Category Archives: Morning Meds

Thoughts on Psalm 131

universe1

Psalm 131 contains just three verses but gives a good pattern for prayer.

PRAY HUMBLY.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes not raised too high… (v. 1a)

The Psalmist begins with the inner man. A prideful heart ruins even the most eloquent prayer and haughty eyes spoil even the most lofty supplication. This is not to say that words aren’t important, but that a humble heart matters more.

Lord, help me to pray humbly and acutely aware of what a great grace it is that you hear me. Stamp out any hint of self-exalting pride and make me like the tax collector in Luke 18: “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. (v. 1b)

There is sweet freedom in trusting God for the many great perplexities of life. “God is good,” and “God is sovereign” must be enough. It is foolish to speculate about matters He intentionally shrouds in mystery and better to rest upon the revealed counsel of God. Additionally, there is wisdom in diligently serving Him wherever He has placed us doing whatever He has given us to do. There are no unimportant servants in God’s economy and neither do we serve Him in vain.

Heavenly Father, humble my arrogant heart that insists on placing myself on equal terms with You. Conform my will to Yours and let my actions be pleasing in Your sight. Let me seek what you have revealed in Scripture as valuable treasure, for knowing You only deepens my love and devotion to You. You are my Creator. It is enough that You know. It is enough that You see. It is enough that you hear. I am content; for You Yourself have said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

PRAY WITH CHILD-LIKE FAITH AND IN THE SIMPLICITY OF JOYFUL SUBMISSION.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (v. 2)

A child who is weaned from her mother’s milk has ceased to depend upon it for nourishment and is content to sit quietly in her mother’s arms. We often come to God with troubled hearts, agitated and impatient, struggling to grab hold of a perceived need when what we really need first is God Himself.

O God, wean me from this world. Wean me from worldly desires, temporal pleasures, and self-seeking patterns of thought. Let me come to you as a contented child, completely trusting in Your provision and wholly resting in whatever Your will is for me. Let my heart be still and simply trust in You.

O  Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (v. 3)

PRAY WITH UNWAVERING HOPE.

Here the Psalmist exhorts us to fix our hope forever on God and God alone. He is a God who keeps His promises. There is no firmer foundation upon which to rest our Hope than God Himself. He is perfectly trustworthy and cannot lie. His promises are sure, His Word imperishable, and His Covenant is everlasting.

Lord, thank you that my hope in You can never be disappointed. Thank you for the extravagance of my Gospel inheritance that makes it possible to draw near to Your throne of Grace with confidence and receive unending mercy, unmerited Grace, and help for my needy soul.

(Luke 18:9-14; 1 Cor 15:58; Prov 2:1-5; Ps 139; Gen 16:13; Isa 59:1; Heb 13:5;  Ps 46:10; Num 23:19; Heb 4:16)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 


December Days and Wisdom

nativity

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

As a child, waiting just fifteen minutes for some looked forward to pleasure seemed impossible. As a 60 plus year old woman, those quarter hours fly by like calendar pages flipping haphazardly into a vacuous past just like they did in the cartoons I watched as a young girl.

November is almost gone. We are on the verge of stepping into December, a time of year I both love and loathe.

I love December for obvious reasons. It’s the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ. I loathe December for obvious reasons. It’s the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ, or rather, it’s how we celebrate that for me often devolves into a mess of plans and purchases, desire and failure to do everything perfectly, and an undercurrent of anxiety as I compare my faltering efforts to celebrate Christmas “rightly” with the relative ease that others seem to enjoy.

So this Christmas season, I’m asking the Lord to help me number my days and apply wisdom. There’s something to growing older that makes me want to slow things down. But in order to number these December days aright, I need the Lord’s wisdom to do it.

It is wise to ask for wisdom from the One who gives generously…that is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere wisdom.

It is wise to take my eyes off myself and look to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

It is wise to reflect on the brevity of time and ponder anew the beauty of eternal perspective as it relates to the Christmas story.

It is wise to celebrate the season as simply as possible and guard my sense of wonder and awe in honoring the birth of the One whose life, death and resurrection changed the world.

It is wise to stop comparing myself to others resulting in prideful arrogance at doing better or self-centered pity at doing worse (oh, how grievous are both of these pitfalls!).

It is wise to look past the clamor and commotion of the season and find time to be quiet and still before God.

It is wise to cultivate a thankful heart, to count my myriad blessings and appreciate the loved ones near and remember those who live in memories of Christmas past.

It’s inevitable that I will fail to thoughtfully number my days and apply wisdom perfectly. So, it is wise to let the Gospel inform the truth and miracle of Christmas. My sins do not change who Christ is, and my sins do not change who I am in Christ.

Lastly, it is appropriate and wise to consider these words from Spurgeon:

“Our lives are illustrations of heavenly goodness, parables of divine wisdom, poems of sacred thought, and records of infinite love; happy are we whose lives are such tales.”

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rest Here

Sun Rays Through The Clouds

Image via Wikipedia

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!   Psalm 4:6

Surely, this prayer is answered for those of us who believe! The Lord’s turning toward His own is an eternal turning, a never rescinded invitation sealed in Christ’s own blood.

We live our lives abundantly beneath His watchful eye, encompassed by His love, safeguarded by His protection and encouraged daily by His help. The light of His face upon us offers forgiveness for sins, growth in our sanctification and a promise of our future and final glorification.

His love is never divided between His children, but exponentially multiplied, grace upon grace.

His attention is a benefit unlike any other offered by mere mortals even though they be men of power and renown. His is an attention to the most minute detail our souls can require with an eye towards our good end. And, He not only has our good in mind, but the absolute power to bring it to pass!

We imagine that friendship with the rich and famous may afford luxuries and opportunities that will give rest to our souls, but the truth is that relationships like these take a lot of work. One must be able to keep up, wear the right clothes, exhibit the appropriate level of intelligence and match resource for resource in an ever evolving appreciation for the finer things in life. And, should we be unable to reciprocate, our worldly alliances wither and die. Amity based on our ability to perform is absolutely exhausting.

How much better to be a friend of Christ!

Because of the Gospel blessings we have in Jesus, the relationship we have with God is not based on our performance but upon the performance of His Son. He took on human flesh. He was tempted and yet did not sin. He humbled Himself unto death on the cross. He took the punishment we deserved. He paid the death penalty that we owed. He rose again and conquered even the grave on our behalf.

It is finished. We need not work. We need not fear. When we fail, our Father does not fold His arms in anger nor sigh and turn away but calls us back with open arms, accepting us in the beloved for Jesus’ sake. And so we pray along with the psalmist, “Look here, Lord! Shine the light of your face upon us!”

This is the saving reality of the Gospel. Rest here.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


A Little Bit of Heaven

kitty2

My fourteen-month-old grandson will learn that there are times when play must be set aside for duty. In fact, my ordinary adult concerns usually trump his childish inclination to toss a ball again and again and yet once again or sit outside on the curb to practice our meow sounds and pet the neighbor’s cat.

But, playtime is not a waste of my time nor his. No, these welcome respites from the business of everyday responsibilities are (at least part of) the building blocks of our future relationship. I can tell my grandson that I love him and that I am interested in him, but in the mind of a toddler, actions do speak louder than mere words.

Recently, during one of our playtimes together, I was overcome by the most extraordinary sensation. I felt as if time stood still or was suspended somehow. Of course as soon as I realized what was happening, the moment slipped away. Perhaps my attention was so focused on what we were doing that I became unaware, even if just for a few seconds, of the passage of time.

Thinking about it later, it came to me that my grandson isn’t quite aware yet of how tangled up we are in the constraints of time. He isn’t worried about what comes next or how many minutes have ticked by. He has nothing planned and no to-do list. It’s as if he has all the time in the world…

I long for Heaven where I am positive we won’t experience time in the same way we do here on earth. After all, we will have all of eternity!  If we are freed from the necessity of the clock, imagine the joy of spending an infinitude of moments in the company of fellow saints. Think of the timelessness of our happily-ever-after in the glorious presence of Christ our Lord! What an amazing Inheritance we have in the Gospel!

Could it be that playtime with my grandson is a foretaste of what’s to come? A glimpse of eternity where the urgency of our busy schedules is no more? At the very least, these moments are a gracious gift to this grandmother–a little bit of Heaven on earth.

Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Isaiah 60:19

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Learning My Lessons

I am a life-long learner.

But, sometimes I look around and think that everyone else is more accomplished than me. Everyone else has it all together, right? Although that’s how it may seem, the reality is far different. You are a life-long learner, too.

English: School room.

English: School room. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that in mind, and in the spirit of encouraging one another, here is a short list of things I am learning and in some cases, re-learning!

1. Don’t worry. Trust God.
Worrying about things that I have no control over is just crazy. But this is what I do. If only I could finally and fully learn that I can trust God. This is one lesson I fear will need to be repeated again and again until my life on earth is done. What a relief it will be someday to finally rest from worry. I am beginning to seriously question my personal sovereignty, but I guess that could be a good thing.

Those who know your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

2. Life may not be perfect, but there is still much to be thankful for.
I yearn for my life to be in order. I like all my ducks in a row and everything on my list to be checked off. For me, busy-ness begets the blues. I love to be around people, but I also need time alone to think and to process. And, I detest conflict.

But, my life is not in order. My ducks are not only out of line but chaotically quacking like crazy. It takes a Herculean effort to check even one thing off my list, and “Busy” is my middle name. Moments alone are few and far between. Conflict is a given.

Yet, in all of this the Lord is faithful to remind my harried heart that there is still much to be thankful for. My life is filled with blessings, and even the difficulties I face are being used by Him for my good and His glory. Always.

Even if all else should give way around me, let me be found “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:12)

3. God is sovereignly working.
There is no graph, no algorithm, no equation that indicates exactly when or how our Heavenly Father accomplishes His will. But, He is working and always in a million different ways.

Life is not a math problem, but a grand story with eternal scope and perspective. God writes life stories that are rife with plot twists, filled with quirky characters, and include conflict (both resolved and unresolved with real-time cliff-hangers). We turn each page not quite knowing what the next chapter may bring, but we do know the ending and it’s a happy one.

He is working in me. And, although I don’t always see it, I can trust He is working in my loved ones, too.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:10)

What about you? What life lessons are you learning?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Some Thoughts on Prayer

Tree

Pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

I’ve been thinking about this command and what it means, not only with the understanding that we are instructed to pray, but also about what it reveals about the character of God. Our Heavenly Father wants to hear from us! He stands ever at the ready to hear our prayers and answer them, always for our good and His Glory. The truth of that should shake my soul from its self-absorbed slumber and shine a light on the darkness that is prayerlessness.

I stand convicted of not praying enough.  And I don’t mean a mere checking off of prayer from my “To Do” list, but rather, my lack of an earnest outpouring of heart that flows from true humility and an understanding of who God is and what He has done for me, the sinner. Where once I was lost and hopeless, by God’s Grace upon Grace I now stand forgiven, justified, adopted and in the process of being conformed to the image of His Son.

Prayerlessness is the result of a heart not set on these glories of the Gospel! I often allow the distractions of daily life to interfere. Mere frivolities derail my prayers. The Word says, “Pray without ceasing.” Not, “Check your email without ceasing.” Not, “Worry without ceasing.” And, certainly not, “Complain without ceasing.”

The Lord invites us to approach His Throne of Grace, boldly. For those of us in Christ, the veil that blinded us to our sin and separation from God has been graciously lifted. We can see our need.  We have been given the understanding that each day requires more strength and wisdom than we can muster. In this life, we need help, forgiveness, refreshment and hope. The truth of the Gospel informs us. We do not have the option to pray, we must pray.

Lord, help me to be devoted to prayer, unwavering in my practice of prayer. Remind me to pray each time the opportunity presents itself and to be ever mindful of my dependence upon You. May the realities of Gospel truth compel me to  present myself humbly and often before Your Throne.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


The Unchangeable One

For I the LORD do not change… (Malachi 3:6a)

Consider the world around us. Instability is unavoidable. The global economy stalls and staggers, the stock market fluctuates and we hold our breath, foreign governments collapse and reform, world leaders come and go, and whole cities declare bankruptcy.

Everything changes so quickly. Technology advances at an unimaginable rate, we travel from here to there as our world becomes smaller, and we communicate instantaneously with the push of a button or the stroke of a keyboard.

Our personal lives are susceptible to change, too. Marriages fail, finances grow thin, and friendships fade. We can lose our jobs, get sick, or suffer disappointment. And, even if our situation changes for the good, we live knowing that things can turn in an instant, the phone call in the night.

In the middle of all this uncertainty, there is One who does not change. He is the great I AM.

God’s character is sure. I do not have to worry that He is or ever will be anything less than good, just, merciful and kind. He has given me His Word that for the sake of His Son and by virtue of His Grace, my sins are forgiven and my name remains written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I can trust Him for now and for eternity. He extends His hand to me, and He will never let me go.

I find much comfort in the Immutability of God. I can rest. I can know. I can trust in His character, His attributes, and His promises.

He is the one Constant in my life, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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