After David built houses for himself in the City of David, he cleared a place for the Chest and pitched a tent for it. David then called everyone in Israel to come to bring the Chest of God to its specially prepared place. They were to walk from the place where the Chest was kept up toward Jerusalem.
David ordered the heads of the Levites to assign their relatives to sing in the choir, accompanied by a well-equipped marching band, and fill the air with joyful sound. The members of the choir and marching band had bronze cymbals; lyres to carry the melody; harps filling in the harmony; and a very gifted musician as music director.
Trumpets blew and now they were ready. The Levites carried the Chest of God exactly as Moses, instructed by God, commanded with poles on their shoulders, careful not to touch it with their hands. David, the elders of Israel, and the commanders were all dressed in elegant linen, David also wore a linen prayer shawl.
On they came, all Israel on parade as they brought Chest of the Covenant of God to Jerusalem, shouting and cheering, playing every kind of brass and percussion and string instrument. King David danced ecstatically as they marched into the city.
They brought the Chest of God and placed it right in the center of the tent that David had pitched for it; then they worshiped and completed the offerings. David blessed the people in the name of God and passed around to everyone a loaf of bread, a slice of barbecue, and a raisin cake.
That was the day that David inaugurated regular worship of praise to God. He made sure that there were plenty of songs to sing when they worshipped. Many were hymns that he wrote himself, like Psalm 150:
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
Prayer from the Heart (1 Samuel 1:1 - 2:11)
In Israel, there was a man named Elkanah. Hannah was his wife and they loved each other. One thing made her very sad - she had no children. In those days, having children was very, very important for a woman. People made fun of you and thought something was wrong with you if you never had sons or daughters of your own. Well, every year Elkanah and Hannah went with his family to worship God at Shiloh. This was before there was a worship place in Jerusalem. Hannah prayed hard every year at this special time she asked God for a son. One year, she was so desperate and unhappy that she wept and prayed so hard that no words came out. Her heart felt like it was breaking. She asked God again for a son and promised to give the child up to serve God all his life. Eli the priest saw her lips moving and no words coming out he thought she was crazy and tried to get her out. She told him that it was just that she was so upset. Eli understood what she felt. He said to her, May the God of Israel answer the prayer you have made to him. Hannah felt much better after that and went back home with Elkanah. Not long after, Hannah found that she was going to have a baby. She had a son and she named him Samuel. That name means I asked God for him. Each year, Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel went to Shiloh and Hannah gave thanks with so much joy. Her heart was so full that she wrote a song of praise.
I'm bursting with God-news!
I'm walking on air.
I'm laughing at my rivals.
I'm dancing my salvation.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives!
a place in the sun!
Straight from the Shoulder (2 Cor, 6, I Tim. 3:14, 2 Tim. 2:11-13)
Paul and others wrote often to the Christians that they had taught in cities all around the Mediterranean. They wanted to make sure that the new followers knew what following The Way really meant. They had so much love and so much concern for each new follower that they didn't even stop teaching when they were in jail!
Timothy wrote: Fix this picture firmly in your mind: Jesus, descended from the line of David, raised from the dead. It's what you've heard from me all along. It's what I'm sitting in jail for right now but God's Word isn't in jail! That's why I stick it out here so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory. This is a sure thing:
If we die with him, we'll live with him;
If we stick it out with him, we'll rule with him;
If we turn our backs on him, he'll turn his back on us;
If we give up on him, he does not give up
(Lovely hymn, Timothy thought to himself and hummed the tune as he wrote.)
Paul also hummed songs and wrote and wrote until the day that his life on earth ended � always trying to make clear what it meant to follow Jesus.
I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.
�Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,
Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. Our work as God's servants gets validated'or not in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.
Dear, dear Christians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way and we can sing his words:
I'll live in them, move into them;
I'll be their God and they'll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good, says God.
Don't link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I'll be a Father to you;
you'll be sons and daughters to me.
Wake Up from Your Sleep (Ephesians 5:1-20)
Paul walked back and forth, pacing and talking at the same time. His helper was poised and ready to take dictation - the papyrus spread out on the table, quills sharpened, fresh ink ready in a pot. Paul often wrote things down himself but once in a while, He had so much to say that he needed help getting it all down.
Now, Paul said. Write this - Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Scritch, scritch went the pen across the scroll. The helper carefully wrote what Paul said. Dip, scrape the quill was dipped and the extra ink tapped off.
Paul continued: Don't allow love to turn into bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them the usual variations on idolatry will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
Paul paused for a moment; Are you getting all this? Don't be afraid to tell me to slow down. The helper reassured his friend and teacher that he was doing fine and still had plenty of quills and ink!
Paul began once again: You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.
Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.
Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
(Good hymn, that one exclaimed the apostle.)
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Story and Song of Salvation (Exodus 14-15)
God spoke to Moses: Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp on the shore of the sea. Pharaoh will think, The Israelites are lost; they're confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.
When Pharoah was told that the people were gone, he said, What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free? So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.
The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with the Hebrews. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw Egyptians! Coming at them!
They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God and told Moses, Weren't the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? Didn't we tell you, Leave us alone here in Egypt we're better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.
Moses spoke to the people: Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you're never going to see them again.
God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!
The pillar of fire and of cloud that had been in front shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel - keeping one camp in darkness and flooding the other with light so the Hebrews could pack up and move while the Egyptians couldn't see a thing.
God said to Moses: Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through on dry ground. Then Moses stretched out his hand and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back.
The Israelites walked through on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea during the pre-dawn hours and the wheels of the heavy chariots got stuck in the mud.
God said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots, over their horsemen. Moses did as God ordered: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh's army.
God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians. And Israel realized the tremendous power of God. Miriam the prophetess, Moses and Aaron'[s sister, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing. Miriam led the singing:
I'm singing my heart out to God - what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider into the sea.
God is my strength, God is my song,
and, yes! God is my salvation.
This is the kind of God I have
and I�m telling the world!
This is the God of my father
I�m spreading the news far and wide!
Let God rule forever, for eternity!
Sing to God! what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider into the sea