Psalm 134 & 146-150
I remember the song that came on the radio immediately after receiving the text that a dear woman of God was being placed in hospice care following her 4 year battle with cancer – I Can Only Imagine. And God spoke to me. My friend and mentor was getting closer and closer to the dark sleep of death and we would be separated from her for a time. But at Jesus’ resurrection she will rise and be closer to Jesus than ever before! I wonder – will she sing and dance or fall silent at his feet? I Can Only Imagine.
I remember the song that echoed in the rafters as the Family Camp worship band led worship at the close of a Family Camp which had come at a time of great searching and pain for our family when we were unsure of what was next but felt God leading us away from the church that was home – These are the Days of Elijah. And God spoke to me. “There is no god like Jehovah”. Yes, Elijah, Moses, David had trials, too. They were unsure, they questioned, they experienced pain, and God showed up for them in mighty ways, just as He was revealing himself for us, one day at a time. “There is no god like Jehovah”!
I remember the song that just last night my daughter started to sing as I read aloud the Bible reading for the day from Psalm 108 – “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.” The tune probably wouldn’t sound familiar to you because my 3 kids wrote it out and practiced it over and over with piano, guitar and voice to remember it now, 4 years later, during our devotions. And God spoke to me – through the words of David and the tune of my children. God is worthy of praise – through all the years and generations and ages. Sing to Him and tell the nations!
Music is powerful. People choose and leave churches based on the worship style. Many report that during the time of online church they miss most not meeting to sing together with the body of Christ. It is interesting that the most popular post on this site was one titled after a rousing and uplifting worship song which vividly brings to mind God’s might and protection – The God of Angel Armies.
But what gives music its real power is that GOD speaks through it.
In our reading today we have 3 chapters written for the Jews returning to Jerusalem after many year of living in captivity. They are reminded of how to be God’s chosen, holy people – and that includes the temple worship spoken of in these chapters – 1 Chronicles 23-25. We read in 1 Chronicles 23:5 that King David himself provided the instruments for the 4,000 Levites selected to lead the people in musical worship to their God. Chapter 25 lists the heads of the families selected, “for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.” (25:1). Often we think today of prophesying as foretelling the future. But more generically, and often used in the Scriptures, prophesying is simply speaking for the Lord. To be God’s mouthpiece. To say what God wants to be said.
God speaks. And sometimes that is done with a tune, set to music, with instruments and voices lifted high. Sing to the Lord – and listen for what He is speaking to you today.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+chronicles+23-25&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be back in the songbook of the Bible: Psalm 131, 138-139 & 143- 145 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.
Which verses would you make into a song to sing today?
Do you have an interest in writing one devotion for this week? If so, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss.
I got so excited reading Psalm 95 today because of my enduring joy and love for worshipping God in song. Growing up, music was something that I would consider a “constant”. It kept me grounded in some of the most difficult moments of my life, and it helped me celebrate my greatest victories. When it was hard to pray, or if I struggled to read my Bible like I should, worship was still a peaceful, easy place for me to meet with God. As I got older, worship was where I developed my deepest relationship with God. It has always forced me to be vulnerable and open.
But as I have grown in faith and maturity, I have discovered that coming to the LORD in song has absolutely nothing to do with how it makes us feel. That is a plus of course–what we gain from pouring out our heart to God is incredible. But ultimately, coming before the LORD in praise and worship is something we should do because God has earned it.
Let’s think about it. When we go to church…Or in our current case, when we watch our church services online. Most of the service is centered around teaching, edifying, even sometimes, convicting us. Worship is a specific time to give back. It’s about adoration and proclamation.
O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! (Psalm 95:1)
What a special opportunity we have to come together in unity to shout to the LORD with gladness for all of his goodness and mercy that he has poured upon us. That is amazing! And it is something we shouldn’t take lightly.
So whether you are musical or not, I urge you to take some time to make a joyful noise to the LORD. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give to our God who has everything. And that is a gift worth giving.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+95%2C+97-99&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be a little bit of everything: 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22 & Psalm 30 as we continue with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
As our Bible reading today we have just one chapter in the book of 1st Chronicles (chapter 6) – still in the genealogies. This chapter is devoted to the tribe of Levi. Levi was one of the 12 sons of Jacob and his descendants would be the ones God chose to be the Levites for the nation of Israel. They were set apart for service to God. They would be the care takers of the tabernacle (where people sought God), and later the temple. From their tribe would come the family line that would serve as priests and the most holy role of high priest, which later Jesus himself would take upon his shoulders.
But, that’s not all – some of the Levites (those listed in verses 33-47) – were given the responsibility of temple musicians. They were to play, sing, and make music to the Lord – to lead the temple-goers in their worship of the Most High.
I love that God created us to enjoy music. I love the power of music – just read any article on music and the brain or music therapy – or better yet – listen to the nurse as he plays his guitar in the hall of his covid-19 ward. Or witness the miraculous turn-around of the struggling infant when his big sister sings to him the song that she always sang to the baby in her mommy’s belly. Or hear the band play as the Titanic sinks. Music grips us and moves us in many ways. Let music be a source that moves you toward God as you come to worship.
As our church has gone online during this time of isolation, I miss the community lifting their voices and instruments together in worship. But even now, music remains as a powerful means to move us closer to God. Look up the words to an old hymn. Pick up an instrument you have neglected too long. Thank those who have used the gift of music to lead you into meaningful worship. Share with your family a song that reminds you of God’s love, character and promises. Search for Bible verses about music. Play worship music as you go about your day. Research how many instruments are listed in the Bible? Post a song of Christian joy and hope on social media. Write your own psalm of praise – maybe you will even set it to a tune.
Music was a powerful part of worship long ago, it is still today, regardless of our situation – and it will be in the future as well. I love the verses in Revelation where the faithful will sing in worship to God and the Lamb Jesus Christ as the Kingdom of God is preparing to unfold. Let’s get started practicing today to be a part of that choir! God and His Son are worthy of our worship! Sing it out!
Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+6&version=NIV
Tomorrow we go back to the Psalms – 81, 88, & 92-93 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading of the day: John 4
There are many names and titles that the church is given. We’re called the bride of
Christ, saints, children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, the body of Christ,
disciples of Jesus, and so on. However, there is another reference to the church in
John 4. In this chapter, Jesus and the Samaritan woman are speaking at the well. During their conversation Jesus makes this remark about worship: “But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be his worshippers. God is spirit and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth” – John 4.23-24. Biblical worship is worship that is so integrated into our life and weaved in through every aspect of our being that worship becomes our identity. We worship. That is who we are. And with being a worshipper we worship God in “spirit and truth”. The phrase “spirit and truth” has perplexed me for a long time. The last few years God has shown me what it means to worship him specifically “in spirit”. We are to worship God by the empowerment of the holy spirit. We worship God in and through and by means of the holy spirit. There is a spiritual aspect of worship that we can gain access to by the spirit. This could be prophetic utterances, words of knowledge, and having a very real sense of the presence of God near you during worship. At the same time we should worship God “in truth”. We should be careful not to let our experiences 100% determine what we believe about God. We should check our experiences with what the Bible says. We should engage our mind and reasoning faculties with God and the Bible. I believe that holistic worship is worship that is executed in “spirit and truth”. Jesus says that God desires true worshippers to worship him in spirit and truth. God doesn’t want a church-goer or someone who is defined by what they do in church. God desires a worshipper to worship him in spirit and truth. God wants worshippers. You are called to be a worshipper. Your identity is to be a worshipper. I pray that God moves on your heart and mine and calls us and teaches us to go deeper in worship. As I said in the beginning, living the best possible life God has for us in this world is inextricably tied to worship. You were created to worship with your whole being at all times in all seasons.
Free theme of the week: Worship
Chapter reading of the day: Psalm 34
Worship is a loaded word in the American church. Part of the misunderstanding of
worship today is that “worship” is something that only happens on a Sunday or
Wednesday. On the contrary, worship is something that should happen everyday in
every circumstance we find ourselves in. This may seem as common sense or a basic
thought, however, many Christians only worship God when things are going well in life
or only on Sundays or Wednesdays. Biblical worship is worship that permeates every
season of life including the bad ones. Today’s devotion is to encourage you to praise
God in every life season.
Here are some verses to meditate on for this topic:
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – Psalm
“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the spirit, speaking
to one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ to God even the Father” – Eph. 5.19-21
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for your life” – I Thessalonians 5.17
I want to encourage everyone who is reading this that is going through a tough season
that it’s ok to feel sad, upset, frustrated, etc. The Bible tells us just because we follow
Christ that does not mean our lives will be problem free, actually it says the opposite.
Our lives will become harder because as our lives are conformed to Jesus we live
against the grain of culture and our own sin nature. And other times the trouble we have
in our life is self-inflicted. Regardless of the source of our troubles, God is worthy to be
praised in our trouble.
When problems in life arise the best response we can have is to press into God and
praise him. This is so easy to say and so hard to do. You may wonder “what does it
mean to praise God in seasons of trouble?”. Here are some practical suggestions that
you can use to help stimulate praise when life is hard:
1. Tell God and Jesus “thank you” – You can thank God for anything in your life,
the big things and the small things. When we thank God we stop focusing on our
problem and start glorifying God. Being thankful changes our perspective.
2. Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in your life – Remembering how God
has moved in your life is important during times that you may not feel or hear from
God. The Old Testament is full of sections where the people of God remember how
the Lord has been faithful to encourage them during present crises (the Psalms
are a great place to start).
3. Remember that suffering that is brought on by following Jesus is an honor
and suffering for his name sake is the mark of a true follower of Jesus. In other words, your suffering is not in vain or meaningless – Suffering from following Jesus is honorable and does not escape God’s notice. When you experience this type of suffering consider it joy because it means that you’re following Jesus in a deeper way than the people around you. God is worthy of our praise not just on a Sunday or Wednesday or when life is going well. But he desires worship in every season of life. Don’t run from God when life gets hard. Praise and worship him through it.
Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Acts 16
Singing is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of worship.
However, singing is not just some common and mundane practice that believers do
when they gather, say on a Sunday. Actually the Bible teaches that singing praises to
God and Jesus is incredibly powerful and moving and has consequences in the
The difference between worship music that is alive and worship music that is dead is
based on two things. 1. The hearts of the music leader and/or band are not in the right
place and they will not be authentic and genuine in their worship. And 2. because their
hearts are far from God, God will not dwell and inhabit their praises meaning the spirit of God will not move in them or through them. Inversely, if the music leader/band’s heart is ready to praise God and solely be devoted to his glory then God will inhabit their
praises, the spirit will be moving, and exciting things will happen. When speaking about
praising God through our voice it is imperative that our heart be in the right place. God
doesn’t want a voice to sing to him. He desires a heart overflowing with love and
worship that manifest in singing praises. There’s a difference.
With that being said we’ll look at Acts 16.22-34. I won’t type out the passage but I’ll
summarize it. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in the city of Thyatira. While preaching a
slave girl was following them praising their work. However, she was demon-possessed
and was being a hindrance to their work. Paul cast the demon out of her and her
owner became furious. Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.
Then read what happens next as they are in jail:
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors
were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” – Acts 16.25-26
Paul and Silas were singing songs of praise and were praying prayers of praise. Despite
their circumstances, their hearts were solely set on God and praising him. The result
was God caused an earthquake, the inmates were set free, and the jailer and his family
Setting aside the circumstances and details of the story, we see two men praise God
wholeheartedly and their worship in the natural realm moves God in the supernatural
realm to affect their current circumstances. We see from this account that singing and
praying can actually move the heart of God. Our worship in the natural can make waves
in the supernatural.
We see the same principle in II Chronicles 20.1-23 (please read). Worship can move
mountains in the supernatural realm. Singing can be a weapon used against the enemy
and dark spiritual forces. Our warfare in the supernatural is waged by singing and praying. Praising God and Jesus with our voice does not have to be mundane and
routine though sometimes it can be. Rather, singing has the ability to make waves in the
supernatural realm, move God, and wage war against the enemy. But this is only
possible with a sold-out heart seeking the glory of God. A heart that praises him in all
circumstances and gives him glory in all seasons of life. That is the kind of worship that
God responds to.
Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: I Thessalonians 5
The most obvious way people communicate is through speech. Much like thinking,
because we talk so much, and it is such an integral part of our life experience we often
don’t think about what we say. We live in an age where being heard is more important
than the quality and validity of what is being said. When it comes to speech and talking
do you worship God? Is your tongue obedient to Jesus? Jesus often only presents two
options when it comes to examining your life. You’re either on the broad road that leads
to death or you’re on the narrow road that leads to life. You’re either a good tree that
produces good fruit or you’re an evil tree that produces evil fruit. You either serve God
or wealth. You either hear the words of Jesus and don’t act on them or you hear the
words of Jesus and act on them. Ask yourself, “Do the words I speak honor God and
Jesus or do they not?”
God and Jesus care about what comes out of your mouth. What you say has power and
consequences. Because of this truth the Bible has a lot to say about words and speech
“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape
from trouble” – Proverbs 12.13
“The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips
comes to ruin” – Proverbs 13.2
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” –
“You brood of vipers, how can you being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth
speaks out of that which fills the heart…But I tell you that every careless word that
people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgement. For by your
words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” – Matthew
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good
for edification according to the need of the moment…” – Ephesians 4.29
“There must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but
rather giving of thanks.” – Ephesians 5.4
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” – I
“No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we
bless the Lord and Father and with it we curse men…from the same mouth come
blessing and cursing, my brethren, these thing ought not to be this way” – James 3.8-9
We can see that the Bible teaches about speech in different ways. Sometimes the
Bible teaches using wisdom and starts with the point that the tongue is powerful and
wisdom should be used when speaking. Jesus teaches us that what we say we will beheld accountable to. And the Bible teaches about positive and negative speech. We
should abstain from “unwholesome” words that don’t edify or encourage others. This
could be constant negative speaking, sarcasm, curse words, unnecessary criticism, etc.
Whereas we are urged to be grateful in our speech and speak life and uplift others.
Jesus says that out of the heart the mouth speaks. What does your speech say about your
heart condition? Do your words worship God or do your words sound like the world?
God wants all of you including your speech. Glorify God with your words. Speak life and
Free theme week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Philippians 4
The mind is incredibly powerful. Because the mind is powerful and directly affects how we live our life and how we think about ourself, setting our mind on God is of paramount importance. If Satan and dark spiritual forces can win over your mind and have you believe their “truth” then they control you. We see this when Jesus was led into the wilderness and then was tempted by Satan. Satan questioned Jesus’ identity twice trying to get Jesus to believe that he was not who God said he was. Satan was attacking the mind of Jesus. But Jesus had a strong mind that was set upon God and his promises and did not fall for Satan attacks. Worshipping God with our mind is essential if we want to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy. Today we’ll look at one way that we can love and worship God with our mind.
The definition of anxiety is a being in a state of apprehension, uneasiness, or nervousness. Anxiety wrecks the mind and bombards it with endless “what if’s”. All of us have experienced anxiety at one time or another. There are many situations that we can become anxious about including our relationship with God. If left unchecked anxiety can consume a person and drastically affect their relationship with God and Jesus. When this happens the person and their mind is living in a state of “non-worship”. In Philippians 4.6-8 God reveals to us the remedy of anxiousness:
“6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests made known to God. 7 And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Philippians 4.6-8 is a call to worship God with our mind. To set our mind on God and Jesus and not dwell or focus on anxiety. Here are some things we learn from this passage:
Notice that Philippians 4 does not say that life will not have anxiety. But when you do have episodes or seasons of anxiety do not let it consume you. Surrender it to God in prayer. When we allow ourselves to be consumed with anxiety and fear we live in a state of non-worship of the mind. But when we obey what God has said we worship God with our mind, it says I will not let [fill in the blank] define me or consume me, I will bring it to God. That is worshipping God with our mind. This is worship that God desires from his people.
Free Theme Week: Worship
Chapter reading for the day: Colossians 3
There is a particular “truth” that is extremely pervasive in our culture, the news, social media, etc. This “truth” is that you are the sole determiner in what you decide to do with your body and that no one else has the right to tell you what you can or can’t do with it. If you want to tattoo your whole body do it. If you want to fill your body with botox and recreate your image through plastic surgery have at it. If a woman wants to get an abortion, how dare anyone tell her she cannot. If you want to sleep around with different people in the name of finding yourself and wanting non-committal sex, more power to you. We are bombarded with messages everyday about how the individual is the authority of their body. There’s a problem though; this is a lie.
The truth is that humans are not the sole authority over their bodies, God is. The reason he is the authority is because he is the creator of our bodies (Psalm 139) and as disciples of Jesus we are to honor and glorify God and Jesus in our body. We are to subject our bodies to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and use our body for the glory of God and Jesus. Now there are many ways we can do this but for today we will look at two ways in which we can worship God in our body.
Food is a particular problem in America. We can eat food whenever we want and eat however much we like. The problem with this is that many Christians, along with Americans, are overweight and unhealthy. God created food to be good and for us to enjoy. The problem is when we indulge too much in food and we hurt our bodies with disease and premature death. The Bible warns against gluttony (Prov. 23.21, Philippians 3.19). When our bodies are slowed down by being overweight, too tired, and fighting disease the ministry God has given us is hindered. The remedy to being in control of food and honoring God with your body is self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5.22-23). Let us pursue self-control when it comes to eating. Let us pursue self-control when it comes to the quantity and quality of the food we eat. When we do this we honor and love God with our body. Your body is for more than just to take pleasure in food it is to worship God and minister to others.
A second way to love and honor God with our body is to obey God in his design of sex. Again God created sex to be good but only within the parameters that he set up. These parameters are the marriage union between a husband and wife. Whether you are married or single, any person can use sex outside of God’s will. Instead of listing activities that fall outside of God’s design for sex, I’ll speak positively to God’s will for sex. It really only comes down to two things:
God states plainly in I Thessalonians 4.3, that his will for his people is to abstain from sexual immorality. Participating in sex the right way results in us loving and worshipping God with our body. As Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” – I Corinthians 6.19-20