Never and Always

‘Never’ is a strong word.

My mom once told me – and now I tell my school kids- to only use never and always if that is the truth. ‘Never’, as a word, carries power; it can cause great strife or great healing.

I love that this verse of promise is in a prophetic book of Lamentations. In the middle of lamenting we need strong words of comfort. And here, the Word of God gives just that.

Not only is the love of God steadfast, but it never ends.

For the true believer that means assurance when we face the trials of life. Our salvation’s security hinges on the continued love of God poured out on us because of the redeeming work of Jesus’ on the cross and in his resurrection, and His salvation received by grace through His gift of faith. His love is with us. We abide in it (John 15). He is love and the very source of love. Just as He will never cease to exist, neither will His love for His children. That is a strong promise. Strong enough to meet any foe of fear or doubt or temptation; strong enough to give hope to any trial or suffering or persecution. So, self, preach that to your heart when it starts to falter.

Not only are the mercies of God new every morning, they never end.

However mundane life becomes, however relentless human expectations seem, however tiring the task may be, His mercies toward His children never cease. Neither are His mercies in danger of becoming tired or mundane themselves. No, they are new every morning. So, self, pray for eyes to see and rejoice in His mercies every day that the morning sun rises.

Great indeed is His faithfulness.

So, self, call this to mind and have hope.

Sunday Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness

New morning.

New mercies.

Steadfast, faithful, unchanging God.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-25‬

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

What would have been

Psalm 139:16 tells me that God has a great plan and it will come to pass. A book of what has been, what is, and what will be.

This verse brings hope and comfort to me for the days that are and will come. It also gives me hope for the day that would have been.

Because today would have been my uncle’s 60th birthday.

Today would have been my friend Rebekah’s 30th birthday.

Today would have been a day my friend could laugh with her dad instead of burying him.

Like many others, I have shed tears over my book of “days that would have been”. And I wonder how the hard and even devastating days could be written in God’s book, a book I cannot yet see and know.

It’s then that the Holy Spirit whispers heart reminders- words from the book God has given me to know.

Words…

  • From Psalm 139 that say even the greatest distance and greatest darkness cannot diminish his hold or guidance.
  • From Psalm 23 that even in the valley of the shadow of death he is present.
  • From Isaiah 25 that promise one day that God will swallow up death forever and he will wipe away all tears.
  • From John 11 that God wept with his friends over the death of their brother.
  • From John 14 that promise his peace and love.
  • From Revelation 22 that the Alpha and Omega is coming soon.

In the certainty of his unfailing love and promise, I can rest in the certainty of the days he has planned. In the power of the Holy Spirit, I can submit my “days that would have been” to his greater “days that are and will be”. I can even grieve, knowing that His heart toward me is tender and that one day he will wipe away my tears. That day is planned for me and it will come to pass. So I trust Him with the days He has written for me… and the days He has written for others.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:12

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬ ‭

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

…..

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

Galatians 3:29

…..

“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!

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