Tuesday, May 29, 2012

150 Days of Psalm comes to an end - Psalm 150

First words and last words are important.

Genesis 1 "In the beginning God..."

Malachi 4:5 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."

Matthew 1 1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

Rev. 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Psalm 1 "1 How blessed is the man who..."

Psalm 150
1 Praise the LORD ! Praise God in His sanctuary ; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds ; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound ; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing ; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals ; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD !

The final words of the Psalms begin with "Hallelujah!" Praise the Lord!" It is obvious from this psalm that using instruments in worship is a good thing. I've mentioned in a few posts here how our friends who attend Church of Christ churches have an entire doctrine against using instruments in worship. They say that there is no mention of instruments in worship in the New Testament and that they only do what the New Testament says. I always say, "They don't mention air conditioning in the N.T. either." but that is a rather smart-aleck remark, so let me address this seriously.

I won't even bother with the ridiculousness of throwing out the Old Testament. It's too easy of an argument. When the Apostle Paul said, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16 NAS) The scripture he had was the Law and the Prophets (The Old Testament)

When Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets ; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17 NAS) He wasn't talking about the book of Acts. He was talking about The Old Testament.

Oh, I guess I addressed it after all.

But for sake of argument, let's base my assertion that musical instruments can and should be used in worship on New Testament words.
There are two verses that again, are too easy of an argument, but I guess sometimes you have to point out the obvious.

Ephesians 5:19 NAS

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord ; (my emphasis)

Colossians 3:16 NAS

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (again, my emphasis)

What "psalms" could Paul have been referring too? The Psalter of course - all 150 psalms. If there was a "problem" or "sin" of using instruments in worship wouldn't Paul have mentioned that? "Oh, by the way, when you speak to yourselves in psalms, don't use the last one or any of the ones that mention instruments since God hates instruments now." Uh, I don't think so.

If we go with the assertion that we still can't use The Old Testament (again, a rediculous argument) then let's just look at the word "psalm." According to Meriam-Webster here is the origin of the word.

"Origin of PSALM

Middle English, from Old English psealm, from Late Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos, literally, twanging of a harp, from psallein to pluck, play a stringed instrument" 

Shooting fish in a barrel.

Well... it's hard to believe we've come to the end of our study of the Psalms. I have thoroughly enjoyed this study. I hope you have too. And even more, I hope it has inspired you to continue studying the Bible each day. Maybe after VBS

Hallelujah! Sing praise to the Lord. And accompany your singing with all kinds of musical instruments.

More from Psalm 149 - Let them praise His name with dancing!

3 Let them praise His name with dancing

A lot of Baptists get nervous about dancing. I remember a sermon once - years ago - on the 3 sinful Ds - drinkin', dancin' and drugs. I think what turned Baptist preachers against dancing was the rather obscene movements used in a whole lot of dancing. What's the old saying about vertical moves and something about horizontal and now I think Cheryl is going to fuss at me for writing that.... Others were against the kind of places you had to go to dance - bars and such.

Dancing is why some preachers are against certain kinds of music. There are some types of music that you just have to move your feet to.

In Psalm 149 dancing is another way to praise the Lord. Sometimes singing isn't enough; your whole body needs/wants to be involved in worship. Many of our Pentecostal friends have discovered this in their worship. They are more than happy to move and dance and sing and worship. (I don't see this happening soon at my church since many won't even clap their hands to a peppy song - but that's OK.)

Dance is also a beautiful way to convey a feeling and to tell a story. In this year's Passion Play we had a beautiful dance that told the story of Moses when his mother hid him in a basket in the Nile and Pharaoh's daughter found him. The dance was to the song "Deliver Us" from "Prince of Egypt." It was AWESOME!

Here are some pictures. Maybe I can get a clip of that song to put on here for those of you who weren't able to see it in person.

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 149


I hadn't missed a day of blogging about a psalm for 148 days!! And then yesterday we were on the road for 13 hours or so and I thought about trying to blog from my phone, but when I thought about it we were in the middle of no signal land in southern Missouri. When we got home a little before 10 I unloaded the car and went to bed and Psalm 149 didn't even cross my mind. :-(

So here are some thoughts on Psalm 149. Later today I'll blog about Psalm 150. I can't believe 2012 is 150 days old.

Several of the psalms have had the phrase "Sing to the Lord a new song" in them. This isn't saying we should throw out all of the old songs. There is great value in old songs (the entire book of Psalms for instance). Those who only sing songs written in the last couple of years are missing out - depriving themselves and their congregations - of a richness and wisdom that songs and texts which have stood the test of time can bring to a worship time. Old songs are often dismissed as relics of the past with no meaning for today. This is the view of uneducated, youthful snobbery. Oooooo. Now I'm talking mean. Sorry. (but it's true) I have been very encouraged lately to hear the current "Christian bands" singing some of the beautiful old hymns of the 1900s. Here's a great example -  http://pagecxvi.com/

There is also great value in new songs. Music style changes and each generation wants to express their faith in their own way. There are many songs from "today" that I love singing. They have beautiful melodies and fresh texts that speak to us in the 2010s. Many of these new songs will pass the test of time. Many will be thrown out just as many of the hymns of the 1900s were let go.

So is this the point of Psalm 149? Not really. The psalmist is encouraging us to seek something new from God. To experience Him afresh today and not be satisfied with what God did in our lives last year or last decade. It was always sad for me to hear - back in the day when our services would have "testimony time" - to hear what God had done for someone back in 1962. Not that the experience with God then was bad or anything, but that they hadn't experienced anything new from God in 25 years.

Spend some time with God. Don't be satisfied with your salvation experience only. That is just the beginning of a lifelong relationship. Expect God to do something in your life. Or maybe I should say, "pay attention to what God is doing in your life." Verse 4 tells us that God delights in His people. Experience that "new" (again, fresh) today! Sing to the Lord a new song!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 148

The Hallelujah Psalms continue today with a psalm that has been set to music hundreds of times. The psalmist is pointing out how all of creation praises the Lord. Perhaps we (as people) like to set these thoughts to music is because when we see the sun and moon and stars it causes us to praise the Lord too. But this psalm goes even further to mention weather, mountains, trees, beasts and birds, all ages of people - everything and everyone are called to praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 147

There are several familiar verses in Psalm 147. I just read v.4 to my family.
 4 He counts the number of the stars ; He gives names to all of them.
and my momma said, "You mean He's already named them all and we pay somebody to name them?" So my brothers told her "yes. Save your money."

Deep theological conversations from a bunch of pastors - hahaha.

Verse 3 is a familiar verse that is very comforting.
"3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds." It's very difficult to bind up your own broken heart and the wounds that caused it. This is a great verse to remind us all that God is the one who can heal our hearts.

Verse 10 was very important to me as a short, skinny, non-athletic guy growing up.
"10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse ; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness."
Since I was HORRIBLE at all team sports and the object of many cruel comments from the athletes at my school this verse reminded me that what was important to God was that I was a person who feared Him and waited for His lovingkindness. Strong arms and good knees give out over the years. Developing a fear/reverence for God lasts a lifetime. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 146

I can't believe we're down to our last five psalms. It's been a great study. I know many of you have stuck with me through this entire journey.

The last five psalms are the "Hallelujah Psalms." Each begins with "Hallelujah" which means "Praise the Lord."

Psalm 146 tells us why we shouldn't trust in men and then lists a long list of reasons of why we should trust in the Lord and sing "Hallelujah."

He made the heavens, the earth and the seas - His great power in creation.
He cares for and helps those in need: the hungry, oppressed, prisoners, the blind, those bowed down from the troubles of life.
He loves the righteous, protects strangers and supports orphans and widows.

As His people, we should be joining Him in His work. We should care for the hungry, oppressed, etc.

Jesus explained how in the last day God will separate us into two groups - sheep and goats - blessed and wicked. Click here to read it for yourself Those who fed the hungry, clothed the poor, visited those in prison, etc. are those to whom God will say "Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

How will you join God in His work of caring for others this week?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 145

Psalm 145 is my all-time favorite psalm. Cheryl knows that I want it read at my funeral (I'm planning on that being a long time from now). I used to know the entire psalm by memory. I need to spend some time getting it back into memory. Years ago I wrote a song called "One Generation" based on this psalm. We used it in a building campaign at another church. The emphasis of the campaign was a children's building and verse 4 was our theme.

In my big NASB Bible that I was given on the day of my ordination into the ministry I have a counted cross stitched book marker with verse one on it. I spelled extol wrong on it - put two Ls on the end. I never fixed it.

The psalm is written in three sections.

It begins by proclaiming God's greatness

1 I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable . 4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. 6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. 7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

The second section begins to talk about the Lord being gracious and merciful and how good He is to all but then David can't help but praise God more - this time telling of His glorious kingdom.

8 The LORD is gracious and merciful ; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. 10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You. 11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power ; 12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The final section can probably be summarized with verse 16.

14 The LORD sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time. 16 You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds. 18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. 20 The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

I'm not writing a whole lot about this psalm because I don't want to take away from it. Read each section slowly and let David's words of praise become your words.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 144

1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle ; 2 My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me.

What I see in this psalm is that David is giving God the credit for his skill and then gives Him the credit for the outcome of his battles. Too often in our society - even in the Christian realm - we take credit for any skill we have and then we take credit for results because of our hard work, our being smart, our whatever....

I'm not saying we shouldn't work hard or study or develop our skills etc. etc. We actually need to do all of that. The difference is that David gave God the credit for all he had that was good.

Then in the later part of the psalm it sounds like David is kind of being greedy or something by asking for all of those blessings. David is asking on behalf of his people. This is a good example for us to follow - not asking for ourselves but for those we have the power to bless, those under our care.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 143

How's your prayer life?

There are two things that stood out to me in today's psalm.

1. The psalmist based his call for answered prayer on God's faithfulness and righteousness - His lovingkindness in the morning. Too often our prayers for God's help, answers or deliverance are based on what we think we have done or we deserve. Now which would you rather have as your plea to the Sovereign Lord God Creator of the universe - your version of your goodness and what you think you deserve or a plea based on God's faithfulness, righteousness and lovingkindness? That should make a difference in how you pray.

2. v5 "I remember the days of old ; I meditate on all Your doings ; I muse on the work of Your hands."
I think I've blogged on more than one occasion that it is important to look back and remember what God has done in the past - not only in your life but throughout the world, throughout history. Remembering brings about praise, worship and thanksgiving. It also brings hope and confidence for the future that is based on what God has already done. This too should make a difference in how you pray.

Monday, May 21, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 142

There are a lot of great thoughts in this psalm as the psalmist is crying to God for help.

The one that stood out to me was this one:
 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.

How many times in life have troubles or circumstances or sickness or enemies or whatever overwhelmed me or you and the prince of darkness clouds our thoughts, make us feel lost without direction... are you following me here?

But what an awesome thought that when our spirits are totally overwhelmed with life God isn't caught by surprise! He doesn't say, "Oops! Didn't see that coming!" or "Uh, oh. Now what?"

 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.

He knows our path - where we are headed, what will happen, how we will escape or find deliverance.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

When overwhelmed we can choose to hide in a closet or become depressed or we can trust in the Lord, knowing He knows our paths, acknowledge Him in all we do and let Him make our paths straight.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 141

Over the years I've had parents say to me "if my kid gets out of line you go right ahead and get him right back in line." Not exactly those words but I'm sure you've heard something similar.

I also learned very quickly that they didn't mean that at all. I'm afraid it's the same when a friend says something like "I want you to tell me if I do something that _________ (fill in the blank with actions that are mean, tacky, sinful, unfriendly, etc. that you've heard from a friend - or said yourself)

Your friend doesn't mean it either. Neither do you when you say it.

If only we could say this to God and mean it.
"5 Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head ; Do not let my head refuse it,"

Each of us needs a godly friend to kindly reprove when we are going down a wrong path, acting in an ungodly way, turning our back on God or family or friends, you get the idea. And each of us needs to then accept correction from our friend. Pride, resentment, sin, arrogance, foolishness and other things prevent us from taking to heart reproof from a righteous person.

To have this kind of relationship with someone requires work on  your part. You have to build a friendship of trust, respect, and love. You have to pray for each other. You have to speak the truth with grace.

If you don't have someone in your life who can "smite you in kindness and reprove" you let me encourage you to 1. ask God to help you be that kind of friend and send you that kind of friend, 2. work on being righteous yourself, so you can be in a position to offer godly reproof, 3. don't "smite" someone in kindness unless you have their very best interest at heart and have taken the log out of your own eye, 4. don't lash out at your friend who is reproving you, but take their words to heart and see what God may be trying to say to you

Those are just the thoughts right off the top of my head - well, I hope they are encouraging words from God. What do you think?

I know I could have easily written a lot about verse 3 using verses from James about controlling the tongue. You can write your own post to your self about that. :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 140

When I read today's psalm I realized how blessed we are in the USA. We don't really have wicked men pursuing us - at least not because we are Christians. Yes. Our society is getting more and more hostile towards Christians and different "wicked" organizations are doing what they can to remove any mention of God from public display or conversation. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, our President and people who work in his administration have attacked churches and faith organizations with the health care mandate to require their insurance policies to provide abortion drugs. (I won't go on about this HUGE violation of the 1st amendment to the Constitution.

But what I thought about was how the persecution of Christians in countries like Syria has increased (because of their political unrest), about the pastor in Iran who may be executed because he converted to Christianity, of the villages in Africa that have been burned to the ground by Muslims because they were Christian villages, etc, etc, etc,

Our day (in the USA) may come where we face this kind of persecution, but today will you join me In praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who face persecution EVERY day?

Friday, May 18, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 139

Oooo! I love this psalm! It has so many verses in it that are quoted all the time.

The first set of verses are to me as they are to the psalmists.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

It's impossible to comprehend how God knows all about me from my first day to my last - even what I'm going to say before I say it.

Verse 13 and following are used - and rightfully so - by those of us who are on the "choose life" side of the abortion debate. I don't think I have to explain them here.

And what a comforting thought we find in all of the verses that talk about how a person can go ANYWHERE and God is still there.

Finally, the last couple of verses are a great prayer asking God to reveal sin. After God reveals our sin then we should confess our sins with this promise in mind.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NAS

Thursday, May 17, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 138

This psalm of David is a psalm of thanks and gives many reasons to give thanks and sing praise.

What stood out to me was the last verse.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Lord, You love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands."

It's an awesome thought to know that God has a purpose for our lives - and I don't mean us collectively, but each of us as individuals. As we allow Him to work in and through us He is able to "conform us to the image of His Son." Romans 8:29

His purpose for each of us to make us more like Christ.
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

David asked God to not abandon the work of His hands. Paul gave us this promise
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

So give thanks and sing praise to God because He is at work in your life to fulfill His purpose, His will, to make you more and more like Christ. Will you let Him work in your life in that way today?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 137

Oh my! I'm not sure what to say about Psalm 137. It's a song from those in exile. How can they sing when they are in captivity away from the Promised Land and Jerusalem; without a proper place to worship?

The call to dash their captives little ones against the rocks seems a bit harsh. Maybe it's hyperbole (wow. I don't think I've ever used that word before, but it just popped in my head and it fits.) But then again, God often asked the Israelites to completely destroy their enemies. When they didn't, those enemies ended up either turning the Israelites hearts against the Lord or they rebuilt their armies and attacked them.

This is how we must deal with sin in our lives. We must completely kill it off - dash even the little pieces of it against the rocks. An alcoholic can't give up drinking and then just have a sip every now and then because "just a little won't hurt."

I hate giving that example because you, my reader, may say, "Oh, I don't drink. I'm OK." That was just a way for me to demonstrate my point. You have your own sin you need to completely destroy.

You also have to put something in sin's place. Jesus told about the man who had demons cast out but the man didn't fill his heart/soul/thoughts/etc. with something else and the demon came back and found a nice big empty spot and brought back more demons with him "and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."  See Matthew 12:43-45 A heart swept clean of sin needs to be refilled with God's Spirit, God's word, pure, lovely, holy thoughts and actions. (I've just started the list. God will show you what you need to do.)

We should have the same sadness for sin in our lives as the sadness the Israelites had for being captives in a foreign land.

The Jewish people recite this psalm to remind themselves that they were once captive. It is good for us to also remember that we were once captive and Christ has set us free.

Well... that's not where I thought I would be going with this Psalm, but I think it's a good thought for the day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

150 Days of Psalms - Psalm 136

Here is a great idea (if I say so myself) for a time of family worship. Well, actually, it would work in a Life Group (Sunday School class) a worship service, for a personal devotion time, etc. but I think it's perfect for a mom and dad and kids to do together.

First, read Psalm 136 together (you might stop before the hurling and slaughtering parts if you have young kids) Notice how after each phrase you see - depending on your translation - "His love endures forever" (Holman Christian Standard) or "For His lovingkindness is everlasting" (New American Standard) or "for his mercy endureth forever" King James Version.

So after you've read about the Lord making the moon and stars and His goodness have each person say their own phrase of something wonderful God has created and the others reply "His loves endures forever."

God provides us with abundant food
His loves endures forever
God makes the roses and iris to grow
His love endures forever
God provided for us when we were out of work
His love endures forever
God gave us strength when we were fighting sickness
His love endures forever
God made the birds
His love endures forever
And snakes and frogs
His love endures forever

You get the idea.

And you can turn it into an art project/worship project. Cut up magazines or draw your own pictures, make a collage or a set of pictures, sculpt something out of clay (or playdough) then write, paint, color or draw "His loves endures forever" on your art.

Then you can end your worship time singing along with Michael W. Smith