Archive for April 2014

Father, Whatever Glorifies You

Not my will, but yours be done.
(Luke 22:42, NIV)

Pray this prayer when you are caught in a swirl of events beyond your control.
Pray it during frustrating times;
during uncertain times,
when things aren’t working out right.

Jesus considered His most difficult days as
His best chance to glorify His Father.
He knew that as He hung on the Cross,
the Father’s love would shine the brightest.

So it is with us.
Often our most difficult times are when
others see God’s love and power most clearly in our lives.

Are you willing to let Him use your suffering to glorify himself?

whatever glorifies You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics

The Good Shepherd

John 10:1-18

Good Shepherd,
lead me through this day.
Call me by name,
and help me hear Your voice in my heart.
May I follow no voice but Yours.

Lead me out, Lord.
Always go with me and before me.
Lead me to Your provision for today:
Your bread,
Your work,
Your rest.

Good Shepherd,
You are the door.
Through You I enter into life.
You are always standing in front of me,
protecting me from the Evil One.

Good Shepherd,
You lay down Your life for me.
I am Your own.
The same knowing that binds You to Your Father
now binds me to You.

You are love.
Speak, Lord.
My heart is listening.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Good Shepherd
Printed Music & Lyrics

Sing as Members of the Body of Christ

This is the 13th in a series of Friday posts on congregational song.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6, NIV)

When we sing hymns, we sing as members of the Body of Christ. As we receive God’s Word, as we respond in faith, as we praise our Eternal Father in song, we join with all members of Christ’s Body, stretching out through all places and all times. If we miss that unity, we miss one of the greatest blessings of living in Christ.

In hymn singing, let’s treasure the past. Cherish the witness of those who have gone before and now encourage us from that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

Let’s build to last. When future generations sift through what we’ve left behind, may they find hymns they want to keep—hymns that still express their faith and praise, hymns that transcend changes of style.

While we’re reaching out to those behind us and before us in the Body, let’s reach out to those around us now. In our hymn singing, let’s make the effort to include our varied brothers and sisters in Christ. With the mixture of ages and preferences in most of our congregations, that won’t be automatic. But Christian love demands it and will richly reward our efforts.

In the Friday blogs that follow, we’ll be looking more closely at each of these important ideas.


[Jesus told His disciples:]
You will be handed over to the local councils and
flogged in the synagogues.
On account of me you will stand before governors and kings
as witnesses to them.
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial,
do not worry beforehand about what to say.
Just say whatever is given you at the time,
for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
(Mark 13:9-11, NIV)

My Lord, sometimes You seem to lead me into difficult situations.
Sometimes You force me to deal with
difficult people,
difficult decisions and
difficult tasks.

Sometimes You allow
illness and
loss to enter my life.

I will accept each unpleasant circumstance
as a new place to witness to You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: God’s Mysterious Ways
Printed Music & Lyrics

Emmaus Road

Now that same day two…were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 

“Jesus of Nazareth…was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:13-17, 19-21, NIV)

Like these two disciples,
we are often distressed at God’s actions.
We don’t understand what He is doing…
or what He is not doing.

Because we don’t understand which problem He is addressing.
We think the problem is our circumstances
or “the Romans”
or some other person.
The problem God is addressing is
The problem is our failure to seek and trust
only Him.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: I Walk the Dark Emmaus Road
Printed Music & Lyrics

Jesus’ Relationship with His Father

This is the 12th in a series of Friday posts on congregational song.

We often think of the earthly Jesus as a superman, with power flowing from His fingertips. But that’s not how the Apostle Paul describes Him:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, NASB)

Listen to how Jesus describes Himself:

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…By myself I can do nothing. (John 5:19, 30, NIV)

“The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work…These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:10, 24, NIV)

It wasn’t Jesus’ own power that made Him what He was. He had emptied Himself of all that. He made Himself dependent on His Father, constantly and completely, for every word and action. Jesus was what He was by faith. His strength lay not in unique abilities but in His relationship with the Father.

Jesus longs to share that relationship with us. He wants us to have the same fellowship with the Father that He enjoys. He longs for us to participate in the deep love that flows unhindered among the Father, Son, and Spirit:

“I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:20-21, 23, NIV)

Study the life of Jesus. As you see how He lived, all through faith, the hunger will grow in you to share His beautiful, simple relationship with the Father. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all deeply desire to share that relationship with you.

To enjoy Jesus’ relationship with the Father, worship as He worshiped. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. Trust. Obey. Such a relationship is the reward and the fruit of worship—true worship that is not one hour a week but every hour; worship that is not just spoken or sung but lived.

The highest purpose of our hymns is to nurture such a relationship with the Living God. It is the key to our happiness and fruitfulness, now and forever.

Fill My Thoughts

Search me, O God, and
know my heart;
test me and
know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and
lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

Lord God, You honor me by being with me always.
I am unworthy of You,
but You love me.
You want to be with me.
You want us to be one in heart.

You are love, and You want me to be loving.
You are pure, and You want me to be pure in heart.
You are gentle and kind, and You want me to be as You are.

Patient, gentle, loving Jesus,
give me Your Spirit.
Give me Your mind.
Give me Your heart.

Lord, fill my thoughts
with what pleases You.

 Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Always in You
Printed Music & Lyrics

Jesus, My Power and Wisdom

To those whom God has called…(we preach) Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:24-31, NIV)

Jesus, today
You are my power.
I rest in Your doing.
I move every moment
in Your enabling.

You are my wisdom.
I pray for Your mind.
I listen.

You are my holiness.
I rejoice in You in me.
I quiet my planning
and relax in Your Spirit.

Jesus, today
my work will be to trust You.
Glorify yourself through me today.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Lord Jesus, Living Presence
Printed Music & Lyrics

Which Worshipers Pleased Jesus?

This is the 11th in a series of Friday posts on congregational song.

John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-20; 7:18-35)—He responded to God’s Word boldly and wholeheartedly, with singleness of mind.

The woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26:6-13)—She loved Jesus so much that she poured out on Him the very best she had.

The Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28)—Out of love for her suffering daughter, she humbled herself and refused to be deterred from seeking Jesus’ help. Her faith and perseverance secured her daughter’s healing. 

 “His mother and brothers” (Luke 8:19-21)—Jesus said that His mother and brothers were anyone who heard God’s Word and put it into practice.

The centurion in Capernaum (Luke 7:1-10)—Even in the most pressing need, he trusted Christ’s authority simply and humbly.

Mary, Martha’s sister (Luke 10:38-42)—She put aside everything else and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He said. Jesus said she had chosen “the good part”.

Children (Matthew 19:13-14)—Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who come to God as little children.

The Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11-19)—When the 10 lepers were healed on their way to the priest, he alone turned around and came back to thank Jesus.

The widow with her offering (Mark 12:41-44)—Her offering was completely insignificant in human terms, but Jesus said that in God’s eyes, her gift was the greatest. She lovingly and humbly gave everything she had.

Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)—He put his repentance into action, giving away his wealth to the needy and to those he had wronged.

The twelve apostles (Matthew 19:28-30)—Most were common working people, with faith and understanding that were often imperfect. But Jesus said that because they had left all to follow Him, they would reign with Him on twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel. 

The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)—While everyone around was sneering at Jesus, the criminal humbly trusted Him and thereby secured a place with Him in paradise.

Which worshipers pleased Jesus? Those who expressed their faith and love by their actions.

Fill Me with Love

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your mind and
with all your strength.…
Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
(Mark 12:30-31, NIV)

God, You are love.
And more than anything else,
You want to fill my life with love.
You want me to love You and
love those around me—
not just in word but in action,
with all I have and all I am.

You want to root out the selfishness that
twists, distorts, and destroys my life.
You want to fill me with Your love and
the peace it brings—
peace with others and
peace with You.

Jesus, today fill every thought
and every action with love.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Be Love in Me
Printed Music & Lyrics