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Archive for July, 2011

Love through me

Love through me, Love of God;
There is no love in me.
O Fire of love, light Thou the love
That burns perpetually.

Flow through me, Peace of God;
Calm River, flow until
No wind can blow, no current stir
A ripple of self-will.

Shine through me, Joy of God;
Make me like Thy clear air
That Thou doth pour Thy colors through,
As though it were not there.

O blessed Love of God,
That all may taste and see
How good Thou are, once more I pray:
Love through me – even me.

-Amy Carmichael

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Between the Lines

Have you ever wanted something so bad you felt like you would die unless you got it? Have you had someone near you get what you’re feeling desperate for? And not only get it, but somehow manage to rub it in time and time again? This was Hannah, and she so longed to have a child that she “wept and would not eat” (1 Sam. 1:7). “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly” (v. 10).

In my last entry I mentioned that sometimes we have heartaches that are too deep for words to pray. Hannah’s pain was too deep for words to say. “As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli (a priest) observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” (v. 12-13). She could not find words, yet the Lord “remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the Lord’.” (v. 20). She did not even have the words, yet the Lord heard.

As another example, many years later Samuel became a judge over Israel. But as he got older all of the elders gathered together and requested that he would appoint a king to replace him. I can only imagine the heartache he felt. (I mean, it was hard enough for me when my brother, who once thought I was the coolest person on earth and told me everything, suddenly had a girlfriend and forgot he had a sister.)

Samuel’s first response was to pray. His words are not recorded, but God’s are: “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v. 7). Samuel did not have to say the right words or write an eloquent prayer – he simply prayed. God read “between the lines” and not only understood how personally Samuel took their request, but He himself internalized the rejection. God took Samuel’s pain to heart and personally identified with his rejection.

So if you (like Hannah) feel a need too deep for words, take heart and believe, you are still being heard.

And if you (like Samuel) have been mistreated, neglected, forgotten, or misplaced, you don’t need all the right words to pray but to fall at Jesus’ feet and hear Him say, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me.” He takes your pain personally.

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There are certain heartaches of saints that can feel too deep for words to pray. Though we hear the cry, we fear it might be denied. So we keep it deep inside. But is there a burden Jesus would not gladly take or a tear He would not wipe away? Would He disregard our breaking heart?

Though our head knows the answer, our souls are desperate to be sure. If you are in that place today, I hope you can be comforted like I was by Psalm 34. See if you can catch the theme of this beautiful Psalm.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (v. 4)
“This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” (v. 6)
“those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” (v. 10)
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (v. 17)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (v. 19).
“He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” (v. 20)

Beloved, if there is a tear on your face He cares to wipe it away. If there is a break in your heart He aches for your sake. Even secret heartaches- He knows them by name. Though you may want to deny it in fear or hide away in shame, let Him in to your pain. Take heart and have faith. Believe and you will see that His comfort is as real as your tears. His care is as deep as your cry.

He died to deliver us from all of our fears, and none of our cries are too deep for Him to hear.

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Mercy’s Shore

There are times when we are between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. Times when we are under what Martin Luther called “God’s merciful wrath.” Times like the prophet Jonah experienced to such a degree that he nearly died.

God asked Jonah to do something he absolutely did not want to do, so he literally ran from God. The tragic thing is that in running from what God called him to do, Jonah fled the presence of God. He did not just forsake his call, but he forsook his God.

He thought he would be better off without going God’s way, but could he fathom how much worse off he would be without God’s presence? Is going our own way and doing our own thing ever worth breaking fellowship with our God? The same walls we build to keep ourselves comfortable shut out the God of our comfort.

God gave Jonah what he wanted. Jonah wanted to get away, so God cast him into the deep (Jonah 2:3) and drove him out of sight (v. 4). There in the heart of the sea was darkness, deprivation of food and water, utter discomfort. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12). Jonah had to learn the hard way that “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (v. 9) and oftentimes so do we.

When we run from God’s counsel, we genuinely have our best interest in mind. What we usually fail to realize is.. so does He.

When we’ve been thrown by God’s sovereignty into deep waters, we need to remember that His grace is deeper still. When we experience His wrath against our rebellion, it is merciful still. When we endure His discipline, it is not meant to destroy us, but to deliver us. Consider Jonah, who felt he had experienced the depths of hell after rebelling, yet with the voice of thanksgiving (v. 9) he prayed, “You brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God” (v. 6).

God spared Jonah, but He did not spare Jesus. And God spares us because He did not spare Jesus. Though we may feel God’s hand heavily upon us, we will never be crushed like He was. He was judged so we could be loved, and His grace will always be enough. Even when we sink to the depths of the sea, we will surely reach God’s shore of mercy. Take heart and believe, for the sands of heaven we have yet to see.

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