Instruments of Praise
Jorlyn GrasserMother/Daughter Devotion written and given by Jorlyn Grasser on May 21, 2005 at First Baptist Church of Oak Creek.
Romans 4:13 "Neither yield ye you members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
We are all instruments created to honor God. We may think of ourselves as a tiny piccolo or booming tuba; a graceful harp or a multi-piped organ. Each instrument has a place of honor in Godís eyes. He wants to use us no matter what our size or ability. No instrument has more value than another in His eyes. Together as He conducts and we play, His glory spreads throughout a darken world to bring music and light.
Psalm 33:1 says, "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright."
Comely means pretty or attractive.
One Sunday morning before coming to church I was practicing my organ, feeling pretty confident that the music was ready for the day. I played the offertory piece using full volume and expression. My mind was completely focused on the music.
Outside our opened front door a bird started to sing so loudly it startled me.
I stopped playing the organ to go search for the bird. Looking at trees, and in bushes, high on the wires or near the mailbox, I search in vain. I called my husband and we both searched for the bird with the loud voice.
Abruptly from our vibertum bush near the front door, we saw the bird fluttering about. This mighty songster could be heard above all other birds.
This reminded me that even as I practice and prepare music each week, God has servants doing the same all over the world. He uses anyone that is willing to prepare faithfully. He even uses tiny birds to out sing a thundering organ.
Even as all our skills may be ready, we must always make sure our heart is one of a servant eager to serve our Master. God created music. He loves it best when it is played with a servantís heart. Psalm 33: 3 says, "Sing unto the Lord a new song; play skillfully with a loud voice. For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth."
God is a God of the five senses. He encourages us to taste and see that His Words are sweet. He speaks in a soft whisper that only a silently waiting heart can hear. With surging praise He encourages us to make a joyful noise so all creation can hear His glory proclaimed. He sends the spring rains to whet our scent of smell for the earthís awakening. His presence wraps us in a tranquil blanket of peace as we lay our anxieties before Him.
To become an instrument God can use we need to accept the precious gift of salvation provided through His Son on the cross. Recognizing that we have all sinned in Godís sight, then surrendering to Him our lives, we can receive His power to live each day to be an instrument He can use.
Just as the organ has no power without electricity, even so we do not have any power in our life to serve God without salvation.
Practice is the key to learning how to play an instrument. Besides the hours put into each piece, we need to learn the right way to read and prepare the music.
Even so in our Christian lives we grow and learn by reading Godís Word each day, praying and fellowshipping with other believers.
When it is time to perform a musical piece, the best way I know how to do it is to prepare well, claim Godís calmness, and ask for clear thinking. If a piece is to glorify God, it must be played to point the listener to Him. Mistakes, stumbling, and playing wrong notes will only turn the listener to other things. They may become restless if it is too long, or the flow of the service is interrupted. Congregation worship is disrupted if there are too many errors.
Even so in the Christiansí life, as we live each day in front of others, it is important for them to see us striving to do our best. Bad attitudes, unkindness, finding fault and other examples do not honor God, and just turn others away from Him
As we come before God realizing we cannot play our instruments unless He works through us. We realize then that we will reach the ones who are ready to listen. Whether we are playing as an individual or in a group, singing alone or in a choir, we are part of a team. The members consist of God and those who are supporting you. The right sound occurs when believers work together.
My two and one/half year old grandson, Evan loves to get up on the seat of his motherís large keyboard and play with abandon. His little fingers run all over the keys flying from the upper octaves to deep lower sounds. He is thrilled with the "music" he is making. We just smile at the discord, because he is just a child.
Many believers rush out immediately after receiving Christ and began to tell others about God using their own methods. Like a clanging hammer it turns unbelievers away.
As a young girl I took group piano lesson one semester. We had no pianos, but used a cardboard fold out of two octaves, like a placemat. We learned soundlessly the location of middle C, scales, what an octave is, and how to make chords.
Young believers begin their growth by reading Godís Word. Just as I learned about the piano keyboard as a young girl, God can use this time of studying His word to teach the new believer. God begins working in her life. There is a need to take these small steps first in a quiet time of learning. Gradually she grasps Godís greatness, and is prepared to reach out.
Several years after my cardboard piano lessons, my dad brought home a baby grand piano. We were all surprised; especially because there were many other things we needed more. Mom immediately signed my three brothers and I up for lessons. We only kept the piano a short time, before my dad decided we should move to Florida. Our baby grand was given to our church, and we packed our belongings into a large mobile home heading south. Within a few years we had lost everything including our family, which slowly disintegrated.
Mom and I prayed for a piano, but her dime store clerk job barely covered food and rent. One day Dad visited and brought a musty accordion. I used the keyboard side of it to make music squeezing it back and forth with one hand, pressing notes with the other. God put a desire within me to play for his glory at that time. I wanted to learn, but the way was not opened.
During our lives there will be times when are best efforts of service seem like we are playing a one-handed, musty accordion. When these are the only sounds our instruments can make, give it to God. Ask him to use it for His glory.
We may be home with small children, cleaning, caring, or cooking. With a thankful heart give your best effort to Him.
We may be learning a new job, feeling confused or alone. With a thankful heart, give your best effort to Him.
We may be caring for an elderly family member. This additional responsibility along with our job and church obligations may become overwhelming. With a thankful heart, give your best effort to Him.
The sound of your thankfulness is like sweet music to God.
Mom continued searching for a piano. When she found a $75.00 upright, with broken ivories on the keys and very much out of tune, we were thrilled. We made installment payments on it. When it had been paid in full, we brought it home.
We appreciated the beat-up, upright piano more than the baby grand piano. The one-fingered melodies we played on the baby grand piano were replaced by two-handed, choppy-sounding hymns. With no money for a piano teacher, there were frequent stops to replay sour-sounding notes.
In our lives as believers, we attempt to live each day at work, at home with children, as caregivers or retirees for His glory. Our Christian lives begin to grow; our desires become more focused. We yearn to please God as instruments to His glory. God honors our desires by placing opportunities in our lives. We know now to go before Him, to submit our hearts to Him, and practice to the best of our abilities. We know also that our longing to serve God must be consistent. Pride has no room in our presentation; only prayer, preparation and His peace.
This small organ was given to us many years ago. Just as this instrument is limited, it is not without ability to make joyful sounds. (Show) God can use this instrument as well as the large one on the platform. It just has to be willing.
Even so, God can use our small efforts and abilities, when presented to Him.
Fear can keep us from using the abilities God has given us. God desires that we put aside that fear, and let Him use us.
Because we had few funds for lessons, my own training was sporadic. I had one semester in college on the piano. It wasnít until many years later that I began to play in our church nursery class. I practiced diligently those simple songs feeling God had finally answered the prayer I prayed back in the days of the musty accordion.
Later I accompanied the childrenís programs, and helped during the Sunday night service.
My first attempt to play the organ came when Sandy Davis asked if I was interested in learning about it. A few weeks later she left to get married, and I have been playing ever since. (Almost twenty years)
I see the position of an organist as my ministry. This is how I can serve God at First Baptist Church. I know Nancy and I feel the same way. We want God to use us as long as He needs us here. We have become a team, reading each other, without looking up from the music. God has blessed our efforts.
But we are not the only ones God uses. Each Sunday as I finish my offertory, my greatest joy is to sit back and listen to the choir. The words of their songs are so uplifting.
To be an instrument that honors God, seek Him. Let Him use you where you are. Let Him use you with the gifts He has given you.
It is so important to maintain our instruments properly. Our organ and piano have a specialist we can consult for maintenance and repair problems.
Even so, it is important for us to maintain our physical being, as well as our spiritual being. What we put into our minds, feed our bodies, or how we exercise, all help us maintain healthy bodies. This requires effort and making good decision, just as practicing an instrument requires effort.
Respecting our bodies, and maintaining our spiritual growth also keep us ready at all times for His service. As we seek to perform music for Him or serve Him, we must make sure our hearts are mature, seeking only to honor Him.
As we listen to other believers share their talents, we gather ideas that stir our thinking. This may encourage us to try something new. As we grow and learn, God uses us to help others. We are to be encouragers.
We may have heard a phrase, message, or read an article years ago, and then put it aside. Then we came across it again. Wow! It really spoke to us causing life change. Thatís why God needs all of us. To remind others of His greatness. To show how He works to accomplished His plan in our lives.
Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."
Often we see ourselves as fine instruments, like a shiny brass trumpet, or gleaming polished cello playing superbly music of great majesty and beauty. We smile thinking God really is impressed with this performance. He nudges us and reminds us He uses the battered, tarnished, even old broken instruments as well. Both can make sounds to glorify Him.
It is unlikely you can improve upon what God has given you by imaging it to be something else. Our abilities are only improved by hard work and practice.
A writerís words come from the depth of her soul. The hymns we sing in worship were written with a message. To fathom that message, we must understand and dwell on each word. The right word opens the heart, changes a life, shapes thinking.
Words to get these results must be meditated upon, and a prayerful heart provides the seed of these words a place to grow.
An instrument God can use must be tuned in to Godís Word. His Word provides music for living; strong chords of strength; direction for the score of our lives, and songs for those deep struggling times.
His Word makes our lives a composition that can honor Him. Open your heart to His Word. Be an instrument in tune to Godís Word. Develop the instrument God has made you to be; use it to inspire others. Be an encourager.