Abide and Rest

Mondays can be busy days. Or maybe they only seem more busy because it’s the first workday after the weekend. Too often the temptation can be to give in to the tyranny of the urgent and dive willingly into the rush that offers no real rest or relief… at least it is for me.

So how welcome this reminder is to dwell, to stay, to abide, to find rest in the shelter of the Almighty. The One who gives work and gives rest. The One who does not call for a frenzied rush, but endurance in doing good. The One who, for the believer, has already assigned eternal favor and the worth of being his child. The One who, in his matchless power, is working all things out for the good of those who trust in him.

How different would each hour be if his children (including this one) abided in his love and shelter, even while out working in the world? How different would it be if his children anchored their soul in the bedrock of eternal hope instead of striving and trusting in the efforts of man, including themselves?

Sunday Song: I Will Sing of my Redeemer

The book of Psalms is a great gift. It teaches us to remember, to trust, to cry out, to rejoice… in song.

When troubles, worries, temptations, and frustrations take hold, when I can’t see past tomorrow’s responsibilities or today’s failures, when I’m gladdened with deep joy and contentment, my soul needs most to remember Christ’s great sacrifice on my behalf. And from that remembrance, my soul and body must join together and sing.

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

Thanks and credit to Marianne Kim who inspired the introduction.

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

Sunday Song: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

In this morning’s sermon, my pastor encouraged us that it is natural to believe that God does not love us, but that it is the work of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believers’ heart that gives assurance of God’s love.

God is love.

We love because He first loved us.

God will never stop being who He is and He will not withhold from His children that which He has promised to give.

So maybe, like me this morning, you need a heart check. Do you know in your heart that God loves you and why? May the Holy Spirit keep changing our hearts, replacing the natural unbelief with strengthened faith and the real assurance of the truth of His steadfast, never-ending love for those who call on the name of the Lord.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:9-10

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalms‬ ‭13:5‬

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie

“Just as I am / How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Teacher Seeking Approval

It was the middle of a Tuesday and I found myself picking the date for an announced observation for the following week. We settled on December 12th at 8:45 am. That score will play a big part in determining my LOE score that will tell, at a quick, convenient glance, what kind of teacher I am. It’s hard not to absorb identity from that number. It feels like approval or disapproval. It feels like someone has pronounced judgement on my worth as a teacher.

Sometimes, in the midst of the hurry, the pressures, and worries of this time in the semester, I forget that those things are not the sum of my life, or even the sum of my present circumstances. I have to stop and remind myself that this person’s approval may be pressing, that activity may be urgent, this work may be threatening to consume my time, but that is not all of my reality. The tyranny of the urgent will always be there, but there is always more. Everything in life- the good, the bad, and the in-between (including scores and observations, and human approval, praise, and judgement… and life outside of teaching) – all those things shape me, but they have no say in who I am now and what I have for eternity. God has that say:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do… Eph. 2:4-10

According to Ephesians 2, because Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came and brought me salvation by dying for my sin and rising again, this is my reality: I am loved by God with great love. I am God’s own handiwork, so I belong to him. I am created in Christ for good works, so the work is his, not mine. My future is not uncertain because God has prepared it in advance. God desires to show me the incomparable riches of his grace. He shows me great kindness in Christ. He gave me true life when I was dead in my own works and my own heart of hatred and defiance against him. As Paul tells the Ephesians to remember, I also remember that I was once without hope and without God in this world. I almost can’t bring myself to say those terrible, soul-shaking words aloud: without God in this world.

I need to remember that, so that I can remember this: because of God’s great gift – one I did nothing to deserve- I have received approval by the One from whom it matters most. And I am no longer without God in this world… or in eternity to come.

So, whatever comes today or the tomorrows that follow, as believers I hope this will always be among the first of our thoughts: I am no longer without God in this world. And may we remember all that that truth entails.

Whatever is pressing or clamoring for attention, he always has been, and always will be more. His is the approval that matters most, so that we can live in true joy and seek to please him as we walk in all the good works – at school and elsewhere- he has planned for us to do.

Prayer:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:16-21

Sunday Song: Peace and Rest

One of the biggest mercies in a believer’s life is that whatever trial or question arises, the answer is always Christ and his invitation to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” By yoking with him, we find rest for our souls. (Matthew 11)

Peace, Perfect Peace by Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr. 1875

  1. Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
    The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

  2. Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
    To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

  3. Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
    On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

  4. Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes?
    The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

  5. Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
    In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

  6. Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
    Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

  7. Peace, perfect peace, death shad’wing us and ours?
    Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow’rs.

  8. It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
    And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.