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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - How Music Affects Your Mind

James Meehan - How Music Affects Your Mind

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    James Meehan - How Music Affects Your Mind
TOPICS: Music, Influence

Music is a really big deal. Like, it has a huge influence on us and the world. Like, if we were just to count up the dollars that are made every year in the music industry, that would be a whole lot of dollars. If you were just to add up all of the social media followers that famous musicians have, that would be a whole lot of followers. And if we were to honestly look at the influence that music has on our lives, we'd have to admit that it's a really big deal.

Like, think about that song that you love to play when you are feeling down because you know that it's gonna pick you up, or maybe you're the kind of person where when you're feeling sad, you've got your go-to crying playlist, because every time that one song comes on, the tears start flowing, or maybe you've got that song that you play when you're in the gym, getting ready for a big lift, or you psych yourself up with it before the big game. Like, I remember back in my day when I had dreams of becoming a professional UFC fighter, I would visualize myself with my debut fight walking into the arena and "Eye of the Tiger" blaring through the speakers, because you better believe I am there for the thrill of the fight and I am rising up to the challenge of my rivals.

Music matters. It makes an impact on us and the world. And, like, none of this is news to us. Like, we all know that music influences us in profound ways. But for some reason, we pretend like it doesn't. Like, we'll say things like, oh, yeah, you know, like, I know that this song is all about like sex, drugs, violence, and making money, but I don't really listen to the lyrics. I just really like the beat. Like, can we please stop pretending? We know that music impacts us. The only reason we say that is because we want other people to get off our backs about the stuff that we are listening to. 'Cause if we're honest, we know that the songs we sing, the songs that we listen to absolutely influence our lives.

It's really interesting to think about how, for so many people, whether they realize it or not, their lives are following this through line that is being shaped by the songs we listen to. And because so few of us are actually aware of it, our lives are moving in a direction that we don't actually want them to, and we don't know how to change it. That's why this message series matters. So if you're taking notes, I want you to write this down. This is the main point of what we're gonna be talking about. We're talking about how the songs we sing shape the people we become. The songs we sing shape the people we become.

Now, this almost never happens all at once overnight. It's little by little, one tiny bit at a time. Because music has this magical way of those lyrics and melodies working their way into our minds, getting buried in our hearts, until eventually they come out in the person we become. And so, often, we're not even aware of it. It's interesting 'cause there was this Scottish politician, a guy named Andrew Fletcher, who actually said this line. He said, "Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws".

He's saying, I would rather write the song of a generation than be the one who pins the laws. Why? Because we all know that way more people are paying way more attention to Taylor Swift's latest boyfriend than they are anything the president of the United States has to say. Because music, it's a really big deal. And it influences us in really big ways. And that's why this series matters. Because if it is this big of a deal and if it has this much influence on us and the world, then let us choose to sing and listen to songs that shape us into people of real, unconditional, self-giving, sacrificial love, people who love God with all we are, people who choose to love others the way that God through Christ has loved us. Because the songs we sing shape the people we become.

Today we're talking about a song called "Savior King" that our worship team wrote. Now, if you're attending Switch in real life at a local Life Church location, then you already heard this song in the worship set today. And that's what we're gonna talk about. If you're watching online with YouTube, don't worry, you can still access this song, it is on our YouTube channel. Make sure you give it a listen because it is powerful. And in this message, what we're gonna do is look at this song, "Savior King," a song that was written to remind us who Jesus is, the Savior King of the world, the Messiah chosen by God to rescue us from our sins, repair our relationship with God, and restore our purpose of partnering with him.

We're gonna sing this song to remind us of who Jesus is and to remind us of what He has done through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Because of Jesus, everything is different. So we're gonna look at three lines from the song. And we're going to explore the scripture that inspired those lines, because I want you to understand that these songs we are singing in Switch, we don't just sing 'em because we like the way they sound. We are singing them because the words of these songs get their power from the word of God that they are anchored in. So we're gonna look at three lines from this song, and we're gonna look at the scripture that inspired them to help us understand what it is we're really singing about.

So the first line that we're gonna look at tells us this, that now, there is a victory song. Now, there is a victory song. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul writes this, he's writing that because of Jesus, "Death has been swallowed up in victory". So, "Where, O death, is your sting"? "Where, O death, is your victory"? Because of Jesus everything changed. Death no longer has the final say, Jesus does. And we are singing a song of his victory. The most televised event in history was the 2022 World Cup Finals, where approximately 1.5 billion people tuned in to watch Argentina win the game and achieve their third world cup. And when this happened, people from around the globe went wild. Like, I am not kidding you, my mother-in-law was so stoked that she called my wife to tell her about the victory and celebrate with somebody.

Here's why that's so wild. Because neither my mother-in-law or my wife ever have played soccer. But my mother-in-law was so caught up in the moment that she wanted to celebrate with someone, because there was a victory that was won that day. And while it is absolutely true that the World Cup is the most televised event in history, it's not even close to the most talked about event in history. That is still the resurrection of Jesus. The moment when 2,000 years ago, Jesus walked out of his own grave victorious, having conquered the powers of sin, death, and the devil, proving once and for all that he is the messiah, he is God in human form, that all the power belongs to him. That's what we're singing about, the victory won by Jesus. Because of what he's done, we are singing of a victory.

That's the first line. The second line that we're gonna look at tells us this, that your love, the love of Jesus, has set us free. Jesus, your love has set us free. Continuing in that same passage of scripture, the apostle Paul goes on to say that "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ". Thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our savior king Jesus. Here's the thing that you need to understand. It's that you do not have to earn what Jesus has already won. He did the work. Now we get to celebrate and experience freedom because of his love for us. My high school was a football powerhouse.

And I remember, when I was a junior, when we won the state championship game. And it was incredible. Like, dude, we were talking about it every day, celebrating the game that happened, the plays that were made, the touchdowns that were scored. And people loved it. I loved it. And I didn't play football. But I still felt like it was my victory. I still felt like I was a state champion because that was my school and that was our team. And I wasn't the only one. Everybody who went to that school, we all called ourselves champions. And we never stepped foot on the field. There was a group of people who did, absolutely.

And the football team worked their tails off, and they deserved the honor that they were given. But all of us felt like we were a part of it. Why? Because that was our team. The thing that you've gotta understand is that you didn't do anything to earn the victory that Jesus has won. You weren't even born yet. But when you put your faith in Jesus, when you choose to trust him with your life, to declare that he is the king of your life, in that moment you are adopted into his family. You become a part of his team. You are included in his victory, his victory over sin, death, and the devil. It is his love that sets us free, and we get to be included because he's our king and we are members of his family. Jesus is the savior king who changed everything through his life, death, and resurrection.

The third line that I want us to look at is this one. Jesus, Oh Jesus, your name changed everything. Jesus, Oh Jesus, your name changed everything. Rounding out that passage of scripture we've been looking at, the apostle Paul closes it out by saying because of Jesus, because his name has changed everything, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain". Because of the victory that Jesus has won, that we didn't have to do anything to earn, we can stand firm, confident that Jesus won the victory.

And we can now work alongside King Jesus in doing the good things he's asked us to do, knowing that none of it is in vain because he is the one reigning on the throne. 2,000 years ago, there was an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, its name was death. But then Jesus, Jesus our savior king, he stepped into the ring. And by the time the battle was over, after three days, Jesus, alone, walked out of the tomb victorious, his head and his arm held high as the one true victor. And because of that, everything has changed. Because of Jesus, death no longer has the final say, he does. Because of Jesus, death is not the end. It's just an interlude.

I remember the first funeral that I ever performed as a pastor was actually for a guy that I went to high school with. The thing is, he was a year older than me. We didn't know each other super well, but we did know of each other. He was a wrestler, I was a fighter, so there's a little bit of overlap but not very much. And it was pretty soon after I became a pastor at Life Church when I got a phone call that he had attempted to take his own life, that he was in the ICU at a nearby hospital, and that he probably wouldn't make it very long. And so, I drove to the hospital, I showed up. I sat there with his mom and just got to be with her as she was grieving the last moment she would have on this earth with her son.

And I listened to her while she talked about the pain that the last several months had brought for him, because he had been dealing with some really, really severe, ongoing mental health battles that most people didn't know about, because you couldn't really see it or tell just by looking at the outside. It seemed like a lot of stuff was going really well in his life. But beneath the surface, there was a whole lot that just wasn't good. And as his mom is sharing with me her heartbreak, the story takes a little bit of a turn, because she starts telling me about how within the last six months her son met Jesus. Her son experienced the mercy of God. Her son found a new life through Jesus. Her son was baptized at our church. Her son started to experience a joy that he had never thought possible.

And so, yes, she was grieving, because his mental health battles did not end, they continued to wage in his mind, but there was something different about him because now he knew Jesus. And, yes, they prayed and asked God to take that struggle away. Sadly, it didn't. And then in a moment of weakness, he made a decision to try to end everything. And so, here he was in this hospital with his mom grieving. But she was grieving differently, because he had trusted in Jesus. That night, he ended up passing away. And the next morning, I got a call from his mom, and she called me asking me to perform the funeral service.

As the first funeral I'd ever done, I didn't really know what I was getting into, but it was this really, really strange and beautiful moment where I'm standing there in this packed out funeral home, with 150 of the people that I went to high school with because they knew him. And together, we mourned and we grieved his death. And we also celebrated his life. And we got to find hope knowing that, yes, death happened, but for him, it wasn't the end. It was just an interlude. Because he had chosen to put his faith in Jesus. John 3:16, one of the most famous verses in all of scripture tells us this, that, "This is how God loved the world. He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life".

Because of the victory that Jesus has won, death is not the end. It doesn't have the final say He does. Death is just an interlude. Because of Jesus, everything is different. Sin, death, and the devil no longer have the power. He does. And because of that, yes, we mourn, but we do it different, because we know that Jesus is ruling and reigning on the throne. Now, I know some of you are wrestling with the question right now. Okay, but, like, what happens when somebody makes that choice? What happens when somebody chooses to take their own life? And you're asking that question because there's probably someone you know, someone you love who made that really, really painful decision.

Three things I need you to know. Thing number one, suicide is never right and it is never what God wants. Thing number two, God's mercy is bigger than a moment of weakness, that when you really put your faith in Jesus, if your trust in him is genuine, then what you gain is eternal life. And God's grace and mercy is bigger than a moment of weakness. Thing number three, and I need you to listen up, if you or someone you know is contemplating ending your life, if you are wrestling with suicidal ideation, do not wait. Say something today. Talk to your small group leader. Talk to your youth pastor. Scan the QR code that's popping up on the screen right now.. That's gonna put you in contact with a trained professional who wants to help you move beyond this moment of despair and find the hope that is available in Jesus.

Because of him, everything has changed. He is our savior king. And he wants to meet you, wherever you are, in the middle of your despair, and bring life into your situation, when it feels like all there is is death. Because of Jesus, everything has changed. Because of Jesus, death no longer has the final say. It is not the end, it is an interlude. So what do we do? How do we take all of this and apply it to our lives? My suggestion would be this, that you be thoughtful about what you let in and you be careful about what you live out. Be thoughtful. Like, actually think about the songs that you listen to. Actually think about the influences that are acting upon you.

And I want you to be careful. With care, decide what you're going to do, decide what you're going to say, decide how you are going to live. Because life matters, more than any of us will ever admit in the moment. There's a reason why athletes are so thoughtful about the food they put into their body. There is a reason that they're so careful about the decisions that they make, even in practice, because they know that practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. And they know that all of that stuff absolutely affects their performance on game day. So they are thoughtful and they are careful. You need to know this, that every day, we are practicing the game of life. And every day is game day, so take it seriously. Be thoughtful about what you let in because the songs we sing shape the people we become. And be careful about what you live out, because the decisions we make today determine the life we live tomorrow.

Super practical, here's what I'm doing right now. I don't really listen to secular music like ever, 'cause I know how much music has the power to influence us. So I pretty much only listen to Jesus songs, because I want the songs I sing to shape me into a person of love. That's how I'm being thoughtful about what I let in. And I'm trying to be really careful about what I live out. I have told people, if you catch me complaining or criticizing between now and the end of this month, I will pay you $5. Why? Because I want to be careful. I want to be thoughtful about what I let in and I live out, because I know that the words I say absolutely matter. I don't know what that's gonna look like for you, but I wanna encourage you to be thoughtful about what you let in and be careful about what you live out, because every day you are practicing the game of life.

And every day, it's actually game day. The songs we sing shape the people we become. So what's gonna happen as we wrap up this service is we're gonna sing that song, "Savior King," again, but this time we're gonna sing it different. Because now we know a little bit more of the power of those words because they're anchored in God's word. We know that we are singing this song not just because we like the way it sounds but because we actually believe that it has the power to mold us into people of love, people who love God with all we are, and people who are committed to loving others the same way that Jesus has loved us. So what's gonna happen is I'm gonna pray, and then your youth pastor and your worship team is gonna come back on stage to close out the service.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, to rise from the dead, conquering all the forces of darkness that held us back. Thank you for loving us enough to set us free and allowing us to share in your victory. We're so grateful for who you are and all that you have done to include us. We love you. And it's in Jesus' name. Amen.

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