Praising the Lord

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever
Praise the Lord
Psalm 117

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you… Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!
Philippians 3:1, 4:4

The whole of Christian life is not meant to be lived in reference to what you should and should not do. Often times we encapsulate the way we live into whether we ought to say one thing or do one thing, or ought not to do or say another thing. Much of the manner of our Christians lives consists in obligations. One of the main things Christ came to do was to show us in such a magnificent way that we are not primarily to live under obligations. He came to set us free from a life in reference to obligations and transformed it to a life of gratitude moved from joy in the heart.

One of the interesting things about the way in which Christ taught people was that he did not say “You should be kind to people”, nor did he say, “You should not be mean to your neighbor.” Jesus said “Live”. “the crowds were astonished at his teachings, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” Matthew 7:28-29. Christ did not call account to something else outside of himself that you should follow. Jesus did not call account to the Law as the final authority – He called account to himself, as that which all should be judged by and reckoned to or against. Just 4 verses earlier Jesus says “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be… a wise man…” Have you heard the words of the Lord? No? Then pay close attention to the words and pray God’s assistance and grace to help you see (Psalm 119:33-40). You say you have heard the words of the Lord? Then, do you obey? 

What is the fountain of your obedience? Is it compulsion or out of gratitude? We often live life in the second person. That is to say, we think in our minds, “I should be praising the Lord”. We are thinking in our minds about praising the Lord. This is not the way Christ would have us live. I don’t believe we are simply to continue thinking about praising the Lord, for if we simply continue thinking about praising him, we will never actually praise him. Your thinking must move away from what you ought and ought not to do. Your thinking must move toward what is, what has been done, what is being done, and what will be done. Only until you move there will you ever actually praise. Instead of looking at the obligations, direct your gaze to the realities the obligations call attention to.

Only those who gaze intently into what Christ has done will actually lift their voice and raise the hearts prayerfully to God. Simply thinking what one must do is the wrong direction. Do not let your heart become rutted in what you ought to do. Go and gaze into the mysteries and glories of the cross, the works of the Lord, and praises of the saints. You will find yourself praising with joyousness or else praising with tears. The praise of joyousness are from times of happy cheer, when the affections grow strong in the Lord and the whole heart is moved to him. The praise of tears are from a sadness of negligence and sin that you abound with but remembering the good grace of the Lord that is poured out on a wicked person like yourself.

Are you glad to do the Lord’s bidding? Do you say as the Psalmist “I find my delight in your commandments, which I love” (Psalm 119:47) Have you reason to praise the Lord? Then praise Him. If you are thinking as you go about your day, “O, how I must praise the Lord”, then do so. Lift your heart to your wonderful Lord and say to him, “Lord, how good you are to me!”

So then, steer your eyes to Christ. Look upon his deeds, his promises and his works in your behalf. You will find yourself saying things like the apostle John, “Look and see the wonderous way in which the Father has loved us, he calls us children of God! And behold, we are!” (paraphrase of 1 John 3:1)


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