Who’s the one getting the praise again?

On page 3 (and continued on page 12) of this month’s Christian Chronicle there’s a story that praises a congregation’s “western themed cowboy church Sunday” out on an old movie ranch. Well yee-haw! I didn’t realize that it should take any theme other than God and Jesus’ sacrifice to get a person’s schedule centered back around worship, Bible study, fellowship and good works. But something else got my attention too while I was reading about the congregation’s get-together.

Included with the story is a sizeable picture of an audience sitting in the middle-ground with trays for communion in the foreground and a “praise team” in the background. Contrary to the picture though, I believe the order of the arrangements were completely the opposite. And by that I mean that the “praise team” was front and center with the communion trays sitting nicely in the backseat.

I never have understood the name “praise team” when it comes to the churches of Christ who are looking to spice up the worship services by adding a little more “spirituality” and “good emotions” to the mix. If you’re going to have “praise teams” then have them. But at least be honest enough with yourself and with others to call them what they are. They’re choirs without the robes! The rest of the religious world has no problem with calling their “praise teams” by the proper name. The only thing that I can figure is that they don’t want to look like or sound like the rest of the religious world too much. Too late! If it walks and quacks like a duck, then odds are it’s a duck!

And all duck references aside, please know that I didn’t grow up attending the worship services of the churches of Christ, so I’m more than just a little familiar with what I say. And I know that some won’t like what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyways.

“Praise teams” take the attention off of worshipping God as a congregation in song by putting the emphasis on certain singers above the others. Try to spin it however you want – that’s the truth! I’ve seen the “applications” for those “praise teams” before. You have to be considered worthy to join. They’re not interested in making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord – they’re interested in people-pleasing notes and lyrics. “Praise teams” are exclusionary by their very nature and that’s why I am 100% against them. They take an act that’s meant to lift up God and they turn it into an act that lifts them up. And it doesn’t matter if it’s people up on the stage or “miked-up” voices in the pews; the goal is the same – a “better sounding” version of the song to the ears of people when the goal should be God centered worship.

“Praise teams” and their promoters need to remember who’s meant to get the praise during the church’s worship of God and start forgetting about what sounds “good” to their own ears.

#focus, #god, #praise-teams, #singing, #worship

I Corinthians 14:15…Singing

I love and encourage discussion among Christians, so here’s another thought question. In the above Scripture, Paul tells us to both pray and sing with “understanding” or with the “mind,” depending on the translation, and to edify others. As I grow in the Scriptures, I come to realize that some hymns, to me at lest, simply are not Scriptural. Some of them involve real errors in Scripture. If I am to sing with “understanding,” I need to be aware of what I am singing, don’t I? So, it seems to me, I need to notice the words in the hymns that have been selected if I am singing with “understanding” and to edify others present. My question is: If I realize that a hymn that has been selected by the song leader is not Scripturally correct, do I sing or not? What if the singing leads another to accept something that is not Scriptural?

#mutual-edification, #scripturally-correct, #singing

A Song and Scripture Outline: Notes from Revelation

I believe I’ve mentioned before that on 5th Sundays at Keltonburg we have a song and scripture service in the evenings. It consists of a topic/theme with the reading of scriptures pertaining to the theme and the singing of songs that go along with the scriptures that are read. The theme that we used yesterday was: Notes from Revelation. It was a play on the word “notes” to include the singing as much as the scripture when it comes to reminding us about the overall theme of the book.

Here’s the outline in case you’re interested:

  • Revelation 1:10-20 / God Holds the Future in His Hands
  • Revelation 4:1-11 / Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Revelation 5:5-14 / Worthy Art Thou
  • Revelation 7:9-17 / Beautiful
  • Revelation 11:15-19 / The Kingdom is Spreading
  • Revelation 12:1-11 / Hide Me, O My Savior, Hide Me
  • Revelation 14:1-7 / We’re Marching to Zion
  • Revelation 20:7-15 / There’s a Great Day Coming
  • Revelation 22:1-5, 12-17 / There’s a Fountain Free
  • Paradise Valley

It’s a pretty good outline as far as covering 22 chapters with 9 scripture readings and 10 songs goes, but a person can definitely add to it or take away from it as they see fit…the outline that is, but not the book (Revelation 22:18-19).

#book-of-revelation, #outline, #scripture, #singing, #song-and-scripture-service, #worship

Capturing the Connection between Singing, Prayer, and Faith

Numerous songs that we sing in our worship teach, praise, or pray. When we sing these songs in worship, we teach one another, we praise God, or we pray together. When we sing songs repeatedly over time, we ingrain their lyrics and their tunes into our minds. Perhaps unconsciously, we assimilate the thoughts in the songs into our beliefs. The Piedmont Road Church of Christ is conducting a sermon series this summers in which speakers discuss the scripture behind the songs that we sing with each speaker focusing on one hymn. When I visited on June 5th, Jody Apple focused on the positive biblical messages found in the hymn “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.” Such focus adds to the understanding of our faith. Practices like this sermon series or congregational singing workshops (or classes) build awareness of why and how we sing in worship assemblies. In this time when many are challenging the way that we sing, teaching these ways builds a bulwark of comprehension that can resist false teaching.

#defending-the-faith, #prayer, #singing


Psalm 150 Praise the LORD, not men!

These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.

Verse 1: Where to “praise God;”

Verse 2: Why “praise God;”

Verse 3-5: How to “praise God;”

Verse 6: Who is to “praise God;”

Verse 1: “Praise the LORD” is “Hallelujah,” or praise Jehovah, The Self-existent Deity; the next is “Praise God,” or “Halleluel,” or praise Elohim, “The Power.” God’s “sanctuary” is the designated, set aside place as “holy” where God should be worshiped. The first in the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 25:8; Hebrews 9:1-5) had a “sanctuary” where worship occurred, then “the Holiest of All” where God was represented as forgiving sins. Next, in the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:1-17), there was the “sanctuary” and the “inner sanctuary.” Now the church of Christ (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:6-12; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 6:16) is the “sanctuary,” but Heaven, itself, is “the Most Holy Place.”

Verse 2: Praise Him because of “His mighty acts,” or all those miraculous or providential deeds far beyond “all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20-21). Praise Him for “His excellent greatness,” realizing nothing is great without God, but that all God does is greater than men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Verses 3-5: David added musical instruments to God’s worship (1 Chronicles 23:5), called “instruments of David” authorized by his own authority and not God’s (1 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 7:6), and condemned by God’s prophet, Amos (Amos 6:1, 5). The only musical instrument specified by God for the church of Christ is “your heart” (Ephesians 5:19), and there is no authorization in the New Testament for the bringing over and use of “instruments of music, like David.”  None of the instruments listed in Psalm 150 were ever used in the church of Christ by the authority of God.

Verse 6: “Everything that has breath” means every living creature: those that are not human “praise God” because they demonstrate His Wisdom and Creative Power; those that are human praise with words and deeds from their heart: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:15-16).

“Praise the LORD!”

 All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #david, #god, #hallelujah, #musical-instruments, #praise-jehovah, #singing, #worship


Psalm 147 Jehovah is God – And We’re NOT!

These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.

Verse 1 calls for praise;

Verses 2-6 give Israelite outcasts reasons to praise God;

Verse 7 calls for praise;

Verses 8-11 give those who fear Him reasons to praise God;

Verse 12 calls for Israelites to praise God;

Verses 13-18 call attention to God’s absolute Power;

Verses 19-20 call Israelites’ attention to God’s special Word to them.

Verse 1: Sing “Hallelujah” because it is “good,” “pleasant,” “beautiful.”

Verses 2-6: Jehovah “builds up Jerusalem” by making sure the “outcasts” are included. These are people who might be rejected by the religious snobs and overlooked for blessings. Verses 2-3 describe the work of Jesus Christ when He came (Jeremiah 30:10-17; Luke 4:16-20). God can account for all of Israel’s “outcasts” because only He knows the number, but also the name, of the stars. With all of today’s technologies, humans haven’t even seen all of the stars, yet! Although God is “great,” “mighty in power,” infinite in “understanding,” He compassionately “lifts up the humble,” but does not do the same for “the wicked.”

Verse 7: Praise should be sung, and the instruments of David left behind, for the only instrument that should accompany worship singing today is “your heart” (Ephesians 5:19).

Verses 8-11: The Earth follows God’s physical rules, as those who “fear Him” follow His spiritual rules: from cloud coverings come rain; from rain comes grass on mountains; from grass (greenery) comes food for beasts and ravens asking. God’s pleasure is not in the strength of horses or men’s legs, but “in those who hope in His mercy.”

Verse 12: Israel, whose capital of Jerusalem, was also its’ worship center, Zion, is alerted to “praise your God.”

Verses 13-18: A God-blessed nation has: 1) strong “bars” of its “gates.” Aren’t we talking about keeping out illegal immigrants, outsiders who corrupt, and disguised terrorists? A godless society has no limits! 2) blessed “children,” and this is not discussing their toys, games, sports, or other distractions, but genuine faith. 3) internal “peace,” and this is not with martial law, or a police state, but citizens with faithful obedience to God’s moral Law; 4) abundant harvest, because God has made the land cooperate and bless (Acts 14:14-17). It is by God’s Command that the Earth is blessed with: “snow,” “frost,” “hail,” “cold,” “melting,” blowing wind, and flowing water!

Verses 19-20: God gave the Israelites (including Jews!) the advantage of “His Word,” including His “statutes” and “judgments.” That Word should have lead them all the way to Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 4:5; Leviticus 26:40-46; Malachi 4:4; Galatians 3:7-29). No other nation ever had that advantage of specific written revelation through prophets, and yet when Jesus came, “although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him” (John 12:37). Paul asked the question: “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:1-4). God had given the Jews the advantage of having His Word first. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Having God’s Word, knowing it, and obeying it is our advantage, today. Jesus said: “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

“Praise the LORD” or “Hallelujah!”

 All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #faith, #god, #jesus-christ, #obedience, #praise, #salvation, #singing, #worship


Psalm 144 How To Live In A Happy State

 This Psalm of David shows why God saw David as “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). This Psalm is from a heart that knows what God’s grace and mercy is all about!

Verses 1-2 acknowledge who is with David on his throne over Israel;

Verses 3-4 recognize how short the rule of a man is compared to God’s reign;

Verses 5-10 show who really deserves praise for victory over enemies;

Verses 11-15 summarize where a nation’s blessings and strengths come from.

Verses 1-2: “The LORD” was David’s “Rock” not a castle. God guided David’s conquests; God showed what “lovingkindness” was like in between battles; David’s “fortress” (protective dwelling), “high tower” (lofty position above the enemy), “shield” (protection against soldiers’ attacks) and “refuge” (safe haven), were all in God. Thus if David’s “people” didn’t obey God, David wouldn’t be king of a nation! Would that Governments recognized this today (John 19:10-11)!

Verses 3-4: “What is man” is the question David asks that shows great humility (Psalm 8:4). What makes us think we are so important that God would notice us? We are important not because of what we have done, but what God has done (Hebrews 2:17-18)! We do not live long enough to be impressive (James 4:13-15).

Verses 5-10: God, however, is so impressive that He can “come down” over the Earth; make mountains smoke; use lightning strikes; all as weapons of war “from above.” It is God “from above” who “rescues” the righteous from a flood of “foreigners” hurling “lying words” and lying handshakes.  Those who serve God cannot expect those who do not to be following the same rules in the same way! Christian behavior is not universal, but should be (Ephesians 5:1-17)! It is God who deserves praise for our salvation and daily life. The “harp of ten strings” was an instrument of David (1 Chronicles 23:5) which appealed to the spiritually lazy (Amos 6:3-7) and was condemned. No man-made musical instrument was authorized by Moses’ Law.

Verses 11-15: It would be by God’s rescue that the Nation of Israel would have: sturdy “sons” and “daughters;” plentiful “produce” and “sheep” and “oxen;” and no external raids nor internal struggles. A nation of people who respect God, will have “sons” who mature like plants and know their work to be done; “daughters” who accept their role of “pillars” as wife and mother; “produce” for people who know how to save for the next crop; fertile “sheep;” “oxen” useful for burdens; peaceful living without disruptiveness. Truly such a nation is “happy,” for “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” The plague of America is unhappiness, and it has become pandemic because people do not have the LORD God. “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:1-3). “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). DO YOU KNOW GOD?

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #church-of-christ, #enemies, #fortress, #god, #government, #happy, #heaven, #heavens, #jesus-christ, #obedience, #praise, #prayer, #refuge, #rock, #salvation, #singing, #unhappiness, #worship


Psalm 138 God’s Name Works

A Psalm of David that is so typical of David’s other Psalms, full of praise to God.

Verses 1-2 God’s Name is worshiped above all gods;

Verses 3-5 God’s Name is glorified above all kings;

Verses 6-8: God’s Name reaches to all people.

Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) Praise to God should include the “whole heart” out of which we “sing praises.” David, with all the musical instruments introduced by him into worship, felt praise involved singing from the heart, in spite of others’ “gods.” In the New Testament, Christians should, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). (Verse 2) What God has done in “lovingkindness” and “truth” distinguish Him above all.

Verses 3-5: (Verse 3) David’s boldness came from God’s answering His pleas. No proof of God’s care is better than experience, and hindsight is always 20/20! (Verse 4) “Kings of the earth” quickly learn Jehovah God is mightier than they are. (Verse 5) When defeated, even they join in God’s praises (Example Daniel 4).

Verses 6-8: (Verse 6) God never loses sight of, or sensitivity toward, “the lowly.” No one is too minute or insignificant but that God will hear. But “the proud” God recognizes from “afar,” that is, God doesn’t need to have them close to know how to deal with them. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6). (Verse 7) “In the midst of trouble” God “revives” (refreshes), extends a protecting “hand,” offers His “right hand” to “save.” Since Jesus said God is “spirit” (John 4:24) which has no “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), then all references to God’s “body” of physical characteristics obviously are figures of speech designed to help us understand Him. (Verse 8) God looks better to our cares than we can, which is why we should cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He does this out of His “mercy” which “endures forever.” “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #god, #gods-name, #obedience, #praise, #prayer, #proud, #singing, #worship


Psalm 119:169-176 Tau Speaking to God – Hearing His Word

It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

Psalm 119:169-176  Tau                       Speaking to God – Hearing His Word

Verses 169-172 give the connection from my mouth to God’s ear;

Verses 173-176 summarize God’s blessings from the Word.

Verses 169-172: (Verse 169) The only concern expressed is that the believer will be heard; the only thing asked for with this “cry” is for “understanding,” is this not what Solomon later will do? (1 Kings 3:5-14) (Verse 170) “Supplication” is presenting sincere needs and asking that something be done; “deliverance” is the blessing asked for that is described in God’s Word. (Verse 171) Coming from “my lips” indicates a heart full of lessons from God’s “statutes” (words marking out the right way). Jesus later would say: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35). (Verse 172) Just as a healthy tree bursts forth with signs of life; a bird sings when it shares its life; a flower shares its color and fragrance; a believer full of the “righteousness” of God’s “commands” cannot be silent. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17).

Verses 173-176: (Verse 173) Choosing God’s “precepts” (words that superintend our way) will cause a believer to reach out for God’s leadership. (Verse 174) “Longing” (continuing desire) for God’s “salvation,” means the method of obtaining it is a “delight.” Wanting to be saved is not enough, a person must enjoy obeying God to reach for it. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22). Since baptism into Christ is the moment of salvation (1 Peter 3:21), it is a delightful response for one who longs to be saved. (Verse 175) Knowing how perfect God’s “judgments” have always been, the soul blessed by God with physical and spiritual life “praises” God for all of these. (Verse 176) All of us can, and probably will, “go astray” by wandering off “like a lost sheep.” Most of us sin without intending to violate God’s Will, but by simply becoming too focused upon what we are doing at the time, and not paying attention to what should be important. God “seeks” “servants,” in other words, those who seek Him. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

Thought: By using different words to convey facets of God’s Word, its brilliance is better than any gemstone, diamond, or other precious jewelry. Psalm 119 shows that the Word of God is not a “dead book,” but bursting with life that brings to life any soul that has been numbed, deadened, or abused by the world. God’s Word brings from us a zest for life, enjoyment of life, and praise for the Giver of life!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible, #bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #faith, #god, #life, #lost-sheep, #obedience, #praise, #salvation, #sin, #singing, #teaching, #truth, #wisdom


Psalm 87

Vs. 1-3 show all is well with God when He is recognized in worship;

Vs. 4-6 show the universal desire of people to be spiritually born;

Vs. 7 says worship in song comes from blessings.

This Psalm involved the “sons of Korah.” Korah was a “son” of Esau (Exodus 34:6), whose descendant, Korah, died in the rebellion against Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 16), but whose children did not die (Numbers 26:9-11). The name “Korah” is associated with sinful rebellion against God and His worship, thus this praise should be in the heart of any sinner, and reflect deep respect for such service. Since the church of Christ is God’s temple today (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 1:1, 22-23; 2:14-22), this Psalm is phrased in such a way as to describe the church!

Verses 1-3: God designated “Zion” (verse 1) for a permanent temple place (2 Samuel 24:24-25; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15), but began the church of Christ on Zion so it would go forth into all the world (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:1-4, 16-21; Hebrews 12:18-24). The “gates of Zion” (verse 2), when the church of Christ was established (Acts 2), allowed “all nations” to flow to it (Isaiah 2:1-3; Luke 24:44-47). God left a record of “glorious things” about it (verse 3) in the New Testament.

Verses 4-6: There is a list of nations, some former enemies of God and His people, where, when the church of Christ goes forth, people “who know” God are born again. In verse 4, the Gospel of Jesus Christ made converts (Acts 2:5-11, 22-47) from “Rahab,” not the person but the country of Egypt (as in Isaiah 51:9-10), Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia, even in Jerusalem, itself (verse 5; Acts 4:4). “The Most High” (God) built the church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47; 20:28; Romans 16:16). God keeps the record of those who have obeyed Him (verse 6; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:47; 2 Timothy 2:19; Revelation 7:9-17).

Verse 7: Clearly, “singing” does not automatically include playing “instruments” for they are separate methods of producing music. Therefore when the New Testament specifies “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), “playing instruments” is not included nor associated with it in worship! The Gospel of Jesus Christ becomes in the obedient “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #church-of-christ, #daily-bible-reading, #jesus-christ, #singing, #worship

Nudge…What Song Would Jonah Have Sung?

I didn’t ask (maybe I should have), but I don’t think Randal will mind if I use a “nudge” to try and get some conversation going this morning. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen one anyways. So here you go. Let me know what you think.

One of the amazing things to me about some of God’s people recorded in the Bible was their ability to sing in hard or even perilous times. Take Paul and Silas for the easiest example. Shackled in a stinking prison with open wounds on their body – and they’re singing at midnight…loud enough for other prisoners to hear them. Wow!

Here’s the nudge, if you so choose to participate: One person that comes to mind when it comes to facing a perilous time is Jonah. I know the scriptures say nothing about him singing, and I’m not trying to make them say it; but if Jonah was to have sung a song in his temporary jail cell, what do you think it would have been? For example, I think he could’ve sung, “Where Could I Go?” This is especially true when it comes to the chorus that echoes, “Where could I go, O where could I go, Seeking a refuge for my soul? Needing a friend to save me in the end, Where could I but to the Lord?

What say ye when it comes to what sang he?

#jonah, #nudge, #singing


Psalm 18

Vs. 1-3 express David’s complete confidence (faith) in God as Protector;

Vs. 4-19 describe God as He delivered David from King Saul;

Vs. 20-28 give the reasons why God delivered David;

Vs. 21-45 describe how David “felt” to be “empowered” in that deliverance;

Vs. 46-50 show David’s acknowledgement that God is the real power!

This Psalm is exactly recorded in its historical setting in 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

In picturing God and His deliverance, anthropomorphisms and theophanies abound! An anthropomorphism (compound word, “anthropos”=”human” + “morphos”=”form, shape”) is: “an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics.” Theophanies (compound word, “theos”=”deity” + “phaneros”=appearance) are also mixed into this language. According to Jesus Christ, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) and “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39), therefore there is no physical form for God to be described, except for Jesus Christ as “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16), and there is absolutely NO physical depiction given of Jesus Christ in Scripture! In Psalm 18, God actually isn’t a: “rock,” “fortress,” “shield,” except as physical terms to help us understand what He means to one in distress. God doesn’t actually have: “ears,” “nostrils,” “mouth,” “feet,” except to help us visualize how He responds to us. God didn’t actually move about on: “a cherub,” or “wings of the wind,” except to help us visualize how easily and quickly God does what He desires. By inspiring men to write the Scriptures, God has used their words and meanings to describe Himself to us in terms we may understand and appreciate, so that we may “know God” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 4:8-9; 1 John 4:6-7).

Psalm 18:20-28 explain that David strives to be righteous (obedient to God’s Will), and God helps and sometimes delivers the righteous from dangerous enemies. David’s profession that his hands were “clean” obviously didn’t mean that he had never sinned, but that he had confessed and repented of his sins and was currently obedient. In the New Testament, only the self-deceived say, “we have no sin,” and only liars say, “we have not sinned” (1 John 1:8-10). David was neither of these, for God said he was “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). Everyone should learn this lesson of the Bible: God doesn’t expect us to live without sin, as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:22), but to continually repent of our sins, as David did, but today we must appeal to the blood of Jesus Christ to wash us clean (1 Peter 3:18-22).

David was delivered to keep God’s promise alive to send His promised “seed” (2 Samuel 7:12-16, which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-4) and to establish a people, both Jews/Israelites and Gentiles, which is the church of Christ and began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:29-36, 37-47). David lived under Moses’ Law, which was for Israelites, not Gentiles (non-Jews/Israelites, Deuteronomy 5:1-6). Psalm 18:49 contemplated a worship in song that included Gentiles, which was not done until the New Testament church of Christ (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:11-22). The only time Jesus used music on earth, He sang with His brethren (Matthew 26:30).

But of all references to musical instruments used by David and Israelites when they lived under Moses’ Law, there are only two which apply to the worship in the churches of Christ: Psalm 18:49, quoted in Romans 15:8-9; and Psalm 22:22, quoted in Hebrews 2:12, both of them specify “singing,” or vocal music! “Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19) is the only authorized music in Christian worship.

Because Psalm 18:49 is a clear prophecy pointing to the church of Christ, which is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18), one may re-read the entire Psalm and see a parallel between David’s deliverance and God’s concern for Christians today (as, for example, in the case of the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #singing

Do Bible things in Bible ways …

“Do Bible things in Bible ways”.

“Why don’t you folks have an organ. You surely can afford it.” That was the question I was asked by a university student that had been attending our services. The fact is some churches of Christ have added an instrument in their worship and a branch of our conservative restoration brethren have used one for years. To some it seems a making a molehill into a mountain. But to explain it simply it follows the slogan that stands at the top of this post. I believe Bible things ought to be done in Bible ways. There is no safer course! When we realize that apostolic supervision ordered the NT church practices and that such respect was given to their direction that the scripture describes brethren as “fearing” the apostles (Acts 2:42, 43 & 5:12, 13), then doing Bible (NT) things in Bible (NT) ways makes perfectly good sense. In the NT assembly worship was always singing without accompaniment. Why not be satisfied with doing it the way they did it in the NT? Who is right and who is wrong? That is not my call; the Lord will settle such things. But I know what the scripture reports and am confident that if I do what the early Christians did, I will be pleasing to God.

#instrumental-musi, #just-a-minute, #singing

This is a post a long one from…

This is a post, a long one, from the Word, my heart, and what I see as the street, or more specifically, our local congregations. Don Ruhl

A Cappella Evangelism

Let us cease thinking that a cappella music is a disadvantage

By Don Ruhl

Do you believe that what is worth doing is worth doing right?

Do you know what is involved in writing a song? Do you know the skill involved?

Let us not do the song writers a disservice by halfhearted singing. Some halfhearted singing arises because we are happy merely to be making music without the assistance of man-created instruments, convincing ourselves that all God wants is a joyful noise, as though that justifies doing less than our best.

Is A Cappella Music a Disadvantage?

Many people believe that if we used man-made musical instruments we would attract more people. That is a matter of opinion. In the beginning of the church, no instruments were used, yet the early church took over the mighty Roman Empire! However, when we attempted to be like the world, we lost our influence. Instrumental music is an attempt to be like the world, to try to win the world in a way that pleases them. It only works to make the church more like the world, and the world less like the church, leading to the greater use of worldly music. Thus most denominational worship services resemble worldly concerts.

If a cappella music was effective in the highly entertainment-oriented Roman Empire, it can still be effective in the highly entertainment-oriented modern world.

Loving Vocal-only Music

I learned to love vocal-only music, although I still saw it as a negative for many years. The positives of it were obvious to me, but those positives were lost in the overall negative aspect so that I became convinced, along with most other people, that instrumental music attracts more people.

However, a cappella music is God’s way and His way is always best. We see that in marriage, in the organization of the church, in salvation; let us see it in the music of the church. When people see God’s way, they embrace it zealously. In the end, a cappella music will be more effective.

A Cappella Music Must Be Done Right

Many Christians are satisfied as long as we are just singing, acting as though the actual command is do not use instruments of music. Brethren, we do not use instruments of music because God commanded that we do something else. If we do not use instruments, we still have not obeyed God. We obey God when we do what He commanded how He said to do it.

Compare our singing to preaching. Is it enough that we preach the word? Before you answer that question, think about some things. Yes, we want only the word of God, but what about its presentation? If you invited someone to the worship services, how do you want the preacher to present the word? Do you want it to be done: Lovingly? Zealously? Interestingly? Understandably? Intelligently? Boldly? Emotionally? Do you want a tear in his eye when speaking of the lost? Do you want him to be joyful when speaking of the wonderful things of Christianity?

Have you sat in a lifeless and boring Bible class? The truth was taught. Perhaps the teacher did nothing more than read from the Bible and stopped after each verse and asked if anyone had comments. How did that affect you?

Have you heard boring congregational singing? Should we not put into the singing what we think should be in the preaching?

Obey the Command to Sing Like Any Other Command

Sing to the glory of God. First Corinthians 10:31 covers everything that we do as Christians. Now apply what is said here to your singing. Does your singing glorify God? “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Sing in love. First Corinthians 16:14 also covers everything that we do as Christians. Again apply this passage to your singing. Does love for God and your neighbor fill your heart when you sing? “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

Sing to the best of your ability. Ecclesiastes 9:10 speaks of the hand, but the principle includes the heart. We readily apply this to other things, but I wonder if we apply it to our singing. We have been so persuaded that we must not use instruments, that we think we are doing our best, if all that we do is not use instruments. There is more. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Colossians 3:23, 24 does not leave anything out. When we sing, have you thought about who is truly listening? “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24).

What is worth doing is worth doing right. What would change about your singing, if you saw God listening to you? Therefore, learn more about singing. Improve your ability. Sing zealously. Titus 2:14 reminds us why Jesus died. If you witnessed His death, how would that change your singing? “…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Singing is a good work.

Did Jesus die that we might sing apathetically? Some people think that it does not matter how well we sing. How can that be argued after what we have seen from Scripture? Should we not try our best and seek to improve? It is true that we do not have to be professional singers.

What if we used this view toward preaching? Most of us want good preaching. Yes, we want the word of God, but we want the preacher to be trained and for the sermon to be interesting. Do you know what God expects from us in our singing?

Our Singing Is to Be Evangelistic

Acts 16 shows two preachers singing, knowing that unbelievers were listening. The preachers did not see a cappella music as a disadvantage, but without shame sang to God.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25–30).

Brethren, that was a cappella evangelism! That was making music God’s way, and it did not include instruments, because Paul and Silas were chained in jail. God’s way was best. God’s way is still best. If you think to yourself that the quality of our singing does not matter because you think that our worship service is only for God, you have made a mistake, not knowing fully what the Bible teaches about our singing.

Most of the religious world in America knows us as the people who do not use instruments of music. That means they are listening. What do they hear? A group of people who say they are making a joyful noise, but in many cases it is not joyful and it is only noise. However, like the prisoners in Acts 16:25, let them not only notice that we are lacking something, but that there is something else there.

Let Our Singing Be with the Spirit and with the Understanding

First Corinthians 14 shows that both the spirit and the understanding are necessary. If you think about it, the singing that touches you the most has both. Why do you have favorite gospel songs? It is not noise, but the words are meaningful, the tune is touching or catchy and it sounds good.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified (1 Corinthians 14:14–17).

In the context of chapter fourteen, Paul is discussing spiritual miraculous gifts. Speaking in a foreign language instantly without having studied that language is a miracle. When a first century Christian did this in front of someone who did not know the language, that Christian was speaking in the spirit, that is, only to himself and to God, and the one listening did not understand what was said.

Is it possible that the opposite could happen in a non-miraculous setting? That is, we are not singing in a foreign tongue, so the unbeliever can understand what we are singing, but if we are not singing with the spirit, how does that affect the unbeliever?

If we understand what we are singing, it will change the spirit with which we sing. Notice the words to our songs, and you will see what I mean. By doing these things we help unbelievers understand.

Sing with Grace

Colossians 3:16 explains that something resides in our hearts before a song does. When this thing does, grace follows. Is grace in your heart when you sing? How does your singing affect others? Are they learning anything about discipleship? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly[,] in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

Remember you are singing to the Lord. Does that give you any reason to have grace in your heart?

If your singing is meaningless, routine and without zeal, it is unacceptable even if you did not use instruments. Purpose to grow in your singing ability even as you grow in your faith.

Don Ruhl has been preaching for the Savage Street Church of Christ in Grants Pass, Oregon since October 2002. He graduated from the Southern California School of Evangelism (a work of the Buena Park Church of Christ in Buena Park, California in 1980).
220 NE Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon 97526-1310, 541-476-3100, Rdruhl@aol.com

#a-cappella-evangelism, #a-cappella-music, #instrumental-music, #singing, #worship

Father, In The Morning

Congregational Singing @ Cherry St Church of Christ, led by J R Satterfield.


#singing, #video