Devotional on Amos

2013 – Niagara Falls

Worshiping to please the right Person
Amos 5: When was the last time you sang to me?
Toward the end of Amos 5 the Lord challenges almost everything about their church services. He says he can’t stand their meetings, conferences, and conventions. He washes his hands of their projects and goals and he says he can’t stand their singing which is more focused on what they like than on him. This message may be buried deep in the Minor Prophets but it should be right at the top of our concerns as Christians who go to church each Sunday. It isn’t that their services and conferences should be discontinued and it isn’t that their projects aren’t worthwhile. Also, this is no call to change the music style of the church (whatever it may be). It is, though, a powerful reminder of what (better stated, “Who”) it’s all about. The Lord says that what they’re doing is worthless, not because it’s worthless activity, but because they’re ignoring him and his purposes for their lives. God states, “Do you know what I want? I want justice – oceans of it. I want fairness – rivers of it. That’s all I want.” If I refuse God’s priority of caring for the poor, of helping the one who’s down and out then God will refuse my acts of worship. Maybe this passage needs to be read before we have our church planning meetings!
Take Away: If we’re missing the Lord’s priorities for the church the other things we do aren’t worth much.

Devotional on 1 Chronicles

2017 – Black Hills Needles Highway

God bless the singers
1 Chronicles 6: These are the persons David appointed to lead the singing in the house of God.
As I read page after page of “Chronicles” I meet lots of people. There are fighters who cried out to God and received his help, farmers, potters, and linen workers. Now, I’m introduced to some professional singers. These are the song leaders who served during David’s reign. Here’s choirmaster Herman and his associate Asaph, the writer of some of the Psalms in our Bibles. These singers were faithful to their assignment and, now we see them included in the list of people in the opening pages of 1 Chronicles. Music has always been important to the people of God. David, a song writer and musician himself, didn’t want to take any chances with the worship music of his day so he appointed people to give their full attention to it. I don’t want to carry things too far here, but it’s good to remember that the music of worship is worth our best effort. That doesn’t mean that any one style is the right one, but it does mean that our music is an offering to the Lord and we want to give him our best. Personally, I’m thankful for the talented musicians and singers and song writers who have blessed me and helped me focus on the Lord. This Sunday it might be a good idea to let these folks know they’re appreciated.
Take Away: Thank the Lord for those who lift our hearts to God through their music.

Devotional on 1 Chronicles

2017 – Wilson State Park, KS

Anointed worship leaders
1 Chronicles 16: That was the day that David inaugurated regular worship of praise to God, led by Asaph and his company.
Having secured his hold on Israel and having brought the Ark to Jerusalem David moves to establish regular worship services. It’s quite instructive to see the lists of, not only the mighty warriors who fought with David, but of “mighty worship leaders” as well. We thank God for those who have the bravery and skill to protect us from those who would harm us. Such people are worthy of our admiration and thanks. Here, I’m reminded that those who are gifted and trained to lead me into the Presence of the Almighty are also people worth my deepest appreciation. Also, I see here that David feels worship services are important enough to merit the appointing and organizing of specific worship leaders. That doesn’t mean that those who aren’t “official” can’t lead in worship, in fact, they often do. Some of the finest worship services I’ve ever seen were led by ordinary people with little formal training but who knew something about getting into the presence of the Lord. Whether a person’s “on salary” or not is a poor reflection of whether or not they’re gifted in leading genuine worship. I thank God for worship leaders who usher us into the presence of the Lord. Thank God for anointed people.
Take Away: Some people are gifted to lead in worship, thank God for them.

Devotional on the Psalms

2004 – Big Island, Hawaii

Praise God with the sound of the saxophone
Psalm 150: Praise with the blast on the trumpet.
This journey through the Psalms has been nothing close to exhaustive. I find it challenging to write devotionally from material that’s already devotional in the first place! I can get my teeth into a passage that has a story in it but scripture like the Psalms is more challenging to me. Because of that I’ve hopped and skipped my way along and I know I haven’t done this book of the Bible anything close to the justice it deserves. Today, I find myself at this final Psalm and it stirs a good memory. When I was in high school I was a member of the band and at a banquet for the band I was asked to bring a short devotional (yes, we did stuff like that in public school back in the olden days!). I picked this Psalm and had fun reading about all the instruments that can be used to praise the Lord. After the banquet one of my fellow band members complained to me that I didn’t mention his instrument, the saxophone. We laughed about it at the time, but here I am decades later remembering that event and being reminded that there are all kinds of ways to worship: playing the trumpet, drama, singing, preaching, and, yes, even by playing the saxophone! The psalm writer sums it all up by saying, to put it in my own words, “Just do it!”
Take Away: Whatever it is you have – musical ability, teaching ability, using a hammer and saw—whatever you have, find ways to use it in praising the Lord.

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