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Irish and More!

“I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien.”  Spurgeon

This Irish, Swedish, English, Welch of a person, is first, and by God’s grace, a citizen of heaven! So today, though I love celebrating my distant, yet beloved Irish roots, I long more to celebrate my heritage and inheritance in Christ!

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”   Hebrews 11:16

This poem and long-time hymn, is often, yet questionably, attributed to St. Patrick, the adored 5th century English missionary to Ireland.  Though its author may be contested, this abbreviated version of “St Patrick’s Breastplate” expresses how I want to wake up today, St Patrick’s Day, and everyday of my life:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
 
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
Hebrews 13:14

A Psalm for this New Year

 In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Psalm 139:1

Psalm 139 is where I head for New Years, birthdays, and any day I need a reminder that someone Greater than I is ordering my life!

~~~

Psalm 139 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 

 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 

 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 

 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 

 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 

 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.a Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!b

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

~~~

Peace in every way

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all!”
2 Thess. 3:16

~~~

My devotional today…one verse.

The Lord of Peace

Himself

continually

give

you

PEACE

at ALL times

in

Every

Way.

Matthew Henry comments on the wonder of this prayer and promise:

The apostle prays for the Thessalonians. And let us desire the same blessings for ourselves and our friends. Peace with God. This peace is desired for them always, or in every thing. Peace by all means; in every way; that, as they enjoyed the means of grace, they might use all method to secure peace.

We need nothing more to make us safe and happy, nor can we desire any thing better for ourselves and our friends, than to have God’s gracious presence with us and them–no matter where we are, if God be with us; nor who is absent, if God be present. It is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we hope to have peace with God, and to enjoy the presence of God. This grace is all in all to make us happy; though we wish ever so much to others, there remains enough for ourselves.

I pray that you may have peace in every way today…from the Lord Himself, the Lord of Peace and Grace.

 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
2 Thess. 3:16 (NIV)

~~

[Brief disclaimer for my blogging absence the past few months.  Many new travels, places, battles, faces…and little discipline to write through it all.  Your patience is appreciated as I press on with writing, albeit, with small steps.]

Timely Word for the Journey

My favourite Christian author, preacher, writer, and teacher is Charles H. Spurgeon.  Anyone who’s read my blog for even a week has probably figured that one out!  The devotional I’ve worn out for the past 7 years is Morning by Morning.  Each page offers insight, encouragement, and Scriptures that always point to Jesus.  His daily meditations have never ceased to offer timely words for my journey.

Sometimes I share little blurbs, other time composites of Spurgeon thought, but today I must share the devotional in its entirety.  It’s That good!  May it connect with someone’s heart and need today, and lift up a weary pilgrim along the way:

“He led them forth by the right way.”  Psalm 107:9

Changing circumstances often causes the anxious believer to ask, “Why is this happening to me?” I looked for light, but darkness came; for peace, but faced trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain stands firm, I shall never be moved.  Lord, You hide Your face, and I am troubled. Only yesterday I could read my title clearly; but today my evidences are blurred, and my hopes are clouded.  Yesterday I could climb the mountain and view the landscape and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; today my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but great distress.

Is this part of God’s plan for me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven?

Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope–all these things are just parts of God’s method of making you ready for the great inheritance, which you will soon enjoy.

These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith–they are waves that wash you further upon the rock–they are winds that steer your ship more quickly toward the desired haven. What David wrote then will be true of you: “He brought them to their desired haven” (verse 30). By honor and dishonor, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace–by all these things your spiritual life is maintained, and by each of these you are helped on your way.

Do not think, believer, that your sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom.” Learn, then, to “count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds.”

O let my trembling soul be still,
And trust Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee.

~~~

If you would like some daily encouragement from Spurgeon, you can buy his devotionals HERE, or read it online HERE.

Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat

I blog hop.  Yeah, it can be a real time waster.  But if I submit my web journey to the Lord, and let Him take the mouse :-), there are little treasures, and pearls of grace and mercy, just waiting to be discovered.

Yesterday, I hopped from Miscellanies, to The Gospel Coalition, to Sojourn Music, where this gem of a song was available as a free MP3 download:  “Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat.”  The hymn was originally written by John Newton, but updated a bit by singer/writer Jamie Barnes.  It’s quickly become a favourite of mine! You can listen from the Music Box, or go HERE for the free download. 

Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat

Approach my soul, the mercy seat
Where Holy One and helpless meet
There fall before my Judges’ feet
Thy promise is my only plea, O God

Send wings to lift the clutch of sin
You who dwell between the cherubim
From war without and fear within
Relieve the grief from the shoulders of crumbling men

O God—Pour out your mercy to me
My God, Oh what striking love to bleed.

Fashion my heart in your alchemy
With the brass to front the devil’s perjury
And surefire grace my Jesus speaks
I must. I will. I do believe. O Lord.

O God—Pour out your mercy to me
My God, Oh what striking love to bleed. 

I must.  I will.  I do believe.    Thy promise is my only plea!!

Still Praying for Kate

 

Will you please join me today, and pray for Kate and her family?  Learn their story HERE.

I blogged about Kate’s battles and victories with brain cancer, Here and Here.

Now, it seems the cancer is back.  This is devastating for a 7 year-old and her parents.  So, please remember them, pray for them, and even sign into Caring Bridge and share a prayer, thought, or Scripture. 

I thank you.  But more than that, they will be encouraged, and the Lord will hear your prayers!

Veiled Voyage

“He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29, 30

 

I’m already behind this year! 

For several years, I’ve begun the New Year by writing two prayers to the Lord:  one of thankfulness for His supreme mercy and grace for the past; the other, a prayer of dedication, commitment, and a few requests for the year ahead.  This morning, I re-read several of these and was awestruck, all over again, by God’s faithfulness in my life.  So much so, that words escape me and I cant’ compose any new thoughts!

       Or, in other words, I haven’t written my 2011 prayers…

But I love the following from The Valley of Vision [1], because it expresses an utter dependency on the Lord that I long to foster with each passing day.  Perhaps you may take this with you on the journey through 2011.  A journey, or voyage, presently veiled from our eyes by a gracious and understanding Lord.

 

 

Voyage

O Lord of the oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely,
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course,
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals,
Bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

My little bark sails..

I ask great things,
     expect great things,
         shall receive great things.
I venture on Thee wholly, fully,
          my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.

The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady,
the Word secures safe passage,
Thy grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.

My haven is guaranteed

This day will bring me nearer home,
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
            my peace flowing as a running tide,
            my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer.

Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper,
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief,
may I strive to bind up every wound,
            and pour oil on all troubled waters.

Halo my path with gentleness and love

May the world this day be happier and better because I live,
Let my mast before me be the Saviour’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.

My Mast, the Saviour's Cross

Help me, protect me in the moving sea,
until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

 

…with unceasing praise!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, help me to turn every care into prayer, and give thanks for Your unfailing love!

From Psalm 107…

Some went out on the sea in ships;
   they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
   his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
   that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
   in their peril their courage melted away.

They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
   they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and He brought them out of their distress. 
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
   the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
   and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

 

 

[1] Arthur Bennett, Ed.  The Valley of Vision:  A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.  Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA.  2003

Hitherto…and beyond

 

“Hitherto has the Lord helped us.”  I Samuel 7:12

 

As we close out one year of Grace and head into another, Spurgeon encourages us that our faithful Lord, who carried us through 2010, will be with us each and every step of our journey into 2011:

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past.  Whether for twenty years or seventy, “hitherto has the Lord helped us!”  Through poverty, wealth, sickness, health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation–hitherto has the Lord helped us!

We delight to look down a long avenue of trees.  It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves, In the same way, look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness that bear up your joys.  The birds in the boughs all sing of mercy received hitherto.

But the word also point forward.  For when one gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end; there is still distance to be traversed. 

More trials, more joys;

more temptations, more triumphs;

more prayers, more answers;

more toils, more strength;

more fights, more victories; 

and then comes sickness, old age, disease, and death. [!]  Is it over now?

No!

There is still more awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, songs, psalms, the face of Jesus, the fellowship of believers, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss.

Be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence know that,

 He who has helped you hitherto, will help you all your journey through!    [1]

 

[1]  In Spurgeon’s discussion above, the older English word, hitherto, means “thus far” or ‘until now.”  

 

A Christmas Prayer

The best of times…and the worst of times.  The Christmas season.  In so many ways, it is the best of times, as Scrooge’s nephew says, “a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely…” [1]

But if bad, even awful, things happen during this “festive season of the year,” including loss, sickness, loneliness, unemployment or unmet expectations, Christmas can easily turn dark, and feel like the worst time of the year.  

Our friend, Colin Bernard, who sings the song in the YouTube video below, puts it this way:  

“For some people, Christmas is the loneliest time of the year and I think we’ve all had a chance to experience a bit of sadness at one Christmas or another. But Christmas being what it is, reminds us that the future is loaded with Hope….  As secular and as commercial as Christmas has become, there is always that underlying yearning and thirst for the hope that Christ offers. Everyone feels it but most don’t realize what [Who] the source of that yearning is.”

  

 

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER
by Joel Bernard

Well the music is sweet and the snow it is white
And I’m surrounded by strangers
On this frozen Christmas night
O Angel of Mercy, Angel of Light
Won’t you be a lamp at my feet
Lead me through this restless night

And I’d give anything to feel Christmas in my heart
And I’d give everything to sing songs of this holy night
And I’d give anything to feel Christmas in my heart tonight

Now I find myself on this empty street
Four o’clock in the morning, such a deafening silence
The snow it is gentle, falling light and sweet
Softly resting on me, just a token of Your love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you know the Hope of Christmas, be thankful! Share with others, humbly, gently, yet passionately.

If your Christmas feels like the worst of times, you’re not alone.  Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Your burdens are very real, but thankfully, He offers comfort that’s even more real.  He isn’t just a Babe in a manger.  He is a loving Redeemer who is only a prayer away.

 

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

[1] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843.  Pg. 9.

Wordless Wish

 

Does God hear my wishes as prayers?
I breathe a little sigh
         wish a wish without words
               barely aware of a passing desire
                     and wonder if something may be, or could be…
then it vanishes like the flame on a birthday candle
blown out, fading, the wordless wish is nearly forgotten.

Yet, God heard a prayer
He felt the weight of that sigh
          captured a tear in His bottle,
                  and the wordless wish
He wrote in His book.

Then He answered..
       He fulfilled the unspoken,
              made a silent wish come true.

 

“He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:19