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Ephesians 5:19-20


Intro: In verse 18, the Lord issues a very difficult command. He tells us that we are to “be filled with the Spirit.” This means that we are to yield to control of our lives to the Spirit of God. He is to be given the reigns of our lives, and He is to be allowed to dictate every thought, every action, and every decision in life. Since we are so filled with ourselves, and the wickedness of our flesh, we all have a hard time making this command a reality in our lives. Still, we are to reach for the goal of living a Spirit-filled life.


Beginning at verse 19, and continuing through the end of the book, we are given a description of what the Spirit-filled life looks like. We are told what it looks like in our marriages, our families, our work life, and in our struggle with the enemy. But, I find it interesting that when Paul begins to describe the Spirit-filled life, he does not begin with evangelism, preaching, giving, holiness, or with any of the other matters upon which we place so much importance. When Paul begins to describe the Spirit-filled life, he begins with the way we worship God.


The reason he does this simple: your worship is a window into your heart! When your heart is right with the Lord, your worship will be pleasing to the Lord. The easiest way to know where you really stand with the Lord is to take a close, hard look at how you worship Him. When the heart is right, the worship will be right also.


It is not a stretch to say that one’s worship reveals the condition of one’s heart. Did you notice that verses 18-21 are all one sentence? In that sentence, Paul connects being filled with the Holy Spirit with proper worship, having a thankful heart, walking in the fear of the Lord, and being in a right relationship with other believers. So, when I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I will be thankful; I will have a reverential fear of the Lord; I will walk humbly with my fellow believers; and I will worship in a manner pleasing to the Lord.


I would like for us to park in verse 19 and 20 today. I want to preach about Spirit-Filled Worship. I want to show you what it looks like, and why we should be engaged in it on a continual basis. Notice the clear statements made in these verses about Spirit-Filled Worship.



We all have certain expectations when it comes to worship. I know people who see worship as time when they are to sit quietly and meditate on the presence and glory of the Lord. I know others who believer that you aren’t worshiping unless someone is shouting, running the aisles, or jumping pews. Either approach works fine if the Lord is in in, but I believer that true, biblical worship falls somewhere in the middle. In fact, verse 19 tells us exactly what Spirit-Filled Worship looks and sounds like.


To comprehend all that Paul is saying here, we need to examine the words he uses in this verse.


Part of our worship involves “speaking to yourselves.” The word “speaking” is the Greek word “laleo”. The word refers to “a sound made by a movement of the tongue.” Literally, it means, “la la la la te da.” It just speaks of verbal expressions. So, it means “to speak, to use your words.”


This implies that one cannot participate in public worship and remain silent. The command is “speaking to yourselves.” If we are going to fulfill the command in this verse, we must open our mouths, move our tongues and allow sounds to come out.


Since Paul speaks about “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” he is talking about singing. Singing is a verbal medium. If we are going to sing, as a part of the worship of God, it implies that we must open our mouths and let sounds issue forth.


In other words, the word “speaking” requires involvement. One cannot participate in the verbal worship of the Lord if the tongue does not move, and if sounds are not made.


By the way, the word “speaking” is a “present tense, active voice” verb. It means that we are to be speaking to one another in verbal expressions of worship all the time. Nothing is more indicative of a Spirit-filled life than a heart overflowing with joy and spilling out in song. All through life extreme happiness fills us with the desire to sing. The presence of the Spirit does the same thing in the life of the believer. When the Holy Spirit is in control of a life, one thing He will fill that life with is joy. When joy is given a voice, it always expresses itself in songs of praise to the glory of God. A Spirit-filled Christian will be a singing Christian!


Paul now mentions three types of verbal expressions of worship we are to use.

•  Psalms - The word refers “to Scripture set to music.” This is referring to the Psalms of the Old Testament and to other ancient Psalms that we popular in the early church. The early church did not possess hymnals like we do. They took the Psalms and set them to music, singing them in their public gatherings.


When our worship is Spirit-filled and directed, He will cause us to sing songs to one another that are based in Scripture. Every song we sing in the church should be biblical in its content. Every song should be laid alongside the Bible to ensure that it is accurate and doctrinally true. We should not sing a song just because it has a pleasant, catchy melody, or because it is popular. We should sing only those songs that are scriptural and doctrinally accurate. When we sing songs that are scriptural, we reinforce the truths of the Bible. Psalms help us learn the Word of God. A couple that come to mind are, “How Excellent Is Thy Name,” by Tom Hayes,  which is a musical rendering of Psalm 8, and “From The Rising Of The Sun,” by Mark Miller, which is from Psalm 113.


•  Hymns - In the Greek language, this word referred to “a song uttered in praise of a god.” It is “a song of celebration.” Literally, the word speaks of “a song with religious content.” So, a hymn is a song written to celebrate God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Hymns are filled with religious content. They declare the glory of God. They speak of His salvation. They talk about the glories and wonders of Heaven. They describe His beauty. Hymns are songs that cause believers to celebrate the truth.


Through the centuries, the church has used hymns to teach truth. In the days when people did not own Bibles, preachers and talented people wrote hymns that were brimming with biblical truth, when these songs were sung and memorized by the church, the folk in the church were educated in the truths of God’s word.


We are living in a time when much modern music is shallow and devoid of biblical truth. Thank God for the old hymns of the faith that teach us truth and doctrine, Thank God for the old hymns of the faith that reveal the glory of God. Songs like “Amazing Grace,” “Rock of Ages,” “A Mighty Fortress,” “There Is A Fountain,” “How Great Thou Art,” “All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name.” Hundreds of others could be named. Just because the trend today is away from the doctrinally rich hymns of yesterday, we do not have to abandon them!


We need to sing the great hymns of the faith. We need to sing more of them. We need to sing a greater variety of them. We need to learn them and teach them to a new generation. There are so many great hymns that are being neglected, forgotten, and swept from our memories. It is a shame that the church does not have a greater depth of love for the hymns of the faith.


Let’s commit ourselves here at Calvary to learning, and sharing the great hymns of the past. I would propose that we learn a new hymn every month. We have a book filled with great, scriptural songs that we do not sing. Let’s commit ourselves to learning and sining songs that celebrate God, His Word, His salvation, His Son, and all God represents.


•  Spiritual Songs -  This refers to soulful music. This would include choruses, lighter arrangements, and popular music. “There’s Just Something About That Name,” “God Is So Good,” and “His Name Is Wonderful,” all fall into this category. So would songs like, “There Is Coming A Day,” “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” “New Grace,” “Farther Along,” and “Thanks To Calvary,” to name a few. Sometimes these songs hang around for a generation or two and then fade away. Others endure through the ages. These songs serve to lift our hearts in joy and adoration of the Lord. They help us to articulate the joy and love we feel for the Lord in our hearts.


So, Spirit-Filled Worship involves those who know the Lord singing songs that honor and glorify Him. The music of the church should be intensely biblical. Just because you like a song does not mean it should be sung in the house of God. If it isn’t based in Scripture, glorifying to the Lord, or edifying to the church; it has no place in our worship.


We need to be on guard when it comes to the music we sing, and allow to be sung, in our church. I want to say here that not all new songs are evil. We hear the word “contemporary” a lot. This word simply means new. There was a day when “Amazing Grace” was a contemporary song, simply because it was new. The age of a song should not be the primary criterion by which we judge it.


We should take the song and place it alongside the Bible.

•  Ask, is it biblical?

•  Does it preach the Gospel?

•  Does it bring glory to the Lord?

•  Does it edify the church?

•  Does it teach eternal truth?

•  Consider the actual music that accompanies the words. Is it the type of music that belongs in church?


There are many new songs that are fine for my car radio, or for my home, that have no business in my church.


I believe that all of our music should be scriptural, uplifting, and edifying. It should bring glory to God. It should teach truth. It should not sound or feel like it belongs in the world. When I say that, I am not just talking about music that sounds like rock and roll. I am talking about so-called Christian music that sounds like country music too. I am not a big fan of country music, so I am, by nature, not a big fan of southern Gospel music. I would much rather hear blue grass. I like hymns and classical music better than I like that. That’s me.


I like all kinds of music, except country! But. if it sounds like the world, I think it should be left in the world. So, everything I listen to in private, I would not want played in the church! If it glorifies God, bring it in to the church, and let’s sing it!


Ultimately, this is a decision best left between the individual and the Lord. It is a decision best left between a church and the Lord. We should never judge others just because they use music we would reject. But, we have the responsibility to guard against the introduction of music we find offensive in this church!


Let’s not miss the intent of the writer here. He wants us to know that all kinds of musical expression have their place in the worship of the Lord. He also wants us to know that a Spirit-filled will always manifest itself in the singing of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”


  I.  The Description Of Spirit-Filled Worship



Paul tells us that our singing is to be from the heart. He says, “singing and making melody in your heart.” The “heart” refers to “the center of the emotions, thought and the will.” It speaks of the mind, of the area of life where we do our thinking.


The word “melody” means “to pluck or to twitch.” It refers to the “vibration of strings.” It has the idea of someone strumming a harp. In our day, it would speak about a piano, or a guitar, or some other stringed instrument. When the string is plucked, it begins to vibrate and it makes music.


The picture here is of a heart being strummed by the Holy Spirit. When the Lord strums the spiritual strings of the heart, He will cause us to break forth into “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” for His glory. The whole idea here is that singing and worship that brings glory to God always begins in the heart. It is more than a mere superficial, fleshly response to life. This phrase refers to a deeper experience.


When the heart is reminded of Who God is and what the Lord has done for the saint of God, the strings of the heart begin to vibrate. When the Lord makes His presence real, it is as if He plucked the very strings of our heart, and makes it vibrate, producing music that lifts others and glorifies the Lord! The heart must be filled with the glory of the LOrd so the brain can engage the tongue and verbal worship can take place.


So, this implies that singing should be more than a mere performance. Some people are gives musicians and some are talented singers, and they can play and sing and mesmerize an audience with their talents. If they are doing what they do simply because they are good at it, it means nothing!


Years ago, Joan and I went with some friends to a Christian supper club to have dinner and to hear a famous Southern Gospel group sing. The dinner was good, and the singing was good. At the time it struck me as being very spiritual. Later, I heard a live album by the same group. What amazed me was the fact that they shouted at the same places on the album that t hey had in the dinner club. It gave everything they did a hollow ring. It made me think they were doing it to entertain the crowd, and to make money, more than they were doing it to bring glory to God.


Music that results in worship always rises from a heart that is overwhelmed with love for the Lord. As He strums the heart strings, worship and praise are always the result.


When He strums the heart just right, you might not be able to carry a tune in a number 3 washtub, but you will still want to sing and honor Him!


Singing from the “heart” also implies that the singer will give some thought to the song being sung. In other words, you won’t sing it just because it is a good song; you will sing it because the Lord is making music in your soul that must be given a voice.


True, spiritual worship is always a matter of the heart. It always arises out of love for the Lord. It always results from His work in us. True, spiritual worship is always prompted by the Lord, and it always flows back to the Lord, focusing attention on Him and not on the performer.


Notice verse 20. This verse tells us that our worship should always arise out of a thankful heart. When we think about what the Lord has done for is in choosing us, calling us, saving us, keeping us, blessing us, meeting our needs, walking with us, using us, and everything else He does for us, the heart cannot help but erupt in praise for Him! I challenge you to give yourself to a time to mediation over the work of the Lord in your life. I challenge you to do that and not be moved to sing His praises. If you stop and consider all He has done for you, He will strum the strings of your heart and produce the sweet songs of praise and worship I your soul.


So, spiritual worship is an event that occurs in the heart and then spills over in song.


  I.  The Description Of Spirit-Filled Worship

 II.  The Depth Of Spirit-Filled Worship



When Paul speaks about our spiritual worship, he says that we ares to manifest heartfelt worship in songs that both glorify God and edify the church.


When he says that we are to be “speaking to yourselves,” he is speaking about the ministry of edification. Our worship of the Lord is a blessing to the other members of the body of Christ. When I see the Lord blessing you, it blesses me. When you worship Him in songs that glorify Him, it serves to build me up in my faith. When someone sings a special, which is not nearly often enough, it helps me to grow in my faith by reminding me of the Person and power of God. When the choir sings in hymns and spiritual songs, they serve to prepare my heart for the ministry of the Word of God. They feed me and lift my heart in worship. When we join our voices together in a hymn, it serves to lift my heart and it causes me to worship the Lord. While our worship exists to glorify the Lord, there is a sense in which we worship to help others grow in the Lord.


While there is a sense in which we sing to be a blessing to others, the real direction of our worship should be “to the Lord.” That is, we should lift our voices in praise, adoration, glory and honor of the Lord Who gave HImself to redeem us from our sins. Our worship, like everything else we do, must be directed to Him.


That is why I do not like to give applause to those who sing in the church. When we applaud singing, we are giving the performer the glory. If they are singing for our applause, they have their reward. If they are singing for the Lord, then they do not need our applause. We sing “to the Lord.” That is why we should not applaud singers in the church. If any one should applaud, it should be the Lord. After all, the song was for Him, right? The best way we can acknowledge the fact that someone is blessing us with their verbal praise is to join in with them by offering up words of heavenly praise to the Lord. The best words we can use are the words given to us by Heaven. Those words are “amen” and “hallelujahRev. 19:1-8.


One of the real problems in modern Christian music is the fact that it has become a lucrative source of income for many. Hundreds of millions of dollars are made every year by those who sing. I do not begrudge them making a living. I think they should, but I do have to wonder about the motives of some. That group that wants to charge a church $5000.00 to come and sing has missed the boat somewhere. One lady who was approached about speaking in a women’s conference here wanted $10,000.00 to come and speak. I realize they have to make a living, but that’s crazy! You have to wonder, at some point, why they are doing what they do. Is it for the glory of the Lord? Or, is it for the glory, the money, and the adulation they receive from others?


Another issue with modern music is that we don’t seem to care about the character of the people behind the music. I know that a person can write a song and then mess up, and the song still be good. But, what if the song was written by a person who was living a lifestyle that God has called an abomination when the song was written? Do we still sing the song, or do we set it aside? I hear that Ray Boltz song, “The Anchor Holds.” I used to love to hear that song, but since I learned that Boltz was a homosexual, and had been hiding that fact for years, hiding behind a wife and 4 children. Now, that song has been tarnished for me. The same is true concerning the music of Kirk Talley.


My point is this: the church needs to hold professional singers accountable. We should not tolerate false doctrine, weak doctrine, anti-biblical lifestyles, or greed. We cannot judge the motives of others, but we can observe the fruit of their lives and ministries. We must do everything in our power to guarantee the purity of our music and our worship!


If it isn’t for the Lord, God doesn’t want it! God told ancient Israel that He didn’t want their chants or their songs, because they didn’t come from a heart of faith, Amos 5:23, 6:1-7; 8:3. He wanted their worship, but only if it came from the heart! Nothing has changed about that. The Lord wants our worship, but He wants it to come from a heart filled with, and overflowing with, love and gratitude for Him.


We should ask ourselves, what drives our activities around the church? Why do we do what we do? Why do we teach, preach, sing, etc.? Do we do it because we love Him, or do we do it because we love the attention, the glory, and the praise of men? The preacher needs to ask himself why he preaches. Does he does it for the glory of God, from a desire to feed and help the people of God, from a desire to share the Gospel with sinners? Or, does he do it for a paycheck? Motives matter! We need to be sure that we do all we do from the “heart to the Lord.” That is the only motive He will bless, and that is the only worship He will accept.


Conc:  How’s the state of your worship today? Can you honestly say that your heart is so filled with love for the Lord that it sometimes spontaneously overflows in verbal worship? When the Spirit of God is in control, there will be times like that. When those times of hear worship are missing, it is a good indication that we need to yield to the Spirit’s control in our lives.


I think that we, as a church body, need to come before the Lord and ask Him to help us in our worship of HIm. We need to pray about our singing and put praise, so that it is pleasing the Lord.


There are people in this room who have been gifted with voices to sing who never stand up and honor the Lord in that way. You need to ask the Lord to help you get busy doing what you know you should be doing.


There are some here today who need to be in the choir singing in our services. Others need to learn to open their mouths and sing the congregational hymns. Some would say right there that they can’t sing. The word “songs” in verse 19 is used to describe the “hooting of an owl and the croaking of a frog.” If an old owl can hoot and a frog can croak, then surely you can open your mouth and sing. No one around you may appreciate your voice, but the Lord in Heaven will be glorified when you open your mouth and let His praises out.


How’s the state of your worship? Do you need to come and talk to Him about it? Listen to His voice!


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