Praise is a highly misunderstood activity. Do not let modern approaches turn you off to this necessary element of your faith. Emotion does not lead it, but rather the recital of God’s person and of his works, his word, and his ways. His presence is the air you breathe, O Soul, and just as God’s word is breathed out by him, so praise is what you breathe out from the powerful intake of his Holy Spirit. With praise and thanksgiving upon your lips, there is no room for complaint, murmuring, gossip, slander, or other bad language. In the Good News of Christ, there is praise for a lifetime.
The least harm that sin can do to you is disastrous for the kingdom of God, for it will cause you to waste your time. You know you are to make the most of your time. You should take advantage of opportunities. Serving the Lord, your family of faith, and your neighbor is your task in the short span you have on earth. O Soul, there is much destruction in sin, and many ways it will destroy. But consider that, if Satan can get to you do nothing or to occupy yourself with trifles, he has neutralized you for doing good. And the failure to do good is a great evil.
O Soul, sharpen your powers of observation. Notice what goes on around you and, more important still, what is happening in the Word of God and what it can do in you and through you. See with your eyes and with your mind. Connect thoughts to actions, actions with consequences. See how the pursuit of sin leads to frustration and death. Observe that only in Christ can peace and joy be found. Note how your neighbor is needy, what his true need is, and how only the gospel can satisfy both him and yourself.
O Soul, your constraints and disadvantages are exactly those circumstances that God desires to use for his purpose and glory. His strength in your weakness. The unbound Word in your imprisonment. His comfort in your troubles. For every negative circumstance or situation, as man counts it, God has a positive response, according to his will. This is the way he works. Glory, therefore, in his plan.
O Soul, few books stay in print for more than a decade. Some reference works, perhaps, or something considered as a classic of literature. The monuments of men may last longer, but they too will come tumbling down at some point. The accomplishments of this world are soon forgotten or surpassed. The gospel, however, has eternal effect. It deserves your best effort. Insert it into every activity, in order to redeem and give meaning to all you do. What the world does lasts but a moment. You may perform the same action as the pagan, but with the gospel in your toolbox, the results are far superior. So write, build, work, speak always with its power behind you.
Be a friend, O Soul, to others in need. When you are in need, ask God to send a friend. Remember the parable of the good Samaritan. Friendship means help and encouragement. Make friends in good times so that you can be there for each other in the tough times. Be open, be willing to work at a relationship, take time, face to face, with others. Don’t dwell on people’s faults, but be honest, when needed, to help a friend grow. Don’t listen to a friend to do wrong, but strengthen one another in the practice of godliness. Speak to your friend about God, and speak to God about your friend.
Observe your words and actions, to learn and to compare with God’s word. Discover how they affect others. Notice whether or not they move people closer to God. Look hard at yourself, O Soul. Be truthful and do not avoid seeing harmful habits. Recognize the good you do. Be thankful for progress. Be thirsty for greater growth. Step closer to the perfection of Christ. Inch further toward the holiness of God. Open yourself to the Spirit’s discipline. Pray to become a servant more attentive to God, more useful to the Kingdom, glorifying by growth the name of Jesus Christ.
A man called Lawrence wrote centuries ago, “If I were a preacher, I would preach nothing but practicing the presence of God.” You, O Soul, are a preacher, an evangelist, an announcer of the Good News, whether or not you devote full time to this service. And to live in the presence of God ought to be the end of our speaking. Every subject you talk about should relate to entering into Christ, where the presence of God is, or how to remain in Christ. Tell people how to get there. Tell them how to stay there. The salvation of our soul has this as the goal. God offers forgiveness of sins so that we might receive the Holy Spirit. Holiness is practiced in order that we might see God. Always remember this final objective. In your own life and in your service of the Good News, never forget the great goal of life, God’s presence.
Consistency carries you to your goal. Identify what you must do as a child of God and do the same thing every day. You must, of course, grow in those habits and practices. Strive for maturity. Seek new challenges of faith. But the key to your spiritual success is the constant practice of faith. Never think that you can skip a day. Refuse to consider that this time it won’t matter. Don’t be content when you miss your daily dedication to the Lord, but feel deep sadness. Repent when it occurs, for today offers yet another opportunity. But know that your progress comes through the small steps of daily faith. One step at a time, O Soul!
Keep coming back to the Word all throughout the day. Don’t let it be something to check off your list and then forget about. Make it your meditation night and day. Think about it all the time. O Soul, the Scriptures are your life. In them you will find life. For in them you will find Christ. Let yourself be drawn into the Word constantly. Let conversations and events remind you of its truths. Other things in this world will leave you addicted, creating a need to constantly seek them out. What you really need is the Bible. It will free you. And in that freedom you will find nourishment in its pages. It will give you joy to return to it repeatedly. For it will carry you into God’s presence. This is where you were created to be. This is where every longing and desire has its true satisfaction.