Spiritual Songs, psalms, and hymns are verses inspired by the Holy Spirit. They incorporate scripture and biblical truths. In both Ephesians and Colossians, Paul encourages the churches to speak to another in spiritual songs, psalms, and hymns. Paul’s instruction is open-ended. It is an instruction to a lifestyle. As a Christian, we are called to encourage one another and lift up the fellow believers in our community.
Songs and Psalms should play an important role in the Christian life. Their poetic nature and connection to music help engrain themselves into our minds. They are quickly recalled. They remind us of what God is like, and keep us in relationship with Him. They also encourage recitation. Speaking the truths of God in song or verse can bring celebration and joy in good times, and encouragement in times of difficulty. The believer who sings, reads, and quotes spiritual songs and psalms from a pure heart is a believer who is living a lifestyle of worship.
Spiritual songs can also bring the comfort of the Holy Spirit to those around them by releasing scripture and the encouragement of the Lord. Often, we are unintentional about our speech. We allow words to flow from us freely to those around us. Psalms and hymns that are proceed from us go out as a blessing and breathe life to those around us, because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and declare the promises and goodness of God. Today, may a song fill your heart and then flow from your mouth, and may you be blessed to be a blessing to others.
Hebrews 12,13,1 Peter 1, John 14:1-3
In John chapter 14 Jesus begins to comfort his disciples after telling them that he must leave them, and revealing to Peter that he would deny Jesus three times. Jesus declares to His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them, and that ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ Similarly, the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 11:16 that God has prepared a city for those that are faithful. All those that believe in Jesus Christ have a hope and inheritance in the holy city of God that is to come.
It is a city that was revealed to Ezekiel and to John on the isle of Patmos. It is a city that is lit by the glory of God, and whose gates never shut. The inhabitants of the city shall see the face of God. Ezekiel is shown that the city’s name is ‘The Lord is there.’ This is the reward for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. It is the dwelling place for all those who shall see God face to face at the end of this age. It is the age to come, the eternal future for all who trust on the name of the Lord.
We are not seeking a city or a dwelling place here on this earth, but we have a citizenship in the city of God that is to come. It is a city where the river of God flows from His throne, where the tree of life bears fruits for the healing of the nations, and where God himself lights the city day and night. As those that have been born again, we are citizens of the New Heaven, seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are merely ambassadors here on earth. The customs of the world are not our customs. The ways of the culture are not our ways. We are not to hope or trust in the world, but are called to come out from among them and be holy, as God the father is holy. Our fellowship is with Him at His thrown. Today, may you represent your heavenly dwelling, and boldly walk as a son and daughter of God, an inheritor of an eternal home that is to come.
1 Samuel 15:24, 1 Samuel 16:7
When the Israelites demanded a king over the land, Samuel tried to dissuade them. When Samuel brought the situation before the Lord, God spoke to him “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” God leads Samuel to choose Saul as the new king of Israel. He looked the part. Samuel was handsome, and he was a head taller than everyone else. From the outward appearance, he was the perfect choice.
Saul’s reign began well, but ended poorly. Although he was able to rally the people, he was also swayed by them. He became preoccupied by their opinion of him. He disobeyed God because he was afraid of the people. Later, he grows jealous of David because the people loved him. He looked the part; it was the things on the inside that were missing. God’s next choice wasn’t someone who looked kingly, but someone who God said was “after my own heart.”
People look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart. It can be easy to become preoccupied by our own appearance, or how we appear to others. Vanity isn’t just admiring our own beauty, it is also admiring and preoccupation with our own achievements, and how we appear to others. Much more important is how our heart appears to God. It is through spending time with God, and meditating on His ways that our heart changes, that we become like Him. Our life is a vapor; the admiration of those around us pales in importance to the approval of our God and king. We will spend eternity with Him. Today, may the cares and influence of the crowd fade, and may you be molded and shaped to the image of Jesus!
Jewish culture (and the Old Testament) often equated wealth with the blessing of the Lord. Jesus’ teachings often challenged conventional religious thinking and would use conventional thinking to provoke thought. The first beatitude that Jesus declared is, “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” God’s kingdom belongs to those who are “poor in spirit.”
Poverty is not pleasant. To be poor implies a level of desperation. Those that are poor “in spirit” are desperate for God. He is not a luxury. God, and His Spirit are the difference between life and death. Those that are desperate for God know that every word from Him is precious. It is our daily bread. If we don’t receive from Him regularly, we won’t survive.
Poverty also implies lack. There is little of value to lose. From a spiritual perspective this is an understanding that the rich young ruler couldn’t grasp: that all of his possessions did not amount to anything in comparison to Jesus. Surrendering everything to Jesus is only possible in a realization that He is the true riches. Without Him we are absolutely spiritually destitute.
Whatever we have in this world, it doesn’t compare to Jesus. To grow spiritually poor is to let a desperation for the presence and voice of God to grow in our hearts to such a degree that we live to be in His presence, to hear His voice, and to see His will accomplished on the earth, in us, and through us. Today may you so hungry for the Lord, that nothing else matters, and let it produce a boldness to surrender everything to Him, and to follow Him wherever He leads!
Jesus taught and described the kingdom of heaven through stories and parables. When His disciples asked Him why, He gave a startling response. His disciples were granted knowledge to the parables and their meaning, but it was not granted to the nation of Israel. “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The context is the knowledge and revelation of the things of God.
When Jesus called each of His disciples, they left everything and followed Him. Whatever knowledge they had of God, it resulted to simply choosing Jesus above everything else. It was a similar choice to the message of John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Turn from whatever you are doing and choose God. As those in the crowds truly received this revelation, they repented and turned their eyes toward God. Receiving the revelation of John the Baptist led to the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, the salvation of the world. As the Pharisees rejected John the Baptist, their hearts were hardened, and they were unable to receive the greater revelation of Jesus. If we harden our hearts to the word of the Lord, we begin to lose even the revelation that they once had. Spiritual eyes and ears begin to grow dull.
Revelation and obedience is an increasing cycle. As each of us receive even the smallest amount of revelation from God, we must choose to soften our hearts. As we receive instruction from God with simple faith and repentance, greater revelation is granted. Those that have, receive more. The bedrock of revelation begins with the knowledge that God sent His son, Jesus, to the earth to save sinners, of which we were the worst. Today, may you soften your heart to what the Lord is saying, fully surrender to Him, and may He grant you an increase in revelation.
Our mind is often a battleground for the issues of our heart. Thoughts of insecurity and anxiety can come uninvited. Situations that cause stress and relationships that are in conflict can rob us of our peace. Beyond this, insecurities and poor self-image can bring thoughts that tear us down and produce unhealthy feelings and thoughts.
God is not a god of confusion, doubt, fear, or insecurity. He is a god of peace. Our peace must come from Him. As we re-focus our thoughts away from the things around us and the events of the world, and towards God, His peace begins to reign in our hearts. Through Jesus, all of God’s peace, comfort and His great power, are graciously poured out on us. Thinking about who God is, and how great He is, brings peace in every area because it tells us about ourselves. As sons and daughters of God, those who have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are defined by who God is. We have peace because we the Prince of Peace lives in us. We are righteous and good because the blood of Jesus has made us so. We can be secure in every situation because God is for us, not against us.
As we focus on God, the things of the world fade away, and the issues around us can no longer rob us of our peace. Thinking on God also transforms our self-image into a realization of who we are in Christ Jesus. It is this realization that washes away the insecurities that may be lodged in our hearts, and heals the trauma of past experiences. Today, may you fix your eyes on God, and may the God of all comfort guard your heart and mind in Jesus Christ!
As wheat matures, it transforms. It starts as a telescoping sheath of grass and grows to a stalk ending in a head of seeds surrounded by small husks. As it changes color from a hearty green to golden brown, it dries out, and become more brittle. If left un-harvested, the husks on the seeds will break and shatter, and the grain will fall to the ground. It is a process that represents both death and new life. In John chapter twelve, Jesus uses this imagery to foretell His death and what it would bring to humanity.
Jesus declares, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus, as the seed sown by the Father, is the Word of God that must enter the human heart. He died so that all of humanity had the chance of receiving eternal life. His beatings and torture can be represented as the beating of wheat during threshing that occurs at the harvest. He was lifted up, as being winnowed, on a cross, and as He entered the tomb, the Word of God, the seed, died and entered the earth. From His death and burial, He rose again, bursting forth to new life. At His resurrection, humanity was ushered in to a new age, where through Jesus Christ we can be born again into a living hope.
Jesus continues, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will my servant be also.” Jesus laid down His life for us. To receive the eternal life that can be found in Jesus, we must surrender our life to God. As we surrender our life to Him, it is blessed, and bears a bountiful harvest, and in the end, produces eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Today may the seed of new life continue to grow in your heart and may you give all of yourself to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
1 Samuel 1:13-18
Hannah wanted a son. She was unable to conceive. In the natural world there was nothing that could be done. Only breakthrough from God could give Hannah the desire of her heart. Hannah went to the temple and poured her heart out to God. She made a vow before the Lord, that if God gave her a son, she would give him back to serve the Lord all of his days. She was in such an emotional state that Eli, the priest, saw that her lips were moving and thought she was drunk. When Hannah explained that she was pleading with the Lord to give her a son, Eli said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thy petition that thou has asked of Him.” This was all that Hannah needed. She received the word of the Lord that Eli gave. She went her way, ate (she apparently was fasting) and it says she was no longer sad. She broke through into faith. In time, she conceived Samuel, a powerful man of God who anoints both Saul and David to lead Israel.
We should pray until we receive a word of breakthrough for our situation. Jesus tells a parable of a woman who constantly bangs on the door of a judge, asking for justice. He says that even if the judge is crooked, he will eventually grant her request because of her persistence. We are God’s children. How much more will God grant our requests! It’s equally important to receive a message of breakthrough when it comes. Let the word of the Lord inspire confidence. It doesn’t matter if there is visible evidence. In Psalms it says “He sent His word, and it healed them and delivered them from their destructions.” Receive your breakthrough word today!
1 Cor. 6:19-20, Romans 12:1
God created humanity with individual will. Each person has wants and desires, and is naturally focused on achieving their will. Every child naturally wants to get his or her way. Since the Garden of Eden, our will has been mixed with a nature of sin and became naturally selfish. When Jesus came and died on the cross, He broke the power of sin and death. The symbol of baptism represents the death and new life that is gained through accepting Jesus Christ. Death to the old man and the sin nature, and raised to new life in Jesus Christ. This new life in Jesus is not our own. It has been bought with blood. We are living under a new will, the will of God. This is a new concept and lifestyle.
Living as a servant of the Lord goes against culture and conventional thought. In a world that celebrates sports figures and entrepreneurs who can achieve their will or even impose their will on others, the Christian is to die to self and become alive to the will of God. “Our way” becomes an idol when it is surpasses our desire for God’s will in our heart and mind. When we prefer our own way, we declare ourselves God of our own life. Our hubris says “I know better than God, and my way is The Way.” It is easy to slip into this lifestyle. It is the status quo. As Christians we are not just to simply subjugate our will to the Father, but to transform our heart and mind. As we draw closer to God, our will aligns with His will. God molds and shapes our desires into His desires. As the Spirit of God touches our life, conflict between our own will and God’s will dissolves, and we become true servants of the Lord. It is a transformation that brings true peace. Today may your mind be renewed; may you be transformed by the Word of God and may all selfish desires be washed away and replaced by desires birthed out of the love and grace of God.
1 Samuel 7:1-13
After God gave the Israelites victory over the Philistines, Samuel does something particularly intentional. He took a stone and set it up and he named it Ebenezer – The Lord has helped us. Today, one of the definitions in Merriam-Webster for Ebenezer is “a commemoration of divine assistance.” The example of its use is from the hymn ‘Come Thou Fount’ – ‘here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’m come.’ Samuel was making a commemoration, a memorial of God’s intervention. Throughout the Old Testament, stones are raised commemorating divine encounters. Through the years, these stones and altars would constantly remind the people of what God had done. The Israelites would point these stones out to their children, and tell them the story of how God visited Jacob in a dream, of how God withdrew the waters so that Joshua and the Israelites could cross, and how God gave Samuel and the Israelites victory over the Philistines.
These Ebenezer stones served as reminders of the goodness of God. Natural, meaningless items became infused with spiritual significance. They reminded the people of what God had done. This in turn provoked the people to give thanks to God. As we remember the times of breakthrough, of answered prayer, and the moments of God’s grace being fulfilled in our lives, we are reminded of God’s character. As we think and meditate on His acts, God’s nature is more fully revealed.
It is important in our own lives to take time to remember and give thanks to God for what He has done in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. As we keep reminders in front of our eyes, our understanding of God’s kindness, goodness, mercy and love are renewed. Our review of these events serve to renew and revise our own view of God, and they become a touchstone in times of doubt. They prove God’s perfect character. May God continually bless you, and may you raise a memorial of the testimony of Jesus Christ in your own life.