To Gain the Good Land (7)
O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God…Blessed be God!
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Psalm 68:32, 33, 35
The pattern of Christian endeavor comes full circle when it ends in the praise and glory of God that it seeks going in. We begin any effort in the name of the Lord, whether in our personal lives or ministries, seeking to exalt Christ and glorify God. Thus every effort will only be complete when it redounds to the glory of God through a witness of praise, thanks, and adoration. Because God is pleased to dwell within the praises of His people, His glory is most fully known when, individually and together, His people sing His praise and extol His power and blessings to the people around them (Ps. 22:3, 22-31).
What does it mean to praise God? To listen to many Christians as they pray, it must be something like, “Lord, we really just praise you.” But this is not the way praise is explained or practice in the Word of God. God’s people praise the Lord when they enumerate His many virtues and works. They describe the Lord in all His majesty and greatness, His splendor, glory, and might, and with singing, shouting, clapping and backslapping, eagerly talking with one another and their neighbors about the God who brings us to the good land in every area of our lives and allows us to dwell there with Him in glory.
The way to a life of praise
We need a lot more practice in praising the Lord. But then, we need a lot more experience of the Lord showing us His glory and leading us into the good land He has promised before we’re likely, like David in Psalm 68, to boast of His greatness and tell of His loving kindness and power to the people around us. The quality and constancy of our praise to God – whether in worship or witness – is directly related to the reality of our experience of His glory. The more we seek His glory, following the pattern of Christian endeavor outlined for us in Psalm 68, the greater will be the likelihood of our meeting Him in His glory and knowing the transforming power of that glory to make all things new in our lives.
As that begins to happen, we won’t have to be reminded to praise and glorify God. It will issue from us as naturally and sincerely as anything in our lives, because it will express the reality within which we live and move and have our being.
Praise in all of life
In this area as in all other areas of Christian endeavor, we need to prepare well and to practice praising God in all the social and cultural arenas of our lives. If praising the Lord doesn’t come readily to you, you might try learning to pray the psalms. The psalms are filled with prayers of praise to God. Use the psalms in your own prayers; learn to sing them; let the psalms be your praise and worship book. Soon enough you’ll find that the words of praise you find in the psalm are making their way into your everyday conversation. The praise of God embedded in your soul will be the praise that comes out as you talk with the people around you each day.
Join with other Christians to praise the Lord – I mean, beyond Sunday morning. Sing together. Share testimonies of what God is doing in your life, of the ways He is enabling you to gain more the good land He has promised. Encourage one another with your praises of the Lord, and rejoice in one another’s progress and praise. God will be present in the midst of our praises, whenever and however we offer them, to make His glory known. This is the goal we seek in every endeavor undertaken for the Lord, and praise is the surest way to make God’s glory in Jesus Christ known to the people around us.
Choose one or two psalms that help you to praise the Lord. Begin using them daily in your prayers. Try using phrases from these psalms in your conversation with other Christians. Encourage your fellow believers, whenever they’re together, to find a way to incorporate praise to God in their activities. Today, talk with someone who does not know the Lord about how much you love Him.
Start your own ViewPoint discussion group. This week’s series is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for group study. Request the series, “To Claim the Good Land.” For more insight to this subject, order the book, Ministry in the Image of God, by Stephen Seamands, from our online store. You might also read the article, “Work, Beauty, and Meaning,” by T. M. Moore.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.