Preaching Perspectives

By on September 16, 2018

Part 20 in Sermon Series: A Region Ripe for Revival

Scripture reading from Psalm 24

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2 Comments to “Preaching Perspectives”

  1. Donald McMahon
    September 17, 2018

    The story about Princess Lenore that I refer to is called Many Moons by James Thurber.

  2. Donald McMahon
    September 17, 2018

    “Preaching Perspectives” (Psalm 24)(9.16.18)
    Psalm 24 (NIV84)
    Of David. A psalm.
    1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
    2 for he founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the waters.
    3 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
    4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to an idol
    or swear by what is false.
    5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God his Savior.
    6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah
    7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
    8 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
    9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
    10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory. Selah
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: Preaching Perspectives
    I hope you remember the story of Princess Lenore from today’s Children’s Chat because I will be referring back to it. Right now, I have another story for you; a true story of God working.
    Duncan Campbell grew up harnessed to a set of bagpipes, and he eventually became a sought-after entertainer in his Scottish village. But one night during a concert, he suddenly asked himself, “Is this all life offers a young man like me?” Excusing himself, he hurried home where his mother led him to Christ. He served the Lord in churches in his native highlands until age fifty when he left as a missionary to the Outer Hebrides Islands.
    A mission church had already been established on Lewis Island, and several of its members had been pleading for revival. One night in a prayer meeting, a young man rose and read Psalm 24: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…”
    “Brethren,” the man said, “it seems just so much humbug to be waiting and praying as we are, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” Instantly the Christians began confessing their sins to God and to one another.
    When Duncan Campbell arrived soon afterward, he went straight to the church and preached, then dismissed the service. The crowd filed from the building; but instead of going home, they stood under the stars, weeping, praying and confessing their sins. The number soon swelled to 600, and all night the Holy Spirit moved through the village. Hundreds trusted Christ as Savior.
    The revival spread to nearby villages, and Duncan traveled for three years, strengthening the converts. Night after night, churches were filled with worshipers, often until five o’clock the following morning. Duncan later said that during those days he could stop any passerby on the island and find him thinking about his soul.
    Duncan Campbell lived until 1971, and he preached until the last week of his life. But the Lewis Revival proved the most fruitful period of his ministry.
    Are our hearts likewise prepared to confess our sins? Not only our personal sins; but the sins of our fathers, the sins of our nation, the sins of our church? Do we really give any thought to our souls or the millions of souls under the threat of hell?
    The pivotal question for every member of the human race is “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?” In Psalm 15, the same question is asked a little differently: Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? You and I did not, nor has any other human being, originate that question. God Almighty placed this desire within our hearts, within our souls, for no man seeks God of their own volition.
    The opening verse establishes a right perspective between God and His creation. Like Princess Lenore who thought the moon was the size of her fingernail, most people are misguided in their understanding of God. Their god is too small. Their God somehow gets stuck in trees and is not omnipotent. Their God can be delivered by the Court Jester. NO! The Lord created all. All creation, all creatures, were formed by God. Each and every one of us belongs to the Lord. You, me, every person, every animal, the sun, the earth, the moon, all belong to God.
    So, who may ascend the hill of the Lord? This depends on the preaching perspective. There are at least three different ways to answer this question. They are all inter-related and while they are normally preached separately, I believe the TRUTH lies in their interconnectedness. And, time constraints only allow a summary of each perspective.
    In the first perspective, only Jesus ascends. This scripture has frequently been preached on Ascension Sunday, which celebrates Jesus ascending into heaven and being seated at the right hand of God the Father. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”
    After all, the only human being without sin was Jesus. He was the only one with no dirt, or blood, or stains on His hands. The blood on his hands was his own. Only Jesus’ heart was without blemish. All the motivations of Jesus’ heart were obedience to the Father and powered by love. Jesus was completely sincere and there was no darkness within Him. There was nothing that competed with God the Father in Jesus’ life. There was never a lie, a falsehood, or a hint of malevolence on Jesus’ lips. So, by these standards, only Jesus was worthy to ascend the hill of the Lord.
    Surely we can answer Jesus is the King of Glory. Notice the capital K in King. At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.
    If that was the only way to look at this Psalm, we have some discordant ideas in some of the verses. If only Jesus is worthy, how does that fulfill God’s desire to dwell with us? Verse five says the one that ascends will receive vindication from God his Savior. Jesus did not need vindication or a Savior; we do. And verse six refers to the generation, which cannot be a reference to Jesus.
    This leads us to our second perspective; that it is for you and me to ascend the hill of the Lord. This is an impossibility. We are not holy. Our walk is not blameless. Can we claim all we do is righteous? We swear and we swear falsely. Our motivations are self-serving and questionable. There is slander and gossip on our lips. We whisper and covet. This is why that congregation on Lewis Island broke down into confession and revival was born throughout that region. Without such an attitude of contrition, ascending the hill of the Lord is an impossibility.
    But how can we ascend? We have never been there before. It is uncharted territory. Who can show us the way?
    Over the years, I have visited a lot of parks with my family and hiked a lot of trails. Some trails are marked better than others. Often in popular parks, the trees will have different signs on them depending on which trail you are following. The more remote parks, have more obscure markings. There were a couple times when we would get lost and I would get blamed for not leading properly.
    Jesus can show us the way; He has already ascended the holy hill. And, he has marked the trail. The trail is marked with blood, with the blood of Jesus. The blood of our Savior was shed on that Calvary hill when the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world.
    Take time to be holy, let him be thy guide, and run not before him, whatever betide. In joy in or in sorrow, still follow the Lord, and, looking to Jesus, still trust in his word.
    Hebrews 12:1–2 (NIV84)…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    The third perspective that I will offer up to you this morning is a combination of the first two. It recognizes Jesus as the King of Glory; and, acknowledges that without Jesus, we cannot ascend the holy hill of the Lord. We sang about this third perspective in our opening hymn:
    1. Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
    behold, the King of glory waits;
    the King of kings is drawing near;
    the Savior of the world is here!

    2. Fling wide the portals of your heart;
    make it a temple, set apart
    from earthly use for heaven’s employ,
    adorned with prayer and love and joy.

    3. Redeemer, come, with us abide;
    our hearts to thee we open wide;
    let us thy inner presence feel;
    thy grace and love in us reveal.

    4. Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
    until our glorious goal is won;
    eternal praise, eternal fame
    be offered, Savior, to thy name!
    On what basis do I connect ascending the hill of the Lord with our heart? How does a heart become a temple for heaven’s purposes, dressed with prayer, love, and joy?
    Paul tells us over and over again how this is possible:
    1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (NIV84) 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
    1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV84) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
    2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV84)…For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
    Ephesians 2:21–22 (NIV84) 21 In him (Jesus) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
    So, I ask you, “Have you flung wide the portals of your heart so that the King of Glory may enter in?” Does Jesus abide in your heart to reveal his peace and love?
    Let us not miss that the King of Glory is the Lord mighty in battle. There can be no doubt that a cosmic clash is part of human history. The Bible makes it crystal clear that good and evil are combatants in the battlefield of this world and the human heart. To prove this to yourself, look at the news, look at the culture, and look within yourself. Do not be deceived for the Father of Lies, the Devil, roams around looking for souls to devour.
    We should not be like Princess Lenore, and give into our unhealthy appetites. Do not have childish misconceptions about this life. Do not let the Court Jester of your human understanding placate you with a placebo.
    In a few minutes, we are going to sing Take Time to Be Holy. Holiness and purity are not celebrated in our culture and often times the things of God are mocked. We must take part in this pursuit of holiness.
    Be Careful with what you see. Remember King David lounging on the roof of his palace when he spotted Bathsheba bathing. Did he look away? Did he go back inside? No. David indulged in lust. James tell us in 1:14–15 (NIV84)
    14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
    Be Careful where you go. For those dealing with addiction, they are warned about People, Places, and Things. If you have a gambling problem, don’t go to the Casinos. If you have a drinking problem, don’t hang out with the party crowd. If you have a problem with pornography, set up controls for ALL your Internet access.
    Be Careful what you think about. Where do you find your mind wandering? What we think is who we are. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV84) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
    And, in Philippians 4:8 (NIV84) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
    Be careful how you live. Holiness isn’t only about being free from sin, it is about living in the Kingdom of God. We are to be agents of love, joy, and peace. We are to be vehicles of blessing. We are to be catalysts for connection in our community. We are to invite others into the fellowship of the Light.
    As we pray for God to do a mighty work in our church, our community, and our region, we must do our part to open the gates of our hearts to Jesus. He will revive us so that we can become a beachhead from which God can battle the forces of evil and darkness. We have been praying for God to come down; but maybe, we must first start our ascent into the holy hill of the Lord.
    Charles Finney lamented the decline of revivals:
    “Now it does appear to me that we who are ministers, instead of looking abroad and searching for the fundamental difficulty beyond and out of ourselves, should see that whatever else may be an occasion of the great falling off and decline in revivals, our own spiritual state is certainly one, if not the primary and fundamental reason of this decline. Want of personal holiness, unction (which means anointing), power in prayer, and in preaching the word – of Self-denial, and energetic effort in ministry – these, no doubt, are the principal reasons why revivals are so few and far between, and of so superficial character at the present day.
    The fact is, ministers have turned aside, in great degree, to vain jangling; have given up their attention to church-politics, church-government, and ecclesiastical proceedings of various kinds. The ministers have been diverted to an alarming and most injurious extent, from promoting revivals of religion out of the Church, and holiness in the Church.”
    Today, I pledge to you that I will do my part. I will continually examine my heart. I will pursue personal holiness. I will pray for an anointing power in prayer and power in preaching God’s Word. I will deny self and work energetically. I will promote revival of religion outside the Church and holiness within the Church.
    What pledge will you make today? Will you pour out your heart in prayer to God? I call on you to pursue holiness by sincerely surrendering to God the Holy Spirit. I call on you to fling wide the gates of your heart and make the King of Glory, the Lord Jesus, the Master of every aspect of your life.
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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