Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 30 June 19:
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, praise and exaltations to God – a good acronym to remember the essential elements of Christian music is the same one many have used for prayer — ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.
Lyrics with accompanying music should be powerful, worshipful, 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 and to encourage them. Prisoners of war have recounted that singing hymns from church helped get them through years of captivity.
“My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.” (Psalm 119:172) God also uses worship music and hymns to hold His people accountable, to teach them to obey, and to give them hope in His grace through their failures. 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) Church leaders should be guided by the Holy Spirit in the selection of songs that are fitting for what God is doing within the local body of believers at the time. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
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.”
Also, notice in today’s readings that music ministry positions, including those chosen to be teachers and students, were chosen by lot, protecting the ministry from favoritism or egotism. Those involved with worship music must be careful not to let the musicians become the focus rather than God – the music is not intended to be entertaining but rather edifying.
Finally, worship music is more about the intent and content rather than the style. Particularly in a multicultural society such as ours, some who come to worship might not prefer the style of music being offered (you can’t please everyone), but hopefully they won’t let superficiality get in the way of their participation in worship music that is pleasing to God. Many people like coffee, and many people have a favorite type of mug or glass from which to drink their coffee, but if their favorite mug is not available and they really want coffee, they won’t pass up the opportunity to drink from another cup – it’s not the vessel that matters but what is inside it that counts. Likewise, it is not the instruments, rhythms, and style that really matters in the music but rather the intent, heart and message of the song being offered. If you find yourself focused on the style rather than the content, you might want to check your heart. And remember, worship songs are sung together, in unison, intended to unite the body of believers in their praise to God. Don’t be divisive and lacking in grace and love. Celebrate joyfully with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. “Break forth together into singing.” (Isaiah 52:9)
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 brought before the LORD is suitable for the KING. And hopefully, you come to worship with a heart that is compelled to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, fully united with the body – “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” (Psalm 98:4)
– Nehemiah 12:27 – …celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.
– Psalm 33:3 — Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
– Psalm 47:6 — Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
– Psalm 57:7 — My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
– Psalm 84:4 — Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
– Psalm 100:2 — Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
– Psalm 104:33 — I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
– Psalm 105:2 — Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
– Psalm 108:1 — My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!
– Psalm 147:1 — Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
– Isaiah 12:5 — “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.
– Jeremiah 20:13 — Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.
– Zephaniah 3:17 — 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.
– Zechariah 2:10 — Sing and rejoice… for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord.
– Acts 16:25 — About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…
– Romans 15:9 — …and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
– 1 Corinthians 14:15 — What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
– Ephesians 5:18-20 — Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
– Hebrews 2:12 — I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.
– James 5:13 — Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 June 19: This morning prepare your heart to sing praises to the Lord in unity with your church congregation. Praise God in a way that is pleasing to Him and edifying to those around you. Let your joy in the Lord be heard.