Acts 16: 16 - 25
Have you ever thought about how pervasive music is? There has never been a single human culture which did not produce some kind of music. While we have discovered cave paintings of prehistoric people playing flutes and horns. Music is still a part of all major occasions across all cultures; weddings, funerals, pageants, rites of passage, birthdays, anniversaries, parades, and festivals. Music is universal.
From Wal-Mart to Wall Street, in elevators and automobiles, in the most remote jungle villages to the most crowded city streets, music is everywhere. And we like it that way. We insist that our cars come equipped with the latest technology for playing music. We buy millions of dollars worth of music every year. It is an essential component in virtually every form of entertainment we experience.
If you don’t believe me try this; the next time you go to a movie, pay attention to the sound track. Imagine that same movie without music. Soundtracks are big business, not just because of the theme song but the it’s the music that drives the movie of our lives.
Have you noticed how music is used in advertising? Years ago, musicologists discovered that certain kinds of music produce predictable behaviors in people. Slow, peaceful music actually has a physiological affect. Our heart rates slow down, our digestion is stimulated and our saliva glands become more productive. Then some advertising guy ran across that study and wondered if there was an application for it in his industry. So they started playing slow, peaceful music in grocery stores. They noticed that shoppers took their time down the aisles. They stayed longer in the stores. The longer shoppers stayed in the store, the more they bought. So the next time you go to the grocery store, take your iPod and listen to some Van Halen, you'll save money.
Then someone discovered that people can remember information better when it is accompanied by music. So an advertiser came up with this: Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, That is what I'd truly love to be. 'Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, Everyone would be in love with me.
If you really think about it you would see how amazing that little song is. It is the unlikely merger of hotdogs and narcissism through the power of music.
In Montreal, the city government was wondering how to solve the problem of loitering gangs of teenagers in a public park. They started piping in classical music. It was effective, the teenagers left.
And there may be no greater testimony to the power of music than the fact that one of the first things repressive regimes do is to control what kind of music people are permitted to listen to.
Music is an extraordinarily powerful means of communication and expression. We even make a decision about the church we attend based on music.
Today we are going to have a sing a little preach a little sermon. Since the title of today’s sermon is Hope sings I thought that it would be appropriate to do just that, sing. We are going to use some songs to emphasize the points that we are trying to make today. Jerry will come up here between points and lead us in a song of hope. Jerry please lead us in Because He Lives
Last week we took our first look at hope. We talked about the importance of memory. We look to the past to find reassurance that the future will not be destroyed by the present. Hope, the confident expectation that God will take care of the future, rests on our ability to remember. So what does all of this discussion about music have to do with hope? Let me share some stories with you.
In 1944 World War 2 was a long way from being over. Several American soldiers were serving time as POW’s in Japanese prison camps. The brutality inhumanity of these camps were indescribable. The prisoners were treated horribly and at times, their lives didn't seem worth living. But in one of the camps there was a fellow who would sometimes hum songs to himself as the prisoners were being led out into the fields to work.
Walking along in the sweltering heat, miserable, unfed, unwashed, he would hum. One of those days he started humming the tune to America the Beautiful. The Japanese guards didn't know the song so it meant nothing to them. But to the other prisoners, the tune evoked images of amber waves of grain and stirred memories of purple mountain majesties.
Soon, the whole camp was humming the tune each day as they went out to work. The guards remained oblivious to the defiance of this gesture. All they could do was enjoy the tune and wonder why these particular prisoners seemed impervious to the conditions of the camp.
Eleven-forty p.m., April 14, 1912. The largest, most luxurious steamer to ever sail the oceans was making her way across the North Atlantic when an iceberg sliced a gash through the hull. Within a half-hour, the Titanic's lifeboats were adrift in the frigid waters, most of them only half full. Within an hour, some of America's wealthiest, most influential people, and hundreds of poor immigrants
hoping for a chance at the American dream, would go down with the ship. What did they do once they realized the lifeboats were gone and the ship was sinking? Legend has it that the ship's string quartet serenaded the doomed passengers with the song, "Nearer My God to Thee."
Spring, approximately 33 AD Jesus and His disciples have shared a meal together. Their last. His gentle hands wash their dirty feet. He institutes the Lord's Supper, taking the bread, breaking it, blessing it, and instilling it with a deeper meaning.
His arrest is minutes away. He already feels sting of the whip, the pain of the nails, the thrust of the spear, the separation from his Father. And what happens next in the story? According to Matthew 26:30, " And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
Will you hear one last story? I'll let Luke tell you himself. The story is in Acts 16:16 - 25. (Read Text).
What did all of those stories have in common? Music. And those aren't all the stories I could have told you. When the kings of Israel and Judah asked the prophet Elisha for his prophesy about the battle, he first answered, "Bring me a harpist," (2 Kings 3:15).
When Saul, King of Israel, was tormented by an evil spirit, David played the harp. All through scripture, and all through the ages, when people faced uncertain times or had reached the limits of their endurance in difficult situations, they turned to music.
Why? Because hope not only remembers; it sings. Jerry please lead us in All In All.
From Jubal in Genesis to David in the Psalms to Paul and Silas in prison, the language hope speaks best has always been music.
Paul commanded us to speak this language in Ephesians 5:19 - 20; " speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;."
In Colossians 3:15 - 16, Paul drew a tight connection between the peace of Christ and the word of Christ and language of music. He wrote, " And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
I want you to notice today that these verses address your every day life, not just worship or some other special occasion. The Apostle Paul was saying that every day we need to instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God.
Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians, "When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church."
Hope sings because music strengthens. How do we often feel after a meaningful time of worship together on Sundays? Stronger. God commands us to sing when we meet together because music has the power to stir hope. And once stirred, hope wants to sing like winter weary robins at the first sign of spring.
So what's our takeaway this morning? What do we do with this interesting connection between hope and song? First I believe that it is important that we are people who sing.
We need to make the connection between hope and music; when in doubt, sing. When in grief, sing. When in sorrow, when in pain, wherever you are, sing.
While I was a youth minister in Nashville there were 16 year old twin brothers Mike and Jeff. One day after school Mike got on a friends 4 wheeler and took off behind the school. He was going to jump a little bump and didn’t realize that there was a hole on the other side. The nose of the motorcycle went in the hole and the back of it hit Mike in the back of his head, killing him instantly.
We received word and rushed to the Hospital where we met with family and friends and mostly just to be there in stunned disbelief. After the family left the hospital the crowd made it’s way to our building. Still in stunned silence, sitting in quiet in our auditorium.
Then from the back of the church a young voice began to sing Amazing Grace. And through the tears the group sang with him. It was after that song that these young people began to talk and remember and took the first step to a very slow recovery.
Singing is a powerful reminder of our hope. You don’t have to sing loud, or in tune or even have all of the right words. Singing is powerful because it comes from the overflow of our hope. Jerry let’s sing Amazing Grace
The next application that I want us to think about, is that we need to reconsider the place music has in our fellowship. Too often, we have used the way we create music as a measure of our own righteousness rather than as a good gift from a creative God for the purpose of strengthening the church.
Let me give you a personal example. I remember very clearly standing in line in the lunch room of Aurora Gardens Academy in New Orleans with my friend Michael Epstein. We were in the fourth grade and we were having a religious discussion. You could do that in school back then. I told Michael, "We're the only ones going to heaven."
He said, "Nuh uh."
I said, "Yeah, huh. We're the only ones going to heaven because we don't have a piano in our church." Have you ever had that discussion??
I firmly believe that millions of members of the fellowship of Churches of Christ will indeed be in heaven. But it’s not going to be because we didn't have pianos in our buildings. It will be because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
We cannot use music as a measure of our righteousness, or of someone else's unrighteousness. Music was intended by God to strengthen the church, not provide the measuring stick of who’s in and who’s out, that’s false hope built on human performance.
Music is powerful, and songwriters are master communicators. A good song can teach you more in 2 minutes that I can in a year of Sundays. Listen to some of these words of hope found in some of our songs.
Be still, there is a healer His love is deeper than the sea His mercy, it is unfailing His arms are fortress for the weak Let faith arise Let faith arise I lift my hands to believe again You are my refuge, You are my strength As I pour out my heart These things, I remember You are faithful, God, forever Be still, there is a river That flows from Calvary's tree A fountain for the thirsty Pure grace that washes over me Let faith arise Let faith arise
Alas! and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head For such a one as I? At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled a way, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!
I meet with You and my soul sings out As your word throws doubt far away I sing to You and my heart cries "Holy! Hallelujah, Father, You're near!" My hope is in You, Lord All the day long, I won't be shaken by drought or storm A peace that passes understanding is my song And I sing my hope is in You, Lord I wait for You and my soul finds rest In my selfishness, You show me grace I worship You and my heart cries "Glory Hallelujah, Father, You're here!" I will wait on You You are my refuge I will wait on You You are my refuge A peace that passes understanding is my song And I sing my hope is in You, Lord My hope is in You, Lord.
He leadeth me: O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! Whate're I do, wheree'r I be, Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By his own hand He leadeth me; His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me.
If you will allow me one last song:
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth Would care to know my name Would care to feel my hurt Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star Would choose to light the way For my ever wandering heart Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin Would look on me with love and watch me rise again Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea Would call out through the rain And calm the storm in me I am Yours Not because of who I am But because of what You've done Not because of what I've done But because of who You Are I am a flower quickly fading Here today and gone tomorrow A wave tossed in the ocean A vapor in the wind Still You hear me when I'm calling Lord, You catch me when I'm falling And You've told me who I am I am Yours
Music is one of the reasons you need to be regular in your church attendance. You need these songs. You need to have these tunes stuck in your head. Because if the tune starts to rattle around up there it won't be long before you remember the words. And the words will bring you comfort when you're troubled. Or strength when you're weak. Or resolve when you're tempted. Or hope when you're out of it.
When the ship is sinking, sing. When life imprisons, sing. When oppression rules, sing. When a cross awaits, sing. The music will remind you of the man who walked on water. It will help you remember the God who releases the prisoners, who frees the oppressed, who raises the crucified.
If you have no song to sing today, God can give you one. Something happens when people get to know Jesus. They get to know hope. And hope sings.
Questions To Consider
This morning Jeremy talked about the fact that hope sings. Let’s look at a song of hope found in Psalm 27 and see David’s song of hope.
David’s hope is based on God’s character. What three qualities does David remember in verse 1?
Why must our hope find it’s basis in God’s character?
David talks about having to face evil men, armies, and even war, but he still has hope. What images of safety give him hope? (1-2, and 5-6)
David’s hope is seen in his desire for God. How is that desire revealed in verse 4?
Describe David’s prayer in verses 7-12.
What is the relationship between seeking and waiting for God?
Why must our hope be patient? (verse14)
What song does hope sing for you?