Posted in theology

Why did Isaiah say ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ and not ‘a man of unclean heart’?

By Elizabeth Prata

Isaiah was lifted up in a vision to see the throne room of God. He saw the I AM seated and being praised by Seraphim who shouted,

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies.
The whole earth is full of His glory.

(Isaiah 6:3)

Isaiah’s response was:

“Woe to me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.”
(Isaiah 6:5).

The word ‘Woe’ here means in the Hebrew, to cease, to destroy, to be cut off. THAT is how powerful glimpsing God’s glory is. We know from the reactions of those who have seen the LORD’s glory that they marvel that they are still living. But why did Isaiah not say, “I am a man of unclean heart?” especially since from the heart flows all sin. Or why didn’t he say “I am a man of unclean soul (or spirit)?’ Why lips?

Matthew Henry wrote of the scene,

“[I]t may be taken more generally; I am a sinner; particularly, I have offended in word; and who is there that hath not? Jam. 3:2. We all have reason to bewail it before the Lord,

(1a.) That we are of unclean lips ourselves; our lips are not consecrated to God; he had not had the first-fruits of our lips (Heb. 13:15), and therefore they are counted common and unclean, uncircumcised lips, Ex. 6:30. Nay, they have been polluted with sin. We have spoken the language of an unclean heart, that evil communication which corrupts good manners, and whereby many have been defiled.”

(1b). “We are unworthy and unmeet to take God’s name into our lips. With what a pure lip did the angels praise God! “But,” says the prophet, “I cannot praise him so, for I am a man of unclean lips.” … The impurity of our lips ought to be the grief of our souls, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned.

(2.) That we dwell among those who are so too. We have reason to lament not only that we ourselves are polluted, but that the nature and race of mankind are so; the disease is hereditary and epidemic, which is so far from lessening our guilt that it should rather increase our grief, …” Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1089). Hendrickson.

Let’s look at that Hebrews verse Matthew Henry mentioned-

Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name.

Our lips are what form the words of praise or the words of sin. See also Isaiah 57:19; Hosea 14:2. We might be redeemed and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, but we still sin. We are justified, but not yet glorified. Our lips still sin, as we see from James 3:8-10 says,

But no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.

There is a little known prophecy in Zephaniah. One glorious day it will come to pass:

Zephaniah 3:9, For then I will restore to the peoples pure lips, So that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder.

Our mouths will be glorified, pure and without sin. Our praises, which the Lord is due, will come from clean lips, praises gloriously melding together from all those redeemed who are also singing exaltations to the Lord. We will be standing shoulder to shoulder in our white robes of sinlessness, praising Him eternally…purely and cleanly.

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Kay Cude Poetry: What Manner of Man is This?

Presented by Elizabeth Prata

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Right-click to open photo in new window

Artist’s statement:

After finishing this piece, the more I read and reread Mark 4:37-41 and Colossians 1:16-18, the more I was overcome with tears. The Holy Spirit is so faithful to teach, especially at times when I am too busy “doing things” for Christ (in my own effort). How many more readings of these verses will it take for me to attentively remember that Christ’s continuing patience with me, my fears and my sometimes feeble faith is unbelievably profound and so very merciful?

How many times has Scripture told me, told all believers, to pay attention to Christ and His Word, and to not allow the storms of battering and fearful trials or heartaches overwhelm us? That He is sufficient; that He will enable us to glorify Him in our lives; that He will supply us with the appropriate words needed at perilous times of persecution and impending death? Or to remember that all things are under His authority and that He is preeminent and sovereign and that he will supply us the wisdom and endurance to continue on? Or that His Holy Spirit sustains us!

I am so thankful, so grateful, that He knows the hearts of His redeemed so intimately, and so very thankful that He rescued me!

kay-cude-manner-of-man
Poetry is by Kay Cude
Posted in theology

How can it be?

By Elizabeth Prata

As time in your walk with Jesus goes on, after months and years and perhaps decades, don’t let the wonder diminish. The awe-inspiring, breathtaking generosity of a God who hates sin but redeems sinners. Don’t let yourself forget the depravity in which you lived, before salvation. The horror of sin and its ruin on earth. The abhorrence of it to God. The wages of it- death.

But God. But God loves His people and chose to save some. He not only justifies. He not only sanctifies. He not only adopts. He not only feels compassion for us while we were yet sinners. He brings us to His HOME to live in, cleaned, loved, fed, and made righteous. He opens His door to us without hesitation, without reservation, if we repent and fall on His Son Jesus.

Continue reading “How can it be?”
Posted in encouragement, theology

Grace IS Amazing

By Elizabeth Prata

palm sunday

My favorite doctrines are Grace, followed by Providence.

Grace that is extended by our loving God is shocking and amazing and wonderful. I was saved later in life and I remember what it felt like to live a sinful life in rebellion against God. It was confusing and upsetting, most of the time.

I read a lot, and enjoyed historical books and the world’s myths. As I read books, all the world’s made-up gods were capricious or unloving or dismissive of humans. That seemed right to me. Even when I read of the Founding Fathers and learned about their deism, that god also seemed right to me. The deist god created everything – including humans – but then retreated from humankind’s affairs and let us wind down of our own accord.

Grace given by a loving God was foreign to me and unthinkable. Because that would mean He was involved with humans, lovingly. Weird.

But that and only that God is the one true God.

He came in the form of a baby who grew to be a man-God, teaching and loving and performing miracles. He died for our sins and absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf.

Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
It was not a sweet sound to me then, but it is now.

That saved a wretch like me
I used to close my mouth if I happened to be at a Church service, like at Christmas, and this hymn came on. I wasn’t a wretch!, I’d utter. And close my mouth, refusing to say the lyrics.

I once was lost, but now am found
I didn’t know I was lost and I didn’t know I needed to be found.

Was blind but now I see
I didn’t know I was blind. Revelation 3:17 applies here:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

That the Lord of All would stoop to save a wretch like me, covered in mud and dwelling with the pigs, like the Prodigal, is amazing. That He would walk into Jerusalem, knowing the cries of Hosannah! would turn bloody and hateful a week later. That He went toward his kangaroo trials, his scourging, and his death, even death upon a cross, to save filthy sinners, is amazing. What grace!

Thank you Lord, for your grace!! How wonderful that even when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun. An eternity praising You is not enough, but what grace that I am able to do so in the first place.

Was blind but now I see…

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Posted in music, theology

Bring me a minstrel: Music in worship

By Elizabeth Prata

You know the quote, I’m sure:

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
― William Congreve

Music does make a difference to our mood. King Saul used music to soothe him when his savagery arose in him, calling for David to play.

And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. (1 Samuel 16:23).

It seems that music does have charms to soothe the savage breast, literally. In another case, Elisha had a hard decision to make and prepared to consult the LORD by asking for music.

Then Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not for my regard for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or acknowledge you. 15But now, bring me a harpist.” And while the harpist played, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha. (2 Kings 3:15)

The John MacArthur Commentary says of the 2 Kings 3 verse,

The music was used to accompany praise and prayer, which calmed the mind of the prophet that he might clearly hear the word of the LORD. Music often accompanied prophecies in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Chronicles 25:1)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says

bring me a minstrel—The effect of music in soothing the mind is much regarded in the East; and it appears that the ancient prophets, before entering their work, commonly resorted to it, as a preparative, by praise and prayer, to their receiving the prophetic afflatus.

Music does have the ability to alter our mood, change our state of mind, even relax us (else why have so much New Age music in spas?), and alternately music can also excite us (else why have a ‘warm-up band’ before the main concert attraction?)

The long “music wars” in church began when millennials wanted more “contemporary music”. War is an apt name for this tussle over which music to play in church, because as we’ve seen from scripture, music is important in worship, and it can alter our mood and thinking. It’s important to ensure that the music we play isn’t for the purpose of altering our emotions without also engaging the mind. Music can alter our thinking because music lyrics are doctrinal. Songs aren’t neutral, lyrics present a way of thinking about God.

Music in church needs to be delivered in a biblical way and a practical way. Biblical as mentioned, because of the doctrine the songs contain (or don’t contain). Practical, because many ‘old songs’ were easier to sing corporately with laymen and many ‘new songs’ aren’t written for the laymen and are just hard to sing.

There are many new songs which exalt the Lord and/or are solidly doctrinal. There are many old ones that don’t and aren’t. The issue isn’t new vs. old, the issue is whether the song is biblical and practical.

My favorite hymns/songs are Amazing Grace, written in 1779, 240 years ago, and Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor, written in 2015, just 4 years ago.

Now where is that minstrel?…

harp

Resources on Music in the Church

John MacArthur with an overview through a Q&A with Phil Johnson-
Contemporary Worship: Civil War in the Church

This Federalist author has a strong opinion. Essay is from one day ago-
Why Churches Should Ditch The Projector Screens And Bring Back Hymnals

Musician Bob Kauflin with an essay asking the question. BTW there are many other good essays on music in worship at Kauflin’s site.
What does a Worship Leader Do?

Posted in encouragement, theology

Grace IS Amazing

By Elizabeth Prata

palm sunday

My favorite doctrines are Grace, followed by Providence.

Grace that is extended by our loving God is shocking and amazing and wonderful. I was saved later in life and I remember what it felt like to live a sinful life in rebellion against God. It was confusing and upsetting, most of the time.

I read a lot, and enjoyed historical books and the world’s myths. As I read books, all the world’s made-up gods were capricious or unloving or dismissive of humans. That seemed right to me. Even when I read of the Founding Fathers and learned about their deism, that god also seemed right to me. The deist god created everything – including humans – but then retreated from humankind’s affairs and let us wind down of our own accord.

Grace given by a loving God was foreign to me and unthinkable. Because that would mean He was involved with humans, lovingly. Weird.

But that and only that God is the one true God.

He came in the form of a baby who grew to be a man-God, teaching and loving and performing miracles. He died for our sins and absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf.

Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
It was not a sweet sound to me then, but it is now.

That saved a wretch like me
I used to close my mouth if I happened to be at a Church service, like at Christmas, and this hymn came on. I wasn’t a wretch!, I’d utter. And close my mouth, refusing to say the lyrics.

I once was lost, but now am found
I didn’t know I was lost and I didn’t know I needed to be found.

 

Was blind but now I see
I didn’t know I was blind. Revelation 3:17 applies here:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

That the Lord of All would stoop to save a wretch like me, covered in mud and dwelling with the pigs, like the Prodigal, is amazing. That He would walk into Jerusalem, knowing the cries of Hosannah! would turn bloody and hateful a week later. That He went toward his kangaroo trials, his scourging, and his death, even death upon a cross, to save filthy sinners, is amazing. What grace!

Thank you Lord, for your grace!! How wonderful that even when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun. An eternity praising You is not enough, but what grace that I am able to do so in the first place.

Was blind but now I see…

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Posted in encouragement, theology

Praises and Encouragement

By Elizabeth Prata

Have you had a good week in Jesus? I have. I wrote a praise poem recently, thanking Him for His manifestation in my life of His patience, (through loving kindness from fellow church members), His sovereignty as Creator (the full moon so beautiful over the silvery lit pastures), and His providential care (even the smallest needs do not escape His notice.) His involvement in our lives is thorough and constant. The more I walk with Him the more I see this, and I praise Him. But the more I praise Him the more I see His faithfulness and His constancy. It is a glorious circle, one that will never be broken.

It is good to begin with praises, because, as we know, the news in the world is not so good, but we are not of the world. If you walk closely with Jesus the news of the world will affect you only in that it helps you see and understand God is sovereign and everything He does is good. Actually, it is awe-inspiring because the closer I walk with Him and the more news I read that lines up with what He said would happen, it makes me feel more humble and grateful that a God such as He wants to interact on a personal basis with His people.

No matter how serious the news is, His constancy, His sovereignty, His plan, and His ways are Good. Even if you feel you do not have much to praise Him for, you DO! Seek ways to thank Him. He is active in our lives to the n-th degree. Nothing escapes His hand, from the most high work of salvation of souls, to the smallest sparrow’s needs. How much more, then, are YOU valuable to Him? (Matthew 6:25-26).

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:1-3

collage verse 4

Posted in theology, worship

Songs of praise, looking up

By Elizabeth Prata

jerusalem from scopus

Jerusalem from Scopus

‎We have no means of knowing whether Joseph and Mary entered Jerusalem on their way to Bethlehem. They certainly passed in sight of the Holy City. Scopus, from which our view is taken, is to the north on the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We will assume that they saw Jerusalem from this point. It was not the same Jerusalem we saw for the last time, as we made our way to the north on May 2d, 1894, but Josephus has left on record a description of the city as it existed in the time of Herod, and it is possible for us to construct in imagination the city of that time.

The framework is the same to-day as it was in the year 5 B. C. The same hills are there: Zion, Moriah and Acra. The same valleys are there: Hinnom, Tyropeon and Jehoshphat. The Temple of Herod, which was eighty-three years in building, had been in course of erection for fourteen years. From Scopus where we are standing they could have seen the ground plan of the temple, within the same enclosure of thirty-five acres, where we now see in the distance the Mosque of Omar.

Source: Earthly Footsteps of The Man of Galilee, being three hundred and eighty-four… views and descriptions of the places connected with the earthly life of Our Lord and His Apostles … By Bishop J.H. Vincent, etc. – 1894. This striking photographic journey throughout the Holy Land illustrated with no less than 384 b/w photographs taken in 1894 by R. E. M. Bain in order to document the expedition to Palestine headed by clergyman James Wideman Lee.

You can see that Jerusalem sits atop the mount, and the road leading up to it ascends. That is likely why the Psalms between Psalm 120-134 are named Psalms of Ascents. Though no one is quite positive about this, it is believed that these particular Psalms are gathered into a little hymnbook inside the larger body of Psalms because they were meant to be sung as the Israelites ascended the road to Jerusalem in advance of the several feasts and celebrations they were required to attend under the Law. The previous bunch of Psalms are called the Hallel Psalms, hallel meaning songs of praise, you can see we get the word hallelujah from hallel.

Phil Johnson explains it all here, in The Song of a Truly Blessed Man:

The position in the canon is significant, I think. They are grouped with Psalm 119 and the hallel Psalms. Most commentators nowadays believe these 15 psalms were sung by groups of pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem for those three pilgrim festivals—the same holy convocations where the Hallel psalms were sung.

So it’s my conviction that the “Psalm[s] of Ascents” were songs for the journey. These are songs for pilgrims as they ascend to a higher place. You know that Jerusalem is situated on a high elevation. The Temple was built at the very top of Mount Zion, and the city itself was the highest populated place in Israel. So no matter where you were coming from, it was always up to Jerusalem. Every journey to Jerusalem was a pilgrimage to a higher place—and those annual pilgrimages therefore made a perfect metaphor for spiritual growth.

Whether your church is up a mount or down a valley or on even ground, sing praises as you look UP today to the highest of the High, the exalted and lifted up Jesus.

By common confession, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was proclaimed among the nations, was believed in throughout the world, was taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

May your Lord’s Day be blessed.