Sing A New Song

simonOne among the many things that I lack is the ability to sing well. This is why I like the words of Psalm 96; it encourages us to sing a “new song to the Lord.”

Due to my inability to harmonize and sing on key, songs always have a new and different sound when I sing—I can carry a tune; I just can’t unload it.

The songs of David are replete with sweet praise for God’s love and faithfulness:  For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds (Psalm 108:4).

Love is the expressible and essential attribute of God that is one of His cohesive characteristics. God’s attributes never detract from or diminish another of His characteristics—God is both just and merciful. He is also self-existent, eternal, and holy; therefore, God’s love has no beginning; it has no end, and, it is holy and pure. God’s love has always existed and it will never end.

Love is that attribute of God that defines the Substitute who died for the spiritually destitute on the cross of Calvary. And, as John said: We love God, because He first loved us (I John 4:19).

Sunrise to Sunset

okYesterday I encouraged you to take a few moments each day to focus on the goodness of God (GoG)..  As I brewed my first cup of coffee this morning, a few GoG Scriptures began to percolate through my mind. Two of these are the grounds that can make for a robust week:

  • Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
  • Psalm 119:164: Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules

Somewhere between the time you start your day and you end it, I suggest you allow for a few monumental moments to focus on these seven verses:

  • Psalm 100:4-5: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
  • Psalm 21:13: Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
  • Psalm 71:22: I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
  • Psalm 106:1: Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good; Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
  • Daniel 2:23: I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might
  • Psalm 96:2: Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
  • Psalm 106:1: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

The Apostle Paul knew the value of focusing on God’s goodness, this is why he instructed people to speak “. . . to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-29).”

I encourage you to read the seven GoG Scriptures each day, and make these Psalms your song for this week.

Grumpy or Gracious?

grumpyWhenever I read the opening verses of Psalm 92, the number 1,440 flashes through my mind.  1,440 is the number of minutes in a day, and Psalm 92 is a positive motivator on how to manage these precious moments:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High. It is good to tell of Your loving-kindness in the morning, and of how faithful You are at night, with harps, and with music of praise.  For You have made me glad by what You have done, O Lord. I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands (Psalm 92:1-4).

Think about the words you spoke yesterday; was your vocabulary more grumpy than it was gracious?  How would your life be different if you would spend more time counting your blessings than tallying your slights?  Would you be happier and healthier?

Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, has examined the power of positive and negative thoughts. She has found that positive emotions enhance your sense of personal potential; opens your mind to new possibilities; and, they allow you to develop new skills and resources that add value to your life.

Fredrickson’s premise is a conformation of a principle from the Proverbs: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24

Over the next week, I encourage you to use some of the 1,440 minutes of each day to put Psalm 92 to practice:

  • Focus on the blessing of God, and give thanks.
  • Whistle a tune, hum a favorite hymn, and sing a song of praise to God.
  • When you get up in the morning, start with a God is Able thought, and end your day by rehearsing the history of God’s faithfulness.
  • Begin and end each day with the following prayer:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14

The Fruit of the Faithful

lipsIf you’ve ever seen me in the fruit section of the grocery store, you may have noticed that I’m picky when I’m picking my apples.  I’m not a grab-and-go any-apple-will-do kind of guy.  I’m selective; I want an apple that’s red, colorful, tasty, and juicy.

While the fruit section is known by its apples, Jesus said we are known by the fruit we bear.

In Hebrews 13:15 the writer said you should, “continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.”  This is possible when you realize that God has “put a new song in your mouth, a song of praise to your God (Psalm 40:3).”

What does the fruit of your lips say about you?  Is your disposition sweet or sour? What about that song in your mouth?  Is it a harmony of blessings and compliments or complaints that are sharp and edgy?

After a series of skirmishes and near fatal incidences, David reflected on the presence of God during these difficult times, and he, “spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;

My shield and the horn of my salvation,

My stronghold and my refuge;

My Savior, You save me from violence.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;

So shall I be saved from my enemies.

David was on the Most Wanted Listed, and his enemies hated him.  Even when he was encircled by those who hated him the most, he knew the presence of God was his refuge. In this refuge, he would never be a fugitive from His grace.

God’s presence is an asylum for the assaulted, a retreat for the weary, and a sanctuary of mercy for the masses.

Celebrating the goodness of God when everything is going right is easy, but David knew that God was still present even in the darkest hours of his life.  It was after one of these dark moments and deadly battles that God placed a song in his heart, and David said:  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.

When was the last time you paused to give thanks to God and to sing to Him because He is worthy to be praised?  Giving thanks and praise, is the means through which you draw closer to God and increase your joy.

Today I Will

tattly_jen_mussari_today_is_the_day_web_design_01_grandeAs I was thumbing through one of my files, I found a quote from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.  In September of 1999 Talk Magazine listed him as one of the 50 best speakers in the United States.

During a lecture on the power and often negative impact of words, Rabbi Telushkin said:  “If you cannot go for 24 hours without drinking liquor, you are addicted to alcohol.  If you cannot go 24 hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine.  Similarly, if you cannot go for 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, then you’ve lost control of your tongue.”

Have you lost control of your tongue?  Compare your verbal interactions with others to the verses below:

  • James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
  • Proverbs 8:7-8”For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them.”
  • Psalm 10:7 “His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue is trouble and iniquity.”
  • Psalm 71:8 “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise And with Your glory all the day.”
  • Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

As you think about what the good Rabbi said, and as you consider the Scripture above, I hope you’ll say:  “Today I will . . .

  • Slow down enough to consider how I speak to my precious family.  I will remember to thank God for each one of them. I will not curse them.  I will bless them.
  • Reflect the goodness of God and determine to be a conduit of His grace and love.
  • See the needs of others, and help bear the burden of those who are overloaded with grief, sorrow, or some trial.

Let me suggest that you use the words of the following Psalm as a prayer for today:  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).”

Are You Fluent or Tongue-Tied?

640x360When Jesus was crucified, there was a message written in three languages that stated:  This is Jesus the King of the Jews. You may know these three languages were Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; but, do you know how many languages exist in the world today?

There are some 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, and the language most frequently spoken is Mandarin Chinese. Due to China’s large population it is estimated that 1,213,000,000 people speak this language.

There is a country much smaller than China and it lies just south of the equator, and 99 miles north of Australia. It is Papua New Guinea, and it is smaller than China in both land mass and population.  What’s interesting, however, is that with a population of just over 7 million, this country is incredibly diverse when it comes to languages.  The Linguistic Society reports that Papua New Guinea has 832 indigenous languages.

Even though there are thousands of languages spoken in the world today, there will be a day when everyone speaks the same thing.  There is coming a day when people will hear the name of Jesus and bow their knees to Him, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

There’s no need to wait for some future day to confess the goodness of God.  In whatever language you choose, you can follow the example of the Psalms, and do it now:

  • Psalm 7:17: I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
  • Psalm 9:2: I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
  • Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

Is That With an “E” or an “I?”

vowels-of-leadershipThe question of the title is a focus on the difference between complement and compliment.  Even though the difference between the spellings of the two words is nothing more than a single vowel, there is a significant difference in their meaning:

  • A complement completes, enhances, or perfects.
  • A compliment is the expression of praise, admiration, or in some cases it is used in regard to a free gift.

Both words offer an appropriate expression of your relationship with Jesus:

  • Because salvation is a free gift to you from God, Jesus is a compliment: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).”
  • Salvation is also the complement through which He completes, enhances, and perfects you: “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority (Colossians 2:9-10).”

As you start your week, I encourage you do so with a spirit of thanksgiving for the manner in which God has complimented you and continues to complement you.

Essential Communication

scrabbleI would imagine that most everyone who reads this blog has a cell phone. Not so long ago, the cell phone was thought of as a convenience, but it’s now considered to be an essential device for daily communication.

In a sense, the same can be said for prayer. Some people think of it as a convenience, while others recognize its true importance. It is the essential means through which we communicate with God.

The importance of prayer is seen in the words of Philip Yancey: “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”

Several years ago I began to use the word PRAY as an acronym to guide my quiet moments with God:

Praise: Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is King of all the earth (Psalm 47:5-7)

Repent: Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).

Ask: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Yield: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

As Yancey said, “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet then I must learn about prayer.” I hope this PRAY acronym will help you learn more about prayer, and help you spend more time using this essential means of communication.

Bells, Whistles, and Anniversaries

bells-and-whistles3When I check my phone of a morning, I find an email from Google Calendar, and it reminds of my schedule for that day. When the gas tank in my truck reaches a certain level, the computer in my truck sounds a beep and displays a message on the dashboard. This is a reminder that I can only drive another 50 miles before I run out of gas.

Reminders come in different forms. Some are sounds like bells and whistles; others are anniversaries recorded on the pages of a calendar; and, some can be as a simple as the old string tied to your finger or a note scribbled on the palm of your hand.

The purpose of communion in a church service is to remember—“Do this in remembrance of me,” is what Jesus said when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. The Psalmist knew the importance of reflecting on the goodness of God, and he wrote: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth (Psalm 105:4-6).”

God even went to extreme measures with some of the more colorful figures in the Bible. Both Jacob and Paul were left with a physical ailment to serve as a reminder of who they once were and where God was taking them.

Jacob wrestled with the angel of God, and the pain in his hip caused him to walk with a limp the rest of his life—a reminder of the presence of God. Paul was pursuing and persecuting Christians like a raving madman until met Jesus on the Damascus Road. This is where I believe Paul received his “thorn in the flesh” that vexed him the remainder of his life.

What reminds you of the goodness of God? I encourage you to take some time over the weekend to pause and remember. Turn off your cell phone; find a quiet spot; read the first six verses of Psalm 105; and, flip through the pages of your mind to reflect, remember and see how God has been present in your life.

As you “remember His marvelous works which He has done,” you will be able to give Him thanks, and the peace of God will find its way into your life.