Category Archives: Bible verses
“When I first began leading worship, I served at a tiny suburban church plant in West Fort Worth. The pastor of that church constantly reminded me that folks would never leave our Sunday gathering humming the sermon he preached. They’d leave humming the songs we had sung together. In fact, they were far more likely to have the words we sang rattling around in their minds all week than any words they heard from the pulpit. For whom do we sing? I believe we sing for ourselves and for one another, that we might come to believe more fully the truth of the words we sing and to love more deeply the God to and about Whom they were written.
That belief has transformed the way I personally worship God in song, the way I plan the musical portion of any worship gathering I’m involved with and the way I discern which songs should or shouldn’t be a part of our corporate worship life. If music is, in essence, sung theology, then things like lyrical content and melodic hook become significantly more important to consider.
However, that doesn’t completely quench my desire to know “why we sing.”
If that was all there was to it, then why not just leave the singing to the pros, and attend a musically excellent, theologically rich concert every weekend? Or, for that matter, why not just buy musically excellent, theologically rich music on iTunes and listen to it day in and day out? Why must we gather and actually sing together?
I’ve long been fascinated by the prayer Jesus prays in John chapter 17. He prays specifically for the oneness of those who will come to believe in Him. He prays that we, His people, may be united together; that we might be one just as He and the Father are one.
In the book of Acts, we find the early church living and worshipping together day in and day out. They share what they have. They break bread together. They seek God together.”
…”How many acts of worship are communal in nature? Congregational singing lends itself perfectly to the togetherness & vulnerability that the Gospel demands, deserves and seeks of those living in community. We, together, are the people of God. We, together, are the bride of Christ. Therefore, it’s right and good that we, together, with one voice, should express our affections for our great bridegroom, Jesus.
When we step outside the familiar walls of liturgical tradition and peek back in through the window at all the people standing and singing and raising their hands together, it may look a bit foreign or silly. But, brothers & sisters, as I said, it is absolutely vital to the life of the Church and to the lives of the individual believers therein.
When we gather together, let us lay aside any concern about the quality of our singing voices. Let us lay aside any reservations about whether or not we “feel worshipful” in a given moment. Let us sing. Let us sing as an act of discipline, training our hearts to believe more completely the Gospel of our salvation. Let us sing as an act of community, knowing that the people around us are our brothers and sisters and that they need the truth of the Gospel on our lips to ring in their ears.”
From “What’s the Point of Singing,” by Luke Brawner
I’m reminded of something Paul writes in Ephesians and Colossians:
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,
and making music to the Lord in your hearts. …
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
I have had more than one person tell me that they don’t care about the quality of music or musicianship; they just want to feel God’s presence.
That sounds good, but it’s not biblical.
God designed us to worship, individually and together. He calls us to join in unity (Psalm 133) He tells us to sing to each other…
I think this is especially important in a day when people are so isolated. The last thing we need is to go to Sunday Morning Gathering for more of the same.
There is also a synergy that happens when the worship is made up of live voices. It has a vibrance to it that simply cannot be communicated in recorded or streamed music. Joining our voices says, “I’m with you. I know and love you, here and now.” We desperately need that.
By the way, Scripture also admonishes us to dance, raise our hands, shout and declare.
Luke 1:5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
I learned recently that the phrase , “your prayer has been heard” (v 13) carries the sense of a prayer that has been let go for a very long time. This could probably read, That prayer you used to pray before you gave up on it…
I relate to that: There are things I have sought the Lord for; then given up on because they haven’t happened. I’m betting you have some of those as well.
In the light of this understanding, Zechariah’s reaction makes perfect sense. It is far too easy to allow doubt, discouragement and unbelief to move in.
The question is, what shall we do with prayers that don’t seem to get answered?
I only have a whisper of insight: Keep on keeping on. One thing Elizabeth and Zechariah did right was to continue in their lives and work. They “were righteous in the sight of God.” (v6) When the Lord’s timing came, he gave them their desire.
I understand with all heartache, quandary and “hope against hope” about fighting that sense that “It’s too late.” Zechariah and Elizabeth certainly struggled with that one. God’s answer: He gave them what they had asked for.
Is it ever too late for God?
The Gospel of Christ is greater than any tradition or bent we could possibly come up with.
It reaches higher, deepr and farther than conservitivism, progressivism, liberalism, communism, socialism, libertarianism, greenism and all other isms.
The Good News is this:
God loves each of us. It doesn’t matter who, where or what you are; Time in history is of no consequence.
He wants every single person to be saved; He is not willing that any should perish. Yes, that even means progressives, communists, socialists and all of the other ists!
God’s love reaches to every income bracket, from the welthiest, most powerful people in the world to those who have absolutely nothing.
Jesus doesn’t fit in any box; yet he is present in every last one of them, even yours!
He has every resource you willever need.
Now, that’s Good News!!
2 Peter 3:9
How different are we from our main societies;
How different is light from darkness?
“Thus your light will shine before the children of men that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I am writing to exhort you today.
We are called to be holy, even as God is holy – to be set apart for Him; different.
That means that we will be the minority.
When the general society encourages sex outside of marriage, abortion and compromise in terms of dress, speech, morality, values or socialization, we will not be able to participate.
When we are called to tolerate or accept things that God has clearly called sin, we will have to decline.
We are called to give, shine, love, encourage, serve and bless.
That means we don’t curse, “see to Number 1 first and foremost…”
What we get in return is our true identity: A holy nation, a royal priesthood, people set apart for and in the Most High God.
We get a different inheritance, filled with wholeness and prosperity.
Most of all, we live with Jesus forever.
Applying all of this can seem difficult – so much “gray!” True enough. That is why we have the Holy Spirit – Helper, counselor, TEacher, Comfort, to live in each of our hearts.
Don’t know how to think or what to do? Ask; you will receive all that you need – the answer and the grace to obey.
Do you feel discouraged, afraid or alone, cry out: The One who sticks closer than a brother is with you always.
Is shame or self doubt nagging at you? Look to Papa, who knows you fully and loves you completely.
(Based on Matthew 5:16)
In the darkness of night
And the tumolt of storm;
When violence threatens
To bring in harm,
Let your light shine;
Let it be bright
the most troubling darkness
Can’t stand in the light.
In deepest of sorrow
And perplexity strong;
When heaviness tries
To steal your song,
Let your light shine
Lift your lamp high;
Deliverance is coming;
Salvation is nigh.
Oh, God’s precious people,
Who are called in His Name,
You are made holy;
You’re not the same;
Let your light shine
So others see
The Lord’s wonderful goodness;
To Him be glory!
This is what Psalm 91 guarantees us. Each declaration is written in the first person; feel free to read it aloud to yourself and your household:
God is my refuge. I trust in Him and am safe.
God’s faithful promises are my armor and protection.
God’s huge, outstretched arms protect me; under them, I am perfectly safe.
He fends off all harm.
Even though others succumb all around me, I will be safe.
Evil can’t get close to me; harm can’t get through the door.
God commands His angels to protect me wherever I go.
His angels catch me and keep me from falling.
God gives me the best of care.
God is at my side in the hardest of times.
My God rescues and honors me.
God gives me a long life.
He gives me a long drink of salvation.
And one from Psalm 112:
My heart is secure.
(Developed from the Message Bible’s translation of Psalms 91 and 112)
This beautiful piece was written by Felix Mendelssohn. It’s part of his oratorio, “Elijah”
It comes from Psalm 121
I’m learning it for Sacred Music, a recital in May. Mine is the second soprano part.
What are the good works that God created for you to walk in?
How do you know what they are?
I certainly have wrestled with these questions plenty and may have a glimpse or two at the answer to help you find your way.
What are your spiritual gifts?
Helps (also called service)
Words of knowledge
Interpretation of tongues
Working of miracles
What do you seem to be attracted to? One of the most important lessons I ever learned is that God’s assignments will feed and bless me as much as they do others. He built me with certain likes, desires and interests that can only be fulfilled as I “will and do his good pleasure.” Vocational choice, volunteer activities and hobbies will point to these things.
What are your natural gifts and talents?
Taking care of people
Working with children
And on the list goes.
One thing I have come to understand that really encourages me and helps me to rest: God does have good works for me to do; I don’t have to wonder about that.
What are your dreams?
Can you think of a time when an idea, however fleeting captured your imagination? What was your response? Have you given value to what seemed like small ideas?
Do you find yourself wondering about possibilities?
God wove dreams and the ability to find them into each of us. HE always has a way to direct us to destiny and purpose. This is a foundational part of how we are built.
Make sure your dreams match who you are, not who you aren’t. I am guessing that most of us have tried to do things that really didn’t match our passions, gifting and skills, only to discover that we felt drained, instead of fulfilled.
It is appropriate to serve someone else’s dream, but only when it is what God is directing us to do at the time. Even at that, this season of service will be part of building our own destiny.
One of the most formidable barriers to realizing dreams is unfinished business, however that is being lived out. Our very freedom is taken from us; even having a sense of what we want seems to die. “Don’t decorate your cell.”
Cells can be past experiences, things we don’t seem to resolve or overcome…”
Some writing to do
1. List things you did or were interested in as a small child.
2. What are your gifts what are you doing that uses them?
3. What ideas do you have?
Lord, lift us up to Your level of dreaming.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.