“Sing unto the Lord a new song.” (Psalm 96:1)
“Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psalm 100:2).
Rehearsals are work.
During the time I sang with the choir at our church, I loved singing for the worship service, but had to make myself go to rehearsal.
I sang in the choir during my college years, and eventually noticed some patterns forming. In time, those impressions coalesced into life-lessons that have remained with me through the years.
1) I do not like new songs.
The minister of music would say, “Joyce, pass out the new music,” and I would cringe. I did not read music and did not do well trying to negotiate my way around these clothes-lines of blackbirds. The piano is picking out the melody of the song and I’m working to get it. This is no fun. It’s work.
But a funny thing happened.
The goodness of the Lord leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
I sit on my back deck in the early mornings with my coffee and I worship the Lord. Some fifteen years before I bought it, the Lord had someone build this house for me. It is so right, everything about it–including the wonderful lady who shares it with me. She’s a gift from Him too.
I am so blessed that Heaven may take some getting used-to.
I sit out there taking in the birdsong, the sweet air moving gently across the pond, the ever-changing colors of the sunrise, and I think. I think of the Lord who made this. I see that clump of reeds at the edge of the pond and think, “If just that was found on Mars today, it would be front page news across the world tomorrow.” And yet we rarely think of the richness of Earth and the legion of gifts that are ours as a result. God is so good.
If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me (John 14:21). If anyone loves me, he will keep my word (John 14:23). If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love (John 15:10). You are my friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15:14).
Anyone see a trend in these verses? He wants us to love Him and tells us how: Obedience.
With that in mind, the question before us is this: Is it possible to do something so loving, so affectionate, so Christ-honoring here on earth that Jesus will feel it in Heaven’s Throneroom?
Can I do something loving for Jesus here and have Him feel the love there?
We direct your attention to the woman of Luke 7:36ff.
Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. — Ecclesiastes 5:1
Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me. –Psalm 50:14-15
If your primary worship takes place on Sunday morning at church, you are doing it all wrong and in all likelihood endlessly frustrated.
If the main worship you do takes place on Sunday morning at church, you’re putting too heavy a burden on your church’s worship leaders. They cannot do for you in one hour what you should be doing for yourself seven days a week.
If the only worship you do takes place on Sunday morning at church, even at the best you are anemic and undernourished and will often find yourself faltering during the week.
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him…. And he questioned Him with many words…. (Luke 23:8-9).
Someone asked Larry King, the legendary television interviewer, if he could sit across the table and interview one person in all of history, who would it be. “Jesus Christ,” said this man who is Jewish.
“And what would you ask him?”
“I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”
To be sure. That answer could change everything. As it has for many a person.
So with the resurrection. Answer that in the affirmative and everything else falls into place.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…. Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1-2,22).
Again and again throughout Holy Writ, we are enjoined, instructed, commanded and reminded to praise the Lord. To bless His name. To burst forth in worship during which we say things like “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessings” (Revelation 5:12).
How come? What good does this do to tell the Lord and Master of the universe that He is Lord and Master of the universe? Sure He already knows who He is (see John 13:1-4). Being complete within Himself, God does not need our praise.
So, what’s this all about?
It’s a fair question and one that has been asked and answered by disciples far better than this poor child.
As a new believer, C. S. Lewis had trouble with the question. “I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it.” (Reflections on the Psalms)
This being my blog, and Psalm 103 having been dealt with on these pages in recent days, it now falls to me to make an attempt to answer the question: What is it to bless the Lord and what good is it? (Again, I’m grateful to Dr. Lewis whom I shall quote below.)
Recently, as my wife and I settled into our favorite pew a few minutes before the morning worship service, we greeted the people around us. The woman to our right was waiting for her husband, she said, and would not be remaining in that pew. A couple of minutes later he arrived.
Before she left, the woman leaned over and said to my wife, “This is going to be a very difficult service.” When Bertha asked why, she said, “I’m not at liberty to say. But you’ll see.”
That changed everything for me in that service.
Our church is pastorless at the moment, so I knew we were not going to be hit with a resignation of our shepherd. Those are always tough. The staff is fairly depleted these days, and we have an interim pastor who flies in on weekends from another state. We’re in the early stages of raising several million dollars for renovation, but that seems to be moving seamlessly.
I had no clue.
“What did you go out to see?” (Luke 7:25)
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)
The other day during the worship service at our church, I had a revelation.
I now know something that had eluded me before.
I know the secret of people who come to church year in and year out and are never dissatisfied with what goes on there. They like the preacher “enough,” they’re generally satisfied with the programs of the church, and you’ll not hear any carping coming from their direction.
They don’t require much of the church.
That’s it. That’s their secret.
“When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me…. I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your….appointed feasts; they have become a burden to me…. Even when you multiply prayers, I will not listen.” (Isaiah 1)
Often I pray at the beginning of a sermon, “Lord, help me not to squander Thy blessing, waste their time, or miss my opportunity!”
Today, we’re talking about the second of these: Wasting time.
We do a lot of that in church, I fear.
We waste time in church every time we find ourselves:
–praising the God whose word you are flouting, pretending to adore the God whose will is the last thing you want.
–voicing hymns which express truths you do not believe and adoration you do not share.
–bringing pitiful offerings in place of something meaningful. Or even worse, bringing an offering while griping about pastors preaching on money.
–saying prayers by rote when your mind is a thousand miles away.
Our Lord said, “This people honors me with their mouths, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8).
Such worshipers are wasting their time.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4
I was a 20-year-old college sophomore and still 15 months shy of receiving a call into the ministry when our church selected me as “pastor” for the annual Youth Week. Basically, that meant I was to preach a sermon that Sunday night. Yikes. That was excitingly scary.
The text was this verse. I’ve never forgotten it, primarily because I never quite got the significance of its meaning. It sounded wonderful and encouraging, even motivating. But what little I was able to glean from its riches is thankfully gone and erased from the minds and memories of those present that night in the Spring of 1960.
I love the promise. “Greater is He who is in you than the one in the world.”
The Lord is with you, He is in you, and He is for you. Scripture declares each one in no uncertain terms.. Need some verses for those?