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When Ordinary People Sing

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When Ordinary People Sing (Anniv.-Choir)

October 2006

  SCRIPTURE: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen .Matthew 28:19-20; “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth." Psalm 96:1

Introduction

    We are familiar with the songs that describe the feelings of the rich and famous, but what are the songs of ordinary people? Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way” but what does the ordinary believer sing? Lena Horne sang, “Stormy Weather” and Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” but what songs do the faithful sing on their daily journey toward the Canaan Land? Our songs usually describe our experiences and our hopes. They sometimes define where we have been and where we are going.

   The songs of ordinary people describe us. 

 Is there one song that describes your life? If you could pick a song that best expresses your feeling at the present moment what would it be? "Rock me baby?" "I want your body?" "Hood Rich?" or "Amazing Grace?"

   Those who have different experiences in life sing different songs. Those who have been hurt may sing the blues with B.B. King. Those who look toward the future may sing, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" with Fleetwood Mack.

   The songs we sing reflect our experiences and expectations. Those songs change from moment to moment, since our lives are in constant transition. To accurately get a snapshot of who we are, we need a song that tells where we've been, where we are now and where we are going. To do that may require all of us to sing a new song.

    Consider the church choir that traveled to New York for an appearance on a national television show. The church, proud of its choir, rented an entire floor of a hotel for them and sent the keys and registration information in advance to the director. All they had to do is get to their rooms and rest before the broadcast. When they arrived in the city, they were brought to an extremely fancy hotel and told that their rooms occupied the entire top floor of the 50 story building. Just as they prepared to go up, the elevator broke down. That meant they would have to take the stairs. The director told the choir, "all things work to the good" and with good spirit they decided to sing as they went up the fifty flights of stairs, each of the 49 choir members would lead a song and the director would sing the last song. As they began they sang, "We're marching to Zion." At the 10th floor they sang, "We are climbing Jacob's Ladder", at the 30th floor they sang, "We're climbing up, the rough side of the mountain," at the 40th floor they sang, "I won't complain." When they made it to the 50th floor the choir director began to sing, "Nobody knows the trouble I see!" The choir members asked why, at the top of the stairs he chose to sing such a sad song instead of a song of victory. The director dropped his head and said, "I left all of our keys at the front desk!"-The choir members looked at him and said in unison, you sang the right song!

   As Christians, we are on an extraordinary mission from God. Our mission is to go into the entire world for Jesus. We are ordinary people but we are on an extraordinary mission for the Lord. When we sing about our experiences, we also have an extraordinary song.

Exposition

   This text focuses on Jesus as he commissions his disciples to evangelize the known world.

    This text is often called the "Great Commission." It occurs after the resurrection as Jesus speaks to the disciples giving them their final assignment. They were ordinary men to whom he was giving an extraordinary mission. In a few short years, this commission resulted in the expansion of the faith to Asia Minor, the Cities of Greece and to nearly the entire known world of their time.

   The experience of the disciples would obviously give them a new song to sing. Because of the challenges that they would face and victories they would achieve.

   Singing was part of the Jewish experience. They sang of their humble national beginnings and during their enslavement in Egypt. They sang as they journeyed to the Promised Land. Moreover, they sang in nearly every part of their national experience. The only time they found it difficult to sing was during their captivity. It was then that there captors asked them to sing one of their famous songs and they answered, "How can we sing Zion's songs in a strange land?"

   David penned the 96th Psalm and challenged believers to sing a new song. In consideration of how God saved Israel, blessed them and performed miracles for them in the presence of their enemies, David said Israel should sing a new song that encompasses all that God has done for the people involving their liberty, salvation and bountiful blessing.

   In the context of the New Testament mission the disciples were beginning a new journey that would require new songs as well.

  The new song would be different from the song Moses sang when Pharaoh's army was drowned in Exodus 15:1.

  The new song would be different from the one David sang in Psalm 13:6 in which he expressed his joy for the bountiful blessings of the Lord.

  It would even be different from the song of Isaiah 12:5 in which the excellence of God was promoted. It would be a new song!

  When ordinary believers consider what God has done from salvation to blessings and what he will do in the not so distant future. The song we sing will truly be a new song.

When Ordinary People Sing

   When ordinary believers sing, what should be our main points of concern? If we were recording artists, entertainers and performers, we would be concerned about stage presence, projection, marketability of our songs, audience appeal and many other considerations of the music business. However, we are ordinary believers in Christ, what should be our concerns?

            OUR SONGS SHOULD BE CHRIST CENTERED: Our songs should be God centered or Christ centered. This means that what we sing should reflect our nature that our lives are God centered. Everything we do and say is centered around our central beliefs about God and his Son Jesus Christ. Our songs are a reflection of that belief. What we choose to sing should be worthy of presentation to the master. Because what we sing will be presented to the Lord, those who sing should feel compelled to rehearse such that they always present God their best. Without proper rehearsal and preparation, then what is presented "to the Lord" is less than the best and is a negative rather than a positive reflection on the singers. No singer should be happy with themselves if they sing with the choir but fail to block out time to adequately prepare. Singing to the Lord is serious business. It comes from roots that are deep in faith and impact the spiritual growth of the church.

            OUR SONGS SHOULD REFLECT OUR TESTIMONY: Our song must be in tune with our testimony. Many believers, even those in the choir, are not strong singers. In any given church choir, most will testify that while they can blend in with others, it is hard for them to carry the melody unless there is a strong person in their section to set the tune. When that person is missing, they sing but sing softly, afraid they may sing out of tune.

    So it is in life. Many believers, whether they admit it or not, depend upon each other to stay in tune. Outside of the body of Christ it is easy to start singing another tune. It is easy to get distracted and get our lives off track. We depend upon each other, to stay on track.

    We depend upon that phone call from another believer who questions our sustained absence. We depend upon words of encouragement and even the words of chastisement we receive from our teachers and ministers to help keep us in tune. We depend upon the support of friends of the faith who have the melody to keep us in tune when we lose our note.

    For this reason we must constantly pray for those who set the tune for us. We must constantly pray for our pastor, teachers, musicians and choir leaders. Church musicians are those who believe in God and testify with their instruments! Choir directors don't just wave their hands, they testify with their lives! We should pray that they stay in tune with God!

    Those who have been on the journey know that it is extremely difficult to sing a melody to the Lord if our lives are out of tune with his word.

    It is hard to sing about faith, if we know we have no faith.

    It is hard to sing about strength, if all we show is weakness.

    It is hard to sing about our hope in the Lord, if we have given up on God ourselves!

    Our song must reflect our testimony.

            ORDINARY FOLKS SHOULD SING ORDINARY SONGS: Ordinary folks often sing ordinary songs. Some of them are old melodies passed down through the generations. Some are simple tunes. Those who sing to ordinary people should be trained to sing in various forms and styles, delivering the same witness in a variety of ways. Ephesians 5:19 says, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" Those who sing to the Lord and to others select the style of song appropriate for the moment. The psalms, what we call "Anthems" speak dramatically about the power of God. Every singer should know how to witness with the power of the word transcribed into anthems. Hymns attest to the greatness of God as he relates to us. They are standards that have survived the test of time and linger long in the hearts of believers around the world. Spiritual songs are those that speak from the soul and experience of believers. They testify about what God has done in the life of a believer. They are about blessings received, hope renewed and prayers answered.

   Trained music leaders usually insure that varied forms are represented in every worship, hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. This too represents the course of every spiritual life: a devotion to God, dealing with God, and Testimony about God.

            THE PRAISE OF GOD SHOULD BE OUR REASON FOR SINGING: When ordinary people sing, they have no reason to sing except to praise God. Man who sings about God in the shower. The housewife who sings while cleaning her house. The mother who sings while tending a child; all have one purpose, to praise God. Those who sing for other reasons might find their songs don’t achieve their purpose. Consider the man who bought an African Parrot and discovered it could sing and talk. At home the man and the bird had long discussions about Africa, the slave trade and Negro spirituals. The bird wanted to learn a few Negro spirituals so the man taught him several Negro Spirituals and some of his favorite gospel tunes. It was amazing! He had a talking singing bird. No one at church would believe it. Finally, on the day of the choir musical he decided to take the bird to church with him. It was a strange picture to see a man come to a musical with a parrot perched on his shoulder. When the man told his friends that the bird could talk and sing his friends did not believe him. Before the musical began there were bets being placed everywhere.

   No one expected the bird to sing. All through the musical the bird did not say one word. The man began to sweat. By offering time the bird still had not sung. As the service ended, the man had to payoff his bets and was real angry with the bird.

  Once in the car the bird started singing loudly.

"Why are you singing now?" The man said "Don't you know I lost nearly $5,000 betting on you. Everybody cleaned up on me."

The bird looked at the man and said, "Don't be stupid. If they won $5,000 because I didn't sing at the musical. They'll bet $20,000 that I can't sing at the Christmas program. By then, you and I both will be singing a new song!"

  Unlike the bird, when we sing praises to God we have no secret agenda or reason. We sing because we are happy. We sing because we are free. His eye is on the sparrow “and I know he watches me.”

Our song tells about our extraordinary journey

  Finally, brothers and sisters, when we sing about God and his goodness, it should tell the world that we are just ordinary people with an extraordinary story.

  When David encouraged Israel to sing a new song, he wanted them to sing a different song.

  When David killed Goliath the people sang a song, "Saul hath killed his thousands but David hath killed ten thousand." We are not told to sing David's song, but to sing unto the Lord a new song!

  When Israel was in Egypt their song was a song of desperation and trouble. It's words were directed to God and redirected to Pharaoh "Let my people Go!"

  We are not encouraged to re-sing the old song of desperation and frustration. We are urged to sing unto the Lord a new song!

 When Solomon dedicated the temple, the people sang a song of accomplishment. We are urged to go beyond singing a song of a single accomplishment and to sing unto the Lord a new song. David told Israel to look back over its journey and to take in the whole picture.

  When you sing to the Lord, don't just praise him for one experience, but rewrite your words to praise him for entire experience.

  Don't just thank him for the mountain top experiences, but sing a new song that thanks him for the valleys as well.

  Sing a new song that thanks him for the sunshine and thanks him for the rain!

  Sing a new song that thanks him for the good times and thanks him for the bad times too!

  Sing a new song that thanks him for accomplishments we've made but also sing a song that thanks him for the lesson learned from failures and setbacks!

  Our new song should tell our story. It ought to tell how he picked us up turned us around!

  It ought to tell how he planted our feet on solid ground!

  It ought to tell how he gave us a new walk and a new talk!

  It ought to tell how he gave us a new song to sing!

   "I've been washed in the blood of the crucified lamb!"

  Who died on Calvary but Early Sunday morning arose up from the grave!

  Our new song tells where we have been, but one of these old days we are going to sing a new song!

  One of these days, bye and bye, we're going to sing, "How I got over! How I got over!

  My soul looks back and wonders, how I got over!"

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