Personal, Church, and Society

‘We long for you and loving grace,
each morning need your strength to face
the day that lies ahead whatever
may come our way, we would endeavour
to walk with you our Help and Guide
indwelling, and there at our side,
and when encountering distress
please save us in our helplessness.

‘Oh, fill your church with righteousness,
repentance for its waywardness,
give wisdom, valuing your Word
to bow in awe before you, Lord.
What treasure ours when you we own,
but in our times so few have known
this sure foundation that they need’ –
available, his presence heed.

Tune DLM

“Oh, LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. … he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:2, 5b, 6

Being part of an eternal ‘building’

“I’ll build my church: it will not fail,
the wiles of hell will not prevail.”
It will for ever stand complete,
satanic schemes will know defeat.

He’ll build it well of living stones,
each made to fit the neighbouring ones,
supporting, each one different, so
with various skills his will they’ll do.

Not just a pile of rolling stones,
a church, a body – Jesus hones,
refines, directs us, sanctifies:
we work together, praises rise.

If one believer goes it ‘lone’,
the wall is weakened where a ‘stone’
has left a hole – and those nearby
lack help on which they could rely.
Tune: LM eg ‘Church Triumphant’ by James Elliott

Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’
1 Peter 2:5 ‘You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’

No more isolation from God!

The churches are empty, and so is the tomb!
We’re longing to worship together as one,
but still we are thrilling, and each lift our voice –
whatever may happen we know, and rejoice:

for Christ is alive and hats bought us his gift
of life everlasting that heals the great rift –
from him we no longer need keep far apart –
he took all that sin which infected our heart.

Tune: 11 11 11 11

Heart-felt ‘worship’?

“Worship” can be worthless noise
in God’s ears; he will despise
ostentatious singing vain,
just lip-service brought again –
looks for love of righteousness
helping others in distress.

Some hope that a formal show
when to church, bored, choose to go,
hope it earns a future heaven –
sins acknowledged, sins forgiven
in Christ Jesus is the way,
loving justice, truly pray.

Many things can take my heart,
keeping me and God apart:
tune my lips to sweet aroma,
adoration of the Saviour,
justice rolling like a river,
righteousness pours forth for ever.

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts … Away with the noise of your songs … But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” Amos 5:21,23,24

Tune: 77 77 77 eg Dix (tune of ‘As with gladness men of old’)

‘the blood of the martyrs …

… 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’

Not Just a pleasant homily

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.

New church, devoting themselves to …

They (those converted at the Day of Pentecost, when Peter preached) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

New life, a fledgling church
in love, together bound.
They’d seen their guilt, rebellion, sin,
then God’s forgiveness found.

Baptized, they joined his church,
adopted, with new kin,
devoted to their Saviour’s Word
to grow in pleasing him.

Blest fellowship with all
who know Him, old and young,
the rich, the poor: all care and share –
God values everyone.

They love to meet to keep
remembrance of his death,
break bread his cov’nant to proclaim
‘til he returns to earth.

Delight to meet to pray
requests together raise,
the whole church asking God to bless,
unitedly they praise.

Devotion’s strength may lapse –
distracted by your cares?
or in your busyness, your love,
grown cooler, unawares?

Give thought to how you came
to be reborn, made new,
devotion rouse to Him who has
done wondrous things for you.

Tune: SM eg tune of ‘Blest be the tie that binds’

Feelings or Facts?

Appealing bells,
sensuous incense,
awe-inspiring spires,
enchanting chanting
thrilling, enthralling:
surface magic and excitement;
high ceilings lift aloft,
thoughts drift,
mellow spirit glowing –
yet from these little learning,
that in the knowing
can gird the mind
when in the cold of daily grind,
groping, groaning, hurt and blind.

Relaxing, fragrant, ‘bubble-bath’,
escape awhile, refreshment –
perplexing thoughts
unreached, untouched
untaught, unsatisfied,

until

hear words of truth
– though these may not caress, allure,
they enter aural gate unlocking light
producing courage to endure
distress,
and satisfying mental sense,
intelligence.

On Psalm 74

Oh, do we feel anguish, and agony, shame,
when evil is thriving, and scorn of God’s name,
his church weak and suffering, the gospel ignored,
and few seem to value rich truth of his Word?

We seek you, Oh Lord, in perplexity cry,
desiring your glory, we plead, asking ‘Why?’
We think of your cross, of your plan, and the past
revivals – how long must this mockery last?

Oh, God of the covenant, come to our aid
– your honour uplifted, your mercy displayed,
your kingdom extended; come, evil confound,
and humble us, shatter the lies that abound.

Tune: 11 11 11 11 eg St Luke or Montgomery (tune of ‘How firm a foundation’) of even Houghton can be used.

Christian Ministry

(on Colossians 1:23 – 2:1)
Long-term commitment Christ will sustain,
service prolonged costs effort and pain.
Fellowship’s strength in all that you do,
strive with his energy working in you.

Labour of love, his servants upheld:
now by their joy, compassion, compelled:
preaching his truth, the darkness dispelled,
foolish philosophies toppled and felled.

Serving his church, so each one matures,
serving the truth, not human ideas,
all he has spoken, not one addition,
all he has taught, without one subtraction.

Teaching, persuading, scripture explain,
warn and rebuke of dangerous sin,
errors expose that injure and kill:
taught by his Word, his work you’ll fulfil.

Tune: ‘Blessed Assurance’ by P P Knapp