Hello OCBC family.
Last Monday before we opened the bookstore where I work, Lifeway, we had a devotional time and we read from “Experiencing God Day by Day” by Henry Blackaby, and today I just want to share this short devotional about worship; it touched me very deeply.
Prepared for Worship
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
The quality of our worship is not based on our activities but on our character. Churches can mistakenly assume that the better the music, the more impressive the building, and the more eloquent the preaching, the more worshipful the experience will be. Genuine worship, however, originates from within our hearts. If our relationship with God is not healthy, all these things are nothing more than religious pageantry.
The Levites were the worship leaders of their day. Their task was to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. God declared that before they could worship Him in righteousness, He would first refine them with His refiner’s fire, purging them of any impurities. Merely being members of the religious profession, having official responsibilities in the temple, and going through the rituals of worship, did not guarantee that their religious activities would be acceptable to holy God.
Today, we tend to look to external things to enhance our worship. The true quality of our worship, however, rests within us. If we have not allowed God to purify us first, our worship will be void of His presence. If we do not have a pure heart, we may give offerings, but they will be unacceptable to God. Attending a religious service will not automatically ensure an encounter with God.
If you are not satisfied with the quality of your worship, don’t be too quick to blame your environment. Look first to your own heart. Allow God to refine your heart until it is pleasing to Him, and you will be free to worship God as He intends.
In His service.
Hello OCBC family. For one year and six months I have had the privilege to lead you in worship, and I can tell that this church knows how to worship to the Lord in spirit and truth (John 4:24). But four months ago I was blessed once again by the Lord, and you may ask why? There was a a necessity to take care of Prime Timers, the senior group of our church, and I felt the Lord was calling me to lead them, and for four months now this sweet group has been a blessing in my life.
I learned a lot from their experience, how this country was several years ago, what they did when they were little ones, and I can go on and on. Yes, they are a blessing to me.
Tomorrow Prime Timers will have a “Reformation Celebration” and our pastor will speak to us about the Reform. We will sing a couple of hymns written by Martin Luther, and John Calvin. We will have a great time.
Primer Timers, don’t forget this date, you will have a wonderful time. Members of oak Crest, if you are a senior adult, come and have a blessed time with us.
Thank you Oak Crest for this opportunity to lead you in music and care for the Primer Timers.
In His service.
Hello OCBC family.
Today I want to share about Anna Warner and her sister Susan. Probably you don’t know these names, but you will; they grew up near West Point Military Academy in 1800’s. They became known for leading Sunday school services for the young men there. After their father passed away, they supported themselves with their various literary endeavors. Susan became known as a best-selling novelist. Anna also wrote novels and published two collections of poems. She wrote a simple hymn in 1860 to be included in one of her sister’s novels. In the story, it was a poem of comfort spoken to a dying child. This hymn is “Jesus Loves Me.”
Today millions of voices around the world sing these words: “Yes, Jesus loves me!” Once, when asked to summarize the essential truths of the Christian faith, the great Swiss theologian Karl Berth gave this simple answer: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.
Hello OCBC family,
Reading a magazine about music I found that today on October 1, in 1555 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was appointed as choir master to St. John Lateran. This is important not just for musicians in particular but for worshipers in general. The reason is that in this position Palestrina created the finest music for church than anybody before him and all his pieces were dedicated to God. His compositions are pictures in sound that help the soul of the worshipers to meditate in God’s presence. Palestrina used a style of music called “A Capella” which is singing without instruments, thus the worshipers (and singers) will focus on the lyrics, normally a biblical text, and not on the instruments; they can pray through music. We, as worshipers of the new covenant, must focus on what we sing rather than a familiar melody. Yes, we can enjoy a familiar tune and teach a deep truth through melodies, but our mind needs to pay attention to the words.
I want you to try something: read the lyrics of your favorite hymn without singing the melody. Probably it will be hard, but it is worth it to try. Focus on what the author says in those words, and you will find a deep biblical truth. Yes, we will continue singing psalm, hymns and spiritual songs, but our goal, as a church, is that these three types of poetry/music are based in the word of God. Because we believe in Sola Scriptura, we will sing The Word. May the Lord raise more musicians as Palestrina, musicians that want to focus on the lyrics to glorify God and teach the Word.
In His service,