For Beauty

Remind me of Your beauty and where I may find You, that I may rest knowing You are here.

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Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

— GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

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Fearless

To be without fear if the world around us crumbles. How?
Because of where we look and what we focus on.

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Had we focused on ourselves — our inner resolve or our outer strength; our power, weapons, and defense — we would be disappointed. But we focus on God. We have a God Who promised to be our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble. 

We are called to be still and know that He is God, and He will be glorified in the nations. 
And because He is in our midst, and our refuge, we have this fearless trust, this unshakable hope. So in all this, be still and know that He is God. 

 

On Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

 

Notes from M. Henry:
“We will suppose the earth to be removed, and thrown into the sea, even the mountains, the strongest and firmest parts of the earth, to lie buried in the unfathomed ocean; we will suppose the sea to roar and rage, and make a dreadful noise, and its foaming billows to insult the shore with so much violence as even to shake the mountains, Ps. 46:3.

Though kingdoms and states be in confusion, embroiled in wars, tossed with tumults, and their governments in continual revolution—though their powers combine against the church and people of God, aim at no less than their ruin, and go very near to gain their point—yet will not we fear, knowing that all these troubles will end well for the church. See Ps. 93:4.

If the earth be removed, those have reason to fear who have laid up their treasures on earth, and set their hearts upon it; but not those who have laid up for themselves treasures in heaven, and who expect to be most happy when the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters who build their confidence on such a floating foundation, but not those who are led to the rock that is higher than they, and find firm footing upon that rock.”

For Wisdom and Forgiveness.

Reflections on Psalm 39…

 

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“In singing it we should get our hearts duly affected with the brevity, uncertainty, and calamitous state of human life; and those on whose comforts God has, by death, made breaches, will find this psalm of great use to them, in order to their obtaining what we ought much to aim at under such an affliction, which is to get it sanctified to us for our spiritual benefit and to get our hearts reconciled to the holy will of God in it…”

I said, “I will guard my ways,
Lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
While the wicked are before me.”
I was mute with silence,
I held my peace even from good;
And my sorrow was stirred up.
My heart was hot within me;
While I was musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:

Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.
I was mute, I did not open my mouth,
Because it was You who did it.
10 Remove Your plague from me;
I am consumed by the blow of Your hand.
11 When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity,
You make his beauty melt away like a moth;
Surely every man is vapor. Selah

12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.
13 Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength,
Before I go away and am no more.”

 

“Lord, give me to know my end, to be better acquainted with death, to make it more familiar to me (Job 17:14), and to be more affected with the greatness of the change. Lord, give me to consider what a serious thing it is to die.” (2.) “How near it is. Lord, give me to consider the measure of my days, that they are measured in the counsel of God” (the end is a fixed end, so the word signifies; my days are determinedJob 14:5) “and that the measure is but short: My days will soon be numbered and finished.” When we look upon death as a thing at a distance we are tempted to adjourn the necessary preparations for it; but, when we consider how short life is, we shall see ourselves concerned to do what our hand finds to do, not only with all our might, but with all possible expedition…

He prays for a reprieve yet a little longer (Ps. 39:13): “O spare me, ease me, raise me up from this illness that I may recover strength both in body and mind, that I may get into a more calm and composed frame of spirit, and may be better prepared for another world, before I go hence by death, and shall be no more in this world.” Some make this to be a passionate wish that God would send him help quickly or it would be too late, like that, Job 10:2021. But I rather take it as a pious prayer that God would continue him here till by his grace he had made him fit to go hence, and that he might finish the work of life before his life was finished. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee.”

–Notes from M. Henry

 

Oh for grace to lay down all my dreams in Him be found
O for faith to keep it true and never stop believing You
And when it’s strong or when it falls through
Oh lord to know my answer is You
And oh for love to trust some more to fix my eyes on heaven’s shore
And for hope with every step every word my every breath
When it’s strong or when it falls through
Oh lord to know my answer is You
For your light I lose my all, cause I’m not staying here, I’m moving on
So give me strength to hold on tight through stormy gales ‘til morning light
When it’s strong or when it falls through
When it’s strong or when it falls through
When it’s strong or when it falls through
Oh lord to know my answer is You

Show me faith and faithfulness.

On the day that I asked to hear You, and for direction and guidance, you gave me this:

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Wisdom and instruction from Psalm 37:

3Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand….

34 Wait on the Lord,
And keep His way…

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

 

I’ve never been good at change
If I’m honest it’s always scared me
But I can’t deny this stirring deep inside me
And I know it’s time to stop resisting…
Fear is such a sad way to live a life
So, face to the wind, I’m jumping out, I’m walking in
Every single thing You want to show me
To the ups and downs
The highs and lows
The taking in
The letting go
To tears and laughter
The great unknown
To the open journey
Into faith I go
Nobody said this would be easy
Anyone who did never went through anything painful
But faith is not some fragile thing that shatters when we walk through something hard
So, we walk on
Whatever may come

Asking for a Favor

 For all that you have done and all you hope for, whose favor are you longing and waiting for?

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A Colloquy on Rejoicing

Remember, O My Soul,

It is thy duty and privilege to rejoice in God:

He requires it of thee for all his favours of grace.

Rejoice then in the giver and his goodness,

Be happy in him, O my heart, and in nothing but God,

for whatever a man trusts in,

from that he expects happiness.

 

He who is the ground of thy faith

should be the substance of thy joy.

Whence then come heaviness and dejection,

when joy is sown in thee,

promised by the Father,

bestowed by the Son,

inwrought by the Holy Spirit,

thine by grace,

thy birthright in believing?

 

Art thou seeking to rejoice in thyself

from an evil motive of pride and self-reputation?

Thou hast nothing of thine own but sin,

nothing to move God to be gracious,

or to continue his grace towards thee.

 

If thou forget this thou wilt lose thy joy.

Art thou grieving under a sense of indwelling sin?

Let godly sorrow work repentance,

as the true spirit which the Lord blesses,

and which creates fullest joy;

Sorrow for self opens rejoicing in God,

Self-loathing draws down divine delights.

 

Hast thou sought joys in some creature comfort?

Look not below God for happiness;

fall not asleep in Delilah’s lap.

Let God be all in all to thee,

and joy in the fountain that is always full.

— The Valley of Vision – a collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett

 

The great heights on the rough nights
You’re still the best when I’m the worst
What if I decide
What if I made up my mind to rely on You

I thought I wanted it easy
I thought I knew what to do
But I’d rather be needy
Always needing You

(From a moving target, not by choice.)

I Trust in You

Psalm 25

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who  waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

 

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

 

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

 

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

 

12 Who is the man that fears the Lord?
Him shall  He teach in the way He chooses.
13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

 

16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!
18 Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

 

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!


Sharing:

Psalm 25| A plea to God for mercy and deliverance
A heartfelt psalm where the psalmist examines his heart and reflects and his actions. He senses the depths of sin (Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions and For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great), and looks around him, and senses the distress about him (Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred).

But in each instance, he turns to the Lord, to seek Him:
v. 4-5 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

He asks God for mercy, for His goodness’ sake.
He knows that God, though good and upright, has mercy on the sinner.

The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.

He pleads again and again with the Lord, and is comforted with the knowledge that God saves:
Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.

He ends by turning to God to ask for redemption for the nation of Israel:
Redeem Israel, O God, Out of all their troubles!

Thoughts
A psalm that speaks to my heart — that at the examination of it, to turn to God for mercy and forgiveness.
And to know that God can be trusted whatever distress we face.

Yet in his distress, David does not forget the nation of Israel.
When we face hard times and plead with God for deliverance, do we also continue to pray for the needs of our church?

In Christ, we have this confidence to approach our Father, to ask for deliverance from trouble, for the forgiveness of transgression, for the redemption of His church — our hope for Jesus’ coming again, where we will be redeemed from all distress.

A reflection on life and death.

There comes a point in life when we say ‘goodbye’ more than we say ‘hello.’ Though I am not yet there, because I work with the elderly, I think I have been given an early preview into that stage of life. And seeing the life in its later stage gives me a different perspective with which I view life now… All that we strive for in our youth, all that really matters in the end.

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Yet in my personal life, though I am at a stage where many ‘hello’s’ are said — in weddings, in baby showers, at work, in service — and my world is still expanding, I am not exempt from ‘goodbyes.’ This year, there were a few…

And in this time where I see life and death and death and life… Where there are joy and excitement, and sorrow and losses… It makes me see the brevity of it all. What do we really get to hold on to?

For this, I’m thankful that the Lord is real, and I can bring my questions to Him. This morning, as I reflected on Psalm 16, I see that the psalmist has much hope knowing that His portion is the Lord. And with that, he finds comfort and joy. Knowing that God guides him, he knows he will not be shaken, no matter what comes his way. He then turns his thoughts to the Messiah, and reflects on victory even over the grave.

Matthew Henry reflects on Psalm 16 on choosing the Lord as our portion in this life, knowing that He keeps us well in this life, and in life after death, in His presence is the fullness of joy:

“He repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness (Ps. 16:5), takes to himself the comfort of the choice (Ps. 16:6), and gives God the glory of it, Ps. 16:7. This is very much the language of a devout and pious soul in its gracious exercises.

1. Choosing the Lord for its portion and happiness. “Most men take the world for their chief good, and place their felicity in the enjoyments of it; but this I say, The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup, the portion I make choice of, and will gladly take up with, how poor soever my condition is in this world.

Let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him;
let me have the comfort of communion with God, and satisfaction in the communications of his graces and comforts;
let me have an interest in his promises, and a title by promise to everlasting life and happiness in the future state;
and I have enough, I need no more, I desire no more, to complete my felicity.”

Would we do well and wisely for ourselves, we must take God, in Christ, to be,

(1.) The portion of our inheritance in the other world. Heaven is an inheritance. God himself is the inheritance of the saints there, whose everlasting bliss is to enjoy him. We must take that for our inheritance, our home, our rest, our lasting, everlasting, good, and look upon this world to be no more ours than the country through which our road lies when we are on a journey.

(2.) The portion of our cup in this world, with which we are nourished, and refreshed, and kept from fainting. Those have not God for theirs who do not reckon his comforts the most reviving cordials, acquaint themselves with them, and make use of them as sufficient to counterbalance all the grievances of this present time and to sweeten the most bitter cup of affliction.”

 

Dear friend, thank you for reading to here. 
At this point, there is a question for you — knowing that there is life and death, have you made a choice on choosing to follow God so that even with the last ‘goodbye’ in this life, there is hope and joy in the next life?

If you have questions about what it means to believe in Jesus, this article may be a good place to start.

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears
 
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die
 
It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

The Waters Ahead

“Year’s End”

O Love Beyond Compare,

Thou art good when Thou givest,
when Thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With Thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless Thee that Thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
Thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see Thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify Thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

–Arthur Bennett, ed., “Year’s End,” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1983), 111.

 

What do old sailors learn?
When the lure of the sea fades
and their faces are aged by the sun and the wind.

When ships don’t come home.
And the waters bring more danger than play.

And those of us on land…
After the glitter of this season
and hope takes flight or fall.

You know my mind
that I’m wired to worry, and trust is a foreign language.

So faith is unnatural to me.
And if You hadn’t chosen and anchored me first,
I would certainly be lost at sea.

And now, as “I hoist sail and draw up anchor…”
Pilot me now, my future as You have my past.

That this vessel may bear gifts when it returns to You.
That I may not come on driftwood to shore.

 

Learning to be Faithful

As I continue to reflect on the book of Job, I’m learning what it means to trust God when you don’t understand what He is doing. When you don’t see the logic. You don’t understand how He works…

Yet it is at those times that we ground ourselves on WHO HE IS. 
On His unchanging attributes — On His wisdom, His goodness, His omniscience, His faithfulness…
And knowing that enables us to take the next step… 
(I’m still learning.)

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Today, we talked about why people change…
Why promises are broken.

What happens when keeping a promise no longer serves you?
What happens when you (or the other person) has changed?
What happens when love grows cold, or feels like it’s gone?

And I begin to see how good it is that faithfulness and immutability (unchanging over time) are part of God’s attributes.

“I will confess some days I feel forgotten
Seems like You’re hiding Your face from me

I will admit that I wrestle with my thoughts
Struggle with all of the sorrow deep
How long will You leave me here without answers
Crushed by the words of my enemies

But I will trust Your unfailing love
I will rest knowing You’re enough
I will give praise for through all my days

You have been good to me
You have been good
Ever so good
You have been good to me”
| A.T., on Psalm 13

PSALM 13

1How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

We Need Hope

“But there is hope in all our tears. When the hour of Christ’s triumph arrives, the suffering world will be brought out into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For men of the new creation the golden age is not past but future, and when it is ushered in, a wondering universe will see that God has indeed abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. In the meantime, we rest our hope in the only wise God, our Savior, and wait with patience the slow development of His benign purposes.

In spite of tears and pain and death, we believe that the God who made us all is infinitely wise and good. As Abraham staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and was fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able to perform, so do we base our hope in God alone and hope against hope till the day breaks.

We rest in what God is. I believe that this alone is true faith. Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith….

The testimony of faith is that, no matter how things look in this fallen world, all God’s acts are wrought in perfect wisdom. The incarnation of the Eternal Son in human flesh was one of God’s mighty deeds, and we may be sure that this awesome deed was done with a perfection possible only to the Infinite. “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.””

A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy