How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

~ Psalm 84

Here is the setting of this Psalm composed by Johannes Brahms. How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair.
 
 

A (Grand)Baby and a Psalm

O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious tob me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

~ Psalm 139

Meet the Enemy

Hello.

I am the demon named Pride. I am very, very old.

I am one of the most powerful demons in the hierarchy.

My dwelling place is the hearts of humans.

One of my chief methods of operation is to inflict blindness and deafness on all who will host me.

I remove compassion. I destroy consciences and convince millions of highly religious people that they are serving God while they have no clue who they are really serving. LOL!

You can always tell when I am present because those who will have me are highly defensive at the slightest suggestion that they have done anything wrong. Moi? The very idea!

I am particularly good at helping my hosts see the sins of others. In some cases, I can even convince these religious types to keep files on other people that document their shortcomings and failings. ROFL!

One of the great abilities I have is to infect entire families, generation after generation. Consider me the smallpox of spiritual influences. I can spread very quickly. Just one host in every bunch. That’s my motto.

Once I have rendered my hosts blind and deaf, no entreaties of any kind by a True Believer can reach them. True Believers, or TB’s as I call them, are a real pain in the behind. They come around with their humble little pinched faces, the crocodile tears just running down their cheeks, imploring my hosts to see the truth. As if!

When given enough latitude, I make sure that no host who ever welcomes me can possibly see the light. Once I spread, it’s over. The best part is, they don’t know it and remain convinced they are doing everything right.

I think I am more powerful than their so-called “God”, because I can run freely through the halls of their homes, religious buildings and media empires. I can set things up for a church split in a matter of days. Divorce, extended family bust-ups, random schisms, brawls, hatred, betrayal—they are my speciality! If enough hosts welcome me in any one locale, I can do anything. Watch as their Deity is rendered powerless. I only need one host in the bunch to get started.

I despise TB’s. True Believers are the primary obstacle to my work. Groveling, sniveling, self-effacing wimps are the number one thing I battle. You can see them sobbing into their hankies, talking about “re-con-cil-i-ation” and using the J word. I can’t even bring myself to type that name. He is my ultimate enemy. Disgusting. I almost finished him once. So close.  The best I can do now is get J’s followers to give me a home so I can make their claims about an all-powerful God look silly.

The sight of people hugging and begging forgiveness is repellent. I can’t live around such gushing sentimentality. It’s like spiritual Raid. So I work especially on TB’s, because they don’t have to stay that way. If I can get a corner, nay, just a tiny spot in their hearts, who knows? There may come a day when they will fully welcome me as host. Then I will quickly go about my work of blinding and deafening them so that they never see the damage they cause. They will see themselves as martyrs, athletes of God, brilliant in their holiness and perfections, beyond fault in all situations. LOL! What fun!

I’m on the lookout today for some new hosts. I have already spotted a few who look particularly vulnerable. Off to work.

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 18:1-4

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
~ James 4:6, 10

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James 4:7

For more Scripture verses on pride, click here.

‘Pastures of Tender Grass and Waters of Rest’

This post is dedicated to all who are sad, exhausted, hurting, confused and grieving in what seems like an endless desert of pain.

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs
with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are
with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and
He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He
is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
(Matthew 11:28-29)

Pastures Of Tender Grass And Waters Of Rest 

By F.B. Meyer, from The Shepherd Psalm

“He maketh me to lie down
In green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

In this sweet pastoral symphony, the first verse gives the air, when it tells us that there is no want to the man who lives under the shepherd care of God. In the succeeding verses the harmony is worked out, and the music in all its completeness is rendered effectively.

The first want which, according to this verse, he who belongs to Christ shall never know, is the want of rest. This verse breathes the very spirit of rest, as is even more apparent in a more literal rendering of the words. It may be rendered thus: “He maketh me to lie down in pastures of tender grass: He leadeth me beside the waters of rest.”

What a delightful scene is thus conjured up before our fancy! It is the scorching hour of an Eastern noon. The air is stifling with fever-heat, and all the landscape is baking in the awful glare. The very stones upon the hills burn the feet that touch them. At such a time woe be to the flock without a shepherd; and to the shepherd who cannot find the blue shade of some great rock, the shelter of some bushy dell, or the rich and luscious pasturage of some lowland vale!

But there is no such failure here. See where the pellucid stream is rolling its tide through the level plain. Higher upward in its bed, when it was starting on its course, it foamed and fretted over its rocky channel, leaped from ledge to ledge, chafed against its restraining banks, and dashed itself into a mass of froth and foam. No sheep would have drank of it then; for the flocks will never drink of turbid or ruffled streams. But now it sweeps quietly onward, as if it were asleep, there is hardly a ripple on its face; every flower, and tree, and sedge, as well as the overhanging banks, is clearly mirrored on its surface, and every stone in its bed may be clearly seen; on its banks the pasture is always green and luxuriant, carpeted in spring by a thousand flowers; the very air is cooled by its refreshing presence, and the ear is charmed by the music of its purling waters. No drought can come where that river flows; and the flocks, satisfied by browsing on the tender grass, lie down satisfied and at rest.

We All Need Rest

There must be pauses and parentheses in all our lives. The hand cannot ever be plying its toils. The brain cannot always be elaborating trains of thought. The faculties and senses cannot always be on the strain. To work without rest is like over winding a watch; the mainspring snaps, and the machinery stands still. There must be a pause frequently interposed in life’s busy rush wherein we can recuperate exhausted nerves and lowered vitality. There is more permanence than many think in the commandment which bids us rest one day in seven.

But there is no part of our nature that cries more urgently for rest than our spiritual life. The spirit of man, like the dove, cannot always be wandering with unresting wing; it must alight. We cannot ever be travelling up the rugged mountain pass of difficulty, or traversing the burning marl of discontent. We must be able to lie down in green pastures, or to pass gently along the waters of rest. There are three things needed ere sheep or human spirits can rest. Continue reading

Cast Your Burdens on the Lord

A few days ago I posted an aria from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, O Rest in the Lord. Here is yet another of the wonderful bits from that work. Struggling, exhausted, worried, angry, or desperate today? Here’s advice right from the pages of Holy Scripture.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord,
And He shall sustain thee.
He never will suffer the righteous to fall;
He is at thy right hand.
Thy mercy, Lord, is great
and far above the heav’ns;
Let none be made ashamed
that wait upon Thee.

(Psalm 55:22)

This recording is old, but carries with it a sweetness of peace that fits the words being sung.

Resting in the Lord

I hope this article by the late T. Austin Sparks is helpful to you. Resting and trusting in God in this age of anxiety is difficult. T.A.S. as he was known addresses this in the following article. For more information on this minister, visit his online library here.

“For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet. 2:15).

“For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully… For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps… who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Pet. 2:19,21,23).

“For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears unto their supplication… And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good? But even if ye should suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are ye: and fear not their fear, neither be troubled” (1 Pet. 3:12-14).

“…casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

The Lord’s Care for His Own

This is just one of the many standpoints taken up by the Apostle in this letter. This one represents the position and attitude of the Lord Himself toward His Own, the realisation of which should produce a certain state in them. The Lord’s attitude is one of solicitude for His Own – that is what Peter is saying. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears unto their supplication”. The Lord’s attitude toward His Own is one of concern for them. He has His eye upon them, they are not out of His ken. Not only has He His eye upon them, but He has His ear open to them; and not only so, but He is taking definite care concerning them. These three things Peter says quite definitely.

Our Response to His Concern

Then he says, ‘If you realise that, it will produce a state of restfulness, carefreeness, in you. You will cast all your care, your anxiety, on Him because He cares for you.’ There are three things we might say about this. One – this word “casting” is a very deliberate word. This actual word only occurs twice in the New Testament. The other occasion is in Luke, where, in recording the entering into Jerusalem on the colt, it says, “they cast their garments upon the colt” (Luke 19:35). So if you can picture the people casting their garments on the colt for Him to ride upon, you get the mental conception of the word used here – “casting all your care…” I suppose the people were deliberate in what they did. It was something quite precise. They pulled off their garments and put them on the colt’s back. And in our apprehension of the Lord’s attitude and the resultant state produced in us, we deliberately cast our anxiety upon the Lord, put it over on to Him. Continue reading

God’s Counsel in the Midst of Trouble

The eternal truth of God’s Word struck me again in reading this passage. It was true when the Psalmist wrote this, and it’s true today. I want to share the whole passage for those of us dealing with anger and who tend to “fret” about those who seem to harm others with impunity in this life. This is a passage that gives clear instructions NOT to “fret” over the seeming success of their schemes, but to trust and wait on God.

Psalm 37

A Psalm of David.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 37:36 Following Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and Targum; Syriac and Vulgate read I passed by.

When the Enemy Accuses…

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. – Romans 8:33-34

No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, said the LORD. - Isaiah 54:17

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”  – Revelation 12:10-12

By the blood of the Lamb we overcome Satan as the accuser of the brethren. The chapter (Revelation 12) expressly tells us that he accuses the brethren day and night; and there is an instructive tradition among the Jews that Satan accuses the elect of God all day and all night long, except on the day of atonement, and then he is quiet. Glory be to the dying Lamb, the atonement shuts the mouth of the lion continually, for the atonement lasts all the year round. Neither in the court of Heaven, nor in the court of conscience, can the enemy’s accusations harm us, for the blood of our Substitute is a bar to all suits against us.

If we by faith are assured that Jesus has put away our sin, what cause have we for alarm? If the punishment due to our sin, and the sin itself have both been carried away by our great Surety, so that sin is plunged into the depths of the sea, and cast behind God’s back, then who is he that shall harm us? Brethren, do but grasp the doctrine of the atonement, and know your own interest in it, and the accuser of the brethren will be silenced by the voice of the blood.

We overcome Satan by the same means as to his craft. He has seven heads, but we tell him Jesus died, and that breaks all the seven heads, and destroys the sevenfold ingenuity of his snares. He would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect, but the secret of the sprinkled blood is that which prevents the elect from ever being deluded by him. Who shall separate them from the love of Christ? Does not redemption by blood hold them fast to their Redeemer? You cannot be right anywhere if you are wrong upon the atonement, but if you are sound upon the substitutionary sacrifice there is little fear of your falling into any serious error.

As the needle once magnetized continues to seek the pole, so they who are once touched with the love of their dying Surety are sure to remember it and cannot long be turned in any other direction. As for the dragon’s horns of power; the power of the blood is far greater. Since we have been redeemed by Christ from under the power of Satan he cannot regain his hold of us. His power is broken. As to the crowns which he wears, what care we for them? We are delivered from under his power by being redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and Satan can never again have the rule over us.

As for the energetic influence which is figured by his tail, he may quench the very stars of heaven, and pull down the most brilliant professors and make them fall to the earth as apostates, but he cannot harm us, for because of the blood of Jesus we are latest by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Cling to the cross, dear brethren, for there you are out of the reach of the old serpent’s venom; he may hiss, but he can do no more. No wave can ever wash a poor sinner off from the rock of ages, no storm can drive a penitent out of the clefts of the rock. Within the wounds of Jesus we are secure from all the rage of Satan. In our battles with Satan we need no other artillery but the atoning blood, it meets and conquers him at all points.

–Charles H. Spurgeon