22 January 2020
Reflection by Bishop Elmer; transcribed by Deacon Andrew Gossage.
“…I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
The key to understanding this psalm is the great confidence of its opening statement that the Lord is my Shepherd. There’s a sense of security in saying I belong to God’s family. We don’t choose our family, and neither did we choose God, but He chose us.
The good kind of pride in says, I’m glad I belong to the house of the Lord; I’m happy, privileged and thankful that God is my Shepherd.
The soul can be broken and hurt, but God restores it; His anointing brings healing from things that bother us. The cup is forgiveness. We receive God’s goodness and mercy, and we leave goodness and mercy behind us.
Isn’t it such a great blessing to know that our lives are in good hands under the hands of the Shepherd? Everything in this psalm is about how greatly caring our God is if we trust Him and allow Him to lead us.
When Adam and Eve sinned they were driven out of the Garden, and man became a nomad – without a permanent place. The Romani people (often referred to as Gypsies) are nomads and sometimes live in tents. Like refugees, they are rejected by many people and have no place to go. This is what happened to humanity; but in Christ God choose us, and we have a permanent dwelling place in His house.
We are blessed beyond the imperfections
There is no perfect church, because we are all human. But have we come to a point where we can say, “I am really proud that God chose me to be one of His sheep and that I dwell in His house, because in it are all these blessings”? Psalm 23 is the provision God gives us if we’re in His house. The church has always led us closer to Jesus – never to heresy or anything wrong.
Society is changing so quickly; some people say the Church is behind and can no longer relate to society – this has always been a challenge. There are always pros and cons to any innovation. Rather than accepting everything as “progress”, we need to discern what is behind it and whether it is really good for us. The Church is the defender and foundation of the truth, and certain things cannot be changed. We can repaint the ceiling, but we cannot tear down the pillars, because the building would crumble. Life physical or earthly may be temporary; the shepherds promise is “ we will dwell in His house forever”
· Psalm 52:8: We can grow in our relationship with God only when we are planted in a church. I did not choose this church, but God planted me here, and I will stay. I will only leave if heresy is preached. People’s discontent and problems, or their not liking us, are not good reasons to leave. We grow and become like fruitful olive trees when we are planted in God’s house, and He builds our lives to be Christlike.
· Psalm 84:10: If people say they are bored in the church, ask them why. If I don’t enjoy being in God’s presence, and if I don’t prefer to be in His house, I need to ask what is wrong in my heart and my priorities.
Whenever we come together in the house of the Lord, He is here with us, the angels fill the pews with their presence, and we are not alone. There is joy and gladness and we grow together. That’s why the psalmist said “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. All the blessings of Psalm 23 follow when we are in God’s house.