From the Feeding on Christ blog, here are 5 reasons to sing your heart out the next time our church gathers:
1. Singing Our Hearts Out to God is the Fruit of Redemption in Christ. The Proverbs tell us that “whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20). Singing praise is a human experience that belongs uniquely to the realm of joy in our experiences. Nothing produces joy so much as the truth of what Christ has done for His people through His death and resurrection. This does not mean that we never sing songs of lamentation, but the Scriptures always move believers from sorrow to joy (see Psalm 30:5; 42:5, 11; 43:5, Ezra 3:10-13 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Throughout the Scriptures we read of believers singing “a new song.” This has unique reference to the work of the new creation procured by Christ through His death and resurrection and established in full through the New Covenant (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3).
2. Singing Our Hearts Out to God is a Witness to the Gospel. The Psalmist prayed, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Ps. 40:3).When Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison, people were converted (Acts 16:25-40). Just as my former employer mocked this church for their singing, and concluded that their singing revealed that they did not believe what they professed, so the opposite will be true. If unbelievers in our services on Sunday witnessed the unrestrained pouring out of the hearts of believers in praise they should be able to say, “There is something true and powerful about what God has done in the lives of these men and women.” No band or musical accompaniment can manipulate what God the Holy Spirit does through the heart-wrought praises that He enables His people to sing together to Him.
3. Singing Our Hearts Out to God Fuels Our Own Spiritual Growth. When I was a young believer, my best friend would teach me new hymns and choruses. This encouraged me to sing throughout the day–in the care, when I was walking around by myself, etc. As I sang the hymns and choruses he taught me, I meditated on the truths that I was singing. This, in turn, caused me to grow in my knowledge of the Lord and in my life for him. To this day, there are times when I am struggling spiritually, or downcast or complacent. Singing quickens my spirit and causes me to grow in fervent love to the Lord. The Puritans would sometimes speak of singing yourself into a state of worship. Singing Psalms and theologically sound hymns renews the mind and warms the heart to worship because theologically rich hymns are “mini-sermons for the soul to sing.”
4. Singing Our Hearts Out to God Fuels the Spiritual Growth of Other Believers. As mentioned in the previous point, my best friend’s singing aided my spiritual growth. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul charged the church with the following words: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16) and “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:18-19). Singing with other believers is a means of grace whereby we teach and admonish each other.
5. Singing Our Hearts Out to God Makes War Against our Enemies. We tend not to view what we do in worship as spiritual warfare, however so many of the songs in the Old Testament were songs of victory penned immediately after God had given His people victory over their enemies (e.g. Exodus 15:1-18; 15:21; Judges 5; 1 Samuel 18:7) and sung by the people as they were gathered together. What better way to make war against Satan and his host of enemies than by singing God’s redemptive praises in light of His defeat of them. When Paul and Silas started singing hymns in prison, God sent a earthquake to release them and the spiritual chains of the jailor. In this way, Paul and Silas made war against the enemies of God and the church (Acts 16:25-40).
So, believer, sing your heart out to God whenever you are gathered together with His people to worship Him. Make a joyful noise–even if you fear that it will be more noise than sweetness–to our God! “It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting” (Ps. 147:1). After all, our Father is enthroned on the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
Gracious Heavenly Father, what a joy it is to gather before your throne this morning, Lord, to worship YOU for who you are and to celebrate, and delight in, Christ, our risen Lord and Savior! Yes Lord, we have reason to celebrate this morning for, though we were once dead in our trespasses and sins, YOU, gracious Father, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which you loved us, made us alive together with Christ! Yes, by GRACE we have been saved, not because of anything that we did, but because you’re a merciful and gracious God and because Christ was willing to humble himself to the point of death, that He might reconcile us to you. Yes, praise be to Christ for his humility! And praise be to you, Heavenly Father, for your grace and mercy! Yes, Lord, as we sing, pray, give, fellowship, and listen to your Word being faithfully proclaimed, Lord, we pray that you would be gloried and that Christ would be exalted!
Adoration. Heavenly Father, hallowed be your name in this place this morning, for you are deserving of ALL of our worship and praise! Yes, YOU who laid the foundations of the earth and determined its measurements, YOU who created the seas and told the waves ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,” YOU who commands the morning and causes the dawn to know its place, YOU who brings the rain to make the ground sprout with grass, YOU who gives wisdom and understanding to the mind, YOU whose love is steadfast and never failing, YOU whose word is always right and true, YOU who is perfectly righteous, perfectly just, perfectly loving and perfectly faithful, YOU who is holy, YOU who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Yes, Lord, YOU are deserving of our adoration!
Thanksgiving. And Father, we thank you for the kindness you have displayed to us in so many ways over the last month. We thank you for how you’ve continued to draw more and more visitors through our doors, that they might hear your word faithfully proclaimed and delight in Christ along with us. We thank you for growing our community groups both in spiritual maturity and also in number, such that many groups are on the verge of needing to birth new groups. Praise be to you, Father! We thank you, Lord, for how you orchestrated and used the Engage Conference to fuel our desire to reach the nations with your Gospel and to connect us with other local church bodies who are laboring alongside us. And we thank you for your Word, for the way it convicts us, encourages and transforms our hearts. We pray it would continue to do so this morning!
Confession. But Lord, we must also confess that, despite your goodness and faithfulness to us, O Lord, how often we question your sovereignty and trustworthiness. Sometimes we do this by not praying with confidence that you will answer, but more often, we do this by simply not praying at all. Lord, forgive our faithlessness. Forgive our thinking that you would sacrifice your only son to adopt us into your family, only to then leave us to fend for ourselves.
Petitions. So Father, this morning we come to you with confidence, knowing that you are willing and able to answer our prayers. And so, we pray for our children’s ministry this morning. We pray that your word would be clearly and faithfully proclaimed to those young minds, that the children would understand and retain what they’ve heard, that the teachers would be filled with much grace, love and patience, and ultimately, that you would give spiritual sight to those young children that they might be adopted into your family. We pray that as a body we will be faithful to carry-out our covenant with one another to responsibly steward our spiritual gifts to the service of this church and the community at large. Lord, please show us the gifts we have and give us a burning desire to put them into action for your glory and for the good of our church and community! We pray for our brothers and sisters at Washington International Church, that they too would be nourished by your word, would grow in humility and unity, would seek to make much of Christ in all that they do, and would be eager to make disciples who delight in Jesus. We pray for The Porch ministry, for increased attendance by the youth, for meaningful relationships to be established between the youth and the leaders, that the leaders would be filled with much grace and patience, that your Gospel would be made clear and that it would transform the hearts of many youths. We pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are at this very moment experiencing persecution for the name of Christ. We pray you would grant them peace which surpasses all understanding, and we pray you would restrain their aggressors and bring them to repentance and salvation. Lastly, we pray for Deholo as he preaches. We pray that you would help him to be faithful in proclaiming your word, bold, articulate and clear, and that you would you speak through him to grow our affections for Christ. For the glory of your name and the exaltation of Christ we pray these things in the name of Christ, Amen.
*In case you’re wondering, we do not endorse the comments from 3:17 – 3:20
Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? We will extol you, our God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit magnificently beautiful, amazingly gracious, all together satisfying to the deepest longings of our soul.
We praise you for the work you are doing in our church. We praise you for the generosity of this church; use the funds and translated resources to advance your gospel. Lord, hallow your name; your kingdom come; your will be done. Strengthen Haitian pastors and churches. Raise up a Spanish-speaking church plant in Columbia Heights to exalt the worth of your Son, Jesus. We pray for A and the M family. Give them diligence to labor for the gospel in Venezuela; and give them discernment about next steps. We also pray for the religious visa process. Your word tells us that we make plans, but you turn the hearts of kings like water; so we pray for favor, for a seamless process and for a religious visa to be granted sooner than we could ever expect.
Father, we also pray for other gospel churches laboring in our city. We pray for GraceDC and pastor Glenn Hoburg. Use that church body to see many people come to faith in Jesus, and be built up in him. We thank you for the continual support of Capitol Hill Baptist and pray that you would give the elders of that church wisdom and discernment as they seek to shepherd a growing body. Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters at Washington International Church; even as they worship this morning, fill them with a deep delight in Christ.
For the glory of your name, Lord, we pray that your gospel would advance. We pray that it would advance among the Behdini Kurds and throughout the schemes in Scotland. We pray that your Son would be exalted in Kazan, Russia and among the Yazidi people. Father, in the name of Jesus, fill your laborers with the Holy Spirit that they might boldly proclaim Christ. We pray for R & E; give them much grace and favor as they settle in to their new home. We bring Noah Joyner before your throne this morning. Grant him grace as he labors to teach Haitian pastors. Father, we pray for our brother A.S. as he prepares to move to Abu Dhabi. Give him much joy in Christ, and use him mightily for your namesake. Thank you for the ways you have sovereignly worked in his life. Cause him to treasure your word; fill him with the Holy Spirit constantly reminding him of that you’re in control of all things.
Father, we pray for C and T. Thank you for the many ways they serve our body and the joy they have in you. Build them up all the more in Christ. Help them raise C and O in the gospel of our Lord. Father, we thank you for all the children among us. What a joy they are! Give us the grace to serve the children among us well. Use them to humble us and sanctify us; use them to keep us young and joyful. Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that you would bring each little one of Restoration Kids to faith in Jesus at a very young age. Yes, Lord, magnify the name of Christ through even the littlest ones at our church.
And this morning Lord, we pray for ourselves. We thank you for many ways you have given us grace this past week. From the food we ate to the friendships we enjoy to the clothes we wore to the jobs we worked; these are all gifts from you, and we thank you. Help us to increasingly depend upon you and enjoy you.
We also come this morning come confessing our guilt, our sinful judgmental attitudes and absurd hypocrisy. There is no end to the list of ways that we judge others. We consider ourselves experts on the things that matter to us, and look at those around us with disdain and disgust as we evaluate there inability to be as intellectual, funny, fashionable, talented, experienced, balanced, reasonable, sensitive, loving, pure, wise, God-fearing, gospel-centered, or generally just as good as we are. Our hypocrisy is shocking as we willfully blind ourselves to the mountain of remaining sin in our own lives while we examine with smug satisfaction the broken and sin stained live those around us. Forgive us, Lord.
We need a Savior! We call upon Jesus’ name for deliverance from our love of self and condemning judgment toward others. As Jesus perfectly filled every one of your commands, his attitude toward others remained unshakably characterized by love and compassion. Even has he was being punished for our sin, that we now confess, Jesus was pleading, “Father forgive them.” You poured out your just wrath for our injustices on him. He emptied himself of all but love, so that we in our helplessness would receive adoption by his shed blood.
Lead us, Lord, to Calvary, where we see our sin in the blinding light of your love for us through the wonderful cross. Send your Spirit to end the strife in our broken hearts, that we might look at one another with the love and compassion that you have lavished upon us. Let us experience the transforming power of your wonderful grace. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.
 Last three paragraphs taken, in slightly adapted form, from Prone to Wonder: Prayers of Confession and Celebration, 118-119.
“There are two days in my calendar: This day and that Day.”
“What one must realize is that seeing the world as a Christian does not mean just saying, ‘I am a Christian. I believe in the supernatural world,’ and then stopping. It is possible to be saved through faith in Christ and then spend much of our lives in the materialist’s chair. We can say we believe in a supernatural world, and yet live as though there were no supernatural in the universe at all. It is not enough merely to say, ‘I believe in a supernatural world.’
Christianity is not just a mental assent that certain doctrines are true. This is only the beginning. This would be rather like a starving man sitting in front of great heaps of food and saying, ‘I believe the food exists; I believe it is real,’ and yet never eating it.
It is not enough merely to say, ‘I am a Christian,’ and then in practice to live as if present contact with the supernatural were something far off and strange.
Many Christians I know seem to act as though they come in contact with the supernatural just twice—once when they are justified and become a Christian and once when they die. The rest of the time they act as though they were sitting in the materialist’s chair.”
At last year’s Engage Conference we raise funds to translate the booklet 9Marks of a Healthy Church into Haitian Creole. By God’s grace this project has just been completed; we just received the printed books last week. Not only that, but God is providentially using this resource to strengthen Haitian pastors and churches. Here are a few blurbs on how God is using this book:
Noah Joyner from HaitiLove:
We will use this resource to help existing churches and their leaders identify areas of strengths and weaknesses with the goal of assuring them in pursuing church health and vitality. We will share it with our students and potential students to help them see what we mean when we talk about “healthy churches”
Ryan Townsend from 9Marks:
“Thanks again for your work on producing 9Marks of a Healthy Church in Haitian Creole. We’d like to print this in Haiti this week for an upcoming pastor’s conference in mid-March.”
From Baptist Haiti Mission:
This is at the heart of what we are focusing on, the development of healthy churches. This is great timing for our National church conferences with representatives from over 350 churches here in Haiti. It is great to see the providence of God.
Day 1– Pray for our new students on their first day of class. To be willing to learn and see the value of what is being taught. For promptness and perseverance in a 7 hour class.
Day 2– Pray for productivity for Noah as he works on some house projects and studies to teach Old Testament.
Day 3– Pray for our first class of Old Testament. Pray for safety for our students as they travel in the evening and night.
Day 4– Pray for our staff as they lead our students. Pray for strong relationships and unity between the students and with the staff.
Day 5– Pray for Noah as he will be missing his family. Pray for Steph as she does the job of Mom and Dad. Pray for obedient, servant hearts for the kids.
Day 6– Pray for the churches represented by all of our students, that God would give health and growth through the study and application of Gods word by church leaders.
Day 7– Pray that Christ would be our teach by the Spirit through the word of God, that we would all know Christ more and desire to make him know to others.
Day 8– Pray for our new students that they would not be discouraged by the requirements of the coarse but be excited to learn how to study the Bible.
Day 9– Pray Noah and the staff would seek and find rest after a long week.
Day 10– Pray that our Old Testament students would desire to see God’s character and promises of Christ as the most exciting thing about the OT.
Day 11– Pray that the weather would not hinder our students in getting to class.
Day 12– Pray for our students as they juggle school, church, work, and home life.
Day 13– Pray for our students as the week is ending. That they would persevere with joy and excitement.
Day 14– Pray that our last day of OT would be productive and joyful. That our students would transition well to doing bookwork and assignments in their break from class.
Day 15– Pray that our last day of “Hermeneutics” (Study of Bible and Interpretation) would be a time of rejoicing and accomplishment for our new students. That they also would transition into “homework” well.
Day 16– Pray for safety and strength for Noah as he travels home after a long two weeks. Most of all pray that Christ would be honored in all that we have done the last two weeks and that the Church would be edified through it.
We gather here in the name of Jesus Christ to worship.
We stand amazed at the privilege we have to come into your presence.
Lord, who are we that you should hear our prayers?
You created the universe, we are but a flower which blossoms and then dries up.
You have power and glory, we are but dust in the wind.
You are perfect and have glory, we are neither perfect, nor have any glory.
Indeed, Lord, it is not because of who we are that you open your ear to us and welcome us into your presence. It is because of who You are, the One true God who sent His sons as a ransom for sin.
And by your grace alone, in Christ, we stand before You saved, reconciled, righteous.
But Lord, we are still sinners. This is true every day, but even more today as we contemplate your word. We consider Lord the character of the person who comes into your presence as presented in the sermon on the mount.
Lord, we confess that we want to be appreciated by men more than we want to be appreciated by you. Lord, we fear men and what they can do to us. They can take our reputations, our careers, our children’s opportunities. They can our lives. And because we have a low opinion of You Lord we compromise your glory and trade it for human glory, seeking to protect ourselves and the ones we care for.
Lord, we confess that in our prayers we don’t truly seek your kingdom. Your kingdom appears far off and we think we have time to seek it later. In the meantime we seek other things that appear more attractive. We store treasures on earth Lord in search for security and glory, forgetting that whatever we accomplish with our own hands doesn’t last. Lord, we are double-minded and we set our eyes on conflicting goals.
Lord we confess we don’t forgive. Lord, forgiveness is too painful. Forgiveness creates moral hazard and we are afraid of being taken advantage of. We find ways to avoid the people who hurt us and to rationalize our actions as wisdom. We find lots of reasons why we are better than the other people and why we need to distance ourselves from them. We openly bow our heads in front of you, but secretly harbor bitterness.
Lord, we want to repent from these sins. We want to fear you most. We want to single mindedly seek your kingdom. We want to forgive. Would you please transform our hearts through the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey you. Have mercy on us Lord, transform us from the inside out!
Lord we are grateful for the Engage conference yesterday. Thank you that we could be challenged in our worldview and be pointed to the fact that missions are right in the center of your plan to glorify yourself. We thank you for the ways you have provided for Restoration to serve you among the nations. I pray that we would continue and increase.
Lord, it is quite amazing how you work life out of death. This was publicly portrayed to us when our Lord was crucified. His enemies and death did their best, but you used exactly that to accomplish your plans. And Lord we see glimpses of that today in various places.
We thank you Lord that you use the distress and death in the Middle East to bring people to you. Lord we pray for peace and for the end of death and destruction in that region. We pray for reconciliation. But we are happy to see how you use all that evil to advance the gospel and save people for yourself. Lord, I pray that the Gospel would spread in spite of the work of ISIS to destroy your people. I pray that the gospel would spread like fire in a dry wheat field. And we pray Lord that you protect and empower our brothers and sisters in that region. Give them faith to stand in the face of hunger, pain and death.
We are grateful for the opportunity to worship today unimpeded. We pray that you help us do so to the full.