I sang in many church choirs during the last 50 plus years.
Churches had gifted choir directors, choir members and soloists.
Most directors were dedicated, cordial and appreciative. I remember only once being required to audition for a church choir.
Back in the early 1970’s, J. Lamar Alexander was serving as choir director at the First Baptist Church of Lake Providence, Louisiana. He had me sing notes of the scale. I’m surprised that I got up the courage. I’d say he was a master at his craft…
He mastered the traditional form of worship service.
Lamar Alexander believed in call to worship opening selections. To this very day I recall the holy hush following our offerings of ‘The Lord is in His Holy Temple.’
“But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:20 KJV).”
The lyrics, based on Scripture, called us to worship, submission and praise.
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“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest (Matthew 21:9b NKJV)!”
Palm Sunday… where will you be?
Most of us will remain in our homes; worshiping through television, radio or internet connections. Others will gather at church drive-in Palm Sunday worship services.
We may not be waving palms.
We will be praising the LORD Jesus.
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
‘Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever (Revelation 5:11-13)!”
In a letter to the church in Rome, Apostle Paul shared words of challenge and encouragement.
“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.’
And again he says:
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!’
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!’
And again, Isaiah says:
‘There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.’
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:7-13 NKJV).”
Do they fall on deaf ears or sink into receptive hearts?
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).”
I live in an area that is predominately agricultural.
Farmers, families, and friends depend on crops to keep money in circulation. We all talk about the weather. In times of summer drought, we talk more.
Christ Jesus compared the lost and dying to a harvest.
In our churches, pastors and congregations talk about the lost. In times of dwindling numbers and apostasy, we talk more.
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:1-2 NKJ).”
Do you take notes during your pastor’s sermons? I’m a note taker from way back. I not only stay focused; I save valuable teaching for future meditations. Pastors use varied methods in the delivery of their messages; the changing of methods is of little consequence as long as the message remains founded upon scripture.
I am a fan of three-point sermons…
If you take notes, jot down this scripture verse from a KJV, 1 Peter 5:10.
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect , stablish , strengthen , settle you (1 Peter 5:10 KJV).”
I’m flexible; I see a fourth point in the passage. I just might drop Stablish into second position and place Suffered in first place.
Keep pens and highlighters handy; take notes and hide God’s word in your heart. [Psalm 119:11]
1. One church member resigns him or herself to sittin’ in their self-assigned pew. At the conclusion of the worship hour, he or she exits the sanctuary unmoved by the pastor’s call to sacrifice and service.
2. Another, in the same congregation hears and decides to volunteer, to start servin’ others in their congregation. If a brother or sister in God’s family has a need, they will reach out a helpin’ hand.
3. The 3rd hears and hurts. He or she grieves over the indifferent and lost and as the Lord leads, will be sowin’ seed unto salvation.
“But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times [what was sown] (Matthew 13:23 HCS).”
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“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3 NKJ).”
Are we, as Christ followers, making a diligent effort to guard cherished unity of the Spirit? Most of us never give unity a thought, or if we do, think it would mean forfeiting individuality.
We might better understand this passage when taken in by small bites.
Paul, though often a prisoner to Rome was willingly held captive by Christ. He felt a sense of urgency when addressing the church. Christ had called them to follow Him; they had answered His call to holiness and evangelism. In all endeavors, they were to be compassionate.
When will I experience unity of the Spirit?
Undoubtedly, I will know it experientially when tenderly bearing the burdens of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Where might I discover unity of the Spirit?
The LORD safeguards such unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…
Have ya’ ever been a member of a church congregation during a protracted meeting?
It was ‘long’…
How ‘long’ was it?
The Old Testament Book of Nehemiah details a protracted meeting. (Nehemiah 8:1-12)
“So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law (Nehemiah 8:2-3 NKJ).”
Churches are abuzz with a factual phrase…
“It’s not about us; it’s all about Him!”
The sooner we get that through our thick heads and hardened hearts the better off we’ll all be.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36 NAS).”
It’s the dream of every pastor and faithful church member. The worship hour comes and the congregation and visitors fill the church to the rafters. There is standing room only. The life story of Peter Marshall is fascinating as well as motivational and inspiring.
His dynamic preaching drew such large crowds that many were unable to worship inside the church buildings where he served. Loyal worshipers of Christ stood out in the rain and heard his message through loudspeaker systems. Oh, that today we would take such a stand against evil.
God is not seeking bench-warmers; he has provided armor for protection against wicked forces and his word as sword. (Ephesians 6:10-20) With his armor and the Holy Spirit to empower us, we take our stand.
“This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to persist in the evil day and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand therefore (Ephesians 6:13-14a HCS).” God wants no sitting down on the job, standing room only!