October 2018   
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Singing the Songs of Zion
Psalm 57:7
Several weeks ago I began this series of messages called “Singing the Songs of Zion” which I thought would be a short, 4 to 5 week series designed to illustrate how humans have always sung about the common experiences of life. Whether you were a Jew living in the Old Testament days or a modern American, the inner soul of man has voiced itself through music in both the happy and sad times of life.
I began the series with a message from Psalm 137 called “Song Sung Blue”.  In that psalm we find the children of God carried away from their homeland by the Babylonians.  And there by the rivers of Babylon, they sat down and cried as they were mocked by their captors who were calling for them to “sing the songs of Zion”. 
They responded by hanging their harps on the willows, asking how they could sing in a foreign land.  Today I want to come full circle back to the thought of singing, and in particular, what happens when, as God’s people, we sing and praise God. 
You see, there are lots of times in life when you won’t feel like singing.  But as God’s people, we always have a reason to sing and God always a purpose for our singing. 
Back in 1971 song written by Joe Raposo for the children's television show Sesame Street gained popularity when it was recorded and performed by the Carpenters. 
In fact, it went on to be a #3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  In fact, it became one of the most popular songs on the program, sung in English, Spanish, and sign language. In the ensuing years, it has been recorded by a variety of artists from all over the world and it has a very simple, yet profound message: 
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song
La la la la la
La la la la la la...
That is, in a nutshell, the message we find in
Psalm 57:7
Now, when David says that his heart is steadfast, he’s saying, “I have determined that I will live a life of perpetual praise.  I will sing.”  Now it’s no surprise that David would say that because earlier in the psalms, in Psalm 34:1, he also says,
Psalm 34:1
Now praise is simply all there is of me responding to all I know of God. That's what praise is. And here we find David saying, “My heart is steadfast. It doesn't matter what happens, I am going to worship the Lord. I am going to praise the Lord at all times. It doesn't matter what happens, I’m going to go through life worshiping, singing, praising the Lord.
So why should we do that? What difference does it make if I’m happy or sad, got the blues or on top of the world?  Well, let me give you some reasons to “sing a song” of praise to the Lord.
Reason number one, I will sing to
  1.  Reverence the Savior
Did you know that the entire universe of things living and non living, even the rocks are to be one great hymn of praise to our Lord? Just down jot this scripture:
Psalm 145:10
That means the rocks, the trees, the rivers, the oceans, the son, the moon, the stars, all of God’s creation gives praise to God. The flowers say praise the Lord. The beast of the field says praise the Lord. The rivers say praise the Lord. The stars like chandeliers in the sky say praise the Lord.
Everything that God has created has been created to give him praise, including the creation in heaven. 
Praise is the biggest occupation of angels.
Listen to what we read in
Revelation 4:8
Here we have this presentation of angelic beings around the throne who are worshipping God in Heaven.  By the way, why do they say holy, holy, holy? Why don't they just say holy?  It is because once is not enough!  He is the thrice holy God and He deserves to be praised in every aspect of His person!
We encounter them again in Revelation 5:11-12
Can you imagine the multiplied millions of angelic beings that are praising the Lord? Many of you have been to Falls Creek and heard thousands of people singing together. But here are thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands praising the Lord.
And as David reminds us there in Psalm 145:10, at the top of the list, singing the loudest, leading the chorus is to be God’s saints.   Can you imagine what it will to be in that crowd as hundreds of millions saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and the grace of God gather to praise the Lord and give God the praise with one voice?  
If for no other reason, we ought to want to spend our days praising the Lord, simply out of reverence for the Savior. 
Second, I will sing to
  1. Resist Satan
In a very real sense, praise raises up a defense against Satan. For some reason, Satan fears our praise even more than he fears our prayer. How do I know that? 
Turn to 2 Chronicles 20 and let me show you and while you’re turning there, I’ll give you the background for what we’ll read.
At the time of this writing, a guy named named Jehosophat is King and he is one of the good kings in Judah’s history.  Some of the enemies of Judah, including the Moabites, the Amorites and the people of Mount Seir have come against Judah. 
King Jehosophat finds out about this coming onslaught and talks to the Lord about it.  We pick up the story in
verses 15-19
Now I want you to understand what’s happening.  There is a group of armies, great in number, now mobilized, demonized, and organized to do battle with the people of God. Watch what happens, beginning in
verses 20-21a
They’re not singing for the people. They’re not out there to entertain. They have one express reason for singing. They are singing to the Lord. And about what shall they sing?
Verse 21b-22
Now, it would have been reasonable and expected that the people of Judah would have praised God for the victory He gave. They could have said, “After God gives us the victory, then we'll praise Him”.
But notice, God says you'll not see victory until you praise and when you start singing and praising, then I’ll give you the victory. 
Now let me just ask you to consider something:  Could it be the reason you aren’t seeing any victories is because you’re waiting on God to do something so you can praise Him when God is waiting on you to praise Him so He can show up to give the victory? 
If you want to bring God into the situation, then start singing and praising His name and He’ll be there.  Some of you don’t look convinced. 
Listen to Psalm 22:3
God lives in praise. If you want to know God’s address, there it is.  It is praise. God dwells in the midst of his praise.
By the way, if you want to know what profanity is, it is praise in reverse. When you use profanity, rather than blessing the name of God, you curse the name of God.  When you take God’s name in vain, you provide a campground for the devil. Cursing causes God to leave and the devil to move in. The devil lives and oves that environment. 
On the other hand, when you begin to praise, when you begin to glorify God, there's just something about praise that the devil is allergic to.  He can’t stand it! 
And when people are praising the Lord and it’s obvious that God is in the house, the devil is noticeably absent because God inhabits the praises of his people. 
And when there is massive, triumphant, organized, spirit-filled praise, the devil is paralyzed and banished.
If you want to release God's power then learn to praise God and say, “My heart is steadfast!  I will sing and praise the Lord!”
Now, when I do that, not only do I reverence the Savior and resist Satan, but when I sing, I  
  1. Release The Spirit
There is something about praising God that energizes our life.  That energy that is released is the very power of God made available through the resident Holy Spirit living within us.  To put it simply, God's Holy Spirit acts and moves in response to our praise. 
Listen to this verse:
Psalms 61:8
Do you ever find yourself saying, “So how am I ever going to get it all done?  How can I do ever think I need to do and have to do?” 
The answer is found in the strength of the Lord and the strength of the Lord is found in the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the empowering of the Holy Spirit is found through praise. 
That means if you are too busy to praise, then you are too busy. If you have no time or interest in praising God, you have cut yourself off from the power supply.  David said, “I’m going to praise your name so I’ll have the strength to do every day what I have to do.”
That means if you’re too busy to praise you're like a man chopping wood who is too busy to sharpen his axe. Listen, your praise of God and your performance for God are inseparably linked.
When you find yourself getting tired and irritated and frustrated, the best thing you can do to strengthen and refresh you is to praise the Lord! 
Remind yourself and the Lord that the joy of the Lord is your strength! Refresh yourself by telling God how much you love Him and praise Him.  Just look up to the Lord and say, “Lord, my joy is in you! I love you and worship and adore you!” 
Let me tell you what will happen when you do that.  God shows up in the person of the Holy Spirit and His strength and vitality and energy will fill your life and be released through your heart, mind and lips.
Think about it like this: praise is simply your faith being put on display. Praise is just faith turned inside out. Praise is the outward expression of that inward confidence that we have in our great God.
So, why should I sing? It reverences the Savior, it resists Satan, it releases the spirit and it
  1. Refreshes The Saints
There is a modern phenomenon that is hard to explain.  But something happened over the 30 or 40 years in the emotional health of Christians.  We used to see statistics that drew a distinct difference between people of faith and those outside the church.  But those lines of demarcation have become almost non-existent.
By that I mean, there is hardly any difference any more between the behavior of Christians and non-Christians. As the people of God, we are just as wrung out and nervous and neurotic and have as many mental disorders as anybody else. 
Now I am not a psychologist, nor am I trained in mental health, but I will tell you from my observation as a pastor, I am convinced that we wouldn't need nearly so many psychologists, psychiatrist, counselors and pills if we had more praise in our lives. 
I really believe that. I believe that most of our mental and nervous disorders are an over occupation with personal ego.  Somewhere along the line, we came to believe we are the center of the universe and from that developed a self-centeredness that drives everything about us. 
Now listen closely: anything that is not God-centered is destined to failure.
Listen to Colossians 1:16-17
Did you hear that?  There is nothing in this universe that that was not created by and for Jesus Christ.  In fact, He is the glue of the galaxies.  By Jesus, all things, physically, emotionally, institutionally, spiritually and eternally are held together by Him.  And that includes you. 
And whatever it is in creation, including you, if you remove Jesus from it, it comes apart and spins into chaos.  And the reason there are so many who are living in chaos and destruction and fragmented and falling apart is they are so ego-centered and self-serving there is no place for Jesus.
And in that kind of living, there is a built-in destructiveness.  You can just mark it down and take it too the bank, anybody who is self-centered will become defensive, aggressive and even hostile. 
And the only answer to that dilemma is to bring God back to His rightful place at the center of life.  I must get off the throne of my life and let Him take His rightful place as I bow before Him in the praise that He deserves. And when that happens, that old selfish, ego-centered person is replaced with a brand new creation that praises God.
By the way what I’ve just given you is a description of salvation.  Salvation is nothing more than a sinner bowing before God and acknowledging Him as Lord.  I confess with my mouth the LORD Jesus.  And when that happens, the most naturally thing in the world is for this hell-bent, rebellious egotistic sinner to praise God for His grace and mercy. 
You see, a person who lives with themselves at the center of the world will never praise God. You cannot continually, perpetually praise God without relinquishing that occupation with self. When praise becomes a way of life, the infinitely lovely God becomes the center of your attention rather than your bankrupt self.
And when you worship the King in the beauty of holiness, then there's something that happens on the inside of you that renews you, reinvigorates you and refreshes you. You cannot praise and sulk. You can't do it. You can’t go around mad at everybody in the world and praise God.   
And what would help a whole lot of us is to pull some of the gripes and groans out of our praise and shove in some hallelujahs. Praise and irritation cannot exist at the same time.
I fact, there is an interesting verse in Isaiah 61 that I want you to see.  We are familiar with the opening verses of the chapter.  It’s a prophecy about coming salvation and the message of Christ that will bring comfort and beauty and liberty. But in particular, I want you to notice a phrase in  
Isaiah 61:3
Is there anybody here with the spirit of heaviness? Does that describe anyone you know? God says we need to have a garment change. By the power of the gospel, He wants to change our wardrobe. We can have the spirit of heaviness removed and replaced by the garment of praise. 
That’s what praising the Lord will do for you. Praise has a way of refreshing us. Listen: You will be better if you worship better.
 You say, “In what way?”
When you praise it changes you. It will make you a better Christian.  It will make you a better church member.  It will make you a better husband and daddy.  It will make you a better wife and mother.  It will make you a better friend and worker and employer and employee and any other relationship on earth. 
When we worship Him as we ought, we become as we ought.
What some people call worship is as dull as getting on an elevator, letting the door close behind them, lletting the door open again and getting off on the same floor. Have you ever done that?
That’s what some people do every time they come to church. They are not changed at all.
But when you really worship, you move up. You leave  step higher than you came. You have an encounter with God and when all that you know of you responds to all you know of God and you begin to worship Him and praise Him in spirit and in truth, the Bible says that you are changed into the same image from glory to glory. 
That’s what happens when you praise the Lord and say my heart is steadfast. I will sing! I will praise! His praise shall be continually, perpetually in my mouth. You become more and more like the one that you worship.  That’s what does!  It reverences the Savior and resists Satan and releases the Spirit and refreshes the saint and there’s one more thing I want to show you. 
When I sing and praise the Lord, it
  1. Reaches The Sinner
Notice what we read in
Psalms 40:1-3
See what happens?  God brings us up out of the pit. God puts us upon the rock. God puts a song in our hearts. It's not just the kind of a song that you can hear and sing, it's the kind of a song that you can see. Many shall see it and fear. That means that they give reverence and trust unto the Lord.
That means as a child of God, steadfast in ny praise, I am to be a living, breathing, two-legged song sung in a major key, performed at an up-tempo beat at full volume!
People are to look at my life and your life and wonder what it is that makes us so happy and joyful.  How do we manage to live our lives in victory? What is it that enables us to praise the Lord no matter what? 
And the end result of that is they will be drawn to the God we worship and praise.  Listen:  there is no greater evangelism tool in the world than for the unsaved to see the beauty of Jesus proclaimed in our lives through perpetual praise. Many shall see it and fear and trust in the Lord.
You let an unsaved person get in a service where God's people are happy and praising the Lord and giving victory and praise to Jesus and he's going to look around and says, “These folks really believe this stuff.”
Yea, and before long they’ll be believing it too. Evangelism is to be a part of everything we do.  Evangelism is in your handshake and greeting when you meet someone for the very first time.
Evangelism is the way you say amen when the preacher preaches. It’s the way you love on a little child who rides the van to church. Let me tell you something friends. Evangelism is the way we sing, “What a wonderful change has been brought in my life since Jesus has come into my heart.”
Evangelism is the way we smile at the guest and make them feel welcome. Dear friend, when there is that praise, that joy, that victory, there's a holy contagiousness where people come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. How we need to learn the power of praise because not only will it refresh the saints, it will reach the sinner
He put a new song in my mouth. He has set my feet upon the rock and many shall see it and hear and shall trust in the Lord. That's the kind of evangelism that I believe in. I'm not diminishing at all telling them word for word about Jesus We have to give them the gospel.
But dear friend, they need to see the victory in our lives. What a mighty force for evangelism and reclaiming the backslidden.
I'll sing it and tell it wherever I go.
I want all to hear, I want all to know
the joy of salvation that makes my heart glow,
for I have been born again.
Now, let me close with this: 
Ultimately, you are going to end up in one of two places, either in heaven or in hell. Do you know what they do in heaven for all eternity? They praise God.
Do you know what they do in hell for all eternity? They blaspheme and curse God. 
Heaven is a place of perpetual praise sand hell is a place of continual cursing and you are going to be forever in one of the two and it is all determined by what you do with Jesus.
You may say, “Well preacher, I'm not all that bad, and I know that some of these sinners need to be saved, but I'm not all that bad.”
A preacher asked his doctor, “From a medical perspective, what is the most potent poison? The doctor said, “I suppose it would be potassium cyanide. Let me tell you how potent it is. If you were to take the stopper off the bottle of potassium cyanide and touch it to the base of your tongue where the blood vessels are right on the surface, you would be dead before you could put the stopper back on the bottle.”
The preacher said, “What would happen if you were to drink the whole bottle?” The doctor replied, “It wouldn't make any difference because you couldn't be any more dead.”
That’s the problem with sin. It's not the amount of sin that sends you to hell.  It is the fact of sin that condemns you. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and it doesn’t matter if it is one drop or the whole bottle, it’s enough to send you to hell. 
There is no one so good that they don’t need to be saved, and no one so bad that he cannot be saved. That is the wonder and blessing of the gospel, and that, dear friend, is worth singing about!
Jesus died to save you and He rose to save you and He lives to save you and He longs to save you and He will save you.
Let’s pray. 
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