Seeking Whole-heartedly

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:10-13

The Lord’s people had turned against him, rejecting his laws and seeking false gods and the fleeting pleasure of sin. And so he judged them, as he had promised.

In the midst of judgment, he reminded them of his promise of mercy. His people had broken faith, but the Lord would not. Their exile had a limit. The Lord was not finished in his plans for them. His plans were still for their good and their hope.

He promised restoration of heart. The people who once rejected him in their hearts would turn back to him. And He would not hide himself. They would seek and find, they would call and He would answer.

Just as He spoke to His beloved then, so He speaks to them now. So I have to ask myself, as His beloved, what are the promises He has revealed in His Word? What faithfulness is mine in Him? Having come to Him for salvation, do I believe He delights to grant it? Even in dire circumstances, do I trust that his plans for me are good and full of hope? Do I seek after him wholeheartedly in Bible-reading, prayer, and obedience?

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“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Acts 2:38-39

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“And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

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“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Galatians 3:29

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“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13

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“Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!”

Psalms 119:116

What I Need to Know

This month, I’ve been participating in July’s Scripture writing plan from Sweet Blessings: God is Our Refuge. Focusing for over a week now on the promise of refuge and salvation has led to many thoughts and prayers, and I’m looking forward to the remaining 23 days.

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, he know those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7 (part of day 7)

When do I need refuge? When I am afraid. When someone, or some situation, or some sin, or some other worry is pressing on me. In that moment, what I want most to know how everything will be resolved. I want to know, “what will happen?”

As with many others, however, what I want most to know is not what I need most to know. The way of quieting my heart and mind is not in knowing the end from the beginning. No, Nahum says in 4 words (in English, two in Hebrew) what I most need to know: The LORD is good.

The LORD — יְהֹוָה Yĕhovah

Not “one”, not “a”. There are no others in His rank. No other lesser gods to somehow grab power. No equal forces of good and evil to balance out, no equal dichotomy of right and wrong. He alone is unrivaled in the universe.

The eternal, self-existing One. He does not need our help.  All things happen according to His will — even the things that most trouble us. He is the authority, because He existed before all things and He is the Creator and Master of all creation.

is good — טוֹבtowb

He is right. Excellent. Rich and Valuable in estimation. Because He is good, He does what is good. Since He is good in His very being, He is trustworthy.

That’s what a child knows when they run to a parent for help when they are afraid: My parents are bigger, and they are good to me.

Because the LORD is unrivaled in His power and good in His very nature, He is “a stronghold in the day of trouble.”

And as an added balm to a worried heart, “he knows those who take refuge in him.” He knows every hair on their head. He hems them in behind and before. He sees their goings out and staying in. He has written down everyday of their lives. He calls them by name.

So take courage.

He is God.

He is good.

He knows you.

 

The LORD is good,

a stronghold in the day of trouble,

he know those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7

 

 

Psalm 34:17-18

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.    Psalm 34:17-18

These verses lead me to ask myself, “Self, when do you cry for help? At night when fears and fatigue start their vicious attack?  In the morning when the start of a new day seems too much to bear?  In the afternoon or mid-morning when the crush of the everyday — the urgency — starts to make its many demands?  Whenever the time, it doesn’t matter, because “when the righteous cry” “the LORD hears and delivers.”  Look back on the last 24 hours.  Have you cried for help?  And were you delivered? Yes, Self, you know you have cried and you have been delivered. ”

To which my Self replies, “But being rid of fear is a reoccurring struggle, and being delivered from a certain fear one night doesn’t mean it won’t rear its ugly head the next night.  Great sorrow happening at once can make a person brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  But, it does not always take an extreme event to produce that same result.  The daily drip of anxiety, the nagging of a certain fear, the inner voice that constantly condemns, day in and day out all lead to a crushed spirit as well.”

To which Self is answered, “But what does the Word of God say?  The LORD is near to you, O brokenhearted! The LORD is your salvation, O crushed in spirit! Hold that. Cherish that truth.  Use it to fight your fears.  Remember to cry out to the LORD God.  He is your sure salvation.”

Dear Lord,

It’s three in the morning and I’ve been robbed of sleep.  I hear fears and what-ifs come rushing at me. 

I feel my anxiety rise to meet them.

My body is so tired.  I toss and turn; I cover my head, but my wakeful mind is the host to these voices of fear —

and I can’t shut them out.

Oh, give me grace and deliverance from these enemies.

Drive out anxiety and fill me with trust in you!

Drive out my fears and fill me with reminders of your mercy!

I am a child of little faith, so hold me close and fill up my lack.

Remind me of your promises.

Let me rest in your peace,

and let me sleep again.

Blessed be God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me!   Psalm 66:20

Psalm 34:8

Oh taste and see that the LORD is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!   Psalm 34:8

In all of His works, the LORD shows Himself to be good.  Always.  Without fail.  But those who do not run to Him, who do not taste, who do not seek will only look from a distance and say “my way is disregarded by him; he is not good.”  This is the way of everyone unless the LORD in His mercy draws a person to seek Him.  Those who “taste and see” take refuge in Him.  And the LORD is such a strong refuge that a person can be called blessed, even while their troubles roar and surge at them. They are blessed because their trust and peace — because they themselves — are in Him.

Psalm 34:4-7

I sought the LORD and He answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.   Psalm 34:4-5

After opening the Psalm with a heart and mouth full of praise to God, the psalmist goes back and gives reason to his praise: the LORD has answered his prayers.  The LORD’s answer was and is deliverance because in Him there is no change.  David knew this and rejoiced in it.  Fear has no strength and can hold no prisoners when the LORD delivers.  So, I ask myself, am I seeking the LORD for deliverance from my fears?  Or, am I seeking to take refuge in fear — even though it oppresses me — so that I can keep looking to myself?  Those who look to God are the radiant ones.  They are the delivered and it shines through their heart and soul to their face.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around

those who fear him, and delivers them.  Psalm 34:6-7

Remember deliverance from the past; remember in thankfulness and praise.  David’s deliverance didn’t turn his memory into a foggy, rose-colored memory of his pain.  No, David remembered his pain, that he was a many with many troubles, poor and helpless.  And this right memory of past grief gave David a right memory of the magnitude of the LORD’s deliverance.  The LORD is mighty.  He can deliver and He will continue to do so.  He also sends His angel as a barrier to protect His children.  David was a poor man.  He did not trust his own salvation, for by it there could be no hope.  Instead, he cried to God in his weakness — for in that, there was no shame.  David was one of the radiant ones who continually remembered his Savior’s past deliverance and felt his faith strengthened.  In any situation, whether as the poor one waiting for deliverance or as the radiant one remembering it, there is hope because deliverance comes from the One who alone has the power to give it.

Saturday Song: Rock of Ages

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Save from wrath and make me pure.

 

Could my tears forever flow,

Could my zeal no respite know,

These for sin could not atone —

Thou must save, and Thou alone:

In my hand no price I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

 

While I draw this fleeting breath,

When my eyes shall close in death,

When I rise to worlds unknown

And behold Thee on Thy throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee.