VIDEO Joy in Worship

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. Nehemiah 12:43

In the history of the Church, a variety of forms and styles of worship have been employed—never more so than in today’s twenty-first-century worship services. Historically, some churches have sung only the Psalms; some have sung acapella, without instruments; some have had choirs, while some have not; some have used only a piano or organ for accompaniment. Today, many churches have worship teams that include singers and bands, and some have full orchestras.

The New Testament doesn’t prescribe how “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” are to be sung, but it does say there should be “singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Nehemiah 12 is an example of the extent to which songs of praise and thanksgiving can be offered: multiple choirs and instrumentalists marching around the walls of Jerusalem before settling into the temple.

Are you an enthusiastic worshiper of God? Whatever your church’s style, let your voice resound with praise to our God. Our praise should be the outward manifestation of our inner joy and gratitude to God.

What or whom we worship determines our behavior. John Murray

Joy Is Found in Worship: Nehemiah 12:43

Stay Awake!

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

A German bank employee was in the middle of transferring 62.40 euros from a customer’s bank account when he accidentally took a power nap at his desk. He dozed off while his finger was on the “2” key, resulting in a 222 million euro (300 million dollar) transfer into the customer’s account. The fallout from the mistake included the firing of the employee’s colleague who verified the transfer. Although the mistake was caught and corrected, because he hadn’t been watchful, the sleepy employee’s lapse almost became a nightmare for the bank.

Jesus warned His disciples that if they didn’t remain alert, they too would make a costly mistake. He took them to a place called Gethsemane to spend some time in prayer. As He prayed, Jesus experienced a grief and sadness such as He’d never known in His earthly life. He asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake to pray and “keep watch” with Him (Matthew 26:38), but they fell asleep (vv. 40–41). Their failure to watch and pray would leave them defenseless when the real temptation of denying Him came calling. In the hour of Christ’s greatest need, the disciples lacked spiritual vigilance.

May we heed Jesus’ words to remain spiritually awake by being more devoted to spending time with Him in prayer. As we do, He’ll strengthen us to resist all kinds of temptations and avoid the costly mistake of denying Jesus.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What part of your prayer life needs to be more devoted and disciplined? How can you intentionally spend more time alone with God this week? 

Jesus, because I’ve been spiritually sleeping, I haven’t been praying. And because I haven’t been praying, I haven’t depended on You. I’m sorry. Please help me to spend more time with You.

A Reason for Confidence

Negativity doesn’t fit who we are as God’s children—we should have confidence in our almighty Lord

Proverbs 3:21-26

Negativity affects us in both spiritual and physical ways. Even simply spending time with a pessimistic individual can take a toll. On the other hand, positivity—especially that related to confidence in the Lord—enables us to live as our Father desires.  

As God’s children, we have every reason to live with assurance. His very presence is permanently within us, and He has granted us His peace, which passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). In addition, He promises to provide for our needs and empower us to obey and serve Him. 

Sometimes, however, we have trouble accepting and living in these spiritual blessings. When that’s the case, we should purposefully take steps to develop confidence in our all-powerful God. This begins with meditating on His Word and drawing near to Him in prayer. As we grow in our understanding of the Lord and His promises, our faith is strengthened and confidence in Him increases.  

The world is full of distrust, fear, and uncertainty. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by negative messages that take your eyes off Christ. Focus on the truth of Scripture and put your confidence in almighty God. Facing each day with His strength will drive away doubt and anxiety.

Jacob’s Plain Life

“Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” (Genesis 25:27)

Jacob has often been given a bad reputation for his deception of Isaac. He is branded a liar and worse, while the Scriptures describe him very differently. To begin with, the Hebrew word translated “plain” in our text is tam, everywhere else rendered as “perfect” or “upright.”

The same word is used most often by God Himself of Job—a “perfect” and “upright” man (Job 1:8). All other references in the Bible where tam is used verify this upright and undefiled character. The deception is not rebuked by God, and Jacob is honored by God far more than Isaac. In fact, Jacob is renamed “Israel” by God—hardly a punishment for a bad life, but rather a recognition of a great life (Genesis 32:28).

The sin of Isaac and Esau is infinitely greater. Esau has “sold” and “despised” the birthright (Genesis 25:33-34). Isaac would have given that blessing to Esau (Genesis 27:1-4) in spite of God’s plan (Genesis 25:23). The intention of Jacob and Rebecca was to prevent a horrible disobedience and catastrophe.

Jacob’s action gave him no temporal advantage and was taken at great personal risk. Jacob spent 20 years in exile and servitude to his wicked uncle Laban, 14 of them for Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:20-29). While there, he endured the awful trickery of Laban, but God gave him 12 sons and at least one daughter (Genesis 29:31–30:24).

God’s intervention and Jacob’s careful attention to detail brought wealth and a growing confidence that God had turned his life around, providing the leadership his family needed to leave suddenly and go with confidence back to the land of Abraham (Genesis 31), having received personal assurance from God (Genesis 32:24-30).

May we all have the reputation of a “plain” life. HMM III

Rhapsody of Righteousness

Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart—(Psalm 15 vv. 1-2).

Psalm 15 portrays a man of integrity who stands in bold contrast to the depraved man of Psalm 14.

Because he is a man of worship and sacrifice, his sins are covered by the blood. Therefore he has nothing to hide and he deceives no one. He is marked by five sterling characteristics:

  1. Integrity(v. 2)
  2. Truth (v. 3)
  3. Allegiance (v. 4)
  4. Honor (vv. 4-5)
  5. Stability(v. 5)

One of the most authentic people I know is my friend Bill Rigg. He is filled with quiet, steadfast conviction. When he spoke at the funeral service for his fifteen-year-old son, Jim, I saw unbelievable pain, but I also saw the reality of Jesus Christ.

I want God to create these personality strengths in me. They will be God’s gift to me when I place complete trust in him.

Personal Prayer

Lord, I pray that you will produce transparency, authenticity, and integrity in my life.

A Contemporary Lyric

Make Me Real, Lord

Make me real, Lord,

Marked by integrity;

May what I say be one with what I am!

Make me true, Lord,

Living reality;

And make my life ring true—not a sham.

May my instrument give forth a pure, Wholehearted sound,

May the choices of my life in truth abound.

Make me real, Lord,

Create transparency;

And may I glorify the Great I Am,

And may I magnify the Spotless Lamb!

Words by Don Wyrtzen © 1998.

The Mystery Rolled Back

Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?—1 Corinthians 15:55

Mark’s observation “that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away” (Mk 16:4) seems a simple statement, but behind it lies a truth that is positively staggering in its implications. One is that no longer can death be an intimidator. “Death,” said someone, “is the great enigma of life; humanly speaking, it is the one secret of the universe which is kept, the silence of which is never broken.” To the weary and despairing, death may come as a friend; the cynical and disillusioned may meet it with indifference; to the healthy and the happy it may appear as a foe; but it comes to all. Death is like a great stone that blocks the path of human aspiration. How certain can we be of the continuity of life beyond death? What modest person would find in himself anything worthy to endure for all eternity? Such questions have been asked down the centuries. Death is a mystery—”the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns.” Then came the first Easter Day, and the stone was rolled away. One Traveler did return. Death is an abysmal cavern no longer but a tunnel with light at the farther end. If people have seen it as a blind alley, then they need think no longer in those terms. It is now a thoroughfare, a highway. “‘Tis death is dead, not He,” said the hymnist. The mystery is a mystery no more. The stone that was rolled away the first Easter morn was not just the rock that sealed the tomb. Our Lord rolled back for us the mystery of death also.


O Father, how can I ever sufficiently thank You that the work of salvation is complete? Nothing more needs to be done than has been done. Your coronation spells it out in the clearest of terms. I am so deeply, deeply grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 1:1-9; Lk 22:69; Col 1:18

What did God the Father say about the Son?

What did God the Father say to the Son?

Prayer of Dedication

Philippians 3:10

Lord, I pray that I may know Thee,

Risen One, enthroned on high;

Empty hands I’m stretching to Thee,

Show Thyself to me, I cry.

Show Thyself to me, show Thyself to me,

That I may reveal Thy beauty;

Show Thyself to me.

All that once I thought most worthy,

All of which I once did boast,

In Thy light seems poor and passing,

’tis Thyself I covet most.

Give Thyself to me, give Thyself to me,

That I may show forth Thy power;

Give Thyself to me.

Only as I truly know Thee

Can I make Thee truly known;

Only bring the power to others

Which in my own life is shown.

Show Thy power in me, show Thy power in me,

That I may be used for others;

Show Thy power in me.

Ruth Tracy, The Salvation Army Song Book