Find Hope.

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No day of my life has passed that has not
Proved me guilty in your sight
The best I have to offer are these filthy rags
And yet you love me

All things in me call for my rejection
All things in You plead my acceptance

I am guilty but pardoned by grace I’ve been set free
I am ransomed through the blood you shed for me
I was dead in my transgressions, but life you brought to me
I am reconciled through mercy
To the cross I cling

No more am I a slave to sin but
Bought with a price
Redemption that was purchased through the blessed cross
That You bore for me

The cross is where I find death, is where I find life, where mercy found me

— To the Cross I Cling, The Village Church

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He gave His Best

GRACIOUS LORD,

Thy name is love,
in love receive my prayer…

Grace cataracts from heaven and flows for ever,
and mercy never wearies in bestowing benefits.

Grant me more and more

to prize the privilege of prayer,
to come to thee as a sin-soiled sinner,
to find pardon in thee,
to converse with thee;
to know thee in prayer as
the path in which my feet tread,
the latch upon the door of my lips,
the light that shines through my eyes,
the music of my ears,
the marrow of my understanding,
the strength of my will,
the power of my affection,
the sweetness of my memory.

May the matter of my prayer be always
  wise, humble, submissive,
  obedient, scriptural, Christ-like.

Give me unwavering faith
that supplications are never in vain,
that if I seem not to obtain my petitions
I shall have larger, richer answers,
surpassing all that I ask or think.

Unsought, thou hast given me
  the greatest gift, the person of thy Son,
  and in him thou wilt give me all I need.

— Excerpt from The Prayer of Love, Valley of Vision

Never I’ve found
A love so pure
To take all of my wrongs
And make them Your own
More than my mind and my desires hold
You gave me more
As I go to the waters
Memories rise, each step reminds
Me who I was and who You’re making
Soaking clean I’m finally free

… For all my days I will live to tell
Of Your goodness, Lord

For Hope & Peace.

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I’ve been reading the book of Job over the past few weeks for devotions. These have also been weeks touched by illness, by sorrow, by unexpected — and sometimes unpleasant — news in the lives of family and friends. Yet reflecting on the life of Job, His steadfastness in God, His awe of God and faith in God even in the midst of much pain and confusion, there has been an inexplicable peace and hope. Job spoke not knowing the behind-the-scenes, and the ending, but we know the ending!

But we have the assurance:

So in all this, though questions remain, and trouble yet may come, there is a new hope and a sense of peace that I can’t explain. And all is well.

 

Sharing my devo notes (in case I need to look back one day, too):

Job 14| Job considers the brevity of life and the change in death
Job appears to have moved on to answering his friends, now to reflect on life and death — perhaps as a reminder to himself, or to his friends, too. He speaks about the brevity of life, and the sorrows it comes with. That sin is there. That God has determined the days of our lives.

Then he speaks of death, that once we die, we are cut off from this world. Trees are cut down and the stump seems to wither, but at the scent of water, it can bud and live again. But man is more like water drying up from the sea — once gone, is no more.

Job yearns for death again, that God would hide him in the grave until His wrath is past, then, at the appointed time, He would remember him again. He asks: If a man dies, shall he live again? He answers: All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You — what is this change?

Thoughts
These verses especially stood out to me:

v. 13 Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

v. 14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes.

What is it that God should hide one in the grave until the appointed time, and remember him? What is this change that will come?

Matthew Henry explains that, on the one hand, Job may be speaking of the change from life to death, that he is preparing himself for death. It may also be possible that he speaks of resurrection (unknowingly… or knowingly… I am not sure.) — for the grave is a hiding place, and he waits until God’s wrath is past, and asks that God would remember him then. MH speaks of Noah in the ark, that God hid him from the destruction of the world, and reserved him for the new world, remembering Noah at a set time, and appointed time. And same as for the saints who now sleep in the grave.

It is not common for the living to remember death, or for the healthy to prepare for dying. But for those whose hope is in Jesus, we know that death is temporary, and we rise to eternal life. Yet to remember that death does come to all (unless He comes before then), and He has determined the number of our days, so that we may live wisely, to seek His purpose in our days on earth.

What does a life who knows and lives this truth look like?

I think about Jesus, and of Paul… Or the early disciples after Jesus’ resurrection — With purpose and urgency, yet with greater love and patience for people, and with peace and hope that is beyond what this world can offer. And all of this is ours to claim, too.

 

I have this confidence because
I’ve seen the faithfulness of God
The still inside the storm
The promise of the shore
I trust the power of Your word
Enough to seek Your kingdom first
Beyond the barren place
Beyond the ocean waves
When I walk through the waters, I won’t be overcome
When I go through the rivers, I will not be drowned
My God will make a way, so I am not afraid
You keep the promises You make
There isn’t one that is delayed
So I will not lose heart…

NULLA.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

My own dim life should teach me this,
That life shall live for evermore,
Else earth is darkness at the core,
And dust and ashes all that is

The baby new to earth and sky,
What time his tender palm is prest
Against the circle of the breast,
Has never thought that `this is I:’

But as he grows he gathers much,
And learns the use of `I’ and `me,’
And finds `I am not what I see,
And other than the things I touch.’

So rounds he to a separate mind
From whence clear memory may begin,
As thro’ the frame that binds him in
His isolation grows defined.

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy’d,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

I climb the hill: from end to end
Of all the landscape underneath,
I find no place that does not breathe
Some gracious memory of my friend

Who loves not Knowledge? Who shall rail
Against her beauty? May she mix
With men and prosper! Who shall fix
Her pillars? Let her work prevail.

Half-grown as yet, a child, and vain—
She cannot fight the fear of death.
What is she, cut from love and faith,
But some wild Pallas from the brain

For she is earthly of the mind,
But Wisdom heavenly of the soul.
O, friend, who camest to thy goal
So early, leaving me behind

Regret is dead, but love is more
Than in the summers that are flown,
For I myself with these have grown
To something greater than before

No longer half-akin to brute,
For all we thought and loved and did,
And hoped, and suffer’d, is but seed
Of what in them is flower and fruit;

Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing ere the times were ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God,

That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.

 

 

— In Memoriam A.H.H., L.A.T.

 

 

About Easter

“I could sooner count the stars
Than number all Your ways
Though I only know in part
That part exceeds all praise
As sunlight fills the skies
Your goodness fills my life
For all Your precious gifts
Receive my gratefulness

I could sooner drink the seas
Than fathom all Your love
Like a never-ceasing stream
Are mercies through Your Son
The death of Christ alone
Deserves eternal song
For such a love as His
Receive my gratefulness

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I could sooner turn back time
Than turn Your heart away
Though the years go fleeting by
Your mercies never change
Before You made the sun
Your love was set on us
For all Your faithfulness
Receive my gratefulness

Sooner Count the Stars, Sovereign Grace Music

Life’s Purpose

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“Dawn returns, but without thy light within
no outward light can profit…

…Cause me to be a mirror of thy grace,
  to show others the joy of thy service,
May my lips be well-tuned cymbals
sounding thy praise,
Let a halo of heavenly-mindedness
sparkle around me
and a lamp of kindness sunbeam my path.
Teach me the happy art of
  attending to things temporal
  with a mind intent on things eternal.
Send me forth to have compassion
on the ignorant and miserable.
Help me to walk as Jesus walked,
  my only Saviour and perfect model,
  his mind my inward guest,
  his meekness my covering garb.
Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit,
  my delight the gentle ranks of the meek.
Let me always esteem others better than myself,
and find in true humility
  an heirdom to two worlds.”

— Excerpts from Christlikeness, The Valley of Vision

 

He knows my past
The choices I have made
When I have wandered
When I pushed away
Somehow still I’m held by this one thing…
Yes, Jesus loves me… Even me

 

A Necessary Goodbye

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We said goodbye.
The letting go and the holding on; one is necessary for the other to come.

For so long — too long — did I live comfortably with your presence, which was a barrier to all things good. You were a comfortable crutch to one who ought to have been walking.

But worse, you were the wrong medication to an illness that would otherwise lead to death. And for so long, I wouldn’t change it… The alternative was there, but the change would be unfamiliar, the taste initially bitter, and the comfort of familiarity felt hard to overcome.

But we said goodbye tonight.
And tomorrow, whatever comes…
Though I may fear, I know I stand on a Solid Rock.
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

So tomorrow, I take His hand.
One step, and another.

It is well with my soul.
And all is well and will be well.

Goodbye, good night.
I was blind, now I’m seeing in color
I was dead, now I’m living forever
I had failed, but you were my redeemer
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
I was lost, now I’m found by the father
I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure
I’ve been given a hope and a future
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season you are good to me
(What is left to say, but ‘yes, and amen.’)

Finding my Way

“We do not let past regrets hold us back or fears and worries about the future keep us cornered. Instead, we practice depending on God and His Church to help us make the most of our opportunities. As we take in knowledge and put it to work through faithful obedience, we experience God’s wisdom and spiritual fruit is the result.”

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You brought me to the desert so You could be my water
You brought me to the fire so You could be my shield
You brought me to the darkness so You could be my morning light…

And when I’m in the valley, You will be my comfort
And when I’m at the end of me, I find You there
When I’m in the battle, You will be my present peace
Cause You brought me this far…

Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me
Wherever you call me, You will make a way
Wherever we’re going, I will be holding
To the promise you have made

Lean.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 
“It’s not my life to live
It’s not my song to sing
All I have is His, for all eternity
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It’s not my righteousness
It’s not my faithfulness
All I have is His, for all eternity
Crown Him, Crown Him
King of Glory
Crown Him, Crown Him
Lord of All

(On sunny, well-rested days, we shout this with passion.
On the days when we are worn,
too exhausted to take another step,
when another word seems too much to bear…
Will we…
Can we still say, ‘This life is not mine to live… All I have is His?’
If not for His grace and sustenance…
‘There but for the grace of God go I.’)

It’s not my war to win
It’s not my weight to bear
By His mighty hand
He won the victory
He won the victory

All I have is His, for all eternity

Crown Him, Crown Him
King of Glory
Crown Him, Crown Him
Lord of All

It’s not my blood but His
That stands in my defense
And oh what love is this
That won the victory
He won the victory

Crown Him, Crown Him
King of Glory
Crown Him, Crown Him
Lord of All

So, child, lean on!
Trust and lean on with your full weight,
in all your brokenness,
lean on!
Whenever you wonder if there is anyone whom you can depend on,
anyone who understands,
anyone who can bear the weight of your burden,
your secret sorrows,
your immense joys,
the conflicting frustrations,
your simple and profound thoughts,
… If anyone even cares about the mundane daily matters,
if anyone cares to listen,
if anyone is able to help and heal.
Yes.
Christian, call on Jesus.
“…Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 19-21
And if you don’t know Him,
don’t stop searching until you’ve found the answer:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18
If there is anything in the world worth finding out, this is it:
It is a matter of life and death, not only for now but for eternity.
I pray that this matters enough to you that you won’t stop until you’ve found the answer.
To find Him as the One who loves you.
To find Him now, as the Lord of love in grace and mercy…
That you may never have to face Him that day, as the Lord of wrath on the day of Judgement.

The Heart.

“…When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

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O LORD,

My every sense, member, faculty, affection, is a snare to me,
I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me,
or despise those below.
I covet honour and riches of the mighty,
and am proud and unmerciful to the rags of others;
If I behold beauty it is a bait to lust, or see deformity, it stirs up loathing and disdain; How soon do slanders, vain jests, and wanton speeches creep into my heart!

Am I comely? what fuel for pride!
Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining!
Am I gifted? I lust after applause!
Am I learned? how despise what I have not!
Am I in authority? how prone to abuse my trust,
make my will my law,
exclude others’ enjoyments,
serve my own interests and policy!
Am I inferior? how much I grudge others’ pre-eminence!
Am I rich? how exalted I become!

Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself. I bewail that my apprehensions are dull,
my thoughts mean,
my affections stupid,
my expressions low,
my life unbeseeming;

Yes what canst thou expect of dust but levity, of corruption but defilement?
Keep me ever mindful of my natural state,
but let me not forget my heavenly title,
or the grace that can deal with every sin.

— The Valley of Vision. (2016). Self-Deprecation. The Banner of Truth Trust.

 

I’ve tried running.
Tried hiding.
Tried fighting.
Tried indifference.
And learned all forms of navel-gazing will never bring me one iota closer to home.

But in all this, I learned that when I bring both my burdens and my treasures to You,
(for You are the only One who can take care of both so well)
there, I find peace and hope.
And learned that with You, I am Home.

Remind me of Your truth,
the simplicity and profound mystery of it.
And in learning, teach me to love You over and again, until I see You, and love You even more then.