A New Song For A New Year

Bible Book: Psalms  96
Subject: New Year; Christian Living

If you can, and if you will, please stand and honor the God of the Word and the Word of God as I read Psalm 96, verse 1. And, please keep your Bible open because we are going to look at most of the verses in this Psalm during this message. (Scripture Read - People Seated.)

We are coming to the end of another year of life. Before us lies the expanse of a new year with all its opportunities and dangers. Our black brothers and sisters sometimes sing a song that says, "I don't feel no ways tired; I don't believe He brought this far to leave me." I like that! In that same vein, we sometimes hear the saying, "The Lord has brought me from a mighty long ways." Yes He has, and He will lead further on till we get home.

If one looks at our world closely, it can be a bit discouraging. Men and women of our military services are dying in foreign battle. Drugs are ravaging our young people and many young adults. Terrorists have vowed to destroy us and they most assuredly are plotting daily to strike us again in this country and around the world. A "flu" pandemic is hovering over the horizon according to almost every health organization on earth. Some estimate that deaths could range in the 10s of millions if this outbreak occurs without vaccine to halt its spread. World economist are frightened by what they see in the financial future, especially if terrorist succeed in hitting strategic places around the world. Ecologists are warning of global warming that could threaten land masses on almost every continent on earth. New viruses are beginning to appear that are resistant to all known antibiotic medicines. Now there are a number of other things that I could use this morning to depress you to the point of tears and trembling. But, I have good news. God wants you to have a new song in this new year that lies ahead.

Psalm 96 was written by David, the man after God's own heart. Those who study scriptures very closely tell us that this Psalm almost certainly was written when the Ark of the Covenant had been returned to Jerusalem after being in the possession of the Philistines for some time. The Ark of the Covenant was viewed as God's presence among His people. While the Ark was away, the people felt divinely deserted. The depression was almost more than the people could bear.

In 1 Samuel 4:21 and 22, we read about the night the people learned that the Ark had been taken. A woman was great with child and she gave birth to a son that night. She named the child, "Ichabod." The word "ichabod" means, "the glory is gone." When the Ark was away, the people felt that the glory of God was gone, the hope was gone, the peace was gone, the joy was gone, the protection was gone - the light of life had gone out and felt they were in the dark.

But, here in Psalm 96 we read of the attitude present when the Ark was returned. Now, let me tell you something important. The glory of God, the presence of God, the hope of God, the peace of God, the joy of God is always available to the child of God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. We should live in the atmosphere of a new song in this New Year. Don't let bad news get you down. Don't let threats and dangers bully you. Don't allow Satan to terrify you. I want to show you today four commitments we need to make as believers to have a glorious New Year. If you put these in place, the devil will not be able to get a foothold in your heart during the year ahead.

I. Possess A Positive Faith Verses 1 - 2a

The word "new" in verses 1 of Psalm 96 means "fresh" or "renewed." It means to brighten or lift up your heart in song to the Lord. In essence, the Psalmist is telling us to get hold of that which has gotten hold of us. Get off the bad news and get on the good news. We are God's people, saved by grace, on our way to the Kingdom City where the King will greet us. Till we get there, He has promised to be here with us. Look up child of God, you are blessed beyond words.

Someone will say to me, "Oh, pastor, you don't know what I'm going through." Let me tell you something important. You are "going through" not "stopping." God has promised you victory over every enemy. Listen to what God tells you in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (NKJV) God is thinking good thoughts toward you and He wants you to think good thoughts of Him and of your future!

Sometimes it may appear that truth is dislodged from its place and evil has taken the throne; but, let me remind you that God has not abrogated His Sovereignty - He is still on the throne. He is Lord. He is King. He is Master. He is God. He shall never be toppled from His place. Your circumstances may not necessarily give evidence of God's power at this moment, but always remember that we are not sitting on our circumstances we are standing on His promises.

"Standing on the promises that cannot fall,

Listening every moment to the Spirit's call,

Resting in my Savior as my all in all,

I'm standing on the promises of God."

Paul put this way in 2 Timothy 2:12, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (NKJV) Whatever you are suffering or facing, remember that the Lord is keeping you and has wonderful plans for you. Enter the New Year with a New Song. Lift up your heart. Take off the cloak of mourning and put on the garment of praise. Possess a positive faith.

David had faced the lion and bear when but a lad, and God had delivered him and made him victorious. David had faced Goliath with nothing but a slingshot in his hand and God had given him victory. David had been hunted down by King Saul, but God had given him victory. David had been taken by the Philistines in Gath, but God had extricated him. David had sinned terribly and felt the pangs of guilt and sorrow, but God had forgiven him. David was looking back at all God had done in his life and he was saying, "I'm going to sing a New Song. I'm not going to go around whining about the circumstances. My God is with me." David possessed a positive faith.

What has God brought you through? How many times has He forgiven you? How many troubles has He brought you through? Lift up your heart. Possess a positive faith. The New Year before you can be the best year of you life - not because all we go as you plan or wish - but because you possess a positive faith that honors the God who loved you, saved you, keeps you, and has great eternal plans for you! End this year and begin the next by resolving that during this New Year you are going to keep a New Song in your heart - a song of confidence - a song of positive faith.

II. Proclaim A Public Witness Verses 2b-3

Two words occur here that most not be overlooked. One is the word "proclaim" and the other is the word "declare." The first word means to tell something with a cheerful, happy and positive spirit. Now listen carefully. Once we get a positive faith on the inside, we must translate that to a positive witness on the outside. We have to make know the salvation of the Lord in a positive way. It troubles me today that the Christian community is becoming known only for what we are against. We are becoming like the old mountain poem I heard years ago.

"I don't drink and I don't chew,

And I don't date girls that do."

How about letting the world know what we are for!!! Lift up Jesus! Lift up God's grace. The Pharisees had problems with Jesus because he loved sinners. We are becoming known today for hating sin. Don't get me wrong. I know there are things that we must point out as being evil, wrong, sinful and harmful. But what is our main message? Jesus loves the world. Jesus saves. Jesus forgives. Jesus cares about your situation. Jesus is the hope of the world. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!

The second word, the word "declare," means to cut into wood with a penknife. In other words, it means to carry the message "cut" into your life. The songwriter penned, "Take the name of Jesus with you...take it then wherever you go." (Lydia Baxter, 1809-1874) We must not only have a positive faith in our hearts, we must have a public witness in our lives and on our lips.

III. Practice A Praising Worship

Worship is more than being in a worship service. Worship involves the worshipper. There are two specific elements presented as being necessary for appropriate worship to take place. Listen, my friend, if you want to have a great year in 2013, make sure you worship God in God's way!

A. It is a Deserved Worship

The Lord deserves our worship. Do you believe that? Do you agree with this statement? God deserves Biblical worship! Well, why does He deserve it? The Psalmist gives us reasons to sing a New Song in this New Year. Lets take them backwards from verses 5 and 6.

1. His Creation verse 5-6

You can't stand by a beach, gaze over a grand mountain, look in a baby's eyes without feeling the majesty of His creation. Praise Him. Worship Him. Honor Him because of His creation.

2. His Inspiration verse 3

His wonders involve the miracle works of God. We read and hear often of the mighty things God has done. Think on His wonders deeds. Praise Him for those wonders related to your own life. Praise Him for those recorded in the Bible. Praise Him for the wonder of the resurrection which is the prototype of all the resurrections believers will experience. Yes, praise Him for His wonders.

3. His Salvation verse 2

Above all, praise Him for salvation.

B. It is a Described Worship

We are told what our worship is to be like. Just how do we worship God? Is it your choice as to how you worship Him? Does the Bible have anything to say about what our worship is to be like? Sure it does! Listen to things that are mentioned here regarding the spirit of our worship.

1. Worship in Strength verses 4, 7

The Psalmist calls on believers to praise Him because he is "greatly" to be praised. The word "greatly" means "loudly, vehemently, and diligently." It means more than merely humming a hymn while others sing. It means more than yawning while the offering is being taken. If there is one part of the Christian life where we as Baptists have fallen short in recent years, it is in the area of worship. Non-denominational churches, charismatic churches and independent churches have taken thousands of our people - especially our young people - because they practice worship. Now don't misunderstand my point here. I know many have taken worship to extremes. There are churches where people pass out on the floor, yelp like dogs and/or run around the worship center like a college running back in a bowl game. I'm not talking about that sort of thing. But I will tell you without equivocation that the deadpan way many people enter the house of God to worship is a shame.

We are called in this passage to give Him glory! What does that mean? The word "glory" means "heavy" or "weighty." We are to put some "oomph" behind our worship. We must give our worship due weight. The congregation is not a room full of spectators - we are all participants in the worship of the Lord. We are to put our energy into this matter of worship.

And then we are told to give Him strength. God is stronger than strong. How can I give Him strength? This word is speaking of me putting my "strength" into worship. I can't work all week, play when I'm not at work, and then drag my tired body into church hoping the preacher quits early so I can take a nap. Save up some "strength" for worship. Put some gusto behind your worship experience. Man's first full day on earth was a Sabbath. Man was created on Friday. He went to sleep that night and got up for his first day on earth. Adam was ready to go to work. God said, "Not so fast. This is the Sabbath. You are to worship and rest today." I think some Baptists think God meant for us to do both at the same time (worship and rest), so they just sleep through worship services. God told Adam, while you are fresh and strong, spend the day with me. Then you can go to work. Man's first day was with God. With don't end the week with God - we are to begin the week with God. If you want 2007 to be a great year, you must start everyday with God and especially every week with God.

2. Worship in Sacrifice verse 8

We are to bring an offering. God deserves our best gifts. We should give His tithe and our offering. Bring Him a worthy gift.

3. Worship in Seriousness verse 9

"Tremble" before Him. Being serious does not mean being dull or long faced. It means to take this matter of worship seriously - from the heart. When we realize that we are in His presence, we should tremble with delight, tremble with respect, and tremble with awe.

IV. Prepare for A Personal Judgment

Finally, the Psalmist states that judgment is coming. One must be prepared to meet God. How do we do that? First, we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. That means repenting (turning) from sin and trusting what Christ did for us at Calvary. It means to give Him your life - past, present and future. Many here have done that. You have peace about death and eternity. If you have never done that, the year 2013 holds dangers and fears. What if this year is your year to meet God in death? Now is the time to come. Now is the day of salvation.

But, also, as Christians we should so live that we will not be ashamed when we meet Christ face-to-face. Let's put a New Song in our hearts. Let's fill our lives with a fresh new positive faith, a public proclamation, and a worship filled with energy and praise. That will lead to a New Year filled with opportunity and blessing!