I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 84
Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you (NIV).
All of Psalm 84 is written in praise of a special day—a day spent in God’s presence. Throughout this Psalm there is a longing to be with God—a desire to be close to him. So we hear the Psalmist declare, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.“
If you were to plan for the best day in your life, what would that day include? What would it look like? How and where would you spend your best day? Would the LORD be at the center of it all?
Love is at the core of every special day. Think back to some of the best days of your life—days marked by joy and excitement. If you scratch beneath the surface of those days, you will find love at the core. We are in fact love starved people. We need it as much as the air we breathe. Experiments have shown that the unloved, un-caressed, unspoken to baby will die, even though all its physical needs are met. So when love comes to us, we celebrate it, frolic in it, and throw a party to announce it.
We need love. We need to receive it. We need to give it.
It was love that brought the psalmist to the House of God. It drew him like a magnet, pulled at his heart, tugged at his sleeve, and finally ushered him through the door. Love set him on this pilgrimage. It kept his weary feet moving mile after dreary mile. When he finally reached his goal—the object of his love—in wonder, we hear him exclaim, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”
The psalmist was pursuing love with the one he loved—the LORD Almighty. Have you spent time pursuing him lately? Is a day spent with him, something you yearn for?
Response: LORD God, I love you. I know that you love me because Jesus showed the extent of your love. He reaches out to me with nail-scarred hands. I want to spend my day with you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is a day spent with Jesus, something you yearn for?
Reading: Psalm 69
Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;
when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me.
Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards. (NIV).
The start of a new week or month is a time when many of us set goals and consider our progress over the past week or month. Our personal goals spring from those things we value and hold dear. So what did David, the author of this psalm, value and hold dear? According to his own words, David was motivated by his zeal for the house of God. He longed to be in God’s presence and to seek His face. He placed his love for God ahead of his love for even his family.
I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; for zeal for your house consumes me…
Many of us would call that misplaced zeal, even fanaticism. But Jesus called for precisely this kind zeal from his disciples. He calls for a radical transformation in the lives of his followers. Are you a disciple, or are you following at a distance? His words are an open challenge everyone.
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
After Jesus cleansed the temple, his disciples recalled the words from this psalm. His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).
Response: LORD God, give me a zeal for your house and your presence. As the months and years roll by, I want my values to be reflected in my actions and my passion for you. Replace my lukewarm heart with a burning desire to know and love you. Amen.
Your Turn: Where does the house of God rate on your zeal meter? Do you value the community of faith to which you belong?
Reading: Psalm 27
One thing I ask of the LORD,
This is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To gaze on the beauty of the LORD
And seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
And set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
At his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD (NIV).
No matter where we travel, or how pleasant the journey, within us all there is a longing to be home. The same longing for the safety and comfort of home can be found in this psalm of David, but for David, being at home meant being in the presence of God. The LORD God was David’s refuge and comfort. To be near the LORD was to be safe, at rest and fully at peace. Nearness to God was the paramount desire of David’s heart.
Now hear David’s heart cry, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and seek him in his temple.”
David’s statement here delineates a clear priority. For David the house of the LORD was of first importance. But, I do not believe that it was the physical structure or house that attracted and captivated David. It was the LORD of the house who captured David’s heart. He wanted to be with Him. He longed to see Him and be at home in His house.
Like many preschool children, my youngest son Joshua had some difficulty pronouncing the t-h sound, so in his four-year-old vocabulary the word ‘with’ became ‘whiff’ instead. He would make odd sounding statements such as this, “Daddy, I want to come whiff you,” or, “I want to do that whiff you.” Doing something ‘whiff’ someone brings to mind the notion of being so close to them that you can smell each other. That’s close—really close; bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh close—father and son close—intimate in a family kind of way.
Something deep and soul changing transpired as David tended that flock of sheep on those Judean hillsides. In his youth David met God. The LORD was ‘whiff David,’ so close that they could smell each other. David in his youth tasted and saw that the LORD is good. So even now in his adult years he yearns for that intimacy. He yearns for the house of the LORD. He is filled with a longing for home.
Response: Lord Jesus, I want to be ‘whiff’ you. I want to live my life close to you now and close to you forever. Show me how to do that. Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask you to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you at home with the LORD now? How at home will we feel with Him in eternity, if we aren’t at home with Him now?
Reading: Psalm 26
LORD, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.
My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the LORD (NIV).
In America, Canada and much of the western world, people have been abandoning the house of God in droves. In the most recent census survey, by far the largest growth has been among those who identify themselves as having no religion. This move to “no religion” is most pronounced among our young people. There are many factors that have led to this decline. Perhaps a hard look in the mirror is needed for us to see what we are doing wrong. Jesus attracted people. Why are his followers today repelling people?
David had a completely different attitude toward the house of God. Hear the cry of his heart, “LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.”
No one had to drag David to the LORD’s house. He was eager to meet with God there. Really, that’s the secret. If God is in the house—if His glory is present—it will be hard to keep people away. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, “Is God in the house? Is His glory dwelling here among us?”
If God is truly, tangibly present among you, look out! The transformational power of God will overwhelm individuals and ignite the congregation. I have seen it happen and there is no experience quite like it.
I live in expectation of His appearing among us. The living Christ visits His church. Are you anticipating His coming? Have you set the table for Him? Have you prepared your heart and your mind? Have you put out the welcome mat?
All too often church has become program maintenance. The focus is entirely wrong. Church in its most vibrant form is God dwelling among us—God breathing upon us. That was the Book of Acts Church. That’s the church I love. When we have found that place—when we experience the LORD of that place—we will join David in declaring, “My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.”
Response: Come, Lord Jesus, dwell among. This is my confession: “LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” Lord come and dwell in my local congregation. Manifest your presence there, so that many will see it and be changed by your Spirit. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you love the house of God? Why or Why not? Is God showing up at your church? What are you doing to make the place ready for Him?
Reading: Psalm 122
A song of ascents. Of David.
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the LORD—
to praise the name of the LORD
according to the statute given to Israel.
There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity (NIV).
This third psalm in the Song of Ascents series is a psalm of arrival. The pilgrims have arrived at Jerusalem the destination of their pilgrimage. The following statement makes it clear that the weary travelers have arrived: Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up—the tribes of the LORD—to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel.
It should be noted that this pilgrimage to Jerusalem was not merely an event for the occasional tourist. As the psalmist states, he came to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel. In fact, this pilgrimage to the holy city was required according to the Law of Moses. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 34-23-24).
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, frequently made this journey to fulfill the requirements of the Law. The first reference to this pilgrimage is found in the account of the twelve-year-old Jesus remaining in the city after his parents had left to return to Galilee (Luke 2:41-50). His last pilgrimage to celebrate the Passover ended with his crucifixion and resurrection.
With the psalmist we join in praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and peace within the church of God.
Response: Father God, we pray for your peace—the shalom of God. May your peace come to Jerusalem, and to all of Israel, and especially to all the followers of your dear son, Jesus, the living Christ. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you regularly pray for peace in the house of the LORD our God?
Reading: Psalm 116
Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, LORD;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
Funerals are fascinating occasions for a whole variety of reasons. Recently I have had an opportunity to attend a number of these end-of-life events. There is something bittersweet about most funerals—bitter due to the loss of a loved one—sweet because often fond memories are recalled.
The end of a life here on earth gives us an opportunity to reflect on the values that the deceased portrayed, and by extension it allows us to examine the values and qualities that shape our own lives. Our lives paint a portrait. What sort of portrait will it be?
Apparently the LORD takes note when one of His own passes on from this life. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
The word servant is significant in the passage above. It is repeated twice along with its verb form serve. Now here is a question for you. Who are you serving? Are you a servant of the LORD or are you serving only yourself?
Those who serve only themselves should expect few at their bedside as they draw their last breath. All too often their last days are spent in loneliness and bitter resentment—not so for those who spent their lives in the service of others and the LORD. They can expect to be surrounded by family and friends because they have poured out their lives in service. We reap what we sow, and when the Grim Reaper comes, those who have sown generously will be rewarded generously. God, Himself will be present!
Now we should note that genuine service to others is service to the Lord. In essence, Jesus said just that when in his parable of the final judgment he declared, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Response: LORD, I want to serve you. Today please show me how I can be the best possible servant to you and those around me. Open my eyes to the needs of others. I want to serve with a heart filled with gratitude and joy. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you living a life of service? What does serving God mean for you?