep or plowing will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?  Instead, will he not tell him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, get ready, and serve me while I eat and drink; later you can eat and drink’?  Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” Luke 17:5-10 HCSB

I don’t mean for this post to be “gloomy,” but, in actuality, I am processing through to the good news — how thankful I am for the Holy Spirit’s revealing to me my sin, so I can forsake it and have His peace. In the book of Isaiah, Judah has made an alliance with Egypt, rather than trusting God. God sends Isaiah to warn them of  the consequences of trusting in their own strength — For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.” Isaiah 30:15 HCSB

Oh, Lord, keep me from the sin of unwillingness to repent and forsake my sin! But you are not willing.” You say, “No! We will escape on horses”—therefore you will escape!—and, “We will ride on fast horses”—but those who pursue you will be faster. One thousand will flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you will flee, until you alone remain like a solitary pole on a mountaintop or a banner on a hill. Isaiah 30: 15b-17 HCSB

I am so grateful for God’s mercy! Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 ESV

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