“O Death Where is Your Sting?”

If you’ve ever been stung by a bee or wasp you know it can be momentarily painful. The most painful and deadly sting is from is the poisonous jelly fish, the “marine stinger.” According to one website, 5,568 people have died from its sting since 1954. These jelly fish have fifteen tentacles yellow-isreali-scorpionwhich extend up to ten feet. Each tentacle has about half a million-darts full of venom. The venom causes cardiovascular arrest within minutes. Victims may die in incredibly intense pain even before the venom strikes.

What image did Paul have in mind when he quoted Hosea: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Did he imagine the bee that leaves its stinger behind in its victim and then dies? Or the wasp which lives to sting another day? Or the “Deathstalker Scorpion” whose powerful cocktail of neuro and cardiotoxins cause intense, unbearable pain, fever, then coma, convulsions, paralysis, and death?

Frankly, I don’t know. But, if I had to hazard a guess it would be the Deathstalker Scorpion native to Palestine. It also goes by the name Israeli or Palestinian Yellow Scorpion.

Paul’s image of death’s “sting” conjures something ugly and venomous and torturously painful injecting its victim with a venom that paralyzes the muscles, stops the heart and shuts down the brain.

Jesus absorbed the sting of death. Surely, the physical pain was great; movies try their best to depict the physical side of Christ’s suffering. But, for the One who knew no sin, it was the intensity of the sting of becoming sin for those who knew sin, that no filmmaker or screenwriter can imagine. Words and images fail to capture the pain of this sting.

However, Paul’s focus is not there. His focus in on the question. He looks death in the face and asks the question: “Death, where is your sting?” The answer springs back: “In the lamb who was slain from before the foundation of the world!” Jesus took in himself the sting of death and swallowed up its deadly venom for all time. Matthew Henry comments, “Death may seize a believer, but cannot sting him, cannot hold him in his power.”

I have more life behind me than ahead of me. So, the subject of my own death often flickers on the silver screen of my mind. When? Where? How? Will I know and be ready? How will I respond? Will I be able to look into death’s face and say, “Where is your sting? Oh yeah, I remember, it was absorbed by Jesus on the cross when he swallowed up your poison!”

Death died in the death of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding “Understanding”

jigsaw-piece-understanding-signMaybe it’s me, but it seems that our society is growing in its arrogance – if that’s possible.

I’m no photographer, but I enjoy nature and people photography. At the top of Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park, I found myself standing next to a woman with a monster lens, the kind that NatGeo photogs use. I felt unworthy standing next to her with my 70 – 300 zoom lens. I said, “Now that’s a lens!” She rolled her eyes. Not worthy.

Later that afternoon, I read Ps 49. The short story of the Psalm is this: regardless of life’s circumstances – rich or poor, white or black, blue or white collar, the most important thing about a man or woman is that they have “understanding.”

I wondered: what is the “understanding” God has in mind that distinguishes a person. If a poor man with understanding is better off than a rich man without it, what does that mean?

A quick search limited to just the Psalms revealed ten benefits to the one who has understanding God’s way. The one who values understanding . . .

  1. Discerns his errors (Ps 19:12). How crucial is that? How many people do you know who are completely ignorant of their condition before God? How many of them think that God loves and accepts them just because they are? They haven’t got a clue about why God would be angry with them at all. By the way, how often do you discern your own errors?
  2. Values the works of God, including his rewards (Ps 28:5).
  3. Receives God’s instructions and counsel about how to live life to the fullest and most enjoyable (Ps 32:8-9). This one is important!
  4. Submits to God as the clay to the Potter (Ps 33:15). So it this one!
  5. Fears the Lord and hopes in his lovingkindness (Pss 33:18; 107:43). Ditto!
  6. Knows God’s eye is on him or her for good and refuses to be stubborn (Pss 33:17; 94:7). Help, anyone?
  7. Knows righteousness will triumph over evil and so patiently, prayerfully waits on God (Pss 37:10; 73:17; 96:6-8). Comforting!
  8. Walks in the light of Christ and hates the works of darkness (Ps 82:5).
  9. Is teachable, obedient (and prays for help) and meditates on God’s word (Ps 119:27, 34, 73, 95, 100, 104, 125, 130, 144, 169).
  10. Is known by God (139:2). Easily the best of the ten.

That day at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, I learned that understanding is better than a NatGeo camera lens any day.

Elephants, Giraffes and the Glory of God

What can a giraffe do when it’s most nutritious food is out of its reach? You might wonder can anything be out of reach for a giraffe. Not by a few inches, but feet.

On a night when my mind was fried from the day’s work, all I wanted was to watch something mindless on television. Lots of mindless things there to choose from! But I settled on a new NatGeo program about wild life in the Sahara. The show focused on the giraffe’s need for water and how they have adapted to living in a place that gets a mere two inches of water every year.

Of course, the foundation for adaptation was due to evolution, but that comes with the territory of nature shows. However, I watched through another grid.

Giraffes can go up to three weeks without water, but they still need to hydrate. Part of their need comes from the morning mist that coats the many low-lying plants with some moisture. And, I thought this was a clever bit of sleuthing, they follow elephants to watering holes. Smart, very smart. But leaves and dew drops aren’t enough for these huge creatures. They also need protein. But they are not carnivores.

The challenge is that the protein they need is literally out of their reach. They get this protein from peapod like clusters hanging from a tree that is above their reach. Not only that, but the pods are also filled with moisture for their thirst.

Solution? Call in the elephant to help.

Elephants come to these trees and use their heads and body weight to shake the pods lose from their stems so they fall to the ground. Then the dinner bell sounds and giraffes and other Saharan animals, along with the elephants, take as much as they need. When it’s elephant feeding time in the desert, it’s a feast for all.

This got me thinking about God’s glory revealed in this interchange of animals in his creation. God owns them all and takes the responsibility for feeding them all from his hand: “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps 145:16). “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power” (Job 12:10).

I’ve often wondered, but quickly quit, about what it takes to feed all living things on the planet in a single day. Massive job. But God does it, day in and day out – and we are included in that supply.

So, to feed the giraffe, God calls on the elephant to help out. As I watched, I imagined God speaking to the elephant and telling him it’s time for lunch and he is God’s “chef” to go to work providing food for the chow line.

How glorious is that? God opens his hand and provides food for all his living creatures. Give thanks over your MacDonald’s lunch today!

How to Pray for Those who Hurt You

Someone maliciouslenemy1y and publicly ruins your reputation. You are deeply hurt and pay a heavy price for something that isn’t true. Everything in you wants to pray like David:

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit! May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!  Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children! May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation! May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out! Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth! (Ps 109:9-15)

Ouch! It hurts just to think of it. Your conscience cries out “No! Don’t go there! Trust the Lord. Don’t be a fool!”

Many have weighed in on the subject of a Christian’s relationship to the prayers of David that call down fire and hail stones on the heads of those who wound us. Sometimes they are unbelievers and we might be willing to let them off the hook. But sometimes they are sitting next to us in church    Can we use David’s “imprecatory prayers” when we are deeply wounded by betrayal, lies or bullying of others? The answer is “yes” and “no.” The “no” part goes like this: remember that the substance of an imprecatory prayer contains wording that calls down curses on our enemies. You may feel like that will bring about the justice you deserve but it won’t. To this Jesus says us to love those who persecute us and to pray for them and even do good to them (Matt 5:44).

Can we use David’s “imprecatory prayers” when we are deeply wounded by betrayal, lies or bullying of others? The answer is “yes” and “no.” The “no” part goes like this: remember that the substance of an imprecatory prayer contains wording that calls down curses on our enemies. You may feel like that will bring about the justice you deserve but it won’t. To this Jesus says us to love those who persecute us and to pray for them and even do good to them (Matt 5:44).

The “yes” part is this: there is a legitimate way to pray about what’s happened to you. Here are seven things I’ve noticed about David’s approach to God in prayer about his enemies:

  1. It’s perfectly legitimate to pray for vindication from God.
  2. It’s perfectly legitimate to pray that my enemies are frustrated in their plans.
  3. It’s perfectly legitimate to plead my innocence with God (if I am!) and make the case for vindication.
  4. It’s perfectly legitimate to tell the Lord what I know and think about the characters and spiritual condition of my adversaries. (believe it – he already knows!)
  5. It’s perfectly legitimate to pray that my opponents become ashamed of their work. An awakened conscience might lead them to repentance.
  6. It’s perfectly legitimate to promise to rejoice in the ways God answers.
  7. It’s perfectly legitimate to tell others afterward of the marvelous thing God has done for you so they can join the chorus of praise. (Do this without trash talking your enemy in the process).

In contrast, here are five illegitimate things:

  1. It is illegitimate to go first to others and tell them about your enemy’s hurtful actions or words. First, to God and leave it with him.
  2. It is illegitimate to be disappointed in the way God answers.
  3. It is illegitimate to renege on the promise to praise God.
  4. It is illegitimate to get impatient with God; so, admit it and ask for help!
  5. It is illegitimate to gloat when the answer comes; be ready to pray for them the way God directed Job to pray for his “counselors.”

For your own further reflection check out Pss 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140. Then pray for them the ways you would want others to pray for you.

 

Heaven’s HR Department

Human Resource departments fill three necessary purposes fHr deptor the workplace: compensation, staffing and designing work. The goal is to “maximize the productivity of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees.”

Heaven has the perfect HR Department.

Paul was on his way to strengthen the churches he and Barnabas had previously seen take root in Syria and Cilicia. From the familiar places, he and his teammate Silas wanted to press on to unfamiliar places: Asia, Bithynia and further, Lord willing. He wasn’t. In fact, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to “speak the word in Asia.” Wow! Turning to Mysia with his target Bithynia, “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” Again, wow!

What’s going on? Doesn’t the Lord love people in Asia and want to save them through the gospel? Are they not part of the Great Commission’s instruction to disciple the nations?

Yes, heaven’s HR Department, headed by the sovereign Spirit of Jesus, aims to maximize the work of the church in the Great Commission. The Spirit always directs the right resources to the right places at the right times. After being told “No” twice, I can imagine Paul planting himself on a park bench with Silas and saying, “OK, Lord. We’ll just wait for your next assignment to come to our In-box.” It came that night. In a vision. Paul saw a Macedonian man appealing to him with a special invitation: “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Paul and Silas left immediately and made it to Philippi. And what an assignment it was! The Lord opened the heart of a business woman who immediately became a believer. A demon-possessed girl, a money-maker for her occult masters, followed Paul around like an annoying, yapping puppy: “These men are the bondservants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” Paul was miffed; annoyed actually. A lot. So, he turned to the spirit in the girl and in Jesus’ name commanded the spirit to come out of her. He did! She was delivered. She became a believer. She quit her day job.

But her masters were even more annoyed because their money stream dried up as quickly as the demon took flight. They stirred up the chief leaders of the city. Paul was arrested, beaten with rods (punishment due for all but Roman citizens) and thrown into prison. Sitting in the bottom of a dank jail cell, singing hymns of praise to God with Silas, entertaining all the prisoners, God provides an earthquake to remove chains and doors and set the prisoners free.

The Roman guard knew what this meant: The Roman HR Department would dispatch him to Hades, the Roman underworld for losing his prisoners! He was about to fall on his sword when Paul stopped him assuring him they were all still present and accounted for. A quick word about how to be saved and another Christian was spiritually born.

The grateful guard took Paul and Silas to his house, cleaned their wounds, fed them and they had a baptism service for the whole household.

The membership of Philippi’s first Christian church was three unlikely people: a business woman, a formerly demon-possessed girl, and a near-retirement Roman soldier.

But here’s why the Spirit of Jesus blocked Paul and moved him to this city.

When the city fathers found out that Paul, a full-fledged Roman citizen, was illegally beaten with rods, a punishment reserved to all non-Romans as second-class citizens, they sheepishly and quietly asked him to leave town through the back door. Paul wouldn’t have it. He wanted a public apology from the Magistrate, not his intermediaries, and a Magistrate’s escort out of town in full view of the city population.

Pride? Revenge? Christian demands for justice? No. You see, Paul wanted public recognition that the new church was not a threat to the Empire. He used his Roman citizenship as personal proof that Christianity isn’t about breaking laws or making trouble for the city. Christianity saves lives and improves cultures. The public apology and escort by the magistrates calmed fears and put the church in a positive light.

Peter, John, James or the other apostles could not provide this legal cover for the fledgling church the way Paul could. Heaven’s HR Department knew that and sent the right man, at the right time, with the proper credentials and competencies to secure the future of the Philippian church.

The HR Department of heaven takes the long view of discipling the nations. Someone in their files would tackle Asia and Bithynia. China, Burma, and India had to wait for Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson and William Carey.

So, when you apply for that job in Texas and don’t get it but you get the one in Minnesota, it’s just Heaven’s HR Department doing what it does best. Sending the right man, or woman, with the right qualifications to fulfill heaven’s assignment.

The Decrees of kings and The King

Politics. Political parties. News cycles. I’m a news junkie, but sometimes . . .

It seems like our elected officials believe their reason for being there is to investigate the “other guys” who are there and shouldn’t be, in their humble defense of the Constitution.

Glad to read how God works behind the scenes of people in power. Ezra 6 gives us a glimpse of God’s awesome power and sovereign grace on the move. Here are ten snapshots from the chapter to calm the overly-politically-concerned person.

  1. When resistance to God’s work arises, he uses even pagan (i.e., secular) governments to show favor to his people (vv. 1-12).
  2. God is always at work, behind the scenes, aiding and assisting his people so we can do what is required, namely worship him wholeheartedly (v. 14b)
  3. God’s leaders are the means he uses to influence his people to persevere in serving the kingdom.
  4. With God, failure is never permanent for repentant and faithful believers. Renewed strength to persevere is available.
  5. Joy isn’t self-manufactured; it comes from knowing God (v. 22)
  6. God’s powerful grace turns hearts toward his cause. He can turn an unfavorable government favorable toward his people (v. 22; Prov 21:1). Point in case, he just moved a community organizer to use city funds to paint a large portion of our church!
  7. God provides everything necessary to be his people in our community. If it’s a building he provides; if its things necessary for worship, he provides; if its possessions that have been stolen, he returns them no devil in hell or evil person on earth can withhold forever what God wants for his church . . . or your family (vv. 6-18).
  8. God decrees that the Church prays and work for the welfare and righteous leadership of the city, state, nation so that these authorities rule well and so the church can peaceably advance the mission of the gospel of Christ (v. 10b).
  9. To join Christ is to join the people of God and to separate one’s self from the corruptions of the world (v. 21) The community of saints band together to grow in holiness and fight the sins of the flesh. No drifting into holiness. No holiness apart from the assistance of brothers and sisters in Christ.
  10. Be amazed at how God works. He works his will where he wants, through whom he wants, when he wants, his timing and ways are always perfect. God works for his cause and his people; it is his love in action.

So now, we can watch the evening news and sleep well!

10 THINGS ABOUT TRUE FAITH FROM 2 HEROES

 

Esther and MordecaiWe all like heroes because they make us believe there is still some good in the world. We like heroes because they show courage in the face of crisis and exude confidence, even if they will admit later they were scared to death or they were just doing their jobs.

The Bible has heroes too; heroes of the faith. But they are also people like us, made of the same stuff. What sets them apart isn’t so much their courage as their faith. When a crisis comes, the residuals of the world and flesh are revealed and faith is proven for what it is. A crisis can call out the faith in us or deplete us.

Two such heroes are Mordecai and Esther. Faced with a genocide of the entire Jewish population in captivity, the two endured the crisis and revealed the nature of true faith. Mordecai said, “Esther if you don’t do something about this crisis, deliverance will come from another place. But how do you know that you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Esther said, “I’ll do. You pray and fast, I’ll pray and fast and if I perish, I perish.” Sounds heroic, right?

Here are 10 things in now particular order about the crisis they faced that brought out of their faith:

  1. True faith is both optimistic and willing to “lose.” They believed God and left the outcome in his hands.
  2. True faith sees opportunities and expresses encouragement.
  3. True faith is sensitive to God’s timing and willing to wait.
  4. True faith takes risks for big things.
  5. True faith is born of confidence in God.
  6. True faith acts; it makes wise plans and executes them patiently.
  7. True faith looks to God first in every circumstance; crisis or not.
  8. True faith recognizes personal inadequacy and calls for the Spirit’s help; a sort of spiritual 911.
  9. True faith is not afraid to alert others to the dangers ahead.
  10. True faith rallies a network of help.

Father, we may not be facing a crisis yet but we have a situation for which we can’t plan well. Give us faith to face the changes we see on the horizon. Reveal your plans so we can walk in true faith. Father us into your will as you’ve done before.

Longing for Home

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

I recently drove from Baltimore, MD to Fitchburg, MA where my wife and I currently live. I’m a transitional pastor for a local church. We were in Baltimore to visit our daughter and celebrate her birthday. On the day after our arrival there, we got the phone call we didn’t want to get on vacation: our brother-in-law (my wife’s sister’s husband) passed away from cancer. He was just 59 years old. We knew it was coming but . . .

We quickly made plans for my wife and daughter to fly to Minnesota to be with my wife’s sister. My plans called for taking two dogs and heading back to MA to continue my work.

Just about half way home, I drive just 10 miles south of my hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY. Just a quick right hand exit and in 20 minutes I can be driving the familiar streets of my childhood. It’s been nearly 50 years since I lived there, but despite some of the changes, I can still make my way around town and to each of the houses in which we lived. Every one is etched in my mind.

It’s always an odd nostalgia that catches me when I’m able to do this. It’s my home town but not my home. I remember my schools, my church, the parking lot of the bank where my brother and I raced our bikes, the parks in which my friends and I played football and sandlot baseball, even the small cemetery where my great-aunt and great grandmother are buried, and the old hang outs as a teen. But with each visit the a sense of detachment deepens. Vivid memories but not emotional attachments.

In fact, my wife and I have been recently discussing where our home is. Believe it or not, we are not sure where we’d call home at this point! We sold our house in CO to take this assignment. Our daughters live 2000 miles apart; one on the east coast and one in CO. We like both places but not sure that either is home now.

Which providentially brings me to this chapter of John’s Gospel. It gets lots of attention at funerals. But it’s really meant for the living. In it, Jesus makes some stunning life-transforming statements. Big ones. But I want to focus on a relatively small statement with big meaning that humbled me as I read it.

Jesus comforts the disciples after letting them know he’s “going away.” The meaning escapes them, but that doesn’t bother Jesus. They’ll understand soon enough. Now, it is enough for them to know that though they might be tempted to think they’re being “orphaned” by his going away, Jesus promises that he will be with them. In fact, Jesus says that he, his Father and the Spirit will “make our home with” them.

Think of it: the Father, his Son and the Spirit plan to make a home for themselves where you are! We don’t need to wait until heaven to experience glimpses and bits and pieces of what kind of home they are making of us. Your address may change, but not your home. As we prove our love for Jesus by obeying his word, we are the home of the Trinity.

Now, of course this is a “mystical” home (in theologian-speak) akin to our mystical union with Christ but it’s home nonetheless. In fact, there is more homeness in this home.

“Home” invokes lots of pleasant memories. It’s a place that poets write about and singers sing about: Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel or Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins and Two of Us by the Beatles come to mind. When you’re away from home, there’s a longing for it that you know when you get back there will restore your soul and soothe your mind. Home is the place that accepts us when the rest of the world rejects us, heals us when the world bruises us and rebuilds our confidence when the world laughs at or scorns us. Home means being rooted and safe. Home is the place where the pressures of performance are off and we can relax and be at peace with ourselves and others. Home is just the way things should be when everything is just right.

This is a chapter full of the language of family relationships. The home that Jesus, his Father and his Spirit are making of us is where the Trinity resides. Since you are reading this and I am writing it, we are not in our real home just yet. But the Father, Son and the Spirit have come to be “at home” with us. (And that’s a whole other blog!)

Therefore, this world will never be our home; “we’re just traveling through.” If the Trinitarian God is making his home with us, we can never be “at home” (read at peace) with this world. We can’t ever settle in. We can’t “take possession” of it the way we do when we buy a house. As I heard said recently, don’t set your happiness on something that you can lose. You can’t lose the home where the Father, the Son and the Spirit call home!

We are a home away from home when the Trinitarian God makes his home with us. We belong to a household. Christian fellowship expands and fills out this sense of being home while being away from home. The reflection of the Father’s house (i.e., real Christian fellowship) is the hearth that warms the soul when the world sends the chill right to the bone.

If you are longing for “home,” long for the home that the Trinity makes with you and enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit with other believers. You’ll never feel alone and you’ll always have a place of retreat for your soul.

 

 

Church Life: Keep It Two Chevrons Apart

Hurry sickness plagues us all. Read this remedy.

Stephen McAlpine

keep-apart-2-chevrons-road-sign

As a pastor I make it my aim to encourage people to live life, and especially church life, in a “keep apart two chevrons” manner.  Let me explain.

If you’ve ever driven a UK motorway you’ll see the sign above as you hammer along at the usual twenty or thirty (miles) over the speed limit.  Chevron are those arrow signs, and they’re painted on the motorway for a good reason.

They’re there because the speed you are travelling will, over time, lull you into thinking you are not going as fast as you are.  It’s called speed intoxication.  It’s that feeling you get when you go slow down to go through a country town in rural Australia after two hours at maximum speed limit on an open road.  It feels like you’re crawling, until of course you hit something, or someone, and then you realise that 60kmh is just as…

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8 Considerations for Contemporary Worship from Chronicles

You may not think 1 Chronicles would be a place to find guidance for contemporary worship. After all, isn’t the book steeped in lots of language about rituals and rules and prescriptions?

Yes, but . . .Dancing David

Let’s remember the first audience to read 1 Chronicles – the returned exiles. The Jews spent years in exile, away from their homeland and the temple where God dwelled and now many of them were home. The important point to be made is this: how they came to be exiled was not lost on them. It was as fresh in their minds as if it happened yesterday. The sting still smarted. They were guilty and they knew it. Now that God made the way for their return, what they wanted to know was how not or never have it happen again. They knew what went wrong, now they wanted to get it right.

That’s the all-important historic frameworkof the story about David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David did a few things wrong but lots of things right. It wasn’t just about the prescriptions for the transportation of the Ark, but about the prescriptions for the heart.

So, without unpacking all that goes into these two summary chapters (15 and 16), here’s eight things we can learn from the episode in Israel’s life that applies to contemporary Christian worship.

  1. Contemporary worship no longer requires Mosaic rules or regulations. David didn’t pay attention to the Law of Moses that proscribed that the Levites carry the Ark on their shoulders. David ordered a new cart drawn by oxen to transport the Ark. When the oxen stumbled, the Ark toppled, Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark, God became angry and killed Uzzah. David was angry at God’s anger but later got the proscription right. All that to say, we are no longer obligated to Mosaic Law. Even though we know this, it’s important to know why – Jesus is the center of worship. He fulfilled all the rules and regulations of the temple because he replaces the temple. This must be stated up front even though there is no evidence in these two chapters. Jesus takes care of this in John 4.
  2. Reverence for God is still required. David knew that his anger at the Lord’s anger for “breaking out against Uzzah” was unwarranted and he replaced it with the proper response of the fear of the Lord. Our worship must rest on the same foundation of the fear of the Lord.
  3. Music! Music stirs the heart for worship and frees the lips to sing praises. The more musicians and singers the better! Luther was right: “I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God. The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In [summary] next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits.”
  4. Worship declares the judgments of God. Christ is to be praised for being the covenant promise that saves through the power and efficacy of his shed blood. That plan was God’s judgment since before the foundation of the world.
  5. Worship declares the miraculous deeds of God. God is to be praised for healing the man at the pool in Bethsaida (I’ve been reading John’s Gospel at the same time) as well as for healing the young mother with four children of cancer down the street. All God’s deeds, old and contemporary, are praise worthy.
  6. Worship declares the works of God. He is the God and Governor of creation, the life-giver (natural and eternal), our ransom from sin, the Savior and Redeemer.
  7. In worship, we condemn all idols. Jesus is above all other gods, to be held in awe because splendor and majesty and strength and joy satisfy the needs of our souls. Worship rids the soul of disordered lovers that still linger in our hearts.
  8. God’s work of salvation in Jesus is for all peoples of all nations to give them strength and joy.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!