21 February 2008

"Blessed Be"--Those who dwell in Your house (Psalm 84:4; Psalm 15)

The theme for today’s message is Psalm 84:4Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising You. We're usually pretty careful about who we let in our house. If you know the person's pretty decent, you probably won't have a problem letting them in. You may let someone in that you're a little wary about, but you'll give them a chance. Then there's the folks you shut the door and throw the deadbolt. Ain't no way in the world you're staying with me.

Who is it that “dwells in the house of the LORD?” The answer to that is found in Psalm 15. This Psalm is not necessarily a list of “things to do” in order to be saved. It is more like a list of qualities a saved person will possess. It’s kinda like answering the question, “What does a saved person look like?”
Psalm 15:1-5—LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
All these things point to a person who dwells in the house of the LORD and is, therefore, truly “Blessed.”

He that walketh uprightly. Or, “he who walks in integrity.” You’ve probably heard the phrase “their walk don’t match their talk?” If there is one thing a Christian must have it’s integrity. How many of us have heard someone say, “I don’t go to church no more. Nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.” It may take years to bring someone to Christ. It can take 5 seconds to drive them away. If we are to dwell in God’s holy hill, our lives have to match our words. 2nd Corinthians 3:2-3You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. Think about that. We are epistles of Christ, and every day the world is reading us, to see if we are true or not, and judging Christ according to our words and actions.

…and worketh righteousness. The whole theme of James 2 is living out our faith. James 2:18--You say you have faith? Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works. We do not do good works in order to be saved, but because we are saved. If a child gets straight A's, that means they're smart. They do not become smart by getting straight A's. 1st John 3:7Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as [Christ] is righteous. If we are righteous, we will do righteous works. We do not become righteous by doing good works. Even if the only thing you are called to do is to raise godly children, if you are dwelling in His tabernacle, you will seek to do that every day.

…and speaketh the truth in his heart. In other words, “they mean what they say.” They won't say one thing to your face, then turn around and think to themselves, “Rotten old so-and-so.” But it can also mean this: That they hear the word of God (Romans 10:15), they take it into their heart and they meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Ever get a song stuck in your head, and you can't get it out? And doggone if it isn't some song that you just don’t want in there? Can't be “Amazing Grace,” or “How Great Thou Art.” The man who “meditates on the Law of the LORD day and night” has the word of God in their mind all the time, and they repeat it to themselves over and over again.

He that backbiteth not with his tongue. To be a “talebearer.” Slander, gossip. How many of us like to hear someone gossip? It has got to be the most worthless and unuseful waste of time. Ever read Snuffy Smith? Loweezy and Elviney are always at the back fence jest a-waitin' for that next bit of gossip. Some people go around, “Pssst! Hey, did you hear about so-and-so? Yeah, they been sleeping with what’s-his-name! Of course it’s true! My sister’s boyfriend’s daughter’s hairdresser's secretary said so!” Y’all are feelin’ me, ain't ya! You know someone like that!
Proverbs 11:13A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Proverbs 18:8The words of a talebearer are like wounds that go into the innermost parts of the belly.
You want to shoot someone and make sure they suffer a long, painful death, where do you hit them? Right in the gut. They’ll lie on that table in the ER for hours; doctors will be digging around trying to find the bullet. They’ll just be bleeding to death the whole time.
Proverbs 20:19He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore do not associate with him that flattereth with his lips.

“Backbite” is an interesting word. It can also be used as a military term that means “to examine the state of an enemy's army or camp, or the ground for military operations." You are basically looking at that person you're talking about as an enemy, and you're trying to get all the info you can so you can go and tell others.

A Christian doesn’t do that. In 1st Corinthians 13:5-6, it says that love Doth not behave itself unseemly…thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. A Christian does not spy around and try to discover the weaknesses in other people so they can go around spreading rumors and gossip about them. In fact, when a Christian does discover that someone has a weakness, they will do what they can to help that person. 1st Peter 4:8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. What that means is, if someone confides in you that they’ve given in to some temptation, you don’t go around blabbing it to everybody you see. In fact, the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. He ain't just talking about cussin’. Gossip, tale bearing, slander—that’s all “corrupt communication,” and the person who dwells in God’s tabernacle will not engage in it.

…nor doeth evil to his neighbor. Boy, we could go on and on about this one. Have you ever noticed that many times, the people we get along with the worst are the people we live closest to? We’ll go out of our way to be nice to strangers, then turn around and talk about our neighbor like he was a dog. When I was growing up, my dad was not exactly the most refined gentleman on the planet. I don’t think the man wore a suit twice in his life—the day he married my mom, and the day we buried her. Our next-door neighbor, on the other hand—we could never have been good enough to live next to these folks. But we could go over to my dad’s friends that lived across the field and down the road, and they got along just fine. But I don’t think in all of the 18 years I lived in that house that we ever had a get-together between the two families.

What is the second commandment? We are to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second IS LIKE IT. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? Everybody that is living. Every person we meet is our neighbor. And we are to love them as we love ourselves. As Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, in Luke 10:36-37, Jesus asks the Pharisee, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." In other words, your neighbor, whom you are to love as yourself, is that person who does not look like you, talk like you.

In some places, there are folks who go to church 8 days a week and twice on Sundays. But they love to throw around the N-word. Confession time. When I was about 5—and I grew up in upstate New York—I learned that that was just the word you used to describe black folks. They were—you know. Even after I knew better, there were times in my life I had very racist thoughts. There was even a time I almost joined the Aryan Nation. By the grace of God I have not been that man for a long, long time. I’m gonna tell ya something right now, with the Holy Word of God as my witness. Anyone who uses the n-word—and I think you know what word I’m talking about—anyone who uses that word, knowing what it means, is not a Christian. I dare say, they are not saved.

Don’t believe me? Listen to the Word of God, spoken through the apostle John.
1st John 2:9-11He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
1st John 3:14-15We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Listen to these words of our Lord, as recorded by the apostle Matthew
Matthew 5:22"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca!" shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, 'Thou fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire."

That word, “Raca” was “a term of reproach used among the Jews in the time of Christ.” and lest you think “brother” is limited to your blood kin or even just “brothers in Christ”—uh-uh. The term “brother” can refer to anyone “having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman; any fellow or man.” Jesus cleared up this distinction when He visited with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. When He told us the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Phillip cleared it up when he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Paul cleared it up when he wrote, in Galatians 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And finally, these words of John in the Revelation 5:9, And they sung a new song, saying…thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. How can someone say they are dwelling in God’s holy hill when they hate their neighbor?

…In whose eyes a vile person is despised; but he honoreth them that fear the LORD. If you are reading from a KJV, this is not a misprint, the word is “contemned.” It is not quite the same as “condemned.” It means “despise” or “have a low opinion of.” What kind of person should we "have a low opinion of?" There is just so much filth out there. And we don’t even have to leave our homes to find it. Fact of the matter is, it finds us! But check out these words of King David in Psalm 101. How many times do we see Christians compromising with the world? They go to church, they know the word of God, yet they listen to music that would make you sick to your stomach. Or they watch TV shows that mock God. But one sign of a person who dwells in God’s tabernacle is they despise the works of the wicked.

…but he honoreth them that fear the LORD. A couple weeks ago they held a celebration of idolatry, wickedness, and sin. The called it "The Grammy Awards." And who won most of those awards? A drug addict. A woman who is currently in drug rehab, and her husband is in jail. And don’t even get me started on Kanye West, Jay-Z.... These are people whose works we are to despise. Yet how many times I have seen parents who let their kids listen to this trash because, “Well, all their friends listen to it, and I want my kids to fit in.” But we are not to “fit in” with this world. We are to be different from this world. When the world sees so many churches compromising the word of God, that tells them that Jesus is just something they tack onto their lives. They see Him as nothing more than fire insurance, or a “Get out of Hell free” card.

We should be honoring those who fear the LORD. We should give the greatest heed to what has been written by the men whom God used to write down His word. Listen to what the 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote about these words of David:

A sinner in a gold chain and silken robes is no more to be compared with a saint in rags than a [cheap candle] in a silver candlestick with the sun behind a cloud.

In other words, the Christian who lives underneath the Broadway viaduct is far greater in the whole scheme of things than those whose wealth and fame comes from their wickedness.

He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. Boy, this is a tough one. Ever make a promise to someone, and then it turns out later on that well, it might cost us a bit more than we thought? We should always be careful about promising too much. A good example of this is in Joshua 9. Many of Israel’s enemies heard of their victories, and rather then face certain defeat, they disguised themselves as poor nomads. Joshua 9:6, 14-16, 20
And they went to Joshua…and said unto him…We be come from a far country: now therefore make a covenant with us…And the men took of their provisions, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation swore unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their enemies, and that they dwelt among them. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them… we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we swore unto them.
Boy, talk about feeling foolish! This is what it means in the Ten Commandments when it says Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD in vain. They swore an oath without thinking, without praying about it. And it wound up coming back upon them. But, they made the promise; they could not go back on it. Anybody have a story about something similar? This is why we need to be very careful about making promises.

He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. Loan sharks. Anybody know one? We all know one. You know, Those places that hold your $200 check until payday, and they only charge 3000% interest. To be quite honest, that’s the kind of thing it’s talking about here. Now, what exactly usury is, that’s up for debate. I think a person knows when they are taking advantage of someone by charging interest that is outrageously high. As far as taking reward against the innocent, this is talking about taking a bribe to make sure an innocent person takes the rap for a crime. Or paying someone to be a false witness. “Hey, I'll give ya $500 if you testify you saw the defendant at the crime scene.”

Anyone who can honestly say that these qualities describe their life, they shall never be moved. They will dwell in the house of the LORD. They shall abide in His holy hill. And they will be called “blessed.” Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, O LORD.

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