Simple Psalm 27 Worship Service Outline

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Here’s an outline we used at Celebration for our October Night of Worship. If you’re hoping to plan a similar service, I hope it helps you.

Psalm 27 Worship Service Outline

Opening Worship Song Set

Greeting and Prayer

SECTION ONE – LIVING UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:1-3 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.”

Sharing – Expounding on Psalm 27:1-3 and what it means to live under the protection of the Lord.

Prayer – Acknowledging our Dependence on the Lord. Mention His greatness and how we can be confident that He will take care of us no matter what is happening.

Suggested Song –

  • I Need You – 

SECTION TWO – LIVING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:4-6 – “The one thing I ask of the Lord-the thing I seek most-is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple. For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.”

Sharing – Expounding on Psalm 27:4-6 and what it means to live in the presence of the Lord.

Prayer – Thanking God for His presence and for the confidence we can have in the midst of diversity because of His daily presence in our lives

Suggested Song

  • Here As In Heaven – 

SECTION THREE – LIVING WITH THE PLEDGE OF THE LORD’S FAITHFULNESS

Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:7-10 – “Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”

Sharing – Expounding on Psalm 27:7-10 and what the faithfulness of the Lord means to each of us.

Prayer – Thanking God for His faithfulness in our lives and for the assurance that He will always be faithful to us.

Suggested Song

 

  • Do It Again – 

 

SECTION FOUR – LIVING WITH THE PROMISE OF A FUTURE WITH THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Psalm 27:13-14 – “Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Sharing – Expounding on Psalm 27:13-14 and what it means to live with the promise of a great future with the Lord, both in this life and in the next.

Prayer – Thanking God for the promise of a great future with Him.

Suggested Song

 

  • Yes and Amen – 

 

ConclusionExpound upon the faithfulness and protection of the Lord in these uncertain times. Share about how we can always trust in the Lord because we can be certain of His love for us.

Closing Song

 

  • Upbeat Closing Song 

*Photo courtesy of Unsplash

 

 

What Makes Christianity Different

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Once, during a British conference on comparative religions, experts were discussing if there was any belief truly unique to Christianity.  Creation, incarnation, and resurrection were quickly eliminated because of examples in other religions. C.S. Lewis wandered into the room and enquired as to the topic of conversation. When the debate was explained to him, without hesitation, Lewis replied, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

Grace is so simple that it baffles the experts. Grace is what makes Christianity unique. Because of it, we have the opportunity to know Jesus as Savior and Friend. Grace helps us understand the difference between happiness and joy. It allows us to conquer all of our fears. There is nothing we can do to earn grace and there is no way that we can destroy it. In Ephesian 1:5-6, the Apostle Paul wrote: He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.  

Grace is free and yet it is also priceless. It truly is amazing.

Since such grace has been given to us, we should always strive to treat others with grace. In doing so, we are imitating our Heavenly Father.

*Photo courtesy of Alina Strong from Unsplash

 

Sound Booth Sabotage

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“There must be a culprit in the sanctuary,” I thought.

The video equipment had been set up and taken down by the same faithful volunteers for close to a year and a half without any problem. Now, each week, throughout the service, the video system would suddenly lose connection for a second or two and then return to normal. It started happening once every five minutes or so, then the problem grew steadily worse.

Pastors, leaders, technicians, and volunteers were all baffled over the situation. Over the course of several weeks, different teams tried updating the presentation system, double checking the connections, updating the computer, using different computers, checking the multiple adapters, replacing a converter, checking the temperature of the equipment, and checking the stress on the cabling, all to no avail.

In the end, I wondered, “Could someone be sabotaging the system?”

Finally, the entire system was setup during the week by a small group, determined to double check every connection until the issue was discovered. However, when everything was setup, the problem could not be reproduced.

Fortunately, one of the team members received a text message, and the problem occurred. Testing a theory, he sent a text message, and the disconnect happened again. Then, the technicians realized that a phone could simply be placed near certain connection points and the glitch would occur. The team found a thicker, more insulated cable and retested the system, placing cell phones over the cables and sending text messages back and forth.

No glitch.

The culprit in the sanctuary had been found. Unseen frequencies, which had previously not been released for cell phone use, had been steadily increasing in the room as people had updated their phones, thereby causing problems in the wired video equipment.

Crazy, right?

Thank the Lord we were able to purchase higher grade, better insulated cables. We’ve since learned that this will become more of an issue for sound and video systems overtime, so we’re taking steps to make the necessary equipment replacements ahead of time. It’s either that or make everyone check their cell phone at the door and I don’t see that happening.

How To Kill Dead Time

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Oxforddictionaries.com defines dead time as Time in which someone or something is inactive or unable to act productively.  

How does dead time affect worship services?

Dead time kills the flow of the service. It steals the connections between the service elements. It destroys meaningful moments in worship. It causes individuals to become disengaged from what is happening onstage.

Dead time is the devil.

People are used to seeing excellent presentations with quick, easy to understand transitions. The existence of dead time in services makes people think the worship leader, speaking team, and tech team aren’t prepared. This leads them to wonder if what we’re doing is worth their time.

Is there a way to kill dead time?

The best way to kill dead time is to be prepared and even over prepared for every transition taking place in a worship service. You do this by mentally and verbally practicing each transition yourself and then talking through the order of service with your onstage, tech and production teams. When this happens, the potential for dead time is drastically reduced, participants are better prepared for every element of the service, and people are more likely to stay engaged.

The Calling and Ministry of Peter – A Night of Worship/Illustrated Sermon

Here’s an outline based on the calling, collapse and restoration of Simon Peter for a Night of Worship our church did following Easter in 2018. If you’re able to use it, that’s great. If not, I hope it inspires you.

Jesus and Peter

Opening Worship Set

  • Song
  • Song
  • Song

Welcome and Transition

(If you are taking an offering, this is the place to do it)

Initial Prayer for the Evening

SECTION ONE – ILLUMINATION

Tonight we’re going to be following the ups and downs of Peter’s calling and ministry with Jesus. Peter was a fisherman that God used to be a fisher of men. Listen to Luke’s account of how Peter became a disciple of Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on Him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So He sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

  • Main point – Peter was an ordinary man, but Jesus wanted to use him to do extraordinary things. In fact, in Matthew 16, Jesus called Peter The Rock, meaning that he would be instrumental in establishing His church. However, when Peter first encountered Jesus, he was humbled, but when Jesus called, he dropped everything and followed after Jesus.
  • God also wants us to be fishers of men. We are just that when we give up our own agenda and follow after Him.

Prayer – Thanking God for calling us to follow after Him. Asking Him to help us be faithful as we work together to fish after men.

Song – About following/being faithful to Jesus – Suggestion is The Stand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk

SECTION TWO – CONFESSION

Spoken – Peter followed after the Lord and also became one of Jesus’ inner circle. He was a natural born leader and was the first of the disciples to confess that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  

  • It was Peter who showed enough faith to leave the boat to walk on the water to Jesus. But it was also Peter who quickly took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. (Matthew 14:28-29)
  • It was Peter who took Jesus aside to rebuke Him for speaking of His death. It was also Peter who was swiftly corrected by Jesus for doing so. (Matthew 16:22-23)
  • It was Peter who drew his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest as Jesus was being arrested. But it was also Peter who was immediately told to sheath his weapon (John 18:10-11)
  • It was Peter who boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and it was this same Peter who later denied three times that he even knew Jesus. (Matthew 26:33, 70-74)

Listen to what Luke writes about Peter’s denial:

Luke 22:31-34, 54-62

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

33 Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” 34 But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

54 So they arrested him and led him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. 55 The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. 56 A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” 57 But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”

58 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.

59 About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

61 At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

62 And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.

Question: Have you ever messed up royally while trying to serve Jesus? I know I have. At this point in Peter’s life, it must have looked like everything was over. However, Jesus had just said to him, “when you have repented and turned to me again” which may have given him reason for hope, if he remembered Jesus’ words in that moment.

When we mess up while trying to serve the Lord, when we fall short of His calling on our lives, and when we even find ourselves denying Him, we need to follow the words Jesus said to Peter – we need to repent and turn to Him again.

What do you need to repent to the Lord tonight? In what ways have you denied Him? Let’s all take time and confess our sins to the Lord right now. You may want to kneel. You may want to stand and lift your hands to the Lord. You may want to sit and make a list of your shortcomings. Or you may just want to pray quietly. Do that now as the music plays.

(Give the people 1-2 minutes of confession time with the Lord)

Pastoral Prayer – Lead the people in corporate prayer, asking the Lord to forgive us of our sins.

Song – About confessing our sins to the Lord, or about His forgiveness. One suggested song is Lord, I Need You by Matt Maherhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA

SECTION THREE – RESTORATION

Spoken – Because we’ve read the Bible and heard the stories, we know that Jesus was raised from the dead. We know that Jesus appeared to His disciples many times before His ascension and that Peter was there. But, do you ever think that it must have been a weird time for Peter, knowing that he had denied the Lord, right in front of Him. Jesus understood this, and had a plan to restore Peter. The Apostle John writes of this in John 21.

John 21:1, 15-17

1 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee…15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

Spoken: It was at this point that Jesus confirmed with Peter that he was forgiven. Through his actions and words, the Lord reaffirmed Peter, who understood once again that he would be instrumental in establishing the Church of Jesus. This can clearly be seen because:

  • First, Peter was the main speaker to the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when about 3,000 confessed their faith in Jesus. (Acts 2)
  • Second, Peter was present when the Samaritan believers received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8)
  • Finally, Peter was summoned to the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius, who also believed in the Lord (Acts 10).

In these instances, God used Peter to unlock Christianity to the world as he presented the Gospel to the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles. God certainly used Peter to be a fisher of men.

Question – Have you ever come to a point in your spiritual walk when you realized you needed to re-commit your life to the Lord? You realized your prayer life was cold and you weren’t living for Him or really even communicating with Him? Jesus restored Peter and He can restore you as well.

Prayer: Lead people to recommit themselves to the Lord, asking Him to renew their passion for Him and to restore them fully to the purposes He has for them.

Suggested Song: Do It Again – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOBIPb-6PTc

SECTION FOUR – CELEBRATION

The Lord continued to use Peter in mighty ways. One that is most celebrated is seen in Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. It was Peter who stood before the crowds and preached boldly to them about Jesus, proclaiming that they should repent of their sins and be baptized. The Bible says, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day – about 3,000 in all.”

God had restored Peter, the Rock, and He used him to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world. In a similar fashion, God used the people of this church this past weekend to help bring the Gospel to a lost and dying world. As we celebrated His resurrection, God used parkers, greeters, and ushers to help people know where to sit and where to bring their children. Others helped by making and serving coffee and by keeping the facilities clean. Others taught and cared for children and young people, teaching them about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. Many of our folks invited their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors to our services. Others worked tirelessly stuffing and preparing our worship guides, while others prepared music and technical presentations. Countless of others worked backstage or behind the scenes, preparing the way for the Gospel to be presented.

Optional Time for sharing of stats and stories from Easter

Every single one of you is a fisher of men. Thank you so much for all of your work over Easter and for all that you do on a regular basis. We appreciate it and we know that God is pleased.

Sharing and Prayer in Groups – Lead the people to circle up and to share with one another what God has done for them recently and overall. Instruct them to pray and thank God for all He’s done.

Upbeat Prayer – Thanking God for all that happened over Easter weekend and for all of His people who gave of themselves to make it possible.

Let’s all give praise to God right now for all that He is and for all that He’s done over this past week.

Upbeat Song – Song Suggestion – “Lion and The Lamb” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9ujBoud26k

Transition to Closing

Pre-Easter Night of Worship Outline

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I am blessed to serve with Celebration Church. Last year, before Easter, we had a special Night of Worship as we were preparing for Easter. The timing and our schedule won’t allow us to do that this year (we’re having a special night following Easter) but I was blessed this morning as I looked over the outline. I wanted to share it with any and all who might be looking for a special order for a Pre-Easter Night of Worship. God bless.

Night of Worship and Prayer As Easter Approaches

Opening Musical Worship

(Transition To Main Content)

As Easter Approaches, We Need To Celebrate Jesus

  • Read Luke 19:28-40 – Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”

And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

    • Expound on scripture (Suggestions below)
      • It was the week before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In a sense, Jesus was preparing for Easter.
  • “If they kept quiet, the very stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
  • Why do we need to celebrate Jesus?
    • Lead the people in cheering for Jesus, so the stones don’t have to cry out.
  • Upbeat Prayer celebrating Jesus
  • Song celebrating Jesus – Suggestion “Shout It Out” by Vertical Church or “Great Are You, Lord!”

As Easter Approaches, We Need To Cry Out For Our Communities

Read Luke 19:41-44 – But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

  • Expound on scripture (Suggestions below)
    • Jesus wanted the people to understand the way to peace. Wouldn’t He pray the same thing today about our communities?
    • If God doesn’t intervene in our cities, destruction surely awaits us.
    • Earlier in Luke, when speaking to Jerusalem, Jesus says How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Luke 13:34b)
    • As Jesus cried over Jerusalem, we should also cry over the condition of our cities…
  • Lead the people to gather in groups to pray for the city. After several minutes, pray a pastoral prayer to gather them back. Pray that those we are crying out for to attend one of our Easter services. Pray for our people to be inviters of those they see in need.
  • Song crying out to God for our communities – Suggested Song – “Here As In Heaven” or “Fall Afresh”

As Easter Approaches, We Need To Consecrate Ourselves

Read Luke 19:45-48 Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.

  • Expound on scripture (Suggestions below)
    • Jesus, a few days before his death and resurrection, cleansed the temple. We’re not planning on beating anyone here, but it is time for us to cleanse our personal temples as we make preparations for Easter…
    • Verse 48 says that all the people hung on every word that Jesus said. As we prepare for Easter, we need to hang onto the Word of God and onto the words of Jesus.
    • What sin have you been holding onto that you need to confess to the Lord? Confess it to the Lord right now and turn away from it.
  • Lead the people in praying for themselves, giving them time to confess sins and get right with God.
  • Song about the Lord transforming us – Breathe On Us or My Heart Is Yours (Passion)

Closing

  • Easter is almost here, and we have a lot to do in our preparations for it. Many here still need to volunteer in one way or another and we want you to do that, but right now, let’s remember why we’re celebrating Easter. It’s because Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death on a cross to pay the price for our sin, yet even more than that, He rose victoriously from the dead, defeating death, hell and the grave… It’s time for us to cheer for Him once again…
  • Lead the people in cheering for Jesus once again, celebrating His resurrection.
  • Closing Upbeat song about the resurrection. Suggested Song – “Resurrecting”

10 Reasons You Should Go To Church

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When I was young in ministry, I used to pray Psalm 27:4 which says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

I had no idea He would take me so literally. Since coming to Christ more than three decades ago, I’ve spent most of that time serving in churches and ministries, mostly in worship ministry.

One thing I’ve noticed during that time is that often, even the most devout Christians, for one reason or the other, fall away from attending worship services or small group meetings on a regular basis.

So, in response, here’s my list of ten reasons why people should go to church:

1. Christian Fellowship goes two ways: with God and with others. (1 John 1:3)

2. It’s one of the greatest habits (Hebrews 10:25)

3. For the opportunity to use your spiritual gifts to help others. (1 Peter 4:10)

4. Accountability. (Hebrews 13:17)

5. There are no self-sufficient Christians. (1 Corinthians 12:21)

6. To make a joyful noise unto the Lord! (Psalm 100)

7. To “devote yourself to the apostles teaching, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

8. To pray for others and to be prayed for (Matthew 18:19)

9. To express your love for God publicly (Psalm 22:22)

10. It’s what Jesus did (Luke 14:6)

There are possibly hundreds of other reasons to attend worship services and small group meetings. Any that come to your mind today? If so, leave a comment below.

P.S. If you have fallen away from church, Easter is a great time to come back. If you live in or around New Orleans, South Baton Rouge, or even if you live in Turrialba, Costa Rica, let me officially invite you to join us at Celebration Church. This year, we have 58 services across all of our campuses. Check it out at http://www.celebrationchurch.org/easter.

*photo courtesy of Unsplash

My Enemy at the Grocery

grocery checkout
Last night, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items, so I neglected to use a shopping cart. As I often do, I selected more items than I had planned so my arms were full. I selected the checkout with the fewest people and took my place at the end of the line.
But then I saw him, in line right in front of me, arguing with the cashier, the one who had tried to enter my home once before when I was alone. He must have heard me shuffle my feet for he glanced back at me.
“Hello, Fear,” I mumbled.
Suddenly, my shoulders tightened, my pulse quickened, and my anxiety level rose to new highs. The most dreadful thoughts that plague my sleepless nights seemed personified in this one man before me. Instead of seeing him, however, I saw myself as an insignificant elderly man, completely alone, in pain, without hope or strength.
But then, my Lord, my Friend, reminded me that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not have to fear evil, for He is with me. (Psalm 23:4)
 
He put His arm around me and said, I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13) 
 
He then looked me right in the eye and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
 
Suddenly, the man before me was just a man, arguing with cashier before me. Somehow, he seemed smaller than before, weaker than I remembered.
“Thank You, Lord,” I prayed silently.
“Now pray for Him,” said the Lord.
“What?” I asked. “You want me to pray for him?”
“Yes, I do,” said Jesus.
I sighed. I didn’t want to pray for him. I wanted him to fall into a giant human bug zapper.
“Pray for him,” the Lord repeated.
“Ok,” I said. “Let me think of what to say.”
“Just talk to me about him.”
“Ok,” I replied, slightly annoyed. “Lord, help this man. How’s that?”
“It’s a start,” He said. “Pray for him everyday this week and try to mean it a bit more each time you pray.”
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll try.”
“Try hard,” He replied.

Lesson Learned From Children This Christmas

Jesus in Manger
My wife invited some children to our home to help decorate for Christmas. They set up the Christmas tree, displayed the wreath, and hung the stockings (with care). And finally, they started to set up the Nativity scene. My wife set out the stable and placed the figure of Jesus in the manger in the center. Before checking on her Christmas cookies, she asked the kids to place the figures of Mary and Joseph, the angel, shepherds and wise men, and all of the animals. When she returned, she realized that instead of the figures being set facing out, as is traditionally done, the children had set up the characters so that every eye was looking to Jesus, just as they should be.
This Christmas, through all of the shopping and parties and busyness, let’s all keep our eyes focused on Jesus, just as they should be.
Merry Christmas.

The Trouble with “Joy to The World”

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Some of our most beloved Christmas songs, when you stop to consider the lyrics, are not really about Christmas. Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, and Winter Wonderland are more about the winter season than they are about Christmas. My Favorite Things is from the musical The Sound of Music and takes place when children are frightened by a storm. Finally, Let It Snow and Baby It’s Cold Outside are about…well…not Christmas, that’s for sure.

And then, there’s the beloved Christmas carol Joy To The World, which as it turns out, is not really about Christmas at all.

Joy To The World, sung mostly at Christmastime, has more to do with the second coming of Jesus than the first. Isaac Watts, the English poet and originator of the lyrics, draws the song’s initial inspiration, not from the birth of Jesus narrative in Luke 2, but from Psalm 98. He paraphrased Psalm 98 in his collection titled The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. Joy to the World was taken from his portion titled The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom based on the following from the King James Version:

Make a joy noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity. Psalm 98:4-9

So, how did the song become a Christmas song? Possibly from the combination of the poem by Isaac Watts with the music of George Frederic Handel, composer of The Messiah orotorio. Even though Handel and Watts may have known each other, they did not work together to create the Joy To the World song we sing today. A third party combined the Watt’s words with musical portions from Handel’s Messiah to create the tune that is sung today in North America. Since Handel’s Messiah is associated with Christmas and contains a “Christmas” section, the breakaway song, Joy to the World, has always been associated with Christmas.

So there you have it, one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time is not a Christmas song. Does it matter? Not really. Enjoy it and use it to worship the Lord, who was born in Bethlehem as a baby and will one day return to judge the world with righteousness.

Merry Christmas.