The hungry sheep look up

The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.
The hungry sheep, that crave the living Bread,
Grow few, and lean, and feeble as can be
When fed not Gospel but philosophy,
Not love’s eternal story, no, not this,
But apt allusion, keen analysis,
Discourse well framed—forgot as soon as heard—
Man’s thin dilution of the living Word.
O Preacher, leave the rhetorician’s arts;
Preach Christ, the Food of hungry human hearts;
Hold fast to science, history, or creed,
But preach the Answer to our human need,
That in this place, at least, it may be said
No hungry sheep looks up and is not fed.
—Robert Hammond Adams (1883–1975)

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

Repentance and Cleansing

Lord God, we live in an age when sexuality is trivialized and when covenants are broken routinely.  We are bombarded with cultural insensitivity for the sacredness of life and what was once considered perverted is now common place and accepted. Please help me increase my sensitivity to the Truth of Your commandments and show me where I need to amend my attitudes and my actions. Forgive me my failures in this area and strengthen me to live a chaste life. Work within me by your Holy Spirit so that I would be able to resist the temptations of the world, my flesh, and the devil. I pray that you will not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. Wash away the memory of past sins from my mind, erase the feelings of guilt and shame for they have been nailed to the cross along with all my sins. Please think of me according to Your mercy and for Your goodness sake, O LORD, free me from the bondage of my passions and enable me to master my inclinations.  When I am tempted, may I rely on you; When I fall, may I find restoration by your grace. Heal me of past hurts and the impact of erroneous instruction and guide my relationships in purity, fidelity and love. Grant a renewed and faithful obedience to Your word, and work within me by Your Holy Spirit , so that I may keep Your commands all the days of my life. In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, lives and reigns forever. Amen.

A New Year’s Dedication

Almighty God, as we cross the threshold of this year we commit ourselves, soul, body, affairs, friends, to Thy care. Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, and bless us. Incline our heart to thy ways. Mold us wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay. May our lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Thy praise. Let those around see us living by Thy Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconformed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armour of God, shining as never-dimmed lights, showing holiness in all our doings.  Let no evil this year soil our thoughts, words, hands. May we travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In needful transactions let our affection be in heaven, and our love soar upward in flames of fire, our gaze fixed on unseen things, our eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities. May we view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of our Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth. Order this year all our communications according to Thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that we should not be profited or made profitable. May we speak each word as if our last word, and walk each step as our final one. If our lives should end this year, let this be our best year.

 

Adapted from The Valley of Vision: Morning Dedication

Year’s End

O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Faith is a plant that can grow in the shade

How many, alas, of the precious saints of God must we shut out from being believers, if there is no faith but what amounts to assurance…. shall we say their faith went away in the departure of their assurance? How oft then in a year may a believer be no believer? even as often as God withdraws and leaves the creature in the dark. Assurance is like the sun-flower, which opens with the day and shuts with the night. It follows the motion of God’s face; if that looks smilingly on the soul, it lives; if that frowns or hides itself, it dies. But faith is a plant that can grow in the shade, a grace that can find the way to heaven in a dark night. It can “walk in darkness, and yet trust in the name of the Lord.”

—William Gurnall

The Great Birthday

The shepherds were keeping their flocks by night. Probably a calm, peaceful night, wherein they felt the usual difficulty of keeping their weary eyelids open as sleep demanded its due of them. All of a sudden, to their amazement, a mighty blaze lit up the heavens and turned midnight into midday! The glory of the Lord, by which, according to the idiom of the language, is meant the greatest conceivable glory as well as a divine glory, surrounded and alarmed them! And in the midst of it they saw a shining spirit, a form, the like of which they had never beheld before, but of which they had heard their fathers speak, and of which they had read in the books of the prophets so that they knew it to be an angel. It was, indeed, no common messenger from heaven, but “the angel of the Lord,” that choice presence angel, whose privilege it is to stand nearest the heavenly majesty, “’mid the bright ones doubly bright,” and to be employed on weightiest errands from the eternal throne of God. “The angel of the Lord came upon them.” Are you astonished that at first they were afraid? Would you not be alarmed if such a thing should happen to you? The stillness of the night, the suddenness of the apparition, the extraordinary splendor of the light, the supernatural appearance of the angel—all would tend to astound them and to put them into a quiver of reverential alarm—for I doubt not there was a mixture both of reverence and of fear in that feeling which is described as being “sorely afraid.” They would have fallen on their faces to the ground in fright had there not dropped out of that, “glory of the Lord,” a gentle voice, which said, “Fear not.” They were calmed by that sweet comfort and enabled to listen to the announcement which followed. Then that voice, in accents sweet as the notes of a silver bell, proceeded to say, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” They were bid to shake off all thoughts of fear and to give themselves up to joy! Doubtless they did so and, among all mankind, there were none so happy at that dead of night as were these shepherds who had seen an amazing sight! They would never forget that night and now were consulting whether they should not hasten away to gaze upon a sight which would be more delightful still, namely, the Babe of which the angel spoke!

Mark well that believing what they did, these simple-minded shepherds desired to approach nearer the marvelous babe. What did they do but consult together and say, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass”? O beloved, if you want to get the joy of Christ, come near to Him! Whatever you hear about Him from His own book, believe it! But then say, “I will go and find Him.” When you hear the voice of the Lord from Sinai, draw not near unto the flaming mountain—the law condemns you, the justice of God overwhelms you. Bow at a humble distance and adore with solemn awe. But when you hear of God in Christ, hasten there! Hasten there with all confidence, for you are not come unto the mountain that might not be touched, and that burned with fire—you are come unto the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than that of Abel! Come near, come nearer, nearer still! “Come,” is His own word to those who labor and are heavy laden, and that same word He will address to you at the last—“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” If you want joy in Christ, come and find it in His bosom, or at His feet! There John and Mary found it long ago. And then, my brothers and sisters do what the shepherds did when they came near. They rejoiced to see the babe of whom they had been told! You cannot see with the physical eye, but you must meditate—and so see with the mental eyes this great, grand and glorious truth of God that the word was made flesh and dwelt among us! This is the way to have joy today, joy such as fitly descends from heaven with the descent of heaven’s King! Believe! Draw near! And then fixedly gaze upon Him, and so be blest!

The Great Birthday Sermon #1330 http://www.spurgeongems.org Volume 22 2 2