Sunday, March 1, 2015

Is Music the Language of the Angels?

The Ghent Altarpiece: Angels Playing Music
The Ghent Altarpiece: Angels Playing Music (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Psalm 33:2-3
New International Version (NIV)

      Music speaks to all of us in one way or another.  Where does music come from and why are we so attracted to music?   The rhythms of our heartbeats or our footsteps can become integrated into the natural music that occurs within us and all around us.  Our very lives are a part of a vast music of all the Earth and the universe.

        God gave birds, whales, and other animals the abilities to communicate with music-like tones, rhythms, and sound patterns.   Astronomers have even used a measurement technique called "stellar seismology" to reproduce the sounds emanating from the stars in the heavens.  In the book of Job we are told that "the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" (Job 38:7).   Music was instilled in all of God creation from the outset.

        It seems possible that music could be the language of the angels.  Ears perk up and become attentive at the sound of music.  All music communicates something of some nature to us the hearers.  That music can be pleasing for some and for others not so pleasing.  Just as we have different spoken languages there are stylistic variations in musical sounds according to culture.  A person from Ireland will respond to one kind of music that may sound quite alien to the person in India and vice versa.

       When human language was disseminated at the Tower of Babel it's possible that the music languages were distributed in kind.   If we accept a premise that music was originally a language of heaven that was given to humans then we might also accept that the intent of music has been corrupted and given an earthly value.   This is not to say this man-centered music is bad, but we might want to be discriminating about the nature of the music to which we listen.

        Personally, I greatly enjoy music and appreciate many styles of music.  There are some musical works that speak to me in more heavenly ways than others, but I think that all music has some purpose.  Perhaps some music is better than others, but music should be given a chance before we dismiss it on initial listening.

         I know what I like.  I can appreciate the efforts and talents of those who perform music that might not appeal to me so much.  Most of us probably have an inherent judgement of what music is better than other kinds.   What we do with that judgement is another thing entirely  If the music elevates us to a higher level of positiveness and enlightenment then perhaps we are hearing the language of the heavens.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
James 5:13
New International Version (NIV)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Faith Has Infinite Rewards

Psalm 23 is often referred to as the Shepherd'...
Psalm 23 is often referred to as the Shepherd's psalm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1
King James Version (KJV)

       There comes that certain point in life when we all need something--a helping hand, a meal, a kind encouraging word.  Even the strongest most confident among us can face those times when everything around us seems to be crumbling.  What do we do when it seems there is no one to whom to turn?   

         What about God?   He will give you what you need when you need it most.  What you truly need may not be what you think you need.   If you think you're being denied by God then perhaps it is you who is denying God.

         God is there waiting to act on your behalf, but he is waiting on you to come to Him.  You must believe and you must act.  These things require one simple thing--faith.  Faith as small as a mustard seed. Yes, that simple.   With simple faith you tap into the greatest power of the universe, the one who created the universe and the one who is the universe.  Through God all things can be done.

          Faith--it sounds simple enough because it is simple.  And yet so often we turn it into something so complex and difficult.   We struggle and agonize and ask how, why, and when.  It doesn't have to be that difficult.  

          Just believe, ask, and receive.  With faith everything becomes more clear and you will see possibility and hope all around you.  Faith.  Simple faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Watching Out for the Other Guy

English: The Poor helping the poor
 The Poor helping the poor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and He will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17
New International Version (NIV)
        We all know that helping the poor and those in less fortunate circumstances is a good thing to do.  We might not always follow through on this, but most of try at least now and then to give where help is needed.  Even a quarter to a sidewalk beggar can be an act of selflessness.  

         But poverty is not always synonymous with destitution.   We all have needs of some kind at one time or another.  And so does everyone else.  We rarely know the complete story of those we encounter in daily life.  A stranger in a bad mood might be merely reacting to some terrible situation that has occurred in his life.  The distracted waitress who isn't serving us as well as we think she should be might be dealing with immense problems in her life.

         We don't know the needs of others just by looking at them, but sometimes a smile or a kind word can do wonders for a burdened heart.  There's no need for payback when doing something out of the goodness within us.  We shouldn't ever expect that.  However good things will come from the good that we do for others.  That goodness might not always be recognizable to us yet our helping to make the world a little bit of a better place can help make us a whole lot of a better person.

        There's truth in that adage "What goes around, comes around."   Not that we have to see it in any big way, but sometimes good things come our way because of what we've done for someone else and we may not even make the connection.

         The good we do doesn't escape God's notice.  Take care of others and you'll be doing the right thing.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On Being Different

English: Watching you watching me. With four e...
 Watching you watching me. With four eyes watching its back this Peacock Butterfly makes a colorful contribution to the landscape in early September. This one has had a close shave at sometime in the past. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"...the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
New King James Version (NKJV)

      Do you remember those kids in school that all the other kids made mean jokes about and perhaps even ridiculed to their faces?  Or maybe it was that strange elderly lady that lived in your neighborhood or some guy who dressed funny and acted peculiar. 

      Most of us can think of someone in our lives that we've seen or even known who seemed somewhat strange or different from everyone else.  Poking fun at others has long been a way we deal with those who are not like us.   There are even websites devoted to this pastime. 

      If we don't know anything about a person other than the way they look or behave outwardly, how can we have the right to say mean things about them or poke fun at their expense?   Their appearance might be a matter of upbringing, financial circumstance or health issues.   Some people may even appear strange because that's how they want to look.

       Maybe if we're thinking negative thoughts about another person of whom we know nothing, it might be a good reason to just say hello to that person instead.  Give them a smile or offer them a helping hand.

         Next time you're looking at another person in ridicule or contempt, remember that someone else might be looking at you in the same way.  None of us are exempt from the eyes of judgement.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Speak the Name of Jesus

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each generation will praise your works to the next
and proclaim your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor
of your majesty and on the story of your wonders.
People will speak of your awesome power,
and I will tell of your great deeds.

Psalm 145:4-6
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

       Recently in the middle of the night I awoke in fear.  I heard my wife's voice asking if I was all right.  She said I had been talking.

        I asked, "What was I saying?"

       "Jesus," she responded.   You were saying, "Jesus."

        In my dream I was facing a being with demonic power.  I was afraid.  The demonic being appeared to me in a guise resembling my father who passed away many years ago.  He had always had a deep Christ-centered relationship with God so I decided to test this dream being.  Fearful of the way he looked and at first unsure as to whether or not it was really my father, I tried to talk to him about Jesus.

       As I attempted to speak to the being I found myself overcome with a sense of terror.  Then I found myself weakly uttering the name of Jesus.  Then I said "Jesus" again and again, each time summoning up greater fortitude as I spoke the words louder.  That is when I awoke.

        After waking, I lay in my bed for some time pondering my dream experience and looking for life application.   I began to understand more about the importance of speaking the name of Jesus in my everyday life.   I realized that I should find more ways to declare his power to others and be a witness for my Lord and Savior.

        Words and names have greater power when spoken out loud.  The name of Jesus is not intended to be an utterance in anger, frustration, or mockery.  Jesus Christ is an invocation of the power of God to be used in healing, praise, and driving away demons.   The more we speak of Jesus in positive ways, the bolder we become in proclaiming him to all the world

         Speak the name of Jesus.   There is power and comfort in His name.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 14:12-14
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leaders of This World: Your Judgement Will Come

The Ten Commandments, In SVG
The Ten Commandments, In SVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Therefore, kings, be wise;
be warned, you judges of the earth.
Serve Adonai with fear;
rejoice, but with trembling.
 Kiss the son, lest he be angry,
and you perish along the way,
when suddenly his anger blazes.
How blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:10-12
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

      Who do the leaders of the world fear?    Other leaders and the powers they wield?  Their own people--the ones who could remove them from their seats of power should they decide to rebel against the leadership?   World leaders put on a confident face as they perhaps should, but there is no more promise of security in this world for them than for any of us.

       Some leaders may speak of a god or of the Living God, but are those only words with no true actions to back them?   Have we seen leaders of the scope of King David in recent history or even in all the millennia since David reigned?    Empires have fallen throughout history as have their leaders.

         A nation might wield its power for a period, but judgement will bring down every nation that does not bow to God and accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.  A Son has come, but what nation has truly taken refuge in Him.

         We write our own fates.  A nation is judged by its actions.

If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.
John 12:47-48
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

S.O.S.--Study Our Scriptures

English: Lighthouse at Europa Point, Gibraltar...
 Lighthouse at Europa Point, Gibraltar, with the sinking Panamanian bulk-carrier cargo ship, M/V New Flame, in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalm 32:8
New International Version (NIV)

        When you need help who do you call?   When life gets you bogged down, you feel lost or confused, what can you do?   

         Perhaps you look to a "life authority" like Oprah or Dr. Phil.   But can you truly count on them for the all of the answers you need regarding your problems.   Counseling from someone equipped for such things can at times be of help to you.  Support from friends and family might encourage you.  Psychology books can provide some insight.   However sometimes your problems and questions are so big that even the experts and those who care about us aren't enough to pull you out of your darkness and into the light of understanding.

        Sometimes you need to start out alone with Bible in hand and call out to God to show you the way.  Prayer can have the power to calm you as well as incite you into action.  Delving into the scripture with God by your side is the best solution to problems that vex your mind, heart, and spirit.

        Don't just read the Bible, but study it.  God gave the Holy Scripture to us for our edification and education.   The Scriptures are intended for us to use for guidance.  

         Looking for answers?  Help is near to all of us.  Study our Scriptures.   God speaks through His written Word.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19
New International Version (NIV)