Zephaniah 3:17 says:
"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."
We serve and worship a God who is with us. No other religion even attempts to make such a claim. Religions throughout the world for all of human history have staked claims on the spiritual appetites of men and women based on some combination of proclamations promises. Though often couched in deceptively appealing ways, the messages of those religions usually go something like these:
- "God will bless you if you follow him."
- "God won't punish you if you do enough to please him."
- "God is too far away to hear you, but if you do just the right combination of sacrifices and rituals, you can reach him."
- "You don't need a god, you need to be in touch with your inner self."
- "Your god is and should be what you want him or her to be."
- "There are many gods with limited power and unlimited pettiness, so good luck keeping them all happy."
- "Knowledge is god.
- "Pleasure is god."
- "Happiness is god."
Not a single one outside of Christianity promises the nearness of a personal and loving God. The reason for this? It seems totally unbelievable. If you're in the business of convincing people to follow you, you can't afford to make claims that sound unbelievable....Unless you can back them up.
That's where our God comes in. He makes countless inconceivable claims about himself and then he backs each and every one up. So when Zephaniah 3:17 says the God is with us (in our midst) and that He rejoices over us with loud singing, we should not take that lightly.
What an amazing idea that the God who owns and controls everything chooses to be with us when we gather, to be with us in our sorrows and our pains and our joys, and not only chooses to be with us, but is overflowing with loud songs of rejoicing over us? This doesn't mean He is unaware of our pain or sorrow. It doesn't mean He insensitive or unperturbed by our sin, either.
It simply means that when he looks upon us, his first and greatest emotion is one of a Father who is filled with joy at the very existence of his children to the point that He's composing songs about how much he loves them. That's how God reacts when he looks upon us. And that's why we sing when we gather. Because we're responding to the singing God, who made us in His image, to respond to his initiative toward us with a joyful song of our own.
So as we come this week, let's keep the singing, rejoicing face of God in our mind's eye, and let's celebrate the unfathomable and undeserved and unlimited love of God for us.
Here are the songs and Scriptures that will make up our services this week:
And here's a Spotify Playlist of the songs.