TO THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE

Mar
2018
31

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“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Born on March 31, 1685 in the small German town of Eisenach, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest musical composers of all time. Johann Sebastian Bach was orphaned when he was ten, so he went to live and study with his older brother. By his mid-teens, he was ready to establish himself in the musical world, showing immense talent in a variety of areas and getting his first job as a church organist at age 17. His Lutheran family was pleased to see him carry on the family tradition in music. Besides being one of the most productive geniuses in the history of Western music, Bach was also a theologian who just happened to work with a keyboard. Through personal losses within the family and professional frustrations, Bach maintained a loyalty to perfection that never quit. During one of the unhappiest periods of his life, he wrote a cantata each week of which several hundred survive. Worship for Bach was not an end in itself but rather a collective response made by God’s people to His redeeming grace in Jesus Christ. Nearly three-fourths of his 1,000 compositions were written for use in worship. Today his music is played and studied around the world, as well as used in nearly every Christian denomination.

Most of us know that Bach is one of the most brilliant composers ever. However most of his works received little notice until the mid-nineteenth century. Bach had profound talent and eventually became a respected icon in the music world.  His enduring legacy is that in his life and work – he gave the glory to God. The story has been told that on one occasion, he was scheduled to debut a new arrangement. He arrived at the church expecting it to be full, but instead – no one showed on that wintry night. Bach told his musicians that they would still perform as planned. Taking their places, Bach raised his baton, and soon the empty church was filled with magnificent music. Bach often wrote I.N.J. for the Latin phrase In Nomine Jesu on his manuscripts. It is translated in English as “In the name of Jesus”. He also initialed S.D.G. for the Latin phrase Soli Deo Gloria on at least one of his works. It is a translation from Romans 16:27: “All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.”

When Johann played music, he felt his soul praising God. In fact, he once said, “I play the notes as they are written but it is God who makes the music.” He undoubtedly understood Jesus’ words: “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come” (Mark 4:26-29). God invites us to know, serve, and praise the Grower, as He reaps the benefits of the spiritual maturity He creates within us. There are times, however, when God will cultivate us for His purpose, using the gifts He provides to further His kingdom long after we are gone.

One of God’s most faithful servants, King David, wanted to build a temple to honor God (1 Chronicles 17:1). But God spoke through a prophet and said, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD has declared: You are not the one to build a house for me to live in” (1 Chronicles 17:4). David’s desire to build a house for the Lord was noble, but God had other plans for David’s son to build the temple (1 Chronicles 17:11-12). David accepted God’s promise that it would be so. He contributed to the cause by gathering materials and making preparation for its’ construction before he died (1 Chronicles 22:5). We may find ourselves like King David, not always being able to see the fruits of our labor in this lifetime. As we work to further God’s kingdom, it is important that we do not allow ourselves to become discouraged. We are merely seed-planters. We should do what we can with the abilities God gives us, accepting that the fruits of our labor will be harvested only when He is ready. In the meantime, we serve . . . deferring appreciation for any triumph to the glory of God alone.

REFLECTION: What abilities and talents has God given you, and how are you developing those? Do you invest your abilities in order to secure public gratification? How can you follow Bach’s example and do all you can, simply for the glory of God?

A NEW LOOKUP  DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT. APRIL 7, 2018.  COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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