Training children

‘Spare the rod, and spoil the child’:
kids don’t want to turn out wild:
they expect we’ll teach them truly,
curb them when they get unruly.

Sparing punishment when called for
isn’t kindness, – though a hard chore.
Sentence fair, but quick and felt,
is better than when long-drawn-out.

Teach, explain, command and plead:
sensitive to what they need.
Do you sometimes feel worn out,
striving for some turnabout?

Clear instruction, discipline
– more acceptable when young
than just left to selfishness,
guideless in a world of stress.

Words convince, appeal, draw on;
punishments pull back from wrong,
giving time for second thought,
underlining what was taught.

’Teens appreciate concern, –
though they feel we’ve lots to learn!
Pray for something apt to say,
seasoned words about the Way.

Some profess to love the LORD,
– still need training in God’s Word:
dangers, pitfalls  – watch and pray,
teach God’s wisdom day by day.

TV

1) Flashing pictures in the corner
place you in a grander world.
You may feel yourself a loner,
living by the LORD’s good Word.

Pointless chatter buzzing by,
fills your mind, can occupy
pathways made for meditation.
Channels zapped to soothe attention,

and so, the days can drift away,
less time to ponder, praise and pray.

And yet, in moderation,
an aid to relaxation,
– what beauty we can see,
and sometimes drama opens up
our sensitivity
to people’s problems, thoughts and cares;
and news can prompt important prayers.

2) The adverts in the papers,
on the telly, by the road,
seem to want to make us wanting,
seem to tempt us, seem to goad; –
and if we had just everything,
they’d soon make something new.

A challenge to be thoughtful, thankful,
– the kind, contented few.

Destructive lusts

Colossians 3:5-8
Those lusts seductive
to hearts so weak,
are so destructive,
and friendships break,
bring pain, and fracture
relationships,
rupture
good family structure,
make many cross:
society’s loss.

Made new in Christ,
beloved and dear, –
put kindness on,
forgive, forebear
with love, compassion,
and admonition, –
urge from his Word,
to holy living
wise.

Broken families

James 1:27
Women deserted, or men pushed away:
struggling mothers, hard-pressed every day: –
children alone and hungry for care,
longing for parents with time to spare.
A welcoming Saviour, his church that shares
– supporting those striving at role-repairs.

A New Guide in Relationships (Colossians 3:8-16)
Relationships broken, and love turned to hate:
let down and belittled, and none to placate.
New friendships ( – now wiser? ), – regrets are too late;
but come near to Jesus, he knows all your state,
and can bring you healing – the only fresh start
that really can function has Christ in your heart
to guide in your friendships, and wisdom impart.
And all you have done that was wrong and unkind,
confessed, and put off, with God’s Word in your mind.

Sustaining Marriage

Young couples with children
Dashing here and dashing there,
and at pains the work to share –
– paid employment, nappies, chores ( –
“these are mine, and those are yours”);
shuttling children everywhere,
quick to feel it isn’t fair
if he wants his favourite leisure,
and you like some different pleasure;
– rarely sitting down together,
past reviewing, plans preparing,
hurt confessing, wisdom pooling
bond of partnership cementing:
friendship, caring love maturing.

Confiding
Before the fall they knew no shame,
no secrets from their Maker,
but also did not hide away
their thoughts from one another.

And shielding areas of your life, –
not sharing with your wife
or husband, won’t preserve the peace –
provokes suspicion, strife.

Encourage married friends to value
joint efforts, time together,
to increase understanding, and
commitment to each other.

Confiding strengthens confidence,
productive frank discussion, –
for he must some decisions take,
with her wise contribution.

Leaning and Supporting (1 Peter 3:1-7)
Holiness in daily living,
in your job and in your home:
your relationships are giving
witness of what Christ has done
in your spirit, in your heart,
– for his pleasure set apart.

Gentleness of life is winning
(Christians imitate your Lord!)
– and it’s shown when wives are willing
by their life and by their word,
for their husbands’ leadership
in their bonds of partnership.

Husbands, – show consideration,
work together as you ought, –
listen, with appreciation
of your wife’s advice and thought:
so there’s joy, support, and prayer
through the trials that you share.

Skill cosmetic and in dressing
will not long endure and last,
and it won’t so much impress him
as what stays when these are past:
godliness, the spirit’s beauty,
grows in love and wisdom’s duty.
Tune: 87 87 77 eg ‘All Souls’

Forbearance
Patience learnt, a little drop, –
unnoticed, and unpraised:
but I managed now to stop
from saying what I could have.
I realised that it would have
caused hurt or anger, nothing good.

No-one knows I feel inside
pleasure, though I can’t confide
my progress, tiny victory,
to anyone but the Lord!

on Nahum

chapter 1:1–8
Who understands God’s holiness?
Who comprehends his wrath?
his feelings, faced with wickedness?
– its ‘wage’ he must pour forth
on sin and opposition,
dishonour to his name.
He’s jealous for full righteousness,
and all that is so precious;
His justice is perfection,
and cannot bear a stain.
Assyrian cruel aggressiveness,
when seeing those in helplessness,
will now be stopped, God will soon bring an end.

The time had been for turning,
when wrath had been held back; –
wrath powerful as the melting
volcanic rock, or whirlwind, ’quake,
or duststorm, flood or mountain-slide:

that power that can the mountains shake,
also protects,
– so trust, in him abide.

chapter 1:9–15
No plot against the Lord
will ultimately win –
entangled, drunk, consumed –
their downfall God will bring
despite their strength and allies –
God ends their cruel oppression,
and breaks poor Judah’s shackles,
and limits this affliction.

The messenger is coming
– good news – your vows fulfil
and worship with thanksgiving
for rescue from such ill.

chapters 2 & 3
Destruction, by destroyer:
they thought, ‘Impossible!’

No kingdom is for ever,
its power invincible,
except the kingdom of the Lord,
that only will remain;
and Jacob’s fame will be restored:
no Ninevah then seen.

Ruin, to those who with  ravaging raid,
pillaged and plundered, their folly displayed.
with clamour, confusion, and clattering noise,
brought terror and trembling, from lust that destroys,
so that casualties, corpses  piled up, people stumble.
Superpower dazzled – caused nations to tremble,
but see, in God’s time, it will wither, burn, crumble.
Wiped off the map and brushed off the earth
– gone all their wealth, and their name has no worth.

As Ninevah cruelly scourged once No–Amon (Thebes)
so Nahum now tells them their own end will come soon .

Relief, with rejoicing, their passing’s not mourned.
their cruelty’s crushed, as promised and warned.

Assyria – the tyrant’s end (Nahum and Isaiah 10:5-20)
He proudly plunders, plucking out
the eggs from undefended nests,
with haughty pride and boasting shout
– believes his strength brought these conquests.
He thinks he’s powerful and all-wise:
One greater far his strength supplies.

The mighty One who raised this rod,
afflicting those who scorned his Word,
will show who is the sovereign God,
– the plunderers have now incurred
his wrath for lies and cruelty:
they’ll lose their proud prosperity.

The wielded weapon wastes away, –
its strength struck, sapped; its splendour slain.
The Holy One will have his Day –
the weeds consumed, the farms aflame:
and no-one mourns this passing, all
rejoice to see the tyrant fall.

MICAH

chapter 1
Israel’s downfall soon is coming, –
Micah weeps and wails.
Judah needs to heed the warning –
false religion fails.

The Lord knows the state of each town, church and place,
whatever their names, or the claims they embrace.

chapter 2
Evil schemes may seem to be succeeding:
soon their judgement will be seen proceeding.

How easily you would accept
a prophet promising prosperity,
believing lies if they attract:
affluence with no accountability!

No denial of Word of God
will change truth; but
one day he, the Lord,
his scattered flock will gather,  bring,
led to safety by their King.

chapter 3
Leaders destroy like wild savage beasts,
and men-pleasing prophets who peddle for profits,
all soon come to darkness, and shame:
no help when they call on God’s name.

Those who should build, bring to ruin.
Micah is filled with the Spirit of the Lord,
with justice and might, to declare righteous Word.

chapter 4 vv.1–5 (c.f.Isaiah ch.2)
But soon there’ll be a day we’ll see
the nations coming, full
of worship, praise, unitedly,
God’s laws beloved by all –
in every land they’ll live in peace,
draw near before his throne,
delight to follow, strife will cease.

While others now still trust amiss,
the Lord we will confess, –
Oh may his day come soon!

vv.6,7
It is often the weak who look to the Lord
and acknowledge his Kingship once more.
The Lord will be ruling, his kingdom restored.

vv.8–13
Exile before rescue, and much afraid;
hardship, rebukes they could not evade,
but their Lord will redeem them from all of their woes,
and his people will serve him, and crush his foes,
[The conquerors know not the thoughts of the Lord
– their ill-gotten wealth in his lap will be poured];

chapter 5
Though the ruler of Israel will from them be taken,
a King will arise so much greater – from Bethlehem –
eternal, to be perfect King, as none other
could be, or had been – He is Shepherd, and Trainer,
Protector and Strengthener, his flock he will mould,
and they will arise in the nations, be bold
in face of the enemies, and witness his Word.

To them in that day, the Spirit’s truth-sword
exposes false trust, and they live as they should.
But judgement for all those who scorn the true Lord,

chapter 6
Forgetful of redemption,
forgetful of past grace,
forgetful of his judgement:
God wants true righteousness
in all their daily living,
for sacrifice is vain
unless by faith they’re giving
the justice, love, they claim.

chapter 7 vv.1–7
No fruit any more,
just brier and thorn;
perverting the law,
and skilled to do harm
by bribe and bad scheme –
friends aren’t what they seem,
and family affection
no more,
just confusion,
but the day of their watchmen has come
the day that God visits their home.
My Saviour will hear,
and he will appear:
I wait and I watch, in hope that is certain.

vv.7–13
God’s people true, chastised, are not deserted.
The enemy will not devour and reign, – soon they’re examined.
God’s people they had taunted.

True Israel in contrition bears the rod,
and waits in hope the tender care of God.
He’ll build his city,  drawing in:
extended kingdom, honouring its King.

Rebellious action
brings desolation.

vv.14–20
“O shepherd your people, and let many see
your wonders, and fear you, and come tremblingly;
– your enemies no longer ignoring, resisting,
or hiding,
but powerless and silenced,
ashamed.

Who could ever compare with you?
forgiving the sins of your people true?
delighting in dealing in mercy anew,
as long ago promised, our sins you subdue
and pardon.”

His grace is abundant and true.

on Jonah

on chapter 1 & 2
If I’m not honest when I fail,
let down my God, I may
cause some to suffer as I hide:
I should seek God and pray.

For salvation can only come from
the Lord and Saviour, and he commanded
the fish that he provided,
to bring Jonah to dry land.

God takes his chosen time to teach,
through darkness he may lead
in love, that I may hear his voice
and feel my guilt and need.

In quietness, distractions gone,
He shows I’m small and weak,
and what a privilege if he
wants me for him to speak.

If God delivers and forgives,
commissions you once more,
don’t take it easy, or presume,
– his Word do not ignore.
Tune: I know whom I have believed by J McGranahan

on chapters 3 & 4
The Ninevites heard, and God’s message believed.
They humbled themselves, and repented, and grieved.
They called on the Lord God, acknowledged their sin; –
their hope of remission was slender and thin.
Mercy and grace, mercy and grace:
seek God while he still offers mercy and grace.

Those men had discovered their lives soon would end.
They realised their sin,  – that they could not defend
themselves, when before God the Judge they would stand,
receiving their punishment by his command.

And God had compassion: he saw how they turned,
and did not bring on them the judgement they’d earned;
but Jonah was angry, and seemed to forget
he also to mercy and grace was in debt.
Mercy and grace, mercy and grace:
seek God while he still offers mercy and grace.

Tune: 11 11 11 11+ eg Shelter (Hiding in Thee) by Ira D Sankey

Wisdom’s happiness

Proverbs 3:13,14,21–26
Blessed happiness of soul,
when you’ve reached the seeker’s goal,
finding Wisdom true and sweet, –
He whose knowledge is complete.

Christ unveils my eyes to see
scripture truth with clarity;
now I love to learn, and find
Holy Spirit trains my mind.

Wisdom gives me happiness,
Wisdom gives me peace in stress,
Wisdom gives me great delight,
Wisdom makes me calm at night.

Money, luxuries can buy;
but contentment can’t supply.
Walk in wisdom, and embrace
God’s directions wise, by grace.

Energy and strength he’ll give,
help attractively to live
as I pass by unseen snares:
Jesus knows me, and he cares.

Job

God’s children know that
The worst can happen, but the best remains.
The worst can happen, but God holds the reins.
The worst may seem to be, but God restrains
the evil, – through it all,
he still sustains.

The best remains when troubles all have passed.
Matured with strengthened faith – his work will last.
The best of all is still as yet to be.
God’s Words he’ll all fulfil: eternity.

Job did not understand, he did not know
the devil’s schemes, nor yet the LORD’s design;
bereavement, loss, and then, severest blow –
this awful illness, – how could this refine?
Would he now curse the One who once had given
rich blessings in abundance, would he hate,
reject, or scorn the mighty God of heaven,
despair about his miserable state?
Was this to judge for infidelity,
hypocrisy, or wickedness of heart?
Such accusations of severity
resentment, and despair provoked, in part.

A sinner, yes, but upright; he must wait
upon his holy God through troubles great.

1) I am buffeted by Satan, –
God permits I feel great grief;
but I know he’ll plead my cause, though
now I’m like a wind-tossed leaf.
There is no-one who is perfect:
discipline divine incurred,
for we’re born to folly, trouble; –
truth unchallengeable, changeless Word.
(Job 1:12; 2:6,7; 3:25,26  5:7,17,18 ; 13:25; 14:1)

2) Those at ease display contempt for
one whose way has now turned hard,
and whose feet are slipping, sliding;
kindness, truth these guides discard
as they claim to counsel, speak on
God’s behalf to those in need –
bold, erroneous, trite assertions; –
builders of a crumbling creed.
(6:14,15; 12:5; 13:4, 7-9, 12; 15:8; 16:2; 21:34)

3) How these prosperous brethren scold me,
and assure that all is well
for the upright, – things are cosy;
– yet they claim they cannot tell
how the God who made Orion
can be measured; mysteries
fathomless to human beings
guide his will and wise decrees.
(11:7-9; 19:2; 22:4,5)

4) I’m accused of pride and bluster:
their advice seems vain as wind,
saying comfort, help will follow
once I ask, confess I’ve sinned,
I would not impugn th’Almighty,
but his ways we do not know,
and for reasons past our wisdom
he may send us earthly woe.
(6:26; 8:2,3; 11: 13-17; 16:3; 19:6,7; 40:2-4)

5) I’m not claiming to be perfect.
They will not incline an ear
listen to my turmoil, problems,
and consider what they hear.
Over-confident, convinced that
what they say’s completely right,
but their wisdom is imperfect,
when compared to perfect light.
(9:2; 12:2,3; 13:5;19:3; 21:5; 26:2-4; 28:28)

6) What if I am not rebellious,
and I’m unaware of great
sins that I should strangle, turn from?
– in my suffering I wait,
time and strength devoured, and futile
seem my days and hours of pain:
God is true, forgiving, won’t he
turn my pain to peace again?
(3:26; 6:2,10, 24, 30; 7:3,4,21; 13:23; 16:17; 27:4-6; 30:16,17)

7) Oh, the grief when men forsake you,
draw away, repelled, and mock
at calamities that make you
inarticulate and sick!
Where is pity? Where is honour,
and acknowledgment of past
kindness, wisdom?  though I suffer,
there’s no call to look aghast.
(
12:4; 16:10,11; 17:2,6; 19:17-21)

8) These accusers, do they realise
their unrighteousness, and plead
mercy for themselves, delighting
that men can from sin be freed?
God of justice pardons sinners.
Rebels will not come, but I
pray sincerely, shunning violence;
and God knows I do not lie.
(14:13-17; 19:29; 31:5-34; and 42:6-8)

9) Who completely understands me?
Who will be my Advocate?
God himself delights in mercy,
though he probes my inward state.
I may feel condemned, disfavoured,
yet I won’t deny his Word.
He may seem to bless the wicked,
but their judgements’s just deferred.
(9:32-35; 12:6; 14:17; 16:19-21; 19:25; 24:22-24)

10) I have clung to his instructions,
treasuring more than daily bread
all his precious words; he tests me,
and he knows the way I’m led,
so I’ll come forth uncorrupted,
gold refined, protected, pure;
fearing, trusting, praying, waiting:
by his grace I will endure.
(6:10; 23:10-12, 15 and 31:5-40)

11) Why do wicked people prosper,
powerful, and admired, well-known,
living long in peace, contentment,
though they say, ‘Leave us alone!’
to their Maker, Judge Almighty,
‘We don’t want to know your ways’,
‘Who is he that we should serve him?
What’s the point of prayer these days?’
(21:7-16 and 22:17,18)

12) God is not unjust, we only
see what happens ’til men die;
God, Creator, made us, and he
does not want to leave us lie
in the grave, or hell forsaken;
those whose sins he’s wrapped up, sealed,
covered over, he prepares for
blessedness that’s still concealed.
(14:14-17; 19:26,27; 24:24)

13) See the godless clinging to a
cobweb fragile, futile, false,
leaning on a hope that’s groundless –
not the truth but something else;
and at last their eyes will fail them,
for escape eludes their skill,
hope illusionary dying,
gasped desire of perverse will.
(8:13-15; 11:20  and 15:31)

14) Evil men are friends of darkness,
and they hide until the night;
actions, faces would be noticed,
recognised in morning light;
but the grave will soon receive them,
they have no assurance firm,
God may let them rest complacent,
but his justice they will learn.
(24:14 -17,19,22-24; 36:20,21)

15) God is just: wait! – for the wicked
will be punished, cease to roar;
no-one ever saw the godly
die deserted evermore.
Then, I shall be vindicated –
resurrected, I will see
God – I know that my Redeemer
ever lives to pray for me.
(4:7,10; 14:14-17; 19:25-29; 23:6)

16) Difficulties and frustrations
may not be remedial rod;
and I felt rebellious, so I
argued bitterly with God,
but when once he overwhelmed me,
opening up his majesty,
how ashamed I felt, and silent,
saw my sin and poverty.
(1:8-2:10; 15:12,13; 27:2; 33:8 – 14; 40:1-5; 42:3,5,6)

17) Still I don’t know all his purpose,
why I had to suffer, though
by these things I learnt to trust him,
love and mercy better know;
learnt to pray that those who made my
troubles worse and suffering more
by their arrogant assertions,
will know Christ, and wisdom sure.
(1:9,10; 2:5; 13:15; 40:1-8; 42:3, 5, 8, 9)

18) Who can guide the constellations?
Who is Judge, and saves and rules?
Who knows wisdom and imparts it?
Shows the lies of prattling fools?
Who is sovereign over Satan? –
though he lets him try to test
faltering saints, but they’re preserved to
persevere, forever blest.
(38:31-33, 36-38; 40:9)
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years. 42:16,17

Elihu became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. … had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 32: 1- 4
Elihu was angry, but waited to speak;
respectful of age, but more thoughtful and meek:
then Job he rebuked for concern to proclaim
his righteousness more than he sought to maintain
the honour and glory and fairness of God,
though troubled, perplexed by the ways of the Lord.

His anger was also against all those three
who could not refute Job, but judged him to be
self-righteous, unrighteous before God, though they
showed little discernment to speak in this way:
God’s wisdom, and sympathy did not display.