Symphonic Praise

Daily Post: Symphony

symphonyMusic. Music in general, all varieties and styles, has been such a large part of my life, it many ways it defines who I am.  Mostly, I’ve been a vocal guy, participating in high school choir, college Chorale, and various small singing groups along the way.  That said, I have great respect and admiration for those who play instruments in bands and symphony orchestras.  In one brief stint, from 6th grade to 8th grade, I spent time trying to learn to play the coronet.  I was ok, but in my band director’s ears, probably mediocre at best.  When I got into 9th grade, at Andrews High School, my band director made me choose between band and football.  Seriously?  This is no contest, I was the starting fullback, and band was never again even in my rear view mirror.  Today, lots of football players also march in their high school band, but that’s how much things have changed over the last 49 years.

One of the timeless things that hasn’t changed, and will never change is the importance of how each individual believer makes up the eternal worship and symphonic praise to God, our Creator.  In the New Living Translation of Psalm 98, the translators have captured the idea, the significance, of the Symphony of Praise that should be a major part of our lives today.  Because it will most certainly be part of our experience in God’s presence throughout eternity.

Psalm 98
Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The LORD has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the LORD. For the LORD is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.

If we view this image of the psalmist as a whole, we see the reasons for our worship, the instruction of who is to participate, and all the different sights and sounds that make up the symphony of praise.

The sea and everything in it, the earth and all living things, the rivers, the hills… all join in the activities of praise and worship, which humans should be leading them to do.

The reason humans should lead the symphony is based in the Lords: deeds, victory, saving power, righteousness, promises fulfilled, and faithfulness.

The humans are to sing a new song, shout to the Lord, sing praise, sing with the harp, trumpets, and ram’s horn… all joining in this great symphony.

Do you see what I see here?  The Holy Spirit used this psalmist to help us understand that every single human being, every created living creature, and all of the created plants life, all the earth itself, is supposed to participate in this worship.  Yet the only ones with choice, are the ones who are charged with leading the praise.

The psalmist doesn’t say, “if you can sing or play an instrument, be sure to sign up for the heavenly praise team.”

The psalmist doesn’t say, “I realize some of you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so you can just sit this one out.”

The psalmist says, “No one is exempt from this most important, all-significant activity of praising the God of heaven.”

So, let’s be clear.  This psalm assumes the true Christ follower will join this praise party out of full devotion, some with overwhelming emotion, for what Jesus has offered them in His grace.  It begs the question, doesn’t it?  Do these words apply to you today?  Were these words just written for a different people group, at a different time and to a different culture, having no application for people today?  I think you know the answer here, but I’m not going to let you off that easy.

Psalm 98 is not really a choice thing.  It is spoken/written as an admonition, as instruction; not as optional for those who aren’t “musically” capable, or see themselves as “musically challenged.”  Think of it this way.  When humans fail to offer their voices (a gift of God) or their skills with instruments (a gift of God) in worship and praise to God, it is from a rebellious and stubborn heart, filled with a form of pride that robs God of His glory.

Wow.  That’s severe isn’t it? Well, perhaps it is, but I’m convinced it’s true.  The psalmist isn’t asking you to get up on stage and lead the praise.  The psalmist isn’t suggesting you do a “solo” on your instrument.  The psalmist is saying, “know your AUDIENCE!”

The audience, is the object of our worship and praise.  We sing to, and worship, Jesus. We lift our hands and our voices in a symphonic praise to exalt the King of kings.  I’m not singing for anyone around me.  I’m singing for the one who lives inside me, saving me with His powerful right hand, offering me grace every single day that I live!

And here’s the thing:

1 John 4:4
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Don’t wait until Sunday morning worship… join the symphony of praise today!

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The Stuff of Fellowship



There is a certain balance, or symmetry, in the coordinated efforts of an orchestra and chorale, being lead by a brilliant conductor, producing the mellifluous tones of the original composer’s intent.  Whether the classical works of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, to the musings and arrangements by Ray Chew and his new band on Dancing With The Stars, the tight harmonies produced along with the familiar melodies touch us somewhere deep within.  This alone makes the human being distinctly different from all other creatures on our planet.

The first title used for a congregation of believers in the first century was “church.”  It actually comes from a Greek word: ἐκκλησία  (ekklésia) pronounced (ek-klay-see’-ah).  The first appearance of this word is found in Matthew 16:18, based on Peter’s profession that Jesus is “The Christ (anointed One, Messiah), the Son of the Living God!”

Jesus response was:
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

This verse has lots of great teaching material but the word today is “harmony,” so where is this idea seen in what Jesus proclaimed?  Easy; those who truly know Jesus, and follow Him as Lord, they will allow Him to lead, and they will follow Him, which build’s the church that belongs to Jesus.  Each person working in harmony with the others, like the image Paul gave us, like a body following the lead of the head in all matters.  A hand doesn’t act independently of the foot, or the intestines of the eyes, because all engage in their own part as the head leads.  Every part of the body works in unison to achieve the great glory God deserves for our human presence on earth.  Which brings us to another word, which to me more clearly states “how” we function as a body.

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fellowship is really the “how” of a church identity.  When the conductor (Jesus) directs and leads the orchestra and chorale (members), each faithfully providing their contribution in work according to the composer’s (God’s) design and will; what happens is the most pleasing, peaceful, participation that it can only be described as Fellowship.

This word used in scripture comes from a Greek word: κοινωνία (koinónia) pronounced (koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  In Greek it means:  participation, communion, fellowship, but more literally PARTNERSHIP.  We are partners together with each other to follow Christ as our leader, to build His church.  Too many individual believers, and way too many pastors or teachers have fallen under the spell of believing it is “their” church.  But it’s not.  The Church belongs to Jesus.  We are privileged to be alive inside this body of believers, and to participate in God’s glory.  But the church is not ours… it is His.

Having had the great joy of singing with world-class voices, on stage in front of thousands, accompanied by a world-class orchestra, lead by a brilliant conductor, I never once thought of it as “my chorale”, or “my symphony”, or my “stage.”  I remember feeling so insignificant it brought tears to my eyes just realizing I was really there.  These memories still live and breathe within me, touching me to the core of my being.

Next time you join in a congregational gathering (fellowship) for worship, ask yourself, “Am I in harmony with what God wants to have happen in this place today?  Am I a willing participant?  What do I have to offer that would demonstrate I’m willing to bring God great glory today?”  These thoughts, from every member, bring harmony in the worship of our Creator, Savior, and Lord.


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