In the series “Together for Joy”
By Pastor Cathy Davis
What do we have to be thankful for? We have been in a pandemic for the last 9 months. People have been cranky because they have to wear a mask, families are having to teach kids at home, grocery stores are out of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, we can’t travel on our normal vacations, we can’t visit people in the hospital or in nursing homes, we feel lonely, some have lost their jobs, some have lost their lives, we can’t hug people, we can’t have our typical or normal funeral services or church services. So, what do we have to be thankful for. Our lives as we once knew them are totally different, nothing is the same. Is God hearing my prayers? YES, YES GOD IS HEARING OUR PRAYERS. Does it mean that all our pain and death is relevant, NO NOT AT ALL. But we have a choice, to live into our pain and the dismay of the circumstances or to find the joy that only God gives. We have so much to be thankful for BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC…….
A God that never leaves our side.
Time to spend in the scriptures and have 1 on 1 time with God
Time to call people and send cards to encourage others
Time to reconnect with old friends via phone or zoom or cards
Thinking outside the box on ways to help our neighbors. (sharing tomatoes and veggies, taking baked items to neighbors, I have a friend that started an on line story time 3 mornings a week to give parents a time when little ones could watch stories and sing songs with her while maybe the parents were teaching their older kids.
We are thankful for the many small groups that our church has started so even though we cannot join in person we can join via zoom and have bible studies, Sunday school, and groups that gather to see how each other is doing.
In our scripture this morning we are told in verse 1 to “sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things. Verse 4 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Break forth into joyous song and sing praises”
What does it mean to Sing a new song to the Lord, We need to find something new and fresh every day to praise God about. What ever we are going through in life and whatever struggles we may be having we have so much to be thankful for. God will never leave our side. Are we giving God the attention He deserves? God deserves to be praised every single day, not just on Sunday mornings when we are attending church, but every day. He is a God to be celebrated and worthy of our praise and attention when we are….
At the dinner table
In the bedroom
In the living room
On the front porch
When we are volunteering
When we are working in the fields
At ball games
When we are sick….
Do you get the idea, praise and sing a new song in ALL that we do. That does not mean that we will not have days that we are feeling down and depressed or struggling with being alone or feeling lost. Maybe we need to call a friend, maybe you need to have a good cry, play some uplifting music, or do something just for yourself. Because even during a pandemic when we feel like nothing is going right and our world is turned upside down, Let us sing a new song and bring praise to the Lord. Wednesday afternoon I was texting with Cheryle Huther, she was hospitalized for 2 ½ weeks and is now in Birchaven for rehabilitation, she was sharing with me that she feels God has placed her at Birchaven for more than just rehab. Did you catch that Cheryle said “God placed her at Birchaven” she didn’t say, I’m here at Birchaven so I want to make the best of it, she said “God placed me here for more than just rehab.” Cheryle’s attitude is a testimony in its self. Anyway, I asked her permission so I would like to read her message to you:
“I realized God had placed me here for more than rehab. An awesome relationship with the staff here has developed into a warm ‘ministry.’ I can’t think of a better word. Around the clock time spent with staff of all ages has become an eye opening experience discovering the struggles the mostly young women go through to give their hearts for the care of others. Working all shifts with haphazard changes. Driving a distance in the middle of the night to get to work. Leaving their young children or spouses at all hours. Grandmother’s raising grandchildren, working 2 jobs. And on and on. Every one of them do it for the love they have to share. My frequent expressions of gratitude for all little things and a listening ear have built this bond we have like family. They are all so amazing. They share pics of their grandchildren OR dogs. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here. Praise be to God.”
Cheryle is singing a new song to the Lord and is bringing praise to God.
Let us look at ways that we can sing a new song to the Lord and make a joyful noise to the Lord in our everyday living. Here are 5 ways we can do that
- PRAY – Ask God to help you sing and praise Him from the heart. When we ask for His help our praises will soon become a part of our daily routine.
- LISTEN – When we are actually singing, listen to the words and notice what the words are. We will be surprised at how much more meaningful the songs will be when we really notice what the words are saying to us and let them speak to us.
- THINK – think about the words that are in songs, in the scriptures and what others are saying to us and make a connection between them and the scriptures. Again, let God speak to you through these words
- LEARN – learn new songs, study scriptures, we should never stop learning. And we should never stop teaching. As we continue to ask God to teach us may we also be willing to allow God to use us to teach others. That can also be by the way we live our life.
- SING – Join in with heart, soul, and mind in praising God. Through lifting our voices in song whether we are at home, in the car, at church.
Let us go on and see what the rest of the scripture say.
In verses 4-9 it says, and I am paraphrasing, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break out in joyous song, and sing praises, Praise God with the lyre, trumpets, and the sound of the horn. Let the seas roar and all that fills it, the world and all who live in it Let the floods clap their hands, the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord for He is coming. I do not think that is going to be a soft or quiet praise. It is going to be loud and joyous; can you imagine people playing the lyre, which is like a small harp, it is not very loud, but it will play melody and then the sounds of the trumpet and the horns. Then the seas will roar and all that is in it will praise the Lord, the world and all those who live in it. Then the floods will clap their hands the hills will sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord. WOW, I get excited just talking about it. Can you imagine what it will be like when all the world and all that is IN IT praises the Lord. Looking at all God has done for us; all we can do in response is join all creation in giving our praise and thanks to God.
I challenge us to look around and make a list of the things we are thankful for; the things God has done for us when what we thought was a problem and turned into a joy. The many things we take for granted but are a blessing from God. You see God uses everything in our lives for good and to bring joy, rather it is a tragedy of a death, my husband passed away suddenly, because of his death a friend of ours accepted Christ and is spending the love of God to many people. Good came from my family’s tragedy. Cheryle is ministering to staff at Birchaven, but I am sure she would much rather have her strength back and be at home with Dan. God is using Dan and Cheryle’s misfortune for His good and giving Cheryle purpose while going through rehab. A friend of mine wanted to foster children, just as she was about to start the classes, she had a car accident, and she was devastated that she was not able to attend the classes. Soon after that God called her into ministry, and she is about to graduate from seminary with her Master of Divinity. She was crushed that “her” plans did not work out the way she thought, but God new the plans he had for her had she fostered children she would not have been able to follow God’s plan for her. We all have these stories we can share if we just think about it with praise and joy in our hearts.
So, as we go about our week let us not be in denial of the pain and suffering that is around us and that we feel, but let us be intentional and add to the list of things we are thankful so that we can claim the abundant life God gives us. Let us daily sing a new song to the Lord because He HAS done marvelous things.