"The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks"
Can you imagine being in this situation after healing a girl in the name of Jesus?
Paul and Silas were just following the call they had on their life. They had no power themselves to demand an evil spirit to come out of someone, it came from God
How would you respond? Would you plead for rescue, complain it’s not fair and let frustration take over, and fall asleep in exhaustion?
This is how Paul and Silas responded: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.(Acts 16)
Singing definitely wouldn’t be my natural or first response! I think though this story teaches us of the importance of music and singing. There’s a lot of talk about how we should try to worship God in everything we do but I want to explore the importance and power of worshiping God through song specifically. Music deeply affects us and as Christians we get to sing about the most amazing thing- the greatness of our God!
Here are some fun facts about singing:
The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain's "feel good" chemicals.
A study published in Australia in 2008 revealed that on average, choral singers rated their satisfaction with life higher than the public -- even when the actual problems faced by those singers were more substantial than those faced by the general public [source: MacLean]. A 1998 study found that after nursing-home residents took part in a singing program for a month, there were significant decreases in both anxiety and depression levels [source: ISPS].
The Bible contains over 400 references to singing and 50 direct commands to sing
There aren’t any other religions that sing like Christians sing. Some faiths, like Islam, do not believe in singing.
A friend shared this quote with me a while ago that got my mind going on this topic: “Praise and thanksgiving is the most excellent part of God’s worship, for this shall continue in the heavenly choir when all other exercises of religion have ceased” In heaven, we won’t need preaching, prayer, confession for we will be face to face with God and will be made perfect through Him, but “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” will be on repeat for all of eternity.
All of creation pours out praises to God and tells of His glory. Right now in heaven the angels are singing praises to God constantly, and we are all invited to join in with all of creation!
Why is singing praises to God so important that it would be mentioned over 400 times in the Bible? When we sing to God we are filled with His spirit; and that results in joy, and deep affections and thankfulness. (Ephesians 5:18-20, Colossians 3:16) Singing also helps Gods word stay in our mind and heart longer. How many of us can remember songs we learned in childhood but have a hard time remembering information we learned the day before?
John Piper says that “Singing to God is not merely a response to his grace but also a weapon of spiritual warfare.” I’ve experienced in my own life that God inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3) and how singing can remind us of the bigness of our God and our circumstances seem small in light of it.
How should we sing to God? Jesus told us what kind of worshipers He is looking for in His conversation with the Women at the well: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Our singing should flow from an informed mind and an inflamed heart. We need both! It shouldn’t be an empty tradition. Indifference is never a good thing for we naturally celebrate what we love most. When our singing is not based on truth, we can end up worshiping God for who we think He is and not necessarily for who He really is. We need the truth to drive our emotions, not our emotions driving what we believe because our emotions can change with the wind. Our hearts should be affected by the truths we are singing about.
One of these truths that has most spurred me on to worshiping God in song is the truth that God loves me and delights in me now, where I am currently in my struggles and mess. He’s not waiting for me to reach a certain point. He’s not disappointed with anyone who believes in and is striving for Jesus, for we have been given the righteousness of Christ. The best illustration of this truth I’ve ever heard is when a baby starts to learn how to walk. Parents explode with excitement when a child takes their first step and when the child falls, they don’t think the child is an idiot for falling. Instead, they encourage the child to keep trying. They don’t get angry at all of the falls along the way, for they know that one day the child will learn to walk with more confidence and will eventually start to run.
I didn’t write this blog to try to convince anyone to only listen to “Christian” music. Matt Chandler often talks about the necessity of finding the things that stir your affections for Jesus and saturating your life in them, and then to get rid of the things that rob you of your affections for Jesus. I have found music is a huge influence on my affections. I’m becoming more and more convinced that music and the ability to sing is a great gift from God; and I want to seek to honor God first and foremost with that gift because, “where there is salvation there is joy and where there is joy there is singing” (Isaiah 12:2)