Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Joy of the Cross: The answer to the Ultimate Question

Psalm 24

The Joy of the Cross: The answer to the Ultimate Question


[Ill.] A game show where questions were asked.  The host would ask, “Is that your final answer?”  It has been said, to know the answer you have to have the right question.


This Psalm may have been written for when the Ark of the Covenant was moved into Jerusalem by King David.  It has prophetic implications referring to Jesus entry into the temple.  It also has practical applications to our spiritual journey.



I.                   God is awesome!


A.                 God is the hand-on creator of the earth.


1.                  One theory of God is that he is like the clock maker who designed the earth, wound it up, and left it.


2.                  Jesus is described as the creator: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” [John 1:3]


3.                  God the Father sent Jesus the son: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” [John 1:10]


B.        God is the hand-on owner of the earth.


1.         God is actively involved today. “For God so loved the world that he gave                 his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have             eternal life.” [John 3:16]


2.                  God’s ownership and activity is based on the fact He made                         everything.


Sometimes in our spiritual journey we make little progress.  The effort seems to not pay off.  Some quit or loose heart.  Others stumble and find it difficult to get up.  Everyone at some point feels drained. 


Which brings us to the question: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?”  Spurgeon noted that the Christian life is uphill.  It takes energy and effort to overcome the gravity of sin.  What skills are needed?


David suggests four disciplines for a successful spiritual pilgrimage.



II.                How can anyone seek God?


A.        “Clean hands” [v 4a]


1.         Hands symbolize the work we do.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” [Colossians 3:23]


2.         This is holiness.  It is applied holiness in the form of behavior that conforms to the will of God.


B.        “Pure heart” [v 4a]


1.        The real test of the behavior is what comes from the heart.  “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these things come from inside and make a man unclean.”  [Mark 7:20 – 21]


2.         Motivations and thoughts, which only God can know.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You cleaned the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence... You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”  [Mathew 23:25]


C.        Undivided loyalty.  “…does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.” [v 4b]


            1.         What is an idol?


a.         An idol is a false “god.”  Sometimes a false “god” is symbolized by a physical object, such as a rock.


b.         Technically, anything that is more important than God is an idol.  It may be stuff, life-style, comfort, pleasure, etc…  There is a lack of exclusive relationship to God.


c.         The first commandment is: “You shall have no other gods before me.”  [Exodus 20:3]


            2.         Allowing what is false in our lives divides our loyalties.


a.         Swearing by what is false is taking an oath (making a promise) with no intention of doing what you said.


b.         The intent to deceive and lack of integrity undermines our spiritual efforts.


D.        Submitted will.  “Lift up your heads…” [vv 7, 9]


            1.         Prophecy meets invitation.


                        a.         The desire of Israel was to see the Messiah enter Jerusalem.


                        b.         At the same time, it is expected that we allow Jesus to enter.


2.            Here is the ironic twist: With all our effort to apply all spiritual                      disciplines (which is good) we discover that God has been outside            the gates all along… waiting for us.


a.         Through cleans hands, pure heart, undivided loyalty we       learn the discipline of a submitted will.


                        b.         We are on our spiritual journey to find that Jesus is at the                                     door.  While we have been intimidated to approach God,                                     God has taken the step toward us.



III.             The secret to achieving your goal.


A.        You must be saved.  [v 5]


            1.         Blessing is root cause for joy.  Blessing is not arbitrary.


            2.         “Vindication” means given righteousness “from God his Savior.”                                    [v 5]


                        a.         Who do we really trust for our salvation?  Do we trust                                       our own works or God, through the blood Jesus spilled on                                       the cross? 


                        b.         God takes the initiative; we respond… that response is                                      always uphill because sin, like gravity, is always trying to                                      drag us into the pit of hell.


B.        You must be seeking. [v 6]


            1.         While God has taken the steps (offered the gift of eternal life), we                         need to put some effort into our spiritual journey.  Why?


                        a.         We are more likely to appreciate the gift if we actually use                                     it after it is given.


                        b.         What good is the gift if we do not  use it?


2.                 You will pursue something/someone.


a.                   We may not always recognize what is most important.


                                    b.         Ask yourself, if your life was one item in a box… what                                                  would that item be?


“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” [1 Corinthians 2:2]


“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21]


“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection…” [Philippians 3:10a]


Hands, heart, mind (undivided loyalty), spirit (submitted will)… all for Jesus and all on the alter.

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