Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Lovely III - Strength to Get There

Based on Psalm 84
A Sermon.

Dwelling Places

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!

— Psalm 84.5 - 8

Finding the Strength to Get There

No Guessing

The psalmist does not leave us guessing for long at all during this transitional period of the poem. He openly declares that we would have no hope of reaching God's presence if not for God's strength as well. Verse 5 plainly tells us where our strength is: in HIM. We are in dire need of His Strength to deliver us into His Presence. He is both our Object of our Affection and our Means of Deliverance.

In Your Heart

Note the literal rendering of 5b: In whose heart are the highways to Zion. Growing up, I was instructed not to talk about God being in your heart. Verses like: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) were emphasized. We cannot trust our heart. We cannot base our decisions on our fleeting, carnal emotions. But what do we do with a verse like this?

Note that this verse is not saying to trust your heart. It is telling you to equip or inform your heart. This guidance can be in your heart or not. In other words, guidance originates from elsewhere, you simply upload that information into your heart; hide it in your heart maybe? Of course, the Christian believes the best guidance comes from the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. The combination of these two should inform and guide the believer's decisions. Remember, this knowledge does no good as theory; it must become part of the person's core being.

Valleys & Rain

Once we get into the midst of this pilgrimage, we find that the journey is not easy. We are faced with obstacles that challenge our resolve to enter God's presence. However, the psalmist reminds us that these valleys and rains will eventually turn into springs and blessings. In other words, we journey from strength to strength. This is an incredible phenomenon that is hard to quantify, but easy to relate to if you have been there. We have joy because of Who is waiting for us in the end. Things can become dark and bleak and grim and worrisome, but it is through trouble that God reveals himself. It is in hardship when God proves his character to us in a personal way. I can marvel at God working things out for So-and-so, but when God does it in my family it becomes real.

This Psalm has inspired many songs. Petra's Road to Zion is clearly a re-working of this section. The final verse perfectly encapsulates the idea:
Sometimes it's good to look back down
We've come so far - we've gained such ground
But joy is not in where we've been
Joy is who's waiting at the end

There is a road inside of you
Inside of me there is one too
No stumbling pilgrim in the dark
The road to Zion's in your heart
The road to Zion's in your heart

Rest Assured

Rest assured, says verse 7, God has never lost one of His own. If you set out on this journey, you are going to learn some things. You are going to have some tough times. But you are going to make it because God will make sure you do. Jesus reflects this sentiment himself several times. "...I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand..." (John 10.28). "...I guarded them and not one of them perished..." (John 17.12). This is a strong and steady fact. We can count on Him.


Do you have the strength to enter God's dwelling place? I'm not talking about your stamina or your worthiness. I'm talking about your guidance. I'm asking if you have the right Help. Have you reached out to the Lord and asked for His strength? Rest assured, He'll give it to you.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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