Dwelling on God’s Mountain

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 13-15; Acts 19:21-41

15 Who can live in your tent, Lord?
    Who can dwell on your holy mountain?
The person who
    lives free of blame,
    does what is right,
        and speaks the truth sincerely;
    who does no damage with their talk,
    does no harm to a friend,
    doesn’t insult a neighbor;
    someone who despises
        those who act wickedly,
        but who honors those
        who honor the Lord;
    someone who keeps their promise even when it hurts;
    someone who doesn’t lend money with interest,
    who won’t accept a bribe against any innocent person.
Whoever does these things will never stumble.

Psalm 15:1-5, Common English Bible

Who can dwell on God’s holy mountain? Who can live in God’s tent? Both are questions David asks in Psalm 15, part of today’s Journey Through Scripture readings. For Christians, the quick and easy answer is, “Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.” It is a reasonable assumption.

All too often, however, for Christians of the current era, we tend to read the Old Testament through the lens of Christian understanding and not in how it was written for a different group of people who lived centuries before Jesus was born.

Because the Jews of David’s era, didn’t have the one who is “the faith, the truth, and the life,” they needed another way to reach life with God, to live in God’s tent, to dwell on God’s holy mountain. David is telling them just what as necessary. David says, “The person who is blameless, does what is right, and speaks the truth sincerely.”

David’s words are hard to live by. We often say, “This person is a Godly person.” When we see such people, we see them as people who are blameless, who do what is right and who speak the truth.” But if we are speaking the truth, we also know that no one is truly blameless because we “all sin and fall short of the glory of God.”

We might be tempted to ask, “If such a person doesn’t receive eternity with God is there any hope for the rest of us?”  I am not sure how those of the Old Testament era like David would reconcile the sins existing in all their lives, (think David and Bathsheba), with being blameless.

That brings us back to the need for Jesus. For us, we know we are not blameless. We don’t always do what is right. We don’t always speak the truth. By David’s definition, we are unworthy of God’s mountain and/or God’s tent. And, because we are unworthy, we stand in need of God’s grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

Because we know David had a heart for God (that is, after all, the reason God picked David to be King) and yet we also know David, like any other human did sin. We know the story well. We do know David did live, does dwell on God’s mountain.

We receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ. David and others received grace in some other way. What we know beyond doubt, in David’s day and in ours, there is more grace in God than there is sin in us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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