Music leaders are biblical and musical instruments are normative, but not mandatory. Psalm 67:1

Active, Attractive, Left Out, Chill Out, Out, Relaxed
For the choir director: with stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
May God be gracious to us and bless us; may he make his face shine upon us.
-Psalm 67:1

Music leaders are biblical. What matters is their function.

Musical instruments are normative, but not mandatory.

Songs are born singing, are very personal, and fresh; but can be sung with instruments.

Psalms are born by poets and musicians. This one is perhaps both.

Asking for God’s grace and blessings towards us is normal for believers.

“Bless us and pour out your grace on us” is right.

The presence of God is the earmark of the people of God.

“Shine upon us” is asking God to turn on the light in our lives, and make us lights that are reflectors of him.
The purpose of the blessing, of his grace bestowed, is to make us reflections of him to those who don’t know.

Psalm 67 is a missionary song. Every believer has always been a missionary who longs to see the nations saved. Israel, the people of God then and now, was always meant to be the light of the world, to bring the nations to God.

Selah might mean “pause”, or “pause and reflect”.

We live in very noisy times, and it’s a powerful thing to have silence during worship, between songs, stanzas, or verses.

When we pause, we sense God’s presence, and give God the chance to speak, or touch our hearts.
Pause now.

Clap and Shout to God, Psalm 47:1

Image result for psalm 47
Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry.
-Psalm 47:1

Psalm 47 is a victory psalm.  A song of celebration for God’s victory.  The original occasion may have been the move of the ark from Obededom to Mount Zion (1 Chron. 15:25).


God Our King, CSB

God Is King over All the Earth, ESV

God Rules the Nations, CEV

Praise to God, the Ruler of the Earth, NKJV

Our God Reigns, Don Williams

A Song of God’s Kingship, Peter Craigie

The Universal King, W. Forsyth

The Universal Sovereignty of God, C. Short

Charles Spurgeon:

Psalm 47

Unusual and enthusiastic expressions of joy when justifiable and even desirable.

Joy is the true spirit of worship.

1. Joy in God’s character.
2. Joy in his reign.
3. Joy in the triumphs of his gospel.
4. Joy in his favor to his saints.

Adam Clarke:

“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”

This should be done,

1. Cheerfully: for this is a sign of inward joy.
2. Universally (all people)

3. Vocally (with the voice)
4. Frequently (sing, sing, sing, sing, sing: verses 6 & 7)

Matthew Henry:

Such expressions of pious and devout affection as to some may seem indecent and imprudent, yet ought not to be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection…

Applaud loudly, yelling, “bravo!” Raise your voices, shouting loudly, with great joy, and give honor to the True God of the universe.
-Psalm 47:1 (MSG)

The literal Hebrew is, 

“Applaud all you peoples, shout out to God with a cry of praise.”
(Peter Craigie)

How much more should we applaud and go crazy with loud cheering for God, than we do at sporting events and concerts?  We should praise God with enthusiasm and abandon, literally raising the roof. Why is our worship so held back, but it’s okay to go crazy for other things? We have the privilege of and permission to cut loose with applause and shouts of praise to God.

Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry.
-Psalm 47:1
This is a word cloud of Psalm 47, from 10 translations.  God, sing, praise, people, earth, king, nations, and lord were the most common words, in descending order.

Psalm 47 is about the kingdom of God. Psalm 47 says that God is taking over the earth and that the nations and their leaders will worship him.  Some scholars believe that this must mean that this psalm is about the second coming and the final victories of the Lord.  I believe that it is actually about now, “His-story”. 
There are popular teachings that say things are going to get worse and worse, but the Bible actually teaches that things get better, even as some things seem to get worse; and that God is actually winning.
Psalm 47 is not just about past and future victories, but God’s war plan now.  The kingdom of God has been taking over the earth and God is not through winning! Things are getting better and that is why evil is  showing itself.
We are worshiping God who’s kingdom is taking over the earth.  Nations are being saved and new leaders who honor God are arising.  The church will be glorious and powerful as the bride she is meant to be. 

Dancing as Worship

Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and flute.

-Psalm 150:4

“Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.

-Luke 15:25

I was thinking about a silly song that came out in 1962 and has been made popular twice since, called “The Locomotion”.

The song’s words encourage everybody to learn this dance.  This reminds me of how many Christians have never learned to dance before and to the Lord.  Most of us have learned how to sing, but not to dance.

It is as easy as learning your a, b, c’s, and if you try it you will like it, is what the song says.

Do you know how singing makes you feel better sometimes?  Dancing is the same way.

I’ve had this idea that when I sing to God and to others about God, even when I don’t feel like it, that it is like a sacrifice of praise (Ps. 49:14).  And I always end up feeling better!  It is like how smiling makes you feel better and how laughter is healing.

Dancing to and before God is the same way.  You might not feel like doing it, but when and after you do, you will feel better.  Try it, you’ll like it.

There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue…

Dancing has always been part and parcel of praise and worship for God’s people.  Yet, I’m pretty sure, that many believers have never danced in worship and praise.

Have you ever thought about how excited people get at sporting events, with cheering, clapping, jumping up and down, and even doing a little dance right there in the one square foot they give you in front of your seat?

How much more is God worthy of our praise?  Yet, many church worship meetings are like singing songs at a funeral.  The singing is serious and dignified, while somewhat happy, and joyous.

But what about jubilation and exhilaration?  What about moving your body, because you can’t be still?

We do rock and sway a little. but what about those feet and legs?  What about whole body movement and motion cut loose to praise God?  This is not weird, but normal.

We have been held back from what is normal, if we never dance when we praise and worship.

Despising dancing to and before God as foolish is the very wrong attitude.  It is much better to just say, “I don’t know how to do that”.

Most believers know how to participate in singing, because we do it together.  We know about prayers, because we do prayers.

Now we might have limited knowledge of prayer, or something else in the Bible, because we don’t do it or experience it little.

Dancing in worship is like that.  It is Biblical and normative for believers, in the Bible, but we are not used to it, so we are unfamiliar with it, and so don’t do it.

Dancing is normal to celebrate and praise God.  When Jesus put dancing into his parable of the two sons and their dad, he was showing us that we will dance.

When Paul says that new covenant believers will participate in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; “psalms” refers to the book of Psalms, and in that book, instruments and dancing is referenced.  Musical instruments and dancing are not forbidden and you can not say that they are forbidden because the New Testament is silent, because it says, “Speak to one another in Psalms”, and the Psalms say to play instruments and dance.

Tie Ephesians 5:19 back to Psalm 150.

“Praise him with tambourine and dance.  Praise him with string and flute.” -Psalm 150:4

Do you have to dance?  No.  But the person that wrote Psalm 150 invites us to.

Musical Instruments Are Endorsed by the NT

What then, brothers and sisters? Whenever you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, another tongue, or an interpretation. Everything is to be done for building up.

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

-1 Cor. 14:24, Eph. 5:18-21, Col. 3:16
I read an article from November, 2010; from Scot McKnight, where he asked his readers how they would respond to this question:

“How would you respond to someone who believes that instrumental music is not an acceptable form of worship?
Typically we have stated our reasoning is that instruments were not used/authorized in the New Testament (even though Revelation speaks of using them in the New Heaven/New Earth) therefore we cannot use them.

There are a number of Christian tribes who do not use instruments ever in worship.  A number of these are enumerated in the 62 comments that the post garnered.  I personally was unaware of this issue until about 15 years ago.
Among the a capella only people, usually the argument is given that since instruments were not used in the ancient NT church, we can not use them today.  If you point out that the Psalms mention the harp and other instruments, they will say that is not NT, so we can’t do that.  There is also some evidence for instruments in heaven, in the book of Revelation.  I think they would say it’s prophetic or in heaven, so it doesn’t apply to the church on earth (something along those lines).
I did not realize, until yesterday, when I read the comment, by a man named Eric W., that the various Greek dictionaries tell us that the word ‘psalms’, that occurs in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Corinthians 14 (translated hymn in some translations), means, 
(“Scripture set to music”). Originally, a psalm  was sung and accompanied by a plucked musical instrument (typically a harp), especially the OT Psalms.

[The Psalms of the OT were often sung and were accompanied by sophisticated musical arrangements.]

copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.For complete text and additional resources visit:

ψάλλω psallō sing; sing praise*
This vb., which occurs 5 times in the NT, actually means “pluck / play a stringed instrument” or “sing to the accompaniment of a harp.” In the NT it always refers to a song of praise to God (dat.). In the LXX ψάλλω usually translates Heb. zāmar, esp. in the Psalms, and can refer to the playing of an instrument (LXX Pss 32:2; 104:2; 146:7, and elsewhere) or, less frequently, to the praise itself that is sung (LXX Pss 9:3; 65:4; a taunt-song: Ps 68:12 LXX).

-Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G. (1990-). Vol. 3: Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament (495). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

And, the NET Bible has this for ‘psalms’, [πσαλμοσ(5568)]
1) a striking, twanging 1a) of a striking the chords of a musical instrument 1b) of a pious song, a psalm
My take is that since musical instruments are sometimes used in unspiritual, worldly, sensual ways, or sheerly in performance for entertainment; some Christians have shunned using them, and even taken the preference that becomes shunning, making it into a doctrine; and the extreme of that doctrine, believed by some even today, is that you might go to hell for playing musical instruments in the church.
This Greek word for ‘psalms’, clearly means “scripture set to music, played on instruments”.  This practice, in the church is mentioned three times.  There is no discussion or debate about this found in Acts or the letters, simply because it was a given and not an issue.
Instruments have always been permitted, permissible.  There is no mention of church buildings or sunday school for children, yet we have found great value in these and other modern practices.  How would we categorize or describe Christians that thought meeting in its own building or having sunday school for the children was wrong and could even pave the way to hell for you?  
“A capella is better, but not best or the only way.”  That’s a much better way of stating what you believe.
Best and the way is the way Jesus was talking about to the Samaritan woman.  Best and the way is the way described by Paul in Romans, that is a full commitment to worship in and with your whole being during your whole life.  Worship, the best worship, as described by David and the Psalms and through the NT is a lifestyle, not an event or a set of time.
Worship is a heart matter.  How we worship is permissible in a huge variety of ways, including art, dance, rap, spoken words, and through every and any instrument(s).  But our main worship and that from which our musical worship flows, is from our lives lived before God, 24/7.

Tozer Quotes on Worship

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

-Exodus 15:2

My first memory of worship was when I was a little boy, and all the people were in the sanctuary singing The Lord’s Prayer.  I can still hear the roar of all the voices, in unison, singing, “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever!”  There was a pipe organ that did not overpower the voices of the congregation, but seemed to guide and blend with our words, towards heaven.
Everything I have learned and everything I have seen and experienced about worship starts with that childhood memory.  Christians have been offended and put off by different styles of worship.  How we worship has been in contention for a long time.
I recently picked up a book, Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, which is a compilation of thoughts from A.W. Tozer, by James L. Snyder; published in 1997.  Around 1987, I read a similar book, a Tozer compilation, by Gerald B. Smith, called What Ever Happened To Worship?, that I enjoyed.  That was my first Tozer book.  As I read through this Tozer book, I realized that a big part of my spiritual formation was guided by A. W. Tozer.
These are quotes and notes from “Tozer on Worship and Entertainment”, a compilation by James L. Snyder.  All are from the first half of the book.  This book is a compilation or sermon quotes and quotes from other Tozer books like, What Ever Happened To Worship? , That Incredible Christian, The Root of the Righteous, The Pursuit of God, and Knowledge of The Holy.
  • Admiration is an essential ingredient to worship.
    • We can not worship the one we do not honor.
  • We can only worship that which fascinates us.
    • There is an astonishment about reverence.
    • There is a mysterious fascination that carries the heart beyond itself.
  • We cannot worship without loving.
    • love without restraints becomes adoration.
  • Worship seeks union with its beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best.
  • God has been saying to me, “I dwell in your thoughts.  Make your thoughts a sanctuary I can dwell.  See to it.”
  • We are saved to worship God.
  • Jesus did not redeem us to make us workers; He redeemed us to make us worshipers.
    • And then, out of the blazing worship in our hearts, springs work.
  • Worship is unnatural only in the sense that so many people really do it.
    • But it is natural in that is is what God created us for… to worship Him and enjoy Him forever.
  • If worship bores you, you are not ready for heaven.
    • Every glimpse that we have of heaven shows the creatures there worshiping.
  • God is infinitely more concerned that He have worshipers than He have workers.
  • One of the ingredients in worship is boundless confidence in the character God.
  • Mystery always baffles the understanding and stuns the mind, and we come before God in speechless humility in the presence of the mystery inexpressible.
    • I feel that we should always leave room for mystery in our Christian faith.
    • When we do not, we become evangelical rationalists and we can explain everything.
  • Mystery runs throughout all the kingdom of God just as there is mystery running throughout all of nature.
    • And the wisest and most honest scientist will tell you that he knows practically nothing.
    • And the Christian who has seen God on His throne with the eyes of his heart has stopped being an oracle.  He won’t pretend to know everything any more and he won’t condemn another man who might take a different position from his.
  • You are not worshiping God as you should if you have departmentalized your life so that some areas worship and other parts do not worship.
    • This can be a great delusion- that worship only happens in church or in the midst of a dangerous storm or in the presence of some unusual and sublime beauty of nature around us.
  • Cain’s worship in the OT was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man.
    • Cain did not understand that man’s sin was eternally important to God.
    • Cain mistakenly assumed a relationship with God, denying the alienation that sin brings.
    • Cain was mistaken as some people are today, that sin is not a serious thing.
    • Cain’s type of worship is inadequate, without real meaning; in today’s NT context, because it bypasses the necessity of blood atonement for sin.
  • Consecration is not difficult for the person who has met God.
  • Our religious activities should be ordered in such a way as to leave plenty of time for the cultivation of the fruits of solitude and silence.
    • (But) Our mediation must be towards God; otherwise, we may spend our time of retiral in quiet converse with ourselves.  This may quiet our nerves but will not further our spiritual life in any way.
  • When we lift our eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us.
  • Our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.
  • Whatever else it embraces, true Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God.
  • The presence of God is the central fact of Christianity.
  • The presence of God in our midst- bringing a sense of godly fear and reverence- this is largely missing today.
    • You cannot induce it by soft music, beautiful windows, or holding up a biscuit and claiming it is God.
  • True worship is to be so personally and hopelessly in love with God that the idea of a transfer of affection never even remotely exists.
  • I believe in personal communion with God to the point of incandescence.
  • The fellowship of God is delightful beyond all telling.  He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.
    • He is not sensitive nor temperamental.
    • He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy.
    • He expects of us only what He has first supplied.
    • He loves us for ourselves and values our love more galaxies of new created worlds.
  • The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through washing and regeneration.
    • He first reveals Christ to the penitent heart.
    • He then goes on to illuminate the newborn soul with brighter rays from the face of Christ and leads the willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion.
    • Remember, we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us and we have only as much of Him as the Spirit imparts.
    • Gifts of power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart; but holiness and spiritual worship come first.
  • Perhaps the most serious charge that can be brought against modern Christians is that we are not sufficiently in love with Christ.
  • The more perfect our friendship with God becomes the simpler will our lives be.
  • God is not satisfied until there exists between Him and His people a relaxed informality that requires no artificial stimulation.
    • The true friend of God may sit in His presence for long periods of silence.
    • Complete trust needs no words of assurance.
  • We should never forget that God created us to be joyful worshipers, but sin drew us into everything else but worship.
  • For myself, if I couldn’t have the divine power of God, I would quit the whole business.
  • The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration.
    • We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration.
  • Reverence is a beautiful thing, and it is so rare in this terrible day in which we live.
  • You can worship God anywhere is you will let Him work in your being and suffer no rival.
  • It is true that for each one there must be a personal encounter with God.
  • We Christians should watch lest we lose the “Oh!” from our hearts.
  • The music of heaven is adoration.
  • When we’ve known God enough and come to have faith in Him, when we have boundless confidence in His character, and when we come to admire Him and love Him for His excellence, when we become magnetized by His beauty and adore Him we will want to pour ourselves out at His feet.
    • Consecration is not difficult to someone who has met God.
  • Christian believers are called to be burning bushes.

Hail The New

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

-Isaiah 43:19
God is doing something new.  You can miss it.  God is providing a way.
God is doing something.  But to experience it, we must see it.  If our eyes are shut or we do not look, we will not see it.
God is active.  We first have to get our minds around the idea that God is always on the move.  God is not just the God of the past.
God is also not just the God of of the past and of the future.  God is the God of the present.  He came and is here now.
God is doing something.  We should be looking for what God is doing today.  We are too often fixated on what God did and will do.
God is doing something today.  He is doing something new today.  He is not changing the past, but doing something new in the present.
God has always been actively working among people to help them.  Before Christ, God’s people got in trouble, faced enemies and fell into sins.  God both saved people outside Israel, bringing them in and also worked with Israel in bondage, getting them out, when they had lost their way.
The context of Isaiah 43 is a message to Israel, who is in Babylonian bondage.  God is going to show the whole world, again that He is the Savior and the one God.
God is going to deliver his people from their sins.  And God’s initiative comes from himself and not because of anything good in the people.  That grace, love, favor, mercy and kindness was true of God in ancient times and is still true today.

We need to see the new thing. We need to hail it. The new is here and we need to give it recognition.

The word says:

Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
-Isaiah 43:19
The idea that I see in this verse is that God does new things for our benefit.  He does the new things because God is active and creative.  He moves to move us closer to him, his mission and for his glory.
We can miss it.  The first word, ‘look’ means ‘pay attention’.  The old King James says, “Behold”.  It means ‘see’ or ‘watch closely’.  There is a ‘preacher-ism’ or a phrase preachers say that is, “watch this”, and it means, “listen carefully to what I am about to say”, or “pay attention”, or “listen up”.
We are more distracted than ever.  We have to make an effort to see what God is doing.  We have to make an effort to see it and hear it.
Do you know that song that says, “Did you hear the mountains tremble?”  The point is that you can easily miss it, if you are not paying attention.  A friend of mine came home one day and put a blanket over her tv to remind herself to give her attentions to God more.
The thing that God is about to do and is already beginning to do is like making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The symbology of this means that God is going to do something that seems impossible and is impossible, but for not for him.
Being at the end of your rope and being tempted to feel hopeless means you need God and that is super good.  Being upset about things not working in your life and having tension and lack of peace about things is a good thing because it means you need God.  You need God’s move, God’s way and God to make a way for you where there seems to be no way and to provide sustenance for you where there is none.
The problems and the ‘it does not work’ and signs or pointers to God giving you a gift of a new way.  We want to be in the place of contentment in Father’s lap, being his kids and being taken care of by him.  We do not want to be in the place of proud, smug self-satisfaction that says to God, “I’ve got this”.
The message is that God is alive.  He is here now.  He is on the move.
God is doing a new thing.  Creating, renewing, revitalizing and refreshing has always been God’s business.  The question is, “Will we avail ourselves to God’s continual renewal?”
God is making a way by doing a new thing.  Same God, same Jesus and the same Holy Spirit; but a new to you way that will be a way where the way seemed impossible and sustenance where there seemed to be none.
Will you take God up on the offer?  Will you pay attention, look and see?  Will you lay down your preconceptions and prejudices and let God show you something and bring you into something New?
Will you let God move?  Will you let God change things in your life?  After you see it, will you walk into it and drink from it?
Will you let God be God?  Will you let your heavenly Father take care of you and lead you?  Will you serve Jesus by letting him lead you in a new way than the way you have walked before?
Jesus is still calling to his disciples, “Follow me”.  Will you follow him into the unknown, off your map and out of your comfort zone?  Will you let him save you and keep you, renew you, wash you and comfort you?
Will you step into the place of discipleship where you know him and he knows you?  Your savior is coming to save you in your life right now, in the problems you are facing.  He is Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.
Prepare the house of your life for his coming to make a way for you.  Decorate your house for a celebration of God’s gift to you.  Begin to be glad with great joy that God is coming and already here, to make a way in your life.
See what God has already done for you and be thankful.  Get your heart ready to receive more.
Listen to the joyful and thankful people in your life tell their stories of what God has done for them.  Let them encourage you.
Let go of your past.  Let go of your disappointments.  Release any bitterness.
Do not define your life today by the failures and missed opportunities in your past.  Do not wallow in your misfortunes.  Instead, see every liability or negative on your sheet as a place where God is going to move.
Cultivate a revelation of God as being beyond your wildest imagination and dreams, in his goodness and love for you that he will show you.  God’s very nature is kindness: love and generosity.  If you have a very low or small revelation of God this way, look and even stare at him to get it in your heart just how good that God is.
Share the goodness of God and let your stories be an encouragement to others.  The life is meant to be lived with God and with one another.  Whether you have one friend or confidant or many, share your story.
The whole life is about God’s story and then our stories and sharing them so that we can know and be know, love and be loved and then share, share and share some more.
On the new road, the new way and in the new thing from God, there will be opposition from people and from the dark spirits.  There will be bad weather on the new road, guaranteed.  Regardless of the push-back, keep walking, keep believing and keep worshipping with your life, giving thanks in all circumstances.
The opposition is a sign that you are indeed on God’s path and that God is with you and you are with God.  Sing aloud to God on the new path when the enemy opposes you, and find a partner or partners to sing with and give the enemy a hard time back.

Here is the song that inspired me for this message:

Christian Living Begins With Surrender

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
-Romans 12:1 (NIV)

When God changed my life, a word that came to my mind, over and over, was, “Surrender”.  I discovered that God wanted me, all of me.  Even though I knew God and was a Christian; God was calling me to enter into a surrendered life.  I began to experience living a surrendered life to God.

In the evangelical culture I am familiar with, one thing we do is play worship music in our cars or in our homes, or walk through the bustling city streets, with earbuds on, listening to our favorite worship music and letting it stir our souls.
Nothing is wrong with that.  But that is not what Romans 12:1 is talking about.
God wants our lives.  God wants our whole lives, lock stock and barrel, given over to Him.  Jesus’ message was that to follow him, we must give up everything, or it will not work.

Romans 12 is the beginning of the section of Romans on Christian living. We call this ‘orthopraxy’. The beginning section of Romans is about true and correct (right) doctrine, and we call that ‘orthodoxy’. And the center section of Romans is about the heart: true or correct heart or affections, and we call that ‘orthopathy’ or ‘orthokardia’.

We need to know what the previous eleven chapters covered in order to understand what the ‘therefore’ in verse one of Romans twelve is there for. The ‘therefore’ is saying, “In the light of the teachings on doctrine and affections, this is how you should then live”.

And the first thing that Paul says, is to live a life of worship. 

 Knowing the truth puts our hearts in awe and wonder, then leads us to love God and love others. Having come to that place, then how do we begin to live? Worship is how.  
A surrendered life of sacrifice to God: living for God and serving God in my whole life.
Worship is not an event, time or place; but a lifestyle. Without a worship lifestyle, the right knowledge and touched heart will not lead to a godly life; but will devolve into a carnal, selfish life. A lifestyle of worship is not optional, but is essential.
When we do gather with other Christians, to worship and praise God together, we a coming from surrendered lives of sacrifice; where we have been living in worship and a lifestyle.
The Old Covenant call of, “Come let us go up to the temple of the Lord and worship our God”, has passed away.  In the New Covenant, you and I are the temple of God; and we worship God by giving him our bodies, our lives and all our living throughout each week.

The ‘christian’ who opts out, does not get it, or bypasses worship as a lifestyle will not live the life as it is intended to be lived, and will miss out, suffer and be something like a bird who never flies, but walks through life, occasionally flapping its wings and getting a few feet off the ground, like a turkey.

Romans 12 could be titled ‘Christian Living’, and the beginning or foundation of Christian living is giving everything to God. Specifically and foundationally, this is done with our bodies. From our bodies we live our lives and so we must first give our bodies completely to God, so that we can participate with God in living the life God has for us to live, through our living bodies.

The Christian life begins with offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices. Everything that our bodies need, want and desire: all of our body’s functions are first given to God. This is what a Christian is.

The Passion Translation has Romans 12:1 this way:

Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies?  I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices.  And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart.  For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.

The Message has Romans 12:1 like this:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Surrender.  Freedom, joy and fulfillment come from surrendering to God. 

Come Dancing

My love calls to me:

Arise, my darling.
Come away, my beautiful one.
For now the winter is past;
the rain has ended and gone away.
The blossoms appear in the countryside.
The time of singing has come,
and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs;
the blossoming vines give off their fragrance.
Arise, my darling.
Come away, my beautiful one.

-Song of Songs 2:10-13

Come dancing.  Have you heard God say that?

What would that mean?  I think that when we dance, we have stopped being passive and instead activated.  Dancing is moving.

When I am moving, I can be guided or ‘course corrected’.  The motion of dancing gives me the ability to be guided.  ‘Come dancing’ is similar to, ‘let’s take a walk”, ‘get up and go’, ‘now, run’.

If someone invites you to dance, they are asking you to join the dance, with them or with others.  The invitation implies the plurality of dancing.  People dance solo or privately all the time, but that is not what this is about.

In God’s story, shared in the Bible, His people are His wife and His bride.  God has always been like a husband who loves and shares with his bride.  This includes going away with God and letting God love us.

God would naturally say to us, ‘let me share with you’, ‘let us eat together’, and ‘come dance with me’.

The life that God has always wanted for His people is a close relationship, like in the old hymn, “He lives”, where it has the words, “He walks with me and talks with me”.  Our God is a relational person who walks with us and talks with us.

That is the backdrop of God saying, “Come dancing”.  And “Come dancing” is different than “Let’s dance”.  God is perhaps saying that there is a dance already in progress,  and He is inviting us to join in.

Did you know that the Bible views dancing as wholesome and is commended?

Did you know that God invented dancing?  Dancing is actually a godly thing to do.
You may not be a natural dancer.  One of the most awkward things I ever did was take part in an audition for West Side Story.  I soon discovered that this was not my thing.  
I remember a very popular Christian teacher, who opined about dancing  He said that since it would be awkward to lead someone to Christ, while dancing, we should not dance.  But he was giving an opinion about youth dancing to secular music: it it ok or not ok?  “Not ok”, he said.

From just listening to this one man, I never knew that there was legitimate, wholesome God-endorsed dancing, in the Bible.  Later, I did discover dancing in the Bible, and I thought that while we read of Jewish people dancing, from time to time, that it must just be cultural; because I never saw dancing in church or in any Christian context.

Dancing in the Bible is not liturgical.  Liturgy is the high church word that means ‘service’, and that is where we get the descriptive title for formal church gatherings called ‘church services’.  We say, “Are you holding services?”, to people starting a new church; and the idea is commonly held that ‘church’ means ‘services’ at a ‘building’, with people.  So, people + building + service = church, is what is commonly held to be the definition of ‘church’.  Only one third of that equation is correct or New Testament.

The NT teaches that the people are the church and the the gathering of the church is not about buildings, small or large, nor is it about service or liturgy.  The gathering is about people gathering in Jesus name, for Jesus mission and cause, in his love that we express towards other followers of Jesus, who have also left everything behind for him, to invite people who do not know him to also follow him.

On the other hand, churches, like synagogues, do have liturgies; ‘things we do when we gather’.

Liturgy equals ‘what we do’.  “What’s your liturgy, man?”

An easy example of liturgy or what we say makes a (real) church service, is singing.  It is hard to recall a church meeting without singing.

Many people, by far the majority in my experience, equate church with singing.  We also equate ‘church’ as being something we go to.  But the NT teaches that the church is something we are.

Today, many people think that church is something you go to, to sing.

But, singing is neither what defines or makes a church.  Singing is a liturgical thing we like to do.  And it feels good too.

Same thing with sanctified dancing.  But some Christians who love to sing, don’t see dancing as appropriate.  Yet, they are both things people like to do to both celebrate and worship.

If church is not a building or services, then what is church?  Church is intimate fellowship with Jesus and each other, around Jesus.  The communion with Him and his people involves sharing.  Sharing stories, sharing food, sharing life and sharing our stuff and money.

Church life may include dancing, but it is not part of the liturgy or service, because the duty, liturgy or service of the church that marks or defines the church is loving one another from Jesus love.

The only liturgy or service direction that we were given is to love one another and serve one another and to go out and tell others about Jesus.

Dancing has a place in church life, when if is spontaneous or celebratory.  The people danced in Jesus story of the two sons and their father, in Luke chapter 15.

And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
-Luke 15:23-5

If Jesus had dancing in a story he made up, that was an expression of celebration and spontaneous jubilation; we can take that as an example of when dancing is a good thing.

In Bible times and today, there has been pagan, cultic and erotic dancing that is not the kind of dancing that believers take part in.  When we suggest that believers can dance in life, or in church, some of us are chagrined, because we think of dancing as worldly.  But the job of the god of the world has always been to corrupt and twist what started off as wholesome.  And redemption means to take those back and put them back to their original function.

Have you ever thought about angels and dancing?  In the same chapter in Luke where Jesus includes the scene of the people dancing, he also says that when sinners repent, that angels experience joy in God’s presence.  The thread, in Luke 15, that ties the reality of angels experiencing joy, with Jesus story of the returned prodigal, is the joy in heaven and celebration on earth.

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.

“Or what woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”
-Luke 15:4-10

Jesus has music and dancing in his story.  Many Christians are uncomfortable with dancing and especially dancing in church.  Why would people dance in church, they ask.  The answer is Luke 15 and the admonitions to dance in worship in the OT:

Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre.
Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with flute and strings.
-Psalm 149:3, 150:4

 Music with instruments and dancing, for worship, praise and celebration is from the Bible.  Anyone who would say that instrumental music or dance do not belong in the church, has either not read Luke 15, or they do not see Father God and his family there, of which every church is a part of today.  
In the Bible, there is wholesome dancing, that is commendable.  Dancing is also a metaphor.
If God is saying, “Come dancing”, to you; He might be saying, “Let’s go live”.  When we dance, we draw attention to ourselves, because of all the movements.  God might be saying, “Get up and shine”, like the word in Isaiah.
When you come out to dance, you may be dancing before God, with God or with others.  There is a ‘self-esteem’ lift to dancing, because you are out there and visible and vulnerable.  Others might laugh at you or commend you as you dance.  And when we dance, most of us must let go of our pride, because dancing is humbling.
Dancing, in its putting us out there, in humility, makes us recipients of grace.
There has been a time to sit and watch life go by.  But now is the time to get up and dance.
The voice of the bridegroom summoning you to come, is what empowers you to arise and go.
Jesus never planned to have us live passive lives.  Jesus never planned to have us be a holy people who are enclaved from the world.  And He never intended for us to be experts but not practitioners.

Hear God say, “Come dancing”.

I See The Lord Now, Today

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

-Psalm 118:24
I see the Lord now, today.

Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day of deliverance.  Today is the day to trust God.

Today thank God.  Today trust God.  Today see God.

The Lord is here.  He is on the scene.  The Lord is working.

I see the Lord.  I see Him now.  I am glad, thankful and filled with joy about what I see God doing in my life and in those around me.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  There is no better day than today, to begin praising God.  There is no better time to trust Him.
Today is a day to choose to worship Him.  Today we have the opportunity, like no other day, to express our thanks to God.
Today is a day to begin trusting God.  Today we can begin to see God as good.  Today is a new day.
Every day is a day with God.  Every day is a day for God.  Every day is a day God made that we can choose to rejoice and be glad in.
Today is a day when I will choose to see God’s goodness.  Today is a day like no other day.  This day is a day to rejoice in because the Lord is my God.
I see the Lord as good and loving, kind and gracious, filled with mercy and faithfulness.  My heart is glad when I consider God.  Today I will be be filled with joy, because of the Lord.
I am no longer waiting on the Lord, but I now see the Lord and what the Lord has done already.  I am filled with thankfulness today.  I am going to live in today, knowing that God is at work, in me, around me, and in the lives of the people dear to me.
I see the Lord today and I am thankful.  Today is the day that I am letting joy flow.  I am no longer waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for the heavens to open, waiting for a miracle.  Instead, I see the Lord today, where I am.  And I see the Lord in all the people I know.
I am celebrating today.  The Lord is here.  The Lord is mine today.
The Lord has made my day.
I am thanking God and living in what He has done.  I will no longer discount today and short circuit my happiness.  I now see God and will live in today.
I see clearly now.  I see today as the day when the Lord has acted and intervened.  It may have happened yesterday, last week, last year or even many years ago; but I see what the Lord has done now, today.
A seed planted has sprung forth.  A plant planted has flowered.  A tree now is filled with abundant fruit.
I see it now.  I see the Lord today.
It did not happen today, but I see it today.  I am glad today.  I have been waiting for God while God has been waiting for me.
I have gotten up and gotten out and looked around and I now see all the good things.  My heart has changed and I am no longer pessimistic, cynical or negative.  I’m not judging things anymore.
Where I thought I saw ‘impossible’, I now see ‘possible’.  On the hardest places, I now see the Lord and his encouragement.  I sense the Lord saying something like, “If I am with you, you will be ok”.
I don’t don’t sense the Lord saying, “You can do it”, but, “I will be with you”.  I also have a strong, I mean overpowering sense that the Lord says, “I have been with you and I am with you today”.
Don’t misunderstand me,  I am not saying that I sense the Lord saying, “You can not do it”, but I sense the Lord saying that He is with me and has been with me.
I saw one note on Psalm 118, that told me everything: “This is the psalm or “hymn” that Jesus likely sang after the Passover supper with his disciples, before making his way to Gethsemane and Calvary” (TPT, Psalms, p, 253).  
This is the whole backstory on Psalm 118, from Thomas Constable:

This is the last in this series of the Egyptian Hallel psalms (Pss. 113—118). It describes a festal procession to the temple to praise and sacrifice to the Lord. The historical background may be the dedication of the restored walls and gates of Jerusalem in Ezra and Nehemiah’s time, following the return from Babylonian captivity, in 444 B.C.[474] It contains elements of communal thanksgiving, individual thanksgiving, and liturgical psalms. The subject is God’s loyal love for His people. The situation behind it seems to be God’s restoration of the psalmist after a period of dishonor. This would have been a very appropriate psalm to sing during the Feast of Tabernacles as well as at Passover and Pentecost. The Lord Jesus and His disciples probably sang it together in the Upper Room at the end of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Matt. 26:30).

And this is what Derek Kidner wrote, in his commentary (pp. 412-13):

“As the final psalm of the ‘Egyptian Hallel’, sung to celebrate the Passover . . ., this psalm may have pictured to those who first sang it the rescue of Israel at the Exodus, and the eventual journey’s end at Mount Zion. But it was destined to be fulfilled more perfectly, as the echoes of it on Palm Sunday and in the Passion Week make clear to every reader of the Gospels.”

And, I am always interested in seeing the context of a verse.  This is the immediate context, of the previous two verses:

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord; it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Am here it is, with the preceding five verses, for more context:

Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous will enter through it.
I will give thanks to You because You have answered me and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord; it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This is a twenty-nine verse psalm.  It starts with the words,

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His faithful love endures forever.  

And the center verse, verse fourteen, echoes the song of deliverance, from Exodus 15:

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.

These two verses, one and fourteen, are what this psalm is about.  This is what rejoicing in the day that the Lord has made is all about.  Every day is the day of deliverance, with the Lord.

At every Passover, from the days of Moses, up to the night of the last supper; people worshipped the Lord for that day, the day, today: this day.  Every day is the day of deliverance, because that is what God is all about.

We live in the kingdom of God.  The kingdom is already and not yet.  We know this, and neither live in the triumphalism of an over realized eschatology, nor in a futurist theological mindset that says, “it’s all future, so I will just wait”.  Wait for the rapture or wait for God to do the next big thing.

Triumphalism and futurism are both errors and extremes, detrimental, unhealthy and dysfunctional (and fattening).  The kingdom life, the Jesus life, is lived in the already of the kingdom, while eagerly anticipating the not yet and seeing the not yet breaking into today, while still being held back as not (fully) yet.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.

I see the Lord now.

Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day of deliverance.  Today is the day to trust God.

Today thank God.  Today trust God.  Today see God.

The Lord is here.  He is on the scene.  The Lord is working.

I see the Lord.  I see Him now.  I am glad, thankful and filled with joy about what I see God doing in my life and in those around me.

The Journey into Union With God

I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself
where she places her young— near Your altars,

Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in Your house,
who praise You continually.

Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a source of springwater;
even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
each appears before God in Zion.

-Psalm 84:2-7
The center of life is union with God.  We all have all kinds of things we are involved in and all sorts of relationships.  A common misconception is that life is about building things like a family, a business, a ministry, a following, a resume, an education or gaining wisdom, wealth or fame.
These are really the incidentals to life, that while being good and important, are not the center of life.  The center of life is union with God.  If we do not make union with God the center of our lives, we become off center, misguided, unhappy and discontent.
Psalms like Psalm 84 are not meant to be nor have the meaning of how wonderful it is to go to church, for Christians.  These songs are not about the longing and desire to get to corporate worship times.  Pieces like this one are prophetic poems about union with God in the life of the believer.
The courts of the Lord is God’s presence.  The psalmist tell us that in his next refrain: “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”  The longing is not for congregational singing nor for contemporary worship, but for union with God who is the center of my life.
God is my source, my wellspring and my only hope.  That is who and what I long for.  That is who I must have and who I must and need to be with.
Without God, front and center, in my thoughts and affecting my heart; my life falls apart.  I have an overwhelming desire for God and to be with God.
Every day, there is an opportunity for all sorts of things to creep into my life and crowd out my relationship with God.  I never lose God, but sometimes these things turn my attention away from God.  And I don’t like that and don’t want that.
I want God to be front and center in my life, in my thoughts and in how I see, hear and feel life and the people I come into contact with.
The psalmist looks and sees the birds who have found their homes, in and on the temple of God.  He sees this as a powerful metaphor of living in God’s presence and making that your home where you create your own and give birth and raise your own families.
Next, the psalmist gives us a picture of how a life of pursuing God works in daily lives.  We are each on a journey, on a road or a pilgrimage to God.  We are all people on our way to heaven.
That is what life is about, being on our way to God.  Everything that we go through or that happens to us is raw material that is a bridge to union with God.  Since mankind fell, life has been hard; and every hardship is softened and transformed by relationship with God.
Being a believer has always been an inside job.  We are changed, transformed and live from the inside out.  The strength of the Lord is deposited into our hearts through grace and by faith, resting on God’s steadfast love or faithfulness.  From the strength God provides in a heart under His care, that has begun its journey, the life of the believer is lived.
The Valley of Baca is the place of weeping.  We all pass through places of sadness. We have losses: disappointments, failures, injustices, seeming silence from God, betrayals, sicknesses, setbacks and loneliness.
The valley of weeping is part of the journey.  There are three things to know about this place of sadness on our journeys:
  1. It is unavoidable.
  2. Our time there is finite.
  3. We get to take our sorrow and see it transformed, redeemed and recompensed.
When we encounter sorrow, how we respond is important.  Children do react and respond childishly, but adults need to face troubles in a grown up way.  “God, help me to grow up, before I grow old”, we say.
Being in denial or sinking into shame are two examples of the wrong way to respond to sorrowful circumstances.  Another destructive one is to get stuck in anger.  
We can not and should not avoid our valleys of weeping, because they are a place of transformation.  With every sorrow or thing that makes you sorrowful, there is a gift attached.  Where their is sorrow, we get to find wells of living water or springs of nourishment.
In the same place where we feel the pain of loss or disappointment, God has already provided sustenance and living waters.  A place of springwater is just below the surface in our valley of tears.  We just have to dig down and find it.
God never blesses us small.  God’s blessings are overflowing and there is always extra.  And that is the picture of autumn rains falling on us in that valley of tears.
The place of revival or renewal 
is in our daily routine lives 
as we meet with God 
in our circumstances of life 
that are sometimes sad.  
The place of revival or renewal is in our daily routine lives as we meet with God in our circumstances of life that are sometimes sad.  God puts a deposit in us at the beginning of our journeys and that deposit accrues interest and our benefactor puts in more deposits along the way.  But we also procure our find compensation that has our names on it, in the midst of the sorrows of our lives.
Bravery is called for for every adult saint.  We valiantly face our trials, setbacks and failures; and go forward, finding new grace packages in the place where we are lamenting.  And God transforms us into the image of Christ.
Even in the greatest of losses, that are shocking, God has reviving waters stored up for us.  God takes wrecked lives and transforms, renews, heals and redeems them.  The greater the loss, the greater the work that God has in store to recover us.
Our hearts are set on the journey of union with God.  We see the birds, raising their families, in and on the temple, as a picture of living our lives in, towards and to God; living lives of worship and service to God.  And then, we embrace the reality of small and large losses and sorrows along the journey and we discover that God has hidden help and sustenance waiting for us, to strengthen us; making us more godly.
Life is a journey into union with God.  That is the center from which life is lived and sustained.  

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