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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Song's Influence

A few years ago a popular artist sang a song that included a derogatory statement about a past president. The song said more about the singer than the subject of her song. 
Throughout the Bible songs were written by various people and sung regaling God’s works and worshiping His greatness. Only two men, however, were subjects of songs whose words were, thankfully, unrecorded. 
Job and Jeremiah both had songs written about them. Not songs of praise, but songs of scorn. Imagine how they felt as they listened to the songs sung about them:
  • Job: “And now their sons mock me in song; I have become a byword among them” (Job 30:9). 
  • Jeremiah: “I have become the ridicule of all my people—their taunting song all the day” (Lamentation 3:14, NKJV)
Worship music does for the spirit what medication does for the physical body. No soothing music for Job! Attacked by snarly friends and the songs of cruel children sang only intensives Job’s suffering. Talk about kicking a man when he is down!
Sadly, music like that mentioned earlier does more harm than good. Music reveals the depravity in our culture where the dignity of woman is disdained, where the seriality of broken relationships is normal, where alcohol, drugs, and sexual immorality are exalted.  Music can be cruel to the spirit and soul of man. 
Paul mentions the powerful role that music has in a believer’s life, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Spiritual songs speak directly to the heart of man and sooth, like an ointment, a soul “roughed up” by suffering. 
Suffering? Listen to praise music.
Ministering to someone who is suffering? Give the gift of music! Your words may help a little, but praise music will help a lot. 

Paste the below URL in your search bar and feel your heart lift as you listen to "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant:

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Everyone Has a List
"Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense--let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of every step; like a prince I would approach him" (Job 31:35-37)

This section of Job ends with a list offered by Job to his accusers. It is almost as if Job is in a court of law defending himself before a Judge, and in a way he is. Job’s list recounts his morality, his piety, his generosity, and even his mercy toward others. His list is not extremely dissimilar from a list offered by the former Saul of Tarsus as he too defended his righteousness (Phil. 3:4-6). Both of these men offer a list of the reasons why they ought to be accepted by God—a list of their righteousnesses that makes them morally superior to others and worthy of the kingdom.

And they are not alone; everyone has such a list delineating their personal righteousness and moral superiority. The atheist holds to the moral superiority of his good conduct or better apprehension of the world; the vegan’s moral superiority flows from his proper treatment of the animal kingdom; the legalist points to a list of dos and don’ts appropriately checked off. Even church members build their eternal hopes on fulfilling lists that they learned early on (“I prayed that prayer,” “I was baptized,” “I joined that church,” etc.).

The only problem with any such list is that it stems from a pretension to moral superiority that rests in the actions of the person. This personal moral superiority always displays a misunderstanding both of grace and of depravity. In Job’s case, his faults are exposed immediately in Job 32:2: “But Elihu . . . became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God.” Sadly, however, many spend their lives vainly believing that their list justifies them before God, without ever seeing what Job and Paul finally saw—the only list that actually makes anyone righteous is the list of obedience offered by Jesus (Rom. 5:19). Christ's perfect obedience alone is the true believer’s righteousness, because—as Job soon will discover—nothing in a person makes that person acceptable to God.

There is nothing wrong with piety as such, unless one places his trust in his piety. So what's on your list?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Job 30:1-31:40
  • How do those around Job respond to his physical suffering?
  • What does this tell you about those who suffer and those who don't?
  • How had Job responded to those who were suffering?
  • What does suffering strip a person of?
  • What is the root of Job's righteous dealings with others? (31:15)
  • How has Job used his position of influence with others to advocate for the needy?
  • How does Job view his wealth?
  • How does Job define "unfaithfulness to God"?
  • As Job closes his remarks what is wrong with how he approaches God?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to reveal where you are placing your hope of righteousness. Thank Him that He receives the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ on your behalf.