Clarkson: No Sorrow Like Yours

“There was no sorrow like your sorrow, Lord—no love like your love. Was it not enough, dearest Savior, that you came down to pray, and sigh, and weep for us? Would you also bleed and die for us?

Was it not enough that you were hated, slandered, blasphemed, buffeted? But you would also be scourged, nailed, wounded, and crucified.

Was it not enough to feel the cruelty of man? Would you also experience the wrath of God?

And if your love was not enough, giving up your life and shedding that precious blood, was it not enough to die once, to suffer one death? Would you die twice by tasting the first, and something of the second death—suffering the pains of death in both soul and body?

Oh the far-surpassing love of Christ! Heaven and earth are astonished at it. What tongue can express it? What heart can conceive it? The tongues and the thoughts of people and angels are far below it.

Oh the height, and depth, and breadth, and length, of the love of Christ! All creation knows not how to react. Our thoughts are swallowed up.
And there they remain until glory elevates them, when our job will be to praise, admire, and adore this love of Christ.

Amen.”

-David Clarkson

Knox: A Prayer Said at the Lord’s Supper

O Father of mercy and God of all consolation, seeing that all creatures do acknowledge and confess Thee as Governor and Lord (Rev. 5), it becometh us, the workmanship of Thy own hands, at all times to reverence and magnify Thy godly majesty—first, for that Thou hast created us to Thy own image and similitude (Gen. 1), but chiefly that Thou hast delivered us from that everlasting death and damnation (Gen. 3; Gal. 1; Eph. 2) into the which Satan drew mankind by the means of sin, from the bondage whereof neither man nor angel was able to make us free (Acts 4; Heb. 1; Rev 5).

But Thou, O Lord, rich in mercy and infinite in goodness, hast provided our redemption to stand in Thy only and well-beloved Son, whom of very love Thou didst give to be made man (John 3) like unto us in all things (Heb. 8) (sin excepted), (Heb. 4, 7) that in His body He might receive the punishments of our transgression (Isaiah 43, 53; 1 Pet. 2), by His death to make satisfaction to Thy justice, (Matt. 3, 17; Rom. 5; Heb. 8; Jer. 31) and by His resurrection to destroy him that was author of death, (Heb. 2) and thus to subdue and bring life again to the world (John 6) from which the whole offspring of Adam most justly was exiled (Gen. 3; Rom. 5).

O Lord, we acknowledge that no creature is able to comprehend the length and breadth—the depth and height—of that Thy most excellent love (Eph. 3), which moved Thee to show mercy where none was deserved (Eph. 2), to promise and give life where death had gotten victory (John 6, 17; Eph. 2), and to receive us into Thy grace when we could do nothing but rebel against Thy justice (Gen. 6; Ps. 5, 14; Isa. 64; Rom. 3, 7).

O Lord, the blind dullness of our corrupt nature will not suffer us sufficiently to weigh these most ample benefits (Matt. 10, 16; Luke 11; 1 Cor. 2); nevertheless, at the commandment of Jesus Christ our Lord (Matt. 26; Luke 22), we present ourselves to this His table (which He hath left to be used in remembrance of His death until His coming again) (1 Cor. 11) to declare and witness before the world that by Him alone we have received liberty and life (John 8; Gal. 5), that by Him alone Thou dost acknowledge us Thy children and heirs (Rom. 8; Eph. 1; 1 Peter 1), that by Him alone we have entrance to the throne of Thy grace (Rom. 3; Eph. 2; Heb, 4), that by Him alone we are possessed in our spiritual kingdom (Matt. 25; Luke 12; John 14) to eat and drink at His table (Luke 22; Rev. 2) with whom we have our conversation presently in heaven (Eph. 2; Phil. 3) and by whom our bodies shall be raised up again from the dust and shall be placed with Him in that endless joy, which Thou, O Father of mercy, hast prepared for Thy elect before the foundation of the world was laid (Eph. 1; Rev. 13).

And these most inestimable benefits we acknowledge and confess to have received of Thy free mercy and grace by Thy only beloved Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 3; Eph. 2; Titus 3), for the which therefore, we Thy congregation, moved by Thy Holy Spirit (Rom. 8), render Thee all thanks, praise, and glory, forever and ever.

-John Knox, Taken from Laing, Works of John Knox, 4:194-196

Confidence

O GOD, THOU ART VERY GREAT,

My lot is to approach thee with godly fear
and humble confidence,
for thy condescension equals thy grandeur,
and thy goodness is thy glory.
I am unworthy, but thou dost welcome;
guilty, but thou art merciful;
indigent, but thy riches are unsearchable.
Thou hast shown boundless compassion towards me
by not sparing thy Son,
and by giving me freely all things in him;
This is the foundation of my hope,
the refuge of my safety,
the new and living way to thee,
the means of that conviction of sin,
brokenness of heart, and self-despair,
which will endear to me the gospel.
Happy are they who are Christ’s,
in him at peace with thee,
justified from all things,
delivered from coming wrath,
made heirs of future glory;
Give me such deadness to the world,
such love to the Saviour,
such attachment to his house,
such devotedness to his service,
as proves me a subject of his salvation.
May every part of my character and conduct
make a serious and amiable impression on others,
and impel them to ask the way to the Master.
Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful,
injure the prosperity of my soul,
but rather increase it.
Send me thy help,
for thine appointments are not meant
to make me independent of thee,
and the best means will be vain
without super-added blessings.

-https://banneroftruth.org/us/devotional/confidence/?utm_content=bufferbfc99&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

A Prayer of Lament in Response to the Terror Attack in Paris

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

“Dear heavenly Father, another day of terror-making darkness, evil-doing madness, and life-taking sadness. How long, O Lord, how Lord before you send Jesus back to eradicate all evil? How long before the wicked will be no more? How much longer is “just a little while”?

It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry when women and children, the young and old are mercilessly slaughtered in the city of Paris; when restaurants, concert halls, and sports areas become the venue for the perversion of religion and the murder of your image bearers.

Father, we offer our prayer, not in self-righteous judgment, but as your weary children—longing for the Day when the knowledge of your glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14)—when perfect peace will replace every expression of evil.

Until that Day, free us from all bitterness and a lust for revenge. Vengeance belongs to you, not to us. Make us warriors of peace and agents of hope. Our labors in the Lord are never in vain. The gospel of the kingdom will prevail. Defeated evil will be eradicated evil. The devil is filled with fury for he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12). Make it much shorter, Father, much shorter.

Grant us wisdom to know what loving mercy, doing justice, and walking humbly with you looks like in Paris, and in our own communities. Replace our frets and fears with faith and trust, and our rage and wrath with patience and courage. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and grace-full name.”

-Scotty Smith, http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/scottysmith/2015/11/14/a-prayer-of-lament-in-response-to-the-terror-attack-in-paris/

Continual Repentance

O God of Grace,

You have imputed my sin to my substitute,
and have imputed his righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so much impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
for you always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, “Father, forgive me,”
and you are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.

-Arthur Bennett, ed. The Valley of Vision, 320. (language modernized by Tim Challies) http://www.challies.com/quotes/continual-repentance

God’s Cause

SOVEREIGN GOD,

Your cause, not my own, engages my heart,
and I appeal to You with greatest freedom
to set up Your kingdom in every place where Satan reigns;

Glorify Yourself and I shall rejoice,
for to bring honor to Your name in my sole desire.

I adore You that You are God,
and long that others should know it, feel it, and rejoice in it.

O that all men might love and praise You,
that You might have all glory from the intelligent world!

Let sinners be brought to You for Your dear name!

To the eye of reason everything respecting
the conversion of others is as dark as midnight,

But You can accomplish great things;
the cause is Yours,
and it is to Your glory that men should be saved.

Lord, use me as You will,
do with me what You will;
but, O, promote Your cause,
let Your kingdom come,
let Your blessed interest be advanced in this world!

O bring in great numbers to Jesus!
let me see that glorious day,
and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls;
let me be willing to die to that end;
and while I live let me labour for You
to the utmost of my strength,
spending time profitably in this work,
both in health and in weakness.

It is Your cause and kingdom I long for, not my own.
O, answer my request!

-Arthur Bennett, ed. The Valley of Vision, 320. (language modernized)

Spiritual Helps

Eternal Father,

It is amazing love,

that Thou hast sent Thy Son to suffer in my stead,

that Thou hast added the Spirit to teach, comfort, guide,

that Thou hast allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round;

All heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm.

Permit Thy unseen servants to be ever active on my behalf,

and to rejoice when grace expands in me.

Suffer them never to rest until my conflict is over,

and I stand victorious on salvation’s shore.

Grant that my proneness to evil, deadness to good,

resistance to Thy Spirit’s motions,

may never provoke Thee to abandon me.

May my hard heart awake Thy pity, not Thy wrath,

And if the enemy gets an advantage through my corruption,

let it be seen that heaven is mightier than hell,

that those for me are greater than those against me.

Arise to my help in richness of covenant blessings,

Keep me feeding in the pastures of Thy strengthening Word,

searching Scripture to find Thee there.

If my waywardness is visited with a scourge,

enable me to receive correction meekly,

to bless the reproving hand,

to discern the motive of rebuke,

to respond promptly, and do the first work.

Let all Thy fatherly dealings make me a partaker of Thy holiness.

Grant that in every fall I may sink lower on my knees,

and that when I rise it may be to loftier heights of devotion.

May my every cross be sanctified,

every loss be gain,

every denial a spiritual advantage,

every dark day a light of the Holy Spirit,

every night of trial a song.

-Spiritual Helps, The Valley of Vision (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 242-243

Valley of Vision – Choices

O God,
Though I am allowed to approach thee
I am not unmindful of my sins,
I do not deny my guilt,
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness.
May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee,
to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,
to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,
to deem it an honor to be employed by thee as an instrument in thy hands,
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness, and willing to offer all my talents to thy service.
Thou hast done for me all things well, hast remembered, distinguished, indulged me.
All my desires have not been gratified, but thy love denied them to me
when fulfillment of my wishes would have proved my ruin or injury.
My trials have been fewer than my sins, and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen from thy hands.
Thou hast often wiped away my tears, restored peace to my mourning heart, chastened me for my profit.
All thy work for me is perfect, and I praise thee.

-Choices, The Valley of Vision (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 192-193

Practical and Helpful Thoughts About Personal Devotions

George Müller, a man of deep and earnest prayer, gives some helpful advice on personal devotions and advice for time spent alone with God.

He found that “the most important thing was to concentrate on first reading the Bible [and] meditating on the chosen portion:

That thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by the means of the Word of God, whilst meditating upon it, my heart might be brought into [conscious or experienced] communion with the Lord….

The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.

The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer….

With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a while on little [benches], if I find it too much to walk all the time.

I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New Testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit….

The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time….

But what was the result?

I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.

I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into [conscious or experienced] fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.”

– George Müller, as recorded in Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 91-92.