Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 1 July 18:
1. 1 Chronicles 25:1 — “David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals.” The music ministry has always been a critical part of worship. 1 Chronicles 25 offers valuable guidance to today’s churches on music ministries:
— Music should be a proclamation of the Gospel and reveal the truth of God clearly and accurately in lyrical form, and/or it should be a prayer in lyrical form. Worship music should offer thanksgiving and praise, exalting God – a good acronym to remember the essential elements of prayer and music is ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Lyrics with accompanying music should be powerful, instructive, and fit for The KING. Many of the Psalms we will read this year were hymns to be sung by the congregation and are great examples for today’s music ministries. Historically, worship music has been used to help people remember great spiritual truths. Prisoners of war have recounted that singing hymns from church helped get them through years of captivity. God uses worship music and hymns to speak directly to His people about the realities of what He is doing with them. A great example can be found in Deuteronomy 31 and 32 where God gives Moses a song to teach the people to sing for generations “that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 25:1-5; Deuteronomy 31:19) The selection of worship music should be led by the Holy Spirit. Having visited many churches, I have heard many songs that were very shallow and actually contrary to God’s word. In those cases, the songs were man-centered rather than God-centered.
— 1 Chronicles 25:6, 7 — “The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288. And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.” Those chosen for the music ministry should demonstrate significant skill and talent, but also humility and discipline. Granted, most churches rely on the ministry efforts of volunteers who are not professional musicians. However, those selected for the ministry should do their very best to strive for excellence through diligent practice and rehearsal. It has been said that good preachers, on average, spend an hour preparing for every minute they intend to preach – 45 hours for a 45-minute sermon. There should be a similar commitment by those who intend to lead congregational music. Professional musicians practice for many hours each day. Chopin told one of his students that he would he shut himself up in his room for two weeks before a concert. Another famous pianist said, “If I don’t practice for one day, I know it; if I don’t practice for two days, my friends know it. If I don’t practice for three days, EVERYBODY knows it.” Personally, I believe that America’s most talented musicians should come from the churches because they perform for the LORD.
— Finally, some among the skilled musicians are chosen to be teachers and leaders, but this selection is not based on favoritism. I suspect if you have ever been a part of church leadership you have witnessed some drama associated with the music ministry, among those who feel entitled for one reason or another, or with some who have taken a self-centered approach to performing. For many reasons, it is easy for egos to get involved. We must focus on glorifying God and edifying the body rather than lifting up the individual or entertaining the crowd. Among David’s 288 skilled musicians, lots were drawn to determine who would teach and lead. These leaders were tasked by higher church leadership, and they performed their duties responsibly.
— Hopefully your church’s music ministry is not focused on showmanship and entertainment but rather on genuine worship, discipleship, and edification of the body. Hopefully the gift that is brought before the LORD is suitable for the KING.
2. 1 Chronicles 25:6 — “They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God.” The father prepared his sons for service in the church and taught them their profession. Parents should be preparing their children to serve the church for the rest of their lives.
3. 1 Chronicles 25:8 — “And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.” It is not the job you do that matters most, it is for whom you do it and how well and faithfully you perform your duties. In first Chronicles, David assigns important tasks to families, and within the families they cast lots to determine who would perform what specific job. There doesn’t appear to be any discussion about who preferred what job or who “should” perform what job in the eyes of the people. Whatever job was assigned, the selectee did it with all their might and for the Lord. I believe with that attitude, a person can prosper at any job; perhaps we spend too much time worrying about what job we have and not enough time on doing something, anything to the glory of the Lord. I think it is also worth noting, again, that areas of responsibility were assigned to families, not just individuals, and the father led the children. Perhaps the family business is something else that has been lost in our culture. Here are some other things the Bible says about employment:
– Colossians 3:23, 24 — Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
– 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 — But we urge you… to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
– Proverbs 22:29 — Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
– Ecclesiastes 9:10 — Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.
– Psalm 37:25 — I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
[Note: Here is an introduction to Proverbs: https://youtu.be/AzmYV8GNAIM]
4. Proverbs 1:7 – “The proverbs of Solomon… To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
– As we prepare to read the book of Proverbs again for the seventh time this year, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the book’s purpose. It is intended to help you acquire not only knowledge but also discipline, prudence, and discernment. It is to help you live a life worthy of the gospel you have received. Don’t lose sight of the fact that Proverbs are not provided just so that you can avoid pain in life but so you can become closer to and more unified with Jesus each day – that you can “know” Him more fully every day and reveal Him more clearly to others every day. Proverbs are intended to help disciples of Christ accomplish their desire of obeying God in love, as opposed to obtaining the desires of the flesh, and to do “what is right and just and fair.” The book points out in the very first paragraph “fear[ing] the Lord” is the beginning and foundation of your journey; and then comes discipleship – practicing the disciplines of the Christian life, under the constant counsel of the Holy Spirit, to grow in wisdom and maturity in faith. This growth process is often referred to as sanctification. Our spiritual growth is a daily effort, motivated by love, not guilt, fear, our pride, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. But the choices we make each day have natural consequences. As the end of today’s Proverbs warn, “waywardness kills, and complacency destroys.” The family of Obed-Edom, mentioned throughout Chronicles, were leaders among God’s people because they were “capable” and “strong.” The Bible also points out, for “every matter pertaining to God and for the affairs of the king,” David searched the land for people who were “capable.” To make the cut for “Gideon’s Army,” it wasn’t enough to be willing to go, you had to demonstrate discipline at the watering hole – only 300 showed that required discipline. This month I hope we read Proverbs intently to acquire a disciplined and prudent life.
5. Proverbs 1:2 – “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight….” Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied, with understanding that exceeds personal experience, understanding empowered by the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is the ability to make right decisions. Discipline is the internal strength or self-control (see Galatians 5:23) to carry out those decisions. Success requires both good decision-making (wisdom) and discipline (self-control) to follow through. Both wisdom and self-control are fruits of the Spirit, not the product of intellect. If you struggle with fidelity or consistency, understand it is a spiritual issue.
6. Proverbs 1:4 – “…to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth….” Not everyone is gifted with talent and resources, but everyone has equal access to wisdom from God through the Holy Spirit. Wisdom (or character) not talent will determine your ultimate success.
7. Proverbs 1:5 – “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance….” Character development is a life-long growth process that must be continually fed by the word of God, prayer, and counsel from fellow committed followers of Christ.
8. Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
– Wisdom is available to all who would receive it from God. Those who are foolish choose to be. Rejecting God is the beginning of their choice. Many who claim to be Christian reject God every time they choose to sin in ways they justify as small and insignificant, but there is no small sin before God because all sin is a personal choice to attempt to dethrone God and enthrone self. To rebel against God, even for a moment, is cosmic treason! Merely believing in Jesus (demon-like belief as described in James 2:19) is not enough.
– Wisdom is naturally divisive. There can be no unity between the wise and the unwise. Jesus said, He came not to unit but to divide. If you are pleasing everyone, you are, by definition, compromising somewhere.
9. Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,” Parents are the teachers in the home which is the schoolhouse for character development.
10. Proverbs 1:10-19 – The ungodly world appears very prosperous. It is very critical that the church does not become entangled with the world. Year after year, the church gives more money to building debt than it does to missionaries. Christians give far more to credit cards and home loans than they do to tithes, freewill offerings, and alms. We desperately need to repent.
11. Proverbs 1:20-23 — The truth is self-evident, it reveals itself. Wisdom is revealed every day for those who have the eyes to see it. Look in the streets and see the consequences of both wisdom and foolishness. How long will people so obviously destroy themselves. Repentance opens the door for the Spirit of Truth to change a life.
12. Proverbs 1:23 — “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you.” Wisdom requires repentance, a turning away from old behavior.
13. Proverbs 1:24-26 — “Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity.” The condemned refuse to accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus — it is a choice they freely make.
14. Proverbs 1:24, 25 – “Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof….” If you cannot hear God, it is not that He is not speaking but rather that you are not really listening. God stretches out His hand, but you must take it. God is willing to communicate to those who are willing to really listen.
15. Proverbs 1:28 – “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.” There comes a time when prayers for blessings are pointless and prayers for mercy are critical.
16. Proverbs 1:32 — “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.” Do not be complacent with God’s commands.
17. Psalm 75:4-6 – “’I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; or speak with haughty neck.’” For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up….’” Only fools proudly ignore God’s power and His promise to judge and destroy.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 July: Determine what skills God has equipped you with which could benefit your church, and commit to serving your church with your talents and abilities. (1 Chronicles 25:6)