VIDEO Famous Marches: Jehoshaphat’s Musical March

He appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army. 2 Chronicles 20:21

In 2 Chronicles 20, an army invaded Judah from the South, and King Jehoshaphat had no way to save his city. He felt a surge of panic, but he pulled himself together to summon the public for prayer. In front of a tense population, he prayed, “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (verse 12).

When he finished praying, no sound was heard. Suddenly a prophet shouted, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (verse 15).

The next day, Judah’s armies marched into battle, but, in an unlikely military strategy, the musicians went first, praising the Lord, singing, “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever” (verse 21). The armies of the enemy were plundered, and God won the victory.

If you have circumstances coming against you today, march forward with singing, praise, and prayer. The battle is not yours, but God’s.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Sabine Baring-Gould


2 Chronicles 20

Like Whack-a-Mole

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

You might know what it’s like. The bills keep arriving after a medical procedure—from the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, the lab, the facility. Jason experienced this after an emergency surgery. He complained, “We owe thousands of dollars after insurance. If only we can get these bills paid, then life will be good and I’ll be content! I feel like I’m playing the arcade game Whack-a-Mole”—where plastic moles pop up from their holes, and the player hits them wildly with a mallet.

Life comes at us like that at times. The apostle Paul certainly could relate. He said, “I know what it is to be in need,” yet he’d “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). His secret? “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13). When I was going through a particularly discontented time, I read this on a greeting card: “If it isn’t here, where is it?” That was a powerful reminder that if I’m not content here and now, what makes me think I’d be if only I were in another situation?

How do we learn to rest in Jesus? Maybe it’s a matter of focus. Of enjoying and being thankful for the good. Of learning more about a faithful Father. Of growing in trust and patience. Of recognizing that life is about God and not me. Of asking Him to teach me contentment in Him.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

In what areas of your life do you need to grow in contentment? How might you change your focus?

God, You are good and all You do is good. Teach me contentment in You. I want to learn.

Living Out Our Unity in Christ

Ephesians 4:9-16

Jesus knew the importance of unity in the church, and in one of His last recorded prayers, He asked the Father for it three times (John 17:11; John 17:20-23).To honor Jesus’ prayer, let’s look at several aspects of our faith that unify us as believers:

One body. God adopts people into His family without regard for race, gender, or denomination. Trust in Jesus Christ is all that matters (Gal. 3:28).

One Spirit. All Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We’re different on the outside, but as believers, we all have the Spirit to empower and guide us.

One hope. As believers, we share a common hope—the return of Jesus and life in heaven with Him.

One Lord.  Jesus’ lordship extends over all people. We should submit to His authority in every area of life.

One faith. Believers are united in one faith, which is founded on several basic truths: Jesus is God; He lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where He’s seated at God’s right hand.

By learning to see what we have in common, we can more easily overlook our differences. Seeing our unity, people will be ready to hear the good news that God offers a way to have peace with Him and with others.

Sounds of Music, Words of Truth

sounds of music worship
But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” (Luke 4:4)

Many of us have seen the 1965 musical The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews (Maria) and Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp).1 This year marks its 50th anniversary. Compared to the raucous musicals of today and the TV programs and movies that are ever-pushing the envelope toward open and gleeful wickedness, the classic is a pleasure to watch.

However, “poetic license” is often taken as the media’s authorization to distort truth, and the story promotes a worldview without a personal Creator God. The film certainly reflects the accepted view that nature is the ultimate source for truth and that our feelings are the way we can verify what is truth “for us.” Unfortunately, many of our churches have come into sync with Maria’s opening song:

The hills are alive with the sound of music,
With songs they have sung for a thousand years.
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music.
My heart wants to sing every song it hears.

With obvious delight swirling from her dancing and with her heart beating in time with the “hills” message of revelation, Maria continues to sing:

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees.
My heart wants to sigh like a chime
That flies from a church on a breeze.

To laugh like a brook when it trips
And falls over stones on its way.
To sing through the night
Like a lark who is learning to pray.

Enraptured with religious feeling and natural beauty, Maria later tells the Abbess, “I can’t seem to stop singing wherever I am. And what’s worse, I can’t seem to stop saying things—anything and everything I think and feel.” Throughout the film, the heart is featured as a trustworthy guide to life’s activities and decisions. During a discussion about Maria, Sister Margaretta suggests that rules often conflict with our heart because “after all, the wool from the black sheep is just as warm.”

The message? “Rules from any source should not govern your life. Your heart is the most trustworthy guide.”

Sadly, much of the evangelical world has shifted from attention to “every word of God” toward a “sound” of Christianity that feels good. For example, far too many churches are more centered on the performance of their worship team than on the words of the songs they sing. Often, the sound and volume of the music override whatever good words are in the song—so much so that many of the words cannot be understood. Yet, the audience will applaud the performance because it sounds and feels good.

It is still true that many churches are trying to strike the right balance between modern expectations and genuine worship. It is also true that most pastors are trying their best to teach and preach God’s Word. Some congregations, however, tend to reward non-controversy over a clear stand on God’s Word. Some are caught up in petty disputes that drive those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness back into the godless world—or worse yet, harden their hearts against the “living word” that could free them. Perhaps the sounds of the world are drowning out the message of God. Perhaps the “renewing of our mind” is held back from “transforming” our lives (Romans 12:1-2) because the heart is beating too loudly with the “lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16).

This is not a new problem among the churches. Among the seven churches to whom the Lord Jesus addressed Himself in the early chapters of the book of Revelation, there were only two (Philadelphia and Smyrna) that were not reprimanded for some serious difficulty. Two (Ephesus and Laodicea) were warned that they were even in danger of losing their very “church-ness” (lose its authority as a church, have its lampstand removed). Those seven churches, representative of all churches since our Lord returned to His throne, set the stage—both good and bad—for what we should pay attention to.

Ezekiel faced a similar problem when God commissioned him to challenge the exiled Israelites to pay attention to the reason they were in exile and to God’s promises of their future restoration. God warned Ezekiel that the message would be difficult to hear and even more challenging to embrace. In several places, God insisted that Ezekiel was to preach the message “whether they hear or whether they refuse” (Ezekiel 2:5, 7; 3:11). Some were openly defiant, but more were generally accepting, encouraging others: “Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD” (Ezekiel 33:30). But they were merely listening to the pleasant “sound” of godly words.

So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. (Ezekiel 33:31-32)

God’s observation to Ezekiel is surely applicable today. Poll after poll has noted a slippage in the religious fervor in America. Not only has the overall “Christian” percentage slipped a few points, but more and more younger people are moving from identity with a recognized denomination (Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, etc.) to what has come to be called the “nones”—those who refuse to be identified with any religious movement. Some might consider themselves “Christian” and would not identify as Islamic or Hindu or another religion but consider themselves to be “spiritual.” One-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.2

It has been clear for some time, however, that the “Christian” majority is Christian in name only. That is, they either have a family history of Christianity or they themselves attend some church from time to time. Their religion is mostly an intellectual awareness, a superficial affirmation, or a pleasant assurance about their lifestyle or their life after death. They feel good if and when they think about Christianity, but most of their lives do not reflect any kind of commitment to following Christ or His commandments.

Today’s churches and the Christians who are among them—like the church in Pergamos who dwelt in the middle of “Satan’s throne” and yet remained faithful (Revelation 2:12-14)—are given the grave responsibility to emulate the good characteristics identified among those seven churches in Revelation.

– Detest evil and test for truth while taking the “long view.”
– Remain faithful in the face of tribulation and bold in the face of suffering.
– Maintain a faithful testimony even during the darkest time of error.
– Declare the name of Jesus Christ under all circumstances.
– Be generous in service and in charity and grow more effective over time.
– Be aware of strengths from the Lord and continue guarding the Word of God.

The Lord Jesus also identified several bad characteristics that churches must avoid. They are not to let their love grow cold or permit false teaching to remain. Churches are warned against compromise (the doctrine of Balaam), those who are “Nicolaitans” (people conquerors), or those who are false prophets (Jezebels). Nor should churches become indifferent to growing deadness or confuse worldly success with spiritual success. It is possible for a church to become “unchurched” by Christ and possible for a church to incur His anger, causing Christ Himself to actually “fight against” that church! Woe to the church and its members who become specifically troubled by Christ for their disobedience or are plundered suddenly while unaware of their disarray. They’ve lost their “ear” for the truth of God’s Word.

The sounds of music can motivate as well as dull. Godly music sets the stage and prepares the heart for the clear instruction of the Word of God. Music has always played a strong role in the assembly of God’s people, and it is as much a part of worship in eternity as is the activity around the throne (Revelation 5:9; 14:3; 15:3).

The widely variant sounds of music can be used either appropriately or inappropriately in many settings. One would never use the somber laments of respect for the dead to call an army to alert. In fact, “if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8). Would Miriam have used a dirge of sadness to praise the works of God in delivering Israel from Pharaoh (Exodus 15)? Can one imagine David strumming sedately on his harp as he sang Psalm 149 and instructed the nation to “rejoice” and “dance” and “be joyful in glory”?

Yet these “sounds” are only the carrier for the message! Musical sounds do not save anyone. In our church assemblies, music can be an effective means by which we give the message of truth, but that truth needs to be clarified by the words of truth. As wonderful as are the unwritten “speech” and “knowledge” of the creation (Psalm 19:1-2)—and even though the “invisible” nature and power of God are “clearly seen” by the creation (Romans 1:20)—it is by the “word of God” that faith is transmitted to the mind and heart of all humanity (Romans 10:17). The sounds of music are very important! They can uplift us and give expression to our feelings of joy and praise. But if the sounds outweigh or overshadow the words of God’s Word, then the sounds get in the way of the message. Opposing the truth of God’s Word and the sounds of godly music are the unfettered sounds and words of an ungodly world. The cacophony of the “sound and fury” of the Devil as he “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” is horribly powerful (1 Peter 5:8).

Every instrument has a sound, a “breath,” that can praise the Lord (Psalm 150). Those sounds can be orchestrated together in a majestic hymn or carol or chorus. They can bring the walls down around Jericho or call the builders of the Jerusalem wall to war! Those sounds can bring tears of joy or sadness. They can thrill our hearts or chill our souls. The sounds of music, rightly played, sync our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our bodies in a single purpose. In the assembly of the saints, the sounds of music should draw all of who and what we are to listen to the words of God.

And herein lies the challenge for us. The “sounds” of the world are everywhere. The “noise” of evil is a strident screech that threatens to engulf any effort to sing the song of truth. But sing we must!

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. (Psalm 96:1-3)

References

The Sound of Music. 1965. Directed by Robert Wise. 20th Century Fox. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
“Nones” on the Rise: New Report Finds One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation. Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. Posted on pewforum October 9, 2012, accessed June 22, 2015.

by Henry M. Morris III, D.Min who is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. 2015. Sounds of Music, Words of Truth. Acts & Facts. 44 (8).

Sheep Follow

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

—Psalm 95:6-7

 

Cattle are driven; sheep are led; and our Lord compares His people to sheep, not to cattle.

It is especially important that Christian ministers know the law of the leader—that he can lead others only as far as he himself has gone….

The minister must experience what he would teach or he will find himself in the impossible position of trying to drive sheep. For this reason he should seek to cultivate his own heart before he attempts to preach to the hearts of others….

If he tries to bring them into a heart knowledge of truth which he has not actually experienced he will surely fail. In his frustration he may attempt to drive them; and scarcely anything is so disheartening as the sight of a vexed and confused shepherd using the lash on his bewildered flock in a vain attempt to persuade them to go on beyond the point to which he himself has attained….

The law of the leader tells us who are preachers that it is better to cultivate our souls than our voices…. We cannot take our people beyond where we ourselves have been, and it thus becomes vitally important that we be men of God in the last and highest sense of that term.   PON151-153

Lord help me to listen to You and be spiritually nurtured, to have my soul cultivated by You in silence and solitude. Amen.

 

The Holy Spirit is Here

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

—Acts 2:1

 

Pentecost did not come and go—Pentecost came and stayed. Chronologically the day may be found on the historic calendar; dynamically it remains with us in all its fullness of power.

Today is the day of Pentecost. With the blessed Holy Spirit there is no Yesterday or Tomorrow—there is only the everlasting Now. And since He is altogether God, enjoying all the attributes of the Godhead, there is with Him no Elsewhere; He inhabits an eternal Here. His center is Everywhere; His bound is Nowhere. It is impossible to leave His presence, though it is possible to have Him withdraw the manifestation of that presence.

Our insensibility to the presence of the Spirit is one of the greatest losses that our unbelief and preoccupation have cost us. We have made Him a tenet of our creed, we have enclosed Him in a religious word, but we have known Him little in personal experience. TWP091

When the Holy Spirit comes into our [lives] He does something. He accomplishes something. He is more than a sentiment, a feeling a fancy. He is an infinite force that…enables us to accomplish all for which we were called as the disciples of

Christ. CTBC, Vol. 4/518

 

Ladies of the Night

Matthew 22:9-10

Alida Bosshardt, of the Netherlands, is a legend in her lifetime. For many years she worked as a Salvation Army officer in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, the confidant of prostitutes and the means of helping many to find a different way of life. Even members of the Dutch royal family have been among her friends.

One day she was approached by a prominent Christian lady who wanted to go into the homes of poor people and also some of the bars and brothels regularly visited by Alida to see for herself what life was really like both for the poor and the “ladies of the night.” There was some reluctance about the proposal on the part of Alida because the area of Amsterdam to which they would have to go could be dangerous. She consulted her colleagues in The Salvation Army and the idea was finally agreed upon.

The day came when the lady climbed the stairs to Alida’s flat where the two had a cup of tea and then shared a reading from the Bible and a time of prayer. Because the lady’s face was well-known, it was decided that she would go in disguise. The two set off, arm in arm.

They visited some poor homes and then they made for the pubs and brothels. The lady was amazed that Bosshardt got in without difficulty and prostitutes and others greeted her so warmly.

All was going well until in one bar photographer Peter Zonneveld recognized the lady with Alida and was able to take a quick picture before the two managed to escape by a side door. They jumped into a taxi and at one-thirty in the morning Bosshardt and her companion arrived back at their starting point. Back in Alida’s room it was time for coffee again. Then at four in the morning the lady rang for a car to take her back home after what she described as the most fascinating experience of her life.

The next day De Telegraaf, one of Holland’s most popular morning papers, carried a large photograph on its front page of Alida in the Red Light area of Amsterdam. But it was not the picture of the Salvation Army officer at work that gave Peter Zonneveld the scoop of his career. It was the lady next to her, snapped in the act of distributing copies of The War Cry, for she was none other than Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Beatrix, heir to the throne of the Netherlands and now that country’s queen!

“Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matt. 22:9-10).

Wesley Harris, Truth Stranger Than Fiction