This morning our pastor told us of a new believer he was baptizing. He asked her how she came to faith, assuming it was through his preaching. But she said no, it was because of the music she’d heard as she passed by and then was drawn in. Of that she was quite insistent.
This reinforced what I had just read in the book of 1 Chronicles. In the midst of lists of names, I found a beautiful surprise–a whole chapter (ch. 25) about the Temple musicians and their important work! David himself and the army commanders appointed several hundred of them to praise the Lord with music every morning and evening with their voices and skillfully crafted instruments. Just imagine how beautiful that must have been! Wouldn’t I love to have been one of that group!
One day I will be—around the throne of God, joined with millions of God’s people from all tribes and languages, from all times since the beginning of the earth. No one will be singing off key, no hoarse voices, no arguments about worship styles, no wandering minds—just pure, passionate, perfect praise to the One who so well deserves it!
As I play my piano every day just between me and the Lord, I pray that someone passing by will be blessed. I believe God doesn’t waste anything. Either way, I like to think that I’m rehearsing for my part in that heavenly concert.
Last week I heard of two scenarios in which worship is analyzed as drama:
In worldly worship:
the performers are the worship leaders
the audience is the congregation
and success is measured by how the “audience” is satisfied.
In real worship:
the performers are the congregation
the audience is God
the prompters are the worship leaders
the director is the Holy Spirit
and the aim is to please God, the Audience of One.
What do you think? Is God pleased with our worship?
The other day we watched the annual parade in the city where we live, celebrating the ethnic diversity of its inhabitants. What a dazzling array of ethnic costumes and dance! And the pride in the the cultures they represented!
Do you suppose that in heaven, when “people from every tribe and language and people and nation” are assembled, we’ll all forget our languages and national origins and cultures and just all blend into one another? Or will each be given opportunities to praise God in our own language, dressed in our cultural finery and performing in our unique way? What a program that would be! What fun, and what glory! I’m looking forward to it .
A line of a favorite song says, “You’re my Friend and You are my Brother, even though You are a King.”
Paradoxes fascinate me, especially when when I struggle to get a glimpse into the mysterious nature of God.
I imagine falling to my knees before Him in awe, and then climbing into His lap and snuggle with His arms wrapped around me! This is my God, my King, my Father, my Friend! The One I can both worship and confide in, the One who is infinite and yet lives with me and in me.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:23-26 NLT)
I was sitting in a church in a remote part of the world where offerings included not only money but also whatever the members had to give. A live chicken that was tied to the altar managed to get away in the middle of the service, to the delight of some little boys who ran to retrieve it. Another Sunday in another church, a very recently caught fish on the altar.startled the congregation by actually jumping off the altar. These “living sacrifices” were obviously not committed!
These events brought to mind Romans 12:1 and the saying I’ve heard somewhere: “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it’s always crawling off the altar.”
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1
I confess that often I need to examine myself to see if I’m still on the altar. Do I still demand or expect to determine my own way, my own choices in life? Am I joyfully committed to whatever God has for me today?
What kind of song does God prefer? “Worship wars” have waged long and hot over the style of songs God’s people prefer. Maybe we should be asking what kind of songs God himself prefers.
In the hymnbook of the Old Testament, the Psalms, one song appears over and over again:
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 136; and many more.)
This was the song sung on these notable occasions:
–The dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Corinthians 5:13)
–The choir leading God’s people out meet attacking armies. What a story! As soon as they started to sing, God cause the enemies to attack one another, leaving only a sea of dead bodies and booty for the Israelites to clean up when they reached the scene. (2 Chronicles 20:21-26)
–When the foundation of the second temple was laid after God’s people returned from exile (Ezra 3:11)
–When God brings His people back from exile and restores their fortunes and their land. (Jeremiah 33:11)
This song is based on God’s self-description to Moses on the mountain, and it’s echoed also throughout the Bible:
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…. (Exodus 34:6-7a)
Whatever tune or instrumentation they may have used, God loved their song!
The school children’s song brought a smile to my lips and an “Amen” from my heart: “Thank You for the Music!”
Of all the people in the Bible whose career I envy, it would be Heman, Asaph and Ethan, whose detailed family lines are listed in 1 Chronicles 6:31-48. Their job must have been important to have such impressive credentials listed there: Temple music! Praising God!
Aren’t we privileged to have a God who communicates with us in this way? He puts skill in the heads and hands and voices of those He chooses to lead in this service, and He plants joy and delight in the hearts of all of us who participate—whether in church, in the kitchen, the shower, or outdoors. And then He sits back and enjoys it as we return the praise to Him.
Yes, thank You, Lord, for the music!