Hearing God’s Music x

In Just Like Jesus Max Lucado tells a compelling story of dancers who had no music. They had everything else. They had a fancy ballroom, which was decorated to the hilt. They had a stage upon which musicians could perform, but no musician was to be found. One person claimed to be a musician. He could not perform, because his violin had no strings.

Some tried to dance without any music. This resulted in confusion. Eventually they just took to sitting around wondering if they’d ever get a chance to dance.

Finally a musician entered and played beautifully. Some started to dance, but not all. The musician was not what they expected, not what they wanted. He didn’t meet their expectations, so some stubbornly refused to dance. They even criticized and complained about the musician’s style and presentation.

To listen to them talk one would think they couldn’t even hear the music that was being played. It was beautiful, but their own expectations and desires had so encrusted their hearts, that they couldn’t even hear the music. They would never dance, because they refused to hear the beautiful melody being played for them.

This raises an important question for us today: Are we hearing the music God has chosen to play? Are we listening to the way He calls out to us through the beautiful melodies He performs for us through His creation? Can we hear the Spirit of God singing sweetly in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith? Are we moving to the rhythm of God’s goodness and grace which is gloriously presented in the message of the Christ and His kingdom call on our lives?

What is involved in hearing the music of God? Perhaps the following will be of some help toward that end:

(1) Hearing God’s music requires tuning our hearts to God – Matthew 11:1-19…

When Jesus finished placing this charge before his twelve disciples, he went on to teach and preach in their villages.

John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”

Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!” When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’

“Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at it this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.

“Are you listening to me?

“Really listening?

“How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” (The Message)

(2) Hearing God’s music requires listening with our hearts – Matthew 13:1-23…

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Isaiah 6:9,10)

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (New International Version)

(3) We must expect our hearts to be touched and our lives challenged if we are to hear God’s music…

This idea is seen in many places in the New Testament. None of these makes the point more dramatically than what we read in the book of Revelation. When we read something like this over-and-over, we come away with the notion that God is making a point. The question is: Do we get it? With respect to expecting our hearts to be touched and our lives challenged by God’s message, consider the following:

– 2:7, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

– 2:11, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

– 2:17, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

– 2:29, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

– 3:6, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

– 3:13, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

– 3:22, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

– 13:9, He who has an ear, let him hear.

 

(4) Hearing God’s music involves allowing our souls to be stirred by the rhythm and movement of the message – Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 1:1-3; and Psalm 119…

– Hebrews 4:12-13, “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what. (The Message)

 

– Psalm 1:1-3…

“How well God must like you—

you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,

you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,

you chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden,

bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,

always in blossom.

(The Message)

 

Psalm 119… (click this link to read this psalm)

 

(5) When we hear God’s music our lives will become conformed to the images brought to light in God’s Word – James 1:19-27…

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. (The Message)

May we hear the music and move in rhythm with God’s will today!

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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9 Responses to Hearing God’s Music x

  1. Greg England says:

    My observation over the past 29 years of preaching: People hear God’s music IF he plays it the way they like to hear it.

  2. It IS a matter of the heart. Unfortunately, we tend to think of God and, especially, God’s music as just one more option on the buffet spread. We go through the line taking only what we want and rejecting all the rest. This is a tough one for me. I struggle with it on a personal level and when it comes to my teaching and preaching. Some things are easy to preach, even fun to preach. Other things…well, let’s just say some things aren’t so easy, but it’s all God’s music. If I’m going to be God’s musician, I’ll hit every note on the page. While some of them have a discordant resonance when they are heard as a single note, our God, who is the quintessential composer, uses all these notes to form the most melodious and harmonious tunes human ears will hear this side of eternity.

    In other words: Yes, Greg, your observation seems to be correct.

  3. dixie says:

    You have hit the nail on the head. We do pick and choose the music from God. I am a good listener and try very hard to hear God every time he speaks to me, but know it doesn’t always happen that way. Stubborness? Thank you for the learning words. They go right to my heart.

    Also want to thank you for the comment on my blog. I think we have followed similar paths in our lifetime. It’s only been about 5 years since I found God again and realized he had been waiting for me all along. So it is still new and shiny for me, but my faith is strong.

    I also wanted to mention that my Southern by Choice blog is fairly new. I started and still have The Wonderings of Nan which you have also visited. I was offered that blog before I even knew I was a writer, and share it with a disabled friend. I started the new one so I would have some control over it and eventually will add all my writings from The wondering site. I always appreciate your words of wisdom. I enjoy being around people who make me think. And you are one of those. Thanks again Bill for all your kind words and support.

    Dixie (nan)

  4. Your new blog looks great. I appreciate you adding the spiritual oasis to your blogroll. Lord willing, I’ll continue to visit both sites often.

    Another blog that I visit every day is “a place for the God-hungry” (http://jimmartin.typepad.com/). I don’t know the author (Jim Martin) personally, but have found the things he writes to speak to my heart and lift my spirits. You might appreciate this site, as well.

  5. Greg England says:

    Bill: I’m glad you found Jim’s blog. I’ve known him for many years and find his “stuff” particularly insightful and transparent. Years ago when I would hear him preach and I was very new to the pulpit, I thought he was one of the best I’d ever heard. Of course, since that time Jim has been replaced by myself! (All sarcasm intended) It has been interesting to read of his life and stuggles over the years when I had no idea where he was or what he was doing. I’m glad to have re-connected with him through blogging. What an interesting medium we have in this.

  6. Tom says:

    i’ve been looking for new devotional reading and your offerings fit the “bill” nicely, thank you very much!

  7. Dee Andrews says:

    Another significant post on music. I especially like your comment above, Bill:

    “If I’m going to be God’s musician, I’ll hit every note on the page. While some of them have a discordant resonance when they are heard as a single note, our God, who is the quintessential composer, uses all these notes to form the most melodious and harmonious tunes human ears will hear this side of eternity.”

    My husband and I are both love good music and constantly surround ourselves with it – all kinds. So all you say here really resonates with me.

    Looking back on my life, which I seem to be spending a lot of time reflecting upon lately for a lot of reasons, I see how God has used every note in my life, even all of those having what you describe as having a “discordant resonance” in and of themselves, for His glory and for my own benefit.

    Listening to God’s music and attempting to follow God’s “music and [to] move in rhythm with God’s will” is exceedingly difficult and even very painful at times, for me in my life, many times over. Yet I cannot help but continue to seek out God’s music so that one of these days I can, truly, completely, hear “the most melodious and harmonious tunes human ears will hear this side of eternity.”

    In some profound moments and even in some days I can hear it all in it’s glory and I am overwhelmed that God has enabled me to do so. I look forward to hearing it all in it’s completeness and fulness in eternity one of these days to come.

    In the meantime, I keep striving. It isn’t always easy and some days it is extremely painful in its dissonence. Yet I keep striving because of those movements I’ve already been blessed to hear in the work in progress.

    BTW – and I didn’t write this, so don’t stone the messenger here – my closest friend, who is a psychologist (whose expertise is in post traumatic stress disorder among veterans) once shared an article in some psychology magazine with me (I don’t recall which publicaiton – it may have been Psychology Today”), knowing of my and Tom’s love of music, that reported on an indepth studay showing that music moved people more intensely and emotionally than even having sex did. Music ranked at the top in the list of things tested.

    I have a hard time believing that, myself, concerning sexual experiences being after the power of music, but cannot disagree with many of the ramificaitons of the study when I stop and consider the power music has for me. In fact, I was so moved several years ago by a particular piece of music by Handel when I heard it for the first time that I told my sister and my husband that I felt such rapture that I felt it would be the music I would be hearing upon my death as I was being transported to Heaven. I made them promise they would play that piece at or after my death (or at my funeral, if there should be one) and all these years later I still feel the same way each time I hear it.

    That – my friends – is the power of God’s music. And He created all music there is among all of us, musicians or not. I often hope that in Heaven we will have eternal access to all of the beautiful music ever composed by human beings. I can’t help but think we will.

    Do you think? Or am I just a crazy person here!

    Cheers! Dee

  8. Great comments, Dee. So glad you have returned. We’ve been missing you and your astute comments around here.
    I believe that you and your psychologist friend are right on track about how moving music can be. It stirs the soul like nothing else can AND it seems to linger deep within our inner most being and return to us sometimes to comfort, sometimes to challenge and sometimes to haunt us. That last thought is why I want so desperately to tune my heart to hear God’s music. I want God’s music, and God’s music alone, to be the force that moves me. I want my life, my whole life, to move in rhythm with God’s will. It’s a grand idea, I know. But, it’s one that has captivated my imagination like nothing else I know.
    With respect to your last inquiry…can you see me stroking my beard?…I’m thinking that there’s only one reason we won’t have access to all of the beautiful music ever composed. Perhaps God has something better in store for us. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? No! I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you really get it!

  9. Emily says:

    What a beautiful and insightful post, Bill, thank you. It is definitely true that sometimes we refuse to hear the beautiful music of God because it’s not what we want or expected. I am guilty of this as anyone. But yes, we must see that it is beautiful and accept it, so that we can, rather than stubbornly refuse, embrace it and dance with our lives to it.

    Thank you as always Bill for your comments on my blog.

    Emily

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