Help us, O Lord, Behold we Enter

Help us, O Lord, for now we enter
Upon another year today.
In you our hopes and thoughts now center;
Renew our courage for the way.
New life, new strength, new happiness
We ask of you — oh, hear and bless.

May ev’ry plan and undertaking
Begin this year, O Lord, with you;
When I am sleeping or am waking,
Help me, dear Lord, your will to do.
In you alone, my God, I live;
You only can my sins forgive.

And may this year to me be holy;
Your grace so fill my ev’ry thought
That all my life be pure and lowly
And truthful, as a Christian’s ought.
So make me while I’m living here
Your faithful servant through the year.

Jesus, be with me and direct me;
Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire;
Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me;
Jesus, be all my heart’s desire;
Jesus, be in my thoughts all day
And never let me fall away.

And grant, Lord, when the year is over,
That it for me in peace may close.
In all things care for me and cover
My head in time of fear and woes.
So may I, when my life is done,
Appear with joy before your throne.

– Johann Rist

 

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O, LORD, when condemnation
And guilt oppress my soul,
Then let Thy bitter Passion
The rising storm control.
Remind me that Thy Blood was spilt
For me, oh, most unworthy,
To take away my guilt.

Oh wonder beyond measure,
To faith’s enlightened eye,
For slaves it was the pleasure
Of their own LORD to die!
The Mighty God stoops from on high
For me, lost ruined creature,
And deigns as Man to die!

LORD, let Thy bitter Passion
My soul with strength inspire
To flee with indignation
Each sinful low desire.
Ah never would I, LORD, forget
The greatness of that Ransom,
Which paid my endless debt.

Should earthly griefs assail me,
If need be shame and scorn,
Let patience never fail me
To bear as Thou hast borne.
Grant that the world I may forsake
And Thee for my example
Oh may I daily take.

Henceforth my heart shall bless Thee
Whilst here its pulses move.
Its songs of praise address Thee
For all Thy dying love.
Thy wrongs and last deep agony
Shall be my meditation
Till I am called to Thee

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow – Indelible Grace

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As did drive me to despair

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

This week I’ve learned that I am very prideful. I have often prayed:

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction.”

But did I ever understand what I was asking for? No. And in that I see God’s grace because otherwise I never would have prayed to be purified, not in this way, not through such a painful and heart wrenching trial. Then I never would have felt such a strong sense of joy and happiness, knowing that I’ve forgiven and been forgiven, and knowing that I am loved and can still love. I thought I was being destroyed but in reality I was being driven to a new reliance on Him. I believe that I’ve been broken and destroyed this week so that I would reexamine my life. I see my pride and weakness more clearly now and while I’m writing this at an hour past midnight, I can say that I’ve learned a bit more about what it means to trust God. In my pride I doubted God’s plan, his goodness and his love for me. We can’t see or know God’s plan but faith is believing in what we do not yet see. All the trials and agonies of this life, the pains inflicted by those dearest to us and the sufferings we endure can be used by God to teach and transform us. Through the trials and in this way of faith we can confess with David, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”(Ps 27:10, NIV) While also saying, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”(Ps 133:1)

 

This week I also I learned that I loved and will continue loving my friends. I learned that I trusted and will continue to trust my friends, but can’t view them as infallible, I can’t make idols out of them. I’ve learned that my friends deeply love and trusted me in ways I’ve never understood or realized. I certainly have regrets. I regret the stupid and hurtful things I’ve said  to others and the hurtful things done to me; I regret the things I’ve done to myself and the harm I’ve inflected on my body; I regret most of all the sins I’ve committed against a Holy and Loving God. I questioned his plan and went so far as to doubt his love. But perhaps, as a result of this sanctified affliction, I’ve also gained a glimpse of the meaning to this part of the same prayer:

“I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.”

-“Confession and Petition,” The Valley of Vision.

 

Safely through another week

Safely through another week
God has brought us on our way;
let us now a blessing seek,
waiting in his courts today;
day of all the week the best,
emblem of eternal rest,
day of all the week the best,
emblem of eternal rest.

While we pray for pard’ning grace,
through the dear Redeemer’s name,
show thy reconciling face;
take away our sin and shame;
from our worldly cares set free,
may we rest this day in thee,
from our worldly cares set free,
may we rest this day in thee.

Here we come thy name to praise,
let us feel thy presence near;
may thy glory meet our eyes,
while we in thy house appear:
here afford us, Lord, a taste
of our everlasting feast,
here afford us, Lord, a taste
of our everlasting feast.

May thy gospel’s joyful sound
conquer sinners, comfort saints;
may the fruits of grace abound,
bring relief for all complaints:
thus may all our Sabbaths prove,
till we join the church above,
thus may all our Sabbaths prove,
till we join the church above.

John Newton, in Conyer’s Collection of Psalms and Hymns, 1774