Today, I want to continue with the thought of 2012 being the year of Unceasing Fruitfulness. It is certainly a word which has resonated with me and it is one, which, it seems, has resonated with many Christians as well.
In his New Year’s message, Joseph Prince shared the key to unceasing fruitfulness by cross-referencing Jeremiah 17:5-8 with Psalm 1.
Psalm 1:1-3 says:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
The key is to meditate on the Word of God. Prince shared the thought that to “meditate” was to “mutter under one’s breath”; to keep the Word of God on our lips.
I want to bring this thought into the context of apostolic worship.
I believe that true worship transforms the worshipper. This happens in a number of ways. It is true that encountering God exposes our own sinfulness and convicts us to change. It is also true that we become like who (or what) we worship. But worship also transforms us, often not in a sudden, electrifying moment, but through a gradual process. This is where I think Biblical meditation and worship through singing intersect.
I remember many years ago, Integrity Music released Scripture Memory songs, Scripture set verbatim to music. It was a powerful and effective way to memorise Scripture. This is in fact how I memorised Romans 8:1 (“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” – sing with me if you remember this song!) It’s actually a shame that not more worship songs these days record Scripture in this way.
So, the process of singing is one way by which we can take a Scriptural word or thought and internalise it by repetition. It is a psychological phenomenon which I am not equipped to explain, but I can only point to the evidence of my little niece who, at the age of 2, is just beginning to form sentences of longer than 3 or 4 words; and yet she can practically sing an entire song on her own (she needs to work on her pitching though, but not bad for a 2 year old!)
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head and it just keeps repeating over and over again? When I attended New Creation Church on the New Year’s service, the worship leader led the song “Unmerited Favour”. It’s actually got some awkward phrasing, but it now keeps playing in my head:
Now I’ve got every reason to rejoice
Your unmerited favour is on my life
It’s got nothing to do with what I did
But it’s all about what You’ve done for me
And because of the cross it’s plain to see
I’m irrevocably saved now I am free
And I’ll rejoice
In everything You’ve done
In everything You’ve done
Almost unconsciously, I am declaring the favour of God over my life! The power of music is not just to play over in our minds, but also to bypass our minds and affect our emotions. In fact, when coupled with the gestures of worship (such as bowing, dancing, lifted hands), it becomes a way we love God with our heart, mind, soul and strength.
So one way we can meditate day and night is to let the songs of the Lord ring in our hearts, increasing our faith to believe God for His will to be done in our lives.
It is therefore not surprising that the psalmist is also a prophet. The songs are forthtelling – bringing the future Will of God into our present.
I want to leave you today with a song (which is a bit dated now) but which captures the thought of “Unceasing Fruitfulness”. It’s called “Lord I Live by Your Word”, written by Mark Altrogge and recorded by Kent Henry. The lyrics paraphrase and capture Psalm 1 and Isaiah 55:10-11:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Here’s the song:
As we begin 2012, my prayer for you is that in your life, God’s Word will not return to Him void. It will accomplish His will in your life. It will surely succeed. His Word transforms the desert, and His Word will transform You. May His Word water the soil of your heart and bring forth unceasing fruitfulness (and not only that, but also increasing fruitfulness) in 2012.