The only stable foundation

Isaiah 8:20 &  9:13,16
As people of God we must trust in his Word
though all of society’s frightened, and stirred
by dangers and troubles, and seeking relief
from that which is false and will bring them but grief.

Political juggling may hurt and may fail,
and medical help prove of little avail.
All sorts of ideas, religions, may tempt, –
but then turn out worthless, deserving contempt.

For all who don’t speak as the Word of the Lord,
lack wisdom – frustrations will soon be outpoured,
resentment and anger to men and to God,
despair and distress at the ways of the world.

The people of God have a reverent fear
for he who is holy, their Saviour so dear
(who will bring in justice, and chastens for sin):
naught else need we fear if protected by him.

Christ Jesus: the shelter for all who are his,
our God who is with us; – but few value this,
though scorning his grace, they will soon see his power,
and witness his advent and conquering hour.
Tune: 11 11 11 11 eg How firm a  foundation (Montgomery by J Stanley)

Supplies for the race

Each day we have need of supplies of fresh grace,
new problems confront us each lap of the race.
New problems can seem insurmountable, so
we’re tempted to feel God can’t help any more.

My work seems so useless, – is God yet my Guide?
That task is impossible – Satan’s implied.
He loves to discourage, bring words of despair,
and question the profit of trusting and prayer.

For though I’m a failure, to Christ I can come
for grace of forgiveness, and grace to press on.
So pray, and be willing for all he decides,
and trust, and keep walking by grace as he guides.

Keep living by grace, don’t let bitterness grow,
and care for you brethren who heaviness know;
for bitterness causes fault-finding and strife,
makes others discouraged in battles of life.
Tune: 11 11. 11 11 eg My Jesus I love Thee by E F Miller

Greater is he that is in you …

The devil lies, and tries to make
the Christian’s peace and trust to break,
but God protects, for Jesu’s sake.

And Jesus prays in heaven still,
and firmly holds his sheep, until
they leave this world, and meet no ill.

Believe and study all God’s Word,
you’ll own a shield and precious sword;
be strong, and fight with strength from God.

The devil’s power was broken when
Christ bore God’s wrath against our sin, –
soon Satan into fire he’ll fling.
Tune: 888 iambic eg St Aidan by F R Grey

on Isaiah chapters 56-66

on chapter 56
Everyone may taste salvation, –
gathered, blessed and honoured too
– all who bind themselves to serve him,
love and worship; will not do
evil, but what’s just and righteous,
hold his covenant, Sabbaths pure,
trusting in his perfect sacrifice,
his salvation, certain, sure.

Though the world despise, reject you,
your hearts are known, and God will bless you.

Watchmen loll, and dream, and sleep,
gorge and drink, don’t tend their sheep.

on chapter 57
Many are spared who are upright and righteous,
dying before the great trouble disasterous.

Mockers, rebelling, and following lies, –
idols pathetic: why do you despise
the One who in heaven is lofty and holy,
but also will live with the contrite and lowly?

He heals, creates praise, guides to comfort and peace;
but those who refuse won’t know rest or release.

on chapter 58
Demanding of the LORD, with show
of godliness and praise,
and grumbling that this God must owe
them better, though their ways
are as they please, with gestures merely,
not kindliness that costs them dearly.

Delighting in God’s worship, honour,
not idle talk at whim,
– then, when they call, the LORD will answer,
they’ll taste true joy in him.
Well satisfied, and blest Repairers
of damage, God-equipped Restorers

on chapter 58
If we fast, then he will bless us –
we’ll persuade him to be kind.”
“Are you generous, just, and thoughtful
to surrounding needs, or blind?”
If you’re one who loves and shares,
then you’ll know a God who cares.

What’s your attitude and pleasure
to the Sabbath, special day?
If you’re those who honour God,
now delight to serve, obey;
then his gift you will possess –
brightest jewel, joy in Christ.

What we are is what’s important, –
fully serving, for we own
life anew with obligations;
blessings of obedience known.
Chosen rituals cannot buy
grace for which Christ had to die.
Tune: 87 87 77 Gounod tune of ‘One there is  above all others’

on chapter 59
The arm of God is not too short,
his ear is never dull,
but sin a barrier builds, – admit
its implications full.

They’ve lips that mutter wicked things,
and hands that hurt and harm,
and plans that hatch out snakes with fangs,
spin clothes that cannot warm.

Acknowlege then how bad things are,
for he alone can come
and scorch out evil near and far,
bring praise for all he’s done.

All who repent he will redeem,
his arm brings great salvation,
his Spirit and his Word sustain
through every generation.

on chapter 60
The LORD with his loved ones, attracting from far
– bright light in the darkness – they come more and more
to serve to God’s glory. Salvation protects.
They praise the Almighty, he quickly perfects,
his people then splendid, the LORD is their light,
and sorrow is banished, – and all will be right.

But those who refuse this,
will be ruined, and lose this.

on chapter 61
Great blessings soon would be their lot
when they came home, returned
from lengthy stint in exile, but
for more than this they yearned.

This One would come, anointed, preaching
gracious message, gospel word;
and they would flourish, with rejoicing,
clothed with the righteousness of God.

As the soil makes seeds to germinate and grow,
so the Sovereign LORD himself makes praises flow,
and righteousness spring up on earth below.

Anointed for the greatest task, the best of news to preach –
of liberty, and comfort, cheer, the guilty’s full release;
of favour, joy, for those who feel their failure and their sin,
despair removed and praise inspired: all glory be to him.

All power to lift and bind up wounds, announce God’s day of wrath,
eternal grace for those who ask and know they’ve earned but death.
All power to give, provide, create, to plant strong, stable trees,
with righteous life, displaying grace of him they want to please.
Tune: DCM

on chapter 62
God wants his Zion splendid, glorious,
the Holy People, sought;
a crown in God’s right hand, and precious,
all those redeemed, and brought.

His love for Zion ardent, strong,
a husband’s love will long,
and perfect progress that matures,
to glory that endures.

The land no longer Desolate,
and we, as watchmen, pray,
and call, point many to the gate,
and clear and show the way.

especially v.7
I will not give Jehovah rest,
I cannot hold my peace
until his church, revived and blest
experiences increase,
and brings him praise throughout the earth –
a blazing torch to shine,
and show his righteousness and truth,
his saving grace divine.

Desire intense have I to see
no longer Desolate,
no more Deserted, made to be
a crown of splendid state;
and for her sake I will not keep
from praying, will not rest.
Come, clear the path, for crowds will seek
salvation, and be blest.

Tune:Kingsfold, Ellacombe

on chapter 63:1–6
Holy judgment, retribution,
righteous vengeance, vindication,
Day of God’s examination,
reckoning for every nation,
for misuse of life, protection –
(– wasted); malice and corruption,
rebellious life removed, poured out,
and then, redemption vast will last.

on chapter 63:7–15
History of love, rebellion,
but repentance and salvation,
Spirit giving rest, compassion.

on chapter 63:16 – 64:12
Prayer needs trust in God’s ability,
and contrition in sincerity,
prayer for mercy, and God’s honour,
with desire his might be shown,
and the glory of his grace
with his people, holy place;
living God now seen to do,
wonders  as of old, anew.
Prayer needs earnestness and labour,
clinging confidence, and vigour,
waiting for his righteous answer.

on chapter 65
God called to those who were not seekers.
Grace will cease to God-provokers,
but he sees those who are serving, –
remnant for the LORD are living.

But dried-up grapes within the cluster
will be destroyed – the luck they lust for –
gambling, fortune cannot last for
ever, destiny is in God’s hand,
God of truth who knows the end.

A new creation, no frustration,
God’s people then a joyful nation,
ever glad, with satisfaction,
living long with full provision
by a caring, heavenly Father –
the former things they won’t remember.

on chapter 66
‘I am great and rule the cosmos,
not confined to any place.
Does your spirit, contrite, humble,
at my awesome teaching tremble?

‘Outward form of love, if hiding
deafness to my words and will,
fear and harshness will be finding.’

For God’s church all will be well –
strength and comfort, peace, expansion –
new birth and many brought to serve,
worship in the new creation,
and the rebels’ end observe.

But for his glory, and in grace
he makes a people and a place,
restored, and sanctified – what bliss
– eternal perfect kingdom this!

Unselfish Love

Precious love,  a treasure rare,
true concern by those who care,
thoughtful, willing, generous, wise;
powered by grace that God supplies.

In a world so full of greed,
love gives time to others’ need,
cheers and sweetens, easing stress,
stirs up thanks and happiness.

Love brought Christ to earth to save,
toiled in suffering service, gave
all for us, and by his death,
loving hearts have come to birth.

When the way of life is rough,
days are weary, times are tough,
love unsparing we should show,
love reliable must flow.

First, and foremost, every day,
in your home this love display,
living as his Word directs,
loving as our Lord expects.
Tune: 77 77 77 77 eg Maidstone 537 Grace

the unmerciful servant . . .

Matthew 18:21-35
Massively in debt: we’ve squandered
so much, and abused
grace, and negligently wandered,
– gifts and skills misused.

We can’t pay what’s owing, fully,
but by faith we know
debt is cancelled, – all our folly,
everything we owe.

And we need to be forgiving,
bitterness must cease;
those who harbour grudges, brooding,
cannot find God’s peace.

Shepherds … (3 John & Ezekiel 34)

Are you concerned for what the flock is needing?
seeking the strays, and searching for the lost,
strengthening the weak and sick, the hungry feeding:
genuine care that doesn’t count the cost.

Looking, not only to your own position;
thinking, not merely how to gain applause;
pride can be subtle, – time will test profession
of true desire to serve the Shepherd’s cause.

Dangers surround, with pressures on the gifted:
love of pre-eminence, or fake lowliness,
from God alone dependence partly shifted,
to leaning on position and success.

Diotrephes: malicious, not concerned for
truth of God’s Word, and love, and faithfulness.
Gaius, Demetrius: souls that prospered, burned for
God’s honour and his people’s happiness.
Tune: 11 10 11 10 eg ‘O perfect love’ by Joseph Barnby

Praying for the saints

Colossians 1: 9-11
O Lord my God, keep firm your hold
on all your children, young and old,
and lead them on their pilgrim way,
and help them trust, your words obey.

And make them rich in every gift
that you can give, – see Satan sift
your loved ones, – give them strength to fight
and help them live and walk in light.

Make me like salt and shining light,
make me more pleasing in your sight;
please give me wisdom, help me care
for others and their burdens share.
(partly based on Welsh hymn)

Tune: LM