Day 17 (Wednesday Feb 2)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! — Psalm 100:1–2

Here in Psalm 100, David says that we should come to the Lord with joy, gladness, and singing. This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 9:7 where it says God loves a “cheerful giver.” God doesn’t just want us to go through the motions; he wants us to serve Him with joy.

One of the outcomes of being filled with the Holy Spirit is “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:19).

It seems that when the Lord has fully captured our hearts, singing becomes a natural overflow.

Scientists have proven that there are intrinsic benefits to singing. “Singing is proven to release endorphins and oxytocin, which is known to stimulate feelings of trust and bonding while eliminating anxiety and depression,” according to the London Singing Institute.

“Singers have been observed to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating reduced stress levels. This was true even for vocalists who may be facing more difficulties and are undergoing stressful situations, compared to those who don’t sing.”

But is God telling us to sing because He wants us to feel better? I think there’s something deeper happening behind these commands.

When we sing we aren’t just making noise; the psalmist says that we are to bring to God joyful noise.

Singing tends to lift up our affections and emotions. The songs that have the deepest meaning to us often aren’t as much about the lyrics as they are about the person we’re thinking about and the context in which we’ve experienced the music.

There are plenty of songs from your youth where you know the melody and the chorus but you haven’t really taken time to consider what the words were about. My good friend Yana Conner points out that one of the songs that’s taken out of context most often is “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. It’s always played at weddings and has great meaning to a lot of people’s romance stories. But the song itself isn’t about a romantic relationship; it’s about Stevie’s newborn daughter:

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

Isn’t she precious?

Less than one minute old

I never thought through love we’d be

Making one as lovely as she

But isn’t she lovely made from love?

It’s right there in the lyrics, but we ignore them because we ascribe our own meaning to songs in our own context.

This is why the Bible doesn’t just encourage us to sing, it tells us to sing to the Lord. More importantly, it’s saying to lift up our emotions to the Lord and focus on Him.

Could you imagine a worship service where everyone walked in and we just said, “Sing”? Sing any old song, doesn’t matter. And one person sings “Happy Birthday,” another “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” another the “Star-Spangled Banner”? It would be weird, right?

We already know that the Lord is the focus of our time, but the problem often is that when we sing we’re not always thinking with any depth about what we’re singing and allowing our affections to be lifted up to God.

Joy and gladness don’t come from a song, they come from the Lord. We have to do the work when we worship to draw from our experience with God and connect with the lyrics in order to give the song meaning. This is worship. Every worship song is meant to touch the heart so that you would draw closer to the Lord.

I have three daughters. I held all of them when they were born. When I hear “Isn’t she lovely…” I mentally go back to the hospital to a concrete moment when I was gazing at the beauty of my sweet children.

The next time you’re singing to the Lord, don’t concentrate on sounding good. Seriously, don’t worry about the people around you. Concentrate on what the words are saying and how the song is true to your experience with God. Let the song strike your imagination so that you bring your worship to a song instead of waiting for a worship team or a great singer to make you feel good about the song.

Final Thought

When we cultivate a habit of private worship, we stimulate a deeper heart for God and for others. I wonder if you have a go-to song? When I was in my first year of marriage, I considered how God had saved me, changed my life and placed me in a Christ-centered marriage. One day while in our kitchen, I heard these words and just broke out in tears and lifted my hands…and it became my go-to song of praise. I pray you have a go-to song as well, or if you don’t, that you ask the Lord to lead you to one.

How can I say thanks

For the things You have done for me?

Things so undeserved

Yet You gave to prove Your love for me

The voices of a million angels

Could not express my gratitude

All that I am and ever hope to be

I owe it all to Thee

To God be the glory

To God be the glory

To God be the glory

For the things He has done

With His blood He has saved me

With His power He has raised me

To God be the glory

For the things He has done

”My Tribute” by Andre Crouch

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