Jewish Pilgrimages: How We May Benefit From Them

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In the Old Testament times the Jews would pilgrimage to Jerusalem 3 times a year on their feast days (Deut. 16:16-17):

On the Feast of Unleavened Bread — this year on April 15

On the Feast of Weeks — this year on June 4

On the Feast of Tabernacles — this year on Oct 9

I can imagine that for many the trip was long and treacherous. But as they walked they sang songs. We have recorded for us in Psalms 120-135 the songs they sang. They are called Psalms of Ascents or Pilgrim Songs.

I have recently been quite captivated by this subject. As Martin Girard wrote in his article, Songs For Pilgrims Psalms Of Ascents, “In one sense we are like the Israelites of Old Testament times, for we are pilgrims. This earth is not our permanent home. We are “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Pet. 2:11) as we journey home to heaven, seeking “a city whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).”

Since we are indeed pilgrims on this earth I think it would do us good to sing the Pilgrim songs as the Jews use to do. I don’t know if I will put Psalms 120-134 to song, but I am planning to memorize them. The chapters are all quite short so it shouldn’t be too hard. I invite you to do it along with me. Here is the first Song—in NASB.

Psalm 120:1

Prayer for Deliverance from the Treacherous

In my trouble I cried to the Lord, And He answered me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue? Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree.

Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, For I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.

 

 

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Four Benefits of Praying Outside

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I have found that when prayer is practiced outside, during a walk or while sitting in a favorite spot, the rewards of prayer seem greater. Here are four benefits of such prayer.

 

1. The fresh air of the outdoors tends to clear the mind and keep us more refreshed and alert for prayer.

2. If you have planned to pray during a walk you may find that you have much more time to pray than if you were praying inside. I suppose that is because the fresh air keeps us alert for longer prayer; also, because, if we have planned to pray all during the time we are walking, that sometimes amounts to quite a long time.

3. Outside prayer helps us to see God’s grace and handiwork in nature, and we are led both to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and praise (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 19:1).

 4. When praying outside God will often speak to us and teach us through nature; the things of nature will become His teaching tools—His flannel-graph. When we are walking by a stream, He may speak to us of the water of the Spirit, how the Spirit moves in us and satisfies us. When we see a tree by a river He may remind us of Psalms one, by which He may speak to us concerning the way of righteousness—that the righteous man is as a fruitful tree planted by the rivers of water. When we look at the grass He may teach us from James 1:10-11 about the uncertainty of riches. When we see mountains He may speak to us of the strength and majesty of God. The Bible is loaded with references to things of nature: the trees, the sun, the clouds, rain, wind, many kinds of animals and insects; hundreds of things in nature are all found in the Bible, and God may use these things to teach us about Himself and about His ways—if we will take the time to observe them and be open to His leading and teaching. Thus He will open to us the beauty of His presence, and He will take us into His house and into the beautiful inner room where He dwells.

 

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A Poem by Bonhoeffer — from the Book Bonhoeffer

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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Here is a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written to his friend Bethge, while on his second trip to America. As you may detect here, he was overcome with doubts about whether he should be going or not.

 
 
The beginning and the end, O Lord, are thine;
The span between, life, was mine.
I wandered in the darkness and did not discover myself;
With thee, O Lord, is clarity, and light is thy house.
A short time only, and all is done;
Then the whole struggle dies away to nothing.
Then I will refresh myself by the waters of life,
And will talk with Jesus for ever and ever.

From the book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

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3 Things that Will Enhance Your Prayer Times

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For some of us, or perhaps most of us, our place of prayer doesn’t seem so appealing. In fact, we don’t seem drawn to prayer at all. Most of the time, we would rather sit in front of the TV, or play a game, or eat food, anything but pray. But we really shouldn’t be surprised at this, if we haven’t had many experiences with God, and if we haven’t worked on making our prayer times better. To have quality prayer times we really need to work at it!

Here are three things we can work at that will enhance our prayer times:

1. Give thanks. When we give thanks to God we are surrendering ourselves to Him in acknowledgement that He is Lord and God, and that He has made us and has made all things (Ps. 100). Likewise, thanksgiving is simply our recognition and gratefulness for all the things that God has done for us and has given us.

Effective prayer—that is, prayer in the Spirit—is always prayer with thanksgiving. As R. A. Torrey has said, “Thanksgiving is one of the inevitable results of being filled with the Holy Spirit.”

I have found that when I am down and in need of God’s touch, when I go to God in prayer, one of the first things God does for me is to make me thankful. He gives me desires to please Him and to sing songs of thanksgiving. Why? Because He knows that thankfulness is required for true prayer (Phil. 4:6), and He wants me to pray. Thus, the Holy Spirit helps me to pray by making me thankful.

Now if you want to work on your attitude of thanksgiving you must also work on bringing the Holy Spirit more into your life.   The two go together. I would say, pray every day to be filled with the Holy Spirit; but also try every moment to be thankful. And you will soon begin to experience more of the beauty of the inner room.

2. Meditate on the Word. Meditating on the Word makes us more aware of God’s presence and tunes us into His thoughts. Says Pierson, “To meditate on God’s words introduces us to the secret chambers of God’s thoughts, and imparts insight into God’s character.”

The more we meditate on the Word the more we see the beauty of Jesus: how wonderful He is, how desirable, how sweet. In Psalms 119:103 David declared, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter that honey to my mouth!” Again in Psalms 119:14 David said, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” In Jeremiah 15:16 (a favorite of mine) Jeremiah says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

By our meditation, all our surroundings become beautiful; and we find ourselves incessantly smiling—even in difficult times. Accordingly, by our constant meditation, our inner room of prayer becomes broadened and more beautiful. Everywhere we go we seem to be always full of His peace and joy—because, you see, we are always dwelling with Him in that beautiful inner room.

 3. Practice prayer. The beauty of the inner room is most experienced by those who take the time to get to know God by consistent, purposeful prayer. To those He surrounds by His presence, and is with them throughout the day wherever they go. And generally, His presence is fuller and sweeter during those times when the Word is also meditated on.

Also, according to Charles Finney, when a Christian obediently struggles and agonizes in prayer over a lost soul or over any burden God puts on him to pray over, he will find in God, after the burden is lifted, “the sweetest and most heavenly affections…” Hence, God rewards the obedient heart by the blessings of His own sweet presence (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 14:21, 23).

I have found that when prayer is practiced outside, during a walk or while sitting in a favorite spot, the rewards of prayer seem greater. In my next blog I will give you four benefits of such prayer.

This post is an excerpt from Prayer A to ZA Comprehensive Bible-Based Study of Prayer.

 

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It stinks! This whole place stinks.

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You don’t like my house? Does my house stink? That’s right-it stinks! This whole place stinks.

 

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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Highway in the Bible: 6 Spiritual Meanings

Originally posted on Studying Bible Prophecy:

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The term “highway” is mentioned 23 times in the Bible.  In my study I have come up with six spiritual meanings. Most of this material is pointing to the future millennial kingdom, though parts of it may be history.  According to the verses referenced here Highway means…

 1. The way that God has prepared for the Jewish remnant returning to Israel (Isa. 11:16; 49:11-12). God Himself will prepare the way for His people who are scattered from the ends of the earth, to be saved and to return to His holy land. He will build for them a highway—that is, He will part the seas, lower the mountains and raise the valleys to aid them in returning to Him.

 2. The way God prepares for the Jewish remnant in returning to Him through others (Isa. 62:10-12; 57:14). All the world of…

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3 Things to Discover about the Inner Room—the Beautiful Place of Prayer

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 In previous posts I have talked about the beauty of God’s creation and His plan—how He brings us into a love relationship with Himself. Now let me lead you into His house, and into the inner room—the place of prayer, and look around. It is our privilege now to discover 3 things about the Inner Room.

 

It is a place to rest.

This is the place where God lets Himself be found. It is the place where He hopes we would come—so that He can give us rest. Here, in His sanctuary, we rest in His protection, as a bird under its mother’s wings (Ps. 91:4), hiding from all the evils of the world.

To find our greatest rest in God we must shut the door to all the distractions of this life, which tend to divert the mind and the spirit from true worship (John 4:24). It is, therefore, our task to clear our mind from distractions, and thus, to get in touch with our spirit—to put our spirit on the alert and to keep it active, or in communication with God’s Spirit.

 

It is a place to dwell and commune with God.

David said in Psalms 27: 4-5, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.”

Here we see that the primary concern in David’s life was to be in God’s presence and to behold His beauty. And for David, in the temple was where he usually went to pray. We should also have a special place to pray, a secret place where God seems more real and more present to us.

 

It is a place to discover and experience God.

We have come to this inner room to rest and dwell with God. But we have also come to discover Him and experience Him, then to praise Him for who He is. This suggests that the inner room is not just for resting, but also for diligent study and honest reflection; we cannot discover who God is unless we diligently study the Bible and reflectively pray over it. There, we will not only discover who He is, but what He requires of us.

From the Bible we will also meet Jesus His Son. When we see Jesus, especially in the gospels, we see what God is like as a person, for God has come to us in the person of Jesus. Thus, let us constantly and habitually study to see Him and experience Him. Moreover, let us ever be drinking Him into our souls so that He is in our thoughts constantly. Then let us rejoice that He has given us the promise that if we drink of the water that He gives us (that is, the water of Himself) He will become in us a fountain of living water springing up into everlasting life (Jn. 4:14).

This is an excerpt from my book Prayer A to Z.

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