His Holy Place

Psalm 24:3-4.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

I’m not absolutely positive, but I think this photo may be Mt. St. Helens before the 1980 eruption. We lived in Portland, OR, when I was between the ages of 10-15, and I always loved getting a glimpse of this beautiful mountain.

I used this picture today because of the pristine beauty of the place; and because, although it was only the fifth highest mountain in Washington, it still towered above the surrounding hills. It is, therefore, a great image for the way God towers above all of us. In His pristine beauty, He stands out like a mountain above all other gods.

Who will be able to go up to Him, or be allowed to stand with Him in His holiness? Who has the right to stand with Him in His holiness?

Such a question used to be discussed among believers who were aware of their insufficiency to stand with Jehovah. It should be a matter of concern to all of us. Today, however, it seems we’re much more concerned about “How can I be happy?” than we are with “How can I be holy?”

David’s answer, gleaned from his own life experience, is really quite simple. Those who have endeavored to have a holy, pure, godly character will be able to stand with Him in His holy place.

No human being is free from sin. Ultimately, we stand before Him only because our sin is cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Never can we claim to be so holy, so perfect, that we deserve that special place with God. We cannot earn it. We can only humbly endeavor to imitate His character, by His grace and in His strength.

Clean hands, pure heart, humility, and truth. These are characteristics of God. We need to seek them every single day in order to join Him in His holy place.

There is an old saying: “He’s so heavenly-minded, he’s no earthly good.” My dad used to say that the reverse is more often the case: “We’re so earthly-minded that we’re no heavenly good.”

Sunday Morning Coffee: Blah!

Yup. Blah. I have a bad case of the BLAHs. I’m a grouch.

I felt pretty good when I went to bed last night. My back pain had subsided to tolerable for the first time in several weeks.

Do you remember this book by Judith Viorst:

Change the word day to night and you’ll understand my present mood. I won’t go into gruesome detail. Just take my word for it–my night was ugly. I’m exhausted from it. It wore me out, and kicked my back pain into high gear.

I have an appointment on Tuesday with my pain doctor. Sure hope he has some kind of help for me.

So. Does a Christian have any right to be such a grouch? Shouldn’t we always be happy?

I think perhaps there is an important difference between the words happiness and contentment.

I’m not especially happy right now. I’ll get over it, though, and no one else will have to know my inner grouch. I can do that because I truly have reached a point in my life’s journey at which I can find contentment –not because of my circumstances, but in spite of my circumstances.

Paul said, in Phil. 4:11, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

He said that just a short time before he was executed, knowing what was waiting for him here on earth, but looking beyond that to what awaited him in heaven.

In the same chapter, in v. 9, he said: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

He is telling us to follow his example, and that if we do we will find peace with God. Contentment. Not happiness, necessarily, but contentment.

We live in these bodies of clay. We lug them around with us everywhere, and when they function properly, our mood often matches our physical well-being. When the body begins to fail us, however, it is way too easy to fall into the grumps and make everyone around us miserable. You’d think no one else ever suffered physical dysfunction!

The words to an old song are playing in my head this morning: “When your body suffers pain, and your health you can’t regain. . . . .”

Saturday Soliloquy: October is so Beautiful!

I could post hundreds of pictures showing the glories of October. Today we have, once again, that gorgeous autumn blue sky, mild temperature and freedom from the haze, humidity and BUGS that hover all summer!

I’m always sorry to see this month come to an end, although it can last well into November, too.

Right now, I’m thinking about Halloween. I’m not going to dwell on the negatives. There are plenty of them, but we’ve heard it all before and I just don’t feel like going there today.

Memory takes me back to a more innocent time when we were kids. We made our own costumes out of old bedsheets or whatever else came to hand. We got creative without spending money. I don’t remember anyone going to a costume store just to go trick-or-treating. I’m sure it happened, but not in the neighborhoods where I grew up. Halloween was not high on the profit list back then, with lots of orange lights and yard decorations, never mind the theme parties and costumes–and masks! My word! I understand that today, Halloween is second only to Christmas in retail success. Amazing.

We were lucky to live in neighborhoods where the houses were close enough and numerous enough that we could walk to go trick-or-treating. NO PARENTS EVER took their kids from house to house! We’d have died of embarrassment! Best of all was the apartment buildings, where older folks looked forward to the little urchins invading their hallways and ringing their doorbells. Some of the best treats came from there–fresh-baked cookies and brownies, fruit, and loads of candy. And popcorn balls! Boy, did I love those things!

Half the fun was trudging back home with our loot, sorting it out, sometimes trading for candy we weren’t crazy about, like licorice. I like the red, but not the black. There was always someone who was more than willing to give me their red for my black 🙂

Back then, a regular-sized candy bar was only 5 cents. It was candy heaven for those of us who rarely got such a treat. Snickers, Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Hershey bars–all were plentiful, and I carefully preserved them to last for a long time.

In those days–roughly the early 1950s to early 60s–that’s all Halloween was about for young kids. It was fun, harmless, and innocent. Adults welcomed us, even looked forward to figuring out who was hidden behind the costumes and goofy masks. It never occurred to us to be afraid. There were so many of us out that night, and we all tended to stay in groups. It’s entirely possible that there were parents watching from a distance, but they never intruded or insisted on staying right with us.

It seems to me that we were allowed to cross streets on Halloween night, something that was not encouraged any other time. And we were expected to be back home when there were still lots of other kids out and about, heading back to their own houses. I don’t remember a specific curfew, but none of us had watches anyway. We just had a sense about when it was time to go home–probably when we couldn’t stuff any more treats into our bags or pillowcases!

We won’t have any little kids ringing our doorbell this year. We’ve lived here for over 28 years, and never had any trick-or-treaters. Parents drive their kids into town where there are developments with hundreds of houses; there are apartment buildings and blocks of older homes where people our age look forward to little kids yelling “Trick or treat!”

Stores are full of seasonal candy, bags of it with separately-wrapped pieces. I doubt anyone gives out home-baked goodies–too risky. And even if they did, parents would examine each child’s loot and toss out anything that could easily be tampered with.

It’s so sad. I hear stories every year about someone’s black cat disappearing. Worst-case scenarios do take place.

I’m very glad that I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. It was fun, innocent, a rare venture to beg for treats we would never ordinarily see.

It was just a lot of fun.

Everything is His!

Psalm 24:1-2.

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

When I started this journey through the Book of Psalms, I had a vague idea of picking through some of my favorites, not tackling every psalm. The trouble with that, of course, is that every psalm is a paean of praise, impossible to just slide over.

The first two verses of this psalm stopped me in my tracks.

We are in an election cycle, which you all know. There is so much verbiage being thrown around. Christians have become the terrorists, in the eyes of the Left. We are the bad guys who are trying to throw women under the bus because, finally, Roe v. Wade was undone. The rhetoric would make it seem that the Right wants to completely subjugate all women under the thumb of tyrannical misery. What people don’t stop to consider is that it is Christianity that has given women a place of honor and respect that no other religion has done. Anyway. This was not meant to be a political rant 🙂

What stopped me with these two verses is the simple fact that everything–every single thing–is God’s. He created it. He made it. He designed it for our good and our pleasure. He owns it. He established it on the firmament, the oceans, the sea and the sky.

He can destroy it all if and when He chooses.

Everything we are, everything we have, belongs to Him.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Music by John Campbell (1854)

So much has been written about this wonderful, beloved psalm that I really don’t think I have anything new to add. I memorized it when I was very young–six or seven, I think. Everyone should have this one by heart.

Posterity Shall Serve Him!

Psalm 22:30-31.

A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.

I find great comfort and hope in these closing verses of Psalm 22.

A seed: This word can be most clearly translated as posterity. There will be generations born of those who will turn to God; those who will serve Him and declare His sovereignty over all things. Of all that Jesus suffered, not one moment, not one drop of blood, will be wasted. His suffering–and His victory–counts through all of time, every generation, every nation and every people. How can we not rejoice!

My dad was a preacher. He is one of the countless millions of voices raised to proclaim that “GOD has done this amazing thing,” providing salvation, grace, and eternal joy for ALL who will trust in Him.

This is a beautiful psalm. I hope you will go back and read it now in its entirety, as I have done. It is full of hope, and meaning, and pathos, and utter joy and victory.

Down to the Dust

Psalm 22:29. “All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him: and none can keep alive his own soul.”

The vigorous, stalwart people of the earth will eat, devour, consume; they shall bow down and prostrate themselves before whatever gods they worship. No matter how successful they have been in this world, though, they will all “go down to dust.” They will bow before God. They will die. Death is the great equalizer. The powerful man’s body decays just as the helpless man’s body does.

Not one single person in this world is capable of saving his own soul. That is under the sovereignty of God; it is He Who sees the heart and knows who has trusted in Him and who has not.

Cemeteries are interesting places, aren’t they? The wealthy often have great monuments built to house their bones and the bones of their progeny. Kings and queens have often been buried with their likenesses in marble atop their coffins. I read recently that Queen Victoria of England demanded that as much of her jewelry as possible be draped around her neck and over her body in her coffin. I don’t know what she was thinking, and much supposition remains about her motives. The fact, though, is that all her jewels did nothing to preserve her body–and nothing to save her soul. No one, no matter how powerful or wealthy, can save his own soul.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Gratitude

Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful, isn’t it? I mean, really, I’m supposed to be thankful that my lower back is aging faster than the whole rest of my body? Huh.

I’m part of the first wave of baby-boomers that followed the soldiers and sailors who returned from WWII.

Boomers were born from 1946 to 1964. In 2021, our numbers were 21.16% of America’s population, second only fractionally to the Millennials (1981-1996) at 21.75%.

As we age, we develop conditions that require medical care, putting a huge burden on doctors and other medical professionals who were not expecting to be geriatric specialists 🙂

We are a goldmine for those who sell snake-oil remedies for all that ails us. Products that are supposed to do everything from melting fat to erasing wrinkles abound, especially on the internet. Beware of clickbait. It will suck you right in.

We are also targets for scammers who want to relieve us of our savings/investments, and our pocket change too, if they can. Everyone from politicians to outright con artists are standing in line with their hands out, appealing to our sentiments to take our money away from us. Think of all those pictures and videos of starving little children and puppies. What we need to find out is how much of our donations actually reach those who need them, and how much goes into the pockets of the producers of such ads. Be careful who you trust.

Well. I’ve come a little distance from back pain, haven’t I? And from gratitude. There is an answer, though, and it’s not difficult.

The Bible does say: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thess. 5:18). The thing is, no matter what we are enduring, what we are experiencing, we can–and should–always be thankful to God for His grace and mercy toward us. Death itself holds no fear for one who is focused on the Savior and knows that his last breath will take him to the Presence of God!

The process, of course, can be hard. It can be long. It can take us places to which we do not wish to go. But when we keep our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on Him, we will find the grace and peace to endure.

Here’s a song my mother loved:

He is King!

Psalm 22:28. “For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and He is the Governor among the nations.”

Thank God for this verse! It’s just what I needed after browsing through my newsfeed and seeing how broken and corrupt our government has become. It would be so easy to worry, fret, be angry and feel hopeless, wouldn’t it? But He is King! He is the Ruler over all nations, whether or not we know it and acknowledge it.

Another verse that I love: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Proverbs 21:1).

Prophecy is Being Fulfilled Today!

Psalm 22:26-27.

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek Him: Your heart shall live for ever.

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.

The same God Who was with the Son as He endured persecution and death for the salvation of all mankind is the God Who will provide for those who seek Him in their time of need: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The Father’s satisfaction and joy in the obedience of the Son provides grace, blessing, and joy for those who seek Him down through the ages (Let Your heart live forever).

These verses are prophetic, fulfilled even today as people from all around the world continue to seek God and worship Him. We can read of the thousands of people in China who are defying the ban on Christianity and meeting together to pray and learn of Him, and that’s just one example. The Word of God will stand forever, because of Jesus Christ!