Tuesday, November 24, 2009

God Can Use Anyone - Psalm 84

The good news in Psalm 84:5 is this: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You." Since God doesn't expect us to rely on our own strength, which is pretty puny, but to rely on His strength, which is without end; that gives us hope. It means I can be used by God to be actively involved in His service. I can be of use to Him even if I am a person who doesn't have much strength at all; even if I am weak and insignificant. That doesn't matter.

As a matter of fact, being weak is almost an asset. If I am weak and God works through me, He gets all the credit and all the glory for anything that happens. In 1st Corinthians 1:26-29, we see the kind of person who God calls to His service:
"For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."

Do you see this? God doesn't usually call the powerful, strong, rich, and talented people. If they accomplish things for God, everyone will assume they did it themselves through their strength, ability, and talent. But if He calls the weak, the common, and the ordinary people, and they accomplish great things for Him, then everyone will know that God did it through them.

So what kind of person are you? Are you common? Are you ordinary? Are you weak? Than praise God, because you are just the kind of person God is looking for. You are exactly the kind He wants to call to His service.

To me, that is such a comfort. God can use someone like me. I don't know how He does it, but He does. And God can use someone like you. God can use anyone who is willing, and he will give them His strength - the only strength available for effective spiritual ministry.

Remember what Jesus said in John 15:5? Jesus said, "Without Me you can do nothing." What is He saying? Doe Jesus mean nothing at all? That we can't even tie our own shoes? Obviously if Jesus hadn't given us physical life, not even tying our shoe would be possible. but that's not the meaning. Jesus means we can do nothing of any spiritual consequence without Him working through us. He means we can do nothing that God will bless. And he won't bless anything that he can't take 100% credit for,

So, blessed is the man whose strength is in God. Has God called you to serve Him? Are you relying on His strength? Or your own?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relying on God's Strength

Psalm 84:5 gives us two reasons a man is blessed. It says, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." Since the first blessing is to the man whose strength is in the Lord, are you blessed? Is your strength in the Lord?

I know a lot of strong men - men of special talent and intelligence. I know preachers with real charismatic personalities and dynamic deliveries. I could almost envy them. They could be successful at almost anything they try to do, all in their own strength; but they aren't blessed.

The man who is blessed is the man who leans on God's strength, not his own. What a relief that is. AMEN? If we rely on God's strength, then He is responsible for the outcome, not us. It takes away the worry and the pressure. What we are responsible for is to be faithful, and we can all do that.

And since our strength is so puny and so quick to run out, and His strength is all-powerful and without end; nothing that God asks us to do is impossible, because it's not up to us. What God calls us to do we can do through His strength. That's the meaning of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Isn't that a blessing?

Now certainly, this isn't talking about leaping tall building with a single bound, or about being faster than a speeding bullet, or being stronger than a locomotive. It doesn't mean we become Superman. What it means is that anything God asks us to do, we can do through His strength. If he asks us to serve Him, we can. If He asks us to witness, we can. He supplies what we don't have. Plus this means we can be useful to God just the way we are. Truly relying on god is the way to blessing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Only Thing That Truly Makes Us Happy

Psalm 84 is special to me because it tells me the secret of happiness. In verse 4, it declares, "Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising you." Why is a person blessed? They are blessed when they dwell with God. Then their praise will never end.

I'm sure you've heard the word, blessed, before. Psalm 1:1 began "Blessed is the man..." Jesus listed a whole series of blesseds in the Beatitudes beginning in Matthew 5:3, "blessed are the poor in spirit, etc." The word, blessed, is often translated as happy, or contented, or satisfied. How about this definition? To be blessed is to be blissfully contented with life. Or this one: joy unspeakable and full of glory.

What makes a person that way? The answer from Psalm 84:4 is to dwell in the presence of the Lord. It comes from having that sweet, precious communion with the One who loves us more than anyone, and who proved that love by dying on the cross for us. So if you want to be miserable, focus on yourself. If you want to be blessed, focus on God. Spend your time in His presence.

What makes a person miserable? It is to live apart from God. We would do that because of sin, choosing the pleasures of sin over a relationship with Christ who died for that sin. We see people like that all the time, who stay away from Christ because they know they wouldn't be comfortable in His presence while they enjoyed their sin. But to live in Christ's presence or apart from it is as dramatic a difference as night and day.

So how is your relationship with God? Do you have close fellowship with Him? Is it sweet? Then that is expressed how? As it says in Psalm 84:4, "They will still be praising You." That blessedness just bubbles out of us in praise - praise to God. We can't contain it.

Then this section of the Psalm ends with the word, selah, In other words, "What do you think of that?" Let's examine this word, selah, for a moment. The Psalms were written to music, right? They were intended to be sung. So selah is a musical notation. The word isn't intended to be read. You don't read a book and say comma, period, semicolon. So you don't read the word, selah, either for the same reason. The word is like a rest in a musical score. It indicates a pause or a breathing space. It gives us time to sit up and take notice and think about what has been said.

But the word means still more. Selah, in the verb form, means to exalt or to lift up. But lift up what? How about God? How about we pause and exalt the Lord? How about we lift up and bless His name? After pausing and thinking about what has just been said in the Psalm, we lift up and exalt God through our praise. So why don't you do that? Why don't you pause right now and exalt God's name?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Longing for God - Psalm 84

Have you fallen in love with God? Do you long for Him like some "mooney-eyed" junior high boy longs for that cute cheerleader? Do you want to be in His presence all the time? The good news is, you can! In Psalm 37, we read, "Delight yourselves also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." What does He give you? The desires of your heart. But what is it you desired? The Lord! He is your delight. Therefore, God give you Himself. He gives you His presence - His fellowship.

So delight yourself in Him. Let Jesus be the longing of your heart. Long not just for what he can do for you, but for Him. Long for His sweet fellowship. That is exactly what we see in Psalm 84 with this gatekeeper at the tabernacle. He longed to spend more time with God.

Then the gatekeeper looked up and saw the sparrows flying around inside the tabernacle. Maybe they were carrying around bits of grass or string to make a nest in there. But it causes the gatekeeper to respond in Psalm 84:3: "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young - even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God."
Have you ever tried to keep sparrows out of a barn? They love to get into buildings to fly around and to nest. When we go into Sam's Club or Wal-Mart, there are sparrows flying around inside all the time. Our kids think it is kind of neat (better than the bats), but they both can leave the same klind of mess. Those sparrows and swallows got inside the tabernacle too and built their nests. Yes, they built their nests right there inside the tabernacle, even on the altars. And this gatekeeper is jealous. He envies the sparrows. Why? He wants to be, like them, all the time with God. He doesn't want his shift to end and have to go home for the night.

I can relate to that with my fiancee (Now my wife of 35 years). I remember when we were courting. we wanted to see each other every day, all day long. We wanted to be together as much as was possible. I hated to go home at night and leave her behind at her parents house. That was one of the biggest motivations for my wanting to get married. I didn't want to have to leave her at night.

That's the longing the Psalmist had for God. He got to go to the tabernacle each day to work as a gatekeeper. But every night, he would have to go home to get his supper and to sleep in his own bed. And that upset him. He wanted to stay in God's presence all the time. So, he was jealous of the sparrows. "Why do I have to go home, and these sparrows get to live here? Boy, those sparrows are lucky!"

But guess what? We are lucky too (Bad choice of words, I know). You don't get to move in with God - not yet! not until heaven. But God has moved in with you (If you are born-again). His Spirit has indwelt your life. You never have to be apart from His presence again. You never have to break off your fellowship with Him. NEVER! If your fellowship is broken, it is because you want it that way. It is because your heart doesn't long for that sweet relationship with God.

My friend, is God your Lord and your King? Is He really? Do you love Him as your Heavenly Father? Then you can bask in His presence every moment of every day. Praise God!