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Life's greatest joy: to experience God


First off, I want to say today what a privilege it is to speak to you guys. I have known Daniel Flanagan, a member of this church, for quite a few years now. My older brother, Joseph, went through Bible College with him and they became good friends.

The title of my message today is this: "Life's Greatest Joy: To Experience God"

My message comes from a wonderful Psalm - Psalm 24. It is part of a sandwich of Psalms.

Psalm 22, 23 & 24 are the sandwich. Psalm 24 is like the outer crust of the sandwich.

The amazing thing is that each of these Psalms talks of the Messiah.

In Psalm 22 He is our suffering Saviour.

In Psalm 23 He is our Good Shepherd.

And in Psalm 24 He is our King.

I'm going to be looking at three points from Psalm 24

1) David's desire and dilemma

2) Our desire and dilemma

3) God's desire.


Now, I want to read to you first from a paraphrase version of this Psalm written by David Pawson, as he brings out the meaning quite well. You will notice that there is one word in this Psalm that sits on its own. It is the word "Selah." There has been much debate over what this word really means.

Some possible interpretations of Selah:

  • 1) Pause and think about your own life.
  • 2) Be quiet for a while and think about Him.

So lets listen to David Pawson's paraphrase version of Psalm 24.

The God of the Jews owns this planet,

with everything in it

and with everyone on it;

because he built up the land from the bed of the ocean

and sent down the water that flows in its rivers.

But who could scale his holy height?

And who could stay in his perfect presence?

Only one whose conduct was faultless

and whose character was flawless;

who had not based his life on things that don't ring true

and who had never broken his word.

Such a man would be given attention and approval

by the God who saved him.

For people like this really want to find God

and meet him face to face, as Jacob did.

(Selah - Pause for a moment and think about yourself.)

Fling wide the city gates! Open up the old citadel doors!

His magnificent Majesty is about to enter!

Who is this marvelous monarch?

The powerful God of the Jews,

the undefeated God of Israel!

Fling wide the city gates!

Open up those old citadel doors!

His magnificent Majesty is about to enter!

Who is this marvelous monarch?

The God who commands all the forces of the universe -

that's who this marvelous monarch is!

(Selah - Be quiet for a while and think about him.)

--- End of paraphrase---

GOD IS THE LANDLORD: (We are tenants)

The first couple of verses are actually very important, although I'm not going to focus on them today. Basically, they mean exactly what they say, that everything in this world is the Lord's. If we could view our possessions, land, money, etc, like that, it would change our lives. To see that at the end of the day we're not really the landlords, God is. We are the tenants. He gives and takes away according to His perfect will, but as I said, that is not what I want to focus on today.

DAVID'S VISION: (The hill, the temple & the holy place)

Now, I want you to imagine David envisioning this whole Psalm in his mind. He starts off with a broad picture of the earth, then he comes in closer to one particular hill on the earth, and closer still to the Holy Place that resides on that hill. What is this hill & holy place he is talking about? Well, as you might already know, the city of Jerusalem is built on hills and one in particular -- Mount Moriah. On the southern end of this mountain the Temple was built. In the Temple, was a place which we all know was called the Holy of Holies. It was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept -- the symbol of God's presence.

Now lets look at the 3 points.

The 1st is this:


The Psalmist, David, has all this in his mind and he wonders who could ever possibly enter that place. So, he starts to list the requirements -- a person who had clean hands and a pure heart, a person that did not live a hollow life or break his word. Such a person could enter God's presence and stay there.

Here was David's desire & dilemma: the answer to his question "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord or who may stand in His Holy Place?" was this: "Nobody." Nobody was worthy to enter that place. For 364 days of the year the Holy of Holies would remain empty, and on the one remaining day, only one person could enter. But even this was a concession by the mercies of God. The Day of Atonement was the only day in the year that someone could enter. A priest would go through a whole host of rituals before entering and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people.

So, we see his dilemma. This was a man whose one desire in life was to seek the Lord, and yet he was not holy enough to enter. He says in Psalm 27:4, another beautiful Psalm, "One thing have I 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 holy temple."

Little did David know, or perhaps he did, that about 1,000 years later, a Man would walk up that hill of Moriah walking up from the Temple Mount to the summit of the hill, a place the Romans called Golgotha. This was the very mountain many scholars believe that Abraham ascended to offer Isaac as a sacrifice for this was Mt Moriah.

This Man walked up with a piece of wood on his back, even as Isaac walked up that hill with the wood on his back. It was on this mountain that the Lord provided again, as He did with Abraham. Instead of the Ram caught with his head in the thorns, a crown of thorns was placed around the head of this man, and the sins of the world were placed on His shoulders. A Man, who was worthy to enter, who Himself knew no sin, gave Himself up as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The veil that barred people from entering the Holy of Holies, was rent in two.

There have been times in my life, where I have felt like David, especially a few years ago. I was like a yo-yo, bouncing all over the place. I didn't think I was good enough to come before God. In a certain sense, I believe I was trying to work out my own salvation. It was like I was trying to climb the hill by myself, not fully realizing that it is by grace alone that I am saved through faith in Christ. Nevertheless, I was desperately hungry to be in God's presence, and so it wasn't long until He made this clear in my mind.

My 2nd point is this:


David's dilemma was that there was no way he could ever enter the Holy of Holies. Our dilemma lies with our desire, for the way is no longer blocked as it was back then. Jesus gave Himself up that we might be able to enter in. His righteousness became our righteousness though faith. But I want to talk about desire. It says in Jeremiah 29:13:

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

What causes a person to seek God with all of his heart? Desire does. God wants us to desire Him with all of our hearts, more than anything or anyone else in the world. In a world that assaults us daily to pursue its toys, this kind of devotion is hard to maintain. However, I have come to realize this: Our very desire for God is itself a gift from God. We can do things to cultivate that desire, but we love God because He first loved us. So, if you feel like you don't have much desire for God, don't give up -- ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. Surely God will be found by you, and as it says in His Word, it will be given; you will find, and the door will be opened.

Let us be (as it says in verse 6 of this Psalm) the generation that seeks God's face like Jacob did, refusing to let go or give up until He has blessed us -- blessed us with Himself.

Today I want to say how grateful I am to my parents who earnestly tried to cultivate this desire in their children. All of us from a young age were brought up having Quiet Times daily with the Lord, where we would read a few verses of scripture and ask God what He could be saying to us from it. In fact, today my Dad is launching an internet site to promote these Quiet Time's as a tool to help us in seeking the Lord. The name of the site is www.walkingwithGod.com and I can't say enough how much this has impacted my life. I don't know where I would be if I had not had my parents loving hands guiding me over the years.

The 3rd point is this:

GOD'S DESIRE:(God's cry)

Larry Crabb in his book, "Shattered Dreams" said this:

"The highest dream that we could ever dream, the wish that if granted would make us happier than any other blessing, is to know God, to actually experience Him."

The problem is that we don't believe this idea is true. We assent to it in our heads, but we don't believe it in our hearts." Larry Crabb's statement is very enlightening: that the one thing that would make us happier than anything else is to actually experience God. However, the amazing thing is this: God desires us more than we can ever imagine.

The whole Bible is about God's desire to fellowship and have relationship with people. What did Jesus say? "If anyone thirsts, let Him come to Me and drink. I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." We see in the Bible the cry of God's heart. His call throughout history is for us to come to Him. The problem is that we don't believe this idea is true. We assent to it in our heads, but we don't believe it in our hearts. I pray that the Holy Spirit will convince you of this amazing truth, that God deeply desires us and the greatest blessing we can ever have is to experience God Himself.

I'm going to finish up today on the King of Glory, for it is Jesus that I want to exalt. Let us read it again. Jesus Christ, who has been glorified to the Highest place, wants to dwell in our hearts. Let's worship and adore Him today. Let us say like Paul, "I consider everything a loss compared to the exceeding greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord!"

The altar call today is simply this, a call for all of us to run after this King of Glory, Jesus - our Brother, who for all eternity is going to bear the marks of His suffering for us -- a reminder that we are bought with a price, purchased by His blood. He deserves our all. Let's give it to Him today. We are going to finish up with a song called, "Give Me Jesus," a song that speaks of desire & sacrifice for Him.

- by Matthew Pyle

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