“How to teach a new song”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 30

Psalm 33:3, “Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.”

What is the best way to teach a new song? We look at a four-step process:

  1. Go through words
  2. Play audio track
  3. Sing along to backing track
  4. Sing with own instruments

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Psalm 100.4”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 33

We continue exploring Psalm 100 by moving on to verse 4. As mentioned previously, I am planning a church service with a difference based on this Psalm. I’m writing these blogs to solicit your feedback and thoughts.

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“Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.”
(Psalm 100:4 NIV11)

The previous verse reminds us we belong to God and that “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture”. Today we will explore the following verse which issues us with another invitation and an exhortation.

1. The invitation to enter

The scene is the temple. Imagine yourself there, standing before the enormous gates. Inside you can see the courts. Crowds are praising God. Someone beckons you, and says, “You are welcome here. Come in. Pass through these gates and enter God’s courts.”

For a moment you wonder if you are worthy. According to the Journal of Biblical studies,

‘The Mishnah specifically states that those “unable to go up by foot” were exempt from temple attendance (Hag 2a), and it argues from Ex 23:14 that “the pilgrim must have use of both feet” (Hag 3a). Thus “going by foot” or “walking” was a significant aspect of pilgrimage to the festivals. In order to participate in a feast, a man had to be able to walk…. Lev 21:18 bans a lame priest from approaching the sanctuary.”1

Everyone is invited, but not everyone is permitted. Are you allowed to enter? A new covenant image similar in its significance is found in Revelation,

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27 NIV11-GK)

The kingdom of God is shut to the unclean. And we are all unclean (Romans 3.23). What is there to do about this tragedy?

As Paul said, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25 NIV11)

It’s possible to forget how privileged we are. God cherishes our presence and invites us into a personal relationship with him. For this reason we not only accept God’s invitation to enter, but do so with joyous abandon.

2. The command to give thanks

The excitement appropriate to the privilege of coming into God’s courts is illustrated by the healing of the lame man in Acts chapter 3. After Peter heals him at the site of one of the gates, the lame man,

“…jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8 NIV11-GK)

What a terrific illustration of not only joy following healing, but thankfulness of finally being able to worship at the temple. All his life he had watched people pass by and go through the gates into the temple courts. They were able to worship with other Israelites. They could express their joy in praise. He could only look on longingly.

On the day he met Peter and John everything changed. Now he could join in. Now he could not only observe, but participate. His joy is an example and an inspiration to us.

What do we give thanks for? Why do we praise his name? Above all things, we are grateful for our salvation. For our relationship with God.

The New Testament is full of exhortations to be thankful.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NIV11)

“..always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20 NIV11)

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV11)

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV11)

The normal, healthy perspective of a Christian is one of thankfulness. We have our ups and downs. We do well to be honest with God when we are sad or grieving. But, the standard attitude of a heart connected with God is one of praise and gratitude.

Conclusion

Verse four is unusual in that it contains four Hebrew words for praise: todah; tehillah; yadah; barak. They are all connected with grateful worship of God. In piling these words up in just one verse, the author of this Psalm is inspiring us to overflow with gratitude, thankfulness and praise.

It is as if he is using exclamation marks and CAPS.

“Enter his gates with THANKSGIVING!!!
and his courts with PRAISE!!!
give THANKS!!! to him and PRAISE!!! his name.” (Psalms 100:4 NIV11)

Why not reflect on the New Testament passages about your identity in Christ. Think on how lucky you are to be one of his people and invited into God’s presence. Let your thankfulness pour out.

We will continue to explore the Psalm between now and 6 May. Pray over it, meditate on it. Let it sink in to the mind and the heart.

Question

What helps you to be confident in coming into the presence of God in prayer? What is it about being a follower of Jesus that creates the most thankfulness in you?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best, when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.

God bless, Malcolm

1: From: http://journalofbiblicalstudies.org/Issue3/Articles/keys_to_the_gate_beautiful.htm

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“How to be ready for anything”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 103

What do we do when the circumstances into which we are to speak change unexpectedly? I have four suggestions – all starting with “A”.

I hope you find these thoughts helpful. What have I missed? What else is important?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on to one other person ….

God bless, Malcolm

“How to keep the worship flow going”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 29

How do we keep the worship flow going? What prevents the songs from being separate items? I share something we tried at church last Sunday.

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Know that the Lord is God.” Psalm 100.3

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 32

We continue our exploration of Psalm 100 by moving on to verse 3. As mentioned in previous blogs, I am planning a very special service based on the Psalm. To make sure that it’s focused in the right way, I’m devoting a good deal of time and energy to studying, praying through and meditating on Psalm 100. I’m writing these blogs to help me with this, but also to get your feedback and thoughts.
 
 
“Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
 
So far we have dealt with “shout” and the invitations to “worship” and “come”. Today we will explore the command to ‘know’ that the LORD is God. We will also look at the implications that follow – considering we are his sheep.
 
Why is the word “know” at the beginning of the line as an imperative? It seems a little strange to make the word “know” a command.
 

1. Yada

The Hebrew word translated “know” is ‘yada’. This is a word connoting intimacy. It is a very personal relationship. It implies experiencing the other person. In other words, not knowing about someone, but knowing their character and their heart.
 
By commanding us to “know” the Lord we are being invited into full devotion to a relationship that already exists, but is not currently as complete in its devotion as it could be. Only if we fully commit ourselves to the LORD will you find an adequately firm foundation for praise. More on this in the next blog focusing on verse four.
 
Those who truly “know” the Lord make more than an acknowledgement of his Lordship, but freely confess his Lordship. When we are wholehearted in our love of the Lord, we voluntarily express our thanksgiving and praise.
 
If you are finding it hard to pray wholeheartedly or sing with all your heart during times of corporate worship, could it be that there is a need to change your thinking about your relationship with the LORD?
 

2. Where we came from and who we belong to

Our gratitude is refreshed when we remember that the LORD chose to make us according to his will. No one made him do it.
 
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7 NIV11)
 
When we remember who formed us, we are also reminded to whom we belong. It’s difficult to praise God if we forget our identity. But if we remember how lucky we are, it becomes much easier to shout for joy.
 

3. The privilege of pasture

Perhaps the Psalmist is thinking of an earlier psalm by David:
 
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,” (Psalms 23:1–2 NIV11)
 
Much of the time we lack what we want. But we never lack what we need when what we need is to remember that we belong to the LORD. Perhaps Jesus was thinking of Psalms 23 and 100 when he said this:
 
“I am the gate for the sheep…whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7–9 NIV11)
 
We have an extraordinary promise from Jesus. That when we find him, and join his flock, we are not only safe, but in a position to “have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV11)
 
If that’s not a reason to shout for joy, worship with gladness and sing joyful songs, then I don’t know what is.

Conclusion

Have you considered how privileged you are to not only be made by God but also loved by him? Are you willing to fully commit yourself to a relationship with the LORD? Are you finding his pasture to be pleasant?
We will continue to explore the Psalm between now and 6 May. Pray over it, meditate on it. Let it sink into the mind and the heart.
 

Question

What helps you fully commit your life to the LORD? What is the most inspiring aspect of being one of Jesus’s flock?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
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“How to be kind to kinaesthetic learners”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 102

We look at how to help not only those with a preference to auditory or visual learning, but those whose preferred learning style is kinaesthetic. Are they the most neglected of all?

The value of this approach is that it increases:

  1. Attention
  2. Contribution
  3. Stickiness

Helpful scriptures: John 6.9; 12-13; Matthew 16.5-12

I hope you find these thoughts helpful. What have I missed? What else is important?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on to one other person ….

God bless, Malcolm

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“To dance or not to dance?”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 28

I received a question recently. It asked whether we, as worship leaders, should be leading the congregation in dancing? Here is my answer….

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 31

We continue our exploration of Psalm 100 by moving on to verse 2. As mentioned in previous blogs, I am planning a very special service based on the Psalm. To make sure that it’s focused in the right way, I’m devoting time and energy to studying, praying through and meditating on Psalm 100. I’m writing these blogs to help me with this, but also to get your feedback and thoughts.
 
 
“Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.”
(Psalm 100:2 NIV11)
 
The New Bible Commentary (IVP) sees this verse as intimately connected with verse 1. We have three invitations in these two verses: to shout, worship and come.
 
We dealt with “shout” last time. Today we will consider the invitations to “worship” and “come”.
 

1. Worship the Lord with gladness

To worship is to serve. Some translations have the word “serve” here. As Warren Wiersbe said, “Joyful noise leads to joyful service”.* Why are we glad in God’s service? Because, just as the Israelites were liberated from their slavery in Egypt, we…
 
“…have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18 NIV11)
 
Hence, we delight to offer ourselves in worshipful service,
 
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV11)
 
Are you grumpy about serving God? Perhaps you have forgotten God’s mercy. Are you moody when joining your brothers and sisters in corporate worship? Perhaps a prayer for renewed gladness would be appropriate before entering the building. Resist the temptation to be like the older brother who found little about which to be glad and refused to join in the gladness of his younger brother and his father (Luke 15:32).
 
Refresh yourself with the correct vision of the future. We have much to be glad about:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7 NIV11)
 

2. Come before him with joyful songs

We are invited into the very presence of God. The word translated “before him” is the Hebrew word ‘paneh’. It means ‘before’ and ‘face’. In other words, we are coming face to face with God.
 
That’s a wonderful invitation for us. All the more so for an Israelite, who knew he could not see God’s face and live (Ex 33.20). Although no one may literally see God’s face in this life, God is signalling his desire that we would know him personally. And he is signalling his vision that one day this will be the case.
 
What could be more appropriate, when coming face-to-face with God, than to sing joyful songs? One of the ways we serve God is by coming together to worship him in song.
 
The implication of the “joyful songs” is that we sing with confidence. Not confidence in our musical ability, but singing without hesitation. We do not hesitate in singing to God because we are confident in his mercy to us and, as we shall see in verse three, confidence in our acceptance as God’s people.

Conclusion

Today, and this week, why not explore serving God with gladness? Take some time to reflect on how lucky we are to be able to come face-to-face with him. Make it your intention to sing joyfully the next time you participate in corporate worship.
We will continue to explore the Psalm between now and 6 May. Pray over it, meditate on it. Let it sink into the mind and the heart.
 

Question

What gets in the way of serving the Lord with gladness? What helps you to be joyful in your singing?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
 
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“How to structure a class”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 101

I reveal the template I use to prepare most of my teaching classes. We discuss the significance of our learning objective, and how to think through what each class will need in terms of resources and variety of teaching methods.

I hope you find these thoughts helpful. What have I missed? What else is important?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on to one other person ….

God bless, Malcolm

“How God Transforms Lives”, Acts 3

Not one, but two versions of the same sermon surveying the first part of Acts 3 looking at the Spirit’s work in bringing grace-poor and grace-rich people together. We learn lessons about noticing people and expecting the unexpected.

The first is the discussion-style version with the Watford church of Christ, and the second is the interactive version with the Thames Valley churches of Christ.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm