VIDEO A Line of Praise – What is Worship?

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Psalm 33:1

Charles Spurgeon once told of an old clergyman who said that a line of praise was even better than a page of prayer—that “praise was the highest, noblest, best, most satisfying, and most healthful occupation in which a Christian man could be found.”

If that’s true, how can we praise the Lord as we go through the day?

When we look out our morning windows, we should pause to take in the sky, looking for rays of sunshine, whisps of clouds, drops of rain, flakes of snow—each and every one crafted from the artistry of the Almighty. When we have our breakfast and eat our meals, we should pause to thank God for His generous nature, for He provides us with everything to enjoy. As we drive to work or take up the housecleaning, we should sing a song of praise, even if it’s simply in our mind. As dusk and darkness fall over the landscape, we should remember God’s faithfulness.

Praising our Savior strengthens our faith, steadies our nerves, and minimizes our troubles.

He surrounds you twenty-four hours a day. He is in you, with you, about you, before you. John R. Bisagno


Psalm 33 • What is Worship?

Remember to Sing

How good it is to sing praises to our God. Psalm 147:1

Nancy Gustafson, a retired opera singer, was devastated when she visited her mother and observed her decline from dementia. Her mom no longer recognized her and barely spoke. After several monthly visits, Nancy had an idea. She started singing to her. Her mother’s eyes lit up at the musical sounds, and she began singing too—for twenty minutes! Then Nancy’s mom laughed, joking they were “The Gustafson Family Singers!” The dramatic turnaround suggested the power of music, as some therapists conclude, to evoke lost memories. Singing “old favorites” has also been shown to boost mood, reduce falls, lessen visits to the emergency room, and decrease the need for sedative drugs.

More research is underway on a music-memory link. Yet, as the Bible reveals, the joy that comes from singing is a gift from God—and it’s real. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” (Psalm 147:1).

Throughout the Scriptures, in fact, God’s people are urged to lift their voices in songs of praise to Him. “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (Isaiah 12:5). “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3). Our singing inspires us but also those who hear it. May we all remember: our God is great and worthy of praise.

Reflect & Pray

What role does singing play in your life? How can you make more time for singing songs of praise with those who are experiencing memory problems?

May I sing praises to You, God. Thank You for so often unlocking the minds of those with memory problems through the beauty and power of song.

To dig deeper, read Psalms: Ancient Prayers for Modern People at ChristianUniversity.org/OT222.

The Power of Consistency

Daniel 6

We live in a noncommittal world, where perseverance is all too rare. If a job is difficult or boring, people often think, Why not find another one? Or when a marriage becomes unhappy, many wonder, Should I be with someone else?

Sadly, this mindset is also found among believers. At the first sign of conflict, some Christians hop to another church instead of working through difficulties with their local body of believers. And when it comes to our personal walk of faith, many of us struggle to maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord.

Daniel was a man of steadfast loyalty. Not even the awareness that he could be killed interfered with his practice of praying three times a day. Such commitment to the Lord was noted by others. Jealous officers and governors used Daniel’s consistency to trap him, but the king made a remarkable statement: “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you” (Dan. 6:16). Apparently, he believed Daniel’s devotion would be the key to the young man’s deliverance

Daniel’s victory in the lion’s den led to great influence, as it inspired the king’s decree to worship the Lord. Have you considered that the Lord was able to use him because of his unwavering obedience and worship? Imagine what God can do with you when you also commit yourself to Him.

The Higher Ways

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

God’s thoughts and ways are by no means equivalent to man’s. How, then, can we hope to understand those things that He has communicated to us in His Word? To be sure, God has not told us all He knows, but what He has provided is sufficient for our faith, and He has also given clues as to the nature of many things we can only fully know in eternity. We know enough now to trust Him for the things we can’t verify. But the aspect of Scripture that sets it apart from all other “religious” writings is that its truths are surrounded by and based on historical and scientific facts that are verifiable. The fact that we find Scripture to be accurate wherever it can be checked gives us reason to believe that those teachings that we can’t check are accurate as well.

What are some of God’s favorite object lessons? Certainly His creation is one. A God who can call something into existence that didn’t exist before can do anything. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:26). Another standard is God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. “According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things” (Micah 7:15). Yet another is the second regathering of Israel in the last days. “The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from…all the lands whither he had driven them” (Jeremiah 16:15; cf. v. 14). The final great guarantee that He will work on our behalf is the fact of the resurrection. “His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Make no mistake! God is capable of solving any problem we have. And what’s more, He wants us to know it! JDM

The Power God Recognizes

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin. —Isaiah 30:1

The continued neglect of the Holy Spirit by evangelical Christians is too evident to deny and impossible to justify….

It is not, however, the frequency of the Spirit’s mention in the Bible or in other writings that matters most, but the importance attached to Him when He is mentioned. And there can be no doubt that there is a huge disparity between the place given to the Spirit in the Holy Scriptures and the place He occupies in popular evangelical Christianity. In the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is necessary. There He works powerfully, creatively; here He is little more than a poetic yearning or at most a benign influence. There He moves in majesty, with all the attributes of the Godhead; here He is a mood, a tender feeling of good will….

The only power God recognizes in His church is the power of His Spirit whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit, while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained and devoted intellect. Bright personality has taken the place of the divine afflatus.   GTM108, 110-111

O Lord, work powerfully, creatively: move in majesty. Send the divine afflatus to overshadow our intellect and personalities. Come in power, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Exchanging One Sin for Another

Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

—Romans 12:1

The offering and the sacrifice and the sanctifying energies of the Holy Spirit are indeed sufficient to prepare the soul for communion with God. This the Bible declares and this ten thousand times ten thousand witnesses confirm.

The big danger is that we assume that we have been delivered from our sins when we have in reality only exchanged one kind of sin for another. This is the peril that lies in wait for everyone. It need not discourage us nor turn us back, but it should make us watchful.

We must, for instance, be careful that our repentance is not simply a change of location. Whereas we once sinned in the far country among the swineherds, we are now chumming with religious persons, considerably cleaner and much more respectable in appearance, to be sure, but no nearer to true heart purity than we were before. BAM081-082

In the deeper experience of a sanctified heart, there must be another conviction, not of sin, but of sinfulness, before the soul is ready to receive the Holy Spirit and the abiding presence of the Lord. CTBC, Vol. 3/049

The Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13

The follower of Jesus is “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). The metaphor used would have occurred to Him while watching the fishermen using salt to preserve their fish.

Salt is essential to life. The action of salt seems obscure, but it saves from putrefaction. It has the silent gentleness of divine strength. The morals of a Christian keep alive a sense of duty and a consciousness of right.

Salt preserves, keeps fresh and saves from corruption. It has sanitary powers. Christians are the antiseptics of society. Salt counteracts the moral pollution of the world and gives health to the soul amid the foulness of the sin around.

In ancient times salt was associated with offerings. Covenants were made over a sacrificial meal and salt was a necessary element; hence the expression, “a covenant of salt” (Num. 18:19).

Salt was also a sacrament of friendship, a symbol of an enduring compact, the seal of the obligation to fidelity. In Leonardo da Vinci’s great painting of the Last Supper, Judas is picked out from all the others by having overturned the salt-cellar. The salt-cellar was a pledge of good faith. Overturned, it was an omen of coming treachery.

Our Lord used His picture of salt in relation to the Christian life. Nothing was more valuable than salt, but nothing more worthless if it had lost its flavor. It was fit only to be trampled down into the street. When once the Christian life has become tasteless, empty and futile, there is no way of making life worth living.

The new kingdom Christ inaugurated was to be radical and penetrating like “the salt of the earth.” The members of the kingdom are covenanted not only to arrest the decay of morals in the world, but to preserve the high standards of Christian living, to flavor life with radiant happiness and buoyant good taste.

Christian character works secretly, penetrating a man’s thought, influencing the atmosphere of life. Unseen and unapplauded, salt cleanses the elements around it. So the action of the follower of Christ is to disinfect the world, to bring those Christian antiseptics outlined in the Beatitudes to bear upon all around.

The Christian brings health to the life made foul by sin. We are “covenanted” to this sacrificial task. It is a “covenant of salt.”

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man