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

Encourage each other

Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3,4; Hebrews 10:23–25
Let us consider, and to this give thought:
all Christians need our interest and support,
and we, ourselves, need help, refreshment brought
from brothers in the LORD.

Cheer them up, lift them up, love them, let it show;
cheer them up, lift them up, tell them, let them know
you need their love and contribution, so
spur one another on.

Easy to criticize, and dampen zeal,
coldly discourage others; when you feel
thanks, praise, declare it, never joy conceal
from brothers in the LORD.

Scolding debilitates, be quick to cheer,
pointing to mercy, grace that’s always near,
Christ will provide, and we need never fear,
but serve and please the LORD.

So we’ll be strengthened to endure and fight,
joyful in telling of the truth and Light,
encouraged in his Word and Spirit’s might,
by brothers in the LORD.
Tune: O What a Saviour (Irregular) by James McGranahan (482 CH)

Prayer for our fellow-saints

(Ephesians 1:15–19)
Thank God for saints redeemed, – we see
their sense of need, humility;
they do not trust themselves, but must
his clear and reasoned message trust.

So pray we all will know him more,
our holy Friend know more and more:
the Spirit’s wisdom, grace and law
to know him better, and adore.

And thank him for the love that grows,
the sacrificial love that flows
among God’s people; – thank, and pray
they’ll know him better day by day.

God’s Word enlightens, and will stir
my conscience; – I must not defer
obedience: let his scripture fill
my heart with knowledge of his will.

And so I’ll better understand
the glorious future God has planned,
the riches now in Christ I own,
the power as yet I’ve hardly known.

Tune: LMD eg Guidance by W B Bradbury

Fellowship Support

(Hebrews 10:24,25)
Encourage each other, and come alongside
to call and to beckon; – discard all your pride,
and realise your need of a true loving friend
to urge you to keep with Christ through to the end.

For sin is deceitful, it makes itself seem
attractive and pleasant; we easily dream
and wander in by-ways. A true loving friend
will come and will stir me, exhort till the end.

For sin does not warn us of where it all leads,
the problems it causes, the trouble it breeds.
So stand on the gospel with Christ, to the end,
encouraging others – be truly a friend.

Lord, help me to talk of the truth that I learn,
have spiritual fellowship, godly concern:
I then can exhort and be truly a friend
to help all my brethren endure to the end.
Tune: 11 11 11 11 eg Montgomery by S Jarvis

Church

What kind of church do you want?
A church that brings Christ honour,
obedient to his Word,
and living in a manner
that glorifies the LORD;
and those outside the kingdom
will notice and observe –
their love for One who leads them,
whom loyally they serve.

With worship that is reverent,
and filial faith in prayer,
and fellowship transparent,
sincere, and godly fear;
in trials still consistent,
upholding stumbling saints,
and sharing joys abundant,
not harbouring complaints.

We should love one another
as Jesus loves, despite
the many ways we differ:
beloved, we love aright;
esteem each other highly,
not mock, malign or bite,
displaying friendship lovely,
and lives of grace and light.

Our church should care for those who
do not yet know the LORD,
nor why he died and rose, – you
can spread the gospel Word;
attempt to help and listen
to people’s troubles, try
to beckon and convince them
to turn before they die.
Tune: 76 76 76 76 e.g. Bentley by John Hullah
(tune of ‘O Word of God incarnate’)

John 13:34,35
Never had been demonstrated
love like that of Jesus, Lord,
and those whom he’s saved, adopted
know this grace and love outpoured;
love and time they gladly give,
serve his people as they live.

Now the world sees demonstrated
love like that of Jesus, Lord,
Church attendance may be noticed,
but it’s caring love outpoured
shows them that we are in him,
– and their interest this may win.

This commandment needs attention,
loving sacrificially:
as we think of our redemption,
caring for his family:
generous, practical; and pray
that they’ll trust their Lord, obey.
Tune of ‘Master Speak, Thy servant heareth’

1 Corinthians 11:17-32
Unity, no biting schism
in his church, avoid division, –
imperfections can cause friction, –
immature with lack of wisdom:
but we all who love the Father,
must seek peace, love one another.

Gather, worship God together,
for his death give thanks, remember,
while partaking of his supper
in a right and proper manner:
this brings glory to the Saviour,
and does good to one another.

Looking round, does peace abound here?
Looking inward,
what is found there?
Faith, repentance, love to God,
and the people of the Lord?
Self-examination’s better
than chastisement hard and bitter.

Looking up to God, the Founder
of salvation’s plan of wonder;
looking back
at Calvary,
all that Christ has done for me:
this we show by wine and bread
’til he comes, – we look ahead!

from Nehemiah
We’ve worked upon the walls, –
we’ve cleared and then restored,
(resisting taunts, distracting calls,
resisting taunts, distracting calls)
to please our covenant Lord,
to please our covenant Lord.
He’s building up Zion,
beautiful, beautiful Zion,
we want to help to build Zion

the beautiful city of God.

A place to hear his Word,
commands that teach and warn,
confessing as our faults are heard,
– our waywardness we mourn.

A place to make our vow,
and gospel grace receive,
be justified in Jesus now,
his Word of peace believe.

A place to overflow
in songs and joy and praise,
anticipation here below,
of heaven with joy ablaze.
Tune: SM and refrain ‘We’re marching to Zion’ by Robert Lowry

Hebrews 13:7 Ephesians 2:22
Christ is the church’s Architect;
he builds it now, and will protect
from dangers, errors: Jesus guides, –
his Word infallible provides.
His church is not our club to choose
its rules, and add to, or confuse
his Word by our pragmatic ways,
traditions, or our latest craze.

Christ knows what’s best, – obey, he’ll bless.
In vain men promise joy, success
from what the Word of God denies.
Do only what it says is wise!
We are his witnesses of truth,
to all the residents of earth.
Truth far excels what men devise
of emptiness or hollow lies.

And those who own his Word, intent
to read, obey, believe, repent,
are members of his church; – not they
who disregard his will and stray.
His church needs officers to lead,
and care for every member’s need,
and teach the Word of Christ; – that Word
shows who can thus serve under God.

Appreciate, give thanks, support
to those that work hard (work that’s fraught
with stress and effort, toil and tears):
your love their weary labour cheers!
His church must not do things absurd,
and scorn authoritative Word.
The Head, and Owner’s always here:
let’s serve his church with godly fear!

The Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Ruth 1:6
(
Bethlehem – ‘house of bread’; “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”)
Famine in the “house of bread”:
many leave, and may be fed
on food unnourishing instead;

but if they hear that God has come,
his Word is taught, and has begun
to edify, our lives transform, –
they may return, revived, reborn.

Unless by God himself we’re fed,
we nothing have to shake, and wake,
the dead.

What is a church?

(not a building)
That place of stone with vaulted ceilings high,
and spire that points up to the sky
may sober and subdue our mood,
but will not of itself give warmth and food
to help our spirit’s sadness,
or lift our hearts in gladness,
and worship to the King.

If there, or in a country hut
there gather those whose joy is great,
(and love), to pause and listen to a liberating word,
then that can touch us, spirits helped and stirred.

That ‘church’ word doesn’t really mean a place,
or building, but the people drawn by grace
to follow, hear and worship and believe,
– the people, family who choose to leave
the path that walks away from Him,
and everywhere they go they praise their King.

and when they meet together on this earth,
their company will always be a place of worship and of worth.

“Greet also the church that meets at their house.” Romans 16:5
“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those every where who call on the name of our Lor Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:2

The light shines in the darkness …

The darkness could not quench the light,
which brightly shone and pierced the night;
though Herod tried, and those who hate,
who wanted to eradicate
the inconvenient light disclosing
truth and right, and wrong exposing;
and Satan many times has tried
to snuff the light out, truth to hide,
so evil, misery could reign,
and God’s escape-route lie unseen.

The gospel light was not extinguished,
evil’s attacks will soon be finished.