Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Prayer-Singing

"Sing to Him a new song." (Psalm 33:3)

I've found six references to singing a new song in Psalms and two references in Revelation.  That's a total of eight times that the Bible talks about singing a new song to God.  I guess it shouldn't surprise us that a creative God who created the universe with all of it's diversity and complexity would enjoy our creative worship.  I take these verses to mean that God really likes it when you and I start making up songs to sing.  I'm sure He likes the old songs too but there is something special about a unique and creative expression from our heart sung to God.

Let me suggest that you try it today.  While you are out and about, driving or walking, or wherever you may find yourself, sing a prayer to the Father.  It doesn't have to be in tune, or a melodic masterpiece.  Just sing from the heart, the louder the better.  Sing of your love for God.  Sing of His greatness.  Sing thanksgiving or sing the scriptures.  Maybe sing about your needs or sing about the desires of your heart.    Sing a new song--sing your new song!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Newness of Spirit

"But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:6)

God wishes to move us from the discipline of the rigid law to the freedom of the boundless Spirit.  This means we don't just worship on the Sabbath but on every day of the week as the Spirit leads.  We don't just give a tithe but we are quick to share all of our resources as God directs.  Our goal is not to just meet the minimum legal requirement but to graciously give our lives as a living sacrifice.  The disciplines of the faith must cease to be religious rituals and must become natural expressions of our living faith.  In the same way that we breathe without giving it a thought simply because our lungs demand oxygen, we also love, serve, worship, pray, etc. because of the hunger in our souls.  My motivation for eating is not just to nourish my body.  I eat because I get hungry and because I enjoy the taste of food.  In the same way our motivation for the spiritual must move from duty to delight.

My friends, you are released from the duty of religious ritual!  God has provided a new and better way for you to serve God.  Here is a good starting place, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)  Today, let us love, even if we don't feel like it.  Soon, it will come as naturally as taking a deep breath.

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” --C. S. Lewis

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Kingdom of New

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:18-29)

The "Kingdom of God" is the "Kingdom of New".  The Bible contains a variety of references to how the kingdom is new.  We are new creations experiencing a new birth through newness of spirit.  We have a new song, a new teaching, a new covenant, a new command, and a new life.  We have a new self, a new attitude, and a new way.  The kingdom has a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, and a new day of worship right at the beginning of every new week. 

Today is a new day in which we will experience new adventures.  God has planned an amazing day for each of us.  Even now He is springing forth new things.  He is making new roads through your wilderness and new rivers through your desert.  Don't get too busy and miss the joy that today brings.  Live your life!  It's a gift.

“One of the tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”   --Dale Carnegie

Friday, April 10, 2015

NEW!

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This has long been one of my favorite verses from the Bible.  I like it because it's a message of "new".  Christians are to be "new creatures" who are experiencing "new things".  I don't know about you but I'm encouraged by new--new opportunities, new experiences, new life, etc.  Today is a new day and in it each of us will experience God in new ways as He reveals Himself to us.  We will, perhaps, make new friends, develop new skills, and receive new gifts.  The day will absolutely be filled with new.  The only question is to whether we will open our hearts to receive all of the new that God has for us today. 

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” --C.S. Lewis, Mere Chrisitanity

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The 7 Last Words of Christ from the Cross #7

"It is finished!" (John 19:30)

"It is finished" is a shout of victory!  Salvation has been accomplished! Jesus death on the across perfectly fulfilled all that was needed to purchase salvation for all who would look to Christ.

I like what Chuck Swindoll says:

Stop and think: Upon believing in Jesus Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, the once-lost sinner is instantly, unconditionally, and permanently "declared 100% righteous." Anything less and we are not righteous . . . we're almost righteous. If we are declared 99.9% righteous, some verses of the Bible would have to be rewritten. Like Isaiah 1:18, which might then read: "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'though your sins are as scarlet, they will be light pink.'" Nonsense! The promise of sins forgiven is all or nothing. Eighty percent won't cut it. . . .  When our Lord said "It is finished," He meant "finished."  --Chuck Swindoll

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The 7 Last Words of Christ from the Cross #6

"I am thirsty." (John 19:28)

John's Gospel tells us in verse 28 that Jesus said, "I am thirsty", in order to fulfill the Scripture.  Verse 29 continues, "A jar of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth."  This fulfills Psalm 69:21, "They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

The message that jumps out at me as I meditate on Psalm 69 is how untrustworthy human beings can be in comparison with the faithfulness of God.  When we look to people to meet our thirst, we are often given a mouth full of vinegar.  Only God can really meet our thirst.  This is a great Psalm for those times when we feel let down by friends and family.  Look to God! He is faithful! He is full of compassion! He is Hope!  "You who seek God, let your heart revive.  For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners." (Psalm 69:32-33)

Are you thirsty today?  Let me suggest a good long drink from Psalm 69.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The 7 Last Words of Christ From the Cross #5

"Woman, behold, your son!" (John 19:26) and "Behold, your mother!" (John 19:27)

When Jesus saw His mother and John standing near the cross, He placed her care in John's hands.  The Bible says that John took Mary into his own home to receive care and provision.  It's of note that as Jesus approaches death, He is concerned with the welfare of his mother.  Jesus is showing us what it means to honor our mother and father even in the final moments of life.  In the midst of the most important and essential mission ever conducted, Jesus doesn't overlook his responsibility to His own mother.

Here a few takeaways that I can see from the text:

#1--Our responsibility to honor parents goes way beyond our childhood.  Just because we are grown, doesn't mean we're beyond the 5th commandment.

#2--Honoring parents is a high priority.  If it's a task that Jesus performs while on the cross, then it's a task we need to make time for regardless of how busy we are.

#3--If we're not honoring our parents, then we aren't honoring God.  He requires it! (See Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:2-3)

My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind.  –Michael Jordan