Saturday, March 17, 2018

Praise in Song

Part 4

Ephesians 5:19
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

In studying more into praise in song,
you can't go past the verses in Colossians and Ephesians.
Notice in Colossians we are told to 'teach and admonish'
one another in song. So, teaching and admonishing were to
be, and should be present, even in song.

Our music should have another object than to please the ear.
Music is not only for enjoyment, but also for edification.
The word 'teaching' here has to do with imparting instruction,
instilling doctrine, explaining or expounding something.
And the word 'admonish' has to do with warning or exhorting.

So, our songs of praise should not only lift praise
to God, but also teach and admonish others and ourselves.
And that's where good, sound, doctrinal songs are important.
When we sing, we are relaying a message. The message is
so much more important than how well, or how poorly
we sing it out.

Matthew Henry puts it like this:

But, when we sing psalms, we make no melody unless we sing with grace in our hearts, unless we are suitably affected with what we sing and go along in it with true devotion and understanding. Singing of psalms is a teaching ordinance as well as a praising ordinance; and we are not only to quicken and encourage ourselves, but to teach and admonish one another, mutually excite our affections, and convey instructions.”

We notice also that we must sing with
grace in our hearts to the Lord.
that which affords joy, pleasure, delight,
sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech,
good will, loving kindness, favour” to the Lord!

This comes back to singing with the right motives.
All too often, we hear a beautiful song
sung, with perfect harmony, meaningful words,
doctrinally sound, but sung with a heart of pride.
Sung with the praise of men in mind. No spirit-filled
overflowing of the heart, just a perfectly executed song,
that might has well have been executed for all the good
it did the singer and the hearer.

The purpose of our psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, is to glorify God, and He is
pleased when we use music as a means of
worshipping Him. Spiritual music gives voice
to our joy and adoration unlike anything else.
If we are singing in sincerity, really taking notice
of the words, singing with meaning,
our spirits are lifted as we sing praise to God.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then psalms, hymns
and spiritual songs are the natural expression of our hearts.
How easy it is to catch yourself singing to the Lord
when your heart is happy and you are full of the joy of the Lord.
It doesn't matter one bit if you can't hold a tune in a bucket.
God sees our hearts and He knows our sincerity.

Psalms 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusted in him, and I am helped:
therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

He also tells us in the Psalms to 'make a joyful noise unto the Lord'
and sometimes, the person standing beside us in church is making
a joyful noise to the Lord, and although their tuneless song distracts
us somewhat, and comes across as just a noise,
God sees their heart and their praise of Him IS a joyful noise.

In Ephesians it tells us to 'speak to ourselves in psalms, and hymns and
spiritual songs and make melody to the Lord'.
A song that arises from someone whose heart overflows with
praise and adoration of God is a blessing to God,
and sweet music to His ears. In these two verses,
we are told to help others and to help ourselves through
the use of music.

But be warned, music is not all about how it makes us feel,
but how it makes God feel. Our music is to show praise
to God. A lot of the time, our emphasis in singing is completely
misplaced and we think that the purpose of singing is all about
the worshipper, that we feel good, or feel moved.
Music holds a great power and there is always that danger
in our song services that the real purpose of music in churches
is forgotten and replaced with 'feel good' songs
and singing in order to set the mood.

Being a musician myself, I know very well the power
of music and how it can be used to sway the emotions
and stir people, and there is a fine line between using music
to help set the right atmosphere in church and using it
to move people to make emotional based decisions.

If we focus on singing in praise and adoration of God,
and let that be our motive, our song will be pleasing to God.

Sometimes, instead of singing the words to a song,
it is a good idea to slowly read them aloud,
as we so often skim over them in song,
but when we slow down and read them,
we see great truths about God,
that we may not have noticed before.

A very well known hymn, written by Robert Grant,
so aptly sings the praises of God.
Take time to read it through slowly
and maybe for the first time,
take in the true meaning of the song,
and speak the words as a prayer to God.

O Worship the King

O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise.
O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Portrait Session With Grandma

Yes, it's time for some more
photos of Miriam. 
4 weeks away from Grandma
is a very, long time! 

Little girls love to
dress up, no matter what age,
but time doesn't wait and neither
does childhood. Cherish those moments.  

Childhood Doesn't Wait

I was sitting on a bench
while in a nearby mall,
When I noticed a young mother
with two children who were small.

The youngest one was whining,
"Pick me up," I heard him beg
but the mother's face grew angry
as the child clung to her leg.

"Don't hang on to me," she shouted
as she pushed his hands away,
I wish I'd had the courage
to go up to her and say...

"The time will come too quickly
when those little arms that tug,
Won't ask for you to hold them
or won't freely give a hug.

"The day will sneak up subtly
just as it did with me,
When you can't recall the last time
that your child sat on your knee.

"Like those sacred, pre-dawn feedings
when we cherished time alone
Our babies grow and leave behind
those special times we've known.

"So when your child comes to you
with a book that you can share,
Or asks that you would tuck him in
and help him say his prayer...

"When he comes to sit and chat
or would like to take a walk,
Before you answer that you can't
`cause there's no time to talk.

"Remember what all parents learn
so many times too late,
That years go by too quickly
and that childhood doesn't wait.

"Take every opportunity,
if one should slip away
Reach hard to get it back again,
don't wait another day."

I watched that mother walk away
her children followed near,
I hope she'll pick them up
before her chances disappear...

 And after all that work,
it was time for some splashing
in the bath! (to cool down and to get 
Grandma and the Aunty's wet)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Praise in Song
Part 3

Psalms 148:1-14

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens:
praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels:
praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon:
praise him, all ye stars of light.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens,
and ye waters that be above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the LORD:
for he commanded, and they were created.
He hath also stablished them for ever and ever:
he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour;
stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things,
and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people;
princes, and all judges of the earth:
Both young men, and maidens;
old men, and children:

Let them praise the name of the LORD:
for his name alone is excellent;
his glory is above the earth and heaven.
He also exalteth the horn of his people,
the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel,
a people near unto him.
Praise ye the LORD.

What a Psalm of praise!
I was interested to see all the things
that are told to praise the Lord, in this passage.
Notice that it's not only people that are to give praise?
We have mountains, trees, beasts, sun, moon,
angels, heavens, stars and the list goes on.

What an amazing God we serve that even
creation cries out in praise of Him.

Recently, Dave taught on joy in the Christian life
and the 'joy stealers' that try to rob us of our joy.
When we become a Christian, we have a new joy
that is a deep joy, not just a surface, superficial pleasure
that is only temporary. God wants us to have true joy. His joy.

John 15:11
These things have I spoken unto you,
that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full.

One of the ways to 'see' joy is in our praise
of God in song. How is it that so often we come
into God's house to worship Him and learn from His word,
and we sing songs of praise to Him with a sad face,
lacking expression, lacking joy?

We sing the words that tell of God's goodness,
and yet we sing them like we're reading a boring
lesson on physics or something.

Too often we are guilty of not really listening to the
words that we're singing. Some of the hymn writers of old
wrote the hymns we sing today in times of great distress.
A lot of the hymns were written after going through
a great trial. And yet, they were able to praise God
and write down a song of praise to Him
and sing of His goodness to them.

Many of our songs can be sung as a prayer to God,
thoughtful, meditative and sober. But there are others
that if you haven't come to church with your
'grumpy Sunday morning attitude', make you want
to shout “Praise God” in between the pauses!
(and believe me, it's come
bursting out of me a few times!)

There are many examples of the Israelites singing
in praise to God. One of the most well known songs
is what we know as the song of Moses.

Exodus 15:1
Then sang Moses and the children
of Israel this song unto the LORD,
and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD,
for he hath triumphed gloriously:
the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

The Israelites joined Moses in praise and worship
of God in song after the crossing of the Red Sea.
They had seen great victory and their hearts were
overflowing with gratitude to God, so much so
that their voices cried out in praise!

Now, we might not have crossed a Red Sea, with
Pharaoh following hot on our heels, but there
are many circumstances in our lives that warrant
a joyful praise session, whether it be spoken
in prayer to God or sung to Him.

And I think that if your heart is right with God,
and you are continually focusing on God's goodness
to you as a poor wretched sinner, undeserving,
but justified and on your way to heaven,
praise should flow out of you almost involuntarily.
It's like a bubbling fountain that someone just poured
a bottle of bubble bath into, and now it's bubbling
everywhere and just won't stop!
(and yes, I've always wanted to try that)

Praise should continually be in our mouth.
If it's in your heart, it'll be in your mouth,
and if it's in your mouth, well, open it! And let it out!

Psalms 34:1
I will bless the LORD at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

The building of Solomon's temple is another
great example of a time when God's people
got excited in praise and worship in response to God's providence.

2 Chronicles 5:11-14

And it came to pass, when the priests
were come out of the holy place:
(for all the priests that were present were sanctified,
and did not then wait by course: Also the Levites
which were the singers, all of them of Asaph,
of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren,
being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals
and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar,
and with them an hundred and twenty priests
sounding with trumpets:)

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters
and singers were as one, to make one sound
to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD;
and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets
and cymbals and instruments of musick,
and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good;
for his mercy endureth for ever:
that then the house was filled with a cloud,
even the house of the LORD;

So that the priests
could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud:
for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

Their worship was such sweet music to the Lord
that he filled the house with a cloud so the priests
could not even minister because of it.
The glory of the Lord had filled the house.

Oh that we could sing praise to God with such
a true, sincere heart of worship that He would fill
our house with His glory!
(And I love the part about the 120 trumpets!
But, more on musical instruments in a later post)

As I've mentioned before, there is so much
in the Bible on praise (248 times the word is recorded),
that I think God is trying to tell us something important.
Our purpose in life is to glorify Him,
and honour Him and love Him, and through
this, we are able to, with the Holy Spirit's help,
bring others to Him.

Psalms 86:12
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart:
and I will glorify thy name for evermore.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Wet Season

Wet season is well and truly upon us
and with it comes epic skies and beautiful rainbows.
The rainbow to remind us of God's promise and
the thunder and lightning to remind us that His
coming draws closer and we'd better get busy 
telling others the good news of the gospel
before our time is up. 
(at least, that's how I see it)

All in all, it's a reminder
of God's awesomeness,
and I mean that in the true sense of the word. 
def: causing or inducing awe,
inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence,
admiration or fear

Here are a few photos I've taken in 
the last two days.
The rainbow was the brightest,
most vibrant I've seen in
quite a while. 

And, although most of the lightning was
hidden behind a billowing cloud, 
I was able to catch a few glimpses of 
it now and then. 

I don't usually get time to go exploring 
to find better vantage points, so sometimes
as you drive home from church and you see
the lightning break overhead, 
you grab your camera and sit back on your verandah, 
and snap away at the vantage point 
God has blessed you with right then and there!