You are Worthy

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created and have their being.’

I confess Father that I am unworthy of the grace you have shown me, for I have sinned against you once more this day. I cling only to the sacrifice of Christ and the pouring out of his blood. Wash me clean of my sins, purge me with hyssop that I would be clean. Enable me by your Spirit to live a life of thankfulness to you. As a child loves his earthly father, so help me to love you my Heavenly Father.

That bitter root, indwelling sin!

By John Newton:

The righteous are said to be scarcely saved, not with respect to the certainty of the event, for the purpose of God in their favor cannot be disappointed—but in respect of their own apprehensions, and the great difficulties they are brought through! But when, after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, willfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility, they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of Jesus—He becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much, because much has been forgiven them. They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves—but are glad to acknowledge, that they must have perished (humanly speaking) a thousand times over, if Jesus had not been their Savior, their shepherd, and their shield. When they were wandering—he brought them back; when fallen—he raised them; when wounded—he healed them; when fainting—he revived them! By him, out of weakness—they have been made strong! He has taught their hands to war, and covered their heads in the day of battle. In a word, some of the clearest proofs they have had of his excellence, have been occasioned by the humiliating proofs they have had of their own vileness. They would not have known so much of him—if they had not known so much of themselves!

Further, a spirit of humiliation, which is both the strength and beauty of our profession, is greatly promoted by our feeling, as well as reading, that when we would do good, evil is present with us. A broken and contrite spirit is pleasing to the Lord—he has promised to dwell with those who have it. Experience shows, that the exercise of all our graces, is in proportion to the humbling sense we have of the depravity of our nature.

That we are so totally depraved, is a truth which no one ever truly learned by being only taught it. Indeed, if we could receive, and habitually maintain, a right judgment of ourselves, by what is plainly declared in Scripture, it would probably save us many a mournful hour! But experience is the Lord’s school, and those who are taught by him usually learn that they have no wisdom—by the mistakes they make; and that they have no strength—by the slips and falls they meet with. Every day draws forth some new corruption, which before was little observed, or at least discovers it in a stronger light than before. Thus by degrees, they are weaned from leaning to any supposed wisdom, power, or goodness in themselves! They feel the truth of our Lord’s words, “without me—you can do nothing;” and the necessity of crying with David, “O lead me and guide me!”

John Newton, April 1772

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

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.

Evening Collect

O LORD, raise up  thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

http://www.reformedanglican.us/collects-evening

Psalm 6

How do we deal with mental and physical suffering, pain, illness, and death? In his commentary on Psalm 6, Gerard Wilson gives some very practical and insightful advice. He writes specifically about physical suffering but there’s no reason what he says can’t be applied to mental ailments too.

“Often we try to interpret away the troublesome evidence of a world run amok by giving pain and suffering new and more palatable names, such as “divine discipline” or “test of faith” or “opportunity for growth.” This they can be and certainly have been for many generations of the faithful. But the danger of such an approach is that it can dull our awareness of the “wrongness” of pain, suffering, and oppression. When they become just one more means God uses to accomplish his purposes, we fail to realize just how contrary to God’s will and intention for his world and his people these evidences of evil really are.

Like the psalmist, let us mourn suffering, pain, oppression, and evil in all their forms rather than rejoice in them as divine punishment when they fall on one we think deserves it. Nor should we seek to explain such things away as discipline and guidance when we experience them ourselves. We can and should allow distress and oppression to provide opportunities to shape our dependence on God to create a fierce loyalty to him, but they remain evil just the same and do not become good by the fact that God can turn them to our good.

If, as the psalmist suggests, the chief role of humans is to remember and praise God, how is it possible to do that in the midst of personal pain and suffering? It is especially difficult when all the voices around us undermine our confidence—either with words that are too negative or with those that are too positive.

On the one hand, I am injured almost beyond repair by those who claim, “There is no way out. This pain is deserved. God does not care. God does not exist!” I have to admit that I have been too long ingrained in the faith from earliest childhood to be shaken, even in times of great trouble, by those who question whether God exists. God has existed for me from earliest memory. But I can, like so many in my culture, believe that God could not possibly care for one like me, and this fear can lead quickly to despair of any deliverance.

On the other hand, my confidence in God can be shaken by those who too easily seek to put some positive cast on my experience of pain. “God is in control. God is using these circumstances to punish or discipline you. Praise God for what is happening, for you will understand the purpose for it later.” Far from helping me, such responses, while often well intended, can leave me with a sense of isolation. I am left with a feeling that my pain is not understood and is belittled. I cannot escape the gnawing feeling that this suffering, no matter how deserved, is nevertheless evil and ought not to be.

I meet regularly with a group of men who have experienced significant pain and trouble in their lives. The best solace we offer to one another is not to explain away the pain but to acknowledge its reality. We can hold up to one another our own experiences of divine grace within the continuing reality of suffering that marks our daily lives. The pain has not gone away, but God and his grace have become even more real to each of us as we acknowledge that God’s will for us is not suffering and death but abundant life, lived in the light shining out of the darkness.
Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms, vol. 1, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 186.

 

Psalm 6 (NIV)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith.[b] A psalm of David.

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
    save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.