Tuesday, 16 June 2020
How I miss the church!
Pastor Isaac Yim
Since 18 March 2020, the Malaysian government has introduced the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hitherto, places of worship are still out of bounds. During the lockdown, I had the privilege of calling many of our church members on the phone. Quite a few asked me: “When can we get back to church?”.
I believe that deep inside us, we all long to be in church to worship God together. Psalm 84, describes the longing of the Psalmist to being in the Courts of The Lord.
The Outline of Psalm 84
1. Longing for God. Psalm 84:1-4
2. Traveling to God. Psalm 84:5-9
3. In the presence of God. Psalm 84:10-12
How do we enter to worship the Lord? Our expectations affect our worship experience. For some worship is like going to a funeral. They say that the worship is not lively, that the preacher is long-winded. But what do we desire when we come into the presence of the Lord? If you come expecting the church to be boring, it will be boring. On the other hand, if we come with excitement expecting God to speak to us and to have a fresh encounter with Him, we get a sense of the Holy presence of the Holy Spirit and more.
Today’s scripture passage shows us that the psalmist longs to be in the lovely dwelling place of God – the temple. His heart bursts out in joyful songs of praise and worship. Worship involves the total being of a person. “My soul” means deep down inside, at the very depths of one’s being, even the heart, and body, they cry out in fellowship with the living God (Psa. 84:1-2).
Not only is the place of worship beautiful, but it is a restful and peaceful place to be. The Psalmist notes that the sparrow builds its nest near the altar. The young ones are in the nest (Psa. 84:3). The altar is a place where dead animals are burnt as an offering to God. Amid this death and sacrifice, the sparrows and their little chicks were safe, provided, protected and free from all harm.
What amazing peace that we can have when we stay close to the heart of God! The world may fall apart, but in Him, we are protected. Nowadays, we are constantly having to deal with various dangers posed by viruses, violence, sickness, and destruction. But in the House of the Lord, we are safe, just like the sparrows. That’s why the Psalmist writes: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!” (Psa. 84:4).
The second part of this Psalm 84:5-9, describes the psalmist making his way to the temple of God. Unlike the birds, he can visit the temple frequently, wholeheartedly moving towards Zion. In the past, pilgrims often sang these psalms, as they walked towards Jerusalem. On the way, they may stop at a place called Valley of Baca, which means Valley of Weeping or Valley of Rain. Every step toward Zion, through the arid lands is tough and challenging. But in Baca, pilgrims can find rest and refreshments before they journey on. This depicts our spiritual journey with the Lord. Our journey may be tough and challenging but in the presence of the Lord, we can rest and be refreshed, enabling us to move forward (Psa. 84:6-7).
In the last section of the psalm (Psa. 84:10-12), it is a joy to arrive at the courts of the temple, just to gaze on Him as “a sun and shield”. The sun provides light and heat to sustain life. The shield provides protection.
Here the psalmist exclaims exuberantly: “One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” (Psa. 84:10). This is the climax of the pilgrim – to be in the presence of the Lord. The pilgrim knows that his stay will be short. It is better just to spend one day in a lowly position than months anywhere else.
Today, we too are pilgrims longing for God, moving towards God. Our most satisfying experience is being in the presence of God. This Psalm ends with a rich promise from the Lord. He will not withhold any good thing from us. He will bless us as we put our trust in Him. (Psa. 84:11b -12).
How do we experience God’s presence in our daily life?
When we read Psalm 84, what does this stir up in us?
O Lord, there is nothing better than being in your presence. Lord, forgive us, for due to our busy lifestyles, we sometimes rush in and out of Your presence. We thank you for the MCO, since we are forced to be locked in and slow down our pace of life. The MCO is a blessing in disguise. We have more time to be with You and our families.
Lord, we are not sure what life will be like after the MCO or once the Covid-19 pandemic is over. Help us to continue to make time for You and our loved ones. We enjoy our time alone with You when our hearts are attentive to your Spirit. We yearn to be in church to pray, to sing, and to be encouraged through human fellowship in your presence.
Most of all, we thank You for Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh. He is the ultimate “temple,” whose sacrifice has made it possible for us to know You. We praise you, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
自2020年3月18日以来，马来西亚政府因新型冠状病毒实施了“行动管制令”(MCO)。 至今为止，敬拜场所仍然被禁止聚会。 在封锁期间，我有幸联络了我们许多的教会成员。 不少人问我：“我们什么时候才能回到教堂？”
1. 渴望上帝。 诗篇84:1-4
2. 去到上帝那里。 诗篇84:5-9
3. 在上帝的同在里。 诗篇84:10—12
我们如何进入敬拜呢？ 我们的期望影响我们崇拜的体验。 某些人觉得做礼拜就象去葬礼。 他们说做礼拜很沉闷，牧师很啰嗦。 但当我们来到主面前时，我们想要得到什么？ 如果你对崇拜的期望是会很无聊，那崇拜就会很无聊。 另一方面，如果我们怀着激动的心情来到这里，期待上帝能对我们说什么，与他重新相遇，我们就会感受到圣灵的同在。
今天的经文提到诗人渴望在神美好的居所 – 圣殿里。 他的心发出赞美和敬拜之歌。敬拜涉及到一个人的整体。 “我（的灵魂）”指的是内心深处，心肠肉体都呼求永生神（诗篇84:1-2）。
神的居所不仅美好，而且是平安宁静可安息的地方。 诗人描写麻雀在祭坛那里筑巢。幼雏在巢中（诗篇 84:3）。 祭坛是献祭动物的地方，麻雀和幼雏却是安全的，得到保护，没有任何伤害。
当我们贴近上帝的心时，我们能拥有多么奇妙的平安！世界可能会分崩离析，但在他身上，我们受到保护。如今，我们不断面临病毒、暴力、疾病和破坏等各种危险。但在主里，我们很安全，就象麻雀一样。 这就是诗人写的： “住在祢殿中的，都是有福的，他们还要不断赞美祢”。（诗篇84：4）
诗篇84篇的第二部分是第5~9节，描述了诗人往圣殿去。 与鸟儿不同，他可以经常去圣殿，全心全意地向锡安走动。过去，朝圣者朝耶路撒冷的时候经常唱这些诗。 在路上，他们经常会停在一个叫流泪谷（Valley of Baca）的地方。通过干旱的土地前往锡安的每一步都是艰难和有挑战的。但在流泪谷，朝圣者可以在此休息。 这描绘了我们属灵的道路。我们的旅程可能艰难和具有挑战性，但有主的同在时，我们就能得到安息和更新，使我们能够向前迈进（诗篇84：6~7）。
在这诗篇的最后一段（诗篇84：10~12），描写诗人来到神的院宇的喜乐，把神看为“日头和盾牌”。 日头能够提供阳光和热量来维持生，盾牌能提供保护。在这里，诗人慷慨激昂地说：“在祢的院宇住一日，胜似在别处住千日。”我宁愿在上帝的家里当看门人，也不愿在邪恶的家里过好日子。宁可在我神殿中看门，不愿住在恶人的帐篷里”（诗篇84：10）。朝圣的高潮就是能与主同在。 朝圣者知道他的住期会很短。 一日作卑微的职位胜于在其他地方度时间。
今天，我们也是朝圣者，走向上帝。 体验上帝的同在是我们最满足的感觉。这篇诗篇以上帝丰厚的应许为结尾。祂不会对我们隐瞒任何好事。 当我们把信心建立于祂时，祂会祝福我们。（诗篇84：11b~12）
比其他事情更宝贵的，我们要为道成肉身的耶稣基督感谢祢。 祂是我们最好的“殿”，祂的牺牲使我们能够认识祢。我们赞美祢，我们的救主耶稣基督。 阿门。