Purpose for Praise In Jesus

Jesus did much more praying while here on earth, than he did, singing.  Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be a “man of sorrows”, Isa. 53:3-4.  Therefore it is not surprising that the only direct reference we have to the Son of God singing is when he was facing his greatest sorrow. This is a lesson for us to learn and put into practice. When we face trials, Christians should look for blessings to rejoice in. God’s word is a great place to start! Jesus set an example of singing with his disciples while facing a crisis! The only time it is recorded is on the night he was betrayed. Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26. We know by Jewish tradition and history during the feast of unleavened bread, what he surely sang, (Psalms 113-118, Psalm 136 & 145:10) but we do not know for sure how he sang it. Most likely it was a solemn chant, rather than a boisterous melody.  The reason God is silent on the melody of Jesus singing is that He obviously does not want Christians to feel led or pressured into practicing Jewish praise. The same mindset was in the writers of the New Testament, which were mainly Jewish. The use of praise while under duress is shown by the apostle Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25, while imprisoned. Which is a clear example of Christ within the disciples of Jesus. From the beginning of the Church’s existence we praised God, Acts 2:47, when we were blessed & growing, but also the mature Christians among us praise God when we suffer for Christ. The instruction of James to sing when we are happy is obvious, (James 5:13), but it shows that no matter what our circumstance, in Christ we are able to find a way to rejoice, Philippians 4:4.

The only other time we know Jesus must have sung, was when he was a boy, at the Feasts in Jerusalem, which we know his parents took him to annually, Luke 2:41. Christian parents should teach their children to sing, and take the opportunity to sing seriously. It is not the harmony of voices which God is pleased with and hears, but rather the melody of the heart. (Eph. 5:19)

Jesus loved the Psalms, they were so much a part of his nature, he quoted them as part of his dying words on the cross, Mat. 27:46 (Psa. 22:1) & Luk. 23:46 (Psa. 31:5).  Therefore, we need to derive God’s strength from using the words, rather than get confused about how to sing them.  It helps to know what they are about and for what purpose they are still with us.   The Psalms were not written for just our reading, they were written to help shape our prayers, they are better described as divine praise, instead of poetical lyrics.  Yet they are educational too, as Jesus used them, Luk. 24:44. The clearest instruction for praise in the midst of suffering as a Christian comes from Peter, 1st Peter 4:12-16. But if we are not prepared to praise Him, and we are not fully convinced of God’s purpose in praise for us, then we will find it very hard to take full advantage of praise in sufferings, this is even included in the finale of the beatitudes of Jesus during his sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:10-12. Just do it!

To Please or Not to Please?

In and around the second largest city in Iraq is not only a historic site for current events now, but the city of Mosul held thousands of people who had a love for Christ, The city fell to Islamic extremists this past summer. These Christ-loving people feared for their lives and ran away, losing everything but their faith in Christ. In some areas, they were forced to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Well documented stories are emerging of many of them executed for not renouncing their faith in Christ.

Regardless of what the Bible says about the necessity of baptism, and whether or not I believe it, does not change the fact that the majority of these Christ-loving people were slaughtered without ever being baptized into Christ. This fact speaks volumes about how faith in Christ can be very strong before a person is baptized, because had they been told about it, their self-sacrifice proves they would have done it. But instead of writing about hypothetical situations, I propose to you that their cruel deaths speak to us Christians who have been baptized and shy away from even speaking the name of Christ at work. What has happened to our faith after we were baptized? That question is answered by the reason we were baptized, and also what our purpose for being a Christian is today.

If I was baptized (immersed) for the sole reason of having my own spirit washed clean of sins by the blood of Christ, why would my faith grow weak? Because the absence of sin does not produce any fruit or conviction in what I believe in my spirit. There must be something or someone within me, taking the place of sin. Which introduces the whole subject of God’s Spirit being a gift within a Christian’s spirit. Take time to read Acts 2:37-39 carefully and look at the promised gift. Is it spiritual cleanliness, or is it Christ’s Spirit?

The apostle Paul wrote, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:9-10) These words teach us that a Christian’s spirit envelopes the Holy Spirit. Our purpose for being baptized should be to live with him, not with the flesh. This purpose results in God being very pleased with us!

Do we have any idea what the Spirit of Christ feels or where He is when any Christ-loving person takes on cruelty and death for refusing to renounce Christ? Do we know that strength in the churches of Christ? Lots of people in Iraq don’t just believe in the presence of Christ, they know Him. Do you? What exactly is your purpose for becoming a Christian?

Who Are You?

This week is very special to Jews, it holds the The feast of Booths, one of the three mandatory Jewish feasts, now it is called Sukkot on calendars. During this time Jesus Christ went to the Temple-grounds In Jerusalem and began to teach openly as recorded in John 7:1-19, during this feast Jesus went to meet his enemies, question their motives and force them to admit they thought he had a demon. This led to the achievement of Christ establishing the Church and today, God still lets the Jews hold this feast to remind the world, who delivered them out of Egypt, while living in booths. In ancient times the Hebrews wandered through the desert, in a large camp, living in booths or tents, while God was leading them during the life of Moses, and they finally were taken to the promised land, and so Israel remains to this day, begrudged a place to rule, beaten but not obliterated, celebrating their past, while we as Christians are encouraged by God in Jesus Christ to live as pilgrims, camping out, this world is not our home, it is still our responsibility to let people know what God has done and is doing.
When Jesus talked to his disciples in Matthew 16:13-23, he wanted them to tell him what they thought of him, and what they understood the world was saying about him. It was Peter who admitted his convictions, calling Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God, then Jesus pronounced to Peter, “Blessed are you…..Flesh & Blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in Heaven”.  Flesh & Blood refers to any human being, even Peter himself could not have figured this out, this revelation was a fact that originated from the Father’s Spirit.  Why would this make Peter “Blessed”? The revelation means “to make known as in a lid opened to show what is inside”, So Peter simply had the divine identity of Jesus shown to him by the Father, it had been there all along, now Peter has a decision to make; what will he do with this knowledge. He is blessed (happy)  to have it, but what will he do with it? Jesus then calls Simon son of Jonah, the “rock”, meaning a stone, and that Jesus would build his church on The Bedrock or Strata, referring to Himself, the son of the living God.  The next thing Jesus calls Peter is satan, which must have come as a shock, it simply means enemy in v23. So Peter was given a beautiful revelation, which he made a mistake with. Peter took this happiness and knowledge and powerful position, holding the keys to the Kingdom and started thinking and acting like it was earthly or worldly, to be shown physically and protect Jesus from being hurt, humiliated and sacrificed. We should learn from his mistake and grow spiritually when we are blessed as a Christian. We should not look for physical blessings, but spiritual ones.
Christians that are disciples of Jesus are the Church, this is a truth which God is concerned about making known to the world Here are three facts God wants people to know.
1. Who is Jesus, God the Word that became flesh which suffered, died, was buried & raised for you.
2. Who am I. A sinner redeemed & growing. He wants us to tell the world that we know we are redeemed by the blood of Christ, for there can be no other logical reason for Jesus dying for you and me, read, 1st Peter 1:17-19. We are living stones being built up together for a dwelling place, where God’s Spirit of Christ lives in human hearts, redeemed & made holy.
3. Who is building the Church. Jesus is The Rock (Strata or bedrock) which is stronger than death. See this in 1st Corinthians 3:11 & 10:4, Matthew 7:25. The power of Christ’s message is at work in the world, His Spirit uses the New Testament to make sinful humans into forgiven saints, growing the fruit of God’s Spirit, blessing the world with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness and self-control.
Who do you think Jesus is? Your answer affects who you really are!