Posts Tagged struggle
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah (two of 74)
Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you. [NRSV]
A psalm, a hymn for worship, to be sung by the choir/praise team. Not a congregational hymn but more of a solo or at least for the choir, [psalm for *Korah]
Denote 2 of the 74 Selah references are in this one psalm/hymn.
God’s Temple is our Refuge, heart’s home
Song begins remembering the temple/tabernacle is beautiful.
My heart longs to be there, my bones ache to sing for joy and know God is alive.
Secondly, God’s house is a place where everyone is welcomed. Even the least little bird (swallow) finds a home at the temple. Who wants the swallow? Bugs, mites, disease, messy? But God’s house has room for all of us.
Bottom line of verse one: People find God at the temple and love to worship when there are in the magnificent gates. Come and find God present in the sanctuary. The ornate nature of the space reminds us of God’s presence and our belonging.
SELAH, pause to praise, breathe and find God with us.
Finding God outside the walls.
It makes us happy to know God is near, even when we are not in this place…
It is a blessing to know God is with us, even when we are not at church…
When you are at home or your place of safety, all is well. You make it through the day back to base, you can breath easy because you are thankful for all that is “home”.
Perspective is looking at the “place of comfort” when you are not there.
The Valley of Baca (Weeping)
Instead of focusing on the being lost, focus on the being at home, where you are.
Happy are those who know the way home. But what of those who have lost their way… those who don’t know where to turn? It can be a comfort, that even though we have gone astray, we know the way home, the way back. the GPS coordinates match up.
Those who know the Strength of the Lord, That’s Us.
BUT VERSE 3
WHEN ALL I HAVE IS A SHIELD
What about those who are outside or
those who have lost their way, or
those who have not heard?
Imagine hiding from the struggles, turmoil and threats in life, picture yourself out in the open, a shield is a protection but only on one side and the arrows are hurling in from every direction: money, hunger, rejection, fear, shame, sin, etc.
When we realize we are far from the walls of safety, belonging and peace.
A place between the House of God and the tents of wickedness.
Our place is between, bridging the gap.
Our Space is halfway in and halfway out.
Claiming Space in God
Happiness is : Content/at Peace/at one/ complete
Shield: temporary help, but we need to claim/reclaim temple life, when there is no temple.
Door Keepers: The greatest service is to be one of the choir members of Korahites, sing so someone will hear and find their way to God.
Happy are those who trust in God
God’s House has room for us all
Someone is living in the valley of weeping adversity
Our place is not in the temple, but out singing, knowing/remember the comfort of home, but reaching out to be shield
Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [NRSV]
- Jesus makes clear his Messiahship: “I am the gate.”
- Salvation comes by entering the ‘gate’.
- Purpose of salvation is to come and go, enter and exit.
- Mother’s Day; We are thankful for those who mother us without smothering us. Protect us without locking us in the tower. Who teach us to trust and forgive. Qualities of the a good gate keeper. But even the best mom in the world cannot provide salvation.
- Abundant life is found coming into the fold as well as going out where the thief, wolf, and searching for daily bread co-exisit.
Don’t stay in, Do follow a voice that doesn’t have your best interest.
32:22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 32:23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 32:24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 32:25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 32:26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 32:27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 32:28 Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 32:29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 32:30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 32:31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. [NRSV]
Today I welcome you to the Peniel Arena..
Welcome to the Friday Night Fights
Are you ready to Rumble?
And in this corner, weighing in at 156 lbs 5’4” is the hometown favorite wrestler, let’s hear hear it for
And in the opponents corner, clearly 240 lbs 6’8”, is the mysterious masked Mar-r-r-r-r-r-val-val
This is Howard Cosell, are ring side, I’ve got to go with the home town boy, Jacob, he has just give up to his family, children, household and animals to be here tonight. God has called and God will bless him..
Bob Castas here, Howard I don’t think you’ve seen the size of his opponents tree trunk arms and his goliath size. Jacob has heart but does he have what it takes. He’s going to need all the bless God can give.
Ding, ding, ding… The wrestling begins.
When I was about 9 years old, I was touring my new school and meeting new teachers. This stock fellow asked me I liked wrestling. Having only seen the TV version of wrestling at that time, I replied, “No sir, it’s all fake and for show.” He said, “Sorry to hear that.” And he walked away.
A few minutes later we stopped by the gym to meet the PE teacher and the same stocky man was seating on the edge of his desk, with wrestling trophies and ribbons behind him. He was the PE coach and he said we’d be learning about wrestling that semester. We will see how fake it is by Christmas.” O dear.
Back to the wrestling match..
I don’t think it was common for folks to meet strangers on the road and they break into wrestling all night long. It was a strange meeting. It was an completely unexpected series of events and it lasts until the breaking of the new day.
Its like one of the dramatic scenes in a Twilight movie where the shadowing figure chases all through the night and only injures the lead character because the sun comes up.
This is some mystery about meeting and working with God. We meet God in our darkest hours. Just ask Millard Daniels or Elaine Power this week. The prayer is that wake up the next day and find God’s blessing out of the struggle.
While none of us may have wrestled with stranger in the wilderness all through the night, we have stayed up with loved ones through many nights. We have stayed awake in a mental match of math and myth over finances and economies. We have found it impossible to sleep the night though because of few words and the power they had on someone else’s heart.
The backstory to Jacob is with his brother, Esau. Esau was the oldest of the two and it was the custom for the older of the two fraternal twins to receive the father’s inheritance and Jacob and his mother trick his father who was blind into giving Jacob the blessing.
Many years pass but Jacob lives in fear of his secrets, lies and deceptions. God wants them to meet and reconcile. [the same mission we see in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus] This fear is evidence he had been wrestling a lot longer than this one night. He sends a gift to Esau to soften him up before they meet. The gift is a collection of animals, estimating to be a tenth of his wealth. Accounting for inflation and conversion we can estimate his ‘gift’ to be about $116,000.
When is the last time someone gave you that kind of gift? Not to mention having sent the rest of his family and livestock on head. Jacob is absorbed in fear, worried, anxiety and collapse. Any he has nothing but the shirt on his back.
It is in the place of vulnerability that he meets God who wrestles with him in his darkest hour.
One of the great lessons that is seldom advertised in a stewardship campaign, but in this political climate and chaos over spending and budgets and debt ceilings, when you begin to give to God in the way Jacob models, it might continue to be a wrestle and struggle, but you will surely find God’s blessing on you.
The part of the story that is hard to swallow is at day break. Jacob is just about to get the upper hand and end this wrestling match with God and he cries out… bless me!
And God reaches out and knocks his hip out of joint and the blessing of Jacob follows: that he and his brother are stored, his family is restored, he continues to covenant of Abraham and Isaac and his generations are as numerous as the grains of sand. And one other blessing
Jacob, gets a new name. He is no longer the man he was. He no longer lived for himself, he now lived by God grace for the people of God, and his name become Israel.
And in the news, every week of every year, you hear the Jacob’s new name, Israel claiming the promises of God to this very moment.
So what do get if we all donated $116,000. You get a new name? You get to name a new building? I don’t know but I would love to see what happened…
What I do know is that when we give out of fear, requirement, guilt, or shame.. we never know the joy of the gift. But in our fear, guilt, shame and duty we have the scars of our struggles with God. The different is in the gift. In the hope of healing the relationships between us and God and with each other…
God does not take away the struggle when we give, but he meets us in that struggle and will leave us reminders when we learn the lessons that God is in charge, God is with us always, and God desires to do whatever it takes to heal the relationship. Even if it leaves evidence of the struggle along the way.