Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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13 Pilgrimage of Praise Part 2

Psalm 84:6-7, 10

6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. 7 They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. 10 A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

Psalm 84 reminds us that the Journey of worship is about the place, power, pursuit and also the:

  • Persistence vs 6

The psalmist says “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping” he doesn’t say if he says when. Verse 6 reminds us that in the pilgrimage of praise there will be pain, yet the trials are not just filled with tears but  teaching. Trials are on nearly every page of the Bible because they are common to every person regardless of their position. Sometimes we live in the unrealistic world of problem free praise believing that real Christians don’t have struggles. If some well-meaning person has suggested to you that Christians aren’t supposed to have trials, that we won’t get sick or shouldn’t experience sadness and loss, or feel a financial pinch, then you need to remind them to read the Bible. In this pilgrimage we are not just passing through we are praising through and we must never pretend that trials don’t exist. We have all passed through some Valleys of Weeping yet the scripture says that if the Lord is your Strength, and if your heart is set on the journey, you can see the Valley of Weeping become a refreshing spring. What to others is a place of bitterness can to you become a place of blessing and a place of growth. Instead of focusing on the trouble that trials bring we should see our trials as opportunities for training and even transformation. The tears of weeping are for a season but a refreshing spring keeps on flowing year after year. It might not always be apparent, but the opportunity for growth and blessing is always right there in the middle of the trial. Faith dares to dig blessings out of disaster. The truth is that there is no oil without squeezing the olives or wine without pressing the grapes, nor fragrance without crushing the flowers. The Valley of Weeping can become a refreshing spring in our life. Sure we all love the “mountain top” experiences, times of blessing and sunshine, yet that is not where the fruit grows. You won’t find many orchards on mountain tops, sure the view is nice up there, but the fruit grows in the valleys. It’s in the trials that God teaches and transforms, that the autumn rains clothe us with blessings. The question is, what will be your attitude? Do you see trials as teaching opportunities? Are you going to let that thing make you bitter or make you better? In the driest desert faith digs wells and discovers living water. Did Joseph see the whole picture of the opportunity that presented itself by his trial, sold into slavery by his brothers, carried off to a foreign land all alone? Falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and wrongfully imprisoned?! Could he have imagined in his wildest dreams that it would ultimately lead to him becoming Prime Minister of Egypt, and the one who would save his entire family? I’m quite sure he couldn’t have seen how God was going to use all his hardship to orchestrate such a wonderful outcome. But I do know that Joseph trusted in the hand of God, he had confidence in the One who does all things well. What about us, do we believe God’s Word, do we trust in Romans 8:28-29, that “All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose”? In the pilgrimage of praise we will walk through the pain but we can persist and push on. Today would you P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens?

  • Patience vs 7

Sometimes in the pain and chaos we forget that God is in control. In your pain remember that God has not surrender His position on the throne. He cannot be usurped or defied just because of our difficulty. Psalm 84 reminds us of God’s promise that if I am (1) looking to God alone for my strength, and (2) if I’ve put my heart into the journey, and (3) I’m looking to see what opportunity God might have in every trial, then the sovereign God will do two things for me:

  1. He will direct my steps in strength – “They will continue to grow stronger”

This is the work of God in a person’s life, when you allow the Holy Spirit free reign, you will go from strength to strength. Today we want the strength without the surrender. We see the trials simply as times of suffering but He wants to bring us through them stronger.  I don’t want to just limp through life I want to laugh and love and live, by the grace of God I want to go from strength to strength! Today God wants to do that in your life but you need to submit to Him.

       2.       He will bring me through to the destination – “and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.”

The pilgrim Psalmist was longing to get to Jerusalem, to the House of God and here is the assurance, God will bring him through. Can you be sure that you’re going to make it all the way to Heaven? Can you really know? Absolutely, because the Bible says that God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Paul, in the last days of his life, wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith, not words of uncertainty but a powerful declaration: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day”. We are reminded that in the pilgrimage of praise we need to patiently wait on the Lord and the wait is worth it, “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else.” Today will you persist patiently in the pilgrimage of praise?

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12 Pilgrimage of Praise Part 1

Psalm 84:1-5

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

This Psalm is about the “Pilgrimage of Praise”. Every year crowds would journey to Jerusalem to the Holy City to worship at the Temple. This Psalm reveals both the path and the plight of those whose journey is to praise Jesus.  The psalmist understood that praise wasn’t just a destination but a journey, one that starts with a longing to be with God’s people worshipping in God’s House. Yet the pilgrimage of worship is not just a journey it is a joy, as the Psalmist says “blessed are those” So often we equate worship with work, we wonder and question how we will worship in heaven and when we will grow bored.  Psalm 84 reminds us of our journey through life that there will be a day when we leave our worldly life behind and we head into the eternal world of worship.  In 1 Peter 1:17, and 2:11 Peter describes the Christian as a “sojourner”, a “pilgrim” literally a “resident alien”. We are passing through this world, our destination is “The Heavenly City” God’s Eternal Presence. So where are you in your journey with Jesus? Have you lost perspective in the pilgrimage? Even though the pilgrimage is plagued with problems we keep perspective when we make it about His praise. Today our priority in life has become more about our pleasure than His praise.  Psalm 84 reminds us that the Journey of worship is about the:

  • Place vs 1-2

In verses 1-2 as the psalmist reveals the cry of his heart he reminds us that the place of praise is in the presence of God. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” God’s House represented the place where he could go to meet with God and he says that he would rather be in God’s House praising Him than anywhere else. In contemporary terms, he would rather have been praising God than playing golf or fishing at the lake. He would rather be in God’s presence than at a baseball or football game. He would rather have been with God than to be at the campground, or at home in bed, or in front of the TV. Desire is what drives us and the psalmist sought the presence of God with his body, soul and spirit. Worship is about meeting with God and he put everything he had and all that he was into seeking and experiencing God. So what do you put into worship?

  • Power – 3-5

The psalmist declares “Blessed are those whose strength is in you” this is not a jaunt but a journey that requires stamina. It is interesting to note that this traveler had watched the birds of the air find a refuge in the temple and he was jealous of them. Birds fly and that freedom allows them to go anywhere yet eventually they have to rest. Even though they were at home in the sky the sky was not their home and so they came to rest and make their home in the temple. Strength and stamina are found in settling down and making our home with God. Where are you “nesting”, are you at home with God?  The Christian life is impossible without God’s strength. Yet so often we act like our only strength is our own steam. The Apostle Paul lived a powerful life of praise so what was his life’s secret? 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 reveals “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” His secret was that his strength was in God and this is the only way to beat burnout. We do not have enough resources in ourselves to make the journey. Today there are many on the journey that are just slogging it out and their journey has slowed to a crawl because they are running out of steam. Today are you trying to strive in your own strength?

  • Pursuit

True worship involves the pursuit of God and the psalmist reminds us that “blessed are those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage”. We are not just putting around we are called to put our whole heart into the journey. Are you making your lifetime count? We shouldn’t be people who are just letting life pass us by, where we are dictated to by our circumstances, waiting out our time until Jesus comes. Instead we must have our eyes on the finish line, but our energies, our heart, our hands and feet, ought to be occupied with making the journey count, living for Jesus. In Philippians 1:21 Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ”. What will you do with your life?  The pursuit determines the process and what you learn and achieve here is important to God. Don’t wish your life away, and don’t just let it pass you by. Will you make it count for God’s glory today?