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



Luther on Self Righteousness

“Whenever we, on the ground of our righteousness, wisdom, or power, are haughty or angry with those who are unrighteous, foolish, or less powerful than we . . . —and this is the greatest perversion—righteousness works against righteousness, wisdom against wisdom, power against power. For you are powerful, not that you may make the weak weaker by oppression, but that you may make them powerful by raising them up and defending them. You are wise, not in order to laugh at the foolish and thereby make them more foolish, but that you may undertake to teach them as you yourself would wish to be taught. You are righteous that you may vindicate and pardon the unrighteous, not that you may only condemn, disparage, judge, and punish. For this is Christ’s example for us, as he says, ‘For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him’ (John 3:17). He further says in Luke 9:55-56, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.'” Martin Luther

Man’s Maker was Made Man

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.
– Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)

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

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