SHEAR BEAUTY

Ps.27:4 – One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

If you stop and think carefully about the wording of today’s verse it gives us a real glimpse into the secret of David’s spiritual life. What is the key word in this verse? It is absolutely the word beauty. David saw something in the Lord that most people miss. He saw the goodness of the Lord which David called beauty. Why is it that others couldn’t see what David saw? Why can’t people today see the loveliness of Christ? The answer is exactly the same. Our fallen, sinful condition has blinded our eyes to the beauty of the Lord. It is the influence of The Holy Spirit on us that causes us to even see the beauty of Christ. David had been effected deeply from his youth by the anointing that had fallen upon him. Jonathan Edwards spoke about the beauty of Christ constantly in his sermons and his writings. Dane Ortlund talks about the beauty of the Lord in Jonathan Edwards writings.

“God is the only place true beauty is found. There simply is nowhere else and no one else who has it. All true beauty in the universe is found either in God himself or in the direct reflection of God…..What a cold underground spring is to a mountain lake, God is to all real beauty in the universe. Edwards uses this very image: God is “the foundation and fountain of all being and all beauty….”

Here is a snippet from Edwards himself on the beauty of the Lord.

“It is a sight of the divine beauty of Christ, that bows the wills, and draws the hearts of men. A sight of the greatness of God in his attributes, may overwhelm men, and be more than they can endure; but the enmity and opposition of the heart, may remain in its full strength, and the

will remain inflexible; whereas, one glimpse of the moral and spiritual glory of God, and supreme amiableness of Jesus Christ, shining into the heart, overcomes and abolishes this opposition, and inclines the soul to Christ, as it were, by an omnipotent power.”

One glimpse, literally one glimpse, of the unparalleled beauty that emanates from Christ will convince you. You too will sing with David, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple”.

WAITING ON THE LORD

Psa. 27:14 Wait for the LORD;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the LORD!

One of my big challenges throughout my Christian experience has been waiting on the Lord. I have a natural tendency, like many of us, to take matters into my own hands. How many times do I have to be reminded that the Lord doesn’t need my help? Taking what we perceive as the Lord’s work into our own hands can be quite deceptive. We mask our own motives behind a spiritual facade. How do I know? I have been guilty too many times. Waiting on the Lord brings us to a place of total dependency on the Lord, gives us greater clarity, and makes room for His power and glory to be displayed. As Isaiah says, “they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on waiting on the Lord.

“Wait on the Lord. How often this is said in the Bible; how little understood! It is what the old monk called the “practice of the presence of God”. It is the habit of prayer. It is the continual communion that not only asks, but receives. It is this that renews our strength until we “mount up with wings as eagles, run and are not weary, walk and are not faint.” Our hearts are too limited to take in His fullness at a single breath. We must live in the atmosphere of His presence till we absorb His very life. This is the secret of spiritual depth and rest, of power and fullness, of love and prayer, of hope and holy usefulness. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord is how my calling to New Orleans was confirmed to me so many years ago. I was zealous for foreign missions. I had built my zeal reading about missionaries like Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd, Jim Elliot, and David Brainerd. I wanted to make my mark on the nations. As I was preparing to go, the Lord spoke to me by various means all saying the same thing, “Be still and know that I am God”. As I reluctantly waited on clarity from the Lord His direction became crystal clear, I was to return to my home in New Orleans. Yes, I was called as a missionary; a missionary to the city of New Orleans.

PURE ENJOYMENT

Psa.27:4 – One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

There are many deflections that keep people from enjoying the power and purity of worship. You ever wonder why many folks show up after the “singing” part of the service in time for the preaching? Maybe that would stem from not having a revelation or appreciation of what worship is. It is not just a take it or leave it preliminary to the main event. Worship is the main event. Think about what heaven would be like without worship; unthinkable. Another misconception is that worship is some kind of a key to bring God’s blessings into our lives. Worship is not a key to anything. Worship is simply our response to greatness. We can know a lot about ourselves by our attitude about worship. Here is how John Piper describes worship.

“Now what does this imply about the feast of worship? Surprisingly, it implies that worship is an end in itself. We do not eat the feast of worship as a means to anything else. Happiness in God is the end of all our seeking. Nothing beyond it can be sought as a higher goal. John Calvin put it like this: “If God contains the fullness of all good things in himself like an inexhaustible fountain, nothing beyond him is to be sought by those who strike after the highest good and all the elements of happiness. “If what transforms outward ritual into authentic worship is the quickening of the heart’s affections, then true worship cannot be performed as a means to some other experience. Feelings are not like that. Genuine feelings of the heart cannot be manufactured as stepping stones to something else.”

There used to be a television preacher that would say that the singing and the choir were not for him, he didn’t need preliminaries. He was ready. That is the problem in many churches, worship is an afterthought. That’s one of the first things that change when the Lord walks into the room. He becomes everything and our only response can be to worship His greatness. So I agree with Piper, worship is not a means to anything else, worship is an end in itself. Worship is the act of enjoying God.

PASSION

Psa. 27:4 – One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

All of us want to have passion about something, it’s just not often we choose the right things to feel strongly about. We are excited about cars, clothes, food, and football but often have lukewarm feelings about spiritual things. There is a reason for that; our nature is corrupted and without the intervention of grace the most excellent things are unappealing to us; unless or until…. that is until we see beauty and excellency for ourselves. The beauty of God becomes like a blinding light once the blinders come off of our eyes. Suddenly we find ourselves engrossed in the beauty of God. Here is David Brainerd’s moment of seeing beauty for himself.

“I stood still, wondered, and admired! I knew that I never had seen before anything comparable to it for excellency and beauty; it was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had of God, or things divine. I had no particular apprehension of any one Person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be divine glory. My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that He should be God over all forever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was ever swallowed up in Him…….I felt myself in a new world, and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do.”

So what is that turns your a switch on? You can tell a lot about your spiritual condition by what excites you. If you are dull to spiritual things what can be done about it? I guess to find the answer we need to go to David Brainerd’s mentor, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards said that our affections are effected by what we behold. He would say, “put yourself in the place of spiritual allurement”. Beholding Christ in the written word, hearing Christ centered messages, and pressing into worship is the place where it happens. In His presence you too can find true passion beholding the beauty of the Lord.

SHELTERED

Psa. 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

David knew about trouble. He had faced a bear, a giant called Goliath, the pagan Philistines, the spears of an angry king, as well as the betrayal of a son. He had survived and prospered against unthinkable odds. David had learned about sure protection better than skill, weapons, or even a trained army can offer, he found protection in the presence of the Lord. For David, God was not a concept, doctrine, or a creed; He was an amazing person. He had called him, empowered him, sustained him, and directed him all his life. Just as an army surrounds their king in times of battle, the Lord surrounds His people. Here are some insights from Charles Spurgeon on this verse.

“For in the time of trouble, that needy time, that time when others forsake me, he shall hide me in his pavilion: he shall give me the best of shelter in the worst of danger. The royal pavilion was erected in the centre of the army, and around it all the mighty men kept guard at all hours; thus in that divine sovereignty which almighty power is sworn to maintain, the believer peacefully is hidden, hidden not by himself furtively, but by the king, who hospitably entertains him. In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. Sacrifice aids sovereignty in screening the elect from harm. No one of old dared to enter the most holy place on pain of death; and if the Lord has hidden his people there, what foe shall venture to molest them? He shall set me up upon a rock. Immutability, eternity, and infinite power here come to the aid of sovereignty and sacrifice. How blessed is the standing of the man whom God himself sets on high above his foes, upon an impregnable rock which never can be stormed!”

What kind of giant are you facing? Or maybe one of the ‘kings’ of this world is trying to chase you down. Or maybe the Philistines are nipping at your heels; it makes no difference. He will hide you in the day of trouble, He will shelter you in His pavilion. Call out to the Lord shout and sing like David, His pavilion is here and available to you.

ONLY ONE THING

Psa. 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.

It seems like the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I appreciate David’s focus. In the midst of unthinkable adversity and in enjoying lavish abundance and success he had come to consistent faith in God. His focus is best described and understood in this one verse. David was ultimately about ‘one thing’. Until you understand this, it is impossible to relate to or even begin to comprehend David. He had first tasted this ‘one thing’ when Samuel anointed him with oil. The Spirit of the Lord rush upon David and remained upon him. He had tasted something that would ultimately define his life. He learned the value of this ‘one thing’ in those lonely years in exile, spending years singing out to the Lord in his cave. After he became king, he continued this pursuit. What a picture is painted as we see David ushering the ark of the covenant, the place of God’s manifest glory, into Jerusalem. David was dancing with all his might in the presence of the glory of the Lord unaffected by the attitude of others who had no value for that ‘one thing’. Here are some beautiful thoughts from Daniel Wilcox who lived in 1676-1733.
“O my soul, what sights have I seen in the house of God! what provisions have I tasted! what entertainments have I had! what enlargements in prayer, and answers thereto! what impression under his word, what entertainment at his table, as he has sometimes brought me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me has been love! And though I cannot, it may be, say so much of this as some others; yet what I have found, I cannot but remember with thankfulness, and desire more; and as this was in the house of God, here would I still desire to dwell.”
What insights, what provisions, what enlargements in prayer, what impressions from His word, and what entertainments at His table; these can only be the words of someone who had tasted of the ‘one thing’. This ‘one thing’ is bigger than our enemies, more powerful than sickness, greater than our debt, and stronger than death. This is the one thing we dare not live our life without.

PLEASE CHRISTMAS DON’T BE LATE

Psa. 27:14 Wait on the LORD;

Be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Do you remember counting the days until Christmas as a child? It seems like the Chipmunks captured that whole drama, “I can hardly stand to wait. Please Christmas don’t be late”. I wonder if there is something spiritual about that joyful anticipation for Christmas as a child? I think maybe there is. All of us are waiting, we are waiting for the unseen and the unknown. We are all waiting on God. Just as Israel had been waiting for a Savior for hundreds of years when Christ finally appeared, we are waiting again. We are waiting on the coming kingdom. We may not be totally in touch with that but inside of all of us is a longing; we are longing for the ‘kingdom come’. Here is an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s book on waiting for God. It is followed by one of our beloved Christmas hymns.

“God is not slow. He is merciful. He has come in the person of Christ, extending His open arms to all. Every day in which He waits to blast the final trumpet is a day of extended grace. It is a day for more people to hear of His love, for others to trust in His promise, for more people to forsake evil ways, for you to put your hope in Jesus.

The day is coming when sin will be done away with and the earth will be restored to its perfect fullness. But God is patient, waiting for all those He loves to find their way to Him. But, make no mistake. God is coming. The enemy will be cast out. All things will be made new.”

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,

Who orderest all things mightily;

To us the path of knowledge show,

And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”

So like the Chipmunks, we are waiting. We are waiting for redemption to be on full display. We are waiting for the end of poverty, and sickness and loneliness. We are waiting for His promises to be fully realized. We are waiting for the promise of Christmas. “I can hardly stand to wait. Please Christmas don’t be late”.

REAL BEAUTY

REAL BEAUTY

Psa. 27:4 ¶ One thing have I asked of the LORD,

that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

and to inquire in his temple.

Following your heart can be quite confusing. Sometimes our heart can be quite deceiving, especially to ourselves. Having our heart changed is at the very center of what the Christian life is all about. How can we change our heart? Actually it is quite simple and hard at the same time. It is simple because we are to follow what we love. It is hard for the same reasons, we often love the wrong things. That is where the power of the gospel comes in. Our heart is changed, the very fabric of what we love, by the power of God’s love. He loves us into this new life of obedience. Here is how Dane Ortlund explains it in his book about the preaching of Jonathan Edwards.

“The heart of obedience is not summoning the will to do what it loathes. Rather, obedience is fruit- it is the outward manifestation of inward health. We naturally blossom because we are planted in the soil of the gospel with the sun of divine grace shining upon us. Obedience does not come out of a new raw power to now do what we don’t want to do; obedience comes because we now delight to do what we hated before. To obey is thus not to mechanically force our behavior into line with God’s moral law so much as it is living out a new delight in God. Burgeoning bank accounts, lavish vacations, orgasmic pleasure, celebrity-like fame; such things have lost their luster. We have seen real beauty.”

Edwards also spoke about the role beauty plays in the changing of our heart.

Holiness is a most beautiful and lovely thing. We drink in strange notions of holiness from our childhood, as if it were a melancholy, [morose, sour,] and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. ‘Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties; ’tis a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth (this world is like mire and filth and defilement, to that soul which is sanctified); ’tis of a sweet, pleasant, charming, lovely, amiable, delightful, serene, calm, and still nature;”

So yeah, it does pay to follow our heart after our heart has tasted true beauty for itself. Once that happens, like David, your life will become fixated on the beauty of God.

YIELD

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

PSALM 27:4

Yield!!! I was in a revival service in 1994 and the preacher kept yelling out ‘YIELD’. Looking back at that season in my life (and the body of Christ for whatever that’s worth) this was a one word prophesy to me; to us. YIELD!!! Yeah, He’s talking to you. Control is one of the biggest issues in all of our lives. Christianity isn’t you becoming a better you, it’s about yielding to the Lord. It is about surrendering control of everything; your heart, your desires, your body, your tongue, your plans. It is about yielding control to our God. But here is the catch (or the blessing depending how you look at it), He changes the very fabric of our being starting with our will or desires. We began to want different things and we begin to love different things. Here is Andrew Murray talking about this change.

“When God’s desire becomes our desire, these words also become our words: to dwell in His house, to gaze upon His beauty, and to seek Him in His temple. The more we realize God’s desire to give rest and peace in our heart, and the more our desire is quickened to dwell with Him and behold His beauty, the more the spirit of intercession will grow upon us to claim all that God has promised in His New Covenant.

We will start thinking more of our church and country, home and school. We will think of saved ones and their need, or the unsaved and the dangers that threaten them. We will think of God’s desire to find His home and His rest in the hearts of men. All thoughts of our weakness and unworthiness will be swallowed up in the wonderful assurance that He gave to His children: “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:14).”

Wow! Actually what Murray is describing is the fruit of salvation. Salvation of the soul is more than forgiveness of sins, it is also regeneration and reformation. Everything is changed. So how can someone join in with David singing,”One thing have I desired of the Lord”. The one thing is gazing on God’s beauty. You have to be saved to notice His beauty, you have to yield to want it.

BEAUTIFUL VIEW

Psa. 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. We all have our own versions of beauty, a lot of it depends on personal taste. There are some things I think of as especially beautiful. For example, I remember looking out of my window at night flying from London to Nairobi and having my breath taken away by the beauty of the Alps. The full moon, a clear night, and snow covered mountains from 36,000 feet were quite a sight. Another version of beauty for me was found at the Orsay Museum in Paris, I stood awestruck looking at the artwork of Monet. The author of all beauty is The Lord, He also is enthralled with beauty, caught up in beholding His own glory in His beloved Son. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes God enjoying His own beauty.

“God is happy in beholding the brightness of His own glory; but this glory He beholds in beholding His Son, whom, we are told, is the brightness of His glory, the express image of His Person (Hebrews 1:3). In beholding this perfect, express image, He has an infinitely more perfect view of Himself and the brightness of His own glory that a man has who beholds his own image in a glass. And thus is that God loves and delights in Himself, in that infinite and eternal delight that is between the Father and the Son. And because God’s happiness thus consists in the communion of the Persons of the Trinity, and the love and delight of the Father and the Son in each other, hence the apostle, when speaking of the special happiness of Christians, and how that therein they partake of the happiness of God, mentions the Persons of the Trinity and says, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

What is your version of beauty? Whether it is a mountaintop view, the crashing waves of the ocean, a towering home run, or the face of a newborn child; all of these versions of beauty become shadows in the blazing light of beauty found in the face of Jesus Christ. Once you have glimpsed His glory you will know why David had to sing. David was stopped in his tracks by beauty and could not help himself, “One thing have I desired of The Lord and that will I seek after that I may dwell in the house of The Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of The Lord”.