Let God’s People Sing!!!

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near. Join me in glad adoration!

I’ve been reading through Nehemiah. Today, the wall was finished; everyone had had a part and now it was time to celebrate. Bring on the choirs!   Two large choirs led a procession along the top of the wall each marching in opposite directions to meet at the temple for the festive event–Cymbals, lyres and harps accompanied them in songs of praise and thanks to God.

They played and sang loudly and clearly under the direction of Jezrahiah the choir director—Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and the children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away!

The custom of having choir directors to lead the choirs in hymns of praise and thanks to God began long ago in the days of David and Asaph. 

Long before that the angels sang at creation!

when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

And a new song will be song at the consummation of time as we know it:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 

In the meantime, it seems God’s people are hard-wired to respond to His greatness in song.  Where His Spirit dwells there is song–

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them—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—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…. 

Neh.12:42,43,46NLT; Job 38:7 ESV; Rev 5:9 ESV; Acts 16:25 ESV; Col 3:16 ESV Eph 5:18-19 ESV

After this morning’s readings in Nehemiah one of my favorite hymns came to mind. It seemed a fitting benediction–I got it started ok but had to pull out my old hymn book for the rest of the words and a hearty bit of praise in the sanctuary of my little home.  Singing is good for the soul–I commend it to you ( :

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have  been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who with marvelous wisdom hath made thee
Decked thee with health, and with loving hand guided and stayed thee;
How oft in grief hath not He brought thee relief,
Spreading His wings for to shade thee!
Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Words: Joachim Neander (1650-1680)
Translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878)

Don’t let hymn singing become a lost art; if you don’t have a hymn book do check your local Thrift store.  Hymns are a such a treasure trove of singable tunes and solid doctrine.

Let God’s people sing!


More than enough!

Everyone is invited to bring these offerings to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen; goat hair for cloth; tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; olive oil…spices…onyx stones…—So all the people left Moses and went to their tents to prepare their gifts.  If their hearts were stirred and they desired to do so, they brought to the Lord their offerings…both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing—————Bring no more materials!  You have already given more than enough! 

Ex.35:5-9NLT; Ex.35:20-22NLT; Ex.36:6NLT

What a testimony to the very nature of God!  When His people are so eager to give that there is more than enough to do the work of God.

God is a lavish giver.   He is a Fountain(!) of life and the Giver of all good gifts.  He graces His children with all they will ever need and more besides.  Even his enemies revel in the sunshine and drink freely from the rain He supplies.  And He calls us to be like Him, to be giving and forgiving without keeping a record of the details.  Why is this so hard?  If we could fathom His unstoppable love and His infinite knowledge of all the details of our lives might we learn to stop clinging to what we call our own and living as if frugality were a spiritual gift?!  To steward is not the same as to hoard.  I am given lavish gifts not to possess but to use to bless…

For one who has always had a miserly streak, this calling is a stretch. In the days when trick-or-treating wasn’t recognized as essentially pagan, I knew how to make my haul of Halloween treats last till Easter (to the envy of my siblings! Or maybe they just thought me crazy?) and one beautiful Christmas lollipop was so special it never did get eaten! I stashed it for years till it got so sticky it was altogether undesirable.  I am well practiced at ‘saving’ things but not so good at being generous… Even as an adult I tend to tuck away the ‘treat’ in case there never comes another. I hold tight to treasures and am not apt to share–as though God’s blessings might dry up, his daily graces cease–I had better be prepared!

But this morning several verses leapt from the page to confront me:

The wicked borrow and never repay; but the godly are generous givers.—Give as freely as you have received!—Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver—Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop

Ps.37:21 NLT; Mt.10:8NLT; II Cor.9:7 ESV; II Cor.9:6NLT

And other passages were not long in following up the theme. It’s all throughout Scripture. God is generous and He expects that I will be as well. 

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit—whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior—I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts—the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life

Rom 5:5 NKJV; Tit 3:6 ESV; Rev.21:6NKJV; Jn.4:14NKJV

In fact my generosity brings Him glory as it gives evidence of the great grace of God at work in me.  I give because He has given to me. I forgive because I have been forgiven. And my cheerfulness in the process reveals my strong confidence in the God who meets all my needs.  It’s all quite wonderful really to see how it’s meant to work:

 You will be glorifying God through your gifts.  For your generosity to them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.  And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the wonderful grace of God shown through you.

Happy are those who delight in doing what [the Lord] commands…All goes well for those who are generous, who lend freely and conduct their business fairly…they confidently trust the Lord to care for them…They give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.— Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 

II Cor.9:13,14NLT; Ps.112:1,5,7,9NLT; Eph, 5:1-2 NKJV

And the more I reflect on God’s nature, the more petty (and un-godly!) my own selfish tendencies look.  Only a fool tries to contain a fountain in a pill bottle.  What is the sense in trying to ration unending mercies?

So my prayer today is that God will change my heart toward my possessions and make me a more generous soul, and… that He will give opportunity (today?) to share what He has given. May I pray the same for you?

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work—Thank God for his Son–a gift too wonderful for words!— Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

II Cor. 9:8-9 ESV; II Cor.9:15NLT; Gal 6:10 NKJV

because He is more than enough for me,

The Maker’s Joy

Does God know joy? Can you picture it?

I am reading these days the story of Jayber Crow*, a fictitious barber in small town Kentucky in the nostalgic past.  He is the creation of Wendell Berry–author, nature-lover, and farmer.  Berry is also a bit of a poet.  I sat with my little lunch catching the sun before it disappeared around the back side of the house today, relaxing with a book of Berry’s poems.  I’m not a fan of the ones that rant about progress and war and other human maladies, but this phrase caught my eye (Leavings,p.99)

…the maker’s joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.

In our last home group we were considering Ephesians 2:10: We are His workmanship. The Greek word here is ‘poiema’ from which we get ‘poem’.  We are God’s creative expression, the crowning glory of His creation, created to bring Him praise, for ‘from Him, though Him and to Him are all things’ (Rom.11:36).  What craftsman doesn’t find joy in his creation?

We also considered Exodus 31 in which God appoints the craftsmen that will create all the beautiful adornments for the tabernacle.  He had given the pattern, then He provided the skilled workmen and filled them with His Spirit. It seems to me a fitting picture of what He has done for each of us who have come to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord.  The pattern for living is His word, our bodies His tabernacle from which flow the gifts and abilities with which He has equipped each of us in order to display His glory to the world that we inhabit…

Our lives bring God joy as we live out the essence of what He has made, as we create, as we work, as we live in fellowship with one another and with our God…We bring Him joy! Much as a splash of paint rightly placed, a pantry displaying the season’s bounty all jarred, or a shapely loaf of homemade bread fresh from the oven bring their creator joy, so we, His creation, bring Him joy, first simply by virtue of being His creation and ultimately as His redeemed ones, now able to live as He designed us to from the beginning.  This was the joy set before Jesus as He suffered to buy us back from the slave market of sin and present us to the Father “behold I and the children God has given me.” (Heb 2:13 ESV)

And it is the joy He holds as we live before Him doing all the day to day things He’s set before us…

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.  For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.—And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you—O LORD, you have searched me and known me!…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well…How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Is. 62:3-5 ESV; Eph.2:10 ESV; Ex.31:6ESV; Ps. 139:1,13-14,17-18 ESV;  Zeph. 3:16-17 ESV;

May we be aware today of God’s joyful oversight.
As we live out His design we bring our Maker joy!


I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice!

Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear



*For more of Jayber Crow visit my Quotes and Notes blog at:

Fighting confusion with Faith

They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and to bring about confusion there.  But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves… —For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.—We have faithfully preached the truth.  God’s power has been working in us.  We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 

“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, you families, and your homes!” —So David and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “God did it!” David exclaimed. “He used me to burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So they named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). 

…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.—Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness.—A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.—…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 

Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone.—My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. 

Neh.4:8,9NLT; I Cor.14:33ESV; II Cor.6:7NLT; Neh.4:14NLT; I Chron. 14:11NLT; I Pet. 5:7-9ESV; Eph.6:14NLT; Eph.6:10,11NLT; II Cor. 2:11NIV; Ps. 31:4NLT; Ps. 25:15ESV  

After long captivity the children of God had returned to their beloved Jerusalem to find it in a shambles.  God brought this to Nehemiah’s attention and he was given leave from his position as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in order to lead the rebuilding effort.  And he was given the King’s support besides! But now, as though the task were not daunting enough in itself, they faced the rage of the surrounding chieftains who were intent on thwarting this project.

The story is not unlike this long process of sanctification that believers undergo.  We have the backing of the King.  The Spirit energizes the work and cheers us on.  But we have a formidable enemy who is furious that we should give our allegiance to the King of Kings and that our walls should be made strong to deny his access. He sends confusion to thwart our orderly progress.  We get distracted by the onslaught and the construction is delayed. Peace dissolves in the turmoil.  But ours is not a God of confusion.  He is called the Prince of peace.  Where He works peace reigns. So He calls us to don our armour, to guard our hearts, to be sober-minded…to be mindful of the enemy’s tactics and to fill our minds with truth.

Mindful used to be a term we could rightly use. Its meaning has been hijacked to actually refer to a kind of mindlessness where thoughts are given little consideration, allowed to flow unchecked, and to be ignored until they give up and simmer down to nothingness, which is then called enlightenment! This is the stuff of meditation as it is extolled all around us, by believers and unbelievers with so little discernment. But I digress…

Suffice it to say, confusion is a tactic of the enemy.  Peace of mind is a gift of God in exchange for our anxious thoughts. He invites us not merely to let our cares dissolve in mindlessness, but to lift them to Him and be made strong by His mighty power!

May you know His mighty refuge today.



I have been ignored

I have been ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot.—But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.—For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?—Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them,  …And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We are well known, but we are treated as unknown.—O LORD, you have searched me and known me! … Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.— Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”  So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”).

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul. 

Let all that I am wait  quietly before God, for my hope is in him. 

Ps.31:12NLT; II Cor.4:7ESV; II Cor.4:5; Jn.5:44ESV; Mt.6:1,4ESV; II Cor.6:9ESV;  Ps.139:1,6ESV; Gen.16:13,14 NLT; Ps.31:7NLT; Ps.62:5NLT

Who sees what you’ve done today?  Who knows the grief you carry?  Who cares deeply about what worries you?

Who celebrates the unseen victories of your heart in its struggles against sin? Who applauds when you’ve figured out that little something everyone else already seems to know, or when you’ve created something which seems beautiful to your eyes alone…Who sees?

Our hearts crave to know we are not alone.  This perhaps explains the explosion of social media.  We scramble to be seen and known there, to be applauded and ‘liked’, but really?  Is this the affirmation we crave?  To know and be known is something for which we’re designed.  This desire gets perverted into believing we must promote ourselves, polish our performance, say the right things, be pleasing in order to be applauded.  But how much better it would be if we meditated long and deep on the unfailing love that surrounds the child of God.  A love that sees all and loves without condition forever and always.  He sees the unseen and promises to reward the faithful heart.

May all your being and doing today glow with the knowledge that you are known and loved by the Unseen One who has created you for His pleasure and glory.


So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.

I Cor.10:31