Sing a New Song unto the Lord- Psalm 98- Part II

Now, we can take this command sing a new song, one figuratively. “Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise in the congregation of saint.” -Psalm 149:1 KJV. We sing a new song even when we sing an old familiar tune when we sing out a new fresh encounter with the Lord, when we experience a new touch of God’s faithfulness in our lives. It is a new song in our hearts, a new expression of thanksgiving, praise and worship unto the Lord. Even an old song becomes a new song when the singing is born out of a new desire to praise the Lord.

Second, we can take it literally. “Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.” -Psalm 33:3 KJV. This Psalm speaks of making beautiful songs unto the Lord. Singing the same songs over and over may become too monotonous. It would seem like there is no improvement from singers and instrumentalists. It does not necessarily mean that the song would lose its meaning but people might get bored and perceive it as lack or preparation. Therefore, we need to create new repertoire.

With the praise and worship, as far as I know we have the freedom to choose the songs that we want to sing but freedom is not absolute. We need to employ the proper songs.

Principles to Consider:

We sing to the Lord and not to people but we need to lead the people to sing with songs that they can sing because our task is to lead the people to a meaningful worship experience. Consider your congregation.

As much as possible, let us keep the arrangement simple for the congregation. There is beauty in simplicity but simplicity does not mean mediocrity. In this area, excellence might not always be visible or perceivable because it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Technical improvements will follow. Just offer your best and the Lord will increase the ability.

Sing a New Song unto the Lord- Psalm 98

Psalm 98:1 KJV says,

“Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.” (v.1)

Sing a New Song unto the Lord

Here the Psalmist calls on the people of God to sing a new song unto the Lord, their best song unto Yahweh. However what does “new song” means?

According to Matthew Henry, Psalm 98 is a prophetic psalm. It speaks of a new song of praise for Yahweh’s redeeming love. It is a new song, as such as a song that had not been sung before; for this is a mystery which was hidden from ages and generations.

It is a prophecy of the kingdom of the Messiah, the settling of it up in the world, and the bringing of the Gentiles into it. It sets forth,

  1. The glory of the Redeemer (v. 1-3)
  2. The joy of the redeemed (v. 4-9).

If the grace of God put a new heart into our breasts, it will put a new song into our mouths. In the New Jerusalem there will be new songs sung, that will be new to eternity, and never wax old. Let this new song be sung to the praise of God, in consideration of these four things:

  1. The power of God (v.1) He has done marvelous things
  2. God has won the victory (v.1) His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him the victory
  3. God’s salvation (v.2) The Lord has made known His salvation openly to all nations
  4. God’s faithfulness to His people (v.3) He has made known His salvation; his righteousness openly to the nations

“And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” – Rev 14:3 KJV

Image: http://www.justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=90660

The Lord is Our Shepherd- John 10.1-10- Conclusion

The Lord is my Shepherd

The good news is that the Good Shepherd never tires of taking good care of us. He aims to give us life and have it more abundantly. According to Matthew Henry, “Christ came to give life and perisson ti- something more, something better, life with advantage; that in Christ we might not only live, but live comfortably, live plentifully, live and rejoice. Life in abundance is eternal life, life without death or fear of death, life and much more.”

However, do not measure abundance only in terms of money because there are important things that money cannot buy. Do not compare yourself with other people because the Shepherd knows you by name calls you by name and leads you by name, which means personally. He takes care of you uniquely as your finger prints.

We may be weak, but the Lord, our Shepherd takes care of us. In Him we can be strong. We only need to learn how to follow His voice as we indulge in prayer so that the enemy might not be able to harm us. The Shepherd Himself is the source of life in all its abundance. Like David, let us find comfort in the knowledge that The Lord is our Shepherd.

Image above courtesy of: http://www.sodahead.com/united-states

Sheep Are Meek and Obedient

One great characteristic of sheep is that they are meek and obedient. In a radio sermon, I have heard an illustration about two shepherds taking refuge inside a cave. “Two shepherds with their flocks entered in a cave. Their flocks mingled together that you can no longer distinguish which sheep belong to which shepherd. When the time has come for one of the shepherds to leave, he simply stood up and called out his sheep. Immediately, his sheep stood up from among the multitude of sheep lying down and followed his voice.”  It is surely an awesome sight. In verses 3-4, we can see the image of the Good Shepherd calling His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. Do you know the Shepherd’s voice? Do you hear His voice? Do you follow His voice?

Hands in Prayer

The Lord’s sheep knows His voice because they spend time in prayer. Sometimes, in our busy schedules we forget to spend quality time with God in prayer and meditation. Yet, we know that there is no way we can recognize the voice of our Shepherd unless we spend time to listen to Him in prayer. Of course, it is not an audible voice but a spiritual voice that we discern through our fervent prayer and study of His word.

In the book, the Lord is my Shepherd, A. W. Tozer, an American Pastor who preaches about the value of prayer writes, “Stay in that sacred place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart, till a sense of God’s presence has enveloped you. Listen for His inward voice till you learn to recognize it”. Solitude in God is a healing place where God can repair the damage by the noise and pressure of the world. Prayer is always our safe place.

Image: http://www.taneyparish.ie

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the Gate of the sheep pen and We Are the Sheep of His Flock

An oasis in the Negev Desert of Israel created by trees planted by the Jewish National Fund

Do you still remember the image of the two kinds of sheep pen? The Lord is the Good Shepherd and at the same time He is the Gate. He is the shepherd that sits at the opening of the enclosure. We are His flock. He keeps us safe and secure; He leads us to green pastures and quiet waters. According to Psalm 23:2, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside quiet waters”. The verb in the text suggests gentle persuasion- a shepherd patiently, persistently leading his sheep to the place where their hunger and thirst will be quenched. He does not force the issue. He does not pushes us down in green pastures neither drags us beside still waters. He patiently waits for our cry. Sometimes, he allows us to get hurt so we could learn that we cannot survive life without Him. When we start to cry, he is there to carry us on His back.

In the book, “The Lord is my Shepherd” the writer writes that in David’s day, “green pastures” are oases, verdant places in the desert where shepherds lead their thirsty flock. Left to themselves, the sheep would wander off into the wilderness and die. Experienced shepherds know the terrain and urge their flocks toward familiar grasslands and streams where they could feed; lie down and rest. In the same way, God knows our needs and thirsts. He senses our weary souls and He wants to lead us to a safe place.

Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oasis

Psalm 100: A Psalm For Giving Thanks

Worship the Lord with Thanksgiving

Psalm 100 is one of the four Psalms that has only five verses. In other translations, you can see a caption below the title that says: “A Psalm. For Giving Thanks.” It is said that Israelites use this Psalm for their thanksgiving offerings.

A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. –Psalm 100:1

In verse one we can read, “Make a joyful “noise” unto the Lord”. The word “noise” here comes from the Hebrew root, “ruwa”, which means “to shout, raise a sound, cry out, give a blast”. It can mean “to shout in triumph”, as a battle cry. It is the same Hebrew word we can read in Joshua 6:20, when the Israelites shouted with a great shout after going around the city of Jericho for seven days and the walls of Jericho fell flat on the ground. It is a shout to glory in the power and might of God.

It could also mean a shout in applause. It is a joyful noise in the presence of the Lord. It is welcoming the great and mighty King before His congregation. There is nothing more joyful than being with the great King of kings; experiencing His glory, power, holiness and His goodness. It is not just an ordinary noise of people shouting aimlessly, but an exceptional noise of singing voices that carries the glory of God that comes from the heart that seeks to dwell in the presence of the holy God.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.-Psalm 100:2

It is the desire of the Lord that we should come to Him in the spirit of joy and gladness. It is His desire that we serve Him or worship Him with gladness that comes from a loving heart and not just out of liturgical duty or religious tradition, which we best express through singing (in Psalms 63:5, the psalmist calls it “joyful lips”).

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.-Psalm 100:3

The Psalmist gives us a reason to rejoice by reminding us that God has created us according to His image and likeness. No matter what we have gained for ourselves, we should always realize that we can do nothing apart from Him and it gives us a great consolation to know that the Awesome God Himself is our Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd and He will take care of each one of us according to His purpose.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.-Psalm 100:4

There is great reason to give thanks unto the Lord for every good thing that we receive and there is nowhere else that is most appropriate to worship the Lord with thanksgiving and rejoicing than in the church. The words from the Psalmist should encourage us not to forsake our meeting together as a church instead take advantage of it to praise the wonders of God’s works in our lives before our brethren. In that way, they too may be encouraged in the Lord.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.-Psalm 100:5

God is always good in every season. Even in the middle of pestilence, disasters, or war, the goodness of God will remain and those who choose to trust Him will never be disappointed. His mercy never ends even unto our children and our children’s children.

 

Image Above Courtesy of: Free Foto.com

Faith that Cares II- Psalm 27.4

Several days ago, I visited a wordpress blog that tackled the topic of Christian love and love makeover. I made a comment to that blog post. Let me share it here as well:

love shows a faith that cares

“I agree. Love is the most important Christian virtue. God is love and those who profess faith in God should show the kind of love that Jesus has shown. Maybe it is not as easy as we say. We all have flaws and moods that affect the way we act or react sometimes. Sometimes, it is difficult when people expect so much from us when we are mere humans in an imperfect and degrading world. Of course, that is not an excuse for us not to live as God desires. Love is the key for all of us to make this world a better place to live until Christ returns. God bless you…”

I have heard comments that Christian churches in Korea flourish because they love their pastors. I heard there were members who would even give a car to their pastor. I am not saying that we should give cars to our pastors too. Let us just care for them for these acts of love toward God’s anointed touch the heart of God very dearly. [Philippians 4:18-19]

Witnessing is actually a matter of caring. We give food to people who are hungry or sick because we care. For those who are dying in the spirit, are we not going to care and share with them the Balm that would give them healing? The cure is in you, in me, in each one of us. Let us dare to care [Jude 22a].

We can love and care because God has cared about and has loved us first. Remember, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, by virtue of God’s mercy, let us all be avenues also of God’s mercy as we live out our faith. Sometimes, it is difficult but it is a call. Whenever we can and wherever we can, let us show our faith that cares.

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”. -1John 3:18

Faith that Cares- Psalm 27.4

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” -Psalm 27:4

Faith Methodist Church Congregation from Flickr.Com

Better is one day in your courts… than a thousand elsewhere”… Have you ever felt like staying in church even after the worship or activities have ended? You have felt the presence of God and you simply do not want to leave. Probably, David was feeling the same way when he was writing this psalm. He wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. He wanted to feel the saving presence of the Lord in his life.

We also seek the presence of God when we go to church each Sunday. However, God does not speak to us with an audible voice from heaven or touches us with His big miraculous hands. He warms us with each other’s faith and zeal. As we express our faith, we express love and care for our brethren as well because a person who has faith is a person who loves… Can we say Amen to that?

Some people are very pleasant with other people but when it comes to their own family members, they are inconsiderate. Let our family feel our love and care. [1 Timothy 5:8]

Superficial wounds heal easily, but emotional wounds hurt more deeply and only the soothing words from a caring brother/sister can bring healing. A Christian is an instrument of God’s warmth most especially for the family of believers. When you see a closely knitted family who cares for each other, you admire it, right? However, when you see a family killing each other, would you want to be a part of it? Of course, not! When the family of believers in a church loves each other, other people would love to become a part of that family [John 13:35].

Principle of the Lighthouse- Psalm 27.1

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” –Psalm 27:1

a depiction of the pharos of Alexandria

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world is the Pharos of Alexandria, a tall tower that has approximately measured to about 440 feet high, which has served as a landmark and a lighthouse for seafarers in the island of Alexandria.

Alexander the Great envisioned the lighthouse tower in Alexandria however, after his early demise in 323 BC, his most trusted general Ptolemy, ordered the building of the tower after pronouncing himself as king as a monument for himself. The construction ended sometime between 285 and 247 BC. Traveler Ibn Jubayr who visited the city in 1183 AD described it as: “Description of it falls short, the eyes fail to comprehend it, and words are inadequate, so vast is the spectacle.”

The essential purpose of a lighthouse is to guide seafarers away from rocks, sand bars, shorelines, or coral reefs and other dangerous spots that are not readily visible especially at night time or under a dark sky. The lighthouse can give the warning sign to ships that they are closing in to such places. It can also serve as a landmark so that seafarers would not get lost in their travel.

Life, too, is a distant travel. We need a guiding light so that we can steer away from trouble, hard knocks, and bumps that throw us out of a straight course. The psalmist has sung, “The Lord is my light.” The Lord should be our light as well. He will remove the darkness away and will lead us in the right direction.

We only need to follow our navigational instrument. Seafarers have maps, compass, rulers, radar, sonar, landmarks, and lighthouses in order to have a secure travel. We, have the Bible. The psalmist has sung, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” We do not need to know and see what lies in the future; we only need to follow him in each step of the way.

Center Photo:   http://www.users.bigpond.com/msn/gary_fletcher/pharos5.jpg

Lighthouse of Alexandria