VIDEO The Simplicity of Song

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord. Psalm 69:30-31

Denzel Washington is increasingly outspoken about his faith, telling a journalist last December, “I’m a believer…I try to make sure I try to put God first in everything.” In making his latest film, he said, “I wanted to please God.”[1]

Just as a child wants to please his parents or a student her teacher, so we should please God every day in every way. One of the simplest ways is by singing to Him, praising His Name, and magnifying His Name with thanksgiving.

That’s never been easier to do. We can listen to Christian music on the radio and find classic hymns on our phones. As we learn the words and sing with sincerity, God is listening. We may not have a voice like an angel, but we have a song the angels long to sing. Whether it’s in the shower or in the car, praise the Name of God with a song.

Tell Him, “How great Thou art!”

The kind of worship that pleases God will be Christ-centered and Spirit-led. To try to worship without faith in Christ is folly; to try to worship without the power of the Holy Spirit is hollow. Allen P. Ross


Psalm 69 • Growing in the Darkness

A Heavenly Reunion

We will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:17

When writing my mom’s obituary, I felt that the word died seemed too final for the hope I had in our promised reunion in heaven. So, I wrote: “She was welcomed into the arms of Jesus.” Still, some days I grieve when looking at the more current family photos that don’t include my mom. Recently, though, I discovered a painter who creates family portraits to include those we’ve lost. The artist uses the photos of loved ones who have gone before us to paint them into the picture of the family. With strokes of a paintbrush, this artist represents God’s promise of a heavenly reunion. I shed grateful tears at the thought of seeing my mom smiling by my side again.

The apostle Paul affirms that believers in Jesus don’t have to grieve “like the rest of mankind” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (v. 14). Paul acknowledges Jesus’ second coming and proclaims that all believers will be reunited with Jesus (v. 17).

God’s promise of a heavenly reunion can comfort us when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one who has trusted Jesus. Our promised future with our risen King also provides enduring hope when we face our own immortality, until the day Jesus comes or calls us home.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has God used the promise of a heavenly reunion to comfort you in your grief? Why does the promise of a heavenly reunion give you great hope?

Loving Savior, thank You for giving me an enduring hope to share with others until the day You call me home or come again. 

For further study, read Life to Come.

The Importance of a Good Testimony

Jesus wants to satisfy the yearnings of your heart

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

A testimony is an account of what a person has seen or experienced. For us as Christians, it’s a declaration of who Jesus Christ is and what He’s done in our life. The authenticity of our testimony is displayed in three ways.   

  1. Character. Starting at salvation, the Spirit begins the process of conforming us to Christ’s image. Then our thinking should align more and more with Scripture. As that happens, sinful attitudes will be replaced by godly ones, and our heart will desire to obey the Lord. If the internal change is genuine, it will be manifested externally.  
  2. Conduct. The way we act should confirm who we are in Christ. If we follow God’s instructions only occasionally but ignore Him the rest of the time, our testimony will be hypocritical. But a truly transformed life will be marked by obedience. 
  3. Conversation. We speak out of whatever fills our heart (Matthew 12:34). A transformed heart should overflow with gracious words and be quick to tell others about the Savior, who rescues us from sin and condemnation.   

When our character, conduct, and conversation match who we are in Christ, we’ll have a testimony that encourages fellow Christians and draws unbelievers to the Savior.  

By Man Came Death

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

These verses, coupled with others throughout the Old and New Testaments, teach a very important principle not fully appreciated by those Christians who would hold that man evolved from lower animals or even that his tenure on Earth was preceded by millions of years. For if the earth is old, then death is part of the natural order of things, and billions upon billions of organisms have lived and died, struggling for existence, surviving only if they were “fit.”

Taken at face value, however, the Bible indicates a far different scenario. Evidently, at the beginning, all living creatures (i.e., conscious life as opposed to plants and non-conscious “animals”) were created to live forever. There was no death, for all were designed to be vegetarian (Genesis 1:30). God had warned them of disobedience to His one command: “For in the day that thou eatest thereof [i.e., of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] thou shalt surely die” (or more literally, “dying thou shalt die”) (Genesis 2:17). All of creation was placed under the curse of death at that time, the animals (3:14), the plants (v. 18), the ground (v. 17), and mankind (vv. 15-17, 19); all would be dying. Sadly, as we know all too well, this situation continues today (see Romans 8:22).

But if death is a part of the created order, what can our text mean? Furthermore, if death was not specified as the penalty for sin, what does the death of Christ mean? Belief in the concept of the old earth destroys vital doctrines, including our redemption through Christ’s death.

Thankfully, the reign of death and the curse will end one day (Revelation 21:4; 22:3) as God restores the creation to its intended state. JDM

On Losing the “Oh!”

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.Psalm 83:1

Theology seeks to reduce what may be known of God to intellectual terms, and as long as the intellect can comprehend it can find words to express itself.

When God Himself appears before the mind, awesome, vast and incomprehensible, then the mind sinks into silence and the heart cries out “O Lord God!” There is the difference between theological knowledge and spiritual experience, the difference between knowing God by hearsay and knowing Him by acquaintance….

We Christians should watch lest we lose the “Oh!” from our hearts. There is real danger these days that we shall fall victim to the prophets of poise and the purveyors of tranquility, and our Christianity be reduced to a mere evangelical humanism that is never disturbed about anything nor overcome by and “trances of thought and mountings of the mind.”…

When the calm listing of requests and the courteous giving of proper thanks take the place of the burdened prayer that finds utterance difficult we should beware the next step, for our direction is surely down whether we know it or not. BAM086-087

The chief thing is not to listen to yourself, but silently to list to God. JAS171

“Praying in the Spirit”

I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding.1 Corinthians 14:15

What does it mean to pray “in the Spirit”? Here again, there is a good deal of misunderstanding among Christians as to the true meaning of this phrase.

There are times when one feels deeply affected emotionally as one prays, but this is not the meaning of the phrase “praying in the Spirit.” It has no relationship to the emotions that we feel in prayer. I am not saying that feelings are unimportant in prayer; I am simply saying that I do not believe this is what Paul had in mind when he used the phrase “praying in the Spirit.”

The “spirit” spoken of here is not the human spirit but the Holy Spirit. Some believe that “praying in the Spirit” takes place when we pray in other tongues, and although it can include that, I believe it is much more than that.

Prayer that is “in the Spirit” is prayer that is prompted and guided by the Spirit. One commentator puts it this way: “It means that the Holy Spirit directs the prayer, creates the prayer within us, and empowers us to offer it and to pray it.”

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls praying in the Spirit “the secret of true prayer” and goes on to say: “If we do not pray in the Spirit, we do not really pray.” I would hesitate to make such a sweeping statement myself, but I would go so far as to say that if we do not know what it means to pray in the Spirit, our prayers will have little impact upon Satan and his forces.

Prayer

Dear Father, I have so much to learn about prayer that unless You take my hand and guide me, I can soon lose my way. Teach me how to enter the deeper levels of prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Rm 8:1-17, 26; Lk 11:13; 24:49

To what does the Spirit bear witness?

What was Christ’s promise to His disciples?

Returning to Your Failure

“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”Luke 5:5

No one knows how to help you in your times of failure as Jesus does! He will not overlook your shortcoming or simply encourage you to do better the next time. He will give you victory in the midst of your failure.

Peter had fished all night without success. His was not just a meager catch; he had caught nothing, even though he was a skilled fisherman. Jesus could have said, “Peter, don’t worry about your empty net. You’ll soon be in a different business anyway.” Instead, Jesus told him to launch out into the deep and to cast out his nets for a catch. How humbling it must have been for Peter! Here was a carpenter telling this outspoken fisherman how to fish!

Jesus often gets your undivided attention when you fail. He sometimes takes you back to your place of defeat in order to build something good into your life. You may assume He must not want you to continue because you failed so miserably in your attempt. Perhaps your problem was that you relied on your own strength instead of the Master’s. Maybe you failed in a relationship. Jesus will not allow you to abandon it; He will help you learn from your failure and experience the difference He can make when He guides your relationships. When you try in God’s strength you may discover that success is indeed within your grasp. If you have recently experienced failure, you may be on the brink of receiving a profound revelation from God!