Psalm 15 (NIV)
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
The Bible begins with man walking and talking with God in a garden (Genesis 2). It ends with God dwelling with man (Revelation 21). Have you ever wondered if there is a way to dwell with God now? In this life? The verses at the beginning of this post are a portion of Psalm 15, which was written by King David. You can click here to read the rest. In this psalm, David assumes that we do, indeed, wish to get back to a secure relationship with God. And this morning, Reverend Singleton helped us to go through this psalm of David and pull out some things we can do to be a good guest of the Master.
First of all, we were created by God to have a relationship with him. It is what he wishes, and he is consistently calling us back to himself. David was considered the "bloodiest" king Israel had. His people were constantly at war during his reign. They needed a sense of security, even as we need a sense of security in our world today. It is real easy for us to feel weighted down by what is going on around us, and even in our own lives, but when we let those weights become our main focus, we can lose the ability to feel God's presence. He is not silent. We are just not hearing him!
One way that we can improve our ability to dwell in the presence of God is to attend church. It is not being in the building that helps, because we know that God is everywhere, but it is being in the presence of other people that helps us to hear his voice. When a group of people are together, all listening for the voice of God together, it is much easier to focus on him. It is easier to lay down those burdens for a while, and join together in prayer and worship. It is easier to hear his voice through the message that the pastor has received from God for us.
So, how do we enter the presence of God? How can we be good guests in his house? Does it even matter? Let me ask you a question. If you go to visit someone, do you observe certain rules? Maybe your friend doesn't allow shoes in their house, so you leave them at the door. If you are invited to eat, you eat politely, not complaining about the food. You probably knock or ring the doorbell to be admitted. Well, why should we not observe some rules of etiquette when we enter the presence of God?
Psalm 15 gives several clear directions about how to properly dwell with the Master. First, we must have a blameless "walk," and do what is righteous. Now, we know how difficult this is, but we rely on Jesus to cover our sin, and the Holy Spirit to guide us into right living. Then, we must speak the truth, and not slander others. Yes, both. No lying. No gossip. We must control our tongues at all times. It doesn't work to run your mouth every day of the week, and then try to enter the presence of God on Sunday. We must refuse to use our tongues destructively, and to speak in love and kindness. We need to treat others well, and honor those who are following God. We need to watch out for those who have less than we do, and to help them. Not to broadcast your own goodness, but in secret, just to do what is right.
David ends the psalm with a promise, that if you do these things, you will not be shaken. Now, you may be looking at this list with trepidation. It does seem rather hard. But we have help! It is very difficult to accomplish this kind of perfection on our own, but with Jesus, all things are possible. What happened between the beginning and the end of the Bible? Jesus happened. People tried to hold to God's high standard on their own, and found out how hard it was. But then, Jesus happened. He came to release us from the striving of trying to be "good" on our own. He came to not only save us from any sins we have already committed, but to give us his own strength and righteousness so that we can finally be reconciled to God.
Your presence is requested at the Master's house. You have been given an open invitation. All you need to do is RSVP. You can enjoy God's presence, protection, and provision. And the easiest way to do this is to walk into his earthly house, the church. Join others who are listening for his voice and learning to walk in his ways. God never meant for us to be alone. We need each other. And remember, you are an honored guest.
If you don't have a church home, and live near Dover Plains, NY, we are offering an open invitation to the Second Baptist Church. You can find more information on our website. Come and join us as we learn together.