Sing A New Song Part 1: A Song Of Praise
On Sunday 1st September we began our 'Sing A New Song' series .
You can listen to the talk by clicking here.
Below is a summary of the talk.
Today we are starting a new series, which is about worshipping God. Really worshipping God rather than ignoring him, which the majority of people in our country do, or just going through the motions of worship: mumbling songs and praying prayers which are nothing more than a shopping list of requests.
I love reading the Psalms, many of which were originally sung. They speak repeatedly that we should, “Sing with joy!” and “Sing to the Lord a new song”. Of course, there are many other examples of God’s people expressing their worship of God in song throughout the bible. In addition, the prayer that Jesus gave us, which we know as The Lord’s Prayer, gives us a model for how God is to be approached. This prayer, which is so familiar to many of us, recognises his holiness and majesty, as well as his being our Father, before any requests are made.
It’s not possible to really experience a rich relationship with God if we don’t properly engage with him by recognising who he is. In this series we invite you to start afresh with a new attitude towards God, to “sing with joy, a new song” to him. This Sunday, and the next two Sundays, we will look at the three strands of praise, thanksgiving and love.
If you were here at this church back in early 2013 you may remember that Freetown (Sierra Leone) experienced some severe flooding which is something that has sadly happened frequently over the past few years. On hearing the news, we contacted EBC member Abs Dumbuya to find out what we could do to help. He told us that many homes of disabled people had been completely washed away and bedding, clothing and tarpaulin for roof shelter were urgently needed. Many people contributed and we were able to send a few thousand pounds for Abs to buy whatever was necessary.
In April that year Chris Porter and I visited Sierra Leone to attend the official opening of the new church at Tombo fishing village (called Easthampstead Baptist Church Tombo would you believe?!). The day after the opening, Abs took Chris and I to visit a disabled persons camp in Freetown that had been washed away in the floods, and which Abs had helped. With the money that we had sent, Abs had provided desperately needed clothing, bedding, tarpaulin, and food. When we parked at the camp, Abs suggested that we stay in the car while he went to talk to the headman to ensure that it was OK for us to visit. We were not expecting what happened next…….
A man on crutches came up to Abs and started complaining that Abs had not done enough to help, and he also accused Abs of not really being interested in disabled people and their problems. Exactly what was said, we learned after Abs had returned to the car. What we saw next was Abs getting extremely cross and a heated and very animated argument took place! This lasted for about 15 minutes, when the “headman” of the group arrived. He apologised for what had been said, and Abs eventually calmed down and returned to the car. That’s when Abs explained what had been said and he further commented that the man with whom he had argued was always the same. “He never, ever says thank you. He is so negative; always ungrateful, always complaining and never satisfied.”
I’m sure that we all know someone like that: Never grateful and always accentuating the negative. We try to avoid them if we can; “Moaning Minnies” – always singing the same old song.
We don’t like it ourselves when we’re moaned at and not recognised for who we are and what we’ve done. So how must God feel when we do exactly the same thing in our prayers and in our worship? And let’s face it – most of us often treat God like that when we pray, if not all the time, then certainly some of the time! Instead of worshipping God we pray (if at all) as if we were rubbing a genie’s lamp – “I want this… give me that… and by the way God, where were you when I needed the other thing?” Just the other day, I read this quote from Christian Author Tim Keller, “If you say: I believe in God, I trusted God, and He didn't come through for me; then you only trusted God to meet your agenda.”
That’s not the way Jesus taught us to pray and it’s not the kind of prayer he would pray. Of course, Jesus was very familiar with the Psalms and would have read them as the songs and prayers that they were then, and still are today! Let’s remind ourselves of what the psalms encourage us to do. I could have chosen any number of psalms and verses, but here are just two examples:
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God.
Psalm 96: 1-4 & 11-13
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…….
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord……
How about you? How do your prayers sound? Like the psalmist’s songs of praise? Or is your song always the same……. Or is it “The sound of silence” because you’re just not praying? How about singing a new song – one that begins with recognition of who God is (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”), one that begins with praise for who he is, rather the same old dirge?
We want to be a praying church – a people that sing to God with joy - a song of praise, thanksgiving and love, every day. Imagine that kind of church! Imagine how God might react if, instead of hearing the sporadic chuntering of a disconnected group, he hears his followers worshipping him together wholeheartedly and full-throatedly!
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. Do you properly engage with God? Do you have a rich relationship with him? If you do, how do you achieve that?
2. Do you pray regularly? If you do, has your prayer life become routine and stale? If you don’t pray regularly, why not?
3. Can you think of a person that you would describe as a “Moaning Minnie” – always singing the same old song? Would this description fit you? Never?
4. Do you expect God to operate to your agenda and to your timescale?
5. What is your favourite psalm and why?
6. Do you accept that recognising who God is, is essential for a vibrant and effective prayer life? What do you do to ensure that your attitude towards God is in line with who he is when you pray?
7. When was last time that you said the “Lord’s Prayer”? Do you really think about the words as you say the prayer?