“Oh, Oh, Not ‘Leftovers’ Again!”

[The First in the Series on The Book Of Malachi]

Malachi 1:6-14 Commentary

Do you like leftovers?  I asked myself the same question and my answer varied somewhat.  I love leftover cold pizza for breakfast the next morning, and if there’s enough leftover, the following morning too.  But if I wasn’t too crazy about a particular dinner meal the first time, I certainly didn’t want leftovers the next day, or any other day, for that matter!  But how many of us would dare to serve our leftovers to an invited honored guest for dinner?  It might just be delicious, but we simply couldn’t do it.  Instead, we most likely want to make an impression and give our very best!  We want to make it memorable for our guests.

And so, we should also strive to give our very best to God!

Malachi is speaking to a nation that has compromised many of the standards set down in God’s Word.  They’ve gotten comfortable with life in the world and put God in the backseat.  They are dishonoring God and not giving Him their best.  And this brings me to this passage of Scripture in the Book of Malachi.

Malachi 1:6-11 (NIV)

[6]  “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty.  “It is you priests who show contempt for my name.  But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?”

[7]  “By offering defiled food on my altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’  “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible.

[8]  “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

[9]  “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will He accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

[10]  “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.

[11]  “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi reveals a conflict marked by the bickering, the complaining, from God’s chosen people on one side, and the stern warnings of a holy and righteous God on the other.

Have you ever bickered or complained to your parents?  Of course, as children, that’s hard to look back that far, we were always right and our parents were always wrong.  Especially as teenagers.  As a parent on the receiving end, it can certainly be a frustrating experience.

In Malachi, we see the people bickering and arguing with Almighty God!  Look once more at verses 6, 7, and 13:

  • (1:6) “How have we shown contempt for your name?”
  • (1:7)  “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you’?”
  • (1:13) “And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously”

I can just imagine the rolling eyes on that one.  The people had developed their own faulty attitudes and opinions of WHO GOD IS and on the PURPOSE OF WORSHIP:  (1:14b.)  “For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is terrible and to be [reverently] feared among the nations.”

GOD IS HOLY and RIGHTEOUS, A Mighty King whose name is to be feared!

The people had somehow in the comfort found in the ‘same-O, same-O,’ attitude that they had lost their focus on who God is.  They got caught up in themselves and the rituals of worship and lost sight on the purpose of their worship.  Their attitudes toward God and toward worship had strayed from the Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5…

The people began to bicker or argue with God.  They adopted an attitude that they were more righteous and more holy than God Himself.  When confronted with their offensive attitude and actions, they were, in essence, saying to God,

“Are you talking to me?  Surely you’re not talking to me!  I’m doing just fine!”

They refused to hear from God!

They refused to believe they could be wrong!

They refused to swallow their pride and turn back to God in repentance!

Now I know.  It’s easy to point fingers at these hypocritical people, saying, “Wow…They just didn’t get it, did they?”  But what about us?

What is our attitude toward God and toward worship? 

Are we holding on to our arrogance and pride instead of listening to the Holy Spirit? 

Our attitude toward God and toward worship has an impact on others around us.  They might not say anything to us, but they’re watching.  As Christian believers, we are being watched with great scrutiny.  Our attitude will either cause others to stumble or will draw them closer to God.  Keep in mind that according to God’s Word in 1 Peter 2:9, we as believers in Christ Jesus, are now a royal priesthood…“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 

Don’t you just love that last part?  Instead of an attitude of bickering, complaining, or arguing, God will be honored and revered when we proclaim His praises!

Malachi 1:11 again…”For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and indeed a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”

Did you get that? “A pure offering”?  Arguing, bickering voices “aren’t gonna cut it” in the life of a believer!  Our purpose is to proclaim God’s praises because His name shall be great among the nations.

The bickering wasn’t the only characteristic of their worship.  As we can see in the passage of Scripture in chapter one, the worship of the one true God had become burdensome… (v. 13a)

“You say also, Behold, what drudgery and weariness this is!”

The WORSHIP had become an empty ritual that they engaged weekend after weekend, day after day, to maintain tradition rather than to please a holy and righteous God.  It was being done out of obligation instead of being done out of love.

Have you ever asked your children to do the dishes after dinner, and you get a little “attitude” in return?  Oh, the dishes eventually get done, but they did the absolute minimum to meet their obligation.

You mean to tell me they didn’t do it with a cheerful attitude full of love and gratefulness to you as their parent?

With that in mind, now scale it up into the priest’s attitude in their worship of God.  It was bad enough that the people of God lost their first love.  What made it worse was that they actually thought their religious performance was acceptable to Him!

God’s desire is for us to worship Him and serve Him with pleasure, with joy, with cheerfulness.

A question I’ve often asked myself over the years, do I find real joy in worship, or is it just a ritual?  Do we “do” certain things, like go to church for example, because it’s something your just supposed to do or is expected of you?  Do you find yourself wanting to do less and less for God?  It’s very easy to become burned out spiritually, physically, and emotionally from serving.  If you only use 20% of your body, you’ll burn out those over-used parts while the unused parts of your body atrophy.  This isn’t the way God intended for a healthy body to function!  Similarly, if a church body continues to use the same 20% of its members, they’ll burn out as well while the rest of the body atrophies!

God has a function and purpose for each one of us to fulfill in the body of Christ.

We can choose to tackle our purpose grudgingly (or not at all), or we can choose to pursue it with great expectations!  God knows that we can fall into a trap of becoming tired and discouraged in ministry, yet He wants us to push on with joy as we can see in Hebrews 12…

I want to examine more closely what was being offered to the Lord…(v. 8a)

“When you [priests] offer blind [animals] for sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil?”

They offered God their leftovers, their hand-me-downs and expected God to bless them for it.  Not only were these blemished sacrifices offensive to God, but He called them “evil”!

Take a look at the last half of verse 13 and the first half of verse 14…(Amplified Bible)

(13) “…this you bring as an offering?  Shall I accept this from your hand?” says the Lord.

(14) “But cursed is the [cheating] deceiver who has a male in his flock and vows to offer it, yet sacrifices to the [soverign] Lord a blemished or diseased thing!

The word “deceiver” is the Hebrew word, “nakal”, which translates as a deceiver, swindler, or cheat.  God calls such a person  a cheater, one who can give better sacrifices but chooses not to.  Instead of honoring God with their best, they kept the best for themselves and gave God the worst of what they had,  What a slap in the face!

God’s LOVE is so extravagant for each one of us, that He chose to sacrifice the most precious thing He had, in order to redeem us, His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  And the LOVE we show in return for His GRACE & MERCY amounts to some leftovers we found in the back of the Fridge, then emptied upon the altar as a worshipful sacrifice to Almighty God?

These ritualistic, blemished sacrifices are so offensive to God, that He prefers no sacrifices at a…(vs. 10)

[10]  “Oh, that there were even one among you [whose duty it is to minister to Me] who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on My altar to no purpose [an empty, futile, fruitless pretense]!  I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from your hand”  (Amplified Bible).

Just close up shop!  Shut it down!  Better no worship at all than empty rituals and offerings that fall well short of our best.

So the answer is “YES”…God continues to expect our sacrifices. 

Not just any sacrifice…it must be the BEST we have!

King David knew about acceptable sacrifice…(2 Samuel 24:24-25)

According to God’s Word, a SACRIFICE isn’t a SACRIFICE in less it cost something!

In the NT Gospels, SACRIFICE was costly as well –

  • A woman poured costly fragrant oil to anoint Jesus’ head as an expression of her love, the devotion of her worship.   (Mark 14:3-9)
  • The widow came to the Temple and gave from her poverty all that she had as an offering to God to express her love, her devotion, her worship.  (Luke 21:1-4)

They Got It!!!

They understood in their hearts what SACRIFICE really meant to a holy and righteous God.  Their love for God prompted them to cheerfully give their BEST without hesitation!

There are so many lessons and warnings to take in the message of Malachi. 

God sent Malachi to stir the people up in their spiritual stupor, to exhort them to return to the living God.  Instead of approaching God with voices and attitudes full of bickering and complaining, we are to proclaim His praises.  Instead of treating our service to God as burdensome, we are to serve Him with hearts full of joy.  Instead of offering to God sacrifices that are blemished, we are to present to Him offerings that are pure!

But no matter what we do or sacrifice, it will never be acceptable to God without LOVE; extravagant love for God that overflowed into our praises, compelling us to offer our best!

And finally, how authentic is our relationship with God?

How much of what we do for God has become an empty ritual versus sincere heartfelt worship?  I’m so guilty of this at times.  Am I truly giving God the absolute that I have to offer Him every day?  Or, am I giving Him the leftovers, the crumbs off the floor, hoping it pleases Hum?  I want to smell the aroma of fresh bread taken from the oven.

Are you experiencing JOY in your service and ministry to God, or are you finding it to be wearisome, even a burden at times?

You only have so much talent, so much time, so much ability, so many resources.  All God wants is YOUR BEST – that’s your form of a SACRIFICE of PRAISE to Him that brings Him glory and praise.

______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon –  Strong #5230, “deceiver,” Heb. “nakal – naw-kal’.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or, as noted in the text, or photo/images.

Is There A Specific PLAN God Has For My Life, Or, Is This All There Is?

Scripture Study:  Luke 1:68-79

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LUKE 1:76 (ESV):

[76] “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,”

Have you ever wondered why you are doing what you’re doing in life–in your job, in your retirement, in your ministry?  I often thought to myself, “LORD, is what I’m doing right now, really your plan for my life, or is it my plan?”  How can I know and be assured what my “lot” in life really is?  Great questions, but what are the answers.  Can the Book of Life, God’s Word, the Bible, give the answers?

God had a PLAN or the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, an older couple” in the church.  

Zachariah was a priest of the division of Abijah (one of the 24 sections of priests) and Elizabeth was of the lineage of Aaron.  Both were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”  (Luke 1:6).

All should know that God always has a PLAN by which He works.  That PLAN isn’t on the same timetable as ours.  God puts His PLAN into action when it’s the right time.

During your lifetime, I’m sure you can recall the times you asked God to help you get that promotion or that particular job or position.  How about the time you wanted to buy that certain home and the deal didn’t go through–“Yes, Yes, and Yes!”  Maybe you remember your high school days when you had your eye on a certain young man or young lady, but a relationship never developed and you couldn’t understand why.

God has a SPECIFIC PLAN in life for you and a SPECIFIC PLAN for my life.

NOW HERE IT IS:  We can accept His PLAN or, we can by-pass it and do what we want.  The PROBLEM with doing our ‘own thing’ is we’ll suffer the consequences.

If we are impatient and choose to leave God out of our lives, we’re headed for a disaster.

On the other hand, if we consult God concerning our issues; our doubts, our uneasiness in making the right decisions…asking Him to guide us, listening closely to His response, and then patiently waiting for His PLAN to unfold, we’ll be in for a VICTORY.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were a devoted couple and a good example for us tom exemplify.

zacharias-elisabeth-praying-mann_1163845_inlThey were dedicated to each other and by the same token, dedicated to God.  

They followed all the rules, regulations, and commandments of the Lord.  The words they expressed to other people in normal everyday communication were words they lived by.  They didn’t live one way and then live their personal lives another way.  People could tell just by looking at them, they were “blameless.”  There was nothing in the world that indicated dishonesty or deliberate sin in their lives.  Their names would never appear in tabloid news.

Zachariah was truly devoted to carrying on the priestly duties assigned to him.  Scripture tells us:  “As was the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (Luke 1:9 AMP).

I had to look up the meaning of the word “LOT”.  According to “The American Heritage Dictionary”, the word “lot” means “An object used in making a determination or choice by chance.”

We might think of making a CHOICE by rolling dice, pulling the short straw, or even flipping a coin.  In the days of Zechariah, priestly duties were assigned by “lot.”  Each of the priests were required to spend a week in the Temple two times a year.  Keeping the incense burning on the altar of the Most Holy Place was a top honor for the priests for a Temple Priest could offer incense only once in his lifetime.  What a great honor that must have been.  Someone said, a modern comparison of a priest burning incense in the Temple is like the local pastor today filling in for Billy Graham.

As Zachariah was praying and burning incense at the altar, God’s PLAN kicked in.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were going to have a baby.  This was the beginning of God’s PLAN for their parenthood.

The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah,  “Do not be afraid, Zachariah, because your petition was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must call his name John [God is favorable]”  (Luke 1:13).

Gabriel went on to say in VERSE 14:

“And you shall have joy and exultant delight, and many will rejoice over his birth”

Look at what Zechariah and Elizabeth will have–not only a son, but they will have JOY, EXULTANT DELIGHT and people will observe their rejoicing hearts.

This is a WIN/WIN situation here.  Don’t you think it’s wonderful how God works through His PLANS, fulfilling them at the right time?

Now this PREGNANCY didn’t exactly happen at the time Zechariah and Elizabeth would have liked it to.  It didn’t occur at their requested timing, because it wasn’t in the PLAN God had in mind.  What Zechariah and Elizabeth seemed to forget is the same thing you and I forget.  

If we really want our PRAYERS answered, we must keep our minds open and remember, that our God is an expert in bringing the impossible to light.

GABRIEL not only told the elderly couple [verse 7: “both were far advanced in years”; John Wycliffe, The Wycliffe Bible] they would bring forth a son and his name would be John, but…“he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb” (verse 15).

screenshot-2015-01-05-07-10-00

God’s wonderful PLAN was unveiled to Zechariah and Elizabeth; that they were living God’s PLAN for their lives, and John would follow through to announce the coming of the Messiah.

All of this was a bit difficult for Zechariah to take in and believe, so he questioned how this could be.  There is a difference between asking God a question about His plans, and “questioning” His plans.

Because of DISBELIEF, his “questioning,” Zechariah wasn’t permitted to speak until the baby was ready to be named.

I can remember my wife and I having nightly discussions after dinner, discussing names for our first-born.  Since technology hadn’t come into play regarding sonograms–knowing if it was a girl or boy, we devised two lists:  BOYS – GIRLS.

debbie_watson_miguel_landa_karen_1965
TV Series, KAREN

The “how about’s” started with names from our favorite television shows.  Then family names we liked from both families, to suggestions from friends and parents, and the list went on, and on, and on.  We finally decided after choosing AMY for almost 9 months, if our first child is a girl, we liked the 1964 television series, KAREN, played by the actress Debbie Watson.  I don’t know whether everyone we knew agreed with the how we chose the name, but we were sure!

So our first daughter was named KAREN MARIE, with the same middle name as my wife’s.

And that’s my story.  I’m sure you have your own story.

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s gathered friends and family wanted to end the disagreements going on about name choices for the new bay, so they decided to ask Zechariah what the baby’s name should be.  Now that’s “no duh” decision.

Since Zechariah was “mute”, they made signs to him concerning what the child’s name should be and he asked for a tablet to write on.

He wrote without hesitation, “His name shall be John.”  At that very moment his tongue was loosed so he could talk.

God’s PLAN was in action and moving right along as scheduled.

God opened the mouth and lips of Zechariah and he began praising God.

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, divinely inspired, and began to prophesy.

Have you ever had moments in your life, like this one?

God had forgiven Zechariah’s failure to believe and the little bit of distrust he held in his heart.

When we start LIVING GOD’S PLAN for our lives–believe His Word, placing our trust in Him.   We’ll end up praising God, as Zechariah did.

ZECHARIAH’S WORDS OF PRAISE, Luke 1:68-79, are a SONG.

The FIRST 8 verses deal with SALVATION and will appear in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The SECOND part of the SONG (verses 76-79) refers to the ministry of John, the forerunner of Christ Jesus.

God had a PLAN for John and John lived that PLAN.

God’s PLAN was to use John to PREPARE the people of the day to recognize and accept the Messiah when He appeared on the scene.  John preached God’s message!

You and I are players in God’s PLAN, as well.  We were in God’s PLAN from the time of conception.  

We may not realize it, the situations we face, the struggles we encounter, the detours we come upon, but all are part of God’s PLAN for our lives.  We perhaps haven’t recognized it as of yet, but God’s PLAN is there!

We are LIVING God’s PLAN when we witness for Christ, when we love others, feed the hungry, visit the shut ins.  When we step out in FAITH, God will work in our lives revealing His plans for each one of us who trust in Him.

Paul said, “He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6).

John lived the PLAN God had for his life–he PREACHED a message of CONFESSION of SIN; REPENTANCE of SIN, and SALVATION through Christ Jesus, the Messiah.

We too, need to follow God’s PLAN for our lives of confession, repentance, and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

003-john-baptist  

And NO, we don’t have to wear John’s clothing of camel’s-hair, wear a leather girdle about our waist, live on a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4).  That was John living out God’s specific PLAN for John.  

God’s PLAN for us is specifically designed for only us to live out.

Then, and only then, will God’s PLAN for us be complete, because we will be able to spend eternity in His Kingdom!

 


CREDITS:

Photos chosen:  From Google IMAGE Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in text (ESV – English Standard Version).

 

Carelessness of spirit can happen!

I’ve been reading and studying lately in The Book of Psalms.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve done so, but it had been awhile.

Reading in the PSALMS can be uplifting, encouraging, convicting by the Spirit of God and this study was no exception.  However, the “this time” was more than a casual read, the underlining of verses…it became an eye opener to my spiritual well-being.

My hope for you is… this word study may just bring attention to your the “carelessness of spirit”; while attending Worship Services on Sundays, or whenever we sing and give our praises to Almighty God, all along while pretending we got everything down pat.  After all, we do the same thing–the “same- O, same-O”, when we attend church.  In fact, I’ve heard some people exclaim, while holding a 46 oz. travel mug of coffee, “I can’t sing, so I just ‘lip-sing’ ; no one around me even knows, and besides...the music is too loud anyway.”

I’ve come to learn, while in PUBLIC WORSHIP… is not about me…or you.  It’s not centered on us, but on God.  Though WORSHIP may have some benefits for us, it’s not about us.  It is never based on whether we FEEL like it, whether the music is to our liking, or whether we are pleased with the situation we find ourselves in.

PSALM 47:  To the Chief Musician

Unusual and Enthusiastic Expressions – 

VERSE 1:  O CLAP your hands, all you peoples!  Shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!

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Associated Press Photo

I find myself watching the 12th Man  parade this morning on local television, celebrating the NFL World Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.  As they proceed , surrounded by the throngs of fans cheering (700,000) uncontrollably for their hometown sport heroes,  for all they’ve accomplished.  It seems like the jubilation will be going on all afternoon.  Are the all the people weirdos? No! Most are sincerely excited, and besides…doesn’t everyone need a hero in their lives at times?

Verses 1-4:

[1]  O CLAP your hands, all you peoples!  Shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!

[2]  For the Lord Most High excites terror, awe, and dread; He is a great King over all the earth.

[3]  He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

[4]  He chose our inheritance for us, the glory and pride of Jacob, whom He loves.  Selah  [pause and calmly think of that]!

We Can See JOY in the True Spirit of Worship–

JOY in God’s character…

JOY in His reign…

JOY in the triumphs of His Word (the GOSPEL)…

“O CLAP YOUR HANDS!”

Such expressions by the casual observer may seem a bit over zealous, but it shouldn’t be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection.

[Verse 1]  “Peoples” in the plural here, is used in calling both Jews and Gentiles–all nations.  And “Shout to God” – Jubilate Deo: 

In GOD, and concerning GOD, and in honor of GOD.

GOD doesn’t excite us to carnal JOY.

JOY in His favor, His blessing on His saints.

“The terrors of the Lord” – [Verse 2]:

“For the Lord Most High excites terror, awe, and dread; He is a great King over all the earth.”

When I first came upon the word, “terrors”, I must admit I was puzzled at first.  Being in terror would most likely curb the enthusiasm, the excitement of clapping and shouting.  Can you imagine the effect terror would have on 80,000 football fans, enclosed in a stadium, while there was the treat of terror in the building?

For the Lord most high is Terrible…

Christians celebrate Christ’s ascension–the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus–and He was “highly exalted!”  Then, He became TERRIBLE to His enemies, all power in heaven and earth being committed to Him.   

And then He began to display the excellent Majesty, His universal kingdom for all to see, being crowned King of kings, and Lord of lords.

None can resist His POWER or stand before His vengeance; yet as these terrors are carried out in behalf of His subjects.  All fit reasons for REJOICING!  His Omnipotence is terrible to crush, is almighty to protect!

God’s Omnipotence…

God is “all-powerfulness,” “almighty”, in other words, when God wants something done, it is done!  The apostle Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence--it is the sense that He is “above all,and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

THE UNUSUAL REIGN OF CHRIST, as it is, and is to be!

The Hope of Victory to the Church – [Verse 3]:

“He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.”

What shall be subdued?  By whose means?  –  Us.

By whose power? –  His.

When shall it be accomplished and what is the symbol? –  The Ascension (Psalm 47:5).

The final triumph for ALL BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus IS… all enemies are subdued under them in earth, and hell, within and without–gradually at first, then completely.

God’s Willingness – [Verse 4]:

“He chose our inheritance for us, the glory and pride of Jacob, whom He loves.  Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!”

His willingness to choose our inheritance in time and eternity.

His choice is better than ours–the excellency of Jacob.

He will leave us to the consequences of our own choices.

He will help us in obtaining that which He chooses for us by His Spirit.

The Ascension – [Verse 5]:

“God has ascended amid shouting, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.”

It’s publicity, solemnity, triumph, and joy!

Jesus, who went up…

Where He went up…

To what purpose…

With what result…

“O clap your hands people and shout…with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!”

The Importance of Songs of Joy [Verse 6]:

“Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!”

Why do SONG LEADERS in our worship services today, repeat the choruses over and over again?  The same question was probably asked years ago, when the worship leaders would have us sing every verse to a hymn on Sunday mornings.

Repetition can censure at times our slackness– that implies earnestness, frequency, delight and joy in singing, which should characterize the PRAISES offered.

Sing Praises with Understanding – [Verse 7]:

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises in a skillful psalm and with understanding.”

How can we make JOY in our hearts to God singing?

According to Psalm 47:7, we must sing with UNDERSTANDING, not by the watches on our wrists but by the WORDS OF THE SONG; we must give our attention to the content more than the music and consider WHAT WE SING as well as HOW WE SING;

“the time may affect the fancy, but it is the matter that affect the heart, and that…God principally sees.”

The word MASCHIL is used in the Psalms many times and Psalm 47 is not an exception.  It means to instruct with understanding, denoting a song which enforces some lesson of WISDOM or PIETY; a didactic song or Psalm [BibleStudyTools].

So, with that in mind, we must sing wisely to prevent a “carelessness of spirit” in our Worship & Praise services each week.  If we will sing gratefully, then we will ENJOY what we sing.

In other words, we should SING as we should PRAY:

“The what am I to do? I will PRAY with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding;  I will SING with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will SING [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also”  (1 Corinthians 14:15 AMP).

If we don’t understand what we sing, it promotes carelessness of spirit, hardness of heart; and this makes the worship service immaterial and impudent.

THE GATHERING…

Psalm 47:9:

The princes and nobles of the peoples are gathered together, a [united] people for the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.

Christ’s GATHERING of the saints together with Him, will be at His second coming; His coming judgment, and His return will be as He ascended…“with the sound of a trumpet” [See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18].

BUT RELATIVE to the coming of

our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)

and our GATHERING together to [meet] Him…

~ 2 Thessalonians 2:1~

The Covenant Promise Will Be Fulfilled…

“In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” – “to Him shall the gathering of the people be.”

“For the Shields of the Earth Belong to God” [vs. 9]

All te Pomp & Circumstance, the emblems of rank and position, weapons of war,  ALL WILL pay homage and bow down to the King of all.

Those who are the earth’s protectors, the shields of society, derive their might from Him and are His.  ALL principalities and powers will be  subject to Yahweh and His Son, for He is greatly exalted in nature, in power, in character, in glory, NONE to compare with Him.  Oh, the vision of things to come!

hurricane_clouds__gulf_of_mexico5
The Blessed Hope!

“Applause, everyone.  Bravo, bravissimo!

Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs.”

Clapping Your Hands In Joy
Clapping Your Hands In Joy

~ Psalm 47:1 The Message Bible ~

Keep On, Going On to the Well

WELLS OF LIFE

TEXT:  ISAIAH 12:1-6 AMP:

[1]  AND IN that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for though You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away, and You comfort me.    [2]  Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song; yes, He has become my salvation. [3]  Therefore with JOY will I draw water from the WELLS OF SALVATION. [4]  And in that day you will say, Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name [in solemn entreaty]; declare and make known His deeds among the peoples of the earth, proclaim that His name is exalted! [5]  Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things [gloriously]; let this be made known to all the earth. [6]  Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

LIVING WATER FROM THE WELL:

(John 4:10-14 AMP ):

[10]  Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you LIVING WATER. [11]  She said to Him, Sir, You having nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and THE WELL IS DEEP; how then can You provide LIVING WATER? [Where do You get Your living water?]. [12]  Are you greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also? [13]  Jesus answered her, All who drink of THIS WATER will be thirsty again. [14]  But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall NEVER, NO NEVER, BE THIRSTY ANY MORE.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life.

DRAWING WATER FROM THE WELLS:

We often take for granted the availability of water when we are thirsty and it is relatively easy for us to take care of our thirst.  We go to the sink and get a glass of water; to the fridge to get a glass and just like that–we have something to drink!  Even when traveling around, going into stores, we can buy water if we’re thirsty.

My purpose is for drawing your attention to THE THIRST that we all have.

I am sure that if in the place where we live, the neighborhoods we find ourselves in, drawing water from a well into 5-gallon plastic containers probably isn’t something most of us would look forward to doing once or twice a day.  But in some areas of the world, it is an everyday occurrence [photo courtesy of Mercy-USA for Aid and Development showing water gathering at a well in Mogadishu].  I want to direct you to how the Lord quenches that thirst and to examine the JOY of God’s Word brings refreshment to our lives.

The Lord Gives Us the Water of Life Without Cost:

One lesson that we should all know as Christians is that God sent His Son to be our Savior.  Even Mosses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so people could be saved.

To this SALVATION the Lord Jesus invites us with His personal invitation:

And let everyone come who is thirsty [who painfully conscious

of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported

and strengthened];

and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate,

and drink the water of Life without cost.

(REVELATION 22:17 AMPLIFIED Bible)

When our soul is parched and dry, it will… [not maybe], be refreshed by God’s LIVING WATER.

“JOY” Found Deep In The Well (Isaiah 12:3):

Isaiah, right in the middle of the referenced Bible verse says,  “with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.”  That verse in Isaiah 12, becomes our theme for this Blog.

DRAWING WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION–

1.  Constantly.

2.  Thankfully.

CONSTANTLY–

You have probably noticed in your reading of The Book of Isaiah in the past and already know how happy Isaiah was.  He could hardly contain himself!

Why was he so Happy?  If you glance back for a moment at Chapter 11, Isaiah talks to the people about the Savior.  He says the Redeemer (the Messiah) is going to come.  Isaiah describes all the things that His people will benefit from and after listing all those things in Chapter 11, we pick it up in Chapter 12, verse one:

“AND IN that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, O Lord”

And then he tells the people why:

“…for though You were angry with me, (referring to the Lord)…Your anger has turned away, and You comfort me.”

Grumbling and Complaining About ‘STUFF’.

The children of Israel had seen and experienced God’s anger; they kept on sinning; turning against Him and then finally turning back:

–The snakes came and after….they were grumbling and complaining.

–They were grumbling and complaining after God had delivered them from slavery from their Egyptian employers.

–They were grumbling and complaining while God gave them food to eat…every day!

Here Isaiah says the Lord WAS ANGRY but the anger of God had been turned away and the people are now comforted and they have forgiveness:

“Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid”  (verse 2).

I have found myself like the children of Israel wandering through the desert with grumbling and complaining.  I almost seem to enjoy telling the world how miserable I am.  It somehow seems more self-satisfying than quote from memory: “Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid.”

Isaiah goes on to say from there…

“Lord God is my strength and song; Yes, He has become my salvation.

The people in Isaiah’s time were beginning to see here hopefully, (as we are too) his reference to the Lord as SALVATION; where they will be able to draw their strength, where the time of rejoicing and joy is going to come from.  It is where they are going to find the DEEP WELL.

Isaiah wants the people to come back repeatedly to the WELL OF SALVATION to find Him, their salvation, to see Him in their  forgiveness.

We might ask ourselves, ‘Where do we find joy in life?  What do we find satisfaction in this world around us?’  Sometimes we find JOY and SATISFACTION in OUR FAMILY, OUR FRIENDS, OUR WORK.  This is just part of God’s JOY isn’t it…a part of a satisfaction that the Lord wants to give to us?

Deuteronomy tells us:  Deut. 17:19 ~…And he shall keep it (God’s Word) with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life…” 

He says that the WORD be a part of our everyday life because then, we are going to find the JOY in our salvation where we will find the true JOY for our living.

The CHILDREN of ISRAEL’S Example for the rest of us to take note:

Yes, the Lord gets angry with us; we sin by missing the mark in our daily lives.  But then His anger is turned away and He comforts us instead with His forgiveness.  What JOY is ours!  Then we agree the Lord becomes our strength in our JOY.

IT TAKES PRACTICE AND TIME TO GO TO THE WELL–The WELL of His Word in finding the JOY:

The Psalm writer reminds us in Psalm 36:8, 9:

[8] They relish and feast on the abundance of Your house; and You cause them to drink of the stream of your pleasures.  [9] For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light.”

The writer of the Psalm not only talks about the water of life, the fountain of life, but he talks about LIGHT.

God’s Encouragement:

Today, God encourages us to draw from the well of Salvation…turning to the Lord and His Word to find in it our JOY and satisfaction.  If I am sounding a bit repetitive…it’s for a reason.

One description that Peter gives to us in 1 Peter 2:2, 3:

Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation.  Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord.

Tasting that the Lord is good:

A lot of believers have already got a taste that He gives us with heaven instead of hell; gives us forgiveness instead of punishment.  And because of that taste, we should desire and crave to learn more about the Lord.  We want to draw water from the wells of salvation and when we do this constantly, we do it in thanksgiving.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the “tasting” this way:

[4] For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit,  [5] And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come. ~ Hebrews 6:4, 5 AMP.

BEING THANKFUL– (Isaiah 12:3, 4):

Being thankful is how Isaiah continues on in verse 3:  “Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.”

It probably sounded pretty strange to the children of Israel when they first heard Isaiah’s words.  Getting water was quite a task.  Not only did they have to dig the well, they had to go to the well daily; draw the water out of the well, put the water in jugs, and then carry the containers back to the house.  And I fuss when we have to drive in a car one mile into town, walk 20-feet into a filtered-water supply store,  fill up three 3-gallon plastic containers, and drive back home every two weeks or so?

In Biblical times, sometimes the well was outside the city gates where women would have to travel out there day in and day out.  Hopefully, once a day, sometimes twice a day, no matter if the weather was cold or hot; quiet or windy, every day!  They didn’t find much JOY there.

Now the Lord says to them ‘with joy will you do that?’  Isaiah refers not just to earthly water, but water from the wells of salvation:

(verse 4)  “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name.”

When the people see and understand the Lord’s deliverance, they will thank Him.  More than that, others around them will see and thank the Lord.

He says, ‘make known His deeds among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.’  He goes on saying,

(verse 5)  “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent things;

let this be made known to all the nations.” 

Again, time and again, the children of Israel saw glorious things the Lord had done.  Despite their grumbling and complaining God had provided manna every day.  They had enough to eat so they didn’t have to worry about planting and harvesting, just gathering and eating.  Because of that, they could say to the LORD, they could give thanks to Him.

Isaiah sums it all up in the last verse by saying,

[6] “Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion,

for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

–GOD WAS WITH THEM,

–HE WAS IN THEIR MIDST,

–HE HAD NOT  FORSAKEN THEM,

–HE WOULD NOT FORSAKE THEM.

The LORD’S REMINDER FOR US TODAY:

–He is among us.

–He is in our midst.

–everyday.

Today we don’t see Him in a pillar of smoke or in a cloud of fire at night.  But we do see Him in the day-to-day blessings that He provides for each one of us.

We see Him in His Word which is the well of our salvation.  The LORD says, ‘don’t be far from God’s Word and you won’t be far from God Himself.’

In Colossians we read:  “Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16 AMP).

Turning back now to the Old Testament and reading the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

“Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord of hosts”  (Jeremiah 15:16).

As we keep on going on to the well to draw water we realize that the refreshing Word of God becomes our joy and our delight.

“But I Don’t Feel Like Crying out and Shouting for Joy.”

Cry aloud and shout joyfully, you women and inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel”  (Isa. 12:6).

Although “feelings” are a part of who we are…Jesus had feelings and showed them in the Bible.  But when FEELINGS are in control of your spirit, a stronghold can be established.  “We don’t cry out and shout in the Baptist church,” or “Shouting and crying are only done in the Pentecostal churches.”  If those are your “feelings”, then you need to “keep on, going on to the well.”  Your throats must be parched and thirsty!

To “Cry Aloud and Shout for Joy”-

TO CRY OUT:

This word is usually applied in Scripture to the neighing of a horse (Jeremiah 5:8; 8:16).  But it is also used to express JOY, pleasing exultation by a “clear and loud sound of the voice (Isaiah 10:30; 14:14; 54:1).

Also to “cry out” is synonymous with numerous passages in Psalms:  Psalm 47:1; 148:1-4; 149:1-9; where people are called on to exult and shout, to make noise as an expression of their JOY!

The Shouting Side Is The Winning Side!

Football games in America, Soccer in other parts of the world, fans recognize the side that has the upper hand through the surrounding atmosphere.  The side that is doing well has the exuberant supporters; jumping up and down, shouting until they lose their voices, even dancing and singing!

The other side–that’s another story: glum expressions, dim faces and not likely to be dancing.  They could sing, but their songs would most likely be asking for God’s intervention.  I don’t know about you, but since I’m a child of the King and accept what He did for me on the Cross of Salvation by His blood, I’ll never be on the loosing side again!  I’m a winner!!  Do I hear a SHOUT?

“But I’m Too Conservative, Shy to Cry Out and Shout For Joy.”

If that is what you’re thinking, then you need a NEW EXPERIENCE; perhaps another visit to the well of salvation.

EXPERIENCE PRAISE AT THE WELL:

O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.  The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of nations.  He has [earnestly] remembered His mercy and loving kindness, His truth and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God.  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yeas, sing praise ~ Psalm 98:1-4.

EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE AT THE WELL:

“…I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age” ~ Matt. 28:20 AMP.

“Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they will comfort me” ~ Psalm 23:4 AMP.

Are you saved?

Can you sing this song, God is my salvation?  If your answer is yes, it’s time to go to the well once more!