Tag Archives: Praise

The Sheep of Bethlehem

The Sheep of Bethlehem

He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  Psalm 78:70-71

As the family inheritance was passed down from Boaz to Obed, Jesse and eventually David, we find Bethlehem (the House of Bread) with all the Barley fields of Boaz become a sheep herding location.  The first time we meet David, he is out in the fields, “keeping the sheep” of his father Jesse.

When it comes time for King David to make sacrifice and bring home the Ark of the Covenant to the “City of David”- that is Jerusalem, it is fitting that he would have found the sheep for sacrifice in his hometown.  Following the lead of the Shepherd/King David – his son, Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple sought after many sheep for sacrifice.  From the time of Solomon and David it is clear that the Lambs used for Temple worship and Sacrifice in Jerusalem, were raised 6 miles south in a place called….. Bethlehem.

The shepherds of Bethlehem were partially careful to take care of the sheep.  They would stay with the pregnant ewes and help with deliver.  The stables the shepherds used were the many caves in the hillside of Bethlehem.  These caves offered a safe, warm, and dry place for delivery of the lambs. And best of all: When the lambs were born the shepherds wrapped the lambs in “swaddling clothes!”

It is into this “sheep producing” town that the Lord sent His Son Jesus.  Jesus was born in the “Stable” or shepherds cave just a short distance away from the Inn his parents were turned away from.  It is to this area of the world, renowned for terrific “sheep stock” that the Lord sent the Last Lamb that would ever be needed for sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:10 teaches: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Yes, the sheep of Bethlehem paved the way, and painted a picture of the final sheep that would be required of God.  Jesus is the final sacrifice, making the only way for a person to be saved and forgiven of their sins.  Have you accepted the gift of eternal life?  Have you believed in the “Lamb of God” which taketh away the sins of the world?  Why not believe in Jesus today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let the People Praise Thee

Let the People Praise Thee

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.  Psalm 67:3

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful day each year.  Lots of food. Fun family gatherings. Football games and more eating.  Christmas shopping commences. There are so many things going on that perhaps most people have forgotten what the original intention of Thanksgiving Day was.

Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made the very first Thanksgiving Proclamation in the “New World” of America. He said:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Later on George Washington made a similar declaration in the new, United States.  Long before Bradford or Washington, the Psalmist wrote that we should praise the Lord.  More than just one day of the year, we are to give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.  God is always good!  So, before being filled with food, fun, fellowship, and football, be sure to express appreciation and thanksgiving to God.  It is all because of Him that we have anything good to celebrate anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

Don’t Be Like Your Dog

“A little lad of six was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. As soon as all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and, with a child’s frankness, asked, “Don’t you say a prayer before you eat?” The host was uncomfortable, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The lad thought silently for a while, and said, “You’re just like my dog! You start right in.””

Don’t be like your dog on Thanksgiving.  Remember to give thanks to the Lord.

One of my favorite things to do each holiday season is to watch Charlie Brown and his talented dog, Snoopy.  One of the best yearly reminders of God’s blessing to early America can be seen in Charles Schultz’ rendition of the Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, meeting Chief Massasoit and Squanto and sitting down to dinner and giving thanks to God for surviving the brutal and deadly winters they were unprepared for.  With little food, a majority of the settlers buried, and with great uncertainty facing the future, they stopped everything to praise and thank the Lord.

It has been said that being truly “thankful” involves “giving.”  After all, the word Thanksgiving is a compound word; and both “Thanks” and Giving” are words rich with meaning.  Grateful people are happy people.  Have you ever seen a complaining, grumbling person?  Sure.  Are they happy?  No.  We are most happy when we have thankful attitudes, grateful words, and gracious actions.  If you are consistently giving praise and thanks to the Lord, you will be less likely to be critical, self absorbed, and feeling negative about life.

We need to be like the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  The early Christians living in the city of Thessalonica were challenged and encouraged to give thanks in everything in life.  Every life stage.  Every circumstance.  Every weather event.  Every electoral cycle.  Every season of life.  Every start to the week.  In.  Everything.  Give.  Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank-you for reading these devotionals.  I am grateful for each reader and pray that these postings will be a help to you.

 

 

 

 

 

(Snoopy rendition by Charles Schulz, from internet search)

Running to the Tomb

Running to the Tomb

“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”  John 20:3-9

Peter and John are stoked.  They are amazed at what Mary Magdalene has just told them about the tomb being empty.  It had been a fast three days earlier that everyone saw Joseph of Arimathea wrap the body of Jesus and lay it in a brand-new tomb.

Peter and John run.  They run to verify the amazing story of the resurrection.  After running to ensure the validity of the empty tomb, verse 8 says: “he saw, and believed.”  What John saw and believed was that Jesus was gone, the resurrection took place, just as He had said.

Many Christians would say they “believe.” Our issue today is that we take that “belief” for granted.  Since the resurrection is life changing, eternity changing, and is the single most monumental moment in history, you would think we would have a higher regard for Jesus and the salvation He purchased for us on the Cross.  This moment of victory is unparalleled by anything else in life.  Anything.

Even while we “believe” many of us are not as enthusiastic about the Cross, the Resurrection, and of Jesus as we ought to be.  How many Christians will make it to Easter Sunday on time?  How many will be late?  How many will show up at all? How many will have an inner excitement visible on the outside with facial expressions of peace, joy, and satisfaction in Jesus?  We tend to “run” everywhere else: “Run” to the store.  “Run” to the Doctor or to the school event.  We “run” to sporting events and more!

We should run to the empty tomb Easter Sunday and every Sunday.  The Christian church celebrates the resurrected Lord Jesus every Sunday.  That is why the old “Sabbath Day” of worship was moved to Sunday.  Because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. We should congregate with other Christians to worship the resurrected Lord.  We should be quick to priorities celebrating our faithful God and praising His Son for what He did on the Cross and in the Tomb for us.

We may not need to physically run to church, but we should have the same drive and energetic spirit to stop everything else to praise the Lord.  Go to church this Sunday with the same emotions of jubilation and amazement that Peter and John had that very first resurrection day!

 

 

 

 

 

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 106:1

For this posting, you may want to open your Bible to Psalm 106 to follow along in the text.

“A man writing at a post-office desk was approached by an elderly fellow who asked, “Sir, could I get you to address this postcard for me?”

The man did so gladly, and then agreed to another request, which was to write a message on the card, and to sign it. He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

The old fellow thought a moment, then said, “Yes. Add this at the end: ‘P.S. Please excuse the handwriting.”

All of us should be challenged with the idea of thankfulness. You can Become a thankful person today.  Early Israel is our example to learn from in Psalm 106.

Eight marks of thanklessness to the Lord include:

  • Forgetting the Mercy of God. 1-7
  • Lusting for More Stuff. 8-15
  • Envying Others’ Power. 16-23
  • Murmuring Behind Closed Doors. 25-26.
  • Making Idle Inventions. 28-29, 39

Please note that Inventions = deeds.  We can be very creative at evil action.  Our imagination can be dangerous. Imagination = “Framing of the Mind.” When we think of it – then our actions will follow:  See how these verses inform this truth:  Genesis 6:5, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And in Psalm 81:12, So I gave them up unto their own hearts (“Imagination”) lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Too Much Time on Our Hands could be the result of blessing or even the result of hard work.  When we abuse the time with evil, it is the product of an un-thankful heart.

“Idle Hands are the devils workshop.”  It is a true idea rooted in Bible truth. Voids of good activity are always filled with evil activity.  Fill your day with good actions.  Fill your heart with Bible Intention. Stage the platform of your life so that free time is used for good, not evil.

  1. It could be that being with other people prevents sin.
  2. It may be that reading the Bible prevents sin.
  3. It is possible that having routines and expectations could prevent sin.
  4. It is true that being thankful, daily, could prevent sin. “An Attitude of Gratitude” goes a long way.
  5. Idle inactivity often leads to idol activity!
  • Provoking Anger in Others. 29, 40, 32-33
  • Mixing Up Relationships. 34-36
  • Disregarding Human Life. 37-39

Check your life against this list of eight marks of thanklessness.  How did you do? You could get this right with God right now and have a fresh perspective on life.

 

WHAT should I DO about Un-thankfulness?  Good question.  Here are 3 helps:

  1. Stand for Right. 30-31
    1. Think Right. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind (Imagination” in Hebrew) is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
    2. Do Right.  Phinehas was thinking right and therefore he did right.  As a result we know him even today as being a righteous man.  He was thankful to God so he was willing to stand for God and right.
  2. Seek Mercy. 44-46.  May the Lord not give us what we really deserve.  Remind yourself of His mercies each morning to help with your days perspectives.
  3. Say “Thank You.” 47-48.  In prayer – be purposefully thankful to God.

May the Lord help us to be a thankful people.  Not only in November – but in each day that He gives to us.  Be encouraged and challenged to live thankfully each day.

You can Become a thankful person today.

Giving A Testimony

Giving a Testimony

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day… Acts 26:2

A man named Don was faithful in every testimony service to stand up and say “I thank Jesus for my salvation.”  I do not remember a time when Don would not say something good about Jesus when given the opportunity.  His testimony encouraged several preachers I know to serve the Lord in ministry.  Perhaps you enjoy hearing people give their salvation story.  Sometimes church services are blessed when people rise and vocalize what God is doing in their lives.

A Testimony is evidence given in court from an eyewitness accounting details of a case.  It is proof that supports a claim or a fact.

A Christian Testimony is when we are telling others what God has done for and in our lives.  It is giving evidence that God is working in our life.  What can you say about God in your personal testimony?

Concerning testimonies John Stott wrote: “So much so-called “testimony” today is really autobiography and even sometimes thinly disguised self-advertisement, that we need to regain a proper biblical perspective. All true testimony is testimony to Jesus Christ, as he stands on trial before the world.”

What does your testimony say about Jesus?  Testimony is more than reputation.  Reputation has to do with how you are known to other people.  Testimony has to do with how you live and what you say about God to other people.

Here are 4 ideas to help you share your Christian testimony.

Talk about Jesus with Appropriate Answers.  1 Peter 3:15 tells us: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Perhaps an entire life story is needed to be told to let others see Jesus in you, but generally, the most meaningful parts of what God has done in your life is all that is needed.

Essentially what you are saying with a salvation testimony is: “This is what God did for me.  Jesus saved me.”  In a service testimony, you are conveying: “This is how the Lord answered prayer. He can help you too.” Or “The Lord helped and enabled me.”

Give Insight with Considerate Conversation.  Colossians 4:6 teaches, Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Be careful not to pour salt on somebodies wounds.  Others who hear your testimony may be grief stricken about sin or a circumstance.  Be careful to consider their thoughts.

Others are in the middle of a similar lifestyle you used to live.  As you speak, they may be battling the same depression, drunkenness, or abuse that you endured.  Great details of sin need not be given.  When the apostle Paul gave his testimony, he did not include the gruesome details of Stephens death, or of the families that he tore apart.  Paul spoke in general terms.  We must avoid magnifying the depth of sin.  Exalt the forgiveness of God.

Show Thoughtfulness With Godly Preparation.  Proverbs 16:1 instructs: The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

You may have witnessed a similar story: “It was testimony night in the church. A lady got up and said, “We are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week.”  Where upon her husband, who was sitting glumly by her side said, “It’s not all my fault either; she’s tough to get along with.””

It is a good idea to ask the Lord to help you prepare your testimony beforehand.  Not every occasion for verbalizing a testimony will be formal, but for those formal settings, you should be prepared with what you will say.  Let God help you prepare ahead of time.  Of course, He can give you the words before and even during the testimony.

Think about your story of God working in your life.  Know how to tell His story in your life.  Rehearse the story.  The more you tell it– the easier it is for you to recognize you are blessed and it is easier to tell others.

Many Christians who battle depression are simply not “practiced up” at telling others about God working in their lives.  Be rehearsing what God has done.  It will help you in many ways.

Be Happy Using Joyful Expression.  Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!  Giving a testimony, the right way and the right time is a wonderful thing.  Recalling forgiveness of sin, victory in Jesus, and the power of the Gospel is terrific.  Remembering our future with Jesus is inspirational!

Smile, have your eyes open; speak confidently and joyfully about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ask the Lord to help you have the joy of the Lord evident in your testimony.

With these testimony ideas in mind, I encourage you to rehearse your salvation testimony this week, and then relate the testimony to someone soon.

The Professional Musicians in the Bible

The Professional Musicians in the Bible

And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.  And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.  1 Chronicles 9:32-33

Years ago as a student in Jr High and High School, I played an instrument in the school band.  We had a stage band, a marching band, and would perform a Christmas, and end of the year program.  Band practice was always a lot of fun.  My favorite part was the “tuning time” when the director would try to get all the instruments to be tuned to the key of “c.”  This was always a challenge with woodwinds, brass, and complicated teenagers trying to sound out on their instruments.  One exasperated director threw his baton, he was so upset that the practice was going so bad!

I enjoy listening to classical music.  Large orchestras filled with professional musicians making music in perfect harmony with accurate pitch and acoustic tenor is a wonderful thing for my ears to hear!  Hearing the various instruments resonate through the hall or park and the united sounds of the orchestra penetrating our ears can be amazing.

Music is a wonderful gift God has given man and it is a terrific tool that God has given us in part to worship God.  The Bible musicians took their presentations to the Lord very seriously.  In the verses above, they were so devoted to the music of the temple, that it became their occupation.  There are a few “professional musicians” in the Bible.

Not all the people of the Tribe of Levi became priests.  However, all those who were priests did come from the Tribe of Levi.  The non-priest Levites were asked of God to help with the functions around the temple and also to assist in facilitating the music and singing of the temple.  This was started back when the people of Israel were still worshipping God in the transportable temple called the Tabernacle.

Note how the music expectations developed by the time of King David.

1 Chronicles 15:16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

Not just anyone was allowed to sing, but only the people approved by the leaders.  Some people do not have a good testimony and may not be allowed to sing.  I wonder if some of the Levites were born with “tin ears” and could not hold a tune.  I doubt they would have been asked to sing.

These musicians that were asked to present their music did so after much practice.  Think about a professional musician today.  They take their music so serious that they memorize the words and give every effort to put on a good performance.  While Christian singers are not performing as such, we are presenting our songs to the Lord Jesus Christ and we should give the best effort possible.

They were also to present their music pieces with joy.  A good attitude is a perquisite for singing a special in church.  Isn’t it amazing how sometimes when you are discouraged a song can lift you up?  These musicians were to be right with the Lord and joyful in their disposition before they delivered their music.

2 Chronicles 7:6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.

The music was clearly a call to worship the Lord.  It was distinct music that directed people’s attention to the Lord.  Our music should have the same affect today.  The music and the words sung should guide our hearts and minds to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The congregational singing, choir number, and special music must work together to point people to the Lord.  The music director must be filled with the Spirit of God and emptied of self to be truly effective.

This also causes us to consider the quality of the music.  Our instruments should be tuned, and our musicians should be accustomed to playing the right notes at the right time.  Any Jr High music teacher will chuckle at that proposition!  I still laugh when I recall the band director throwing the conductors baton across the room!  It would not have happened if we Jr High students could have only played the warm up in the same key!

Not every song sung or instrument played will be pitch perfect every time – but we should try for it.  The idea of “winging it” or “hoping it will work out” would be an unfamiliar idea to David and to the Levite professional musicians who served the Lord in the music ministry.

At the same time, young people and developing musicians should be encouraged and given appropriate opportunities to present their music to the Lord.  Not every musician will be Sunday morning ready, but they should be utilized in the Nursing Home, Jail service, Jr. Church, and Youth Ministries.  While serving God, they are further developing their talents and preparing for more opportunities when the time is right.

2 Chronicles 34:12 And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick. 

These musicians were faithful.  They were faithful to practice, they were faithful in service.  All of us have known people who attend a church service only when it is their turn to sing.  If they are not scheduled to lead singing, sing a song, or play an instrument, they do not show up.  These are not the people that should be ministering in music in our churches.  The music people should be faithful to be involved in other aspects of church life.  I have found that many times, the most involved people are the lovely piano players who are almost “stretched thin” they are so committed to serving the Lord in areas other than music.

Musicians should be involved in other areas, not just music.  This is clear as we see the musical Levites in their ministry.  If a person only serves in the spotlight, he is much quicker to become lifted up with pride.  Many talented musically enabled Christians have fallen because of pride.

The “overseers” would also coach and help the musicians get better.  If a musician cannot be encouraged to do better, then pride is getting in the way of true service to the Lord.  The work of music was “set forward” by the overseers.  Each musician should try to help the church music director and the church music ministry advance to become more professional to the glory of the Lord.  I enjoy listening to church and college CD’s and then comparing them to their next CD.  You can hear a “quality difference” in voice, music, and recording.  As the musicians, sound engineers, and technology get better, so does the quality of the CD’s.  We all are blessed when things are “set forward” and made better.

Not to suggest anyone quits their job to become a “professional musician” but we all can look at our music ministry and consider – are we being as professional as possible to make a joyful noise unto the Lord?