If a "fly on the wall" or a "digital assistant" reported back on conversations in our home, what would the report find? What if a listening device recorded our thoughts and attitudes of our heart, what would it say? Would it be the sound of complaining and grumbling? The sound of arguments and disputes? The sound of gossip? The sound of anger or bitterness? Or perhaps the sound of quiet nothing and just going about the day?
If I am a true disciple of Christ, there is one prescribed sound that the Bible says should be evident in the homes of the righteous. Psalms 118:5 - "The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the homes of the righteous". It's abundantly clear that the sound of joy and praise must be in my home at all times and this will result in salvation in every circumstance or trial that comes my way. Psalms 50:23 (KJV) says " Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God." The salvation that the Lord has for me today is promised if I offer Him praise and if I "order" or "discipline" my conversation to be one of praise and gratitude. Not just that, this is a word given for my "tents" or my "home" - meaning it is a responsibility for not just ordering my words and the attitudes of my heart but also for those of my family.
The amazing thing about "joy" is that it cannot be achieved by self-determination or by striving or contriving it. Seemingly positive events in my life can bring temporary feelings of happiness that are an emotional response but not a fullness of joy that persists throughout all circumstances. Psalms 16:11- In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Joy comes from staying in the presence of the Lord, by denying my own will and disciplining myself to always return to His presence when I am tempted to be distracted by the worries and desires of the world. The best pleasures are indeed promised from His right hand and not from this world. We recently suffered a very lengthy power outage that was quite uncomfortable and disruptive to our daily lives. But during this outage, I was convicted about whether I took a "spiritual outage" or separation from the presence of the Lord as a million times more disruptive and uncomfortable and yearned much more earnestly for "spiritual power" to be restored than I did for electricity. Praise God, that when we are convicted of this, we can repent and run back and surrender ourselves back to Him with no condemnation for past "outages".
As I seek to discipline myself and my home to praise God in everything by remaining in His presence at all times, here are four truths from scripture that help me:
1. Praise must not be dependent on the outcome of circumstances or pursuits in my life
The only significant outcome in my life that matters was already decided 2000 years ago on Calvary when Christ died for me so I may no longer live for myself but for Him (2 Cor 5:15), rose again, and then freely sent His Holy Spirit to the humble and needy that cry out for His help and grace. Luke 10:20 says that I must not even rejoice in amazing and supernatural ministries here on earth, but that I rejoice that my name is recorded in heaven.
2. Praise flows when I discipline myself not to yield to feelings or emotions of the moment
Psalms 149:5,6 - Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand. I believe the double-edged sword mentioned here is the living Word of God that Heb 4:12 talks about, that is meant to divide the soulish feelings and emotional responses to circumstances and trials from my spiritual response of praise and joy. Through every event in my life (good or bad), I must be violent with the double-edged sword of the Word of God to cling to God's promises and not let my heart be dictated or distracted by my feelings of happiness or sadness, feelings driven by mood, feelings of laziness, feelings of boredom or complacency, feelings of fear or anxiety, or feelings of craving and desire.
3. Praise flows when I am not a victim of my circumstance
Psalms 63 is an amazing example of this. David was in the wilderness being pursued by Saul and was physically exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Yet he chose not to yearn and pray for physical needs, but rather yearned for the Lord. Psalms 63:1 - My soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Without having his physical need of hunger or thirst met, he goes on to say "Your lovingkindness is better than life itself; my lips will praise you" (vs 3); "my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips" (vs5). What an encouragement to me when I go through much smaller trials to trust the Lord's lovingkindness and choose to praise Him during the trial and not just after the trial.
4. Praise is Strength
I was recently reading in Matthew where Jesus referred to the Old Testament and said "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself". So I looked back to see which verse this referred to. It was Psalms 8:2 - "From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength". I was amazed to see that Jesus, who knew the scriptures better than anyone, used the word "praise" synonymously with "strength". It was clear that praising God itself was indeed strength in Jesus' dictionary. It led me to consider changing my prayers from "Lord, give me the strength to endure this" to "Lord, give me the praise in my mouth and heart to endure this".
Revelation 14 describes the scene in heaven where a new song of praise is sung that cannot be learned once we get to heaven. It's a song of praise that I must learn on earth through the circumstances God allows in my life. Heaven is a place of joy and solely praising God. If I do not get used to praising Him here on earth, I might get to heaven but be surprised to find that it's too late to learn to praise Him. May we seek to return and remain in the presence of the Lord where the sound of our home will be one of continuous joy and praise and one that is truly a glimpse of heaven on earth.