Bread – Old

February 28, 2018


Psalm 98

Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”  Ps. 98:1

So begins one of my favorite Psalms because I like to sing and the Psalm is incredibly full of descriptive language, demonstrating how the entirety of life joins in making a “joyful noise.”  Somehow the phrase “Let the rivers clap their hands” strikes me as amazingly rich in the image it raises up, both to the eye and the ear.

So why call this Bread “Old?”

Because I wanted to ask the question, why does the Psalmist ask us to sing a “new” song?  Surely the old hymns (psalms) are good enough, rich enough, full enough of theology and truth, stating the great themes of the faith?

Apparently the old is not good enough – the song we sing to the Lord must be “new.”

And indeed it must.  What we face today is different than what we faced yesterday and what we will face tomorrow.  Yes, the old teaches us and those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, but each day should be a new, renewed celebration of our relationship with our Savior, a joyous union of confession, prayer, forgiveness, love, and action expressed in obedience and good works.  Each day is new and saying that I went to church yesterday, I prayed yesterday, I cared yesterday, I did a good work yesterday, does not work for today – the day the Lord has given us as a gift.

Not only that, but we have a “New” Testament for a reason.  God did something new for us when He built the bridge back to Himself on the striped back and the pierced hands of Himself, Jesus Christ.   In the power of the Holy Spirit, we take on the newness of life and that life, eternal, when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  We are born “anew.”  This new miracle deserves a new song.

Even more than the Psalmist, who had only a vision of something to come in the future, we know that “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”  Ps. 98:3b  We have seen it because it happened on a cross a long time ago, and it happened in our lives when the reality of Jesus Christ came crashing into us, when we were enveloped in His love and forgiveness, when we were made strong in the Holy Spirit to live in the world as ambassadors of His kingdom, but avoid being poisoned by the world.

So, what new song am I singing today?  Is the song of old or is the song of today?

There may be some of you who are asking themselves the question, what is wrong with that question?  What is wrong with it is the failure to recognize the third choice, that the old song is the new song.

Because just as the Psalmist many many years before the birth and death of Christ saw the salvation which comes from the Lord and wrote his Psalm and sang his song, we get to experience that joy every day.  His song of salvation is our song of salvation.  His God is our God.

See, it is not the song which is sung but the heart which sings it.

One of our prayers said in church contains the phrase “Lord, renew a right spirit within me.”  Yes, “Lord, renew a right spirit within me so that I may sing a new song … every day, for the rest of my life on earth, and in heaven.”

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

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Bread – Sing

February 7, 2018


Psalm 95

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! “ Ps. 95:1-2

So begins one of my favorite Psalms and the basis for the Venite, which is said in many liturgical churches on a regular basis.

As I write this, I am reminded that it has been three weeks since I last wrote a Bread.  How can I have so delayed writing about one of my favorite Psalms?  Either it is not one of my favorite Psalms or something else is going on.

What is going on?  I know and you know.  It is Satan’s work, through diversion and busyness, through the cares and objectives of the world, through the importance of others and ourselves over God, through misdirection and outright deception – that, since he (Satan) cannot steal our salvation, he will do his best to steal our joy.

I sing in the shower and in the car, particularly when there is a good song playing in the background.  That is a form of joy and worship, when it is a song of praise to the Lord, so isn’t that enough?

No, it is not.  The Psalmist says “let us.”  “Let us” sing.  “Let us” make a joyful noise.  “Let us” come into His presence.  “Let us” make a joyful noise.

Our singing to the Lord can occur in the privacy of our home, but it is fully revealed in the singing of the entire body of Christ gathered to worship.

You want to know how effectively Satan has been keeping you from Psalm 95, from worshiping in truth and in spirit, from “singing” and making a “joyful noise?”  Ask yourself when was the last time you (a) attended a body of believers gathered together in worship and (b) sang joyfully at that event.  Even if you showed up, if you did not participate, it was not “us” singing to the Lord, it was “them.”  Listening to a beautiful choir and a majestic organ may put us in a good mood, but this Psalm invites us to active participation, not passive observation.

Satan has many tricks.  One of them is to keep us from church services at all.  The other is to let us go to church services but then talk us out of participating by whispering such things as “You sing terrible,” “if everyone sings, then it will just sound like a lot of noise,” “you don’t like the music,” and “that person next to me is singing so loudly and raising his hands, I’m embarrassed.”

So, Satan kept me from writing Bread for three weeks – so it is his fault, right?  No, sadly it is my fault.  And who do we defeat by letting the world dictate the level of our devotion to our King?  We.

Every minute of every day, we have a choice of which Kingdom rules to obey, since we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven but reside in the world.  And how we make that choice dictates the degree to which our Lord is reflected through and in us.  Whether to worship in the congregation by attendance and participation are two choices (attendance is a choice as well as participation).

“Let us sing to the Lord … For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods…”

Let us do so, beginning with me.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Bread – Awake

May 22, 2017


Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise!  Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds!’”  Ps. 66:1-3

This morning, when I got out of bed, I made coffee, got the newspaper, showered, shaved, and prepared for the day.  Very routine, almost tiring.  And probably something very similar to what you did this morning.

And then I sat down to write Bread and read Psalm 66, the first three verses of which are quoted above.

And the first thought I had after reading “Shout for joy to God…” was, “How would my day be different if I woke up shouting for joy to God?  Instead of the mundane and the routine, what if I woke up every day with praise on my lips for the new day ahead of me, reveling in the majesty of God’s creation?

I think that if I awoke with a “shout for joy” on my lips, I would have started the day truly awake.  I would have been awake to the possibilities.  I would have been awake to the miracles.  I would have been awake to the overflowing blessings of God in my life and through my family and friends.  I would be awake to the mighty roar of welcome which the Lord presents us every day in His sunrise.

What does it take to be truly awake in this life our ours?  I think it is all contained in our quote for the day.  If we shout for joy at the awesomeness of God’s deeds, we will be very, very awake.  The other people around us are likely to be awakened as well.

Satan would have us fall into the trap of daily grind, making the rounds of the daily newspaper, the daily coffee, the daily teeth brushing, and the daily dressing for work.  Satan would have us focus on our “to do list” and all the labors before us, grinding us into submission and joylessness.

God on the other hand would have us wake up to Him and His – His creation, His majesty, His glory, His hope, His blessings, and His creatures – me and you.

“Rise up like a lion in the service of the Lord!”  This should be our war cry every morning.  But to even make this, we need to be awake to the glory of God around us, in us, and through us.  If we wake up with a shout for joy, we can then follow with a shout for service.  If we wake up with a shout of truth, we can then follow with a shout of love.

“Wake up and hear the birds sing?”

No.  Wake up and know God.

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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