Devotional Word for Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Today I would like for us to consider two passages of Scripture: Galatian 6:7-9 and Ephesians 5:18-20. Here’s the passage from Galatians:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
But the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not become weary.
This is the classic passage for the principle of sowing and reaping. What goes in is what will come out. That’s why I’ve encouraged us to read, reflect on, and sing hymns and spiritual songs. Assuming they’re good songs, they will yield good fruit.
Each of us have lots of songs wallpapered in our minds, songs we don’t even know we know. Here are a couple from my youth I’m still amazed to find there: Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight? Apparently, that song played a lot in my youth! Or, how about The Sound of Silence? You know how that begins: Hello, Darkness my old friend.” It’s a song about estrangement. It’s bleak – if you listen to the words.
Now, think about the sowing and reaping principle. Neither of those songs will produce good fruit: the first, only frivolous fruit; the other, estrangement and disillusionment. That’s not the way it is with hymns and spiritual songs. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Some years ago I was part of Christmas caroling team that went to the home of an older couple where the husband had dementia. He could not readily speak coherently. As we began to sing Christmas carols, though, he began to sing with us! Coherently! Good, solid songs about the birth of Jesus, and what that meant for the world. He had a delighted smile on his face. It was good fruit from what had been sown in his soul over many years.
A few weeks ago I was with a group of pastors just as the Coronavirus restrictions were being put in place. Each pastor related the sickest he had ever been. A retired pastor who was with us, told about a stroke he had a few years ago. After the stroke he could not talk. He could think in his head what he wanted to say but couldn’t make his body say the words. The therapist asked him if he knew any hymns. He nodded that he did. She began to sing one. Guess what, he joined right in! There was that sowing and reaping principle on full display. He learned to talk again by singing hymns. I hope this helps you purpose to pay a bit more attention to singing!
The other passage I want us to think about today is Ephesians 5:18-20.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with Spirit,
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.
That’s a straightforward exhortation to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s also wise counsel concerning one way to be filled with the Spirit: namely singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. My experience is that making melody in your heart to Lord is a fruit of speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – that is, in congregational singing, in singing with your spouse or family, singing in small groups or other gatherings, and singing on your own as part of your devotional life before God.
Now let me give you a little counsel: get over the vain embarrassment that the devil and the world and your own flesh puts on you about how you sound. We’re not talking about singing solos before crowds, we’re talking about singing to God and joining with others in singing to God. Not all of us have lovely singing voices, but we each have a heart that should come before God with thanks and praise. When you pull into the parking lot of Leidy’s Church, do you remember what words are on the front of the drop-off canopy? Give thanks, with a grateful heart. That’s what we want to do. That’s the longing of our lives. Sowing in your heart by the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs will allow you to reap the joyful fruit of gratitude.
Let us pray: Thank You, Lord God, that You spread abroad in our hearts the love of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is, not only Your love for us, but also our love for You. Continue that good work in us. Help us be diligent to give voice to it. Fill our hearts and minds and mouths with thoughtful, joyful gratitude to You. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.