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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jack Graham » Jack Graham - Homeward Bound (Songs of Encouragement)

Jack Graham - Homeward Bound (Songs of Encouragement)


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    Jack Graham - Homeward Bound
TOPICS: Songs of Encouragement, Relationship, Marriage

Please, take God's Word and turn to Psalm 84. The title of the message is "Homeward Bound". Psalm 84, verse 1 through 12. Verse 1 says: "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he gives favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you"!

What a great song, what a great praise and prayer to God! It is the song of a pilgrim. It is all about our journey home. We all have a homing instinct, a desire for home and heaven. God put it in us. Home, I pray, is a great place for you. I understand home does not necessarily have great connotations for some. But for so many of us home is place of belonging, it's a place of comfort and safety. You can make yourself at home in your home. And it's, of course, not the location that matters the most. Deb and I and our family, we've lived in multiple houses through the years, but we've moved our home from house to house. Because home is where the people you love live.

I tell Deb all the time, "Honey, if you leave me, I'm going with you". Because she is home, and we are at home together. And we all have this instinctive desire to be there and beyond our earthly home, our heavenly home. Our desire to be with God, to know God and to be with Him! You know, there's such a thing, I'm told, as a homing pigeon. I heard about one guy who let his homing pigeon go and he never came back. Well, he really didn't have a homing pigeon; he just had a dumb bird! But we all have a desire to be at home with the Lord. And that's what Psalm 84 is all about.

Again, one of my favorite psalms and it talks about being on this journey. The psalmist, a pilgrim, on his way or desiring to be on his way to worship God in the Temple, to be in the presence of the Lord. It was his heart-felt desire to leave his house and take his family with him, and to get to Jerusalem, and there in Jerusalem to be in the presence of God! To be in the holy place. For us it is to be in His presence Him today. You can make this akin to the church if you like, but it is all about this journey to the fellowship and the people of God, but more importantly to the Lord Himself. So how do we do that? How do we make our journey home?

Number one, by pursuing God passionately. That's the first stanza of this psalm as he says, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord"! It's beautiful, it's lovely! The place itself draws him near. But more than the location it is the Lord that is his longing. And so he cries out to God. He says, "I long for You, O God; to be in Your presence in that place"! He even says, "I faint for it" which means he is out of breath and out of strength because he can't get there! He is so desiring. Now I don't know if you've ever fainted. I don't know that I've ever fainted in my lifetime, but I've been around people who have and people who faint typically faint for a variety of reasons. Because they're overheated or over exerted, perhaps exhausted, maybe there's a blood sugar issue.

People faint. You could faint in the presence of greatness, you could faint in the presence of a celebrity, just becoming so worked up. Well, the psalmist is saying, "I'm longing for the presence of God! I'm fainting"! And it was the absence, the fact that he couldn't get there that was wasting him away. And then he's praying, he's crying out, and the idea of crying here or praying is a piercing cry to God! He's not yawning, thinking about going to worship God; he's yearning! He is living for the day that he can be in God's presence in the temple once again.

So he has set his face towards Jerusalem, what he calls Zion. And we also are marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion. We are on our way as believers to the New Jerusalem, to heaven itself, to stand on heaven's mount. Beautiful, beautiful Zion! And we should have our faces set and our attention and our focus on that day when we stand before the Lord. Because heaven is not just a destination; heaven is a motivation to live our lives for Him! We pursue what we prize in life, we pursue what we prize in life! If you've got a girl and you love that girl, you're going to pursue her! She's a prize! If your prize is your career, then you're going to pursue that with everything you've got.

And there's nothing necessarily wrong with pursuing, of course, a career, but are we pursuing God with this same kind of devotion and desire and dedication? Is He you're highest delight? Is He your deepest desire? That's what I'm asking myself. Do I get up every day to give Him the first part of my day? Do I give Him the first part of my income? Do I give Him the first part of my week in worship? Am I giving? Am I pursuing Him because He is the prize of my life? The whole idea of worship is worth-ship. In fact, the old Angle Saxon word for worship is worth-ship; what we consider weighty or worthy, we worship. God is waiting! He is worthy of all our worship! And if He is the prize, and He is, then we pursue Him above everything else in our life! I want to get there, and I know you do as well. This is a journey. Are you on it? Are you pursuing with passion the Lord Jesus Christ?

This is the way home. This is a way to a place of stability and strength and belonging, the safety in your life. You should long for your eternal home. Your final destination, whether it is in heaven or is in hell. If you're facing a judgment without God then you ought to fear the future, you ought to fear the unknown. But if you know Jesus in your life, there's nothing to fear. You're on your journey home. You're on your way to heaven. You're destined for the true Jerusalem, the eternal Zion. There ought to be a longing for heaven and home. Philippians 1:21, Paul said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain". He said, "I have a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better". And I think the longer we're on this journey, the longer we've been living for the Lord and following Him, the more homesick for heaven we get. Heaven should be the habit of our heart Paul said in Colossians chapter 3 and verses 1 and 2 that "we should not set our affections on things below this world, but set your affections on things above".

Let your mind be set and focused on Him. Let your mindset be of the hope and the promise of greater future, because as it's been said many times, the people who do the most for this world think most about the world which is to come. It's true. You know I'm a baseball fan. And I think the most exciting thing about a baseball game, I know as a former player the most exciting thing for me, it was rounding third and heading home. I always watch third base when I'm watching the game with runners on, because I love to see the player catch third base and head for home. And it's always exciting. Sometimes there's a close play at the plate, but that's the goal, of course, is to score runs, to get home. Rounding third and heading home. And you don't just go there casually. You're going there with everything you've got. Sliding head first if necessary to get there.

Let that be a picture for you if I could paint it of what it means to circle the bases and round third and set your face towards home. And you don't go just jogging in-unless you hit it over the fence. You can jog then. But when you're running, you don't slow down, you don't slow up! You are there because that's the goal; that's the run! And so in life some of us are rounding third. You say, "Well, yeah, all the old people are rounding third". Hey, you may be twenty years old and rounding third! You don't know that. But when you round third, make sure you're full speed ahead! That you don't go limping into heaven, but that you're breaking the tape! You're getting there and you're going for it all the way! That's what I read when I read this passage. "My soul longs for You, O God! I'm fainting for You and crying out to You"!

Pursue God passionately. And then, follow Him progressively. Okay, now stay with me! Follow Him progressively. That's verse 5 through 7. Look at it again, back in Psalm 84. It says, verse 5: "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion". Pause right there. In your heart is a GPS system, if you will, and it's set to heaven. You've got a Waze in your heart, all right? One of those on your cell phone. And it's a GPS and it's a highway to heaven. It's in your heart! It's in your heart to get here to worship God! I hope it wasn't just your feet that got you here, but your heart got you here! You followed your heart to worship God! Our hearts are a highway to Him! I love that! "As they go through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; and the early rain also covers it with pools".

Now you might in reading that sentence you might just pass that off as travelogue! But there is such a powerful word in here for us today, talking about coming to the place of Baca. We don't know exactly where it is, but it was in the desert someplace. And as the psalmist is thinking about his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he speaks of these desert and depressing places. This Baca place, and it literally means, it even sounds bad, right? Baca! Blah! Baca! And you know what it means? It means weeping. A place of tears because in life's journey while every day as we spoke last time is a great day, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it". It doesn't mean that there's not sorrow and grief and sadness, and a time for tears in our lives. A place of weeping, a time for tears on your way to heaven, on your way to Zion, on your way to church today.

Some of you cried yourself to sleep last night. You're at Baca. Your pillow is soaked because you've wept all week and you're in a deep valley. It's the tracks of our tears that sometimes accompany us on our journey home. It's a fact. We acknowledge that fact when we are there. It's a heartache. It's a heartbreak. It's a broken road. It's not what we expected. We thought it might be clear sailing or just a happy, fun vacation on the way to heaven. But it's not always like that, is it? There's the Baca days, the bad days, the days of crying and weeping. But here's the blessing in that: It says that as they go through, notice "through", not just into, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death". Yea, though I walk through into the Baca, "they make it a place of springs".

These folks found themselves at Baca, they didn't leave behind just a trail of tears or a broken place, or a dry hole in the ground, but their tears filled up a pool, a stream of blessing in the wilderness. And all those who came behind them found them faithful on their journey home! Our tears are a testimony and we often learn more in our tears than at any other time in our lives! It's in those valley experiences that we find our greatest victories so often. And we look back on those Baca experiences! I've been to Baca and back! And so have you! Again, some of you are there right now. I pray this ministered to you because here's the point: it's in those bad days and Baca days that we dig wells out of our hardships. One commentator said that "We did wells out of our hardships".

May those who come behind us find us faithful and those who are around us find us faithful. And we dig some wells out of the broken places of our lives as a testimony of our faith and our faithfulness to God! We just kept going. You've been there, we've been there to Baca, and we just keep going. Why? Because we're on our way to glory! We're on our way to heaven! Where God says, I'm going to wipe every tear from your eyes! No more crying, no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more Bacas! But while we go, let's leave some streams in the desert behind us. As the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 1:4, "God is a God of all comfort, and with the comfort that He comforts us, we comfort others". It is in the barren times, in the broken times that we can be a blessing to others, as others have been a blessing to us.

And then notice, it says, "we move from strength to strength", that's verse 7. I love that! God is our strength and we move from strength to strength. Sometimes we wonder am I ever gonna make it! I can't go another step. I'm too tired, I'm too exhausted, I'm too done! But you keep going. And why do you keep going? Because the highway of heaven is in your heart. Couldn't stop if you tried. You keep going because your eyes are upon Him. You're on your way to worship. You're rounding third. You can't stop! We're digging these blessings out of these barren and broken places. And the good news is we don't have to go alone. Strength to strength. We know we have the strength of the Lord. The Holy Spirit, He is our strength. We're ready for anything the Scripture says because Christ lives in us. So we have this internal strength, and we have extra strength.

You know those days when you need extra strength Tylenol? We've got extra strength every day if we will depend if we will depend upon Him! And in addition to His strength, there's strength to strength, we have God's Word. It's like a handbook for survival especially when you're in the desert on this pilgrimage. How could you live without God's Word to guide you? It's food, it's bread, it's water, it's life! So God has given us His Word. And we go together on this trip to heaven. This was a pilgrimage among pilgrims, the people of God. And the psalmist knew that he wasn't alone on this trek. He loved to think about that lovely dwelling place. He even said the birds are there, the sparrows and the swallows, they're chattering and they're chirping. Everybody's praising God in His presence. He said how great it is to live in God's house, to be in God's presence. Nothing's better than that!

He even said, "Better is one day in the presence of God than thousands elsewhere"! Better to be a doorman, a janitor in the house of God than to live in the tents of the wicked! You got it? It's our home, it's our heart! And we are following Him faithfully together. He couldn't wait to get to the place of worship to be with his brothers and sisters and sing those praises to God! I hope you feel that way about coming to church. It's not just you, but it's you adding strength to strength! It's you adding song to song! It is you adding your faith to faith! We need each other! We are better together! Are you following Him faithfully?

One of the first verses I learned as a little boy in our little Baptist church, the Sunbeams which my mother taught us was the words of the psalmist, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord". One final word and that is we are to enjoy Him perpetually. Psalm 84:11 is a verse I often sign with my name. "The Lord God is a sun and a shield; he gives grace and glory and no good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly". No good thing, God wants to bless you! He's not holding out on you. He's not keeping something from you. Don't feel sorry for me as a believer. I've been walking with the Lord a long time now. I'm having a great time doing it! Enjoying Him! Blessing after blessing after blessing! Why? Psalm 16:11: "In Your presence, Lord, is fullness of joy and at your right hand pleasures forevermore".

And I can tell you there's joy in this journey! There's happiness on the road to heaven because of what Christ means to us. I hope you're enjoying the journey by passionately, earnestly, expectantly seeking God in your life; by faithfully following Him even through Baca, and leaving some streams and some wells behind for others on the tracks of your tears. And that every day of your life you will enjoy Him and enjoy His presence. He has given us grace, He has given us glory every step of the way. And when we see Him, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it all! When Christ comes for us and we look into His face, we will celebrate forever this journey home.
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