Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:18-19
Why do people sing? The nineteenth century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow may have said it best: “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Even when our spoken words cannot be understood, music can bridge a gap where our words often fail. Joy, sorrow, fear, exaltation, praise, energy—every facet of life can be reflected in music. And when words are added, especially words that edify and inspire and communicate to the heart, all the better.
Why do we sing songs in church? The Early Church did so because of the Jewish culture of singing the psalms in worship. But why did Israel sing? Because they were human and needed to pour out their hearts to God in praise, confession, petition, and love. We also sing in corporate worship because Paul instructed us to praise God with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). Corporate worship, especially with music, focuses our attention on the Savior we serve.
Do you invest your whole heart in corporate worship in church? Worship is our “sacrifice of praise” to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15).
My ready tongue makes haste to sing the glories of my heavenly King. Charles Wesley
Spirit-Filled Music (Ephesians 5:18-19)
The eye never has enough of seeing. Ecclesiastes 1:8
Frank Borman commanded the first space mission that circled the moon. He wasn’t impressed. The trip took two days both ways. Frank got motion sickness and threw up. He said being weightless was cool—for thirty seconds. Then he got used to it. Up close he found the moon drab and pockmarked with craters. His crew took pictures of the gray wasteland, then became bored.
Frank went where no one had gone before. It wasn’t enough. If he quickly tired of an experience that was out of this world, perhaps we should lower our expectations for what lies in this one. The teacher of Ecclesiastes observed that no earthly experience delivers ultimate joy. “The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (1:8). We may feel moments of ecstasy, but our elation soon wears off and we seek the next thrill.
Frank had one exhilarating moment, when he saw the earth rise from the darkness behind the moon. Like a blue and white swirled marble, our world sparkled in the sun’s light. Similarly, our truest joy comes from the Son shining on us. Jesus is our life, the only ultimate source of meaning, love, and beauty. Our deepest satisfaction comes from out of this world. Our problem? We can go all the way to the moon, yet still not go far enough.
Reflect & Pray
When have you felt the most joy? Why didn’t it last? What can you learn from its fleeting nature?
Jesus, shine the light of Your love on me.
During hard seasons or times of disaster—whether natural or man-made, national or local—we are called to show kindness. True compassion tries to understand people’s pain, but it also provides practical help. So, how we can express care and concern for others?
First, remember we have the wonderful privilege of prayer anytime, anywhere. As soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, lift up the victims, rescue workers, and others involved. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning God for protection, provision, comfort, awareness of His presence, and whatever else He deems fitting (Rom. 8:26).
Second, labor and donations of money, food, clothing, or household goods are usually high priority. So donations of time and resources are helpful (after wisely consulting trusted sources about what’s needed). You also can express compassion with words of comfort, a warm embrace, or a listening ear. Through this kind of love, the world will recognize the true Light—Jesus Christ, who brings good news, binds up the brokenhearted, and comforts all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).
We should notice the needs around us and reach out with Christ’s love. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal ways to pray for those around you. Your concern can have a profound impact.
“Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.” (Psalm 119:65)
The good that comes from the hand of the Lord is “according unto thy word,” a common phrase in Psalm 119 that occurs in 11 of the 22 stanzas.
Interestingly, the psalmist twice emphasizes that it was important for him to be “afflicted” before he learned something of the gracious provision of the Lord (Psalm 119:67, 71). The Hebrew word anah is used widely in the Bible, the most famous passage prophesying about the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).
Although affliction does not necessarily come because of personal disobedience (even though that surely happens among us), often the Lord uses an occasion to drive home a concept of holiness or obedience (according to His Word) that will bring His favor or, more properly, bring us in line with His Word so that we may experience the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Three times the psalmist asked his Lord to teach him or let him learn from the Word about the eternal principles of righteousness (119:66, 68, 71). Three times he insisted that he will keep and delight in the holy laws and principles of which he is aware (119:67, 69, 70).
The core theme of this simple message focuses on the passionate commitment of the psalmist to learn and obey the Word of God. No past history can negate God’s faithfulness. No present difficult circumstances can thwart God’s promises. Thus, “the law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72). HMM III