Psalm 119:108 Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Verse 105 is insightful and has been set to music numbers of times, but this verse strikes me this morning. The word that stands out to me is “willing.” Lots of people go to church and go through the motions of singing hymns and the like, but unless those lyrics come from the heart, they are meaningless in that person’s relationship with God. The thing is, God isn’t going to teach His laws to someone whose heart isn’t turned/tuned to Him. Such a person is likely to be thinking about ways to get around those laws, anyway! Conversely, someone who doesn’t desire to obey God isn’t going to be offering up sincere praise, either. Jesus put it very bluntly. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) And, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23) We express our love for Jesus through praise and obedience; you really can’t separate the two. Praising God feels really good. It’s the best sort of addiction! However, praise without obedience isn’t meaningful praise at all, but rather hypocrisy.
I of course need to remember this in my own life. We hear of Christian leaders and musicians falling into gross sin with depressing frequency, so I must always be careful that my own praise and worship are from my heart, backed up with dogged obedience. Sometimes the “dogged” part can get really hard, doing the same thing over and over without ever seeing the harvest for which I pray. I’m to be wise in terms of methodology, but recognize constantly that it’s a matter of spiritual warfare, and not shrink back from the fight. We’re in a real trial right now, with Cathy’s intense pain, but at least we have an appointment tomorrow for her to check back into the hospital for the surgery that hopefully will alleviate the pain. Seeing her soldiering through, punctuated by pain, is a real mind-check on my own obedience. It is too easy to make excuses, to pull back from the fight, but that doesn’t honor and please my God, who gave everything for me. My days need to be filled with willing praise, whatever my circumstances, trusting that God indeed rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Father, thank You for getting us through the day yesterday and for the medication Cathy was able to receive, even though she wasn’t able to check into the hospital as we had hoped. Thank You that we have tomorrow as a firm date for that. I ask that You enable us both to get through today, pain and all. I ask for wisdom in all the things I have to do for Cathy, that I would be the husband she needs, and also that I would know when and how to nap so that I will be able to drive safely tomorrow. The lack of sleep is building! May we both grow in our obedience, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!