Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19
Paul wrote two parallel verses about the use of songs and hymns for the edification of believers: Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. In Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” But in Colossians, he used the stronger word “admonish”—“admonishing one another.” “Speaking” in Ephesians, but “admonishing” in Colossians. One thing is the same in both: “one another.” There is great power in spiritual hymns and songs that contain biblical truth. When we sing (speak) together and give attention to the words, they can instruct and admonish us just as they can when we read them in the Bible or biblically-based books.
This is yet another reason to be a singer of spiritual songs, especially when worshiping with others. Let your heart follow the words and be shaped by them.
A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing.Augustus M. Toplady
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!Psalm 133:1
At the end of a meal to mark Passover, a traditional Jewish holiday that celebrates and remembers the greatness of God’s saving work, church members expressed their joy by dancing together in a circle. Barry stood back, watching with a huge smile. He remarked how much he loved these occasions, saying, “This is my family now. This is my community. I’ve found somewhere where I know I can love and be loved . . . where I belong.”
In his childhood, Barry suffered cruel emotional and physical abuse, robbing him of his joy. But his local church welcomed him and introduced him to Jesus. Finding their unity and joy infectious, he began following Christ and felt loved and accepted.
In Psalm 133, King David used powerful images to illustrate the far-reaching effects of the “good and pleasant” unity of God’s people. He said it’s like someone who is anointed with precious oil, the liquid running down over their collar (v. 2). This anointing was common in the ancient world, sometimes as a greeting when one entered a home. David also compared this unity to the dew that falls on the mountain bringing life and blessing (v. 3).
Oil releases a fragrance that fills a room and dew brings moisture to dry places. Unity too has good and pleasant effects such as welcoming those who are alone. Let’s seek to be united in Christ so that God can bring about good through us.
Transformation is possible when we depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidanceEphesians 4:17-32
The apostle Paul wrote extensively about the character and conduct of believers. He urged Christians to live in a manner worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1) and to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). His letters to the churches all include an explanation of what it means to live a godly life.
One important goal is to eliminate sinful habits and behaviors and instead take on those that are acceptable to God. The acts of the “flesh” are no longer to be a part of us. We now have a new nature and should conduct ourselves accordingly.
So let’s look again at the Galatians 5 passages that we read a couple of days ago. In verses 19-21, Paul lists specific behaviors that have to cease, and among them are those fueled by anger—hostilities, strife, outbursts of anger, and dissensions. These ungodly attitudes and actions are to be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If we’re full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we won’t be hot-tempered. Instead of speaking rashly, we’ll interact with others with the wisdom of Christ.
We all struggle with some form of ungodly behavior, but we don’t have to continue in it. Change is possible because Christ has broken sin’s power over us, and His Spirit works continually to transform us.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
A host of biochemists and other scientists have tried for over a century to determine how life evolved from non-life. Such a quest is absurdly impossible, for the simplest imaginary self-replicating system would be infinitely more complex than the most elaborate machine ever designed by man. Life can come only from life. The first human life, indeed the first living system of any kind, could only have come by special creation from the living God. “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
Thus, “in him we live, and move, and have our being,” and He is “not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:28, 27). The Lord Jesus Christ is the one “by whom also he made the worlds” and who now is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:2-3). The beating of our hearts, the breathing of our lungs, the very atoms of our bodies are continually sustained by Him. Were He to withdraw His power for a moment, life would cease, and all light would become darkness. Even those who reject Him and blaspheme His name owe their very existence to His power and grace.
“As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Life is “in him”; He alone can conquer death and raise the dead. “As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (v. 21), for as “the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Thus, “he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). Through faith in His sacrificial death and resurrection life, “ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Henceforth is Christ Himself “our life” (Colossians 3:3-4). HMM
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. —Romans 8:9
There are religious persons who have the name of Christ but whose spirit is the spirit of Adam. They belong to the old order which perishes, not to the new order of life in Christ Jesus. The point is not that they are good or bad but that they are dead. Their direction is wrong; they are on their way to the grave, not on their way out of it.
It is not that I plant, but what I plant that matters. A man could plant glass beads for a lifetime and have nothing to show for his trouble….
Christ makes the difference between death and life, always and everywhere. He is the Prince of Life, and whatever He touches lives. The fabled Midas had a magic power which made everything he touched turn to gold. It is not fable, but wondrously true and real, that the power to give life belongs to Christ. Nothing He touches can ever die, and whatever is dead has only to be touched by Him and it lives again forever. TET059-060
We who bear the name of Christ should give ourselves no rest till we are sure that we possess the Spirit of Christ….Without that Spirit no man can speak a living word or do an immortal deed. TET060
The form of satanic attack that is probably the most difficult of all to endure is having blasphemous thoughts. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said on this: “The devil has often plagued some of the noblest saints with blasphemous thoughts—blasphemous thoughts about God, blasphemous thoughts about the Lord Jesus Christ, and blasphemous thoughts about the Holy Spirit.”
How horrible and terrifying such thoughts can be. Sometimes the Devil hurls the most awful words and phrases into the mind; but again, it is important to see that these do not arise from within the heart of the believer—they come from the Devil, who is trying to confuse and demoralize you.
How grateful we should be to the saints down the ages who have recorded these satanic attacks, for otherwise we would be tempted when experiencing them to believe that they have never happened to anyone else. Many masters of the spiritual life have described these satanic attacks in great detail—John Bunyan and Martin Luther being the two best examples.
But how do we deal with these “flaming arrows” of Satan? What action must we take to repel these devilish attacks? There is only one answer—we must take and use the shield of faith. Faith alone enables us to meet and overcome this particular type of attack. What we must not do is expose our chests, expecting the breastplate of righteousness to deal with this problem. Each piece of the equipment is designed to deal with a particular attack. And the answer here is—faith.
Heavenly Father, I understand the problem—now show me how to apply the answer. The answer, I see, is faith. But how does it work? How can I apply it? Teach me more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.—Ezekiel 36:26
From our hearts comes our response to God. Apart from the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, our hearts are extremely deceitful (Prov. 17:9). David prayed that God would cleanse him from the ravages of his sin and purify his heart (Ps. 51:10). God’s greatest desire is that His people love Him with all their hearts (Deut. 6:5). Jesus said we are blessed if our hearts are pure (Matt. 5:8).
Sin hardens the heart (Matt. 13:4, 19). The more sin we allow to pass over our hearts and through our lives, the more resistant we become to a word from God. The sin of unforgiveness stiffens our hearts. We cannot continue to resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit without becoming hardened against Him. Exposing ourselves to evil and ungodly influences desensitizes us to God and His word. Over time, our hearts become like stone, unreceptive to a fresh word from God. We become anesthetized to sin.
Has your heart grown hard toward God? Do you feel as though nothing could soften it? God has a solution. He will separate you from the influences that are destroying you (Ezek. 36:24). He will cleanse you from all filthiness and remove everything that has taken His place in your affections (Ezek. 36:25). He will remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, tender toward Him and His word. If your love for God is not what it should be, ask Him to renew your heart and restore your devotion to Him.