Scriptures with Songs

Living Life with Wisdom

wisdom

Living Life with Wisdom

Hymns p. 8 “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”

             p.6 “Joyful, joyful We Adore Thee”

 The Book of Proverbs is an accumulation of moral and philosophical precepts of a wide range of subjects written in a poetic form. In other words, it tells us practical ways on how to live life according to God’s precepts, appreciating the value of intelligence, prudence and good education. It also gives us a different perspective of that refined, discriminating, careful view of the finer shades of human character, of what goes on in the mind. Examples of these are: being lazy, procrastinating that lead to poverty Proverbs 6:10-11: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond and want like an armed man.”

The Book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, as we know was the wisest man in the world during his time. He gathered many proverbs which sprang from human experience, his own and collection of other proverbs from different sources handed down from generation to generation as observed over the course of time.  It is written originally for his sons and the young males of Israel as he addresses them in totality as “my son”. But this book is certainly a fitting book for all youth and adults to read and study for spiritual wisdom and insight. 

The Book of Proverbs was written:

  1. To form right notions of things, and to possess our mind with clear and distinct ideas so that we may know both how to speak and act wisely.
  2. To distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil and to gain insight.
  3. To make our conversation right.

Let us consider one of the topics in this book, that is, Wisdom…

Reader 1 Readings about Wisdom

  1. Crying and calling out to people to get wisdom
  2. Why we need to study this book

Proverbs 1:2-7, 20-33

Proverbs 8:1, 4-11

Wisdom is the most referred theme in this book. Wisdom is personified. It calls and speaks.  Wherever men are found, wherever they come together, wisdom that is based on the fear of the Lord, CRIES out to be acknowledged, accepted and allowed to guide and direct men’s lives.

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Knowing God

god knowContrary to what most people have been led to believe, one most important revelation of Scriptures is the understanding that our God is knowable. That God is not some “mysterious” inexplicable Being, amorphous, impersonal, and thoughtlessly moving the universe. He is not some distant or ‘absentee’ God, but directly very personal, and is actually can be real in time and space.

It is His desire to enter into that intimate and covenantal relationship with His creation. Since the beginning, He already set the plan, by making “mankind”—as  the crown of His creation— made in “His Own image… according to His likeness.” (Genesis 1:26-27). For what purpose? This is something to be understood only by acquainting with Him and His word.    

There are many religions whose concept of “god” is either that impersonal force (Buddhism, Taoism, etc), or an essence that dwells within all objects or things (Pantheism, or  Monism—all are aspect of one ‘god being’). The God of the Bible is different, He is a personal Being, and is very distinct from all other beings and created things.

Yet, how does one get to know God—intimately and personally?

How can one’s knowledge about God turn into the knowledge and understanding of the One true God?

Generally speaking, there are two ways God can be made known. First, is through the revelation of His written words, the Scriptures—which is a collection of writings, without which nothing will be made known as to the source (origin, beginning) of everything; and second, through His creation—the witness and identification of His expressed works/actions, and imprint (shadow, magnification) of His nature and character.

Basically, there are six (6) foundational principles of knowing God that will guide our readings/meditations of Scriptures all throughout. They are as follows:

  1. Knowing God Through His Creation
  2. Knowing God Through His Word/Scriptures
  3. Knowing God Through His Righteous Laws/Commandments
  4. Knowing God Through His Spirit/Mind/Power
  5. Knowing God Through His Son Jesus Christ.
  6. Knowing God is to Know His Perfect Will in Your Life.

While one’s search and understanding about God can be very intimidating, expansive, and demanding, it is only when we turn each truth that we learn/discover about God into meditation and prayer before Him, leadingto our praise and worship of Him, can our discovery really becomes satisfying, fulfilling and ultimately rewarding.

So in today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will explore on this inspirational theme of “Knowing God”.

For our first batch of readers, let us re-acquaint ourselves to the revelation of God about Himself according to what He declared and revealed of His nature and Being.

Bible Reader 1 –No Other Gods

Exodus 20:1-3

Isaiah 45:5-7

Nehemiah 9:5-8

Bible Reader 2 – “None Besides Me”

Deuteronomy 32:39-41

Isaiah 43:10-15

Isaiah 44:6-8

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Seven (7) Lessons from the Book of Ruth

ruth gleaningPrelude Music

Opening hymns

One of the important things we can learn from the book of Ruth is the love of God for the gentiles, even in a period of history when Israel was given prominence due to their role in God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Israel’s role was to show to the whole humanity that there is only one God to follow.  Though Israel failed, it was this failure that opened the doors for gentiles to know who God is. 

Another interesting thing to note is that though God had chosen the Israelites as the primary avenue through whom to send His Son into the world, however, the very fact that there are gentiles in the Lord’s background is evidence that God was and is a God of ALL people.

Ruth, a Moabite, was a descendant of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, a gentile. The meaning of gentile is simply a person or people who are not of Israel’s lineage.  It is noteworthy that the mother of Boaz was Rahab, a Canaanite, a gentile who hid Israel’s spies before the fall of Jericho (Matthew 1:5). 

Through all this, we can see that God’s plan and purpose was not only for Israel but to unite all people, Jew or gentile, to His kingdom.

 In light of this, let’s take a moment to look into seven (7) verses from the book of Ruth,

1. Ruth 1:16-17

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

 These words of Ruth became ours when we started to turn from our former ways and follow God.  Like Ruth, we are not of the stock of Israel but gentile by birth. We started to seek the truth, to learn, obey, trust and have faith in Him who created us.

Reader1 will read stories of conviction to obey God who called us out of the world and into His righteousness—

Acts 8:26-39

Acts 10:1-8; 44-48

Deut 26:17

Gal. 2:20-21

The eunuch and Cornelius were gentiles but chose to believe and obey God.  The Israel of old declared the LORD to be their God and walk in His ways.  And Paul who declared that he no longer lives but Christ lives in him.   So we did the same when we knew the truth and obeyed God. We declared: “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Hymns

 2. Ruth 1:18

“And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.”

Naomi was so moved by such an act of loyalty that she didn’t speak another word about it. They both began to be deeply committed to their relationship to help each other. Each took responsibility to contribute to the fruitfulness of the relationship.  Ruth took care of the aged Naomi and followed her instruction.  Naomi gave her best to secure Ruth a place in Israel.

So is our relationship with God. We have given our commitment and conviction to follow God’s instruction.  God gives us His love, promises, blessings and secures a place for us in His kingdom.

Reader 2 will read on how to follow God’s instruction—

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Preparing Your ‘House’ for Passover

passover bloodPrelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1: p. 20 – How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings

Hymn 2: p. 27 – The Lord’s My Shepherd

Introduction:                                          

How does one prepare for Passover? Traditionally, spring, which is the start of a new year/month in the Biblical reckoning of time, is also known as new beginnings—a time of fresh start:

“Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. ‘Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household...’”Exodus 12:12

It is a time of preparation and a dedication before God. Naturally, we are all drawn to this refreshing concept/idea that became the foundation of most family traditions among God’s people. The idea of “Spring cleaning” is just one of those. This was taken from the Biblical instructions to remove or clean the houses from certain “dirt” or contaminants (Heb. ‘hametz’). As the book of Exodus continues,

“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”Exodus 12:15

What does the Bible mean by this instruction? Why do we need to annually clean our “houses” or even ourselves? What spiritual significance can we learn from this ancient custom?

Passover cleaning draws a metaphor on our spiritual need to be cleansed by impurities (sins) in the presence of the holy God.  As you scrub the floors, clean your room, fridge, or empty your drawer from extra/overused things/dress, etc., imagine that you are ridding yourself of stains/filths and excesses, bad habits, malice, anger, jealousy, and the likes! Or, perhaps just imagine you are a ‘slave’ in Egypt (metaphor of sin) and how wonderful it will be when God redeems and frees you! These are some of the spiritual applications we can think of.

As we will see from our Song and Scriptures, Passover cleaning actually has a far deeper meaning than mere dusting and cleaning of our houses and closets. A person’s heart is considered one’s home. Cleaning one’s home means cleaning one’s heart from every form of “dirt” and “stains” namely from bad and sinful thoughts and habits we build around ourselves and about others.

So as our opening Scriptures, let’s read and understand why the need for all of us to appear before God cleansed…

Bible Reader 1 –The Need to Be Cleansed

Exodus 19:1-24

Bible Reader 2 – The Need to Be Cleansed

Exodus 29:1-9; 29-35

Brethren, let’s all stand and sing the following hymns…

Hymn 3 p.224 – Standing On The Promises

Hymn 4 p.211 – The Breath of Life

B. Identifying “Dirt” and “Waste” in our Life. Just as there are many types of dirt and waste, from biodegradable to non-biodegradable, from toxic to non-toxic, so the need for us to identify and consciously remove these “dirt” in our life. Thus, one of the most daunting and disconcerting tasks is to get rid of impurities that reside in the crevices of our mind and heart.

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“The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength”

nehemiah joyNehemiah: “The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength”

Prelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1: p. 24 – Before the Lord We Bow

Hymn 2: p. 4 – Sing Praises and Rejoice!

Introduction:                                         

The book of Nehemiah is one of the most powerful retelling of history in the Old Testament, not only because it was written by the righteous leadership of its governor Nehemiah and his priest/scribe named Ezra, but because it contains the testament of the Israelite’s sheer determination to recommit themselves, return and follow God in the face of great trials and oppositions. 

One inspiring declaration that was etched in its book is one coming from Nehemiah himself, when he rallied the people and told them (upon discovering the book of the Law together with God’s feasts days),

“Go your way, eat fat, drink sweet, and send portions for those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10

To appreciate Nehemiah’s words, we must understand where the Israelites were coming from when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In Nehemiah 6-7 the walls of Jerusalem had just been completed. But the people are still uneasy and unsecured—something was still lacking. Life was more than just “bricks and mortars”. While they had finished rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, their lives were in shambles. Coming from seventy years of Babylonian captivity, finishing the walls did not make them secure, their troubles continued. The cause of their condition is revealed by these confessions of guilt,

“But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you [God] gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” –Nehemiah 9:36 (NIV)

They had been slaves and captives in a foreign land and had forgotten their heritage before God. They had forgotten their own identity, their language, but most of all they had forgotten their God. This is why their lives were in great shambles. Finally, they were able to see the connection between sins and their distressful situation. Their slavery was the result of their own sin and rebellion. They have experienced first-hand sins’ destructive effects to their lives.

It was in these conditions that they began to realize that God has a wonderful message of deliverance for everyone. It is “in the joy of the LORD” that they could find strength to put their lives back together in God.

So in today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will explore on this inspirational theme of “The Joy of the LORD is your strength.”

For our first batch of readers, let us review the story of Nehemiah leading to this great discovery of strength in the “joy in the LORD”...

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The Still Small Voice

small voiceThe Still Small Voice

Opening Hymns:

p. 2.55 – “One Generation Will Call to the Next”

p. 2.57 – “To God Be the Glory”

 Introduction: 1st Reader Reading of Elijah’s account in 1 Kings 19:9-19

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.

Now imagine the same verses but this time in verses 11-17, with the earthquake, fire and roaring wind, come a thundering voice telling Elijah His instruction. What do you think Elijah would do? Would it take Elijah a week, a day, an hour to go? He would pick up his feet as soon as he can and do as he was told. In both scenarios, the outcome would be the same. Elijah would do as he was told. What is the difference then? Though the 2nd scenario of earthquake and fire with God’s voice thundering would accomplish the task, this is not God’s way. God doesn’t want to drive us through life with a whip. When He speaks to us in a still small voice, we can suppress, ignore, make enough noise so that we cannot hear it.  In other words, we have the choice to ignore or to follow.  Elijah could have turned his back but because he was zealous for God, he obeyed Him. Did God say he will be protected from Jezebel’s death threat? No, God told him there are 7,000 in Israel that had not bowed down to Baal. And that, together with his zealousness, encouraged Elijah to do as he was told.

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What is our Blessed Hope?

hope fullWhat is our Blessed Hope?

Prelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1:  p. 6 – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Hymn 2: p. 26 – Hallelujah! Praise God!

Introduction:                                          

What is hope?  Imagine yourself to have finally taken hold of something very precious that only in your wildest dreams can it really be made possible. That confidence that leads you out of impossibility and uncertainty into profound assurance is called–hope.

The book of Proverbs tells us how hope played a very important role in our life. It says:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

There are many other powerful key terms and concepts in Scripture like faith, love, joy, grace, peace, etc. that we come across as we read our Bibles, but often these are just vague concepts to the uninitiated. And so is the subject of hope.

What is hope? Some equate it as a fanciful wish, or desire. The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”

In today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will explore this fundamental subject of hope.

In Scripture, both the Hebrew (qawa) and Greek (elpizo) words translated “hope” according to its usage, is an indication of certainty or assurance. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation. Thus, the key words here are assurance and confidence. Hope is a firm confidence (or assurance) for things that are yet future.

Our lives today are filled with pain, suffering, hopelessness and death. Some even experience more of these than others. Yet we overcome every struggle and hardship with hope. Hope provides us the reservoir of strength needed to conquer every misery and despair that comes along our way.

For our first batch of readers, let us examine why we are seemingly living in a hopeless world devoid of any future yet needing that Blessed hope…

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