Tag Archives: Songs

Sermon Wednesday – God’s Family

This week, we continue our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  We will be looking at different songs in our songbooks, and looking at the biblical ideas behind them.  When we do this, then we can truly “sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).

Our introductory lesson can be found here.


Some of the most memorable lessons we can learn come in the form of songs—if we are willing to learn from them.  How did you learn the alphabet?—I’m willing to guess that you learned it from the song.  How about the books of the New Testament?—I’d guess that you learned it the same way.

Open your songbook to the song “God’s Family.”

This song teaches some of the most basic doctrines of the Bible.  It teaches of the family of God, the church, the saved people.

Today we will look at the lessons we can learn from this song.

  • Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.
  • Verse 2 – Life in God’s Family.
  • Verse 3 – Destiny of God’s Family.

Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.

You don’t just instantly become part of someone else’s family.  You have to join it in some way—through birth, through adoption, or through marriage (interestingly, the Bible describes joining God’s family in all three ways).

The Bible says that we are children of God by the faith, in Christ Jesus, because as many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  Jesus says that unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into heaven (John 3:3-5).  This “new birth” is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6), being raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

We become part of God’s family by being baptized.

“We’re part of the family that’s been born again…”

A family shares a common bond.  When someone becomes part of your family, you love them, right? (with the possible exception of some in-laws—haha).  You’d do anything to help and save your family, right?  What would you call that bond?

“Love one another, for those who love one another are the ones born of God” (I John 4:7)

“We’re part of the family whose love knows no end.”

A family shares a common relation.  At a family reunion, people may have different last names, but they’re all related to each other through a common relative.

The family of God is composed of those who are saved by the blood of Christ.  The family of God is composed of those who “saved themselves” by obeying the command to be baptized (Acts 2:38, 40-41).

“Cause Jesus has saved us, and made us His own.”

God’s family shares a common journey.  The members of God’s family are to be walking in the light (I John 1:7).  The members of God’s family are on a journey—looking for the heavenly dwelling promised by Christ (John 14:2—mansions).

The members of God’s family know that this world is not our home, we’re just a-passing through.

“Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.”

Verse 2 – Living in God’s Family.

Families should be support groups.  When one member is going through a hard time, he should be able to share that struggle with others in the family and receive comfort and support.

The same thing is true in God’s family.  If you are going through struggles—physical, emotional, or spiritual—you should feel like you can go to your spiritual family and lean on them for support.

In the same vein, brothers and sisters in Christ should feel their pain and share their grief (Romans 12:15).

“When a brother meets sorrow, we all feel his grief.”

Families should rejoice together.  When someone successfully comes through surgery, the family rejoices with the one who needed it.  When someone finally finds a job after a long time of searching, the family rejoices with him.  When a Christian (part of God’s family) makes it through a difficult time, we should all rejoice with them.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).

“When he’s passed through the valley, we all feel relief.”

Families stick together through good or bad. A villain in a movie recently said, “I have no problem destroying people to take over the world…but nobody messes with my family.”

When times are great, you should be able to rejoice with family—the ones who know you best and are sincerely excited for you.  When times are bad, you should be able to lean on your family for help and strength—because they need you and you need them.  God’s family must stick together (Hebrews 10:24).

The armor of God in Ephesians 6 doesn’t have anything to cover your back—but don’t worry, because your family has got your back covered for you.

When God’s family sticks together, they gain the victory!

“Together in sunshine, together in rain, together in victory through His precious name.”

Verse 3 – God’s family reunion.

Sometimes family gets separated, but they look forward to the reunion.  

Many families have annual family reunions.  The family members haven’t seen each other in months—sometimes years—but they look forward to that family reunion to renew their relationships.

We look forward to gatherings like that, don’t we?  Times when you get to see friends you have lost touch with?

Some folks get there earlier than others.  My aunt Earline was always the first one to show up at family events (I thought her name was “early” for the longest time because of this).

God has a family reunion scheduled.

Some may have left to get there before others, but all of God’s faithful family will be there.  And in that reunion, all the saints will be gathered together—a joyful family reunion.  I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Timothy 4:7-8.

“And though some go before us, we’ll all meet again.”

The family reunion is held at a specific location.

Could you imagine getting an invitation to a family reunion, but it never says where it was going to be held?  You’d probably think someone didn’t really want you coming!

All reunions take place at a certain location.  Some take place at the park, others at someone’s house.  My mother’s family has an annual reunion at the cemetery—no joke.

The location must be suitable for the purposes.  There must be plenty of room.  It must be a location that can be accessed (you wouldn’t be able to have a reunion at the bottom of the sea).

It must be suitable for the people who will be attending.  You wouldn’t choose a place that had no seating or shelter.

God’s family reunion is held in a specific location: heaven!  It is the place prepared by Jesus Christ for our reunion (John 14:2-3).  It has plenty of room for all of God’s family.  It is the heavenly city

“Just inside the city, as we enter in.”

Family reunions must end.

As fun and enjoyable as family reunions might be, they do have to end at some point.  And as each year comes and goes, there are some people who won’t make it back to the reunions.  Perhaps they’re busy.  Perhaps they’re too frail to make the trip.  Perhaps they’ve passed away.

But God’s family reunion is different.  It is a PERMANENT reunion.  All the faithful family will be there, never to die, never to part again.  It is a joyful, forever reunion!

“They’ll be no more parting, with Jesus we’ll be, together forever, God’s family.”


Take the time right now to think about the family reunion that will take place in heaven.  Who is it that you’ll be looking forward to seeing again? (names___)  And now realize that once you get to see them again, they’ll never be taken away from you anymore.  You will get to always be with them in heaven.

But here’s the catch—this reunion is only for those who are in God’s family.  If you’re not a Christian, you can’t come to the reunion.

Sermon Wednesday – Singing With Understanding

For the next several weeks, our “Sermon Wednesday” feature will focus on Singing with Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).  We will take the time to examine the words of some of the songs we sing, and look at the Biblical ideas expressed in them so that when we sing them, we will truly “sing with the understanding also.”


In the church, most of the sermons you hear regarding singing are either about the use of instrumental music, or about singing unscriptural songs.  I have preached on those topics, and they absolutely need to be preached on.

However, it has been my experience that far fewer sermons are preached on the positive aspects of proper singing.  I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to improve the quality of your singing.

I know a man named Jay Rix who made it a point almost every time he lead singing to tell people to lift their songbooks up in front of them so that their voices could be heard (instead of it being sung to the floor).

I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to understand the notes and beats in our songbooks.  Have you ever been completely thrown off-track when singing a song because the song leader is singing it one way, and no one is singing the same notes or the same speed, or in the same key?

I’ve been places before where the song leader didn’t lead very loudly, and so there were three or four people in the congregation who tried to take over the lead from their pews—all at the same time, and all in different keys.  And you can picture the scene, each one sings progressively louder and louder, trying to drown out the others and make them change to the key HE (and sometimes SHE) singing in.

This inhibits proper worship—because it keeps people from focusing on WHAT they are singing.

It has happened to me more times in my life than I’d like to admit that the singing was so out of unison that I couldn’t concentrate at all on the words I was singing.  It would be beneficial if we all could take a little time now and then and learn a bit more about the music and how notes work.  After all, bad singing can be a distraction to proper worship.

In Midway, KY, back in the 1800’s, it is said that the singing in the Lord’s church there was so bad that it was called audio warfare.  It was so bad that they brought in an organ—not to help the congregation learn the notes better, but to drown them out.

I’ve not heard many sermons about the importance of “singing with the understanding.”  Of all the things involved with our singing of praises to God, this is the most important.  Paul says, “what is it then? I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).  This is the idea of singing with the proper attitude, and knowing what you’re singing—and why you’re singing it.

Today we will be looking at what is involved in proper singing as worship to God.

Proper singing involves:

  • The proper songs (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs)
  • The proper attitude (I will sing with the spirit)
  • The proper understanding (I will sing with the understanding also).

The proper songs (Ephesians 5:19).

The only songs authorized in praise and worship to God are: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Psalms – possibly a reference to the Old Testament book of Psalms, but it would also include any inspired song of praise to God (see I Corinthians 14:26).  For example, The Lord’s My Shepherd (there are three different versions of this song in some songbooks).

Hymns – This word is also translated “sing praise” in Hebrews 2:12, and basically just means a song of praise. Some of the Psalms fit this category.  For example,  Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!

Spiritual Songs – These are songs sung for the uplifting and edification of the members.  For example,  Are You Coming to Jesus Tonight?

Some songs can fit into more than one category.

There are songs in some songbooks that do not fit the description of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Precious Memories—though I like the song, it is a song about memories of your mother and father from when you were a child—not about God, Christ, the Bible, salvation, or heaven.

America the Beautiful is in more brotherhood songbooks then you might realize.

The Star-Spangled Banner is even in some of the songbooks.

As nice as these songs are, they have no business being sung during worship to God, because they are not what God has authorized in His word.

The songs we sing must be Scriptural.

These songs are supposed to be used to teach each other (Colossians 3:16).  If the songs aren’t Scriptural, then by definition we are teaching unscriptural things when we sing them!

The most popular example of this is the song Jesus is Coming Soon.  It has a great melody and a really fun bass-line to sing, but it’s not teaching the truth.  It was written in 1942, and people have been singing it for over 70 years—yet Jesus still hasn’t come.  It speaks of signs that will come to pass (the “troublesome times” from verse one) before the end comes—but Jesus said that there would be no signs before the end comes (Matthew 24:35-39).  We could say “we need to live as though Jesus could come at any moment,” but that’s not what the song says.

Our singing must also involve…

The Proper Attitude (I Corinthians 14:15)

I will sing with the spirit (the proper attitude).

Some say that this is speaking of miraculous songs (songs directly inspired by the Holy Spirit), and that is possible in the context.  But at the same time, we are commanded to worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) and that applies long after the miracles ended in the first century.

When we sing, what kind of attitude are we showing?

Some people sing because they want to be heard—to show off their singing voice.  They are sometimes loud, sometimes they intentionally add notes to their singing, and their purpose in doing so is to get attention for themselves.  But where should the focus be?

Some people sing in a mumble, just doing enough so that they can say they were singing.  Others sing half-heatedly, occupying themselves with their phone or something else.  And still others sing loud and clear—but without giving a thought to the words they’re singing.

If you don’t think this can happen, I ask: have you ever sung along with the radio?  Did you give much thought to the words of the song you were singing, or were you just singing with it because you like the tune and have heard it enough times that you have it memorized?

So many songs on the radio (and it’s been this way for decades) are about drinking and sex—yet often Christians are guilty of singing along with them, not even thinking about what the words are actually saying.

We can rattle off things that we’ve memorized without difficulty, but does that make us mean it?

We need to be giving thought to the words that we are singing.  If you wrote a song for your one true love, and you then sang it to her, would you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

When you sing a song to God, shouldn’t you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

The Proper Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).

I will sing with the understanding.

The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading the Bible—a great and noble thing to be doing—but Philip came up to him and asked, “do you understand what you’re reading?” (Acts 8:30).  If Philip came into our worship service sometime, he might go up to one of us and ask “do you understand what you’re singing?”

Do you understand the words you’re singing?

Richie Valens was a famous singer from the late ’50’s whose biggest hit was a song he sung in Spanish, called La Bamba.  The only problem? Richie Valens didn’t know Spanish.  He sat and listened to the song being sung over and over until he memorized the words—the syllables—even though he didn’t know at all what the words meant.  And I’d be willing to guess that more than a few of you have sung along with that song as well, having no idea what the words mean.

There are some great poets who have written songs…but many times those poets use words and phrases that make no sense to us.  For example:

  • Night with ebon pinion, brooded o’er the vale.
  • the panoply of God

We’ve sung these phrases for years, but if a visitor came in and asked you, “what does that mean?” could you answer them? And if you can’t explain what it means, doesn’t that mean you aren’t “singing with the understanding”?

There are some songs that are steeped in Bible references, but some of them are unfamiliar.  And the best example of this is O Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which says…

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come

What is an Ebenezer? Isn’t that the Scrooge guy from Charles Dickens’ book?  I Samuel 7:12 says that after God had secured the victory for the Israelites, Samuel raised up a stone (made a monument) and called it Ebenezer, which means “The stone of the help” or “the stone to remind us of God’s help.”

So when we sing “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” we are saying “God has helped me, and I am setting up a monument in my mind to remind me of the one who has brought me this far.”

How do we make sure we are singing with the understanding?

Part of that falls on the song-leader, because he is the one who chooses the songs.  He needs to make sure that the songs he leads are either easily understandable or that he explains the possibly confusing parts.  Sometimes a song can be given a wealth of meaning and the congregation can focus on the words so much more with just a few words of explanation before the song begins.

One person said, “any time we sing this song about heaven, I think of _______ who lived her life always looking forward to her home up there.”

Another person said (about a closing song) “remember that this song is the one we’ll sing together to get us through the rest of the week” (it was “God be with you till we meet again”).

One song-leader would occasionally announce that the closing song was actually a prayer, and so that would also serve as our closing prayer.  When he did that, it caused me to look more at the words and I came to realize that it really was a prayer.  And then I had to focus on what was being said, because it was a prayer that I was saying to God!

Part of singing with the understanding falls on the one singing.  If you don’t understand what the song is saying, then you need to do some asking or some investigating on your own.  My kids have asked me on more than one occasion what something means in a song (“panoply” being the most recent one).

There’s no shame in asking someone “what does this mean?”  It wasn’t until someone explained it to me that I finally figured out what “be of sin the double cure” was referencing (in Rock of Ages).


Let’s take the opportunity to put more thought and feeling into our singing.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the proper attitude and mindset—stop singing on auto-pilot.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the need to understand what you’re singing.

-Bradley Cobb