Do Our Songs Matter? (Songs for Teaching, Fellowship, Suffering)

Worship Music

Up to this point we have talked about music in general, but now I kind of want to zero in on certain benefits of worshiping God together in song. Why sing together?

TEACHING

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual sons, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Collossians 3:16 ESV

Here the apostle calls for believers to let the word of God dwell in them richly and part of the way to do that is through spiritual songs. Hymns, choruses and special music that are written in response to Gods’ character or actions all teach us something about God or how we should respond to God. They remind us of his characteristics like faithfulness. They remind us that God desires that we would trust him. They remind us that we come to him just as we are. They remind us that God is interested in our hearts, not just our words. They remind us that God is a refuge and a fortress in a time of trouble. They remind us that though we may face financial trouble, marital discord, a prodigal child, depression, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, disease, or even the consequences of our own sin, that God transcends all of that. We can come to him in worship while living in a world that is being destroyed by sin and he gives us a taste of heaven. He shows us just a glimpse of what is to come. Songs give rise to what words alone can not express and in doing so we learn our God and know our God deeper.

We use songs to teach our children. We teach them “Jesus Loves Me,” and in doing so we teach them:

  • God’s heart for children
  • the Bible is our standard for knowing God
  • God is a strong God able to take care of the weak and needy.

Some of my favorite songs are children’s songs.

FELLOWSHIP

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives 

– Matthew 26:30, ESV

Part of singing together is to remind ourselves that we are not the only ones following hard after God. The disciples had just celebrated the Passover Meal and Lord’s Supper with Jesus and note that before they left,  they sang a hymn. The hymn that they probably sung was one that was made up of six Psalms that when put together were called the Hillel. This hymn was chosen for the occasion because the selected Psalms all represented the salvation of Israel. Think of the disciples gathered around Christ. They were worshiping together, because he called them together. They had fellowship with one another, because Christ was their Lord.  Gathered around him singing praise to God was a former tax collector, a zealot, a few fisherman, and others all gathered in fellowship.

There is something about singing with other believers that elevates into not just fellowship but worship.  I love going to student camp where I am surrounded by our students and we all sing songs of praise to God. I can not help but smile and think how wonderful it will be, to be in the presence of God in heaven with these precious ones singing praise.

SUFFERING

About Midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God , and the prisoners were listening to them – Acts 16:25, ESV

Do not be confused about this verse. Paul and Silas did not have a prison ministry where they simply came and sang a good gospel song to the inmates. They were in prison themselves for preaching the gospel. They were in chains  and still they found the strength to praise their God! The height of music in worship is music born out of suffering. It is the music that is born out of a heart that has suffered yet still finds strength to praise the Lord.

In North Korea during the 1950’s there was a group of Christians who were meeting in tunnels dug underground. As the Communist were building a road through the area they discovered the tunnels and the Christians.  They were brought to be tried and executed in the middle of the town with  30,000 people gathered around to watch.  First the communist officer ordered four of the children to be hanged, if they would not recant their faith. The parents looked at their children and encouraged them, “be strong, we will see you in Heaven!” The children died quietly. Then the officer had a steamroller brought in and lined the congregation up on the ground. As the steam roller crushed the believers they were singing in unison:

More Love to the, O Christ, More love to Thee
Thee Alone I Seek, More Love to Thee
Let sorrow do its work, more love to Thee
Then shall my latest breath whisper thy praise
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
More love, O Christ, to Thee.

(I found this story in D.C. Talk’s first Volume of “Jesus Freaks” page 124-125.)

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How to Have a Daily Worship Time

What is a Daily Worship Time (DWT)?

A daily worship time is a special time set aside for an individual to grow closer to God.  The DWT most often includes practical and consistent excercise of spiritual disciplines (bible study, prayer, silence, fasting,etc.).  This practice has various other names, such as a daily ‘”quiet time” or “personal devotions”, the name doesn’t matter as much as the concept of intentionally putting ourselves in a place where we are more likely to hear from God.

When Should I have a my Daily Worship Time?

Daily worship times really work best for me when scheduled in the morning before breakfast.  I personally like this time because it helps me start my day out right.  On days that I have missed my DWT, or done it later in the day, I can really tell a difference.  This may be hard for some people because it requires self-discipline.  This early morning time is somewhat important for me, but you haven’t blown it if you need to set up another time.  It is better to be consistent with your DWT than it is to be early and not consistent.  If you have never had a consistent DWT before, you may want to schedule a time with Jesus  (ex. before breakfast, when you get home from school, or 8PM every evening).  You may want to set an alarm clock to remind you or leave yourself notes.   Make it as important as if you were meeting one of your best friends (after all you are meeting with Jesus).

What do I do for a Daily Worship Time?

Many people do different things for their daily worship time.  The main thing is that the focus is on learning about and worshiping God.  Even though people do their DWT differently there are some elements that  should always be involved.

The first important element of a DWT is reading God’s Word. It is by reading what God has said about Himself that we learn about who God is.  When we read His word we are reminded of his unchanging character.  You can learn more about how to read God’s word here.

Another element essential to a DWT is  Prayer. Prayer is how we communicate with God and verbally submit our lives to him.  Through prayer we recognize His ability and our inability over people and circumstances.  There are many parts to prayer, but the main parts are:  recognizing who God is, recognizing our need for God, submitting our lives (and specifically each day) to God, asking God for direction, and asking God to move and work in the lives of other people. I will post more on prayer later.

Some people like to include a Journal as part of their DWT. This is a notebook where you can record your thoughts about who God is or how you need to respond to Him.  A journal can consist of just a few short notes or well thought out paragraphs.  When I was younger and had a hard time praying, I would write out my prayers to Jesus in a journal.  Since then it has been a blessing to look back at my journals and see who and what I was praying for and how God answered those prayers.

Many people like to sing as part of their DWT. They use music to proclaim their delight in God or to remind them of certain things about God like His love or His faithfulness.  We have a few  awesome worship teams at our church both on Sundays and Wednesday nights with our students who have introduced me to several great songs.  If I hear a song that really speaks to me, or reminds me of a particular truth about God, I will do a word search and get a copy of the music and memorize the song so I can sing it during this time. Some of you are very musically gifted and will write songs of praise based off of what you have learned about God in your DWT.

I strongly recommend that near the end of your DWT that you write out what your response to God should be. This allows you to apply God’s word to your life and how you live.  In my own DWT  I call these action steps.  Action steps are practical ways that you will apply the truth you learn each day to your life.  You can read more about action steps in the second half of this post.