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By Denzel Nonhof

The following sermon is thanks to Denzel Nonhof and Lection List for encouraging the exchange of funeral sermon ideas during the week of August 17-23 1997

From:          "Denzel Nonhof"
Reply-to:      Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
To:            Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
Subject:       Funeral for a Church Musican
Date:          Tue, 19 Aug 1997 11:15:09 -0500

For a Church Musician
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:8-10 and Psalm 92

Message: Faith and Music	
By Rev. Denzel Nonhof

When I was a child, I had two older brothers and two older sisters.  They
loved to tickle me.  I would squirm and try to get away.  When I was a
child, I thought it was because they loved me.  Later I realized that
tickling is just a form of torture!  They knew where I was ticklish, and I
would laugh.  It was an automatic response.

The writer of Psalm 92 teaches us that God's actions stimulate us to
praise (92:1-7).  Praise is a spiritual response to a spiritual God.  It is
as natural to worship God as it is for a child to laugh when he is tickled.
 The foundation of all music is to honor God.

It is a privilege that we are admitted to praise the Lord.  In Psalm 92:4
it says, "For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work. At the works of
your hands I sing for joy."  Today we see so many things in stores, and
they come from so many lands that we no longer appreciate the one who makes
the product.  Sometimes it is not one, but several people who have made one
small item.  Many times I have gone to Silver Dollar City in Branson,
Missouri.  There you can see people producing.  A woman may be making a
quilt or sculpting a candle.  A man may be making the bore for a rifle, or
sawing shingles.  Many people purchase items there, having watched the item
being produced by the craftsman.

God is the maker of all the heavens and all the earth.  Every day we are
called to honor him with our lives and with our music.  Praise and music is
the business of the Lord's Day.

Let us give thanks every morning for the mercies of the night.  And every
night, give thanks for the steadfast love of God.  Bless the Lord, God. 
Honor him not only in public, but in private, and in our families.  Let the
one keep silence who never sees the work of the Lord.  Let the one who is
empty never sing praises to the Lord.  Let the one who is spiritually blind
and deaf, keep silent before God.

I once knew a woman who loved the Lord with her whole heart.  When you
would enter her house, you would hear her humming a song.  It might be a
religious song, or maybe not, but she always had a song in her heart. 
Music was in her life, because the Lord was in her life.  She had a reason
for getting up every morning - simply to praise the Lord.

In Psalm 92:5, it says, "How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts
are very deep!"  One of the greatest hymns of all time was made popular by
George Beverly Shea.  For many years he sang with the Billy Graham crusades
and people caught through that song some of the grandeur of God.  "How
Great Thou Art," has a powerful chorus, "Then sings my soul, my Savior God
to Thee, how great Thou art, How great Thou art."

Several months ago I was talking with Elsie about music because it had
been so much a part of her life.  I asked her what her favorite hymn was. 
She said in typical Elsie fashion, "O, all of them."  Indeed, like a
connoisseur of fine foods, she was a connoisseur of music.  As a chef uses
a particular spice to gain a particular flavor, not necessarily choosing
that spice over others, so a church musician is reluctant to choose one
hymn over others.  But after a while of speaking about music, Elsie said
that "How Great Thou Art," was one of her favorites.

The God who made us, draws us to Himself.  And if there is found in our
mouths, songs of praise, their mere presence in our lives gives testimony
that God is in us.  But if you lack a song in your heart look to God and
with the Writer of Psalm 92, you will find reason to praise God.

God created the sunrise for your benefit, and the beauty of the sunset
simply for your pleasure.  God loves you.  God knows the desire of your
hearts including your desire for God.  God so loved you that Jesus came
into this world.  He didn't have to come.  He wanted to come.  Love
motivated him.  And he came to put a song in your heart.

The little children sing the song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the
Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong.  They are weak, but He is
strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me -
the Bible tells me so."  One of the greatest Christians to live in our age,
studied the Bible, and read most of the Christian writings ever written. 
He fled Nazi Germany and came to teach in America.  He was at a gathering
with seminary students and one asked him if he could put his theology, his
understanding of God in a nutshell.  He sang, "Jesus loves me."

The adult who is too proud or too mature, or too sophisticated to sing
this song has missed the beauty and simplicity of God's love.  The mystery
of God draws us near.  The acceptance of God's love gives us hope, when we
respond to his love.  And the joy of God's love puts a song in your heart. 
And it all begins when you acknowledge your need for Jesus to Save you and
to be your Boss.

I give thanks for the witness which Elsie gave to God through her music,
and through her life.  Many are the times when I have heard excited
Christians sing who cannot carry a tune in a bucket, and I have thought,
"How wonderful it will be in heaven to hear them sing with perfect pitch
and perfect harmony."  Heaven is a place filled with song, for it is full
of God.

Though you may be sad today, yet you may be filled with a song.  Let God
fill your life and surrender to him.  Let the peace which passes all
understanding keep your heart and mind on Jesus Christ.  Amen

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