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).
Singapore is a tiny island. It’s so small that one can hardly spot it on the world map. (Try it, if you don’t already know where Singapore is.) Because it is densely populated, consideration of others is especially important. A man wrote to his fiancée who was coming to Singapore for the first time: “Space is limited. Therefore . . . you must always have that sense of space around you. You should always step aside to ensure you are not blocking anyone. The key is to be considerate.”
The apostle Paul wrote to Titus, a young pastor: “Remind the people . . . to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2 niv). It has been said, “Our lives may be the only Bible some people read.” The world knows that Christians are supposed to be different. If we are cantankerous, self-absorbed, and rude, what will others think about Christ and the gospel we share?
Being considerate is a good motto to live by and is possible as we depend on the Lord. And it is one way to model Christ and demonstrate to the world that Jesus saves and transforms lives.
Dear Lord, help us to be gracious, kind, and considerate not only in the church but also in our community. May the world who watches see transformed people and believe in Your transforming power.
Your witness is only as strong as your character.
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Titus “was with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and accompanied them to the council at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-3; Acts 15:2) . . . . He appears to have been a Gentile, and to have been chiefly engaged in ministering to Gentiles; for Paul sternly refused to have him circumcised . . . . [Later] he was sent by Paul to Corinth for the purpose of getting the contributions of the church there in behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem sent forward (2 Cor. 8:6, 12:18).”