October 7, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“As thy days, so shall thy restfulness be.”
“Oh, if Christians would only live by the moment, not the year! ‘Day by day’ is the limit of the Lord’s prayer. ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ saith the Lord. ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be’ is the promise which years have not exhausted.’”
“Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear,
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and power,
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
As your days, your strength be in measure,
This the pledge to me He made.”
Carolina Sandell Berg
Today’s Study Text:
“Surely goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Psalms 23: 6
Psalm 23 Part 27
“Our Persistent Lover”
“For however devoted you are to God, you may be sure that He is immeasurably more devoted to you.”
How would it make me feel to know that my Father in heaven would never, ever give up on me?
When I hear the word “pursue,” what image comes to my mind?
“In His love He clothes us, enfolds us and embraces us; that tender love completely surrounds us, never to leave us.”
Julian of Norwich
“I took my children up in my arms…I drew them with cords of love to me – with affection and love. I picked them up and held them to my cheek.”
Good News Bible
I’ve always been fond of reading biographies about individuals down through history. It has especially been the legacy left behind by those who have suffered a great deal and overcome tremendous odds which have inspired me in my own life.
Several years ago, I happened to find a short biography about the Scottish pastor and hymn-writer, George Matheson. He was the oldest of eight children and by all accounts, a brilliant young man who graduated at the top of his class at the University of Glasgow where his educational focus was on the classics – specifically logic and philosophy.
However, at the age of only 20 years, George was told he was going completely blind and there was nothing doctors could do to prevent this tragedy from happening. At the time, he was engaged to a young lady, who upon hearing this news, informed her financé that she could not go through life with a blind man.
A number of years later, on the evening before his sister married, George Matheson penned the words to the now beloved hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” It had been his dear sister, who had helped him finish his studies toward his theological degree, who was now leaving him and it is likely, that the pain of the one person leaving his side on whom he had depended for such a bond, along with the memory of the shattered heart he had endured when his own love left him because of his disability, that as George Matheson relates, helped him pen the words to the hymn “like a dayspring from on high in just five minutes.”
I’d like to share the words to this hymn for they convey the thoughtful expression which David shared with his heavenly Father: “Let me fall, I pray You, into the hands of the Lord, for very great and many are His mercies” (1 Chronicles 21: 13, Amplified Bible).
“O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow, \
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followed all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day,
May brighter, fairer be.
O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.”
Don’t we all long to have a love that we can count on? A love that we can be certain about? A love that looks out for us? Indeed, a love that does not ever let us go?
Obviously, this was what David longed for too. No matter how many wives he accumulated, just having a spouse wasn’t enough. Just having the subjects in his kingdom laud him, didn’t do the trick for David either.
The fact is that what most of us have come to recognize in our lives is that there is an emptiness that earthly pleasure and people cannot fill. And so, as the Psalmist tells us, God’s goodness and mercy, His heavenly gifts, have been given to us all throughout our lives.
In Pastor John B. Rogers comments on Psalm 23, he expresses the fact that it might revolutionize our understanding of God as well as “the way we live with life’s joys and sorrows, if we took seriously that God always takes the initiative with us – a shepherd leading us toward himself, following us in our wanderings so that we never get beyond the love that will not let us go.”
When David stated that God’s goodness and mercy will follow us, the translation of the word “follow” is actually a very strong Hebrew word meaning to “chase” or to “pursue.” We could even say that it means that God’s qualities of goodness and mercy will “hunt” us down. Author Tony Horsfall points out that “David had often found himself pursued by his enemies, but now he realized that even in those dark and dangerous moments the love of God relentlessly hunts him down.”
It may likely have been this thought that God is in pursuit of each of us throughout our lives which inspired the poet Francis Thompson to refer to God’s search for each of us in the poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” I always find my heart touched by these words at the end of this descriptive piece of literature, “Lo, all things fly thee, for thou flyest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing, wherefore should any set thy love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught, and human love needs human meriting: How hast thou merited – of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alas, thou knowest not how little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, save Me, save only Me?”
The life-lasting love we seek is truly the love that only our heavenly Father can bestow upon us. And His love will pursue us forever, as David tells us. As one unknown author so touchingly penned:
“I sought the Lord, and I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Saviour true,
No, I was found of Thee.
Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea, -
‘Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee.
For thou wert long before –hand with my soul,
Always thou lovest me.”
In the words of the great pastor and evangelist Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “He who counts the stars and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting His own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made, or the only (child) He ever loved.” This is your Father whose goodness and mercy is in pursuit of you, all the days of your life.
“His love in times past
Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review,
Confirmed His good pleasure
To help me quite through.”
Whoso Draws Nigh to God
“Who so draws nigh to God one step through doubtings dim,
God will advance a mile in blazing light to him.”
“Wilt thou not visit me?
The plant beside me feels thy gentle dew,
And every blade of grass I see
From thy deep earth its quickening moisture drew.
Wilt thou not visit me?
Thy morning calls on me with cheering tone;
And every hill and tree
Lend but one voice – the voice of thee alone.
Come, for I need thy love,
More than the flower the dew or grass the rain;
Come, gently as thy holy dove;
And let me in thy sight rejoice to live again.
I will not hide from them
When thy storms come, though fierce may be their wrath,
But how with leafy stem,
And strengthened follow on thy chosen path.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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