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Make a joyful noise

Standing before the tabernacle at the tent of meeting as well as in the temple, all kinds of instruments were used, including cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets were all used to worship and glorify the Lord. The Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen together with the trumpets of the 120 priests, praised the Lord saying, He indeed is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Then the house of the Lord was completely filled with a cloud, signifying God’s glory filling the temple.

In addition to the book of Psalms, God’s word is full of verses that encourage believers to worship him through music.

Ephesians 9:15 says we are to speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16 says to 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.

The word also says to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. No matter the skill or pitch of your vocal cords or whether you can even carry a tune in a handbag, God is honored when the sound you make comes from your heart.

 

Be of the same mind

 The church in Corinth had a number of problems in Apostle Paul’s day, including divisions and contentions among the Corinthians. Within their divisiveness, he learned some were following Apollos, while others joined with Cephas and others.

Why the split? Why had they formed contentious groups and factions among the brethren? Had they taken their eyes off of Jesus?

“…let there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment…” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:10

In his letter to the Philippians, he encouraged them also to do everything within the fellowship of a united spirit, intent on one purpose—to love without selfishness or empty conceit while maintaining the same mind and heart. Let each one consider one another as more important than himself. Like Christ, we need to empty ourselves out, lest we get too full of self.

What’s the purpose in life? We may never be asked to hang on a cross for our neighbor, but our hearts— through Christ— can lend to that same kind of devotion when we keep our eyes focused with diligence on Christ.

 

A New Year with Jesus

As the new year is upon us, let’s take our first steps of the year being fully clothed in Christ.

Even as we are sanctified, every day trials can get us off track, despite the Holy Spirit living inside. Our minds often race to quell the storms, and our tongue’s reactions to life’s situations can be fleshly and prideful.

In an effort to deal with what comes before us, the only thing that will steer us in the right direction and bring us peace is leaning on the everlasting arms. When confronted with tough times, God’s word tells us to be slow to speak and slow to anger because “man’s anger cannot accomplish the righteousness of God” ~ James 1:20.

When we put on Christ, we are renewed by and through the Holy Spirit. We have freedom now to be different from the world. Confronted with trouble? Pause. Take a deep breath and yield to the spirit inside with prayer…it goes a long way.

When we’re saved, our exterior doesn’t change much. Wrinkles don’t magically disappear and the hairs on our heads, most likely, are the same number as before. Inside is where the change occurs as the Lord lovingly re-grooms us.

Happy New Year!

All things new

Another new year is on the horizon. Happy to say, it’s one day closer to Jesus’s promised return to the earth.

This time of year leads many to make a New Year’s resolution. Lose weight, stop bad habits, cut carbs, etc. are usually on the to-do list come the first of January. Out with the old and in with the new. Yet how many times have these pledges dissolved by the first snowfall? Our spirits are willing, though our flesh is weak.

There are some who vow to become a better person in the New Year. They’re committed to turning over a new leaf. Start anew. Change. This is an admirable goal to achieve, yet by true grit and their own strength, they will often miss the mark.

Sinners, as we all are, need not turn over a new leaf—but a new heart. We can’t use the stuff of flesh to make better flesh; we need the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work. It’s not about you or I becoming a better Joe, Jane, or John. It’s about becoming more like the savior of the world. We can do “all things through Christ” who strengthens us by his spirit.

May this New Year be your opportunity to yield to God not just some but all of your heart’s goals, hopes, and dreams, so he may mold you into the image of his son. When you delight in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart. That is…because they will be His desires, too, which are ultimately what is best for you.

Happy New Year!

The greatest gift that keeps giving…

The moment in time when baby Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, he was on a mission. That he would leave heaven for earth boggles the mind, and to come in the humblest means possible to begin his life in a feeding trough in a lowly stable is unfathomable.

Out of his humble estate, the baby grew to become prophet, priest, and King of Kings. His thirty-three years on earth created a mark in history that would be forever a turning point. For everything vile, despised, and eschewed by man, Jesus, our Emmanuel—God-with-us—gave his life. He became the sacrifice to bring all who believe in him into an everlasting fellowship with the Father. A gift to all men…and one that keeps on giving.

We celebrate the savior’s birth this season and in our hearts all the year through. Like the angels sang in their celebration on that fateful, joyous day, we, too, rejoice. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

Footprints in our heart

God’s ways are certainly not our ways. The more we dwell in his word and contemplate his birth, the more we can appreciate the sacrifice of the suffering servant, who came to fulfill his father’s wishes—to save the lost and dying.

How unfathomable to comprehend the path Jesus took to reconcile us to the Father. What a marvelous mystery that he would condescend to earth, but to come here in the form of a man and live among us? Is not his glory too superior?  He left paradise for this?

When the season is glistening in a blanket of whiteness, may we understand that because of Jesus’s blood, a believer’s sins are even whiter than the brilliance of the snowfall.

May every step you take be with the Lord…walking close enough to see his footprints in your heart.

Whom do you please?

Some people are men pleasers–showing deference and kindness and expecting to be recognized for it. It’s the way the world is. Give and take. Nothing horrible about it but it’s kind of shallow to need praise from men. What is man that we should be inclined to derive our self-worth from him?

King David derived pleasures not from man but from God. Even his prayers were in deference to his Lord –not just asking for things, but making sure his heart was in the right place through praise and thanksgiving.

King David showed a keen humility in his Psalm 19:14 prayer by saying, “Let the words of my mouth…” along with his thoughts as he dwelled on the Lord, “and the meditations of my heart…” for which he anchored himself as a barnacle to a boat, “be acceptable in thy sight…”

When we understand our place in the world with respect to God, our thoughts, prayers, and reflections on the Lord will take on a different perspective. For he is our ultimate strength and our redeemer…worthy to be honored and not just a dispenser of goods.

Prayer is not always about asking for things as much as it is the opportunity to have our heart’s desires line up with God’s.

 

Highway to Heaven or Hell

Life is a highway, so goes an old song lyric. And it’s the longest one we’ll ever travel. Along life’s highway, we’ll encounter many side roads, and some of them will lead to the wrong destination. There will be battlefields along the way between good and evil. A wrong turn on life’s highway can not only get us lost, it may cause us danger.

Physical danger is nothing to scoff at. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time is scary stuff, but spiritual danger is by far worse. The impact of death, if we know the Lord, leads to a better place; the impact of not knowing the Lord, can lead to a tragic outcome.

While we travel through life, it’s a marvelous blessing to be able to walk and talk with Jesus, to seek the paths he would have for us. Just for the asking, we can know we’re traveling where we belong because our Lord wants what is best for us.

Should danger follow us? It could. Though, we ask ourselves this:  If God is for us, who can be against us? And why would we care if we have the Lord?

Jesus would never lead us down a dark unknown alley to purposefully cause harm. We lead ourselves there and often call for help. Our faithful Lord and master will surely comfort, protect, and never abandon our cry to save us. There is no pitfall along the roadway of life too deep for God to rescue us. He’s already encountered death and rose back to life. The victory is already ours—in Christ.

Life is a highway, so goes an old song lyric. And it’s the longest one we’ll ever travel. Along life’s highway, we’ll encounter many side roads, and some of them will lead to the wrong destination. There will be battlefields along the way between good and evil. A wrong turn on life’s highway can not only get us lost, it may cause us danger.

Physical danger is nothing to scoff at. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time is scary stuff, but spiritual danger is by far worse. The impact of death, if we know the Lord, leads to a better place; the impact of not knowing the Lord, can lead to a tragic outcome.

While we travel through life, it’s a marvelous blessing to be able to walk and talk with Jesus, to seek the paths he would have for us. Just for the asking, we can know we’re traveling where we belong because our Lord wants what is best for us.

Should danger follow us? It could. Though, we ask ourselves this:  If God is for us, who can be against us? And why would we care if we have the Lord?

Jesus would never lead us down a dark unknown alley to purposefully cause harm. We lead ourselves there and often call for help. Our faithful Lord and master will surely comfort, protect, and never abandon our cry to save us. There is no pitfall along the roadway of life too deep for God to rescue us. He’s already encountered death and rose back to life. The victory is already ours—in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of thanks…

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, we, as a nation, celebrate all that is important to us. While gathered around the table with family and friends to feast on food and fellowship, let’s take time to remember the ones who are suffering for their beliefs and pray God would abundantly bless them with his power and presence in their midst.

When we stop to think about all that we’ve been blessed with as believers, the list should begin and end with Christ. Having Jesus as our Lord and Savior is our fruitful bounty. Everything else is a side dish. For the Lord is our everything, and all that we have stems through his love and mercy—his grace to us.

With thanksgiving in their hearts, the early settlers gave praise and honor to the Lord for many things…most notably, a liberal harvest. William Bradford wrote:

“…And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair, warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God.” 

Have a lovely Thanksgiving Holiday!

 

A story of greatness

In ancient days, the passing down of stories and teaching about God were ordinances to be practiced faithfully. The oral traditions of the early Hebrews were something to keep their past alive. Adding to the tradition, acts of worship and praise were adopted through songs that preserved the tradition of both God and family. Through them, each generation kept the past ever-so-present to remind their families of the Lord’s protection and how far he took them to overcome their days of slavery and suffering.

As with anything great or special, we tend to want to promote it. If there’s anything noble or worthy of bragging about, it would be the Lord, Jesus Christ himself—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who dethroned himself to become one with man for a time of 33 years and then died a gruesome death, so that man may have a bridge to the father once again.

That kind of love is worthy to be shouted from the mountains and rooftops. The honor that he deserves is beyond a mere nod of observance; it should be the first thing we think of upon arising and remain a steady, persistent thought all throughout the days of our lives.

May the spirit of the living God thrive in our hearts forever…until he comes again. Maranatha!