Engagement of the Heart
Matt Destry – Communications Pastor
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
What a declaration this Psalm makes! What passion and intensity and longing for the presence of God! In Old Testament times, the people of God had an appointed place to meet with and worship God – at the temple. While away from that place, there was a yearning in the people to be where God was. To have a sense of touch, of proximity, of intimacy with the ‘maker of heaven and earth’. The temple was the place of sacrifice and promise, of judgement and love. The courts of the temple were assigned to prayer and preparation of the heart. It was truly a holy (set apart) place.
For us as New Testament believers and followers of Jesus, there ares some differences and similarities with that worship-life. Of course, there is no longer any need for a temple-system, with its courts, structures and regulations. There is no longer a need for a priest, since we have Jesus who has fulfilled that role, and gone before us into the presence of God and offered the perfect and acceptable sacrifice. There is though, one striking similarity between the worship of the saints of old and of today: the engagement of the heart.
At all times, worship is a heart-activity. It finds it’s expression in many physical ways, but primarily this exercise begins within a person. It begins when a person’s ‘heart and flesh’ literally cries out for God – in longing, in love and in adoration. When the heart of the worshiper is fixed on the heart of God. We can declare with the Psalmist, “how lovely is your dwelling place!’ and “my soul yearns for the courts of the Lord”, knowing that He wants to meet with us. Our longing for God can so daily be sidetracked, misplaced or substituted for other (often temporal) things, but happy is the one who longs for God, for Jesus himself declared “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
- How do you express your longing for God?
- If anything, what replaces or misdirects your ‘hunger for righteousness’?
- What are some ways you can make sure your heart stays pure?
- How might the work of Jesus transform your longing?