Presentation of the Lord - The Bread of Life
A Prayer for Leaders at Any Time in History - Plus Some Orphaned Ideas

The Gate of Worship - Psalm 24 and 15


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The God We Worship

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1

Everything belongs to God. We have known this most of our lives as a theological truth. It is in the dimension of application that we are challenged to confront our ignorance on this subject. We have constructed exception clauses to make room for self-ownership and control over this and that. We want to think that some little ditty of a thing is ours and that we can have power over it. To this deception, the voice of God speaks clearly and forcefully, “No. It is mine. It always was and always shall be.

“For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” - Psalm 24:2

For starters, it is all His because it was His idea from the drawing board to the factory. He thought of everything, planned everything, made everything, and retains sovereignty over – your guessed it – everything. He made the world and all that it contains and filled it with wonder and surprise. He is the owner, but that is not the whole story. He is a generous God who shares all that He has and is with us and invites us to discover the wonder of it all and celebrate creation with Him.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? ” - Psalm 24:3

When a soul discovers the wonders of God and His Sovereignty in creation and stands amazed at the glory of His Lord, there is but one response that rings true: worship. “I must worship this great God,” is the heart cry of the honest seeker,” I must know Him! I must come into His presence! I must some how get connected with the source and object of my being.” And things, brings for the question of the ages, “Who can come before Him? Can I?” You can, but you must come His way.

The People Who Worship

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. ” - Psalm 24:4

There is a lifestyle connection to worship. We cannot tolerate inconsistency in our lives that draws an arbitrary wall of separation between our relationship with God and those that we maintain with others. Nor can we divide our loyalties between false gods that give us temporary gratification and the only True God who has rightful claim to the world and all that is. Our hands are dirty and our hearts are divided. We are in dire need of the mercy and grace of God and His power to transform us into worshipers.

“He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. ” - Psalm 24:5

When one is qualified by God through grace to enter into His presence, a blessing follows. In a moment of immediate transformation, we are fashioned into pure-hearted worshipers with clean hands and we enter into a new era of our lives that makes all that came before moot. God’s vindication covers our record and we simply stand before Him in awe. Our voices are lifted in worthy praise and we are blessed.

“This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:6

There is something powerful that happens in our lives when we seek God. Jesus promised that all those who truly seek will find Him. This requires an open heart. Purity of heart and cleanliness of hands means that we bring no other motive or agenda, nothing in our hands or hearts, save the yearning to know God and worship Him in His fullness. Seek His face today as you begin and as you continue. In every face you encounter, seek His, in every circumstance, in every thought, word, and deed.

The Way We Worship

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:7

Expectancy calls for preparation. If our awareness of God’s glory is deep and our desire to worship, desperate, we will be anxious to lift up our heads to behold His face, to open the gates of our hearts for His anticipated entry. We will welcome Him wholeheartedly into the center of our lives and will exalt in His coming. The spirit of celebration and joy characterizes Old Testament worship, likewise, authentic Christian worship. The presence of God calls for singing and dancing. Lift up your heads!

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. ” - Psalm 24:8

“Who is this King of glory?” We tend to grow smug as we “mature” in the grace and knowledge of God. We hear the questions that we ought to be posing ourselves and point to the pages where we answered them in our notebooks years ago. We have gone shallow and are settling for yesterday’s encounter with God. If we think we really have a grasp on God, we are far, far away. Let us keep seeking and, as we seek, meet God in worship where the encounter is always new.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:9

It is a refrain and we could simply overlook it and move to the next verse for commentary, but that would be an exercise in shallow worship. Something has changed in the last few days. We have a new way of singing this song, a fresh encounter with the Living God. We have deeper insights into what it means to lift our heads and open the gates. We have a more intimate relationship with the King of Glory having sought Him. We can never sing the same song twice the same way and call it worship.

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:10

Don’t assume that you know the answer just because you read a few sentences of devotional comment or thought the matter over. The Lord is Almighty – we shall never begin to fathom the riches of who He is or plumb the depths of His character and love. Glory annotates weight – a weight so heavy that is transcends gravity and displaces everything that comes across its path. He defies definition and demands reverence. When given the choice between shallowness and depth today, choose to go deep.

Psalm 15:1 - Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

The grand question introduces the next set of lessons from the psalms and sparks the imagination of all earnest seekers. As believers in Christ, we have the answer in the gospel, but the very asking of the question is a matter of opening to God for all that He desires to teach us. Do not take truth for granted or treat it as if it were not ever new and renewing. Allow the question to move you to the next level of seeking as you go before the Father in prayer today.

Psalm 15:2 - … He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart…

Here we have an answer to the question posed yesterday, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary and live on your holy hill?”

Consider this: not everyone wants that. For some, the price of letting go of blame and embracing righteousness is too much. Truth is too threatening and the lure of sin is too great.

The psalmist however, longs for the presence of God and that is what it means to desire eternal life and heavenly bliss. It is not the beauty of the hill that captures the heart, but the beauty of God Himself.

To desire God is to desire the qualities that God brings to our lives: blamelessness through forgiveness, righteous behavior through the power of grace, and a heart of truth by the transformation of the Holy Spirit within us. Let us pray for that heart change that redirects our focus from sin to God and then, our very longing for heaven will be indicative of our readiness to enter in.

Psalm 15:3 - … and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong, and casts no slur on his fellow man.

The man or woman who can stand with joy and confidence in the presence of God and fully embrace the wonder of His fellowship is in constant touch with his or her fellow human beings. Those relationships matter. They have affect upon and are affected by our vital and honest relationship with God.

It is not possible to claim footing on the holy hill while usurping the place of a brother or sister.

Slander, malice, and simple disregard for the feelings of a neighbor are indicative of shaky spiritual grounding and contribute to spiritual trembles in our fellowship with the Lord. Let the love of Christ enter your heart at the choice level in all of your dealings with those around you and express your deep desire to love God by loving others.

Psalm 15:4 - who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,

As we have so often noted, we must begin with the vile man within each of us and register our disgust with the vileness of our own sin natures. But we must go beyond that point.

If we will despise the vileness within us, we must also honor the new man or woman recreated in God’s image that reveres God and loves truth. That person lives inside of us as well and that person is fashioned by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.

He or she is the Christ-life gifted to us through new birth. There are new values and a new integrity that is constantly going for truth no matter what it will cost because God is truth and nothing else matters more than God.

If we will value and honor that person, it will grow and take over our lives. That is the person God has made you to be.

Psalm 15:5 - who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

What some have, in the past, called social gospel, the scriptures call justice and righteousness. It is a very clear matter to the earnest student of the Bible that one must deal fairly, honestly, and uprightly in every horizontal relationship if the vertical relationship with God is to flourish.

Allow dishonesty, greed, malice, and bitterness to enter into your heart in any dimension of your being and it will undermine your footing before God upon the holy hill where you presume to stand erect.

The key to unshakable spiritual growth is to despise that which is vile and embrace that which is holy and true and to never compromise our purity of purpose in seeking God – whether our eyes are fixed toward His sanctuary or upon His face in the eyes one of His children.