Monthly Archives: December 2018

First Thing Priority

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.- Psalm 5:3

A little over six months ago, I was reading this verse and something struck me. David, the King, was making a point to acknowledge God early in his day. Twice in this verse he mentions how “in the morning” God would be the focus of his attention. I began to wonder if this is one way David heard and understood God so intimately. He made the LORD such a priority that his day had to begin with seeking Him. I was awestruck to realize the most revered king of Israel, made seeking God such an important part of his day.

Therefore, I embarked on a Biblical experiment. I have made a point to make my first conscience thought in the morning a brief offering of thanksgiving to God. Before I turn my body to get out of bed and before my feet hit the floor, I say “thank-you God for getting me through another night.”

If I am successful on this little exercise, I believe I am operating in the same vein as King David where seeking (thanking, praising) God is a priority for my day. Before I have done anything else, I have made a point to speak to Him. I am putting Him first in my day.

This is harder to do than you would think. I tend to wake up with the days tasks on my mind. But over the last few months, I have found that setting those first few seconds of the day aside to worship, thank or acknowledge Him tend to order the rest of the day. It is first things first.

Make Him the priority of your day. Make your first intention thought to be about Him. Thank Him for getting you through the night and waking you in the morning. Praise Him for His faithfulness and tell Him you are looking forward to what He has for you this day.

If King David began his day with seeking God, I think we might find a lesson for us to follow. Make Him the priority of your day, and make Him your first action of the day by thanking Him first thing in the morning.


Repeat The Sounding Joy – Again!

This is a slightly re-edited post from December of 2016

Way back in 1719, Isaac Watts penned the words to a favorite Christmas song, Joy To The World. The familiar tune paired with Watts’ prose was written by George F. Handel, famous in his own right for well-known oratorio, Messiah.

While the verses of Joy To The World are more reflective of Christs’ triumphant return, it became a popular song attached to the celebration of His birth. So much so, that by the end of the 20th century it may be the most published Christmas song in North American, according to

Recently, as we were singing this in church, I took special notice of verse two.

Joy to the earth, the savior reigns     

    Let men their songs employ

 While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

     Repeat the sounding Joy!

 The use of the word “employ” here can be defined as “to use something as an instrument of means.” One would “employ” or “use” a saw for cutting or a pen for writing. Watts is stating men would use or “employ” songs to praise the reign of their savior.

Do “fields, floods, rocks and hills” sing joyful praise? There is a temptation to dismiss this as hyperbole, an exaggerated expression of an overzealous song writer, but I wonder if there is more to this concept of God’s creation praising Him.

Notice how Psalm 96 conveys this same message;

Let the Heavens be glad and let the Earth be rejoice

    Let the sea roar and all that fills it

And the field exalt and everything in it.

    Then shall all the tress of the forest sing for joy before the LORD. – Psalm 96:11-12 ESV

As time goes on, I am becoming more convinced that we do not understand praise. We think of praise or worship as a thing we periodically do. But I wonder if praise is supposed to be our normal way of life.

Isaac Watts seemed to think the “fields, floods, rocks and hills” would “repeat the sounding joy.” If God’s creation is singing praise, shouldn’t we, His people, be living our life full of praise? Maybe praise may not just be a thing we do but a state of who we are. Living our life in such a way that we praise Him in everything we do.

Unfortunately, too many relegate praise to a Sunday morning activity.  Thinking a twenty minute time of music somehow is an adequate amount of worship due the Creator. I think we cheat ourselves of the experience of walking in the joy of the LORD when we cheapen praise to a small blimp of activity limited to the first day of the week.

During this Christmas season, take time to praise Him. Take a cue from the “rocks and hills” and make your existence an atmosphere of praise. When you wake up in the morning, praise Him. When things go well for you, praise Him.  When you run into disappointments, praise Him. Praise Him for all His provisions and the end of the day,  praise Him. But most of all, praise Him for coming to us as that helpless infant and growing to become a man who paid our sin debt and is now reigning as our savior!

Joy To The World and Merry Christmas!


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Like most people, I enjoy Christmas carols – some more so than others.  For example, while cute, I find We Three Kings as one of the more unbiblical songs we traditionally sing (the magi weren’t kings and they weren’t from the Orient). Joy To The World is wonderful, but it really isn’t talking about the first coming of the Messiah. However, there is nothing wrong with singing those songs and if they brighten your Christmas season, go right ahead and enjoy them!

There are some carols where Biblical truth is told.  Silent Night and O Holy Night are both great examples of Christmas carols with a Biblical message.  But maybe the song I find the most fascinating is God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

As stated by,

“The author of this carol is unknown.  It may have originated some five centuries ago.  The song was published by William B. Sandys, an English solicitor, in his 1833 volume, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern.”

In the 15 century, most commoners were illiterate and therefore music played a large role in teaching Biblical stories.   So this carol tells the Christmas account and gives the story application to all who hear its prose.  While most often only 4 verses are used, there are at least 7 in the form of the song from the early 1800’s.  Each verse tells a portion of the story and has a lesson for us.  I’m not going to expound on every detail, but I will point out a few lessons from this carol found within these verses.

First, we lose of the meaning of the opening line when we miss the comma between “merry” and “gentlemen.”  The song isn’t speaking of how a giddy group of fine English men were to relax.  Further, the word “rest” has a different meaning now than it did 500 years ago – at least in this context.

The term “rest” meant “make” or “keep.”  Again, from,

“A modern paraphrase of the words might read: “May God keep you joyful gentlemen.”

But from the first verse we learn the source of our joy.  We are saved from Satan’s power.  We were gone astray, but God sent a way to redeem us.  Sounds much like what the angel told Joseph, “You shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21b).

Verses 2 through 6 tell the rest of the story.  In verse 2 we are told He is born in Bethlehem and was laid in a manger.  Verse 3 states how an angel came to the shepherds and the Child was called the “son of God.”  Verse 4, says He was born of a virgin and that the shepherds were not to be afraid.  In verse 5 they rejoice, went to Bethlehem seeking the Child.  Finally in verse 6, they find Him, in a manager (just like the angle told them) and how Mary was kneeling worshiping the Child she just gave birth too.

Finally in verse 7, we are told “To all who are in this place” must love each other.

This carol covers the Christmas story as it is told in the Scripture without extra characters (ie a little drummer boy) or talking animals (“said the little lamb to the shepherd boy…” from Do You Hear What I Hear?).

So enjoy all your Christmas carols and look at the Christmas story afresh as retold in this song.  I wish you “comfort and joy” as stated each verse of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen this Christmas season.

This is a slightly revised version of a post from December 2016.