Fiery Trials

Isaiah 43:1,2
The trials may heap on us – when will they cease?
Their strength can quite suddenly roar and increase.
The faithless don’t wonder, – just grumble and moan;
but saints are perplexed at the pain they have known.

‘Fear not, I’ve redeemed you, I’ve called you by name.
My purpose and mercy are always the same.’

He says that his people will pass through the fire,
the waters that seem to rise higher and higher.
He knows what he purposes for his redeemed,
and makes no mistakes, for they must be refined.

For those whom he’s chosen and brought to new life
are precious to him, and they must live by faith,
he’s loved them and called them, and when they must die,
they’ll come through with Jesus to glory on high.

Your God will be with you – he knows where you go.
What others are bearing we don’t always know.
The force of the storm cannot wrench from his love,
nor damage your future in glory above.
Tune: 11 11 11 11 + (chorus 65 65) eg Gweddiwch Drosom (Ora Pro Nobis) by Arfon Williams, Llanrug

Longing to pray

Oh, do we truly long to be
from chores and tasks and labours free
in order to have time to spend
with God the Father, holy Friend,
enjoying times of blessèd prayer?
– If so, such times will not be rare.

At times God’s presence may seem far,
you may not feel that he can hear;
may feel unworthy, stained with sin;
or, when you pray, your thoughts begin
to wander everywhere away
far from the Lord: you cease to pray.

Our access is through Christ, the Lord;
in him we’re washed and cleansed, restored.
He prays, presents us at the throne,
and gives his Spirit to his own
to help us pray, and bring God’s Word
to mind, by which to prayer we’re stirred.
Tune: 88 88 88 eg Stella

Motivations to pray

Not only in storm times, or when in great need; –
if God’s great salvation you’ve tasted indeed,
and know Christ, his sufferings and grace understand,
pray always, and praise him for all he has planned.

You cannot be serving unless first you pray,
and meet with your Master, learn more of his way.
The faults in your car should be traced: likewise pray
your soul’s great ‘Mechanic’ to search you each day!

So pray to your Master, submissively kneel:
turn to him away from the world’s vain appeal;
a child with your Father, like saints through all time; –
immense are the grace and the riches divine.
Tune: 11 11 11 11 eg Clarendon by Adoniram J. Gordon

some Christmas Songs

The Incarnation
The angels look on in great wonder,
God’s people are filled with great awe,
for all that exists had its being
from him whom the wise men adore!
Amazed! amazed!
through faith understand, be amazed!
and marvel, with wonder:
let Jesus for ever be praised!

The Ruler of all, in the manger;
and soon he’d be hated, instead
of glory and worship and honour,
with nowhere to lay down his head.

God’s wisdom and gracious atonement,
his covenant made with his Son,
the great condescension of Jesus
in taking on weak human form.

He humbled himself as a servant
and suffered, obedient to death,
the death on the cross as an offering
that we might receive the new birth.
Tune: 98 98 + ‘Redeemed” by W J Kirkpatrick

The Wise men
Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh:
gifts so costly, rich and rare:
kingly honour,
infant Saviour,
– Jesus our sins would bear.

See the Gentiles travelling far,
wise men shown the signal star,
birth announcement,
God’s pronouncement:
royal Son, Hallellujah!

Frankincense, and myrrh, and gold:
myrrh and incense can be sold:
flight’s provision,
child’s protection:
hindering hatred cold.

See the Gentiles find, with joy,
promised King, the Bethlehem boy, –
worshipped; then they
went a new way:
Herod now they must avoid.

Frankincense like priestly prayer,
myrrh foretells the pain he’ll bear,
gold for crowning
most renowned King:
glorious the crown he’ll wear.

Come, approach the King of kings,
and accept the gifts he brings:
grace, forgiveness,
purchased for us:
he was punished for our sins.

Tune: of ‘We three kings of orient are’

Come, consider
At Christmas consider the gospel of wonder,
with praises remember Christ’s birth;
God’s Spirit gave Mary a Child who was holy:
the Lord came from glory to earth.
And born to be Saviour, the righteous Redeemer,
he knew he must suffer for sin.
Christ came from all glory, bore hatred so meekly,
that we might find mercy in him.
In Christ are you trusting, his love are you tasting,
his loveliness seeking to show?
There may be for many good presents in plenty,
but peace offered freely few know.

We should be astonished, redemption accomplished
for man who’d been banished by God.
In glory Christ living, redemption applying,
his Spirit is wielding his sword.
This One born a baby, each saved one makes holy,
forgiving them fully their sin.
By grace they’re repenting, in righteousness growing,
and soon they’ll be reigning with him.
At Christmas consider, Christ’s coming remember,
the Father’s free offer receive.
His marvellous mercy will make you so happy,
repent and, quite humbly, believe.
Tune: Olwen 12.8 12.8 T

We Remember
We remember helpless baby:
growing perfect child will be,
teacher of God’s truth so wise:
Source of all the earth and skies.

Why? oh, why, what have we done
to need the advent of God’s Son?

We remember midnight’s message
to the shepherds, Herod’s rage.
Jesus later was so kind,
healed the sick, the deaf, the blind.

Why? oh, why, what have we done
to need the advent of God’s Son?

We remember Mary’s sorrow,
watching Jesus suffering so:
crucifixion for our pardon,
giving life through resurrection.

Saviour born to heal the rift,
now friends of God? the Christmas Gift!

Tune by D Weber for A level music

Luke 1
A birth by miracle – a son,
God forms within the mother
before her marriage union, one
who’s human and a Saviour.

For God exists, and truly can
do what would seem impossible,
and no denial by mere man
can prove it is incredible.

Exclusive claim, unique, not my
opinion or invented tale.
Will you ignore it, or rely?
– his help will never, ever fail.

It’s indescribable, we’re speechless,
for why such truth and kindness?
A real solution (for the helpless),
to death, and guilt, and sadness.
See! See! the Son has come,
the only perfect Saving One.
Sing! Sing! the joy he’ll bring
to all who find our Jesus.

87 87 if with refrain Greensleeves

Christmas Day
On the 25th December,
are you going to remember
God sent Jesus Christ as Saviour
What a wonderful gift!

Boys and girls of every nation,
can receive His great salvation,
so the most important question –
have you got this great gift?
Tune of ‘Jesus’ love is very wonderful’ (first two words of last line fit to ‘O’ of that song’s last line)

Baby Born One Day
Baby born one day:
Lamb of God, salvation’s Way:
Son of God, whose words we should obey.

Spirit holy, formed Christ’s body,
so prepared the Sacrifice.

Growing human child:
guiltless, spotless, undefiled:
enemies would soon be reconciled.

Angels singing, message bringing:
gracious Word for all mankind.

Jesus Christ now King.
We, his gospel word must bring:
Come, be contrite, he can pardon sin.
Tune of ‘Tua Bethlem dref’

Pivot-point of History
Time’s pivot-point, long prophesied:
the Lord supplied a Saviour.
True Light now came to darkened earth,
as Jesu’s birth brought favour:
a reconciling, holy God
would bring his rod of judgement
upon the Ransom, willing Son –
eternal One, sufficient.
The innocent suffered, the Lamb was afflicted,
our punishment meted upon the belovèd.
The mercy procured is offered.
The star of his coming: a King would be reigning;
soon darkness revealing what Christ was enduring,
that we might find cleansing and healing.

Promised Saviour
Who could know that Babe was he,
promised suff’ring One to be?
He’s the Lord! O wondrous story!
He’s the Lord, the King of glory!
For his mercy we can call,
Christ, the Saviour, Lord of all.

Those who sought the truth to know
found that God in grace would show
Christ, the Lord – …

Who is this, so cruelly nailed,
on the wooden cross impaled?
He’s the Lord! …

Who is this despised and mocked,
(sun was darkened, earth was rocked)
He’s the Lord …

Risen Saviour, seen again,
substitute for sinful men,
Christ, the Lord …

Who is this? The Judge arrives.
Who’ve been saved from wicked lives?
in the Lord …

tune: Who is he? by B R Hanby

Even me
Jesus, Jesus, I’m not worthy
of your kindness or your pity,
yet you left your realm of glory,
all for me.

Jesus, Jesus, grace amazing, –
quietly in mercy coming; –
humble lifestyle, awful suffering,
all for me.

Jesus, praise and thank you, Saviour,
for your way of gracious favour,
welcoming a ‘sorry’ sinner, –
even me.
Tune: 888 3 Ascendune by Hugh Blair (tune of ‘Seek ye first)

Worship and Receive
‘Do not worship me, an angel:
worship God alone.’
But the baby Christ was rightly
worship, honour shown.

Second person of the Godhead,
God unchanged, now man; –
from him, Mary had her being:
through him, all began.

Equal with the Father, Spirit,
willingly he takes
human form, is nursed and cared for;
– glory, power forsakes.

Mary’s Saviour and Creator:
– Mary hears, believes;
and each one who owns and trusts him,
Life from God receives.

Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14)
Though Ahaz asked no sign,
God indicates his mind,
and covenant secure, sublime,
– his favour to mankind.

The promised One would come
through Judah’s line to save;
so God would not forsake his own:
‘A virgin shall conceive’.

For God could only thus
become a man, but one
all perfect, unlike each of us
who sinful things have done.

Emmanuel had come,
for God took human form
to fight for us the evil one,
and bear God’s wrath, men’s scorn.

Eternal God, a babe,
a toddler, then a lad:
he left his comfort, came to save:
adore him, and be glad!
Tune: SM

Mary (Luke 1)
Mary’s puzzled – but, assuring,
hear the angel tell her, ‘Yes –                         vv.29-33
God has plans, great plans maturing:
you, and others, he will bless.’

Mary hears how great this baby –
coming King and Saviour he –                        vv.31-34
yet she is a virgin lady –
how can all this ever be?

God will do it, Holy Spirit
works the miracle, and forms                          vv.35-37
perfect human child: he planned it,
gracious promise he performs.

“I, your servant; You, the Sovereign:
I believe what You declare;                            v.38
though perplexed – Your Word is certain,
and I’m trusting in Your care.”
Tune 87 87 trochaic eg ‘Cross of Jesus’ by J Stainer

on Malachi

chapter 1 vv.1–5
Life may be hard, but see the waste
in Edom, realise
the love and grace of God you taste
so undeserved, though he applies
a chastening rod; – but Edom scorns
repentance – on their own
determine to rebuild – God warns
his anger will be known.

Half–hearted worship,
blemished gifts,
contemptuous, contemptible:
God sees and he sifts.
His name will be honoured
throughout every land,
not tricked, always knowing
all that you intend.

chapter 2 vv.1–9
The covenant with Levi as priest,
was revere
the Lord God almighty,
and teach what is clear
and true, and
walk in uprightness and peace,
and many encourage
from sin’s ways to cease.

But now many stumble, –
not taught in God’s way.

So – the priests’ blessings crumble,
God rebukes them, he’ll humble,
and, unless they return,
his word no more spurn,
and follow his way,
impartial again,
– he’ll bring to them shame,
and his curses will stay.

chapter 2 vv.10–16
There should be unity, respect,
– for all claim God as Father:
his covenant some now reject,
break faith with one another,
in marrying foreign, heathen wives
who do not follow in God’s way,
nor honour him, his Word obey.

What good are tears, if no sincere
concern about known sin?
And marriage is a covenant dear –
to keep its vow begin
in guarding well your spirit’s thought,
and may your union give
a place where children can be taught
in godliness to live.

chapter 2:17–3:6
“Where is the God of justice?” – they say.
“God must be pleased with evil-doers, for
he’s not prevented
their ways perverted.”

Cynicism, sarcasm,
excuses, accusing,
and whining, complaining:
God weary.

Will they be ready for refining?
He does not change, and he is coming.
Waiting now, and giving warning
– a messenger will come preparing.

chapter 3:6–16
Deserving destruction,
half–hearted devotion,
with envy of evil that thrives.
Return with affection,
to end your affliction.
Return with the whole of your tithes;
the Lord does not change, his promise is sure,
his covenant mercy has proven secure.

But those who truly feared the Lord,
talked of him, gave him honour:
the Lord was pleased with what he heard,
and counted them his treasure.
And on his scroll their names were stored.
It will be seen who truly serves.

chapter 4
A coming day of burning for
the wicked who can’t bear
the Lord almighty’s glorious presence, –
he will destroy their arrogance.

When Christ in righteousness appears
on that great day,
each one who now his name reveres,
respects his Word:
in fullest joy, release, delight,
and healing in his glorious light.

‘Elijah’ comes before that day
to turn and to prepare
those who will hear and come God’s way,
else curse the land will bear.

Expecting …

High expectations — Great efforts!
Expecting a baby to care for and train,
and prayerful for mercy again and again
through long years of effort, delight and concern:
‘Our Father, instruct us and help us to learn.’

Expecting God’s blessing and help in the task,
to penetrate blindness, resistance: we ask
he draw them, and lead as we guide them to see
his marvellous grace, and the judgement to be.

Expecting the problems and pressures that pull,
deceiving, enticing to drift and to fall; –
expecting much work to unmask and expose
the lies of the devil, God’s answers disclose.

Expectant and prayerful for grace from above –
our Father cares for us and those that we love.
He’ll help us to strive in explaining his truth;
– we look for his frequent heart-touch in their youth.

The Sting of Death

O death, where is your sting?
Your victory, O grave?
The sting of death is sin
against the law God gave.

Grace! grace! grace!
We glory in grace!
Saved by the Sovereign!
We glory in grace!

Has anyone obeyed
God’s law in every part?
In all we see displayed
corruption of the heart.

But Christ the law fulfilled,
his righteousness complete,
his people’s fears he stilled,
death’s power knew full defeat.

For, he the sinless One,
for sins of others died;
God’s wrath fell on his Son, –
their victory supplied.

And those who trust in him,
are clothed in righteousness;
so death has lost its sting,
it leads to blesssedness.

O death where is your sting?
Your victory, O grave?
Our praises we will bring –
from sin the Lord can save.
Tune: 66 66 + refrain e.g. Mine

On Zechariah

chapter 1 vv.1-17
The church of God may not appear
a strong, majestic sight:
a myrtle, when it’s bruised will bear
sweet scent by day or night.

“Return to me, and I,
I will return to you;
your sorrows I allowed,
to chasten, but the proud
who acted cruelly,
will taste my wrath.”

God sometimes waits a while to show
the church her deepest need
but Christ is there within to know
her troubles, intercede.

Christ intercedes that God would grant
the church rich grace, for foes
surround her, hornlike, but they can’t
survive God’s timely blows.

chapter 2
Innumerable saved, in spacious home:
called from exile.
– He will come
to live among them, and surround,
many nations will be found,
joining with him in that day.

chapter 3
The devil tempts men to despair,
and not believe God’s Word;
but Christ atoned, his church can wear
white garments, serve the LORD.

The temple and the offerings
were teaching things to come; –
a Branch from David’s line God brings –
his servant, saving One.

chapter 4
The Spirit of the LORD brings power abundant,
equips his servants in their work:
so mountain-tasks are levelled, and
tasks menial, small they must not shirk,
or yet despise: the all-seeing One has planned,
and will fulfill.

chapter 5
Scroll so wide, announcing, bringing
punishment to sin so flagrant:
theft and swearing falsely, sinning
against God and men earns judgment.

Wickedness must be enclosed
as a system, packed away
from God’s meeting place removed,
exiled far in jail to stay.

chapter 6 vv.1–8
God is at work both far and wide, –
his judgements, power and will applied;
though Israel feels the work is slow,
God’s kingdom will extend and grow.

With gifts returned from far,
the priest is crowned as King:
the Branch will reign, a priest enthroned,
he’ll build the temple of the LORD, –
and labourers will come
from far away. Obey his Word.

chapter 7
For what do you feast, and for whom do you fast?
for God, or yourselves? for consider times past
when earlier prophets were sent with God’s Word
their hearers were hardened, ignored what they heard.
The  Lord, like a whirlwind, then scattered them far –
their land became desolate, pleasant no more.

Now, therefore give thought
to the life-guiding laws that he’s clearly taught.

chapter 8
God’s dwelling place of truth and holiness –
young and old in peace and happiness:
promises give motivation,
as do warnings from the past.

People come from every nation
to find God and truth at last.

chapter 9 vv.1–8
God warns those living round about,
but promises he’s watching out,
protecting his people,
and guarding his temple.

Rejoice, a righteous King! and on a colt
he comes with his salvation.
He’ll rule, bring peace throughout the earth
and meanwhile guard this nation,
and all his covenant people.

The  LORD will save with mighty hand,
and shield his flock, and people.
They’ll thrive, and sparkle in his land,
attractive as a jewel.

chapter 10 vv.1–3
Pray to the true LORD, and on him depend.
He is the Shepherd to teach and defend.
The comforts and visions of liars deceived,
and weakened the people, – their Shepherd was grieved.

He strengthens, matures them
equips and restores.
The Ruler from Judah
arises and draws
both Judah and Joseph
– they’re gathered and glad.

His people from slavery returning,
from exile, the true God remembering,
unhindered, opposers brought low,
the strength of the LORD they will know.

chapter 11
Disaster and wailing,
calamatous failing.

The faithful Shepherd will be rejected,
– he’s undervalued, his price returned,
– thrown into the temple, to the potter.
‘Favour’ and ‘Union’  broken, – God’s Word
noted by some who acknowledge the LORD.

The land will wail again in time ahead,
exploiting evil leader rules instead,
the flock deserted.
‘May he be restrained,
confused and enfeebled, curtailed!’

chapter 12
The nations against God’s people.
God intervenes, makes strong,
confuses the foes, stirs panic, fear,
blindness of horses, ‘things’ go wrong,
but his leaders get wisdom and purpose clear.

Jerusalem: immovable rock of safety,
injuring rock of stumbling.

Mourning for the pierced Messiah.
Outpouring of God’s Spirit:
his people all repenting, praying, trusting.

chapter 13  vv.1–6
A fountain to cleanse from sin.
Idolatry scorned,
impurity mourned,
its influence broken,
the lies that have shaken
belief in God’s Word,
by many a false claim
are seen as absurd,
– discarded in shame,
with anger and blame.

The LORD strikes his Shepherd, so dear,
the sheep then are scattered in fear,
and many know judgement unfold,
but some are refined by the fire like gold,
they call on his name, they’re the people of God.

chapter 14
Disaster for Jerusalem.
Then judgement on God’s enemies:
great cataclysmic day of the Lord:
attack, separation,
safety, consumation;
then constant light and living water.
Survivors join in joy and praise.
No other name, one Lord who stays
King of all the earth now fully,
and in his worship all is holy.

Romans 8

Romans 8:1-17
No condemnation,
no domination:
we’re free from rule by sin and death.
– Christ Jesus, the sin-offering,
release came through his suffering,
his Spirit bringing Life, new birth.

God’s law, which could not save us,
we love, it now delights us,
and by his Spirit we obey.
Though foolishly we stumble,
and slip, and trip, and tumble,
we now walk on his righteous way.