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?

…..

“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

…..

“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

…..

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

Psalms 119:116

Plans of the Heart

It’s a brand new year. On this day, perhaps more than any other, my heart is brimful of hopes and plans for the future. Maybe your heart is also.

Proverbs 16:9 reminds me that there is a plan bigger and more sure than mine. The Lord has a plan that cannot be altered by human will. It is also a reminder that I do not secure my future- that is God’s doing. So, I’ll make plans and work toward them, but I’ll rest in the knowledge that is does not depend on my power to establish them.

My list of resolutions and goals encompass all my little cares in life, but by God’s grace, I don’t have to cling to them fiercely. I’ll make my plans and then submit them to the Lord’s plan for completion or unfulfillment. In prayer, I’ll work, because stewardship is my providence, but success is God’s. In faith I can trust because His plans are full of love and for my good.

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭

Read all of Proverbs 16 here.

Trust, Rejoice, and Sing: A verse for the New Year

Thankfulness for the past.

Hope and assurance for the future.

Praying we end the old year and begin the new one as the Psalmist models in these verses.

Recall the times this past year where you trusted and rested in God and his providence. Recount the times his love broke through to your heart.

Look to the future without fear, knowing your heart will rejoice and your salvation is secure. How does that assurance shaped your hope for the coming year?

End the year with a song of joy, a song of thankfulness to the Lord. Delight in the Lord as your treasure. Remember his bountifulness toward you- from the big to the small. There is not even a breath that did not come from his loving hand.

And continue into each new day in the same manner.

Trust.

Rejoice.

Sing.

Happy New Year!

What Child is This: a song for Christmas

1. What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

2. Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

3. So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

William Chatterton Dix, 1865

By God’s grace, arranged and played by Katie.

Video created using iMovie. Scripture images from YouVersion Bible App, NIV & ESV. Photos by Katie.

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

Thanksgiving Psalm

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care.

Psalm 95

Happy Thanksgiving!