Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone. It’s so great to have you tuned into He Restores My Soul. I hope this discipleship series is helping you as you meet together.
Let’s Start With An Accountability Check-In
Now this week, I want to begin with part of our accountability to each other and then sharing our prayer requests. Last meeting, I gave you the assignment to finish writing your lifetime goals. And to write goals for this coming year. And also write short term goals, at least three and no more than eight, that you want to have finished by March 1. That’s in four weeks. I asked you to be ready to share them at this meeting.
So, I want you to take some time right now. Leader, this is going to depend on you how you lead your group but I want you to take some time right now, maybe 30 or 40 minutes, depending on the size of your group, and talk about your goals. I want you to see if everyone has been able to finish their lifetime goals. Are there any goals that your members are unsure of? Or maybe need help with? I wonder if each person in your group wrote goals for this year 2022? Talk about them for a few minutes.
And then finally, have everyone share three of their short term goals that they want to achieve by March 1. Ask yourselves are they SMART goals? Remember our acrostic? Are they S.M.A.R.T.?
- Royal (related to my nobility as a daughter of the King)
- Tasty—motivating to me
Are they SMART? So I want you to turn off the podcast and talk through your goals and then spend some time praying over them, committing them and yourselves to our King, for His glory and your joy. Go ahead and do that right now.
Teaching Time: The Gift Of Music
Welcome back. I hope that was profitable for you all. I trust that it was. Now we’re going to go into a time of teaching and worship. I want to teach about music today. Get your Bibles and read together Psalm 47:6-7 and Psalm 96:1-2. That’s Psalm 47:6-7 and Psalm 96:1-2. Go ahead and pause the podcast and read those verses.
God must have a heart for setting words to music. We are commanded to sing eight times in just these four short verses. Did you know that there are over 50 direct commands to sing in Scripture and over 400 references to singing in the whole Bible. In the preface to the Genevan Psalter, John Calvin wrote that,
“Among the other things proper to recreate man and give him pleasure, music is either the first or one of the principal and we must think of it as a gift of God, deputed to that purpose.”John Calvin in the Genevan Psalter
That’s rather old fashioned language. But what he’s saying is, oh, music is a beautiful form of recreation. And we must think of it as God’s gift to us.
What would life be without music? No lullabies, no concerts, no musical instruments, no CDs, no Christian music, no Christmas music, no melodies in our hearts, no love songs, no memorizing scripture or theology to various tunes. Oh, what would life be without music? Here’s what Martin Luther said,
“A person who gives this some thought, and yet does not regard it [He means music] as a marvelous creation of God must be a clodhopper indeed, and does not deserve to be called a human being. He should be permitted to hear nothing but the brain of asses and the grunting of hogs.”Martin Luther
Do you want to tell us what you really thought, Martin? Why singing? Why not just prayer and teaching and preaching? Why singing? Why words and music combined? Not just music alone. Well, Psalm 147:1 shows us that music serves the Word of God. Psalm 147:1 says,
“Praise the Lord, for it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”Psalm 147:1
3 Ways That Music Helps Us
You see, music becomes a powerful gift from God that complements, it supports and deepens the impact of the words we sing. Think with me for a minute, how music helps us. Let me give us three ways that music helps us. I’m sure there are more. But let’s start with these three.
Music Helps Us Intellectually
First of all, music helps us intellectually. Music helps us remember the words. How many Bible passages do you know from heart because they were set to music? Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer. The last few months we’ve been singing 1 Corinthians 1:30. Let’s read or why don’t you listen as I read what God taught Moses about a very special song Moses was to write. Listen to these words, from God to Moses, in Deuteronomy 31:19-22. God says to Moses,
“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.Deuteronomy 31:19-22
Did you notice that? “For it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring.” According to neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks,
“Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory. Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”Dr. Oliver Sacks
He tells us that this relates to Alzheimer’s patients. I wonder if you’ve ever seen that YouTube video of the elderly ballerina who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. She’s totally lost touch with reality. But when she heard Swan Lake played, she came back to reality for a brief time and she began moving her arms to the music as she used to do in her younger years as a professional ballerina. Music helps us intellectually. It goes a deep into our brains.
Music Helps Us Emotionally
Another way music helps us is emotionally. It helps us engage with the words. Music is the language of emotion. It expresses and arouses and speaks to our feelings. Why do you think we have love songs? Music can come alongside words and heighten their emotional impact in a way we may not have perceived with words alone. Music offers us more time to reflect on the words. Musical refrains stretch out words and phrases. Music moves our affections. It springs from the center of our very being. We sometimes find ourselves singing with deep passion and vibrancy because the music allows us to combine our doctrine and devotion, our minds and our hearts. Music can break through the apathy in our hearts. Music helps us emotionally as it speaks to our feelings.
Music Helps Us Relationally
So music helps us intellectually. It helps us emotionally. Did you know music can also help us relationally? Music can help us use words to demonstrate and express our unity as Christians. Music binds us together in an almost mysterious way. It’s more effective than simply reading words in unison. Someone once posed it this way, “The question isn’t, do you have a voice? But do you have a song?” The gospel, not a specific musical genre, is what unites us. It’s not the style of our music that unites us, but the focus of our music, Jesus Himself. Can you imagine what the music in heaven will be like, when the ransomed from every tribe and language and people and nation join all Creation in its song of joy and exultation to our king? Oh, music helps us relationally as we lay our personal preferences down, and bow in wonder and awe before the Lord God Almighty.
Next Week’s Assignment
Now, let me give you your assignment for next week.
- Continue on with six quiet times a day and meditating on your verse throughout the day.
- If you think your short term goals need any refining, finish them up this week.
- Read the introduction to this very short book called Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a great book on community. And I’m going to encourage you to read it together in your group. So read the introduction for this week.
- Pray for each other regularly.
- And be ready to share either a date when you are going to have your extended quiet time or tell us how your extended quiet time went.
So that’s your assignment. Did you get it down? If not, you can look on our website.
And then finally, leaders lead your group in sharing prayer requests. Take time to pray together if you have time at this meeting, if not decide how you will pray for each other until you meet again. And may the Lord bless you as you sing over each other as you care for each other. And as you seek to serve him well, by living your life purposefully. May he restore your souls.