Puritan Prayers - The Valley of Vision, The Word

The Father’s Care

I have recently been struck by the extent of the care my Father has for me. He loved me long before my birth, and will love me unto death and beyond. This love is demonstrated in the death of Christ, and His affection continues and will never cease to amaze me. He is so long-suffering; He endures my betrayal and treason, welcoming me home with open arms, even though I sin against Him time and time again.  A passage that has recently impacted me: Isaiah 46: 3, 4 “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” 

Love Lustres At Calvary

My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips, 

supply words that proclaim, ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’

There grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son, made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;

There the sword of the justice smote the man, thy fellow;

There thy infinite attributes were magnified, and infinite atonement was made;

There infinite punishment was due, and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy

that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best,

stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink,

tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,

groaned that I might have an endless song,

endured all pain that I might have unfading health,

bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,

bowed His head that I might uplift mine,

experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,

closed His eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,

expired that I might live forever.

O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightest spare me,

All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;

Help me to adore thee by lips and life.

O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise, my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed,

Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed, sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood, hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open. 

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort, and save.

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Struggles, The Word

Pierced To The Division Of Soul And Spirit

Hebrews 4:12, 13 “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

God and His Word are the most powerful forces at work in the life of every man. No one can hide from them, and everyone must ultimately respond to them. The force of God’s Word was working mightily in my life these past few weeks, violently revealing that which was decidedly hidden from my sight. It threw my soul into upheaval, shattering the thick walls that my sins hid behind. For months, possibly a year, I had fostered a passion which dishonored my Savior, my God. I believe the desire was godly when it was young, but it grew so large and so fast, for a long period of time it outweighed my love for the Lord. I had exchanged the object of my life worship, my Redeemer, for my own self-erected golden calf. I did not truly love the One who was pierced for my transgressions; I loved that which pleased me. My mind and heart were ruled by it, so much so that a day did not go by in that period of time without it occupying many of my thoughts. Sure, I learned much about my God and even still honored Him in this time, but the majority of my heart was not given to Him. This idol of the mind extended its grasp into many areas of my life, including how I looked at my brethren, how I conducted myself at church functions, and how I behaved in my own home.

But praise be to the God Almighty, for His strength is greater than our weakness; His love is stronger than our hate; His grace is more than sufficient for the depth of our depravity. Three weeks ago, the living sword which is the Word of God made a divine incision, and cut loose the web of sin my soul had weaved upon itself. I realized through the reading of Scripture and the teaching of the mature in Christ, that something had obstructed my love for the Lord, and I had chosen to store it away, to remain apathetic to it. This realization shattered me to the core, and it demanded action. Matthew 16:24, 26a “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. … For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” I knew this imperative of Christ well, yet I had chosen not to practice it. I loved my Savior more than anything but this idol, and I desired to follow Him, but I refused to deny myself.

One of my favorite songs is called Give Me Christ Or Else I Die. Its chorus is so written: All unholy and unclean, I am nothing else but sin, on thy mercy I rely, give me Christ or else… I die. How could I sing with passion the words, “Give me Christ or else I die,” if I refused to live for Him? About the time the Lord brought His Word to bear upon my heart concerning my idolatry, my youth group sung this, and my heart sank within me, convicted of hypocrisy. I knew then that I was not living for the Lord. I was broken over this sin, saddened because I was looking for satisfaction outside of the Word of God, and outside of Christ. My soul was grieved, for I had led other beloved followers of Christ headlong into sin. The Word of God is truly piercing, and when one is struck by it, the pain can be severe. Thankfully, though, the joy brought about by its sanctifying work is greater.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

In this trial, my Father has disciplined me, and He continues to do so. Hebrews 12:11 “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Trials and discipline are not to be mourned, for they are gifts of God, not curses. The Father is training me for greater service to Him; He is teaching me to find my satisfaction in Him, and Him alone. I am learning to love my Father more than myself or anything else. Another passage of great impact throughout this trial and before, is Psalm 73:25, 26 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” God is enough, and as Psalm 73 goes on to say, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”

This trial is not over; no, it is a struggle that will continue for quite a long time. It continues in the mind. I must be careful to guard against the treachery of my heart and mind. I must follow Paul as he says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.

 My final thoughts are of thankfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  If not for His faithfulness to provide grace, I would have never seen my sin, and if not for the strength which He supplies(1 Pe. 4:11) I would not have been able to fight it, as I must continually. In the end, though, it all comes back to our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 4:13-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need. 

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Lyrics, Other

Lecrae Is Second

A music artist I have quoted many times in my posts is a Christian rapper named Lecrae. The Lord has blessed him with an ability to articulate the truth of His word, to explain it and expound upon it in a clear and beautiful way. I would recommend him to anyone searching for Christian music without shallow or nebulous lyrics. I have included a link to his testimony recorded on the I Am Second website. I have also included the lyrics and a link to one of his songs called Take Me As I Am. It had a profound impact upon me when I was a young believer. I pray that it will on the reader as well.

http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/lecrae/

Take Me As I Am – http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Take+Me+As+I+Am/4fdZxy?src=5 (If this doesn’t work, you can find this song on youtube or other websites)

Christ through faith
I talked to a cat the other day
And he was like;
“Man I really wanna come to Christ
But I gotta clean my life up first, get my sins together”
I told em: I used to think that way too
I thought I had to change myself before I could come to Christ
But Christ changed me
Let me tell you my story, it starts like this

[Verse One]
It’s 5:46 in the mornin’, tossin’ and turnin’
Chest burnin’, sermons in my head keep reocurrin’
Havin’ visions in my head of a kid
Cryin’ at the feet of the Father, for all the wrong things that he did
Now I’m sweatin’ in my sheets can’t sleep
My mind keeps tellin’ me I’m six feet deep
Don’t remind me, even though I’m still alive I can’t tell
The way I’m living my life I feel I’m going to hell
God they telling me I should accept you
That you had to leave the world, cause the world left you
Reason I can’t change, like a mystery to me
So I make believe there really is a heaven for a G
Even though they say you loved the world so much, you shed ya blood
God I feel I’m too messed up for love
They tell me come as I am but I smell like smoke
My whole lifes full of sin cause it’s all I know
The bible told me that you died for my sins
If I believe in Christ, it’ll save me from the end
But I’m scared to ask you, to save me my heart
So evil, I got thoughts, that’s full of hatred hurtin’ people
I thought at first I had to clean up my life
Now I’m hearin’ I just need to cling to the light
I’m ready to do it, but Lord I pray you understand
My life is a mess, will you take me as I am

[Chorus]
Will you take me as I am
I know the way I’m living is wrong
But I can’t change on my own, trying to make it alone
I wonder, how could you love me when my life so ugly
But you came down and died for me

Will you take me as I am
I know the way I’m living is wrong
But I can’t change on my own, trying to make it alone
I wonder, how could you love me when my life so ugly
But you came down and died for me
Will you take me as I am

[Verse Two]
I’m sick and tired of trying to me the man, my daddy never taught me to be
I’m grown up now, life ain’t what I thought it would be
I made many mistakes in my past I can’t fix
Now I’m staring at this crusifix tatted on my wrist
Is it true what they telling me, am I just crazy
Did ya bleed on the cross, for my sins to save me
But why would ya die for me
My whole life I’ve been working for Satan, while He fed lies to me
And now I’m hearing too much, trying to get a true touch
Of a love that can change me, I’m all screwed up
Figure Hell is what I deserve
But your word says we all fall short so I guess we all outta burn
Teach me I wanna learn
How you could save a wretch like me, before death says it’s my turn
I think I finally understand
No matter my past, you’ll still take me as I am

[Chorus]

[Verse Three]
My father had a few last words to give
I be telling people the reason to live
The reason to die, united with the King in the sky
This life is passing us by, I got no reason to lie
You’ll never give the world enough, they’ll hunger for more
They figure there ways are nuthin to the wonderous lord
More security than the man that left you
More love than the moms who kept you
He’ll always accept you
Be everything your supposed to
Let Christ rule ya heart, mind, body and soul cause He chose you
And if the world don’t know you
It don’t matter you’re Gods child and he’ll never disown you
Ya purpose on earth is far from worthless
That’s why ya glorified like ya life’s been purchased
And it don’t matter if the world don’t seen us
We still mean the world to Jesus

[Chorus]

[Talking]
Yeah, we’re saved by grace through faith
It’s not works
Ain’t nuthin you can do, ain’t nuthin I can do
That could get us this great salavation that we got man
It’s only Christ
So if you feel like you gotta clean yourself up
Before you can come to Him
Forget it
Just come to Him
He’ll take you as you are, and He’ll change YOU
From the inside, out.

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Puritan Prayers - The Valley of Vision

Christ Is All

This Puritan prayer is one of a contrite heart, a heart that cries out with longing to its Savior, wanting to love and live only for its Lord. It contains a beautiful yet disgusting contrast between us and our Redeemer, which should spur us on to love and live for the One who has died for us, an incomprehensible act in and of itself. I hope you are encouraged to live today for your Savior, as I was after reading this.

Just a thought: how many of us pour out our hearts to our Father on a regular basis like this? If we were to do so, our walks with the Lord would be much deeper as a result, as the frequency of our “backslidings” would decrease. J.C. Ryle said, “What is the cause of most backslidings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer.”

O Lover to the uttermost,

May I read the meltings of thy heart to me

in the manger of thy birth,

in the garden of thy agony,

in the cross of thy suffering,

in the tomb of thy resurrection,

in he heaven of thy intercession.

Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,

tread down his temptations,

resist his schemings,

renounce the world,

am valiant for truth.

Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to thee,

as spiritual Bridegroom,

as Jehovah’s Fellow,

as sinner’s Friend.

I think of thy glory and my vileness,

thy majesty and my meanness,

thy beauty and my deformity,

thy purity and my filth,

thy righteousness and my iniquity.

Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,

may I love thee as I am loved;

Thou hast given thyself for me,

may I give myself to thee;

Thou hast died for me,

may I live to thee,

in every moment of my time,

in every movement of my mind,

in every pulse of my heart.

May I never dally with the world

and its allurements,

but walk by thy side,

listen to thy voice,

be clothed with thy graces,

and adorned with thy righteousness.

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Struggles, The Word

Love As He Loves You. Forgive As He Forgives You.

To all of you who were wondering, the reason I haven’t made a post in a while is because I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling against the sin of the flesh, and it’s been harder than anything I have ever dealt with aside from when I first believed. Praise be to God, for He is strong when we are weak! The only way I can overcome these sins that infect my thoughts and actions is through Christ, as Colossians 1:13 and 14 say:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh, His beloved, precious Son, how I long to look like Him! I thank and praise my Father for giving me such hard times, because when we suffer and overcome our sin through Him is when we tend to grow the most.

My struggle was with three sins in particular: jealousy, bitterness, and selfishness. It all starts with the way I view my friends. For the longest time, I have viewed the majority of my friends as the world views them: sources of pleasure, wanting all of their attention to feel good about myself, feeling important, or even loved, in an ungodly way. What was this view of my friends coming from? Selfishness. I did not pursue relationships with them so that they would be built up in Christ, or encouraged by me to follow Him with more of a passion. If I may pause from the story to challenge you. Examine your relationships, your friendships. Have you sought out friendships to encourage the other person in Christ? Or have you chased them because that other person made you feel good about yourself. What about your love relationships? Have you truly kept Christ at the center of that relationship, so that the one you love will look more like Christ in every aspect? Or have you pursued that person they made you feel loved, important, beautiful, or handsome, as the case may be. Please, examine closely. If looking more like Christ is not at the center of your relationship, and it’s goal is not the glory of God, then your friendship with that person at this moment has no eternal benefit. What matters in the end of all things? That, in your life, you glorified God in all things. So glorify Him in your friendships.

So, as an effect of me not having my friendships centered around the right thing, when someone else came along, who was another close friend of mine, and stole the spotlight from me, what do you think my reaction was? Jealousy. The point of my relationships with these people was my own pleasure, so when a friend came along who was more entertaining than me in almost every way, my reaction was jealousy. When he was there, my friends ignored me for him. He deprived me from feeling good about myself. I tried to change how I acted, so that I could get that prideful feeling from my friends again, but it didn’t work. I was still ignored, and that made me angry. I wasn’t content with Christ, with how He had made me, and I still desired that prideful feeling I got from my friends so much.

But, I was also committing another sin towards this person in response to past sins committed by him. Bitterness. I forgave him for what he did, with my lips, but hadn’t truly forgiven him in my heart. I felt a festering bitterness towards him for what he had done, and this made it hard for me to even be around him.

Through help from my parents and the careful examination of God’s Word, I saw my sin, and I saw what I needed to change in my actions and thoughts toward my friends. Love. I need to love them as Christ loves them. As Christ loves me. Forgiveness. I need to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. If I am to be like Christ in everything, then I should not be hesitant to pour out forgiveness upon my friends. Christ forgave me of my vile sins against Him, an eternally holy God who loves me, by dying on a cross for my sins. So why should I be so hesitant to forgive a friend who has offended me? Here are some passages that have encouraged me, showed me my sin, and what I need to do to combat that sin. I have put off the sin, and now I put on Christ’s love, and forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8a: 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

I pray that you who are reading will examine yourself according to the Scripture here, and that you will be able to see through the Lord where you have failed, and where you have done well. If you have failed, repent, and pursue Christ’s righteousness, love, and forgiveness. If you have succeeded in these things, rejoice, give the glory to God, and continue to excel still more.

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