Stay in the Sanctuary: Praising God

What started out as one post, Stay in the Sanctuary, has turned into a series.  I did not intend that, but God keeps teaching me what it means to stay in His sanctuary. This helps me to gain His perspective on the events in my life and the world around me. The latest area that He has been teaching me is in the area of praise. God’s sanctuary is a place of praise.

As we spend time in God’s sanctuary, we see that “Honor and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Psalm 96:6)  As we begin to see these things, it is only fitting that we should “Lift up [our] hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” (Psalm 134:2) 

Matthew Henry says of Psalm 150:1, “Praise EL, or the strong one, in His holy place…Praise begins at home. In God’s own house pronounce His praise.”  While it is important to praise God in His house or what we call the church today, we mustn’t forget that we are His temple.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) 

Matthew Henry goes on to list ways that we can praise God.  “Praise God with a strong faith; praise God with holy love and delight; praise Him with an entire confidence in Christ; praise Him with a believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise Him with an earnest desire towards Him; and a full satisfaction in Him; praise Him by a universal respect to all His commandments; praise Him by a cheerful submission to all His disposals; praise Him by rejoicing in His love, and solacing yourselves in His great goodness; praise Him by promoting the interests of the Kingdom of His grace; praise Him by a lively hope and expectation of the Kingdom of His glory.” WOW!! How on earth can I do all that? By staying in the sanctuary of His Word! 

In the days ahead I want to spend more time meditating on each of these areas so that I can praise Him. One area in particular that stood out to me is to solace myself in His great goodness. God is taking me to another level in understanding His goodness.  It’s not enough to know that He is good.  To show true praise for this attribute of God, I must find comfort in it! I am looking forward to seeing what God will do in the days ahead as I continue on my quest of staying in the sanctuary and gaining more of His perspective from His Word!

First Love

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee,
because thou hast left thy first love.”
-Revelation 2:4

First love…I’ve done a lot of pondering over those two words in recent months.  It’s a concept that we don’t often think of.  When we hear or read Revelation 2:4, it may cause us to squirm a little.  We may think, “I love the Lord. I haven’t left Him.” Revelation 2:4 doesn’t say that we left Him.  It says we left our first love.

When I am studying something, I like to look up words in the dictionary.  I use the Blue Letter Bible app to look up the meaning in the original language.  I also like to read different translations.  One translation says, “You have abandoned the love you had at first.” Sometimes those of us who have walked with the Lord for a long time get bogged down with life.  We get settled in our relationship with the Lord.  Maybe it even becomes routine. We don’t like to think of the words left or abandon. But when we allow life to crowd into our relationship with the Lord, that is what we are doing.

For the last several months, I have had the privilege of being around a young man who has that first love. This young man has no Christianity in his background or in his family.  He received no gospel witness from a Christian or a gospel tract.  God took this man to the end of himself.  At that point, God gave him the desire to pick up a Bible and start reading it. He led him to visit our church in December.  He kept coming back.  He had to have surgery that required hospitalization.  During the hospital stay, he read his Bible for 12 hours a day!!! He is thrilled to have met Jesus Christ.  He has been gloriously saved. This was all the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!! (Psalm 118:23) It has been a privilege to watch the Lord draw this young man to Himself.

As I watched all of this unfold, I also watched what being around this young man did for the members of our church and me. There is something contagious about being around someone with that first love.  There were several things I noticed in this man’s life that gave me pause to consider my own spiritual life. 

First, he cannot get enough of God’s Word.  He is faithful to every service at church.  He meets with my husband for weekly Bible study. He reads and studies his Bible every free moment. He has started memorizing some of God’s Word.  

This young man has a tremendous burden for those who don’t know the Lord.  His first prayer request after his salvation was for family members that do not know the Lord.  He makes sure his two-year-old daughter is at church. He wants her to grow up knowing the true God. He has a heavy burden for his wife and his parents.  He wants them to know the truth. He is so excited about the peace that God has given him and the change that God has wrought in his life, that he wants everyone to know.

He had two huge tests for a young believer in this land where we serve. The day before his baptism, he had to take a stand against ancestor worship. He did it without hesitation. The day after his baptism, his boss told him that he needed to move to another city to keep his job. He declined. As a result, he is looking for a new job. He told my husband that he did not think it would be good for his spiritual life to relocate at this time.  He went on to say that this is a good time for him to learn to trust the Lord.  

As I watched all of this take place, I saw the people of our church get excited at what God is doing in this man’s life.  There is a new fervor among the people. There is a new zeal to pray for unsaved loved ones.  We have been reminded that God is still working to draw people to Himself. 

In my own life, I have seen areas where I am not trusting God as I should. I have had my burden for others increase. I have meditated on the changes God has wrought in my life with thanksgiving. I am praying for God to increase my desire for His Word and He is answering. 

What about you? Have you left your first love? Meditate on all the things God has done in your heart and your life.  Spend more time in His Word and prayer with thanksgiving. As you do that, see if you don’t return to that first love!

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
I have light in my soul for which long I have sought,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And my sins which were many are all washed away,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

I’m possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

There’s a light in the valley of death now for me,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And the gates of the City beyond I can see,
Since Jesus came into my heart!

I shall go there to dwell in that city, I know,
Since Jesus came into my heart!
And I’m happy, so happy, as onward I go,
Since Jesus came into my heart! 

Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.
~Rufus H. McDaniel

35th Anniversary

Thirty-five years ago, we said, “I do!”  We still do!! Tim is a daily example of Christ’s unconditional love to me. I am so grateful for him! We had these photos taken during cherry blossom season this year.  A special thank you to Kyohei Nishimura for the beautiful photos.  He made us look good!

Reflections

Last week was a national holiday here. Golden Week occurs from the end of April through the first few days of May and is a week that has four national holidays.  Many people travel during this time.  We took the time to escape from the big city and visit my husband’s parents in the countryside. I love spending time here. I enjoy the fellowship with family. I also enjoy the slower pace and the long walks along the river and the rice fields.  At this time of year, the farmers are flooding the rice fields and beginning to plant. I never get tired of seeing the reflections in the water.  The view depends on the time of day. Sometimes you can see the mountains reflected and other times you can see the buildings that are in the area.

As I was walking and thinking about all I was seeing, I began to think about other types of reflections.  The most important reflection would be what I know and meditate on about my God.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
~A. W. Tozer

In the comments of a post by Whitney, she mentioned keeping a list of what she learns about God from her daily Bible time on her phone.  I’m a notebook and paper kind of girl, but I don’t always have a notebook with me.  I do find myself using my phone for things more often than not. So I started a note in my app on my phone called “One Thing” based on Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; 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 enquire in his temple.”

When I was a much younger woman, I remember that an assistant pastor at our church encouraged us to get one thought from the Word each day.  I have tried to maintain this habit for years, but I don’t always write it down. If I do, I might write it on the page for the day in my bullet journal.  I liked the idea of having it in one place on my phone so that I can see it any time I want.  I have found myself reviewing my “one thing” while waiting in line or sitting in the car. These are times when I would not have my notebook with me.

In closing, I would like to share one of my recent entries.  Maybe you’d like to share one of your thoughts from the Word in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you.


 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12

“…make those verses our own through faith and obedience. For a stronger faith, focus your mental energy on the verses God gives you. That’s the best exercise of the soul. Where there is a command, obey it. Where there is a prayer, offer it. Where there is a truth, believe it. Where there is a message, repeat it. Where there is a promise, claim it by faith.” ~Robert Morgan, author of Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation.

This is My Word

As the snow falls from heaven,
As it comes in swirling showers from the sky,
So is my Word.
As the rains bring the water to the earth that is thirsty and dry,
So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not return empty:
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.

As the rain brings renewal
And the tender buds begin to come alive,
So is my Word.
Giving seed to the sower,
And the bread to the hungry ’til they thrive,
So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not return empty;
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.

O Lord, when I am weary,
When I feel the days I’m living are in vain,
My God, help me be faithful to the Word You have given to proclaim.
Proclaim the Word, and you will go out in joy,
And be led forth in peace,
And the hills will break before you into song.
So be faithful, brave and true,
For I will go before you,
And when your earthly journey here is done.
I’ll say well done, well done!

As the snow falls from heaven,
And the rain comes in showers from the sky,
This is my Word.

Words and Music by Pepper Choplin

Housekeeping

I’ve been doing some “spring cleaning” here at the blog.  I removed some of the clutter in the tabs and there is a new bio links page.  I created this for people who come from Instagram.  Instagram only allows one link in your profile.  You may notice an affiliate link for Rachelyn Jewelry.  This is not a monetized blog and I do not run monetized social media.  Rachelyn is a sweet Christian young lady that makes beautiful high-quality jewelry. I share it on Instagram occasionally.

I have also started another blog for our supporters.  This helps us to keep them updated more regularly.  If you would like these updates, you can subscribe to Japan for Christ: Melton Ministry Updates.

Have a blessed day!!

Stay in the Sanctuary: God’s Ways


In a previous blog post, I wrote about staying in the sanctuary.  This is where God speaks to us and we can gain His perspective about the world around us.  As I have studied this more, I realized there is a whole lot more for me to learn about God and His sanctuary.  While a sanctuary can be a place, there is also the aspect of God’s way and His holiness.

God’s Way 

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?”
~Psalm 77:13 

The Hebrew word used for ‘thy way’ means a road or manner.  Spurgeon defines it as a mode of action.  Derek Kidner in his commentary defines sanctuary as holiness.  In other words, ‘thy way is in holiness’.  I love how Kidner explained this.  “Holy in such a context, is a formidable word, conveying the aspect of God as one who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’; fearful as an enemy but glorious as a friend.” 

In verse 19 of Psalm 77 we read, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” We don’t always understand what God is doing.  We can’t always see His footsteps and know the path that He is taking. We can’t see His footprints in the sea. We do know that God is holy.  Because of this, we can be sure that whatever He is doing is just and right.  Spurgeon says “…it is rich consolation that we can trust [His way], for it is in holiness.” When we are staying in the sanctuary “all is light, all is clear” even though we may not understand exactly what He is doing.

As we seem to be watching the world fall apart around us and we face our own daily trials, may we stay in the sanctuary of God’s Word.  It is there that we can learn of His ways and find the peace that we crave. It is there that we learn of His holiness so that we can gain the perspective that whatever He does is just and right.

__________
I like to use the Blue Letter Bible app for study.  It is easy to look up the meanings of the words in the original language.  There are also commentaries available in the app to use.  I do have a set of Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, but it is also available in the app. 

The photo is of Matsumoto Castle.

Stay in the Sanctuary

My word for the year 2022 is perspective.  This isn’t something that I just draw out of a hat.  I’ve heard some say that their word for the year chooses them.  I’ve said that myself, but in truth, God gives me my word.  I usually know what it is by October or November of the previous year.  It always comes about through my study and work on the word for that year.  God is pealing back the layers and has something else for me to learn.  Some things take a year, some take longer.  For the past three years, I had three different words: hope, abound and believing. All are from Romans 15:13.  Sometimes I am a slow learner!  

As the last two years have unfolded, there have been unprecedented things going on in our world.  Living abroad, I may have a little different perspective on those things than others in my peer group.  There are times when my perspective becomes blurred.  I don’t know what to think.  There are times when that blurred perspective can turn into discouragement and a sense of hopelessness.  It was during one of those times that I realized I needed to gain God’s perspective on what is going on in the world around me.  

I searched on a Bible website for the word perspective in the King James Version.  The response I received was, “Sorry, we didn’t find any results for your search.”  As I dug a little deeper, I found that while the word might not be there, the idea is.  I’ve also realized that there is only one way to gain God’s perspective on the world around us.  That is to stay in the sanctuary.

What exactly does it mean to stay in the sanctuary?  

In Psalm 63:1-2, the psalmist says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” The ESV says, “my flesh faints for you…”  The psalmist needed His God!  According to my study Bible, this was written by David while he was in the wilderness of Judea.  He was either running from Saul or possibly Absalom.  He was desperate in His need for God!

Webster defines sanctuary as a consecrated place, the room in which general worship services are held.  A secondary meaning is a place or refuge and protection.  Strong’s defines sanctuary as a sacred place that is set apart.  So a sanctuary is a consecrated place that is set apart and provides a refuge and protection.  Spurgeon* said that the sanctuary was “where God met [David] and manifested Himself to him.”  

Where is the sanctuary for us today?  

It could be a place.  Maybe it’s in a comfy chair.  Maybe it’s in a quiet room.  When I had small children at home, I often asked my husband for an afternoon to go to the library.  There I would find a table in a far corner away from everyone.  The place is not as important as what you do while you are there.  Our true sanctuary is God’s Word.  It is here in His Word that we can hear His voice as He speaks to us.  It is here that we gain His perspective on world events, what is happening in our private world and even what is going on in our own heart.  It is here that we have a refuge and find protection.

I want to write more about this in the future. For now, I encourage you to stay in the sanctuary of God’s Word.  Instead of sinking in discouragement and hopelessness from yet more bad news, run to Him in the sanctuary and be encouraged as you begin to look at life through the lens of His Word!  As Spurgeon said, “There is no help like that which is of God’s sending, and no deliverance like that which comes out of His sanctuary.”

*****

*Spurgeon’s Treasury of David has proved to be invaluable as I study through some of this for myself.  I have the three volume set, but you can access his notes here for free.