Martin Luther’s Reflection on Music

God’s Fair and Glorious Gift

“Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.
I would not for the world forego my humble share of music.
Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry,
and smile through their troubles in song.
Music makes people kinder, gentler,
more staid and reasonable.
I am strongly persuaded that after theology
there is no art than can be placed on a level with music;
for besides theology,
music is the only art
capable of affording peace and joy of the heart…
the devil flees before the sound of music
almost as much as before the Word of God.”

– Martin Luther

Wise Counsel from a Young Pastor

mccheyne

Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne

Learn much of your own heart;
And when you have learned all you can,
Remember you have seen but a few yards
into a pit that is unfathomable.
“The heart if deceitful above all things and desperately wicked:
Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Learn much of the Lord Jesus.
For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.
He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty,
And yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!

Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams.
Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you (not in judgment) but in love,
and rest in His almighty arms.

Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding.
Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure,
according to the word in Proverbs 2:4.
See that v. 10 be fulfilled in you.

Let wisdom enter into your hearts and knowledge be pleasant to your soul; so you will be delivered from the snares mentioned in the following verses. Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense
of the sweetness and excellency of Christ
and all that is in Him.
Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart;
And so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.
Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne

Receiving & Giving Neighbor Love

good-samaritanJesus is the Great Samaritan
to whom the Good Samaritan points…
Before you can give this neighbor-love,
you need to receive it.
Only if you see that you have been saved graciously
by someone who owes you the opposite
will you go out into the world looking to help
absolutely anyone in need.
— Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p. 77

Loving your neighbor springs from the biblical notion of
love as the law that causes people to flourish
emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially
and to experience life to the full (1 John 4:7-21).

This neighbor love shows itself in different forms:

O Lord, your love for rebels like us reached its height
in the cross of Calvary.
Fueled by your love,
would you lead us today to those whom you want to love through us. AMEN.

Fighting for Survival

A man with his back against the wall, fighting for survival,
needs more than moral exhortation and pious entreaty.
He must encounter the living Lord Jesus Christ.

This was true for the aged Apostle John
exiled as an old man on the island of Patmos in the late 90s.
This is also true for all of us in the church of Jesus Christ
in the early 21st century.

Hearing His voice, seeing His beauty, feeling His hand
is the essence of true worship.
This type of worship galvanizes us
to patiently endure trials and suffering.
It also frees us from paralyzing fear and empowers us to serve our God.

William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s,
explains very graphically why worship is so crucial for us and our world.

“This world can be saved from political chaos and collapse
by only one thing: That is worship of the living and true God.”

Let us pray for the global church of Jesus
to encounter the living Christ and experience His transforming power
as she worships!

Grace – The Fuel for Worship

The people of God gather on the Lord’s Day to worship Him.
We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit,
out of gratitude to our Almighty God
as He is revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

We humble ourselves before Him by declaring His worth,
confessing His lordship,and rendering to Him honor and glory
according to His Word.

There are many reasons to do this.
None is more compelling than grace.
God’s grace is unmerited favor from an unobligated giver.
God owes us nothing yet gives us His all —
the indescribable gift of His Son.

John Newton, who wrote the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,”
summarizes the essence of grace
in his simple yet profound testimony in his latter years:

“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”

May we embrace Newton’s testimony as our own and delight to cherish this grace ourselves and commend it to others!

When the Spirit of God Descends Upon Your Heart

The lovely words of the Irish hymn-writer, George Croly
serve as a simple reminder of why we desperately need the Holy Spirit
poured out upon us:

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

  • According to Romans 8, when the Spirit descends upon our hearts,
    He rivets our attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His work
    for us on the cross.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He produces in us the
    family trait of holiness by granting us the desire, determination and
    discipline to reject and kill sin.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He assures us of our sonship
    and of our permanent gift of eternal life.

Martin Luther explains:
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us,
death thunders at us, the devil roars at us.
In the midst of the clamor,
the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
This little cry of the Spirit transcends
the hullabaloo of the law, sin, death, and the devil
and finds a hearing with God.

  • Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “Lord and Giver of Life!”

A Prayer for My Son on His 12th and 21st Birthdays

The below is a part of a letter I wrote my son on his 12th birthday. His 21st birthday is coming soon. My prayers for him have not changed…

Son, you are beginning your journey towards manhood. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
According to this verse, becoming a man involves mental alertness, spiritual resolve, and strength of character. In light of this, I pray that you might become …

  1. A man in whose life Christ has the first place (Colossians 1:18)… that you would enthrone Him as King of your heart. I want you to love and treasure Him more than anything or anyone else. Also, I want you to marry a woman who loves Him more than she loves you. If that’s the case, your life will be greatly blessed.
  2. A man who listens to, delights in, and treasures God’s Word as a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Psalm 119:105). May God’s Word and God’s holiness be the standard by which you evaluate your life and make your decisions. It will be easy to make what other people are doing the standard. You are going to experience temptations, trials, and joys. God’s Word will be a sure and reliable guide over the peaks and through the valleys!
  3. A man who wisely chooses friends who will sharpen you and not dull your sensitivity to the Lord and His leading in your life (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  4. A man who flees all forms of sexual immorality because you know that God’s Spirit inhabits your physical body. My prayer is that you please and glorify the Lord with your body by reserving the full expression of your sexuality for your wedding night (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  5. A man who intentionally honors God with your mind (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word).
  6. A man who is committed not to awaken love until it’s time (Song of Solomon 8:4)…that you will guard your heart in your relationships with young women (Proverbs 4:23)…that you will resolve to help your friends who are women to protect their hearts as well.
  7. A man whose life is marked by radical humility, sacrificial service, and bold risk taking in the service of your Lord (Philippians 2:3-4; 5-8; 21-30).