Psalms 66-68 (NLT)
Discover His heart: He listens to the prayers offered from a pure heart
@ Psalm 66
“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart the Lord would not have listened.”(16-18) Every time I read this passage, my mind goes back to an occasion several years ago when this truth became a reality for me.
Sitting in a Sunday morning service where Tom was ministering, I noticed during the praise and worship time that many others were experiencing a tremendous blessing from the Lord, but I was not. I knew His presence was there by the response of the worshipers, yet I was not experiencing the fullness of His presence that comes when He inhabits our praises. I just needed to focus more on Him, I thought, but nothing helped. Finally, I cried out in my spirit, “What is it, Lord?” Immediately, the response came, “You judged.” And, of course, I knew what He meant.
The night before we attended a private function for individuals that I assumed were Christian believers, but some activities occurred that caused little red flag alerts to pop up. I know all the scriptures about our role as fruit inspectors, etc., but I was visiting a different culture with many new Christians, really knowing only a very few. In a split second, I had made a negative judgment in my heart about the commitment to the Lord of those in attendance. While I never expressed my viewpoint to anyone, I withdrew, and instead of being a source of light in their lives at that moment or in the future, I blew out my candle.
Let me just say, the youth and young adult culture today look and act dissimilar to anything we have known in our lifetime. Tattoos, piercings, rap and spin are common in the Christian culture as well as in the secular community. It really is impossible for us to be a light and compass for them if we are too busy judging them.
Well, I repented that morning, my praise reached His throne, and His incredible presence immediately flooded my space. I could say with the Psalmist, “But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” (19-20) Like the old saying, God loves us just as we are, but loves us too much to leave us like that. It wasn’t that He didn’t love me that morning, but I know He was displeased with my response the night before. It hindered the fellowship with Him I desired, and He wanted to restore our relationship.
We’ve been reading in Exodus and will continue to learn in Leviticus about the prerequisites of the priests before they entered the Holy Place. They were arduous with detailed washing, purifying, abstentions and just a long list of requirements in order to enter God’s presence. Because of Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, these rules of law are no longer necessary. However, they most definitely reveal how God desires for us to enter His presence with our praises and prayers – with clean hands and pure hearts. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”(Matthew 5:8) I want to see Him, to sense Him and to know Him, and I don’t want anything in my heart to hinder it, ever.
Moving Forward: My heart today, “A pure heart, that’s what I long for, a heart that follows hard after thee…a sweet aroma of worship that rises to your throne.” (A Pure Heart, R. Nelson)
Tomorrow @ Proverbs 2-3