VIDEO Sing!

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Psalm 27:6

Marina Noyes, a pastor’s wife in Ukraine, explained how her family dealt with the hardships that fell on their nation earlier this year. “When the trouble comes, we cry. When it gets bad, we pray. When it becomes unbearable, we sing.”[1]

The difficulties of life trigger wide-ranging emotions within us. God created us as emotional people, and He gave us personalities equipped to process the events of life. Just as Jesus wept by the tomb of His friend, we cry. But we don’t stop there. We pray. We trust. We seek out God’s comfort. We find His promises and claim them, which allows us to walk by faith.

But we also sing, for the song in our heart comes from the Holy Spirit, whose fullness spurs us to render psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:18-19).

The psalmist had his enemies, but his secret weapon was offering sacrifices of joy before God and singing praises to the Lord. What’s your favorite hymn or praise song? Why not sing or listen to it now?

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul. Martin Luther


Psalm 27 – The Seeking, Waiting Life Rewarded

Lighting Candles

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. Luke 12:35

It was noon, but the sun wasn’t visible. New England’s Dark Day began the morning of May 19, 1780, and lasted for hours. The cause of the surreal darkness was likely heavy clouds of smoke from massive wildfires in Canada, but many wondered if it might be judgment day.

The Connecticut governor’s council (senate) was in session, and when some considered adjourning because of the darkness, Abraham Davenport responded, “I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Davenport’s desire to be found faithfully performing the work God had given him to do on the day He returns is illustrative of Jesus’ words: “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes” (Luke 12:35–37).

Day or night, it’s always good to serve our Savior. Even when darkness encroaches, His promises for all who look forward to Him will stand. Like candles in the darkness, may our “light shine before others, that they may see” (Matthew 5:16) and love and serve Him too.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What would you do differently if you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow? How will you shine His light today?

Come soon, Jesus! I pray You’ll find me ready on that day, and that the way I live now will draw others to You. 

Learn more about walking daily in the Spirit.

Finding Contentment

Surrendering our desires to God positions us to experience true contentment in His good plan

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Too often we let our circumstances determine our attitude. If life is going smoothly, then we feel good, but when it gets hard, our mood drops. As Christians, we don’t have to live this way. Like the apostle Paul, we can learn to be content with whatever God brings or allows in our life. 

God allows various kinds of suffering to help us mature in faith and become more like Jesus. (See Romans 5:3-5.) In these situations, contentment is the ability to accept life as it is—not wanting anything more or different. Such acceptance is possible only if we maintain a biblical perspective and rely on God’s strength in our weakness. But if we fight against our circumstances, we’ll be miserable because we’re resisting the Lord and His purposes for us. He’s working out His perfect plan through each event in our life—even the ones we don’t like. (Of course, when hardship is due to abuse or certain other sinful situations, pastors or Christian counselors can help us discern whether self-protection is necessary.)

Submission and trust are essential for contentment. As long as we try to control the situation or maneuver our way out of it, we’ll be stressed and discontent. But if we realize that whatever God allows is for our good, we’ll be able to surrender our will and desires. Then, by relying on the Lord’s wisdom and strength, we’ll discover the contentment only He can give. 

Life–Light–Love

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:3-5)

The apostle John, designated as “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2), used the concept of agape love more than any other New Testament writer, even teaching that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Likewise, John tells us that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), and he uses the concept of light (phos) more than any other writer.

In just the same way, he uses the primary word for life (zoe) more than any other writer and discusses “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1), identifying Christ as life and the fountain of life.

Christ, of course, has existed “from the beginning” and is the Creator of physical life on Earth (Colossians 1:16Acts 17:28). But in a special way, He is “the life” (John 14:6), and, as we see in our text, “in him was life,” denoting salvation and eternal life based on His own atonement for sin.

Concerning light, Christ not only created physical light (Genesis 1:3) and later light sources (Genesis 1:14), but He is light, referring to revelation of the things of God to men, for His “life was the light of men.”

But most of all, “God is love.” The first time John mentions agape love, we are told that “God so loved the world” and that His free and undeserved love drove Him to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Herein is love…that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). JDM

Steady Inward Fire

I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.Acts 2:18

God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm. He is delighted with all that is good and lovingly concerned about all that is wrong.

He pursues His labors always in a fullness of holy zeal. No wonder the Spirit came at Pentecost as the sound of a rushing mighty wind and sat in tongues of fire on every forehead. In so doing He was acting as one of the Persons of the blessed Godhead.

Whatever else happened at Pentecost, one thing that cannot be missed by the most casual observer was the sudden upsurging of moral enthusiasm.

Those first disciples burned with a steady, inward fire. They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon. OGM005-006

With [the disciples’] baptism in the Spirit, their whole demeanor changed. The sadness left their hearts. The minor key left their worship. Their self-imposed righteousness was turned into life in the Spirit. JJJ310

The Great Stimulator

There is one God, the Father. All things are from Him … And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him.1 Corinthians 8:6

In order to remain spiritually vibrant we must strive to be creative and outgoing. It is never too late to acquire this characteristic. We are made in the image of our Creator, and when we cease to be creative, we cease to be.

Kagawa, the famous Japanese Christian, used to refer to Jesus as “the great Stimulator.” One day some students asked him why he was so fond of this phrase, and he replied: “Because He stimulates the creative center in each one of us, making us first aware of God, and then aware of the infinite possibilities in God.”

When I was at school, I struggled with my studies, and although I passed all my examinations and went to college, my passes were always on the borderline. Then I found Christ as the great Stimulator—and what a change. He stimulated the creative center within me, and He so transformed my attitude toward work that within months I had moved from near the bottom of my classes to near the top.

When taking a seminar in Birmingham, I met a friend who had recently come to live there. “What do you think of Birmingham?” I asked. His reply was: “I have lived here for three months, and every day I keep seeing new horizons.” This is what happens when we stay close to Jesus—every day we keep seeing new horizons. In His company we begin to see farther, feel for people on a wider scale, act more decisively, and live on the growing edge of adventure. Why? Because a creative God gives to His creation the same creative impulses.

Prayer

O God, stimulate my whole being, I pray, so that every day I shall see new horizons. Help me never to walk with my eyes focused on the ground, but with my eyes fixed on You. For Your own dear name’s sake I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 1:1-18; Col 1:16; Php 2:1

Who is at the center of creation?

What happens if He is the center of our lives?

Working Alone

When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”Exodus 18:14

In our zeal to please God and advance His kingdom, we Christians often take on responsibilities that God never intended us to have. One of the great challenges of the Christian life is determining what God does not want us to do! Our intentions are admirable: We love God, we love His people, and we see many needs around us. But sometimes our good intentions cause more harm than good.

Moses was aware of the need for someone to settle disputes among the Israelites. Someone had to help those former slaves learn how to live together as the people of God, so Moses took it upon himself to meet this need. Long lines of unhappy people, hoping to have their cases heard, stood before Moses each day. Moses spent day after day carrying the weight of his nation’s problems on his shoulders. Finally his father-in-law, an outsider, witnessed what Moses was doing and challenged the wisdom of his actions. Moses was taking on more than he could handle. He was wearing himself out trying to do what was impossible for one person. In doing this service alone, Moses was robbing others of an opportunity to serve the Lord. He was also doing a disservice to his people, who otherwise could have had their issues resolved much sooner.

When you become aware of a need, do not automatically assume God wants you to meet it. The only reason to perform ministry is that God clearly tells you it is His will. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all that you are doing, you are probably doing more than God has asked. Pray carefully about the assignments you take on, so that you don’t rob yourself and others of God’s best.