I poured my coffee and sat down at the table. It was New Year’s Eve and one of those exceptionally rare (for me) leisurely mornings. As I opened my Bible, my mind was already looking forward, and I was asking God for a fresh foundation for 2016. Look what He did…
My Advent/Epiphany reading took me to Psalm 96.
Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
My primary attitude
must be praise.
Three times the psalmist calls us to sing to the Lord, which is to praise him. It’s the first, second, and third thing he says to do. There’s no options from which to select, no choosing (A) or (B), no qualifiers such as, “Well, if you’re having a good day, praise Him.” No. My primary attitude must be praise. Feeling emotional? Praise Him. Searching for the right words? Praise Him. Utterly confused? Praise Him. Ready to take on the world? Praise Him. God is calling me to live so that my knee-jerk response in every situation and every moment is praise.
What is it that I am to sing? What should embody my praise? The Psalmist answers those questions in the next three lines.
Proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Let’s break this down structurally. The commands are to proclaim and declare (those are synonyms). That means talk about it. What do we talk about(the objects of the verbs, for you grammarians)? His salvation, His glory, His deeds. In Hebrew poetry, you don’t have to take every line separately as it is written. We can clump those three together then clump the final phrase of each line together. Look at those phrases:
day after day – When? All the time.
among the nations – Where? Everywhere.
among all peoples – With whom? Everyone.
My purpose must be
So in plain, southern American English, we can say, “Talk about how God saves people, how amazing He is, and all He has done for me all the time, everywhere I go, with everyone I meet.” It’s a long sentence, but it’s easy to understand. I want words about Him to be on the tip of my tongue (Psalm 66:16-17). I want my conversations to constantly center on Him (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). I’m “owning” this for my purpose, my way to live in 2016. I don’t know all of what this means yet, but I do know that it requires a conscientiousness or intentionality about my moment-by-moment living and that God can never ‘slip my mind.’
The Psalmist goes on to talk about what why we should do these things and how we should approach Him. You can just go read the rest of Psalm 96, but be ready for a private “glory spell” when you do. Who knows, you might even raise your hand right there in your living room! I did.
Anyway, in the Christ-life, we often talk about faith (i.e. who you are in Christ), and works (i.e., what you do for/with Christ). It’s not enough to have one or the other. James said, Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (2:17). Both of these aspects of the Christ-life are covered here. My faith attitude will be praise. When I think about Him, when I stand before Him in prayer, when I consider my life in any way, I start with praise. If someone were to ask me, “What are you about, Carole?” I will say that I am about praise. Then my works are to proclaim Him—talking and acting so that people come to understand His salvation, His glory, and His deeds.
2016: Praise Him. Proclaim Him.
Why do I share this with you? Well, for one thing, it was just really cool. I asked God to speak to me through His Word and He did—like, immediately. Secondly, sharing with you makes me accountable to actually live out this calling. Now I am less likely to lose this page in my journal and forget all about it. I want this perspective to sink all the way down into my worldview, into the foundations of how I think, not just what I think. That’s why I used ‘foundation’ in the title. But also, this life perspective isn’t exclusive to me. Can you put your finger on how He is calling you to live this year? If not, do these thoughts challenge you to make some adjustments in your life? I pray that they draw you further into Christ-likeness.
What verses is God using to challenge you or to grow you in this new year? Is He drawing you to these? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!