Category Archives for negro spiritual devotional

God’s Gonna Show Up

Wade In The Water
Wade In The Water, Children
Wade In The Water
God’s Gonna Trouble The Water

We are in a world that seems so unpredictable. Our weather experts seem to only get it right sometimes and even then only partially right. The news is full of unpredictable things. The war that breaks out that seems to be out of our control. The automobile accident where someone else causes the accident that kills the family. The gunman who seems to want to cause hurt and pain. Even the winner of the sports team eludes us as many seek to make money predicting who will win the game. All of these things force us to face the reality that we just don’t know what is going to happen.

Just A Little Predictability

But this spiritual comes in with a little predictability in a world that cannot be predicted. The singer encourages us to go down into the water. Go down into the water because God is going to trouble the water. God is going to make God’s presence known in that water.

Bible students know that this spiritual is using imagery of the crippled man who was trying to get into the water when it was troubled. (John 5:7). The Bible story provides us with some interesting things for contemplation. First, the Spiritual is based in the rumor that something divine comes to this pool. You know when you are at your wits end, all you can do is place yourself where God has shown up in the past. The singer of the Spiritual encourages us to go down to where we heard God has shown up in the past. We have heard of healing happening there. We have heard people getting blessed there, so go show up there to get the blessing that God has for you.

Stay In The Water

Another interesting point is that in the Bible story the healing came to the one who was first in the water when the shaking of the water happened. The singer doesn’t want to wait until the troubling happens before jumping in the water. The singer wants you to “camp out” in the water. The singer wants you to be there before the troubling happens so that you can fully experience that “troubling of the water.”

Today in this unpredictable world, the singer of this Spiritual tells us to go where we know that God has worked in the past and then wait for the troubling. And ultimately the singer is sure that God is not only gonna show up, but God is gonna “trouble the water.”

Holy Father of all Humanity, we recognize our total and complete dependence on you. We recognize that we don’t know what will happen in this world and thus we are totally dependent on your working for and through us. Oh Lord, we really don’t know where to go to receive they blessing so we humbly beg that you would come by the places where you have met us in the past and please give us your blessing that you have given to others. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Where Are Your Shoes?

I got Shoes, You Got Shoes
All God’s Children Got Shoes
When I get To Heaven, Gonna Put on My Shoes
Gonna Walk, All Over God’s Heaven

We probably know that only the barest of necessities were given to the slaves by the slave master. Just barely something to cover themselves. They didn’t have a robe or shoes. Certainly the slave singer was not happy about that, but the singer saw past the present reality into God’s future. Seeing God’s future transformed the present moment of frustration into a moment of celebration.

This singer simply looks pass this present reality to a different one. You see in the present reality I don’t have shoes. In this present moment, I don’t have a robe. In fact in this present reality, I don’t have all the things that I need to survive. But in God’s ultimate reality, the singer has them. No, the slave master does not have the last word. God has the last word.

One thing I like about this spiritual is that the singer is talking about a present parallel reality. The slave is saying “The slave master says I can’t have shoes, but I have shoes today.” Not only do I have shoes, but the other slaves have shoes. Feet look as bare as they did before they decided to sing, but they continued “All God’s children Got shoes.” The shoes are a present possession in God’s ultimate reality.

While the shoes are a present possession in God’s ultimate reality, the slave will nto be able to use them until the future for they sang “when I get to heaven I am gonna put on my shoes and walk over God’s heaven.” The slave is celebrating the fact that presently I have the shoes but in the future I will use those shoes to walk over God’s heaven.

Today, many of us do not have the things that we should have. Some of us are even missing meals. Some of us do not have a good enough prescription drug plan to pay for all of our pills. Some of us cannot even afford the coat or shoes that are needed to get through the winter safe and healthy. But the promise of God is that God has gone to prepare a place. The promise of God is that he will come again to receive his own. The promise of God is one day we will no longer have to want for the necessities of life.

This reality changes our lives in such a way that we can celebrate God’s future. This reality changes things such that we can continue “Marching to Zion.” This present reality shapes and forms us as we live even today for we know that for the child of God, our needs and wants are fully realized in God’s promised future.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for providing for our greatest needs in the future. Please help us to continue walking just a little bit longer in the tattered shoes of the present with fully knowledge that one day we shall put on those shoes you have for us when your Kingdom is fully realized.

Take That Cross To Glory

“I gotta home in the Kingdom, Ain’t that Good News?, I gotta home in that Kingdom, Ain’t that Good News?

Gonna Lay Down This World, Shoulder Up My Cross, Take It Home To My Jesus, Ain’t that Good News

The slave singer recognizes that there is a home in glory. That home is good news and presumably will elicit praise in the singer and those who hear. In other stanzas the singer notes that there is a crown in the Kingdom. This is all good news.

That is well and good, but this spiritual takes an interesting turn. For the singer notes that she is going to lay down the world and then shoulder the cross. We are reminded of Jesus taking the cross, but we are also reminded of the fact that we as Christians will have a cross. But what is interesting is where this cross will go. The singer says that he is going to take the cross to glory. And that is good news.

Think about that for a moment. Do you have a cross that is terrible. Do you have a cross that hurts and overpowers you? Something that is designed to kill you? Well the singer of the Spiritual takes the cross and will live with that cross “shoulder it” until the singer gets to the place where the singer can give the cross to Jesus. And that is good news.

So whatever you are dealing with, the singer reminds us that it is good news to shoulder it up to glory and turn it over to Jesus. You will have to live with some pain here and now, but the singer reminds us that when we shoulder it up to glory and give it to Jesus it is good news. Certainly the singer is not minimizing the cross that we have in our lives. The singer had to bear the brunt of physical and emotional torture that we can only imagine, but the singer turned that pain into power by recognizing that the singer is simply bearing that cross till the singer gets to give it to Jesus.

This “Good News” transforms the cross into an instrument of celebration. i am talking about the cross we bear. We want to celebrate Jesus’ cross, but do we celebrate the cross we have to “shoulder?” The singer finds a moment of celebration in the “shouldering” the cross. Today, I encourage you to find that moment of praise in “shouldering.” Don’t allow evil surmisings to overpower you, instead find a way to celebrate the “shouldering.” Because in the morning, we will all be able to pass that cross over to Jesus and grab the crown.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the reality that you can turn even our pains and hurts into something valuable and powerful. We give them to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

A Little Talk With Jesus Makes it Right

“Troubles of every kind, thank God I’ll Always find, that a little talk with Jesus makes it right.” 

The singer finds herself in the midst of trouble. This is not just regular troubles. No, this is troubles of every kind. Many of us can identify with the singer.

When our hot water heater goes out at just the wrong time, we have troubles of every kind. When our only reliable transportation has difficulties, we have troubles of every kind. When our children fail to live up to the principles we tried to instill in them, we have troubles of every kind.

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Nobody Knows The Trouble

Nobody Knows The Trouble I See
Nobody Knows but Jesus
Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
Glory Hallelujah

This spiritual is striking in that the subject of the song is “Trouble.” But even though it has “Trouble” in it, It also has “glory Hallelujah.” What gets us from “Trouble” to “Glory?”

We are all in trouble in this world. And this trouble is greater than others can see. People look at us and see good and bad things happening to us from the outside. The Bible says that Humanity looks on the outward appearance. (1 Samuele 16:7) All we can see is what is going on on the outside. So we look and we see that you are going through something.

But the singer says that what you see ain’t all there is. No there is even a greater trouble than you see. You ain’t seen how bad it really is for the singer. No, the singer is in the midst of a terrible circumstance and not only that there is nobody who understands. There is nobody who feels. There is nobody who can even see it!

But then The singer either has a revelation or was holding back some pertinent information for Nobody knows it BUT JESUS. Yes there is one who sits high and looks low. There is one who sees everything. There is one who knows even the full extent of our troubles.

Then after that revelation, the singer says “glory hallelujah”. The singer doens’t tell us here exactly why this is something to celebrate. Perhaps the singer remembers the scripture that tells us that Jesus is able to help us becuase he suffered (being tempted) in this wretched earth and lived where we live. (Hebrews 2:18)

Perhaps the singer begins celebrating becuase there is power in someone simply knowing what the singer has to go through. Maybe the singer uplifts praise to the most high becuase God is there and will not allow my pain to go unheard. God will listen to us when we pray. Maybe the singer uplifts praise becuase God will overturn the pain into good for the Bible tells us that weaping only has a short duration and Joy will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

I don’t know, but one thing I do know, we can be sure God is with us. We can be sure that Jesus cares. And we can be sure that “There is a balm in Gilead that heals the sin sick soul.” In Jesus, Our pain is overcome. And yes, in Jesus our pain is heard.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the reality that you are with us in our pain. We acknowledge that you hear us and even when we can’t see the other side of the storm, we thank you for leading the ship through the treacherous waters to the sunlight of a limitless future.

The Importance of Now

Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass
Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass
And Die and Lose Your Soul At Last
Sinner Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass

There is a strong “evangelistic” mode to many of the spirituals. We do know that some of them were “coded” having a dual message of current realities and the apocalyptic ending. So they would be singing about the end and at the same time singing about the underground railroad that would lead to freedom.

But no matter which of the two realities the singer is addressing there is deep within this great desire to bring this “salvation” to those who are listening. Using the imagery of “harvest” we know that the singer is talking about an event of a certain duration. It is not something that you can easily put off till later. It is something that you must do now. The singer hopes and desires that the hearer will not let this time pass. The singer is hoping that the hearer will seize the moment and move on into salvation. As noted, this salvation does include the salvation that God gives us by God’s grace through Jesus Christ. But it also includes the forward movement into God’s purpose down here right now.

Today, many of us find ourselves in situations that are not where God would have them. We know that God “opens doors that no one can shut and shuts doors that no one can open” (Revelation 3:8). We know that God shapes circumstances, but we continue to live in the mediocrity of now. God has called you to another place. God has made a way to another place.

One of the major points of this Spiritual is this urgency. Don’t let “this” harvest pass. The time for forward movement is now. The time to ensure one’s standing is now. The time is now. Stop waiting for tomorrow, don’t let this harvest pass, move on into God’s tomorrow, right now.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the urgency that your ministers have as demonstrated by the singer of this spiritual. We pray that thou would help us to seize the day and make sure that we will not let this harvest pass and step into the future that you have promised.

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