When I read that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), I often focus on the “desperately sick” aspect, recognizing the darkness of the human heart. But I don’t always consider the rest of the verse. Jeremiah also writes that the heart is deceitful above all things, asking, “Who can understand it?” The heart defies understanding by men. We do not know ourselves like we think we do. Thankfully, as Jeremiah shows, God searches the hearts and tests the minds of men, knowing us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:10).
Your word: my great undoing, my delight.
I fear to look within, yet fear to stray,
For fear of you (sweet wisdom) shines a light
Upon my path and forces me to say
That I know not my heart or mind so well
As I assumed. This flesh doth e’er deceive.
No strength of will nor want could ever quell
Its tenor regnant. I cannot relieve
My soul from waywardness, for I am bound.
In ev’ry song I sing, I hear its sound.
Discern, speak truth, correct! Let me be found!
You see more clearly than I ever could
And cut more deeply than I wish you would.
I know that all of this is for my good.
Photo by Cathy Mü on Unsplash
The Lord’s unfailing faithfulness to men,
Steadfast in spite of their consistent sin,
Goes far beyond the guilt and shame within.
Grace reaches past the point of no return.
Hope speaks from lips we thought were taciturn.
We hear the Word, and souls begin to burn.
We know what we deserve; we feel our death.
We sense our separation from his life.
Yet though we fail with ev’ry fallen breath,
In Christ, we find salvation from the strife.
Take heart: this world of fear and death will fade.
Rest in the cross’ sanctifying shade.
Photo by Olya /Voloshka on Unsplash
God, guide your Word like a sword for my reckoning,
Wrecking all hopes in my heart for this waste.
Cut to the quick for the purpose of quickening
Works of your Spirit to sever the sickening
Sludge that I sought in my haste.
Clauses like claws are accustomed to scratch away
Any remainder of wretchedness here.
Tear away sin and, in so doing, tear a way
Through the commotion that coaxes my heart astray
Till I have learned how to fear.
Let ev’ry phrase of your holy book break my heart
For ev’ry way I dishonor your name.
Never relent; pierce my soul from the very start
Till I reflect your resplendence with ev’ry part,
Living as proof of your claim.
O God, I humbly must confess
My love for all unrighteousness.
My love for you, I know, is less
Than my desire for filthiness.
And I, by my own might, cannot
Erase the blemish, ban the blot
Of sin. This wound I cannot clot.
Apart from help, this life will rot.
So come before this heart of dross
That festers underneath the gloss
Makes of this man a total loss.
O God, how I deserve that cross.
I know there is no good in me.
Your son, I could not hope to be,
For by your Word, I better see:
My only hope must come from Thee.
And though I cannot earn your peace,
By grace you do from sin release
My soul, and cause my death to cease.
Your holy blood has washed my fleece.
Depravity cannot repel
The Savior snatching souls from hell.
And though we wear this dying shell,
Our ears will hear the wedding bell.
So let me never now lose sight
Of your great glory, grace, and might,
And let your holy, saving light
Shine through and make me ever bright.
I serve a God who speaks-
Who speaks for me to hear.
And though his Word means life and love,
I rarely lend my ear.
Yet still he calls me as his own.
He grants me access ‘fore his throne.
Such love and grace to sinners shown!
Oh help me, Lord, to listen.
The world in wailing wreaks-
Wreaks havoc with its cries.
Though tinged with tones of great delight,
They only offer lies.
For underneath the white-washed skin
The dying soul cries out in sin,
And wonders, could it live again?
Oh help me, Lord, to listen.
I, therefore, need to pray-
To pray to hear his voice,
The whisper in the wilderness,
To make the holy choice.
For Christ has died in my own place
And given me a son’s embrace.
Oh let me look upon his face!
And help me, Lord, to listen!
There never was a “then” when Christ was not,
Only begotten God of God on high.
The Gospel story ever was the plot:
The spotless Lamb for spotted sheep to die.
By nature, men do sin and stand in need
And lack the merit morally required.
And thus, the holy call, “Take up and read,”
Can offer life so lovingly acquired.
The Word was written that we might not sin,
That living branches might bear fruit for life.
Yet when we falter, there is hope again
As Christ called Peter thrice from Peter’s strife.
We read and write for right theology,
That saints would not be swayed by heresy.
Laying down to make atonement
Rising up to his enthronement
God in flesh in place of sinner
Holy, sacrificial dinner
Blood and body broken
Word of God now spoken
Cross of wood for man’s salvation
Gift of God: propitiation
Work of Christ completed
Curse of sin deleted
Christ the fount of life eternal
Author of the church fraternal
God of highest glory
Hero of the story
Thank you for your grace in sending
Clouds and rain to cool the day.
Thank you for your love unending,
God who listens when we pray.
Thank you that your love is founded
Not in what this man can bring;
In your life my own is grounded.
Of the cross and grave I sing.
Thank you for a hope unfailing,
For a future sealed and sure.
When my soul this world is ailing,
By your Word I will endure.
Let me always seek your glory,
Yours the Name that reigns alone.
Use my life to tell your story
Till I stand before your throne.