Make Music from Your Heart to the Lord
Graduate student Erin signed up to participate in a local 5K to raise money for a homeless shelter. An acquaintance from Erin’s Bible study also registered, but Angela found excuses not to walk or run. Instead, she signed up to hand out water at a relief station.
Runners whizzed around Erin and walkers passed her. The distance widened between her and other participants, but she didn’t care. She had been born with cerebral palsy and walked with crutches. Her goal was not to come in first, but to finish the race.
Erin soon approached Angela’s station near the first stretch of the race. When Angela saw her, she admired Erin’s determination and felt like kicking herself for not signing up to walk. She hadn’t worn the right sneakers, but, with water bottle in hand, she stepped out to join her friend on the journey.
With plenty of time for conversation, the college students talked a little about everything—grad school, Bible study, and cerebral palsy. “Her spirit was joyful the entire time,” Angela later said of her friend.
“… be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV)
Well over an hour into the girls’ walk, almost all of the other participants and volunteers were back home, the media had left the area, and organizers had celebrated a successful walk with a whopping $25,000 raised for the shelter. But two walkers remained steadfast on the course.
When someone alerted the shelter chairman that a pair of walkers were still on the course after two hours, Dee and her husband quickly returned downtown to check on them. When she saw that the girls were fine, she rounded up the few remaining volunteers to be Erin’s cheering squad.
The band hired for the event still played at a restaurant nearby, and volunteers who had waited patiently, cheered and thanked the two participants crossing the finish line. Shelter director Dee told someone she was reminded of Acts 20:24 (NIV):
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me …”
Erin began the 5K race making music from her heart, sharing her joyful spirit with Angela. Their attitude inspired the shelter chairman and volunteers, and soon there was a symphony of thanksgiving. The entire community was blessed when they read the newspaper article about the walkers.
With everything going on in the world today, it’s often difficult to be thankful and to share “psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” But when we make a conscious effort to obey God’s word in Ephesians and fill ourselves with the Spirit, then our joy can spill over to others.
Each day may seem like a new race, rife with obstacles. But with God’s help, we can lace up our sneakers and face the journey, one step at a time.
Despite any limitations or challenges you’re facing today, how can you give thanks in everything? What can you do to fill yourself with the Spirit and spread joy to those around you? Find a way to share music from your heart with others, and you just might create a symphony of thanksgiving and praise!
My Alien Brain – Crosswalk the Devotional – October 3
by John UpChurch
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” Colossians 1:21-22
The first migraine hit me in middle school. While wrapping up some pre-algebra problems, a fuzzy, white spot kept covering up the numbers. I’d blink and rub my eyes and try to work around it, but the spot hovered there for most of the class. Being the well-reasoned adolescent that I was, I naturally assumed what seemed logical: I was about to die of a massive stroke.
I obviously didn’t die. But when the spot finally did go away, I wished it had stayed.
Stomach-curling, fist-clenching, world-bending pain plopped down into my cranium and threw some sort of headache party. After an hour or so, I couldn’t take it anymore. I told the skeptical school nurse that I thought I had a “migration headache,” which didn’t ease her skepticism. Still, she let me go home.
Just to complete the headache humiliation, I got sick right outside the school (so that all the classes on that side of the building could watch), fell asleep as soon as I got home, and woke up with a throbbing head. Migraines don’t like to go without a fight. They kick and scream into that good night.
My own head revolted against me for several years after that. If I didn’t get enough sleep or got hit with too much stress, the spot would make a comeback. I did learn to lessen the pain sometimes by closing my eyes as soon as the fuzz sprang into view, but that didn’t always work.
Truthfully, the migraines were the least of my problems. My un-reconciled brain, the one that had no understanding of Christ, had revolted from God. Instead of fuzzy spots as warning signs, there were evil deeds, as Paul calls them. I played on others’ emotions to get my way, used girlfriends as my personal trophy case, spent hours and hours on the kinds of websites that wouldn’t make it through a work Internet filter, and generally wasted my gifts. The pain that resulted from those “spots” wasn’t just inwardly focused—it left quite the burning trail in its wake.
My alien brain knew nothing else then. It wanted nothing better. It was pretty much dead.
That’s exactly the reason Christ’s reconciling, restoring death still astounds me. This gray matter, so unresponsive to anything spiritual, came to life with God’s preceding grace. He kept hitting me and kept hitting me until I finally gave up, followed His Son, and stopped being an alien.
“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing.” – Philemon 1:4, 6 NIV
In New Testament culture, it would have been natural for Philemon to think about Onesimus as just a slave. After all, Philemon was his owner. But Paul encouraged a different attitude, for Philemon to think about Onesimus in relationship to his faith.
In his letter to Philemon, Paul stressed evangelism and being a partner in serving God. Only in the context of his partnership would Philemon have a full “understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ” (v. 6).
This change would force him to think differently about Onesimus. Not about what he might have represented to Philemon as an owner, but rather about his calling as a Christian.
Something happens when we approach life from the position of our partnership with other believers. When we share our faith, we are forced to focus on being God’s servant and to realize how we can help others. We begin to realize all the things that God has done for us through Jesus. Our hearts should be filled with gratitude and humility.
Today, remember that God wants you to have a full understanding of every good thing you have in Christ. This means being a partner in evangelism. Seek to become more concerned about the people in your neighborhood, your community, and the world. Pray. Dedicate your resources to impacting lives for Christ. Be a partner with other believers.
Remember, you have been blessed so that you might bless others.
From: Charles Spurgeon
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 8
Behold the heavens, the work of God’s fingers; behold the sun guided in his daily march; go ye forth at midnight, and behold the heavens, consider the stars and the moon; look upon these works of God’s hands, and if ye be men of sense and your souls are attuned to the high music of the spheres, ye will say, “What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?” My God! When I survey the boundless fields of heaven, and see those ponderous orbs rolling therein—when I consider how vast are thy dominions—so wide that an angel’s wing might flap to all eternity and never reach a boundary—I marvel that thou shouldst look on insects so obscure as man. I have taken the microscope and seen the insect upon the leaf, and I have called him small. I will not call him so again; compared with me he is great, if I put myself into comparison with God. I am so little, that I shrink into nothingness when I behold the almightiness of Jehovah—so little, that the difference between the microscopic creature and man dwindles into nothing, when compared with the infinite chasm between God and man. Let the mind rove upon the great doctrines of the Godhead; consider the existence of God from before the foundations of the world; behold him who is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty; let the soul comprehend as much as it can of the Infinite, and grasp as much as possible of the Eternal, and I am sure if you have minds at all, they will shrink with awe. The tall archangel bows himself before his Master’s throne, and we shall cast ourselves into the lowest dust when we feel what base nothings, what insignificant specks we are, when compared with our all-adorable Creator.
For meditation: Nothing is too big for God (Proverbs 30:4); nothing is too small for God (Proverbs 30:24-28). What is man? Both weak and wicked (Proverbs 30:2,3,32). But God still cares (Proverbs 30:5).