[Note: I accidentally wrote a devotional for Proverbs 13 last week. If you would like to reference it for today’s reading, then click this link: http://stage.anthonybaptistchurch.com/open-for-business/2018/07/20/]
She was at war. Although she was not clad in steel-plated armor, she was trying to take possession of a coveted hold for her young. Time after time, she stormed the gates of the formidable castle. Time after time, she scurried away with the simple bluster of rage from the irritated domestic.
Alright, it was not this serious, but a robin wanted to build a nest in my wife’s springtime wreath on our front door. Every time a collection of twigs and string wound up in the wreath, my wife would harumph with frustration and snatch the fledgling home tossing it aside. In the end, the robin lost. She was simply not welcome to build her home and dwell on our front porch in my wife’s wreath.
Then I read Psalm 84:1, “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!” The psalmist poetically describes how inviting God is by saying, “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God” (Psalm 84:3). Everyone is welcome to approach God. In fact, a relationship with you is what he desires most. “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
All of us have social passcodes built into us which allow certain people to approach us. Some people are so shy, you really have to know them well to speak with them. Others are too important, you better be notable and distinguished. We could describe many other “social passcodes,” but God receives every person who comes to Him. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” But isn’t there some criteria for approaching the most powerful being in all the universe? “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, Nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3–4).
The lesson is two-fold. First, does your heart thrill to come into the presence of God, or have you forgotten the privilege and simply yawn at the opportunity? Second, Peter reminds us that since we have received such a precious gift of salvation we ought to “love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22). Do you bear the likeness of your amiable Father? If your rejection of others is rooted in your self-righteousness, then review what Christ taught about the Pharisee and the publican in the Temple (Luke 18:9-14). If your rejection of others is based on wrongs they have committed against you, then consider the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:22-35).
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,
Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield:
The Lord will give grace and glory:
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
— Psalm 84:10-12