The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘mercy

“O touch my heart with grace divine”

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Lledrod L.M.

O touch my heart with grace divine,
The Father, Spirit, Son combine;
Save me through merit not my own:
Great Saviour, touch a heart of stone.

Touch me with mercy sweet, divine,
A sinner by my sins entwined,
My weakness great, my heart untrue,
Only the blood can make me new.

O touch me now with truth sublime,
The truth that conquers space and time,
And do what you alone can do:
Make me to know salvation true.

Touch now my heart with peace divine,
Safe knowing that the Lord is mine,
Each day show me undying love:
Show me anew, O heavenly Dove.

O touch my heart with love divine,
And let it through my being shine;
Sing out, my soul, to tell his praise,
To bless my God through endless days.

©JRW

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 24 April 2010 at 11:52

“Lord, on your mercy I depend”

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Deep Harmony L.M.

Lord, on your mercy I depend,
On the sweet cleansing of Christ’s blood,
And on your mercy without end
I gladly rest my hopes of good.

Though this weak soul is sore oppressed,
Mercy prevents my being moved;
Mercy bestows each gracious test,
That every grace be truly proved.

Grant me the strength to do your will,
To love and bless your holy name;
Lord, I require your mercy still,
Which is from age to age the same.

Though my corruptions rise again,
And evil mars each duty done,
God’s mercy covers every sin,
Through the blest merits of the Son.

Lord, on your mercy I depend
For every good that here I know,
And on your mercy without end
I all my hopes of heaven bestow.

©JRW

cross grey

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 15 July 2009 at 09:16

“Majestic and merciful God”

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Trewen 8 8. 8 8. D

Majestic and merciful God,
My sins mount up into the sky;
Iniquity swells and abounds,
Transgressions and shames multiply.
A wretch and a worm I approach,
My soul and my conscience afire,
Scarce daring to wonder if I’ll
Obtain the one thing I desire.

Almighty and merciful God,
I could not complain if condemned;
My mouth in a moment be stopped,
If goodness divine were now stemmed.
But now, where my sin did abound,
Your grace has abounded much more,
For even as I come in shame,
I find that you loved me before.

My gracious and glorious God,
Your son and your servant I stand,
Amazed by your loving embrace,
Raised by your omnipotent hand.
Brought back by the promise of grace,
And blessed from your heavenly stores,
What I am and have is not mine;
For now, and eternity, yours.

©JRW

prodigal-son-rembrandt

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Trewen 8 8. 8 8. D

Majestic and merciful God,

My sins mount up into the sky;

Iniquity swells and abounds,

Transgressions and shames multiply.

A wretch and a worm I approach,

My soul and my conscience afire,

Scarce daring to wonder if I’ll

Obtain the one thing I desire.

Almighty and merciful God,

I could not complain if condemned;

My mouth in a moment be stopped,

If goodness divine were now stemmed.

But now, where my sin did abound,

Your grace has abounded much more,

For even as I come in shame,

I find that you loved me before.

My gracious and glorious God,

Your son and your servant I stand,

Amazed by your loving embrace,

Raised by your omnipotent hand.

Brought back by the promise of grace,

And blessed from your heavenly stores,

What I am and have is not mine;

For now, and eternity, yours.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 8 May 2009 at 12:35

Kept back

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I am a great sinner, and I am a gross sinner.

However, I am neither as great nor as gross as I might have been and might be still.

I have thought today of the many times – many particular times – at certain periods of my life especially, when the only thing that kept me from greater and grosser sins was God’s restraining mercy.

dangerous-path-3Think of it in your own life: think of all the times when you had the opportunity but God restrained the inclination, or the inclination but God removed the opportunity.  Before you were saved, however far you went, you were not entirely unrestrained.  That restraint is God’s merciful kindness.  After you were saved, during periods of immaturity, ignorance, wilfulness, or backsliding, can you not look back and say, “Lord, though I sinned in countless ways, yet you preserved me from worse still that – but for your everlasting love – surely I would have committed.”

My heart is a petrol-soaked rag, and temptation a lit match.  How often has God spared me from sins that I did not even know were lurking, turning thoughts, eyes, hands, feet or ears from a certain direction at a vital moment?  Think of how many snares lie about us, and how many you avoid without ever knowing that they are there.

We are great and gross sinners.  And yet, even in that, we are monuments of mercy, because were it not for the restraining power of a gracious God, we would be fouler still by far.  Praise God that he keeps us from sinning, and praise him for the provision of one who – when we sin – is able to cleanse us from all transgression.

Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.  Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.  (Ps 19.12-14)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 11 February 2009 at 10:40

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Carrying forth God in Christ

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Hurrah and huzzah!  As hoped, on Friday night we managed to track down a group of the young people with whom we have had contact before.  My friend A was spot on.  One of the fellows in the church phoned to offer his services and we headed out at just after 9pm.  We arrived at the designated spot just in time to see the gang we were after being ushered away from the local off-licence with some vigour on the part of the police and much stupidity on the part of at least one member of the group.  We pulled up quickly, and with a prayer for safety for them and us, leapt out in pursuit.  We were temporarily waylaid by a homeless fellow who asked for some money.  It was an apostolic moment: I was utterly without wonga.  Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: a brief explanation of Christ’s goodness, a promise to come back and speak to him (and to find some way of giving him some food), and a tract with an earnest invitation to come to church on Sunday where he would be fed as much as he wished, and to hear the good news proclaimed.  His name was John.

We then headed off after the lads.  By the time we had finished speaking with John, both the police and they had disappeared.  We wandered down a couple of blind alleys (almost literally) before we tracked a few of them down.  It was like being back at university: the marijuana smoke hung heavy in the air, even outside.  One young man was clearly out of it, probably drunk as well, and was immediately abusive and threatening.  It was the first time I thought that I might get lumped in the course of the night.  We persevered, and soon others were arriving, including A and D from last Wednesday.  The mouthy one eventually backed down, and we had an opportunity to speak of Jesus for a good hour or so with various ones.  There were two main chunks of chat: in the first, one appreciative young man spoke of the emptiness and pointlessness of his life, accepting that what we offered was attractive, compelling and coherent, but it was a big thing and he wasn’t sure he was going to bite.  Another couple of lads were listening intently, and chipping in now and again.  Then, later on, several young women joined us.  Unusually, on this occasion they were more hostile than the men, and assailed us quite aggressively with questions and arguments, not being entirely willing to hear the answers.  The chat broke up when the most earnest of the lads from earlier began having would-be-comedy fake sex in a nearby bush with one of the girls.  They were clearly losing interest.  In speaking with them, whether interested, appreciative, or aggressive, it is no longer possible to compartmentalise them mentally: they become people, men and women with immortal souls on their way to hell unless they are turned into the path to heaven.  We distributed several tracts and CDs with sermons, and handed out about eight or ten gospels (including to the young drunkard who wandered back towards the end to apologise for his crudity and anger earlier: would that not be a trophy to grace if he were brought in?).  We look for fruit from out labours.

I spent Saturday in preparation for the Lord’s day.  My fellow-pastor was away preaching in Milan over the weekend.  It is the anniversary of the church’s constitution, and they are going through a rough patch.  He therefore preached to them on suffering, and the reports are that it was timely and profitable, and that – despite his sickness from last week – the Lord upheld him through all the preaching, and assisted both him and Pastor Andrea Ferrari in the translating.

john-bunyan-1In the Sunday School hour, with the year drawing to a close, rather than take up for one Lord’s day the material on godly family life, I headed in a similar direction to my father in recent weeks (he has been working on Reformation history).  I was not quite as focused, going down a more biographical-historical-literary-introductory route.  My topic was John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress.  After giving a very brief overview of Bunyan’s life, I looked at the key qualities and themes of The Pilgrim’s Progress before giving some suggestions and hints with regard to profitable reading.  The material – less the asides and tangents – is here, here and here on this blog.

shining throughIn the morning worship, I preached from Nahum 1.2-3.  Man in his wisdom does not know God: he twists and misrepresents him in various ways and for various reasons.  Christians, too, can be tempted to water God down, smooth off his rough edges, and seek to explain and defend what God has simply chosen to reveal.  Not so Nahum: he has A right view of God. He puts his oracle against Nineveh in the context of God’s character, weaving together threads of colours that fallen reason would declare clashing, but which – in his inspired hands – become a dazzling and harmonious tapestry.

He speaks of the holiness of God.  God is jealous for the glory of his name and the good of his people.  He cannot bear for either one to be assaulted.  His fiery zeal for his own glory works itself out in a righteous indignation against all sin and transgression, a pure and perfect anger directed against wickedness.

He speaks of the mercy of God: he is “slow to anger.”  God is slow to frown, to threaten, to punish, and to execute punishment, but quick to smile, promise, forgive and reprieve.  If he were not, the world, every nation, every community, and every person would be consumed, destroyed and desolate, or sunk into hell.

He speaks of the power of God: he is “great in power.”  His power is demonstrated in the government of his anger: there is no sin in it, but it is “wrath reserved” – controlled and contained.  But we must not forget might when we remember mercy, for if we abuse the latter we will feel the former.  The Lord can accomplish all his purposes with regard both to his friends and his enemies, his promises and threatenings, blessing and curse.

Finally, he speaks of the justice of God: “he will not at all acquit.”  God’s justice is inflexible, and he never treats sin as innocence.  He responds to all unrighteousness with perfect justice.  Down through history, this reality is demonstrated, but nowhere more fearfully than in hell, nor so awesomely as at Calvary.  The atonement at Calvary tells us that the God who will not at all acquit nevertheless puts forth power in mercy to save sinners.

In part, this sermon arose from the grief and frustrations of engaging unconverted men and women, and their ignorance about the Lord God.  As Christians, we must let God be God, and declare him in all the fulness of his character, not being ashamed of all he is, nor willing to water down the perfections of any of his attributes.  Let saints rejoice, then, if the holy, merciful, powerful, and just God is our God: if God is for us, who can be against us?  Let sinners tremble, and flee at once to Jesus in order to be delivered from wrath: if God is against us, who can be for us?

wandering-sheep-in-dangerIn the evening service, I preached from Mark 6.34 on The good Shepherd’s compassion.  How do we respond to the multitudes milling around us as we make our way through the world?  Apathy bordering on disregard?  Alarm breeding fear?  Distaste mutating into disgust?  Horror leading to despair?  Bewilderment producing abandonment?  Dislike growing into loathing?  Pity sneering into contempt?  A sense of duty that twists into guilty action?

All such reactions are unlike that of Jesus.

We considered Jesus Christ’s reaction to the multitude.  He was “moved with compassion” – the sight of these men and women gripped his soul with a heartfelt sympathy.  His heart went out to them in sincere and genuine pity.  This is the sinless reaction of the God-man.  If we are to have the same reaction, we must build on the same foundation.  Therefore we must observe Jesus Christ’s perspective on the multitude.  He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.”  There was, to his eye, a physical resemblance, and to his heart, a spiritual reality.  They were lost and needy: wandering, exposed, hungry, and vulnerable.  This is God’s heart toward sinners.  How do we know?  Because it was Jesus’ heart toward sinners, and we have known ourselves the compassion of the Saviour if we are believers.

Finally, we must note Jesus Christ’s response to the multitude.  Mark focuses on instruction: he began to teach them many things.  Mark 6.12 and Luke 9.11 suggest that his message was what it was from the beginning: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1.15).  He shepherded them with gospel truth, dealing faithfully and tenderly with their souls, shepherding them as God had promised he would (Ex 34.11-16).  But there is also provision: he both healed their sicknesses (Lk 9.11) and fed their bodies (Mk 6.35 ff.).  The open heart that is good produces both an open mouth to speak good and an open hand to do good.

Is this our heart toward the milling multitude?  Do we have an increasingly Christlike sacrificial love for the lost and needy?  We must pray for and cultivate such a spirit as we come into contact with the wandering sheep of our day, pointing them always to the great and good Shepherd himself, Jesus the compassionate Christ.

We were thin on the ground during the day.  There were a number of people away, and a good number who were sick.  Our regular fellowship meal suffered an imbalance: the generous sick sent in their contributions, and the happy healthy were overwhelmed with a feast of good things.  After the evening service the normal refreshments became an exercise in consuming leftovers, and we were able to send away a good bit of food with young families and some of the more needy members of the congregation.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 15 December 2008 at 09:03

“Let the praises of God’s mercy”

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Dim ond Iesu 8 7. 8 7. D

Let the praises of God’s mercy
My poor heart and tongue employ;
Let each thought of grace and justice
Fill this soul with boundless joy.
Let me think on Christ my Saviour,
Let me dwell on his great love;
Let me serve with all my being
Till I see his face above.

Having known such great forgiveness,
And deliverance from sin’s sway,
May the Spirit always teach me
To each truthful word obey.
O forgive me for transgression;
Grant me grace to do your will;
Keep my soul and flesh from sinning,
Every part with goodness fill.

Fill my mind with truth unchanging,
And my heart with holy fire;
Give me strength to work with gladness,
And with praise my lips inspire.
Let the Saviour be my pattern,
God the Spirit be my light;
God the Father, my protector;
And God’s service my delight.

©JRW

praying-hands-2

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 8 November 2008 at 08:36

Remembering and rejoicing

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Just before Christmas last year my dear wife miscarried.  I can still remember sitting in the room for the scan with a big foolish grin on my face (my wife was ahead of me, and knew better what to look for, and had already reached her own conclusion) as the nurse looked at me and said, “I am afraid I have got some bad news for you.”

mystery-of-providence-flavelNo amount of professional poise or genuine sympathy from the hospital staff makes that news easy to bear.  I went home, and pulled down John Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence.  I don’t think I actually finished re-reading it, but I needed time to be reminded of those basic truths of God’s good and gracious government of all things, and to have them pressed upon my soul.

I know that Christians of different stripes take their comfort differently under these circumstances.  I found mine primarily in the character of my God, in his righteousness and in his mercy:

Far be it from you to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  (Gen 18.25)

But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not laboured, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left – and much livestock?”  (Jon 4:10-11)

Last night, God was pleased to bring into this world William Latimer Walker, also preserving his mother through labour and delivery.  We were always conscious of the frailty of life.  I am more conscious of how grateful I must be for the health of my wife and myself, and for the continuing health and preservation of William’s “big bwuvver,” Caleb.  I am much more conscious of how thankful to God we must be that this baby has survived and seems so healthy.

I am also conscious that William is the son that would never have been born had God not been pleased to take the second child from us.  We do not know from what God spared that baby, or us, by taking him or her when he did.  But William is, in a distinctive way, the child the Lord intended for us.  We shall look forward with excitement and a little trepidation to learning what that might mean.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 7 November 2008 at 13:36

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