"SINGING"

INTRODUCTION
1. Our study of spiritual disciplines have so far examined such
    spiritual exercises as...
    a. Prayer - the value of secret, simple, and steadfast prayer
    b. Meditation - contemplating God, His works, His words, and   
        things worthy of virtue
    c. Fasting - as a means of humbling one's self before God, 
        especially when joined with prayer
2. Another discipline in which we engage regularly is singing...
    a. We spend nearly a third of our assemblies engaged in this activity
    b. Rightly so, for it has the possibility of great spiritual benefits
3. But I wonder if some do not appreciate the value of singing...
    a. Do I sing with virtually no emotion or not at all?
    b. Do I complain if there are too many hymns in a worship service
        or do I not attend a worship service if it is devoted to singing?
[Singing as a spiritual discipline is of great value, and should be a
habit engaged by those who desire to grow in godliness.  To appreciate
why, let's review...]
DISCUSSION
I. THE PURPOSE OF SINGING
A. TO PRAISE THE LORD (UPWARD)...
     1. This is the most common concept of the purpose of singing
         a. Indeed, this is certainly the idea inherent in the word 'hymn'
         b. Which comes from the Greek word humnos, meaning "a song 
             in praise of"
     2. The Psalms call upon us to praise God in song
         a. "Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks
             at the remembrance of His holy name." - Ps 30:4
         b. "Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King,
             sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises
             with understanding." - Ps 47:6-7
         c. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to
             the Rock of our salvation." - Ps 95:1
         d. "Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the
             earth." - Ps 96:1
         e. "Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news 
             of His salvation from day to day." - Ps 96:2
         f. "Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done 
            marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained 
            Him the victory." - Ps 98:1
         g. "Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence 
             with singing." - Ps 100:2
         h. "Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His
             name, for it is pleasant." - Ps 135:3
     3. Praising God in song should be a natural for Christians !
         a. David reacted this way to the blessings of God - Ps 28:6-7;
             59:16-17
         b. Christians are taught to sing praises when joyful - Jm 5:13
         c. Paul and Silas even reacted to persecution by singing
             praises - Ac 16:25
     -- Is not God worthy of being praised in song?
B. TO TEACH AND ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER  
     (OUTWARD)...
     1. Singing is not always directed toward God...
         a. Certainly, many songs are
         b. But songs are often directed to each other - cf. Col 3:16;
             Ep 5:19
     2. That's because many songs are designed to teach one another
         a. Teaching and admonishing us to live properly, to enjoy the
             blessings of the Christian life
         b. It might even be said that 'congregational singing' is
             actually 'congregational teaching'!
     -- Do not our brethren deserve the encouragement that comes 
         from singing?
C. TO BE FILLED AND ENRICHED (INWARD)...
     1. David wrote of the personal benefit of singing praises
         a. It made his lips and soul to greatly rejoice - Ps 71:23
         b. He found it to be pleasant and beautiful - Ps 147:1
     2. Singing can be a means to being filled with the Spirit
         a. Paul charged the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit
             - Ep 5:18
         b. He explained how:  by singing and making melody in one's
             heart to the Lord - Ep 5:19
     3. Singing can be a means to being enriched by the Word of
         Christ
         a. Paul charged the Colossians to let the Word of Christ dwell
             in them richly - Col 3:16a
         b. Again he explains:  by singing with grace in one's heart to
             the Lord - Col 3:16b
     -- For a truly Spirit-filled life enriched by the Word of Christ,
         singing is essential!
[Singing is a wonderful spiritual discipline that blesses God, those who
hear us, and even ourselves as we sing.  How can we get more out this
spiritual discipline?  Here are some thoughts regarding...]
II. THE PRACTICE OF SINGING
A. ENGAGE THE MIND AS YOU SING...
     1. Remember, singing is teaching and admonishing one another
     2. This assumes that we understand what we sing - cf. 1Co 14:15
     3. We must be careful that our enjoyment of singing is not like
         how many people enjoy their popular music (i.e., liking the
         music without necessarily understanding the words)
     -- Give careful attention to the words of the songs
B. ENGAGE THE HEART AS YOU SING...
     1. When we sing, we must do so...
         a. "with grace in your hearts" - Col 3:16
         b. "making melody in your heart" - Ep 5:19
     2. This assumes that we involve our 'heart strings' (emotions) as
         we sing!
     3. To sing without emotion (without grace in our hearts)...
         a. Is hypocritical, and condemned by Jesus! - Mt 15:7-8
         b. Will be evident in our countenances! - cf. Pr 15:13
     -- Put your heart into your singing
C. ENHANCE YOUR SINGING IN WORSHIP BY WHERE 
     YOU SIT...
     1. Sitting alone or spread out discourages many from singing as
         they might otherwise
     2. People become more involved, are more uplifted, edify others
         better, when they sit together and closer to the song leader
     -- One of the first steps to enjoy singing is to sit with others
         who love to sing!
D. UTILIZE OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN TO SING...
     1. Singing is more enjoyable when we are able to read musical
         notes, sing different parts
     2. Churches often provide singing classes
     3. Indeed, every opportunity to sing is an opportunity to learn
     -- Take advantage of any opportunity to learn how to sing
E. EXPAND THE SPHERE OF YOUR SINGING...
     1. Is your singing limited just to the public assemblies, on the
         first day of the week?
     2. Singing, like prayer, ought to be spontaneous, arising whenever
         the circumstances call for it - cf. Ac 16:25; Ps 34:1-3
     3. Take advantage of special opportunities to sing, such as
         monthly and annual singings
     4. As a spiritual exercise, it should be done in private devotions
         as well as in public worship
         a. Sing while you work, travel, or alone in your private
             meditations
         b. Make use of hymns on tapes or CDs when traveling or
             meditating
     -- Increase your opportunities to sing at other times with others,
         and when alone
CONCLUSION
1. David exemplifies the attitude of one who exercises himself through
    the discipline of singing...
    a. "I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with
        me." - Ps 13:6
    b. "I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You
        among the nations." - Ps 57:9
    c. "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to
        my God while I have my being." - Ps 104:33
2. He likewise calls upon us to sing praises both in public and in
    private...
    a. "Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise 
        in the assembly of saints." - Ps 149:1
    b. "Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their
        beds." - Ps 149:5
3. As we seek to exercise ourselves unto godliness (2Ti 4:7), consider 
    the discipline of singing as an appropriate complement to other 
    spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, and fasting...