Psalm 24:6 | Balance

Balance

Read:

“This is the generation of those who seek Him, . . .” Psalm 24:6

Reflect:

When equilibrium is disrupted we lose balance. Some lose their way spiritually, the desires of the heart spin out of control plunging life into a downward spiral. Others experience the dominating force of negative emotions locking them in a stronghold of bitterness, anger, jealousy and condemnation. This Psalm is for anyone who’s lost their way, for anyone who needs to find stability in the struggles of life.

The earth is the Lord’s.

It is that God is the only ruler over the entire world. In His mercy, He pleads that His creation will depart from their evil ways and turn to Him.

Who may stand?

There’s a struggle with accepting God as the ruler of our world.  There is always a canyon separating sinful people and a Holy God. We are separated from our Creator. Separated by our sin, scars, and suspicion.

He who has clean hands and a pure heart.

Many stand stuck in their separation, they mistakenly believe they have to live better before they can approach God. But a holy life is not the cause of our justification, God made a way to bridge the gap.

And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Look to the one who is pure. Jesus was sent into this world to make His heart and His hands available to us. We stand in the presence of God, not because of our own goodness, but because there is none righteous, not even one. 

The Lord is strong and mighty.

Jesus wins, and we get to enjoy the blessings of victory. This Psalm is not ambiguous about the identity of the rightful King. It’s Jesus – the Lord of hosts and the King of glory! No one else. He is the conquering King who has returned from the victory of the cross to pour out new life.

Lift up your head.

Today, the risen King of glory longs for you to lift up your head and allow Him to direct your every thought and action. You can choose to live in the righteousness and blessing of the Holy God who creates, sustains, and owns all things. 

Respond:

Open up the gates. Welcome Him into your life as the conquering King.

Psalm 24:4 | Upright!

Upright!

Read:

“. . . clean hands and a pure heart, . . .” Psalm 24:4

Reflect:

People lie a lot. We’ve learned at our own expense that religious people lie more than most others – and lies in the name of God are the worst of all. We’ve been taught to bring a healthy suspicion to everything and everybody we come in contact with. Especially in matters that have to do with God and any authority, we are doubly on guard. Distrust causes us to narrow our eyes in suspicion.

Scripture doesn’t lie about God, or about you and me. But when we treat God’s word like a vandalizing juvenile delinquent, we end up with a small pile of biblical facts. There are a lot of lies out there in the world, we have to learn to discern the truth.

God’s word has different functions. Sometimes the verses are intended to open our imagination, captivate our heart, startle us with delight, and surprise us with discovery of the love of God. Some text can’t be understood by watching from the bleachers. It can only be understood as we participate with its direction, only as we live in response to the living God.

A simple act of obedience will open up our life more quickly than any number of Bible studies. Here in Psalm 24, a condensed description of upright, deception-free living is given. 

Clean hands.

The hand is a symbol of conduct. Every Christian should view work as a ministry to others for God’s sake. Our relationship with Jesus recuses our hands from defiling our work with unjust gain of earning, paying, getting, and giving. It guards us from withholding what is rightfully due to those we work for and with.

Pure heart.

All our choices depend on the condition of the heart. Our society places value on only the performance, but God looks at the heart. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is a hate towards God. Spiritual service with wicked motives stinks to God.

A life lived led by the Spirit of uprightness makes us compatible with God, fit to enjoy His Presence. 

Respond:

Does everything in your life fill God’s heart with gladness?

Psalm 24:3 | Stained Glass Windows and Lit Candles

Stained Glass Windows and Lit Candles

Read: 

“Who can climb Mount God?” Psalm 24:3

Reflect:

When we take the love of God for granted, we paint Him into a corner. We rob ourselves of the opportunities to be loved by God in surprising ways. Whenever scripture and prayer become routine our faith stagnates.

The Holy hill represented the highest place God dwelled on earth, it was the site on which the temple would be built. Now David was about to transfer the Ark of the Covenant. David asks the question of those who were about to transport the Ark, that they would purify their hearts and souls before entering the tabernacle. 

Anyone can open his mouth, say words, and call it a prayer. But those prayers may not move the heart of God in any way. Those who move the heart of God are those who know the heart of God.

Spiritual proximity to Holy spaces and places is not the same as being near to the presence of God. It’s one thing to be where the blessing of God is experienced, it’s another to experience God’s presence personally. Mechanism is not manifestation, posture is not devotion. The spiritual condition of our life positions us to enjoy His presence.

The mistake in our praying is believing that following a formula or vain repetitions will get us what we want. Stained glass windows, lit candles will not make our prayers more effective.

Effectiveness in prayer is the domain of those who have made it their life’s pursuit to know God and live in His presence. You don’t have to be a monk. You don’t have to be brilliant. But there is a serious quest, a searching, a pursuit that requires energy and attention. It isn’t for the faint of heart! 

Conforming your life to God’s purity, bending your life around God’s gracious pardon, being confident of His forgiveness toward you, moves you in the direction of being unhindered in your prayers. Your time in His presence will bring you into agreement with Him and empower you to encounter the unseen.

Respond:

My heavenly Father, thank You because of Your love for me, I don’t have to struggle, all I have to do is be still, stay close, and sit with You.

Psalm 24:3 | The Price of Admission

The Price of Admission

Read:

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? . . .” Psalm 24:3

Reflect:

The question of all questions lies deep in the heart of every person. Whether they are rich or poor, regardless of race, or nationality, this question carries the universal awareness of every heart, that knowing God is indispensable to having peace. 

This question proves three things – we have a need for God, God is pure, and we are not. This question is the question that won’t fade, it insists on being answered. 

 But it seems to imply we must work to get on God’s side. The qualifications set out in this Psalm are unmistakably impossible in our own effort. But, this impossible requirement is made possible by a gift to be received. In Jesus Christ there is this new life given to us that will develop into a purity far beyond our reach. 

The Psalmist asked a simple question. Who may ascend into God’s Holy place? His answer gives us great wisdom for daily living – he who has clean hands and a pure heart. This is the same attitude as that of the psalmist, who tells us if we long to draw near to God, we should do so in pursuit of holiness.  The daily prayer of every believer should be “Lord, keep me close and clean.” 

There are so many distractions around us today. There are many idols competing out for our attention. They can be so tempting, so alluring yet the psalmist reminds us to keep our hearts pure. This can be done only through the power of God’s Spirit in us as we trust and lean on Him. We ascend to the Holy place, because Jesus through His cross has made us pure.

 The price of admission into the presence of God is not external actions, following rules, or performing rituals.  The focus is on matters of the heart. The principle here is we become what we behold. The character of God determines the character of the worshiper. We worship God who is Holy, so He makes the worshipper Holy. 

Respond:

Lord, I desire to come before You with clean hands and a pure heart. Thank You for qualifying me to live each day in pursuit of You.

Psalm 24:1 | Before

Before

Read:

“The earth is the Lord’s, . . .” Psalm 24:1

Reflect:

We speak of God so casually, with such familiarity, we’ve forgotten how much of God, God really is. Some may call themselves landlords, but He owns it all. Others can say they own property, but the truth is, He owns every inch of it, from center to surface, it all belongs to Him. Every creature, every atom and every force, all existed in the mind of God. He was before all things.

Before grace was allocated, before there was a tree grown that would be a cross, God existed. Before Jerusalem was called Jerusalem, God existed. Before there was a choir to sing, or drum to beat, before there were hands to clap, God existed. 

Before there was day or night, before there ever was a spring, a winter, fall or summer, God existed. Before there were cloud bursts, or rain descended, God existed. Before there were oceans, seas, and land, God existed. Before the mountains stood up and pointed at Him, God existed. Before the valleys humbled themselves in shame, God existed. Before a star started twinkling in the blackest night sky, God existed. Before the sun ever began to shine, God existed. 

Before there were eyes to behold Him, voices to declare Him, before there were hands to raise, God existed. Before there was anything, God was there, it was God and God alone. Scripture declares in the beginning, there was God. 

As far back as you can look, He was standing there all by Himself, He was. In the beginning, there was God. No explanation, no description, no mother, no father, no manufacturer, no creator, no board endorsement, no conjuring of His identity. As far back as eyes can see or mind can fathom, He was there. Before there was anybody to tell Him He was God, He was there. Before there was anyone to acknowledge Him, He was there, He is from everlasting to everlasting.  

Respond:

Believers have a way of speaking of God as though He’s absent from creation. But the truth is, He feeds the birds, clothes the lillies, and causes all things to work together. The sooner we realize it’s all God’s, and we are just living in it, the happier we will be.

Ruth 4:18 | The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter

Read:

"Now these are the descendants of Perez . . ." Ruth 4:18

Reflect:

Christianity didn't begin with us. Faith has a history, worked out through the lives of ordinary people making choices in everyday life. At first what appears to be a boring genealogy of people we've never heard of, is, in fact, the Bible’s way of insisting our lives are connected with the generations of the past. Our life, our faith, is gift with context. We are products of our history, and our history matters.

The reason for this list of names that appears to be tacked on to an otherwise beautiful love story, the reason why Ruth ends where most stories in scripture begin – with genealogy – is to remind us that the story is not finished. There's something more developing. The history of Ruth is the beginning of David. Where we end, God begins. 

Our life matters. We are given a glimpse of the inner life of the characters in the story of Ruth. How they lived is significant to the outcome of the story. The book of Ruth shows that the ancestors of King David walked with integrity before God and others in purity and singleness of heart. The future was bound up in Ruth's full confidence in the God of Israel. Her simple faith, work ethic, and care for Naomi, reverberated into the life of David. And Matthew reminds us, into the life of the Lord Jesus Himself.

We do well to remember the New Testament understanding of the church as the historical covenant community and our connection to its history. It would deliver us from over-concentration on individualistic faith, and free us from the lie of autonomous Christianity. The church spans centuries and we are tied to its history. And we are the next chapter of the story. 

Our faith, our belief, our decisions, will resonate into the next generation. We are today part of God’s family whose father was Abraham and which welcomed Ruth, the girl from Moab. The God who called Ruth is the God who called us in Christ. 

Respond:

May we, like Ruth and her descendants, pledge our willing and loving obedience in response to God’s gracious invitation to enjoy His presence and take our place in God’s story of redemption.