One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. Psalm 27:4 NIV
David knew all about anxiety, with his life and reputation under threat even from those close to him. But he also knew God and His goodness. He knew where to find peace. We are better equipped to practice the presence of God, even in our busy lives — we have the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will always lead us to finds heaven’s perspective on our situation.
Life is stressful, unpredictable, full of anxiety — any casual conversation will settle into this theme at some point. At a time of objective uncertainties — an epidemic which is still glaring up, no certainty about future protection and no actual cure, economic collapse and no roadmap for recovery — there is plenty to be anxious about. But David, whose life and reputation was continually threatened, had a way of regaining personal security.
David, writing this poem, was concerned with security. He became idolised by Jews as their greatest and most God-fearing king, which is partly why it was so significant that the Messiah was of David’s line.
David, we could say, was Israel’s best king but he had the worst enemies, and some of them were in his own court! Security was important to a man who was constantly under threat of being murdered, physically or verbally.
Security in God’s will
And for David, security was first and foremost about being close to God, in His will and tracking His guidance.
The “one thing” for Him is “dwelling in the house of the Lord”. So how does that translate? Becoming a cathedral verger?
For David, the place of God’s presence was the tabernacle. He didn’t get to build the actual temple — Solomon did. But under the Old Covenant, the sense of place was important. The Samaritan woman took issue with Jesus about which mountain was the place to offer God worship — Mt Gerazim for the Samaritans, Mt Zion for the Jews.
In Christianity it is a quite an extreme ‘high church’ view to see a church building as the place of the presence of God. Those who have come into a personal relationship with God through receiving Jesus have a freedom to experience God through their personal relationship, and their reading of His word. That’s any place, any time, and no need for an intermediary.
We live in the presence and awareness of God through having given our lives to the One who gave His life for us — Jesus.
We can live in the presence of the Lord, to be aware of the beauty of the Lord, and to seek Him by asking the Holy Spirit to be our connection with heaven. And this is our security.
The context of David’s words are full of “the day of trouble” with armies besieging, the wicked advancing, and false witnesses making malicious accusations. There were plenty of people around to give him a rough ride! When we feel insecure, it is that same feeling of being surrounded, of not being in a safe place.
David knew God was for him
But David knew that God was bigger, and he knew that God was for him. He had God’s covenant promises. He knew His call — it had been delayed, opposed, with frequent attempts on his life, before the actual coronation. His security was knowing God in His life and listening to Him, not the rattling spears of his enemies.
We can translate that into our world. Our God is the same faithful God. It’s easier for us to draw close to Him because of Jesus. If we draw near to Him, He draws close to us and reassures us that we a re His.
Perhaps it’s a bit more difficult for us to hear His voice, with all the noise and distractions of life, broadcasts, media, travelling and general busyness — but that is an area we can control. We can create some quiet, give God some space. It is up to us to seek Him, to be living in His presence and seeking the true perspective which the Holy Spirit shows us.
That’s God’s remedy for anxiety, and there’s no kind of lockdown that can keep us from that.
The good news is that we can ask Jesus into our heart and life and make that transition to knowing God personally. We don’t have to find Him in His temple because we ourselves become a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, I feel assaulted by life, and fear and anxieties keep pressing in.
But I come to You in Jesus and I ask You this: that I might draw close to You, to know Your presence and gain Your true perspective.
Thank You so much that I have privileged access to You at any time, and I have Your promises all the time.Remind me again, as I regard Your beauty, Your kindness — and Your wisdom. Amen.
Design a way that works for you, to create some ‘holy space’ when you can talk to God and He can talk to you.
Tell Him about your two or three biggest anxieties right now. Resolve that during the day, you are going to be mindful of what He may be saying to you, or showing you, about them
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place. Psalm 118:5 NIV
Q. Does God care? Is He there for me?
A. There’s an old saying, which probably originated in Yorkshire, along the lines of: “If you don’t ask, you’ll never get owt”…
…The so-called Lord’s Prayer, actually the model for disciples to pray, has that kind of “tell it like it is” Yorkshire flavour, mixing declarations, “Thy kingdom come…” with some pretty direct asking in “Give us this day our daily bread“. Luke’s version of the prayer1 looks like a prayer you pray as it is: “When you pray, say….” while Matthew’s2 looks more like an outline of headings for our own expressions of prayer. Either way, it assumes a robust relationship with the One addressed with familiarity as “Father”.
This challenges the person who says (and who hasn’t, at some time), “I don’t pray because God never listens to me – He doesn’t answer.”
In our logic, those two statements are joined into one.
And answers seldom come, as it were, by return post, and we discount what doesn’t exactly fit with what we asked.
Yet we allow this in the rest of life. Politicians who have come under attack by journalists at the recent televised briefings commonly give a the answer they want to give, or at least a more nuanced response, to the questioner seeking to score points and get an angle for the story. We may not like the refusal to be drawn into a black and white argument but we accept that there is a bigger picture and that reality has many shades and soft edges.
The point behind the psalmist’s verse is about the first response to difficulty, the “what” that follows the “when”.
Our version would be more like: “When I was hard pressed, I did everything I knew to fix it. And when I couldn’t, I cried to the Lord.”
That puts more faith on our ability, and not very much faith or expectation on God as a “might as well” direction to try. How would you respond to such an approach.
Fortunately God, whose character in a word is merciful, is not too put off off by our behaviour (following the Yorkshire theme) being “daft”.
But He does expect us to come to Him out of some kind of relationship, prepared to trust and poised to expect. And when hard pressed, to let Him know all about it — first.
Lord, forgive me to placing more reliance on myself than on You. Forgive me for blaming You when I didn’t recognise what you were doing in a situation — or see the bigger picture of the spiritual battle, and where the discouragement was coming from.
Father, I turn to You again, and rely on You first. You may show me what I must do to be part of the answer to my prayer, but I share with You how I am being squeezed and how it feels to be hemmed in, this ‘no through road’ with nowhere I can see to get through or to turn.
You have the bigger picture and I say again “Your kingdom come”. You can and will bring me into that more spacious place. I trust You for that — and thank You in Jesus for hearing me again. Amen.
An important ‘Maundy Thursday’ verse is the promise Jesus made just after the Last Supper: “No, I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you.” John 14:18 NLT
Let’s put that promise together with an older, enduring promise and encouragement to “Wait for the Lord”. This is is a more active and positive kind of waiting than it sounds at first:
13-14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. No, I will not abandon you as orphans — I will come to you. Psalm 27:13 NIV, John 14:18 NLT
“I must… increase my trust.’
“Wait” means to trust that what is awaited, will take place. Our local 461 bus service is known for its friendliness – and reliability. To wait, in this sense, is to be in a positive attitude about the bus still appearing round the corner and picking me up, even though it feels late – even abandoned.
“Wait” means to be ready for action — as the young girls were to be ready with lamps burning bright, expecting at any minute the bridegroom’s arrival (also a story from this season). We are charged with being ready for the Lord’s coming. It might be His final coming, heralding the end time. It might be His ‘coming through’ in response to the prayer. It might be His fresh word to us at this time. His covenant responsibility is — to do the coming. Ours — is to do the waiting in expectation.
“Wait” means to be thanking, not asking.Asking for the bus to arrive — or for what is needed — is not wrong unless we cannot move on from asking. Asking starts at the point of our anxiety that it might not. Thanking God, and raising Him for His covenant faithfulness “I will never leave you or forsake you” — starts at a different point. “Wait” means a response for who the Lord is, which is praise. It is an intentional choice NOT to respond to the circumstance — what we feel the Lord has or hasn’t done, recognising or limited perspective.
In the spiritual realm there can be many hold-ups and frustrations. We have an enemy who is intent in spoiling God’s goodness, causing us discouragement and provoking us into sin by blaming God, when all the time the problem was on our side. WE didn’t pray. We didn’t wait. We didn’t exercise faith. We lapsed into ‘poor me’ when the psalmist encouragement to “wait” would be to praise God who has heard my prayer.
“Wait for the Lord” is a choice to believe, and live as one trusting the Lord’s promise never to fail us or abandon us, but to be with us and come to us.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord… who will never fail you… never abandon you.” Psalm 27:14 and Hebrews 13:5
Prayer of blessing especially for small businesses and owners
Lord God, You are good, always working Your good purposes out above and beyond the difficulties that are confronting us. You tell us that a grain of faith is effective against a difficulty that seems the size of a mountain. So we come before You today on behalf of all in cash flow difficulty while their businesses are on hold or restricted.
We bless with Your blessing our neighbourhood businesses, our friends’ businesses, the businesses we rely on and that serve our community. We say with them, that “Yours is the greatness… because everything in heaven and earth is Yours… wealth and honour come from You… In Your hands are strength to give strength.”
We bless with Your strength our small businesses and those who serve through them.We bless them with different ways of operating, and new sources of income, known to You if not yet known to us.
May they, together with everyone, be prompted to turn to You and acknowledge You as helper and provider: “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord…“
On earth we are constantly hearing bad news but we choose to tune in to heaven’s channel, because Your word to us always brings good news of Your good intentions, and we choose to be influenced by what You say.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Here’s a Bible study on the quotations above. God has given us His enduring word, the Bible. He also speaks His ‘now’ word to us, and it usually comes through what we already on the record, the Bible.