2.21.23 | Psalm 24



Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

Psalm 24 is a passage that sparked a great revival in the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland not too many years ago. Many in the Hebrides were hungry for God and had been gathering together to pray for months at a time. Nothing happened, no real communal breakthrough took place until one night a young man, Bible in hand began reading from Psalm 24:3-4

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god

Looking at his companions, he said, “Brethren, it seems to me so much humbug waiting as we are … unless we are rightly related to God. I must ask myself: Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” He then began to pray.… At that moment, something happened in the barn. A power was let loose that shook the parish from center to circumference… God had visited them, and neither they nor the parish could ever be the same again. (The Lewis Revival) 

Questions like…

Are my hands clean? 
Is my heart pure? 

produce in us a sort of reverential wonder.

They help us become rightly related to God. A Psalm like this can help us to seek God with greater honestly and zeal. It moves us from pretense and posturing to vulnerability and authenticity before the face of God.

This Tuesday let the honestly of Psalm 24 lead us to becoming truer worshippers.
Let it remove every mask.
Let it uncover every hidden sin in our hearts
and let it empower us to bring them before the cross of Jesus.

As we prepare to enter Lent and as we continue to seek God for an awakening in our region may we do so with reverential wonder.

02.14.23 | Psalm 84



Through February we are going to stay right here in Psalm 84


How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
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.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.

10 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.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

The psalmist longs for the presence of God. The word used here for longing carries with it a sense of absence. “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord,” he writes. The psalmist looks with holy jealousy at the birds who are able to build their nest at the altar. He dreams of making his home in God’s presence like the sparrows and swallows. 

God, of course, longs to dwell among us. From the beginning (Genesis 2) when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. At the end (Revelation 21:3) a voice from the throne will rejoice that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people.” At the center of history, the infinite God took on human flesh and came to dwell among us (John 1:14) and soon thereafter, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made it possible for the infinite God to make his dwelling in human hearts. 

Sadly however, so many of us have had such limited experience with the presence of God. We dabble in his presence. We rarely dream as the Psalmist does of living in unbroken communion with God. We are unaware that it is possible for him to flood our hearts and our lives with his glory. 

One of the hallmarks of every revival is a return of God’s manifest, royal presence to the church. And to the human hearts within the church. And this happens when God’s people begin longing for his presence and asking for his presence, and cleaning out our hearts to make room for his presence. 

The driving principle behind every revival is this: God comes where he is wanted. His presence, like a helicopter, comes down wherever people have cleared a landing pad. He will pass over 99 lukewarm Christians to touch a heart that is longing for him. He will pass over 99 churches to find one where his presence is wanted. During the 1949 revival in the Hebrides in Scotland, God literally touched every town on the island except the town of Stornaway. That is because the two pastors in that town resisted and critiqued the revival. God skipped over that town. 

This Psalm is in the scripture to show us what a heart that wants God’s presence looks like. Better is one day in God’s courts than a thousand elsewhere. And if we want renewal and the glory and presence of God in our lives, the main question is this. Do we long for God’s presence? God can do more in a day, to renew a heart, a family, a church, a city, even a nation when he shows up than in decades of humans laboring in their own strength. The question is do we want him to show up? 

For Reflection

Read through the Psalm. 

  • What strikes you? Notice the Psalmist’s heart toward God and his presence. How does it compare with your own? What are the other lesser loves in our lives that compete with our love and longing for Jesus to take up residence in our hearts?
  • What rooms and places in our hearts and lives do we need to prepare for Jesus? So that he can feel at home in our hearts and lives? Ask the Spirit to reveal to you how to be a host to Jesus?

For Prayer

  • Begin to pray phrases of this Psalm that stand out to you. Consider praying these ideas in your own words. 
  • Ask God to reveal to you the beauty of his presence and its worth and value in comparison to the other things we love and long for. 
  • Ask God to stir up holy hunger and longing for his presence. Ask God to for this heart cry: “God we want you here!” In your life, in your family, in the church, in Providence.

Next Steps

  • Where in your life is God asking you to carve a highway to Zion – a pathway into his presence? What is your next step to say yes to that?
  • If there are lesser loves in your life that are competing with Jesus for your affections…confess this to someone and ask God to rearrange and reorder your desires and longings!


Unstopping the Wells of Revival: The Return of Jesus

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8am prayer 30min
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But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 24:36-51

As we celebrate the season of Advent, it is appropriate to consider one of the great and glorious doctrines of our faith – and one which has been obscured by the rubbish of the Philistines. Jesus is coming back and could come at any moment. His first coming was shrouded in humility and obscurity. His first coming was meek and mild. His second coming will be unmistakable. As Philippians tells us, on that day “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” 

The Lord spoke often about his return. He told us essentially three things about it. First, at his coming, there will be accountability. Accounts will be settled. As the Creeds say, he will come to judge the living and the dead. Second, his coming will be sudden and unexpected. Even though we know he is coming sometime, and the church has known this for 2000 years, Jesus gives us this promise: “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” And because of these two realities, Jesus told us a third truth about his coming, or rather, how we must prepare. We must be ready. The word he uses is “keep watch,” or gregorao in the Greek. It refers to the alertness of a soldier or night watchman standing on guard or a shepherd keeping watch over the flock. 

What has been lost under the rubbish of the Philistines is the awareness of the possibility that Jesus might return at any time. This may be due to many factors. Many have tried over the years to predict the day or the hour of Jesus’ return. I remember during the year 2000 there were many fringe (or not so fringe) groups that were certain the Lord was coming back when the ball dropped that year. They stored up freeze dried peaches in their closets and ammunition… as if somehow that would protect them from…who exactly? And so as much as we don’t want to repeat the mistake of misguided sects and cults and churches, what we cannot do is lose the clear teaching of our Lord that he might come back at any moment and therefore we need to be ready.

What does it mean to be ready exactly? Jesus illustrates this In this parable, the master has set a servant in charge of his possessions until he returns. In one scenario, that servant remains faithful to the task and receives commendation for doing his job. But in the other, the wicked servant does several things. First, he assumes the master will not be back for a long time. And it is this assumption that leads to his other unwise activities. He begins using his power inappropriately (beating the other servants under his charge) and eating and drinking with drunkards. 

And before we get too critical of this wicked servant – let’s take a look in the mirror. The church in our time is in danger of these same mistakes. We have lost sight of the fact that the Lord is coming and may come soon. And if he did, would we be ready? How would we feel about how we are spending our time? How have we been treating other fellow servants? Have we lost track of our assignment and given ourselves to eating and drinking instead? The reality is that like this servant, the church has lost touch with the truth that Jesus is coming and could come today. If we really thought the Lord could come today, let’s be honest…we’d live differently. The reason the Church has a season of Advent in its calendar is to help us not to lose sight of this vital doctrine of the faith. In many ways the return of Jesus is like a compass that keeps us pointing in the right direction.

When the church recovers this vital truth that Jesus could come at any moment and we therefore need to be ready…to settle accounts…to make things right with God and others…to live as though we will be held to account, it leads to revival.

God gave me a calling in the year 2008. A clear calling. When I shared it with others around me, however, nobody really understood it or gave me much positive encouragement. Because of this, rather than go against my supervisors or my organization’s vision, I took the assignment God gave me and sat on it. I buried it in the ground. Seven years later, I shared about this assignment from God with a friend and mentor – and he said this. “Greg, God has given you a calling. A seed of his own heart. Luckily, you haven’t killed it. But you haven’t exactly been faithful to this assignment either. And one day, Jesus is going to judge you. He loves you as his son, but he will also hold you accountable and ask you what you did with what he gave you. And you need to think about that more than you think about what the other people around you are saying or thinking about your calling.” As frightening and sobering as his words were, they were exactly what I needed to be liberated from the fear of man and to say yes to a calling that didn’t make sense to the people around me. 

Essentially, my friend helped me reorient my life around the coming of Jesus. And this was a key factor in bringing a season of revival to my life and the lives of others. In some ways, every revival is a mini coming of Jesus that anticipates his final coming in glory at the end of the age. 

For Reflection:

How often do you consider the reality that Jesus is coming back and could come at any moment? 

If you knew the Lord were coming back in a week? How would it change your activities or priorities? 

If the Lord were to return tomorrow, how ready would you be? What would need to happen in your life in order to be ready? What would need to stop? What would need to start? 

For Prayer:

Ask God to help the church, beginning with Sanctuary, to recover its conviction that the Lord is coming back and may come any time. Ask God to help us live now in light of that truth. 

Ask the Spirit to bring clarity to activities or priorities that need to change in light of the imminence of Jesus’ return.

Ask the Spirit to stir up in us a sense of hope and expectancy for Jesus’ coming, either bodily in glory at the end of the age, or by pouring out his Spirit in revival.