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Psalm 84 1
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. 9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

clip_image099Background

The name Psalms or Psalter come from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where they originally referred to stringed instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute. It is generally supposed, David wrote this, when he was driven out of the land by Absalom. David was born in 907 B.C., he reigns as king of Israel for 40 years, dying at age 70 in 837 B.C.

Biblical Truths

The theme of this psalm is the advantages that accompany one who is in touch with the living God, the advantages that belong to the life of faith, the life of fellowship with a living God.

Verses 1-7: The psalmist declares his love for the ordinances of God, and the happiness of those that enjoy them.

Verse 4: Those that constantly abide in God’s house; the priests and Levites, or other devout Jews who were there perpetually, are continually employed in blessed work.

Verse 5: Blessed are those who trust in God and rely only upon His strength. Those who have set their hearts upon Zion, journey with God.

Verse 6: Baca – A dry valley on the way to Jerusalem, is a barrier in one’s journey. But people dig little pits or wells in it for their relief. God rewards their diligence with His blessing, sending rain so their wells may be filled.

Verse 7: As they journey, they grow stronger and stronger. This is a blessing for their long and tedious journey.

Verses 8-18: A devout prayer and expression of faith in God.

Verse 9: The psalmist, David, calls for God to cast a favorable eye towards him. Because as a sinner, God anointed him king.

Verse 10: David calls out that his desire to dwell in the greatest glory and plenty, only to be found with God.

Verse 11: Metaphors: A sun – To enlighten and quicken, and direct and comfort his people. A Shield – To save his people from all their enemies. Grace – His favor, which is better than life. Glory – The honor which comes from God here, and eternal glory.

Items for Discussion

  • When we read about a place like Baca Valley, what comes to mind?
  • The first thing the Psalmist sees is an inner beauty that God creates by His presence. What is the beauty that you see?
  • Why do so many people fail to see the beauty that God creates?
  • The second thing the Psalmist sees is that God creates a compelling hunger. How would you describe someone who is “hungry” for God?
  • Third thing the Psalmist sees is the joyful vitality that the presence of God gives. How would you describe this in your own terms?

 

John 14:1-6
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Background

The disciples of Jesus had good reason to be “troubled” because as they reclined at the table a few moments earlier He spoke of the traitor in their midst (13:21), and His leaving them and going where they could not follow (vv. 33, 36). Jesus saw confusion, hurt, disappointment, fear, frustration and bewilderment in their faces that night. The conversation continues to flow from chapter 13 as Christ prepares His disciples for the day ahead. He comforts them by telling them His departure is to His Father’s house, with a view of preparing a place for them and then coming again to those who know the direction of the journey.

There is a chapter break between 13:38 and 14:1. However, Jesus is answering Peter’s question in 13:36-37 that refers back to Jesus’ words about His departure in v. 33. The disciples are “troubled” about what Jesus has been revealing to them about His death and resurrection (13:33). Jesus is consoling His disciples and revealing a greater understanding of Himself to them.

Biblical Truths

The truths and theology in the first 6 verses of chapter 14 of John are not overly complex; Christ lays out five basic principles that must be understood for His disciples to really get the point. They are:

  • God has a purpose: God’s purpose is to spend eternity with his beloved. Even though this life is full of trouble, trials, and tribulation, His plan will be to our benefit.
  • God has a plan: God’s plan is to allow us the choice to be with Him forever. He created the man and the woman in the garden and walked with them daily. But He also planted a tree there that represented their choice to follow him or to reject him
  • God has a Place for us: In my Father’s house are many mansions or many different dwelling places.
  • God has a promise. God’s promise is to be our shepherd forever. Let the Lord love you throughout this life into the life to come. Then he comes to get us one by one until all is full.
  • He is God: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Items for Discussion

  • Describe what you think heaven will be like?
  • Compare heaven to your home. What are the main differences you would expect to find in heaven?
  • What would you consider to be the minimum criteria to have before you set out on a trip?
  • Now take your criteria and apply it to Christ’s message in these passages-What would Christ have as minimum criteria?

Discussion Challenge

  • If Christ is the only way to find God eternally, why do Christians differ so much on how to seek fellowship with Christ?
Additional Study Notes

Items for Discussion in Psalm 84

  • When we read about a place like Baca Valley, what comes to mind?
    • Christians have always believed that this verse means: when life is difficult, God will send help.
  • The first thing the Psalmist sees is an inner beauty that God creates by His presence. What is the beauty that you see?
    • No wrong answer here but it is important to be able to see the beauty
  • Why do so many people fail to see the beauty that God creates?
    • Probably because they are too busy looking at the things that man has made and called beautiful
  • The second thing the Psalmist sees is that God creates a compelling hunger. How would you describe someone who is “hungry” for God?
    • Again, no wrong answers here but it would be sad to go through life not recognizing someone hungry for God.
  • Third thing the Psalmist sees is the joyful vitality that the presence of God gives. How would you describe this in your own terms?
    • Lot of answers here but it could be summed up with a word like “Joy.” When people are truly at peace with God and letting God fill them with a vitality for doing his work, the energy is like that of a lighting bug, it cannot be hidden, especially in the dark.

Items for Discussion in John 14:1-6

  • Describe what you think heaven will be like?
    • This is not a theological question; just share your personal thoughts and views. The important point is that we should be thinking about heaven and what it is like.
  • Compare heaven to your home. What are the main differences you would expect to find in heaven?
    • Answers like no bugs, the kids rooms are neat, etc. don’t count
    • The Father Is There (in my Father’s house)
    • The Family Is There (all your brothers and sisters in the Lord)
    • The Fellowship Is There
    • Unequaled Fellowship
    • Undisturbed Fellowship
    • Unchangeable Fellowship
    • Unspeakable Fellowship
    • The Fascination Is There
    • There will be New Excitement
    • There will be Never-Ending Excitement
    • The word Fascination means: To be Taken in
  • What would you consider to be the minimum criteria to have before you set out on a trip?
    • Now take your criteria and apply it to Christ’s message in these passages-What would Christ have as minimum criteria?
    • A reason – We all perish but there is a place to exist forever that is wonderful.
    • Transportation – No one has the right transportation and must rely on someone else.
    • Directions-No one knows the pathway except Christ.
    • Perseverance-It is not easy to be a believer.

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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