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He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 (NLT)

Ever heard a song that spoke to you in such a way that the words stuck in your mind all day long? The type of song that seemed, in some way, at that moment in time to make a statement about who you were or what you were going through? People who are in love will often hear a song that speaks of their relationship and make that ‘their song’. They may have it sung at their wedding ceremony and for the rest of their lives, whenever they hear it; they will be reminded of that day when they officially began their lives together. Some may even be lucky enough to have a song written just for them by the one they love, a testament to undying, eternal love.

So, what’s your song? It’s not important if the tune is best fit for rock ‘n roll, rap, or classical. It doesn’t matter what instruments you play it with. What is your song?

There’s an old chorus, part of which goes something like this: “There’s a new song in my heart since the savior set me free There’s a new song in my heart ’tis a heav’nly harmony all my sins are washed away in the blood of Calvary o what peace and joy nothing can destroy there’s a new song in my heart.”

During some of the darkest times of my life I’ve found it interesting that the songs that come to mind are the songs of my faith. Faith in a God who is so Holy that he can not bear to look on sin and failure. A God that is so powerful the winds and nature obey his voice. A God so loving that he chose to give me grace and mercy at the Cross of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Songs can give a message of love or hate, of life or death, of hope or hopelessness. My song wasn’t written by me. It was written on my heart by Jesus. My song isn’t dependent on my actions or the actions of others. Its message of hope and love and grace and mercy rings on through the darkest times of our soul, when the wounds seem too much to bear.

He has given me a new song! A song that will never, ever end. A song that will make others take notice and praise God. Not because of me, but because of Jesus.

I’ll ask the question again. What’s your song? If you have Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you have been forgiven of all those wounds and bad choices of the past. Then your song of hope and praise must be sung. It can not be squelched. So sing! Sing your song in the words you speak, in the actions you take, in the love you show to those who deserve it least.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Thank you for the song you gave me when you died for my sin. Forgive me for the times I’ve squelched its message. Empower me to sing for you with every thought, word and action. In your name I praise! Amen.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

One of the unfortunate things about ‘church’ today is that we tend to categorize our spirituality into activities and not life style. We go to church on Sunday. The rest of the week is ours to spend time as we wish. We focus on church as a building and worship as a set of songs and/or hymns that we sing at some point in a service to direct our attention and praise to God.

Old habits die hard. Our tendency to place our spiritual activities in categories isn’t a new one. The Israelites had the same tendency. Just as today worship was often built on an object or an activity and not a person. That’s what got them in trouble when Moses was up getting the 10 commandments. They were without an object to worship so they made a calf.

Worship isn’t about activity and praise isn’t related to circumstances surrounding you. Worship is a lifestyle and praise is dependent on WHO God is and what HE has done. Praise and thanksgiving are not based on the mistakes we’ve made in the past, the guilt or shame we bear or the amount of money in our bank accounts. PRAISE AND WORSHIP ISN’T ABOUT US.

One of the great ‘Psalms of praise’ is Psalm 100. In this short song of praise that was written by King David we are instructed to praise the Lord for the many things that He has done for us. But hidden within the song we are directed when and where to praise Him.

David tells us to offer thanksgiving and praise in ‘His courts’ and ‘His gates’. These terms were references to places outside the temple! In other words, David is telling us that our praise and worship of Jesus is to be a part of our everyday lives. It isn’t to be hidden within the walls of some building someplace or placed strategically at some place and point of time.

Take time to focus on what God has done for you. Don’t let your current circumstances influence the way you feel. Don’t be general in your thanks or go back to some point in history of what ‘He did back then.’ Take time each day to focus on just one aspect of Jesus’ love that won’t change regardless of your circumstances. Maybe it’s Jesus’ unconditional love or His unending mercy, patience, grace, forgiveness, understanding. Make your own list. Be specific. Take these praises with you everywhere you go.

Let the world see Christ’s love in you at the grocery store, in rush hour, in the long lines at your favorite discount store or at the coffee shop. Wherever you go, focus on what Jesus has done for you. You don’t need to put on a show! His light will shine through you to others. Words and songs of praise aren’t nearly as effective as a lifestyle of praise and worship.

PRAYER: Holy God. I confess to you that too many times my spirituality is categorized. I show a ‘different me’ in every situation. My praise of you is limited to time and based on my changing circumstances. Thank you that you never change. Help me today, to focus my attitudes, actions, words and activities on who you are and not who I am. Amen.

How great are His signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. Daniel 4:3

When I was growing up purchasing a Bible was relatively easy. You had one version to choose from (KJV) which came in black (boys) and red (girls). If you wanted the deluxe versions of each you could get one with maps and the words of Jesus printed in red!

Going from church to church was relatively easy as well. First of all you only went to a church that had the same title on the sign as the one on the front of your home church. Secondly you could be assured that you knew the songs sung because each church had the same hymnal. The music was led by a song leader who told you what verses to sing and helped you follow the organist and pianist as they played for you.

Everything was predictable, well spelled out in advance and made it easy to settle into a rut.

Today, things are different. Walk down the aisle of a bookstore to buy a Bible and you are met with numerous choices of translations, versions and study Bibles of all shapes, sizes and colors!

If you are visiting a different town and wish to go to church you find a variety of different churches. Some have the same title you are used to, many do not and even the churches that belong to the same ‘club’ yours does don’t always tell you that.

When you enter the church there may not be a piano or organ to be seen. Rather you are met with a group of varying sizes that have guitars and drums and keyboards and any number of other musical instruments! Don’t bother looking for a hymnal because they are collecting dust in a closet somewhere. The words of your songs will be displayed on a screen and you may sing along from those words IF you know the songs that this particular church sings.

Now, before you dismiss me as some sort of ultra-conservative nay-sayer let me tell you this. I love the change! But that doesn’t mean that the way I grew up was ‘wrong’ or ineffective. Many people came to Christ then just as they do now.

Sure, I miss some of my favorite hymns, and others sound great with drums and guitars. I enjoy the spontaneity of live worship. I understand some portions of the Bible I didn’t understand before because of the new versions and study guides.

With all the changes that have taken place over the years since my childhood, two things have remained the same. One is that: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Secondly, I have friends and neighbors that will spend eternity in hell unless they are introduced to the love, forgiveness and eternal life only Jesus can offer.

What a great and awesome God we serve. A God that can speak through the words of a hymn or praise chorus. A God that can reach us through the words of a KJV, NIV or any other version of the Bible.

Father God is not tied to one style of worship, one version of Scripture or one title on a church building. His greatness spans all generations. As followers of Jesus Christ we must learn to embrace every generation and accept the changes while we respect the traditions of our faith. Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today and forever!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for the diversity that we can experience through the body of Christ. I ask that you will bring all generations into unity under the power of your mighty Holy Spirit. May your love permeate every generation for your name sake. Amen.

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