Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take"

This morning I am leading a worship service comprised entirely of scriptures and hymns chosen for their relevance to the theme "We worship God because He is our Help." The texts of all the hymns are by William Cowper (1731-1800).

Worship Theme:

“We worship God because He is our help”


Meditation Verses:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are called according to His purpose.
[Romans 8: 28]

I. He cares about His people.

Pulpit Readings: Exodus 2:23-25; Judges 2:18; Psalm 102:1-11, 25-27, 19-20.
Hymn: “O For a Closer Walk With God”    (William Cowper, 1769)

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road  
That leads me to the Lamb!
Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view  
Of Jesus and His Word?

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!   
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Pulpit Readings: Psalm 77:1-9; Psalm 22:1-5
Hymn: “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”     (William Cowper, 1773)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;   
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.


II. He endured suffering.

Responsive Reading:
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:
He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
And we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
Because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:
When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
Because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors;
And he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. [Isaiah 53:1-12]
Hymn: “Hark, My Soul, It Is the Lord”    William Cowper, 1768

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
’Tis thy Savior, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
"Say, poor, sinner, lovest thou Me?
“Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

"I delivered thee when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed thy wound;       
Sought thee wandering, set thee right,
Turned thy darkness into light.

"Thou shalt see my glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?"

“Can a woman’s tender care
Cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
O for grace to love Thee more!

Pulpit Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-9


III. He gives us hope.

Hymn: “What Various Hindrances We Meet”     (William Cowper, 1779)

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat;
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there.
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they failed,
That moment Amalek prevailed.

Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,     
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;  
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain;
And fill your fellow creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright;
And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To Heav’n in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oft’ner be,
 
Hear what the Lord has done for me.


Pulpit Reading: Romans 8:18-25; 28-30.

Responsive Reading:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31-39
Hymn: “Sometimes A Light Surprises”      (William Cowper, 1779)

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, 
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.
It can bring with it nothing
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens,
No creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread.

In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,        
And find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow
Bring with it what it may.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

Prayer