Tag Archives: worship

Hosea 4-9

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3 NLT

When I first read these passages I thought that Israel was making a true change to return to the Lord. But, Israel wanted God to fix their problems, without turning from their wicked ways. Their repentance wasn’t genuine. They were more interested in the material benefits God could provide. Their hearts were not right before him and he knew it. When have I done the same thing?

I want to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

I want to heal Israel, but it’s sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars.” Hosea 7:1 NLT

God didn’t want their sacrifices or rituals, he wanted their hearts. What is the motive behind my worship?

What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. They do not cry out with sincere hearts.” Hosea 7:13&14 NLT

Dear Father, Forgive me for when my heart is not right before you. Thank you for your patience with me. For not giving up on me. For your grace & mercy. Amen.

They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow.” Hosea 7:16 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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2 Chronicles 20:14-24:14

This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march out against them. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Juhah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 NLT

There was a vast army coming against Judah. King Jehoshaphat was terrified and he begged the Lord for his intervention and asked everyone to fast. In the midst of his fear he declared the Lord’s power in prayer and worship. Than the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of his men and prophesied God’s promise to fight for them. The people began to worship before the victory.

Than King Jehoshaphat bowed low his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshipping the Lord. After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: ”Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!” At that very moment they began to sing and praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting amongst themselves.” 2 Chronicles 20:18-22 NLT

A friend once told me that prayer and worship combined are a strong weapon against the enemy. I was feeling defeated and oppressed under my circumstances. This is how I would rise above them, just like King Jehoshaphat did.

When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the Lord himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them. So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” 2 Chronicles 20:29&30 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for fighting for me. So many times I get weary for taking the battle on myself. I give it over to you again & again. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Thank you for your faithfulness. The victory is yours. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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I Chronicles 23:12-26:19

Have you or someone you know complained about the music at your church? Or are you aware of the person standing rigid next to you in the morning worship service, silently lip-synching or tapping the pew out of rhythm with the music? Many of us who only sing in the acoustics of a bathroom shower can appreciate those skilled musicians who lead us in worship. How important is music in worshiping the Lord? Scripture indicates that even before the creation of man, angels praised God with music. Lucifer, the mighty angel now called Satan who fell from heaven, was gifted with instruments and skilled in music. Ezekiel 28:13 says of him, “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.” And in the final days of man on this earth, according to Revelation 5:8-9, heavenly music will continue ring out: “Now when He [Jesus Christ] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood…'”

Prophetic messages also emanate from vocal and instrumental worship. God spoke to the heart of the king and to the king’s armies through the harps, horns, stringed instruments, and cymbals played by skilled musicians (remember how the musicians led the Israelites in marching around and pulling down the walls of Jericho). Much of what we know about the heart of King David, himself a musician, is found in the words to the songs he composed, extolling worship and praise, expressing hardship and mourning, and celebrating victories with abandon joy. David even calmed the turbulent spirit of King Saul by playing music on a harp.

Musicians also had their own division of service in the Levitical priesthood. Levites ranging from 20 years old and up were designated for the important service of seeking the Lord. Even before the first brick of the temple was laid by Solomon, musicians were identified by their father’s household. The leaders were even mentioned by name in the Scriptures. King David, even in his old age, made musical instruments for the Levite musicians to use in leading praise and worship. He also gave instructions for when to praise which included: “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening; and at every presentation of burnt offering to the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the New Moons and on the set feasts,” (I Chron.23:30,31).

And then there are all the commandments to praise with song! Too many to quote, but here are just a few.

Ephesians 5:19 “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Psalm 95:1 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”

I have a friend who is the music director at a major local denominational church. Her calling for this role is obvious in the excellence with which she serves. And I am astounded at her qualifications for this position. When I looked up the job description, I can understand even more why we should applaud anyone who is appointed to the role of church music director.

Church music directors, also called choir directors, are professional bandleaders and administrators hired by churches to lead the choir and develop the church’s music-oriented activities. Their job varies based on the structure of the church’s music department and the goals of the minister, but almost always involves scheduling and leading choir rehearsals; conducting and leading the choir in performance; recruiting and auditioning new singers and volunteers; fostering each singer’s musical growth; and appointing senior choir members to become section leaders, soloists, and assistant conductors. Music directors also choose the choir’s performance pieces, prepare special programs for holidays or special occasions, and work alongside the church organist (if they don’t play organ themselves).  A church music director should be enthusiastic and dedicated, with a positive attitude and a commitment to serving the local community. Excellent interpersonal skills are a must, as are the patience, clarity, and ease of communication necessary to teach well. Although teaching is a large part of the job, so is performance, and church music directors must possess the musicianship to consistently craft strong performances. Years of experience as a church musician or member of the church choir—as well as deep knowledge of choral repertoire and Christian scripture—are essential.

https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/

Because of these dedicated people, I can sing along with my Christian brothers and sisters, the heartstrings of my soul vibrating in tune to heavenly music. More importantly, I can experience God’s holy presence through the songs and presentations thoughtfully chosen and performed by these gifted and talented leaders. I love that music can lift my mood, speak calm to my frazzled nerves, and prepare my thoughts to focus on God’s Word. I pray, Lord, for all those who dedicate their voice, leadership, and musical abilities in leading us in thanksgiving and praise to You. Bless their efforts, honor them in their congregations, and reward their sacrifices of time and energy to serving You in Your house of worship. Thank You, Lord, for my friend and all those who use their artistic talents for You. They are a beautiful example of harmony in the body of Christ.

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1 Chronicles 6:31-8:28

A name. A legacy. A portion. A purpose. Chronicles tells me who, what, where and how.

Musicians used their talent to worship the Lord.

31 These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. 32 They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. (1 Chronicles 6:31-32, NIV)

Others served the Lord with their hearts.

48 Their fellow Levites were assigned to all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God. 49 But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense in connection with all that was done in the Most Holy Place, making atonement for Israel, in accordance with all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. (1 Chronicles 6:48-49, NIV)

And still others served Him with their strength.

40 All these were descendants of Asher—heads of families, choice men, brave warriors and outstanding leaders. The number of men ready for battle, as listed in their genealogy, was 26,000. (1 Chronicles 7:40, NIV)

In these lineages of people, I find it interesting the few phrases that highlight their actions–the whole of a life condensed into a sentence or two. What stands out as well: the service and the willingness to work for the Lord.

This past weekend, I ran a race. I stayed around for the awards ceremony. I watched people receive an award for firsts in their age group. I felt a sadness that certain things had not been valued in my family lineage, and I admit I envied the youngest athletes for their opportunity–that their families valued endurance and fitness. But it was pointless to let my thoughts land there. I give thanks to God for His intervention in my life–I may not have been raised to pursue (certain things, qualities, or even the Lord). But because of God, I can live out a portion of my life pursuing Him, loving Him, serving Him. Whenever I run (or write, or learn something new, or work towards something), I keep my eyes on the Lord. He is my Good Father who sings over me, guides me, teaches me, encourages me, loves me. He is my portion.

Father God, I may not have had the best start, but because of you, I can finish well. Thank you that you loved me enough to have a relationship with me, invest in me, and watch over me. Thank you for showing me what matters, for giving me opportunities to bring you glory, and for showing me you keep your promises. You have grown my faith, my trust, my hope, my love, and you have given me endurance. Please help me to keep a kingdom focus and to honor you with my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 5:1-9:10

The words seem to hold a physical weight. The ark of God is held by the Philistines.

The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. (1 Samuel 5:6, NIV)

and

But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. (1 Samuel 5:9, NIV)

The Philistines send the ark of God away, back to the Israelites.

Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. (1 Samuel 7:2b-4, NIV)

They gather at Mizpah to fast and confess. Samuel is there to intercede for them. And this is the moment an enemy attacks–when the Israelites commit themselves and show devotion to the Lord.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12, NIV)

Samuel serves as a leader to the Israelites, and when he is old, he appoints his sons to take his place. This is a familiar theme in the Bible: Good leaders who follow the Lord, followed by leaders who don’t.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9, NIV, emphasis mine)

I sit and think about these verses. I do not want the Lord’s hand against me. An enemy wants me as far from the Lord as possible and will send chaos and conflict my way to distract me from worshiping and keeping a focus.

The search for a lost donkey will lead Saul to Samuel. Saul will be appointed king in a future reading. But it’s in this moment that I see the start of a bigger journey, and Saul–just Saul. Saul before it all. His is one of the saddest stories to me. He makes good choices and bad choices. He struggles with uncertainty, insecurity, pride, jealousy, and anger. But that isn’t what makes his story sad–it’s that he could have done life with God, and he didn’t.

Just verses earlier, a group returns to God. And in the passing of time, they convince themselves there is a better way. God sees it as a rejection of him. It can be done by a people (all individuals acting in a group) and by an individual (Saul, who is to be appointed by God for a task–a very big one).

Father God, let me view each moment as an appointment by you. Let me journey each day with you. When I draw close to you, let me not be distracted by an enemy’s ploys, but help me always keep a kingdom focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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