September 21, 2012

Choosing to sing

Sometimes I wake up with a song in my heart, but not always and not usually. After eight hours sleep, I should feel rested. When all is well, I should feel happy, but this morning (as many mornings) getting up was bad enough; do I have to be joyful about it too?

God says so. He put His Holy Spirit in my heart and the fruit of the Spirit includes joy. I’m not always aware of the reason for waking without it, but I am aware that when I choose to let the Spirit rule my life, that joy will appear. For instance, yesterday it came as soon as I opened my mouth in praise.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:1–5)
My singing is such that I’m glad these verses say, “Make a joyful noise….” I’m also glad that giving thanks is easy. God is good. He does love me, even when I’m crabby. He is faithful, not only to me but to all generations. Those are reasons enough to be thankful, but there are many more. 

Last night my husband shared that in his prayers yesterday, he began thanking God for everything he could think of and wound up in tears of gratitude. I need to tear a page out of his book. Being thankful should be easy; besides His faithfulness and His love, God has blessed us in so many ways.

The next psalm begins with the psalmist’s commitment to sing to the Lord. (This time it is music, not mere noise, but God accepts my noise too.) He adds a few other commitments that seem directly related to having a song in my heart…
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil. (Psalm 101:1–4)
First, he thinks about living a blameless life. He knows that he needs the Lord to come to him for that to happen, yet as a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that Jesus is always with me. He makes it possible to live without blame, but this also requires a choice. Thinking about it goes a long way toward making the right choice. When I wake up in the morning, what am I thinking? Do I choose thoughts of how I will live the day — or complaints about my muscle aches? When my thoughts are turned toward “How can I glorify God today?” then singing comes first thing in the morning and lasts all day. 

The psalmist also determines to walk with integrity within his house. Many Christians can pass the test of godliness when someone is watching, but how many fail in the privacy of our homes? Living my faith when no one is looking is very important to me. Does anyone know whether I wake up with a song or not? Does anyone care? I know, and God knows, and from His Word I understand that He cares far more than I do! I’m to be what He wants me to be, even if no one ever sees what I am doing, or knows what I am thinking.

The third thing is that the psalmist says he will not watch anything that is worthless. He didn’t have a television, but had they been invented back in the days of David, he might have written, “I will not watch worthless television shows.” Does whatever I put into my mind at night affect the mood that I wake up in the next morning? Can some of what is aired on TV rob me of that song in my heart? I think so.

Lastly, the psalmist is determined to not act like, or even think the same way as those who have abandoned God. This week, I read that Christians in North America have fallen so far short of living for Christ compared to believers in most of the world, that we don’t even realize that we are falling short. One author says that we are so sub-normal that if we encounter one who is normal, we think they are above-normal.

This makes me sad, yet according to the psalmist, I can decide to put away the “work of those who fall away.” Activities like watching television or griping about my sore back might not appear to be “perverse” or “evil” yet if these things keep me from singing about God’s steadfast love and justice, then I need to hate these things and put them out of my life.

Lord, this seems like ‘ordinary’ stuff, but so often the ordinary stuff falls short of the life You give. Instead of giving in to the status quo, I want to wake up each day with a joyful heart. I am not talented to make music, but at least I can make a joyful noise. I sense Your presence and that You approve this message. Now I need to respond to it.

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