From Rev. Joseph Parker’s message on Matthew chapter 4:1-11
Almighty God, we know that thy Word is true, because it is written in our own life, and syllable by syllable we live it out every day. There is in the heart of man an answer to the appeal of thy Book: we know what is meant when we come upon the words sin, temptation, pain, and fear; we bless thee that we also know the meaning of the words love, grace, pardon— these are thy heart-words, they come with all the yearning of thy spirit, and they cry unto us and make known unto our souls the gospel of thy pity. We bless thee that we have light upon one side of our life, for we do not deserve it: our sin might have surrounded us with infinite night, and left no room for light on all the way that we take. But where sin abounds grace doth much more abound: thou dost answer death by life: where the devil is strong thou art stronger: more are they that be for us than they that be against us. Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? There is no arm so strong as thine, there is no wisdom so full of light as is the omniscience of God. As for thy grace, it is deeper than the sea, and thy love is higher than the sun. Thus doth rest come into our hearts and peace alight upon our spirits as a dove from Heaven. Enable us amid all sin and sorrow of every kind to fix our eyes upon the uplifted cross and upon the Son of God, then shall the light thereof break upon us like a morning long delayed, and in our souls there shall he all the comfort of thy peace.
We are here, not to keep silence before thee, but to speak of thy goodness and thy mercy, long continued and never failing. Thy rod and thy staff have comforted us, and thou hast enlarged thy house so that we have found it everywhere, in business, in affliction, in service, in waiting. We would dwell in the house of the Lord for ever and ever, and in his temple would we build our nest, yea, by thine altars would we be found at last, so that death shall be but an entrance into Heaven.
We implore thee to take care of us during our remaining days. Hold thou us up and we shall be safe: forsake us not for one instant, for the serpent is vigilant, and the enemy is mighty. Give us the right answer to every temptation, give us the right view of every trial, help us so to number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom, give us that holy trust in thy name and grace which no power can shake May our hearts wait upon God steadfastly, with all the constancy of inviolable love, may we look unto God from whom is all our expectation.
Thou hast shot sore at some of us; yea, our hearts are full of thine arrows which are drinking our blood. Thou hast darkened the sunniest room in the house. Thou hast taken away our chosen good, thou hast turned upside down our supreme earthly delight, thou hast made havoc ill the garden, and the place of flowers hath become a wild wilderness. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eves. Thou hast dug the grave in the midst of our home, and instead of the turtle, thou hast sent the mocking-bird to taunt us with strange tones. To some of us thou hast given of the very wine of Heaven, yea thy sun hath smiled upon our roof, our basket and our store thou hast blessed, our flocks and herds are a multitude, and our ground brings forth abundantly. The rivers are full of fish and the air dark with birds, and behold our house is set upon a rock, and the south wind breathes through every chamber. The Lord sanctify prosperity unto the prosperous, as well as adversity unto those who sit in trouble. Show us that there is danger on the mountain top as well as in the deep valley.
Thou hast granted unto our children health and strength and beauty, and thou hast filled their mouth with laughter, and their mind with sunny hope and dream. In their tongue is found music and in their feet readiness to obey. The Lord spare their lives, the Lord make them belter than their ancestors, the Lord baptize them from the heavens with his benediction day by day till old aye shall come.
Look upon us, one and till— upon the old man, weary, hardly knowing why; upon the little child, glad with a laughter that is never to perish; upon the busy man with bent back, raking in the dust for that which is of no worth; upon the man of leisure whose idleness is a trial, upon the silent, broken-hearted mother, who cries over her prodigal child and dare not name his name; upon those who have little bread and fear to touch it lest it waste; upon the great man in the fulness of his breadth and power— yea, upon us all, overlooking none, do thou command thine all-enriching blessing, that, according to our years, our weakness, our necessity, and our joy, we may receive of the Lord’s hand.
Help us to forgive our enemies: give us a memory that quickly forgets all injuries and a recollection that clings, with all the tenacity of love, to every deed of kindness and speech of gratitude. The Lord anoint us afresh to his work, the Lord pity our littlenesses and reckon them not as sins against us, the Lord have mercy upon us according to the fulness of his own grace and the infinite work of our one and only Priest and Saviour. Drive back the enemy, break his teeth, disappoint his expectation, and cover him with shame.
Bless our friends who would sympathise with us and cheer us and speak the word of Heaven to us in earthly imprisonment and darkness, and the Lord be with us till the little tale of our life be all told and make us ready for the green churchyard and for the greener heaven. Amen.
– Parker, Joseph (2015-09-03). Matthew: The Inner Life of Christ (The People’s Bible Book 21) (Kindle Locations 2085-2099). Chariot Ebooks. Kindle Edition.