The 90 Day Challenge Day 88 – Promises & Joyful Singing

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“Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy… Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” – Isaiah 35: 2a, 10

Singing, joy, and gladness will one day be mine in abundance. Joy will be even more than abundant. It will be everlasting. While I can surround myself with music now, abundant singing from a joyful heart that never dissipates is a whole other level of singing. Joy that lasts forever will be a new experience. Joy is temporary now. It can change in a flash due to circumstances. But when Jesus comes, sorrow and mourning will disappear. Sorrow, mourning, sadness are unwanted regular companions that come and go at will in my life now. Some events leave a sadness that never quite goes away. But a day is coming when it will be gone forever. The presence of God, his glory, singing and joy will be so overwhelming I will one day forget what sorrow and mourning are like! Bring it.

Father, I look forward to Jesus coming again and filling my life with singing and joy on a whole new level. In the mean time, guide me to sing and rejoice now, in spite of my situation, as part of the preparation for what I will enjoy for eternity.
JT

Readings: Isaiah 4, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 65, Zechariah 9

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The Incredible Power Of Song

We have come to the end of the 90 Day Challenge. Those of you who have followed along – thank you for traveling this road with me. The Challenged will return with Easter next year.

I am returning to writing once a week on various things. Today I would like to share from my personal time with the Lord today. I resumed reading three Psalms a day along with a reading from “Soul Cravings” by Erwin Raphael McManus. The two have combined to give fresh eyes and heart to seeing how God works. What follow is from my time this morning about singing…

“Sing your hearts out; God has done it all, has set everything right” -Psalm 97:8

“It is only when we lose all hope that we find ourselves incapable of moving forward… when we give up hope, when we allow ourselves to internalize despair, we shut down. Despair not only takes us to the wrong place, it keeps us from going forward.” -Erwin McManus

We cannot function without hope – in something. We were created to need hope in God, but it can be replaced with other things. Having been at the place of despair – lacking all hope I agree – you shut down. You become paralyzed. You can’t move forward, and usually you want to go back – but can’t.

Both Psalm 97 and 98 emphasize singing. We are called to sing out hearts out because of what God can and will do. Putting these two ideas together gives a fresh insight into why God places such a high value on singing. It is about worship. It is about our hearts engaged in praise. Bu it is more. Singing is also about affirming, inspiring, and building hope in us – in me. Singing is also intended to keep me moving forward; to live in hope not despair; to rely on forgiveness rather than failure.

Lord, fill me with song this day…

JT

Reflections on Worship & Singing

The things taking place in the news, almost every day, has thoughtful followers of Jesus thinking about prophecy and the book of Revelation. It is worthy of our time and attention. But we can get so caught up in the menutia of the symbols that we miss the big picture. Revelation gives the big picture of the worship that will take place at the return of Christ – especially singing. And the singing depicted there is not this timid, tepid singing we sometimes hear from others or do ourselves. It is loud, joyful, confident…. captivated singing. That is worship. The following poem reminds us of the worship and singing we will one day fully embrace…

LIFT YOUR GLAD VOICES

Lift your glad voices in triumph on high;
Shout, for the day of redemption is nigh;
Sing, for the Lord will appear in His glory,
Mountains and valleys repeat the glad story;
Tune every lyre,
Lift the strain higher,
Far o’er the ocean tidings shall fly.

Lift your glad voices ye nations and sing;
Let the high anthem re-echo and ring,
Sing, for the Bright One that slept in the manger
Comes; and the earth that once pillow’d the Stranger,
In rich adorning,
Hails the glad morning,
Blossoms like Eden, and welcomes her King.

Lift your glad voices He conquered the grave,
Jesus, Immanuel, Almighty to save;
Shout to the tyrant, “Thy chains are all broken;”
Sing, for the voice of Jehovah hath spoken,
“Open the portal,
Make them immortal;
Life shall endure with Eternity’s wave.”

Lift your glad voices, He cometh again,
Sound out the tidings o’er earth and o’er main!
Sing, for the days of dark evil are ending;
Shout to the Bridegroom with angels descending,
Bride of Jehovah,
Welcome thy Lover,
Sing, for He cometh, He cometh to reign!
-D. T. Taylor

Singing with gusto,
JT

Praying the Prayers of the Bible – Day 50

Acts 16:16-34

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (16)

There are rivers and streams whose source or starting point is a spring.  This is what I picture in reading this passage.  There is a point from which everything flows – and in this account that spring is two men praying and singing to God.  Everything flows from their praying and singing!  The gates of the prison open because they are praying and singing.  The chains fall off all the prisoners because of their praying and singing.  The chief security officer in the prison who is about to kill himself out of shame comes to believe in Christ as Savior because these men were praying and singing.  A man’s whole family comes to Christ and are baptized because these men were praying and singing.

Everything, even today, flows from praying and singing to God.  There is something about seeking and praising God that God blesses.  The spring of my life isn’t my health, or family, or friends – as important as all these things are!  The spring from which all flows is praying and singing to God.  Seeking Him, being blunt about my needs and struggles before Him in prayer changes me and moves God to action.  These men were hurting from the beating they received, yet they chose to pray – to pour out their hearts and pain to God.  Praising God with singing also changes me.  It lifts my preoccupation with myself to the greatness, goodness, faithfulness, and love of God.  Praising God moves God and my awareness that He is at work, whether I see it immediately or not.  It enables me, as it enabled these two me, to rise above their circumstances!

I am reminded, others are always watching.  When I am going through a challenging time what do others see me do?  Will I complain or get depressed?  Or, will I pray and sing?  Given the outcome in this passage, I am being called to pray and sing more.

Lord, may my choice to pray and sing cause You to act, and others to turn to You.  May singing and praying be my first choice, an eager choice, rather than a reluctant one.  Let me live like Paul and Silas, and inspire others to do the same.

JT

Praying the Prayers of the Bible – Day 28

Isaiah 12

“The Lord, the Lord is… my song” (2b)

The interrelationship between prayer and singing has already come up in praying the prayers of the Bible.  In this passage he talks about singing because God is worthy of praise, and out of sheer joy for who God is and what He has done.  But this verse is different.  It is not simply singing about God!  He is “my song.”  I’m still trying to fully get my mind around the idea.  We all listen to music (Christian and other types) and at any given time there is a song that is “our song.”  If I were to ask people it wouldn’t take long for them to share with me what their favorite song is right now.  Those of you reading this already have one in mind.

I think as we give ourselves to prayer there is a line we cross where God becomes our favorite song.  I’m not trashing whatever your favorite style of music.  But I think God wants to be the song on our mind when we are happy, or want to dance for joy, or find comfort while going through a hard time.  This is why music is such an important part of worship (public or in private).  The more we sing to and of God the more likely He becomes “my song” through both the highs and lows of life.

In my life this comes out in one of three ways.  Sometimes as I listen to Christian music a song grabs me for the day or week.  For example last week the song “Salt And Light” has continued to speak to me.  Sometimes, as I pray I will start singing whatever songs about the Lord come to mind.  And, occasionally I will look for specific songs that speak to my focus.

What is “your song” right now?  I want to live like the Lord is my song!

Lord, for all the good music out there, may “my song” first and always be you.  May I influence others to make you their song rather than something on the radio.

JT

Praying the Prayers of the Bible – Day 18

Psalm 61

“…with stringed instruments…listen to my prayer…. lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” (1-2)

This time of year I study, plan, read from my porch as much as possible. It is just so much more enjoyable than sitting in my study. As I read this Psalm this morning the birds were singing a symphony – loudly! Whatever birds are thinking when they sing is beyond me, but it called to mind the verses that talk about the heavens and all creation declaring the glory of God. It seemed to me that after a night of sleep and a new day dawning the birds could not hold back their rejoicing for another day of life.

Their joyous singing drew me to the words above from Psalm 61. David composes a prayer in song. It reminded me that singing is praying too. And, I realized it had been a while since my personal prayer time included singing. We tend to isolate these two things. Singing can be prayer, but do we consciously include singing when we are specifically praying? Music is a powerful force – at least for me. David knows this and it is no mistake that he composes a singing prayer. In fact, I think it is the very singing of the prayer that better enables him, and me, to receive what he is asking for – “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” I can pray for that but something deeper happens in my mind and heart if I use singing as part of the prayer. Songs like, “Be Unto Your Name”, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, “How Great Is Our God” and many others lead me to the Rock in ways speaking words alone in prayer cannot do!

Not only does it challenge me about how I pray in private, it also challenges me about public prayer in church. When was the last time you heard someone pray in church and break out into a song we all could join in singing? Almost never?

Lord, bless and guide me as I use everything you have given me when I pray and to not settle just for spoken words.

Warming up my vocal cords…
JT