Jesus Christ, the Crucified

1 Ask ye what great thing I know
that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

2 Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my waiting heart,
healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

3 Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on His right
with the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

4 This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
Faith in Him who died to save,
Him who triumphed o’er the grave,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

—Johann C. Schwedler (1741); translated Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1863)

(usually sung to the same tune as “Take My Life and Let It Be”)

Wise Words

WHAT NO VIRSU CAN TAKE

Romans 8 — “the great eight” — is a text I think everybody in this isolation period should be memorizing. I’m making that as a suggestion: it’s the best thing you could do with your time. Romans 8 gives greater foundations for this fearlessness than anything in the world — than anything the world has to offer. I’ll mention four:

1. For the called who love God in Jesus Christ, all of God’s righteous condemnation toward you was put on Jesus, and there is now no condemnation — no punishment — for those who are in Christ: “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Condemnation for those who are in Christ is over. It happened at Calvary. That is wonderful.

2. God’s willingness to sacrifice his only Son for the called ones who love him means he not only died in their place, but will not withhold anything from them for their eternal good: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). So, everything we need to glorify God and to have everlasting joy, he guarantees in the cross for us during coronavirus time.

3. Nobody who is called by God will fail to attain eternal glory. There is a golden, unbreakable chain of covenant commitment that God will keep his called ones forever: “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). None of the called is lost — ever.

4. Finally, here is what all of this means: neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor danger, nor sword, nor coronavirus, nor economic collapse, nor total anarchy, nor the end of the world can separate us from the love of Christ. And that includes death — especially death — because Romans 8:36 says, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long.”

It doesn’t matter whether we’re being killed by coronavirus or anti-Christian mobs. Nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39). “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Therefore, Christian — therefore, Christian — lover of God, called out of darkness into his marvelous light, lift up your head, put a song in your mouth, love your neighbor, and do not be afraid.

—John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-fight-my-coronavirus-fears

An Anchor in the Storm

Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: Give your people grace so to love what You command and to desire what You promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Book of Common Prayer

A Prayer for 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.

The Valley of Vision

New Year (2)

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in Thy presence,
in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love,
advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.
May Thy fear be my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.

Valley of Vision