More than a Song: Week 1

Over the next 4 weeks, the Church (VCF) is covering a series called More than a Song, you can listen to the archives here as soon as it’s been delivered: Resources.

To our Victory Group, I share my personal reflection and may not be completely identical to how it was delivered. This weeks verses are extracted from Psalm 144,

Psalm 144:9-10

 

I will sing a new song to you, my God;     on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, 10 to the One who gives victory to kings,     who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword

Prayer: Lord, thank you. Thank you for the opportunity that we can reach other people with your word through technology. I pray for open minds and receptive heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

While it has been a challenge for me to wrapped my head around those two verses, I praised God that when I prayed for revelation, the idea popped in my head and was amazed of how much it has offered me personally. I hope it can minister to you as much as it did to me.

 

Before I go deeply into the two verses, allow me to put a summary of the entire Psalm 144 just so it will not get too much out of context:

 

Psalm 144(NIV)

Of David.

 

Praise be to the Lord my Rock,     who trains my hands for war,     my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress,     my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge,     who subdues peoples under me.

 

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,     mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath;     their days are like a fleeting shadow.

 

Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;     touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;     shoot your arrows and rout them. Reach down your hand from on high;     deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters,     from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies,     whose right hands are deceitful.

 

I will sing a new song to you, my God;     on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, 10 to the One who gives victory to kings,     who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword11 deliver me;     rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies,     whose right hands are deceitful.

 

12 Then our sons in their youth     will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars     carved to adorn a palace. 13 Our barns will be filled     with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands,     by tens of thousands in our fields; 14     our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls,     no going into captivity,     no cry of distress in our streets. 15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;     blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.

Verse 1-2: David praises God for giving him ability, protection, and for the Love, and delivering him from enemies.

Verse 3-4: David humbles humans as lowly beings but has been cared for even with its limited life.

Verse 5-8: David prays for deliverance from the enemy with God’s overwhelming power.

Verse 9-11: David offered worship to God who grants victory, and because of that, He pleaded for his payer in Verse 8 to come to past.

Verse 12-15: and finally, to God’s people, will be a blessing of protection and multitudes of provision.

Now, to open the discussion on the featured verse, I’d open with a question — At any point in your life, have you sang a song to someone? (well, you might have if you are a singer by profession, and I was not referring to the Praise and Worship Services we have here on Thursdays too, or the one in the Sunday services for that regard). Or how about this, let’s jump to some hardcore traditional Filipino culture, do you remember ‘Harana’?
As I was going through this, I remember I was not a great singer then, well, still not am today. But I’ve competed in some on-the-spot poem making contest during my school days. And about 10 years ago, I wrote again, and it was because I met a beautiful, kind, gentle lady. I offered her the poem, I was not a musician; so even if I wanted it to be a song, I couldn’t… good for David, he’s probably one, being a king, probably had the best music teachers in the kingdom.
But going back, have you offered a song to someone? If I am to describe ‘Harana’, it’s going to be like this: “a public expression of love to a lady you adore so dearly, so much that you’ve enough confidence to express it with a love song and the sweet melody of a guitar”.

 

David, so loved God… It says here – beginning of verse 9 – “I will sing a new song to you, my God;”. Not only that he loves Him, he is deeply into his worship with Him. Why did I say so? Not only that he’ll sing for Him, says here “a new song”.  David was probably saying, God you are so special, I want to be original for you. Or, God, I greatly adore you, and I am not going to worship same as before. Or, Lord, I will honor you with new things, “a new song” if you may.
Now, what does that mean for you and me? Listen, our Love for God, must be in a level that we ought to offer new things for Him every time we worship. What do I mean by that? Take this for instance: Lord, I will not only attend the Thursday Praise and Worship, but I’d bring an acquaintance with me. Or how about this: Lord, I will not only attend the Sunday Service, but I’ll bring a new friend who doesn’t already know you. Or: Lord, I will not only give to Church today, I will also set out and volunteer my time to help in building homes for the homeless. “a new song” he said.

10 String, Lyre Harp

10 String, Lyre Harp

And then, David continued on – later part of verse 9 – “on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,” and here, I couldn’t even play a six-stringed guitar… what do I mean by that, not only that David offers a new song to God, he probably meant, Lord, this new song, I want it to have the ‘best melody’, I want it to be ‘pleasing’. AND I remember writing that poem that ‘it took several revisions so it would rhyme’, ‘good amount of effort to make it lovely’, ‘handful of erasures to make syllables match’. I’d do all sorts of things because it was a chance to please her.

Often times, we are so caught up at work, or school, or just by all kinds of things in our life that we’ve become stagnant in our worship with God. We become a routine, just getting by to go to church every Sunday, just getting by meeting new friends and not sharing the gospel, and I am not only talking about the things you do inside the church, remember, worship is everything we do for God, so it maybe ‘just getting by your daily work’, or ‘just getting by school with a passing grade’, I’m talking about ‘being excellent at work by which it will honor God, or ‘striving for best in school so it will bring glory to God’. Not only that we’ll worship God differently, but we’ll honor Him with our best.

 

Listen, you are not going to a ‘Harana’ without practice, not without the guitar tuned properly, not without your singing synchronize with the melody, and certainly not without giving your heart into it. Not only that, as I have mentioned earlier, ‘Harana’ is public declaration of love. Are you declaring your love for God in public? Are you not ashamed to face the crowd and show them your adoration for God?
Verse 10 – David says there to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David. From the deadly sword,, he didn’t say “one of“, he said “the one“, he was certain that the Lord, our God, is in control, and the only one who will make things happen. Let me ask you, in times of trials, do you stand firm in God? Do you put your rest to Him? Are you in Faith that God is in control of what is happening in your life?
To close, David faced Goliath who was the champion of the Philistines. He faced him not on his own, but in believing that it is the Lord our God who grants victory and will deliver His people. And in spite of the trial He was going through, listen, if we read this through until some parts of verse 11, here’s what he says who delivers his servant David. From the deadly sword, deliver me, he was praying for deliverance, but look, in spite of that, as much as prayer, David was worshipping God. So here is my question: Are you, in times of trials, worship God as much as you pray for deliverance? and that is my prayer for us.
read it, love it, live it! God bless…
(and yes, for over 7 years now, I am married to the wonderful woman I referred to ;))

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Hotspot 3: Share

You may notice how I unusually had Hotspot 4: Unlimited written prior to this and that Hotspot 1 and 2 have not existed (yet). To address that thought, the point of these ‘related’ postings is to have our Small Group members who were unable to attend previous meetings get a glimpse of the message that transpired (and I feel worth sharing :)).

If you have not read Part 4, here is how I opened which gives a slight idea where it’s going:

Hotspot 4: Unlimited

Before I proceed further, just to give readers a background, the Church I go to (Victory) do topical services and in the previous series, it was coined Hotspot – 3 topics were discussed: Source, Sync, and Share and this series was aimed to cover principles about discipleship.

The study verse for this topic is:

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Approximately 3 months ago, a Pastor who is also a father of 3 of the Members of the same Small Group (who meets us monthly) mentioned in his lecture that ‘repetition of words and phrases’ in the Bible is a symbol of emphasis.

What quickly got into me reading the first part of these set of verses was the phrase “Follow me,” which also appeared when we did Hotspot 2: Sync (if time permits, I hope to cover this in the blog sooner).

Very literally, the words itself imply “come after me”, sounds easy enough? But take into context how the same message was used in several other passages on the same book:

Mat 4:19 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Also the study verse from Hotspot 2: Sync).

Mat 8:22 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Mat 16:24 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Mat 19:21 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

With enough reference, following Jesus meant more than simply walking after Him, to quote its accompanying phrases He say’s

“and I will send you out”, you have to be prepared to be sent, to receive-and-act on a command; “and let the dead bury their own dead”, may require to give your old self up; “must deny themselves and take up their cross”, may not be easy – be willing for a renewed commitment; “sell your possessions and give to the poor”, and give up whatever hinders you from truly following Him.

Going back to verse 9, its say’s there: he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. — At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees already have their eyes on Him and had actually accused Him of Blasphemy as He uttered forgiveness to a paralyzed man in the previous verses. And here, Jesus looked at Matthew (a Tax Collector), from where, in their culture was branded worst than sinners to be called His disciple.

Let us look at how John put it in his Gospel:

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Examine the last part: “full of grace and truth”. It is not one or the other. There was no trick there why in spite of how Society (or the Pharisees and the people at that time) seemed to condemn sinners, see, Jesus came as embodiment of full on grace and truth. And while we get the point, sometimes ourselves, we want grace when it speaks of us and pushing truth when we speak of other people don’t we?

You see, while truth will say you’re accountable, grace come in and say you’re forgiven. Here truth say’s your responsible, grace comes in and say I love you anyway. Listen: there is nothing else you can do to make God love you less. I’ll say it again; there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can do to make Jesus love you, any less.

Then later in verse 9, Jesus invited Matthew “Follow me”, and what was his response? What will be your response? It says “Matthew got up and followed him”. NO ifs, NO buts, NO I’m not ready Lord, NO let me think about it first, NO what if – see, what comes after the invitation is ACTION, he got up, in other words, get on your feet – cause what’s about to happen is a journey. When God call to you, what will you do? You need to, just get up, and follow him.

Verse 10: “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” – Counter culture; imagine if you were one of the first disciples before Matthew, you might have even reacted – say “Lord, I know I am sinner when you called me, but this guy, this guy Matthew, he is a Tax Collector. Get it, Lord? Tax Collector… we’re only sinners!” – Well, this is a made up, but how would you have reacted yourself?

But wait, there is more (I delivered this like I was selling in Home TV Shopping) – “we are going to party with the entire gang tonight!” 🙂

John said “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”

Verse 11: When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – look who refused to join the party 🙂

And as you read through this, you have probably heard/read the story of the prodigal son at least more than once in your lifetime, but this could remind you of the older brother… I will not get through it here, but every time you read it, reveals you something new doesn’t it? You could even say with Jesus, being God, an all knowing being, have intended to tell the story right when all of them where gathered in that place (Luke 15).

Point is, don’t come clean and say: You’ve been obedient all your life. Jesus should have reserved His precious time for you. Don’t be jealous and angry when you feel Jesus was showing love and compassion to others when you feel you deserved more. And I will say it again, differently this time: “There is nothing more you can do to make God love you more”. You know why? Open up to one of your favorite verses 🙂 : Romans 5:8 – isn’t that proof that He already loves you the most?

Verse 12 and 13: On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

It’s interesting that Jesus commanded them to find out what I desire mercy, not sacrifice” meant. And if you try the Old Testament, the text in Hosea 6:6 with the same words reveals the entire verse as “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Surely, the Pharisees have kept traditions and their obsession to keeping the law that they forget what it was about. That sacrifices are worthless without the sacrificial heart. Like the older brother who failed to share compassion for the lost son and didn’t want to participate in embracing him back.

To close: Jesus said in John 13:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“A new command”, He said. Forget about the commandments – in fact, forget about all of 630+ truths… but by this “Love one another”, how easy-or-hard could it be? What about those who wronged you, or those who fights you still, what about that guy who stole your girlfriend, or what about that guy who never pays his debt to you… well, guess what, He even added “As I have loved you.”

Well, how did Jesus showed it to his disciples? Peter, as he recognized Jesus after they had so much catch in their boat said “Lord, get away from me for I am a sinner”, Jesus took him as a follower. Take Nathaniel when Philip called to Him informing about Jesus, he said “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”, he insulted the Lord yet Jesus took him as a disciple, and of course, we come back to Matthew who were branded traitor of the nation for collecting taxes, how did Jesus respond to him?

My prayer for all of us, is that whatever our circumstances are, whatever we’ve done in the past, what matters now is how we’d respond to Jesus’ call “Follow me”.

Hotspot 4: Unlimited

Before I proceed further, just to give readers a background, the Church I go to (Victory) do topical services and in the previous series, it was coined Hotspot – 3 topics were discussed: Source, Sync, and Share and this series was aimed to cover principles about discipleship.

Which I also plan to cover here with a version I worked on for our Small Group (some refer to it as Bible Study Group).

Coming out of that series, it was inspiring to follow on reading from the Book of John (where most part of the scriptures I quoted sharing in our previous study) with the following verses:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

 

John 14:12-14

AND I call it discipleship Unlimited. We’ll see that in a moment 🙂 Now, let’s put the magnifying glass first in the phrases use in verse 12 of the passage:

“I tell you” – if you believe that Jesus himself is God, and, possesses all the qualities of the Father, therefore, He cannot lie. And by these, what He said in the next set of verses mention here must be true.

“Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing” – there is the use of “will do”: Another quality of God is that He is all knowing, Jesus is Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end), and in this set of verses, He was predicting the future. Think about that.

To whom is this promise directed to? “Whoever believes in me” He says… to those who has been reconciled by the blood of Christ. You cannot say that you are a believer if you haven’t been reconciled (and I shared about that when we did the “Sync” part of the series, more on this as I blog about that). But to my point, this promise is addressed to every believer of Christ and it will be activated to you if you believe truly.

What promise? “the works I have been doing”. Now, think about this for a second – what kind of work? The saving part? The healing of the sick? Feeding the 5000 with a few loaves of bread and fish? Making the blind see again? Or making the cripple walk? or what about raising people from the dead (Lazarus and a girl who was terribly sick and died). What?

Well, He says “works”? Didn’t that mean all of it? Or just because it didn’t say “all works”, sure, how about some of that then for starters? Do you believe you can do that?

Let us move further in this verse for a moment and circle back – not only we’re promise to do His works, He continued “and they will do even greater things than these” 🙂 what now? first we enumerated His works, and then Jesus said greater than those, (someone would ask, can anyone exceed the work of Christ?) and He closes with, “because I go to the father”. If we have heard the story of Jesus one too many times, we know that later in this gospel He gave His life, take that for a fortune teller, He knew what was going to happen, and certainly, He knows, what is to happen even after His death and resurrection. He said “because I go” not “if I go”, and so, He knew.

Now, let’s take a look at Acts for a moment, at the time of the Pentecost:

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

(Acts 2:38-41)

Wow! 3000 on that Day was saved through the preaching of Peter, that many number was added to the Church in a period of time. When Jesus talked about suffering, death and resurrection, some people who were following them (because of the miracles He was performing) leaves, they couldn’t take it… at one point, Jesus even told the disciples “are you all leaving too?”

greater things than this” He said, couldn’t be more clear… take this, Paul, afterwards built churches, after churches, after churches including Asia. Think about Jesus’ time where the focus was with the Jews, but here, the promise has been fulfilled through Paul — “making disciple of ALL nations”.

Well, what about the miracles? Let me ask you, what is better than ‘healing a sick person’? isn’t getting right with Christ the best kind of healing a person could have? it heals your soul…

What is better than feeding the 5000? Isn’t giving them the knowledge of Christ, which He said one time when He spoke to the Samaritan Woman in the well, “I give water that will not make you thirsty again” a better gift than a meal?

What is better than making the blind see? Isn’t showing them the truth about the Gospel more eye opening?

What is better than making the cripple walk? Isn’t guiding them to walk with God in the faith of being save the best experience a man can have?

What about raising people from the dead? What is better than making known to them the gift of eternal life through Christ, our Lord.

Now let us circle back to the last part of that verse before moving to the next… He said “because I am going to the Father”, and He certainly meant that all these greater things you are able to do, because – “I am going to die for you”, “and I will have paid the debt in full”, “that you, my disciples will become witnesses of my fate” – remember, these was happening during the time that Jesus has already announce that He knew the time is coming.

And then He concluded in verses 13 and 14:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Friends, the power of His promises are only activated through prayer, and these prayers needed to be through Jesus.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

“Nothing comes through the Father except through the Son”, which is Jesus.

This is why we say “In Jesus name I (or we) pray. Amen”.

Remember, it doesn’t come if you don’t believe, and by believe, I mean, your life wrapped in the person of Jesus Christ. That you believe in His Lordship and have repented of your sins. You can’t come to God through Jesus and expect a promise to be answered when you’re in Sin… it doesn’t operate that way. The more so ask of anyone to pray for you or pray for anyone, you are wasting your time. “Whoever believes in me” He said “and I will do”. But this can be a separate discussion on itself, so, this is it for now… and I pray, that this make sense to you and may God bless you!

the new home

earlier this year, I have stop renewal of my domain and my web host so I could close my credit card. i know i’d lost search rankings and all of my previous post, but it is a conscious decision not because maintaining it is expensive but I don’t want to keep my card if it is the only thing that is going to keep it open.

recently re-awarded as Microsoft MVP (http://seamvpblogaholic.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/a-warm-welcome-to-july-mvp-awardees/), i am going to continue my online presence next to my passion in sharing knowledge through speaking engagements and there is no place to be at home with the most powerful blogging engine.

and welcome 🙂

read it, love it, live it!