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

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