… is the seed of the church’.
Stephen stoned – he looks, he sees
risen Jesus standing there
ready to receive his friend
– Stephen peaceful and in prayer
for those angry, ignorant
– Saul would soon of this repent.
Angry, persecuting this
infant church they would destroy,
seek out, into prison cast,
scattering others – but what joy
for it’s thus this gospel’s spread
everywhere those Christians fled.
Unexpected outcome this
– not the persecutors’ plan.
Saul soon wakes up to the truth
– cannot stop what God began.
Jesus came to die for sin,
church world-wide soon honours him.
Acts 7:54-8:4 Tune: 77 77 77 eg tunes of ‘Rock of Ages’
Poets, playwrights please their patrons,
pastors are employed to preach,
and as shepherds listen, counsel,
to each lamb explain and teach
that they may be pardoned, progress,
and eternal life possess.
Pastors may have need to chasten,
beckon back into God’s Way,
leave backsliding from the Father,
notions false that lead astray:
pastors are not paid to flatter,
but to help us know God better.
Not as followers of a patron,
ministers should truly serve
God, and those he’s drawn to love him,
truth revealed they must preserve,
not to pander to our folly,
not leave us lost and jolly.
Rejecting prayer, rejecting God,
self-confidence is high,
or confidence in others, who
can little help supply.
Then life becomes a barren place,
dry, withered, lonely, sore,
unfruitful, weary, needing grace
that can refreshment pour.
How blessed are they that have their trust
in God, on him rely:
they’re like a tree whose roots are fed
from water flowing by.
Refreshed in drought and times of heat,
they heed his Word, and pray,
he makes them fruitful, they give shade
to others on the way.
see Jeremiah 17: 5-10 and Psalm 1
There’s nothing on earth as important
as closely to walk with your God.
For so many things can distract us,
forgetting the words he has said.
Take heart, take heed!
when feeble and fearful, be strong –
our Saviour is Sovereign,
with joy we’ll be home before long!
Each word he has said is important
– the way of his kindness and grace,
but also his warning of judgement
if scorning a pardoning embrace.
So when you’re discouraged, remember
his promises, fixing your eyes
upon him the God who is Saviour,
and walk in the way that is wise.
Then clearing your life of the litter
of sin, choosing holiness pure,
and aiming towards the bright future
of joy in his promises sure.
Tune: 98 98+ eg ‘Redeemed ‘by William J Kirkpatrick (tune of ‘Redeemed how I love to proclaim it’)
Free to follow rule of love
– we’ve received love far above
all that we dared think to pray
– now he helps us love his way.
We’ve been freed to break from sin,
so our service can begin.
As the Father loves the Son,
selfish malice we now shun.
Even though the way be hard,
loved by God we sin discard,
try to love those who annoy,
helped by grace, supplied with joy.
Tune: 77 77 eg Monkland, tune of ‘Let us with a gladsome mind’
Satan clouds their thinking – so becoming blind:
cannot see things clearly, sluggishness of mind.
Tricked them into thinking God himself is blind
and can’t see their malice, deaf to words unkind.
Smirking when they are not punished straight away,
hope God has no record to reveal one day.
He exists and sees us, everything’s observed,
but his Son he asked to bear what we deserved.
Tune: 65 65 eg Tunes of ‘At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow’
All long for a day free to fill
with nothing – or whims of their will,
– so often depressing,
the emptiness pressing –
God’s precepts can satisfy still:
A day set apart for a break
from tread-mill of pressures and work,
remember our Maker,
rejoice in our Saviour,
refreshed for another new week.
A day that has purpose and ease,
not aiming good pleasures to seize ,
but reading his scriptures
– not wearisome strictures –
brings liberating power to please.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8-10