Archive for October, 2013

Who Praises Him? Part 1

Praise ye the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.  Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.

Psalm 148:1

We looked yesterday at the fact that praising Him can actually help to make you look better.  Today, we will start looking at a few verses out of Psalm 148 about where Lord’s praise comes from.  You would think that would be a simple thing, but this Psalm contains some surprising information.

The first group to praise the Lord is found in the first two verses.  Things that are in the heavens, His angels, and His hosts are all supposed to praise Him.

I am not exactly sure what all is included in “things that are in the heavens,” but whatever it does include, it is all going to praise the Lord.  Just in Heaven itself are many things that praise the Lord.  The angels there praise Him.  The saints who have gone on before us are there, and they are definitely praising Him.  We have friends and loved ones who have gone on to Heaven.  We can think of them and we can think that they are up there praising Him.  I don’t know what all is in Heaven, but I’m sure that it all praises Him.

His angels praise Him.  That might sound simple, but some of the angels rebelled against Him.  It is important for the angels to praise Him.

The third ground we see praising Him in these verses is “all his hosts.”  Again, I do not exactly know who “all his hosts” includes, but we can speculate.  There is the mighty host in Heaven, spanning all of history.  There is the mighty host of Christians still living here on Earth, of which we are members.  They both praise Him.  As part of His host, are we doing our part to praise Him?

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Part 2 (Hymn)

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Charles Wesley (1739)

On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone
And filled it with repose.

Sudden expired the legal strife,
‘Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.

Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!

I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye falled race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

Harlots and publicans and thieves
In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew
In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you;
For me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

I had not heard most of these verses before and I wish I had as they are great verses.  Most hymnals that I have seen only have four or five of the first verses of the song in them.  But these verses are worthy of being in any hymnal.  When you read verses like this and think about them, you can’t help but be one of those “thousand tongues” that sing our Great Redeemer’s praise!  What a wonderful Saviour!

Want To Look Better?

Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.

Psalm 147:1

How many millions of dollars do we spend every year on products that are advertised to make us look more attractive?  How many millions of dollars are spent every year advertising products that claim to help us look better?  There are creams and pastes and natural concoctions that all claim to make us look better or younger or healthier.  How many hours a week do we spend working on our looks?  If a person could find a way to help people look better, that person would be very rich.

I have a plan for helping you to look better and it doesn’t cost anything.  Just praise the Lord.  And maybe sing praises to Him.  That’s all.  Does that sound too simple to be true?  Not according to this verse.

“Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.”  “Comely” is simply a old word that means “beautiful” or “handsome.”

Praising the Lord and singing praises to Him is actually going to help us look better.  Have you ever seen someone who is always angry or bitter?  They just don’t ever look happy.  They are not usually “comely.”  On the other hand, a person who is thankful and praising the Lord for His goodness is going to have the glow of peace, joy and happiness all over their face.

Constantly praising the Lord is going to make you happier and more content.  That peace and joy that is on the inside is going to come out.  It is going to make you look better!  So, forget all of the things that the world would have you try; in order to look better, just start praising the Lord!

Ananias and Sapphira

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  But Peter said Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?  Whiles t remained, was it not thine own?  and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?  why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?  thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.  And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 

Acts 5:1-5

At the end of chapter 4, we find the story about Josas Barnabas who had a piece of land, sold it and brought the money to the apostles’ feet.  The Lord commended him for his generosity and put it in the pages of the Bible for us to read.  But this is a different story.  Ananias and his wife Sapphire had no doubt seen the blessings of giving that others had received.  So they devised a plan that they would sell some of their land, and keep some of the money but act like they were also giving all of the proceeds to the Lord.  That did not work.  You might be able to fool the apostles, but you cannot fool the Lord.

Ananias died, and shortly afterward, his wife died.  Both of them died because they lied to the Lord.  As Peter told him, the land was theirs to do with as they pleased.  They didn’t have to sell it and, if they did, they didn’t have to bring the money to the disciples.  They could have kept some of the money or all of the money.  It was theirs.  But they wanted people to think that they were more generous than they actually were.  They wanted to deceive people.  It did not work.

Are we honest in our dealings with money?  Do we seek to deceive?  Do we ever try to make people think that we are more generous than we really are?  These are important things to think about.

Joses Barnabas

And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:36-37

Have you ever heard of a man named Joses Barnabas?  Neither have I.  The only place I can find that he is ever mentioned is in this passage in the book of Acts.  Joses Barnabas was a Levite from the country of Cyprus.  I know who the Levites are and I know where Cyprus is, but I don’t know much about this man named Joses.  But God knows about him.

We know that Joses did one thing: he owned a piece of land, and he sold it and brought the money to the apostles to do with as they pleased.  Apparently there were others who had done the same type of thing.  But God chose to record this man’s generosity for us to read about two thousand years later.  So we will read about it and we will think about it today.

Joses owned this land.  He did not have to sell it and he did not have to give the money from it to the apostles.  There was no rule or law that said that the church members had to sell any land that they owned.  It was purely an offering to the Lord.  It was grace giving.  It was generous giving.  It was the kind of giving that the Lord honours.  It was the kind of giving that we should be striving to match.

One man’s generosity was recorded in the Bible.  Other people may not have even noticed.  But God noticed.  God always notices.  How generous have we been lately?  I think we could all stand to be a little more generous and sacrificial in our giving to the Lord.  How are we doing?  Could our names go down beside this Joses Barnabas?

Love, Grace and Generosity

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 4:32-35

This passage is about the early church in Jerusalem.  What a wonderful and exciting time it must have been for them all.  The power of the Lord was evident not only in the lives of the apostles, but in the lives of all of the members of this church.  You can read these verses and get a feel for the hearts of the people.  They were “of one heart and of one soul.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if our churches today acted with one heart and one soul?  Think of all that could be done for the Lord Jesus.

This church was marked by “great grace” and generosity.  They weren’t selfish in any way.  They didn’t even think of things as their own, but they had all things in common.  Those who owned land and houses sold them and allowed the apostles to distribute the proceeds to the needy ones in the church.  Talk about generous!  Imagine if Christians today were even half that generous.  Imagine the missionaries that could be sent and work that could be done.

We really should examine our lives in light of this church and these people.  We have the same Lord and Saviour that they did.  How is our unity and generosity with our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Maybe we need an extra helping of the grace that this church was famous for.

A Prayer for Boldness

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31

After being threatened by the high priests and elders, Peter and John went back to the church.  They related their stories, and all of the people there, in one accord, started praying and quoting Scripture.  Their prayer was not a prayer for revenge on the people who had mistreated them.  It was a prayer that they would be able to continue to speak the word “with all boldness.”  They simply asked the Lord to give them boldness to speak about Him in the face of threats from the religious leaders of the day.

Their prayer was answered.

In the next verse, when they had prayed, “the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”  They asked for boldness and they got a filling of the Holy Ghost and all the boldness they could ever have imagined.

If we need strength and boldness to speak up for the Lord, He is ready, willing and able to give it.  We are all weak and we all sometimes get weary.  But He has all of the strength that we need.  So often we stumble through life never laying hold to the power of God that is available to us every day.  Let us never be afraid to ask the Lord for boldness, especially to speak of Him.

Always Turning To The Bible

And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Acts 4:23-26

After the healing of the lame man, the chief priests and elders wanted nothing to do with Peter and John and they still wanted nothing to do with the Jesus they talked so much about.  They threatened the disciples and sent them on their way, hoping that they would never heard from them again.  How did the disciples and the early church handle this rude and ridiculous treatment?

They prayed.  They quoted Scripture.  They were in one accord.

I find it interesting that they immediately turned to the Scripture.  The first thing they did when confronted with an insulting and demeaning group of people was to go to the Bible.  Today, many people would be offended.  They would kick and scream about “their rights.”  They would go home and whine and cry about their hurt feelings.  They might even get angry and yell and stomp about how wrong the whole situation was.  People today might do many things, but going straight to the Bible would probably not be one of them.

That should be our first reaction.  Our first reaction should be to pray and to go to the Bible.  These people found the correct attitude about the whole situation in the Bible.  They were able to understand that the threatenings of the priests and elders was foretold long ago.  The Bible helps us understand all things.  We need to turn to it a little quicker in most cases.

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Part 1 (Hymn)

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Charles Wesley (1739)

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ your Head, you then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

This wonderful hymn from Charles Wesley was written to celebrate the anniversary of His coming to Jesus Christ.  It has numerous verses, and so we will divide it into two parts, one this week and one next week.  You can pick any verse of this hymn at random and have enough to meditate on for the entire day.  I was going to pick out of my favorites to repeat, but I honestly can’t pick one.  Just enjoy the whole thing!

We Can’t Help It

But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, what shall we do to these men?  for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in his name.  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:15-20

After seeing the lame man healed and walking, instead of rejoicing and praising God with him (and with Peter and John), the chief priests decided that they didn’t want this new stuff spreading any further.  They couldn’t deny that the man had been healed, and they recognized in verse 13 that Peter and John had “been with Jesus,” but all of this threatened their power, so they wanted it stopped as quickly as possible.  They decided that they would just threaten the disciples and send them on their way, hoping that they would just disappear.

Peter and John would have none of it.  They came back with this: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  They refused to be intimidated.  They refused to be silent.  They had seen and been with Jesus, and they couldn’t help but tell about what they had seen and experienced.

What does it take to get us to keep silent?  Sadly, we often keep silent on our own.  We need to speak the things which we have seen and heard.  We need to be bold.  We have a wonderful Saviour; we need to tell others about Him!