Planted…now and forever

Today wraps up this week of meditations on God’s unfailing and unending love. Yet we will never finish experiencing and thus learning more and more about our Creator’s great love for us. Who knows? Maybe even in heavenly lives we will still be delighted anew each day by His great love.

Let’s go back to Moses’ song:

“With your unfailing love you lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
to your sacred home.

You will bring them in and plant them
on your own mountain—
the place, O LORD, reserved for your
own dwelling,
(Exodus 15:13, 17)

This is the hope I’m traveling on: God’s unfailing love is leading me to His home.

He has already planted my heart in His presence.

Someday, I’ll be planted forever on His holy mountain.

May you know and trust God’s unfailing love surrounding you.
Amen.  

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(from Psalm 13:5)

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Do you find yourself worrying, not quite certain you can trust God’s love to care for you? Jon Beaty writes about our tendency to do that and offers specific suggestions on how to experience more of God’s love, in Receiving God’s Love: 4 Steps Everyone Needs to Know.  (Click on the title to read.)

Also, you might want to read Hear the Voice of Someone Who Loves You.

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Here’s MORE hope to soak up: Exodus 15:13, 17; Exodus 34:5-7; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 13:5, 6; Psalm 18; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 31:7-8; Psalm 32:10; Psalm 33:5, 18-22; Psalm 36:5-10; Psalm 63:3; Psalm 69:16; Psalm 85:7; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 94:18-19; Psalm 100; Psalm 103; Psalm 106-107; Psalm 117; Psalm 119:76-77; Psalm 130:7; Psalm 143:8; Psalm 147:10-11; Isaiah 30:15, 18; Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 55:3; Lamentations 3:21-23, 25; Zephaniah 3:17; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; Romans 8:35-39; Ephesians 2:1-4; Ephesian 3:17-19; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:9-10, 15-16.

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Unfailing Love that completes and empowers

This week I sent off an email with the subject line, “I failed.” It was to report that I did not accomplish what I had said I would do. In that particular case, it was not a serious matter, and the recipient of the email understood that at least I had tried and we have a Plan B.

However, we do fail in so many serious matters, don’t we? Even in those things we are most passionate about: parenting, marriage, career, friendships, health, and yes, even our devotion to our King.

We have those days when we simply cannot accomplish what we would like to accomplish, or when we are weary or when selfishness rules and we say, Today, I don’t care. This one time, I’m just not going to show up…

And we stumble. And drop the ball.

When we read of God’s unfailing love, perhaps the only way we can understand it is in comparison to our not-so-unfailing love.

My hope knows that God’s love never stumbles. Never drops the ball. Never takes a day off.

Yesterday, we looked at Ephesians 3:17 that promises strength when our roots grow deep into God’s love. Another verse that follows has grabbed me, held my heart, and made my feet want to absolutely run along this path of pilgrimage.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19)

What words in those lines grabbed you?

For my life, I want complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Yes! I want that!

We’ve all looked at so many other things in this world to make us complete. The perfect husband. Children. Careers. Things. The “right” place to live. The “right” look. The “right” body. Prestige. Even our own goodness and power … The list goes on and on.

The problem is, those things all fail us. Or we fail them, whichever way you want to look at it.

But God’s love does not fail, and His plan is to make us complete and fill us with life and power!

As I’ve pondered these words, I’m beginning to see that this experiencing the love of Christ is a total, completing, absorbing, filling thing—it is not only putting down my roots and soaking up God’s love but also having Christ use me to direct His love outward to others.

This year I’ve been asking God to teach me how to love others better…but that prayer is beginning to shift. My love is poor. It often shrinks back and runs away. Perhaps this experiencing the love of Christ also means experiencing His power to love taking over my life, so that loving does not depend on me. It is not my loving, but Christ’s that reaches out to others…And His love—receiving and giving it—moves me toward completeness.

I don’t know how all of that happens, but I know it’s what I want and I depend on Him to do what He says He will do.

I’ve been a terribly slow learner. But God’s love hasn’t given up on me. He intends to finish His work here.

And that’s what my hope lives on.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. (1 John 4:16a)

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(from Psalm 13:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Unfailing Love that keeps me strong

“What sorrow awaits my rebellious children…”

Thus begins a chapter in Isaiah, a dire warning for a nation who refused to pay attention to God’s instructions and went looking in other places for help and protection. It would lead to disaster.

“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.” (verse 15)

Ah, yes. We will have none of you, God.

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of that.

This blog has never been about political or social commentary, but I can’t help but feel sadness as Isaiah 30 unfolds—it describes so well the direction my country is headed.

And yet there is hope. And now, I’m not speaking of countries but of each one of us.

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
(verse 18)

All our hope depends on this—that the Lord is faithful even when we are not, and when we do turn to Him, He shows us that unfailing love and compassion.

And then He promises that in trusting Him we will find our strength.

Skip ahead now about 750 years.

The Apostle Paul writes of this strength we draw from God’s unfailing love. God has come to earth, living with flesh and bones as we do, to rescue anyone who would believe in Him. His love took Him through agony for us. And to anyone who trusted Him, He moved right into their lives and made Himself at home.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. (Ephesians 3:17)

That’s a promise made. A hope, a confidence that all who trust Jesus can build their lives on.

Skip ahead now another 2000 years.

Here I am, with roots hungry for sustenance and life. My roots sought out other soil, other water. I’ve tried other sources for strength and help, but those proved shallow and dried up all too quickly.

My trust now is in one Person whom I depend on for life.

I don’t know “how” it works. But I’m betting my life on this promise: His unfailing love will hold me and keep me strong.

And so I want to know more and more of this love. It’s bigger than the glorious morning sky above me, says one of David’s songs, and more reliable than the sun coming up each day.

I believe that.

I long to send my roots deeper and deeper. Because I’m not worried about ever exhausting or reaching the end of this love that keeps me alive and strong.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(from Psalm 13:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The love that brings me peace

During my childhood and teenage years, we lived in three different homes, all in the same very quiet valley. (Each move was less than a quarter mile away.) Just a handful of houses bordered the very quiet road that threaded this very quiet valley, and only a few cars, trucks, buggies, or tractors passed through each day.

So when in the middle of one night, I woke up to hear a siren wailing down the length of the valley, I was gripped with terror. This was a sound we barely knew. I still remember those moments as I lay there in the dark, my heart pounding, wondering who of my neighbors was in serious trouble.

This morning, sirens echoed throughout our quiet town. Sirens are a little more commonplace now. We are a much busier and more populated community. Still, my heart beat faster. What was going on? Who of my neighbors needed help?

It doesn’t take sirens in my life for me to work myself into a frenzy of worry or fear. I’m very good at doing that when I focus too much on myself and on what’s going on in the world. I still wake in the night sometimes and my heart beats faster and thoughts swirl in my head as I wonder and worry and fret …

This week has been so good for me. And you thought I was writing for you, right? I write these meditations as much for myself as for anyone else. Maybe more.

Focusing on the love of God has quieted me. Claire’s comment a few days ago, bearing witness to the solid rock of God’s love in turbulent times gave me encouragement. Reading all the Scriptures I can find on God’s love overwhelms me with this amazing fact—that God loves me like that.

And guess what? My day is calmer. My fretting quiets. Jesus stands in my rocking boat and says, Peace! Be still! I think He speaks to my heart, not the storm.

His love calms me.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:18-9)

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place. (Psalm 31:7, 8)

The prophet Zephaniah spoke of a future time for scattered, harassed Israel, a time when they would hear,

“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

It’s a prophecy that can be true of every day of our lives. The Lord is here among us. A mighty warrior to rescue us. And a love that will calm our fears.

I’m still learning to understand that God delights and rejoices in ME! – But isn’t that a part of His great love for us? Amazing.

If God is for me…then my boat is secure.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(from Psalm 13:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

The love that rescues

The first draft of today’s post has been scrapped. It was going to be some of my own story of rescue, and yes, of course it would have been enthralling and fascinating.

But today I want you to think about YOU. Your story. Your rescue. Your Rescuer.

First, something for you puzzle-lovers out there. Remember the puzzlers you often did as a kid when you had two pictures that looked exactly the same but somewhere there were a dozen differences you had to find?

Question: What has changed on this page today? (Other than the obvious—the title and body of this day’s post.) Hint: There’s a clue word in today’s title.

Okay, okay, you don’t have to take time to look for it. I’ll tell you.

I’ve added another line to this week’s prayer.

I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

What’s your rescue story?

Psalm 18 contains what must be some of the most dramatic language in all of Scripture. It’s the story of a person entangled in the cords of death, overwhelmed by floods of destruction. “The grave wrapped its ropes around me.”

A prayer for help goes up to God Almighty.

The earth begins to shake and the mountains tremble. Fire and smoke and storms and hail and burning coals (interesting combination) and lightning blast from the heavens as the Lord comes down to save the one He loves.

Does your story of rescue by the Father who loves you sound anything like that?

Your story starts where mine does. At creation, when God planted within us a bit of Himself and eternity. And then the enemy came to ruin what God had planned. But God’s love did not desert us…or abandon His plan.

There was a ripping apart of heaven. A ripping open of a body and a draining away of lifeblood. The earth shook and graves opened up and spirits walked on the streets. A barrier too large for any man to handle was torn apart by unseen hands. And in the middle of the day, the earth shuddered under a black darkness.

A few days later, the earth opened again, and the powers of blackness and death were blasted apart forever.

And the Lord reached down to gather into His care those He had rescued.

In each of our lives, the Great Shepherd continues to reach down and rescue us on a daily basis. From the little frustrations in our path and the temptations to detour, from the enemy who still slips in and attempts to wrap his chains around us, and from … what else?

Finish the sentence with your own story. He has rescued you. So many times. From so many dangerous cliffs. The enemy keeps circling. And you and I—we make a lot of work for our Shepherd at times. We can be a stubborn, foolish lot. But He keeps gathering us back into His arms.

Not always so dramatically and not because we deserve it. But because His love just never stops.

We trust in your unfailing love, Father.
We rejoice—over and over and over again—because you rescue us.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(from Psalm 13:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)