Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hope Fixed on God

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psalm 130, ESV)

When in despair, when in the deepest depths, cry. Cry unto the Lord, for He shall hear you. He is the only one who can help you. For if He would not forgive us of our sins, we would not be able to stand.
Many times God calls us to simply wait upon Him. Wait for His timing, His answer, and hope upon His word. He will fulfill His promises at the appointed time. Look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fix Your Eyes on God

“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth” — let Israel now say — “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows.” The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms, nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the Lord be upon you! We bless you in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 129, ESV)

Though oppression is great, God gives strong shoulders to bear those burdens. Nothing happens apart from His design, for the Lord is righteous. And may this be your hope as you journey through the valley: no valley lasts forever. Ahead of you, though you cannot see it right now, there is another mountain top awaiting you.
Those who hate Zion are to be turned back, are to wither away, are to be thought of as insignificant, and are not to be greeted or blessed. But those who love Zion are blessed by the Lord.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Praise and Glory to God

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right. (Psalm 119:169-172, ESV)

The search for wisdom in one's own strength is in vain. Only through God's grace and His act of giving understanding can we gain wisdom. And yet, we can rest assured that our prayers will be heard if we are sincere. And then when we have gained understanding, all the praise must go to God, because He is the one who has taught us so that we can understand.
One thing to remember: the process of learning is not always easy nor always what we expect. But rest assured, God knows exactly what He is doing and will teach in such a way as we need to learn.

Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (Psalm 119:173-176, ESV)

Once again, the psalmist makes it clear that we are dependent upon God. He asks God to let His hand help and to let His judgments help. These are the two keys to living the Christian life. First, we have God's interaction in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Second, we have God's interaction in our lives through His word. Without God's interaction, His seeking me, the lost sheep that I am, my case would be hopeless. Praise and glory to God for His great grace through which He reached down out of heaven and touched my life.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Love God's Word

Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. (Psalm 119:161-164, ESV)

Reactions to God's word: My heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word. Your word is in contrast to untruth. I love Your law. I praise my God for His word.

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly. I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you. (Psalm 119:165-168, ESV)

Keep God's word. Obey it. Love it. All my ways are before God; He sees all.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Great is God's Mercy

Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise! Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes. Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules. (Psalm 119:153-156, ESV)

When afflicted, when failing, cry out to God. Great is His mercy and He will quicken you according to His word.

Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands. Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (Psalm 119:157-160, ESV)

Even when persecuted - of which I honestly and truly do not have an understanding - keep God's word. As you keep God's word, grieve when you see others who do not keep His word. And as it gets harder to keep God's word because of the persecution, be assured of this: your God will quicken you and give you the strength that you need.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Books I Keep On Coming Back To

Lately I've been thinking about the books that I love to reread. While I do enjoy reading new books, there are some books that I keep on coming back to. Here are some of my favorites.

I was introduced to Jane Austen in high school. My senior year we read Pride and Prejudice in our English class. I was hooked. I mean, have you ever read something as funny as two people hurling insults at each other in the politest of British English? I proceeded to read Austen's other books, and while I have come back to Pride and Prejudice many times, I've found that Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. And thus also the one that I have reread the most.

Wilkie Collins is best known for The Woman in White, but my favorite book he's written is Man and Wife. If you ever wanted to understand why eloping couples in England always set out to Greta Green, this book is for you. It explores the complexity of marriage laws in England and Scotland all through the fascinating story of what happens to Anne Silvester.

I didn't discover Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South until after graduate school, but it quickly became one of my favorites. Margaret Hale's simple, down-to-earth outlook on life has endeared her to me, and I frequently find myself coming back to her story.

I grew up on C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and while I have reread them often, I also really enjoy his Space Trilogy and Till We Have Faces.

J. R. R. Tolkien was another author I "met" in high school. I joke that I was a fan before the movies came out - and before most people knew who Tolkien was. While the movies are great in their own right, spend some time reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and you'll gain a new appreciation for Tolkien's ability to weave not just a story, but an entire world with parallel civilizations.

Lest you think that I only enjoy British authors, let me jump back across the pond. Like many girls, I grew up with L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Who can forget that spunky redhead and her insistence that Anne be spelt with an "E"? As much as I like Anne and have read her escapades multiple times, my favorite Montgomery book is The Blue Castle.

Lew Wallace wrote Ben Hur in the late 1800s. During college this was the book I'd read each year during December finals. If you've only seen the movie, you're missing out.

And, to end up in New England, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Louisa May Alcott. Of course, she's known for Little Women, but I have also enjoyed some of her lesser known books. My favorites are An Old-Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, and Rose in Bloom. If you're going to read them, just realize that Rose in Bloom is the sequel to Eight Cousins.

So, here are some of my favorite literary friends that I continue to come back to. What books do you reread?

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