While on a ministry trip with a Christian high school chorale to Jamaica, we witnessed an illustration of God’s love in action. On the day we visited an orphanage for disabled children and teens, we learned that Donald, one of the boys our kids had interacted with—a teen with cerebral palsy—was going to be adopted.
When the adopting couple arrived at the “base” where we were staying, it was a joy to talk to them about Donald. But what was even better was what happened later. We were at the base when Donald and his new parents arrived just after they had picked him up at the orphanage. As the brand-new mom embraced her son, our students gathered around her and sang praise songs. Tears flowed. Tears of joy. And Donald was beaming!
Later, one of the students said to me, “This reminds me of what it must be like in heaven when someone is saved. The angels rejoice because someone has been adopted into God’s family.” Indeed, it was a picture of the joy of heaven when someone new joins God’s forever family by faith in Christ. Jesus spoke of that grand moment when He said, “There will be . . . joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7).
Praise God that He has adopted us into His family. No wonder the angels rejoice!
The One who made the heavens, Who died on Calvary, Rejoices with His angels When one soul is set free. —Fasick
Angels rejoice when we repent.
In Luke 15, Jesus delivers a trilogy of parables to describe the pursuing love of God for the lost. The first, seen here in verses 3-7, displays the shepherd desperately pursuing his lost sheep. The second, in verses 8-10, pictures a woman tenaciously searching for a lost coin. The third, in verses 11-32, tells of a father’s compassion for a wayward child and of his grace and forgiveness when that prodigal returns home. In each parable, the result of finding the lost is a celebration (vv.6,9,22-24) that depicts the great joy experienced in heaven when the lost return to their heavenly Father.
For years my wife’s piano and my banjo had an uncomfortable and infrequent relationship. Then, after Janet bought me a new guitar for my birthday, she expressed an interest in learning to play my old guitar. She is a very capable musician, and soon we were, together, playing songs of praise on our guitars. I like to think that a new kind of “praise connection” has filled our home.
When the psalmist was inspired to write of worshiping God, he began with this exhortation: “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Ps. 98:4). He called for us to “sing to the Lord” with instruments such as harps and trumpets and horns (vv.5-6). He commanded all of the earth to “shout joyfully to the Lord” (v.4). In this mighty orchestration of praise, the rolling sea is to roar with exaltation, the rivers are to clap their hands, and the hills are to sing out in joy. All the human race and creation are together called to praise the Lord in “a new song” of praise, “for He has done marvelous things” (v.1).
Today let your heart connect with others and God’s creation in singing songs of praise to the mighty Creator and Redeemer.
Let us celebrate together, Lift our voice in one accord, Singing of God’s grace and mercy And the goodness of the Lord. —Sper
God can use ordinary instruments to produce a concert of praise.
Psalm 98 pictures and celebrates God the Savior (vv.1-3), God the King (vv.4-6), and God the Judge (vv.7-9). It also celebrates His mercy and faithfulness to His people (v.3). It extols God as the righteous King who will rule the whole world with justice and fairness (v.9). This call to celebrate is universal, extending to the congregation at the temple (v.1), to the nations (v.2), and to the whole earth (v.4).
When my husband, Tom, was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, I began to call family members. My sister and her husband came right away to be with me, and we prayed as we waited. Tom’s sister listened to my anxious voice on the phone and immediately said, “Cindy, can I pray with you?” When my pastor and his wife arrived, he too prayed for us (James 5:13-16).
Oswald Chambers wrote: “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”
At its root, prayer is simply a conversation with God, spoken in the expectation that God hears and answers. Prayer should not be a last resort. In His Word, God encourages us to engage Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6). We also have His promise that when “two or three are gathered together” in His name, He will be “there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
For those who have experienced the power of the Almighty, our first inclination often will be to cry out to Him. Nineteenth-century pastor Andrew Murray said: “Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us.”
When I come before His presence In the secret place of prayer, Do I know the wondrous greatness Of His power to meet me there? —Hallen
The book of James is often referred to as the Proverbs of the New Testament. This is an accurate description, for James is filled with practical advice for daily life as a Christian. In today’s passage, James points out that prayer is the appropriate response to any situation. If we suffer, we should pray. If we are happy, we should pray. If we are sick, prayer is the response. James uses a device called merism, which describes the whole by its parts. He highlights the extremes of life—suffering, happiness, sickness—to say that everything in between is included. Like Paul, James is telling us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).