Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

12 Pilgrimage of Praise Part 1

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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?

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