The Encourager

The Encourager

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Intentions Won't Get It by Dee Bowman

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Some of the proverbial expressions not found in the Bible are nonetheless true. Truth will always plumb with all other truth; it cannot contradict itself. Take the expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s not in the Scriptures, but I fear it’s true nonetheless. Nobody that I’ve ever heard of really wants to go to hell; and everybody I know intends to do something about not making that trip. But when? That’s the question.

“I intend to be more diligent.”Diligence is necessary to progress in spiritual living. You can’t just sit around and become spiritual. Furthermore, it doesn’t come by some process of osmosis—or just because you are in close proximity to a Bible, or to others who believe it and are involved in it. Diligence is a personal, willful action: you decide to do it. In the NKJV, 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Give diligence to present yourself approved to God.” The word translated “diligence” is from a Latin word which means to give earnest persistence to a matter. The Greek word means both an earnest zeal and a burning haste to get it done. You can’t just sit around and be still be diligent.

Peter tells us something about diligence when he uses that same term to describe what have been styled “The Christian Graces” in 2 Peter 1.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self control, to self control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

You don’t add those things up in your mind and you’re through—it’s a life-long pursuit. And it all begins with the decision to get on with the project. That means you develop a serious conviction and a pressing urgency to the need to add all those things to your life. Intentions won’t get it; it takes work.

“I intend to get involved.”When? And what’s wrong with today? Intentions won’t get it, folks. You can only get involved when you participate with someone in something, become a part—a working part. The “someone” is other brethren and the “something” is the work you’ve decided to do together.

Paul speaks of joint participation in Romans 12:

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

We’re individuals who are melded together in the fight against sin and ungodliness. And we’re together in our common worship of the Father, in our desire to bring others to Him. We’re together, and being together takes work, patience, understanding; and it takes time. But it doesn’t just happen. It’s a planned action. Intentions don’t work, folks.

“I intend to tell somebody.”I seriously doubt that anybody is going to heaven alone. You will go with someone and you will take someone. Just as somebody loved us enough to tell us about the Lord and His salvation, it’s up to us to pass it on. Not just intend to, mind you, but to do it. Everybody intends to talk to their family, to their neighbor, but that won’t get it. You have to run the risk. And if you lose a friend over it, it’s no more than what the Lord did.

“As many as were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” we are told in Acts 8:4. Not just the preachers, not just the elders, but “as many as were scattered.” Everybody has the responsibility to pass on the message of the risen Savior and His salvation. It may be that the great deficiency of the church in this age is the failure of its members to get involved in teaching others. Oh, they intend to. But intentions won’t get it.

And you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to teach the word. All you need is a note pad and a knowledge of the Scriptures broad enough to tell someone what you did to be saved. Following the great commission in Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” What did He just command? “Go therefore and teach all nations,” that’s what. Maybe you intend to do it but you don’t have the ability? Then help someone else do it. Be a part. One thing is certain: it needs to be told. And intentions won’t get it done; you have to get on with it.

When it’s all said and done and you stand before the bar of judgment, can you say to the Lord, with a clear conscience, “Lord, I intended to”?

Help! I Can't Sing! by Ed Whittlesey

Sunday, May 03, 2015

What comes to mind when you think of singing? We have all probably known or observed someone who does not do a very good job of actively joining in the song service during worship. A majority of the time, the phrase “Help! I can't sing” really translates into “I sing out of tune,” or “I cannot read music.” While those might be valid reasons in our secular world for not singing, they do not excuse our responsibility to sing in worship. In the same way, we might not be very good offering prayer, but does that mean we stop praying? If this becomes our collective approach. then the singing, or worship for that matter. is unacceptable God deserves our best. We must not lose focus and allow selfishness and pride to supersede our purpose for singing. Let's consider a few things regarding our purpose and duty to sing, as well as ways to improve our singing to the Lord.

Above all. the most important reason we sing is to offer God our expressions of praise, thanksgiving, hope, and dependence. David displays such great determination to sing and praise God in Psalm 146:2, “While I live I Will praise the Lord; I will sing praises, to my God while I have my being.” While in prison, Paul and Silas convey their dependence on God through praying and singing hymns to Him, while prisoners were listening, Acts 16:25. We should regard our singing as speaking directly to God, and the words, therefore, should be spoken in sincerity and awe. Together in song, we pour our hearts out to the Lord. Then our voices, united in praise, are sweet and beautiful to Him.

Another purpose for singing is to edify one another, and thereby promote purity of heart. Several of the songs we sing were written to help us in this regard. In the context of Ephesians 5:19, it is the will of the Lord that we “be filled with the Spirit by speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to Him.” In so doing, we strengthen and encourage each other to walk wisely. Having been enriched by the word of Christ, we are able to teach and admonish each other in song, and express thanksgiving in our hearts to the Lord, Colossians 3:16. What an invaluable blessing and opportunity Christians of all ages have to be able to teach, admonish, encourage and edify each other by singing together.

In terms of improving our singing in worship, whether we sing “in tune” or “read music” is not of utmost importance. What is more important to God is singing from our hearts. Again, David serves as a wonderful example saying, “I will praise You with my whole heart ... I will sing praises to You.”Psalm 138:1. The Lord knows our hearts, 1 Samuel 16:7, and understands that our musical abilities differ. Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on how our singing sounds. While we certainly do not want to discount the quality of our singing, it must be remembered that everyone can sing in a way which pleases God. When we sing with understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:15, and emotion, God appreciates our efforts. Focusing on pleasing God will go a long way toward improving our singing.

With this purpose in mind, we can work toward enhancing our singing by sitting close together or beside somebody who knows music and can sing well. Another suggestion is to hold the song book in such a position that allows for an easier view of the song and the song leader. As a result, we'll be able to follow the song leader's direction and not get ahead of or behind the tempo which has been established. Furthermore, we should take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the mechanics of music. Listening to CD's of hymns and attending singings serve as great methods by which we can do so. Singing is like most other activities, the more we put into it, the more we get out of it.

In conclusion. much of the “Help! I can't sing” business stems from too much emphasis on the music or sound alone. Instead, our purpose should be that of singing and praising God from the heart. By doing so, we also teach and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters to live according to His will. Singing in worship is not about talent or musical ability; it's about trying to please God. The desire to please God comes from within the heart. With this as our purpose, we can be content knowing that we offered God our best effort to praise and adore Him as we worship in song. 

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