The series on prayer continues with a look at Psalm 16, a prayer of dependence and confidence in God. How can we say that God is our only hope? Why do Christians put all their eggs in God’s basket? Why do we pray: “Lord, I need you”?
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:10, NIV)
You may be wondering why I’m writing from Psalm 84 when I said a few weeks ago I was going to work through Leviticus. No, I haven’t given up on Leviticus (again)! In my study of the third book in the Bible, I came across this great quote from L. Michael Morales:
“Entering the house of God to dwell with God, beholding, glorifying and enjoying him eternally, I suggest, is the story of the Bible, the plot that makes sense of the various acts, persons and places of its pages, the deepest context for its doctrines. For this ultimate end the Son of God shed his blood and poured out the Spirit from on high, even to bring us into his Father’s house, in him, as sons and daughters of God… The primary theme and theology of Leviticus (and of the Pentateuch as a whole) is YHWH’s opening a way for humanity to dwell in the divine Presence.”1
What a great (and I think accurate) perspective of Leviticus! The primary theme isn’t the Law or all the regulations concerning sacrifices and offerings. The main point of the book is how we can dwell with God. All the other things drive toward that end. This brought to mind Psalm 84 and one of my favorite songs to sing in worship. I’ve linked it below.
My prayer for this week is that you will enjoy some time in the personal presence of God, even if it’s just for a few moments while you listen and maybe sing along with the song below.
1 L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, ed. D. A. Carson, vol. 37, New Studies in Biblical Theology (England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21–23.
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai… (Jonah 1:1).
This phrase, “the word of the Lord came to…” is repeated quite often throughout the Old Testament. As a child, I remember praying and asking God for His Word to come to me as it did to Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so many other prophets in Scripture. I wasn’t asking God if I could be a famous prophet, just asking Him to speak to me in a real way. And, He did. Now let me quickly caveat that by saying when God speaks personally to you or me, it doesn’t carry the same weight of authority as when He spoke to Jonah. Jonah’s message was recorded in Scripture and is universally authoritative. When God speaks personally to you or me, it’s not a message to be added to the Bible, and it’s not authoritative for all people at all times. It is authoritative for you or me.
Having gotten that out of the way, I’m often surprised by the number of believers who’ve never heard God speak personally to them. No, I don’t mean in an audible voice. I’ve met a lot of Christians who’ve never had a personal interaction with God. They can’t point to a time when they personally felt God’s presence or that gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, or when they had two-way communication with God.
I think the reason for this is we often don’t recognize God’s voice when He speaks. He speaks, but we don’t hear it as God talking to us. We believe in God, but we don’t have a conversational relationship with Him. Learning to recognize God’s voice is similar to learning to know anyone’s voice. Remember those days before caller id? I could tell who was on the other end of the phone just by the sound of their voice. Why? Because I spent time in conversation with them. It’s the same with God.
I could write a whole book about this, but these blogs are supposed to be short enough to read in one minute, and I’m already over that! Plus, a great book has already been written about this very subject. It changed my prayer life and my relationship with God, and I recommend it highly. It is Hearing God by Dallas Willard, and you can get it for $10 on Amazon. If you use RightNow Media (free for all LakeView folks; contact the church office for more info), you can watch Dallas Willard teach through the book.
My prayer for us this week is that we’ll take a quiet moment to listen to God and that His Word will come to us as it did to Jonah. When He speaks to you, make sure you heed what He says!
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11a).
I’ve had a few mountaintop experiences in my life, when the presence of the Lord was unmistakable, powerful, tangible, and overwhelming. I will never forget a time shortly after I started leading worship when the presence of the Holy Spirit was so heavy (literally) that most of the worship team ended up on their knees—we couldn’t stay standing under the weight! In the Old Testament, the word most often used for the glory of God is kā·ḇôḏ, which means “heavy.” And while I think that these encounters with God are memorable and very special, I also think they tend to be somewhat rare. More often than not, when the Lord passes by, I find it easy to miss his presence entirely—perhaps I was too busy or focused on other things.
My prayer this week is that we, like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, will get to stand in the presence of the Lord. Maybe it will be one of those special and rare mountaintop experiences where the kā·ḇôḏ of God’s glory weighs heavy in the room. Or maybe it will be a still small voice whispering God’s assurance to your soul. Either way, for the Creator of the Universe to grace us with his presence is truly a blessing, and I pray that blessing is yours this week!