Thursday, November 30, 2006

Our Shepherd

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who led Joseph like a flock! ... Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:1,3)

"Who led Joseph like a flock!" Joseph who was left for dead, sold into slavery, spent years in a dungeon separated from his family, framed for rape...led like a flock, by a Shepherd who loved and cared for him every step of the way and turned every deed meant for evil into good. The Shepherd's job is to watch over the flock, to ward off predators, and lead the sheep to green pastures where they can rest and graze. He is their security...even though they go through the valley, even though wolves charge, even though there is no green pasture in sight. He leads, they follow, trusting that where they are headed will be better than where they've been and all will be well along the way...somehow because they have a Shepherd. And so it should be with us. This is a great promise and should fill us with hope. He led "Joseph like a flock"...and no matter what life looks like right now, He is leading us with the same purpose and care right now.

Thank you Lord for this promise. Thank you for your leading. Thank you that you are faithful. Thank you that we can know, no matter what dungeon or valley we are in that you are with us...never leaving us...never forsaking us...loving and caring and leading and guiding and ordering and providing and working all things together for the good. Thank you...THANK YOU, Lord!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not in Vain

Not in vain, the tedious toil
On an unresponsive soil
Travail, tears in secret shed
Over hopes that lay as dead
All in vain, thy faint heart cries
Not in vain, thy Lord replies
Nothing is too good to be
Then believe, believe to see.

--Amy Carmichael

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thy Way is Perfect

Long is the way, and very steep the slope;
Strengthen me once again, O God of Hope.

Far, very far, the summit doth appear;
But Thou art near, my God, But Thou art near.

And Thou wilt give me with my daily food
Powers of endurance, courage, fortitude.

Thy way is perfect, only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.

Thou art my Portion, saith my soul to Thee
Oh, what a Portion is my God to me!

--Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Chosen Portion

The Lord's portion is His people. (Deuteronomy 32:9)

This was the title of today's entry in Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening" devotional. I can't read those words without thinking of how many other things the Lord could have chosen as His portion. I picture untamed, un-sullied wilderness, teaming with life, with creatures who glorify Him by being exactly as He created them to be. The Lion does not try to be a whale, the doe does not vie for the buck's position, the birds fly to and fro, unfettered by fear or doubt or anxiety. He is and they are and all is as it should be. I see majestic mountains jutting up out of the earth, pointing to the heavens and displaying His glory in all their peaks and craggs and valleys. I see the stars in the heavens and entire worlds beneath the sea and wonder "Why did He choose US as His portion?" We who are prone to wander, who nearly every day in our fears and failings seem to say "God is not God" or at the very least "God is not good". But He did choose us. Not only that, He purchased us with His blood and still fought for us while we were yet sinners...dead...calling Him a liar.

Spurgeon says: ...What a battle He had in us before we were won! how long He laid seige to our hearts! We had barred our gates and fenced our walls against Him. But we have become the conquered captives of His omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, subdued. The rights of our divine Possessor are inalienable.

Yet, daily, most of us act as if we belong to ourselves, seeking after only that which we think will please us.

I do not understand it. But I am grateful!

Father, help us to know to whom we belong. Help us also to choose you because you first chose us, to not merely pay you lip-service or resent that you have taken from us that we might know more of you. Let us not say "All I have is God", but instead "I seek nothing but knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified." You are not "all" you are our EVERYTHING! Give us eyes to see this, soften our hearts, fill us with gratitude and love for all you are and all you've done! Be our portion today. For your glory and your name's sake...Amen!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

O Great wind, blow!

There is no fear in love, so we draw near;
Thy perfect love, O Lord, has cast out fear.

As corn before the wind bends all one way,
So would we bow before Thy wind today.

Our several choices, Lord, we would forgo,
Breath of the living God, O Great wind, blow!

--Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Graven on His Unchanging Hands

We should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of God, which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him...whether He lead us by suffering or by consolation, for all would be equal to a soul truly resigned. (Brother Lawrence)

I read this last night and it has just stuck to me. I can't shake it.

"All would be equal"…

The truth of this is, as it seems to me, is that suffering and blessing come from the same hand - the hand of God, who is good and does good always. He changes not, so He cannot do anything other than good…even if it looks bad in the moment. So the real problem any time we struggle with some circumstance or loss or denial is that we are not truly resigned; we are, in effect, saying "No, Lord." And those two words can never be said together without contradiction. If it's "No" He's not Lord, and if He's Lord, we can't say "No."

Father, help us to say YES to whatever and KNOW that all things come from Your unchanging hand, which was pierced for us, the same hand upon which we are "graven"! For your glory and your name's sake...amen!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Graven on His Hands

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.—Isaiah 49:16

Zion said, "The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me." (Isaiah 49:14) How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God's favoured people? The Lord's loving word of rebuke should make us blush; He cries, "How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?" O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him. He never faileth; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually [plagued by anxieties, suspicions, and fears], as if our God were the mirage of the desert. "Behold," is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of His hands. "I have graven thee."It does not say, "Thy name." The name is there, but that is not all: "I have graven thee." See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when He has graven thee upon His own palms? (Charles Spurgeon)

Father, we our unbelief. Indeed, how can we ever doubt You, your goodness, your faithfulness, your kindness. You have never failed on one of your good promises. You woke us up this morning, set the sun in its place, and hold the world and all that is in it, moving and causing and allowing and working all things together for the good - always. Your mercy was indeed new this morning. How can we doubt that you will continue to do what you have always done? Lord, give us eyes of faith to see not what is right in front of us or what is constantly changing, but You who hems us in behind and goes before and changes not. What we can imagine may be waiting for us today or tomorrow or next year is nothing, you go before and prepare the way. Fix our eyes not on the circumstances that may lie ahead of us, but on You who are always going before us, leading us, and who is our rear guard. You have graven us on the palms of your hands. How can we doubt the one who suffered in His body for us, who bore the weight of our sin for us, who ever lives to interceed for us? May it never be so, Lord. Help our unbelief! For your glory and your name's sake...amen!