If you’re reading the Psalms of Ascent (121-134) along with Harbor Community church, here is yet another example (click here if you missed the previous one) of how one can do a personal devotion. This is the 5X5X5 method and you can download it here. Take 5 minutes to read and re-read the passage. Do this 5 times a week. And here are 5 guidelines to help study and apply the passage.
1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
1.) Underline or highlight key words or phrases.
2.) Put it into your own words
It is a beautiful things to see Christians unity of vision and purpose. Even if they may have a variety of differing personal convictions or varying theological backgrounds, if they are centered on the gospel, they can be united in their journey and sense of mission. It is like a beautiful sunset, a school of hungry redfish, a game winning touchdown. We should seek such unity. Of course, ultimately the Lord gives such unity; and when he does, let us be thankful for it.
3.) Ask some more questions: Who, what, where, when, why?
Where: These Psalms were often used as pilgrimage songs as people made their annual pilgrimage to make a sacrifice in the Temple. These Psalms would help them keep focus as they journeyed.
What kept them/what keeps us from dwelling in unity? We forget that Christians are ultimately on the same journey. The original audience was on a journey toward the Temple (the special presence of God). That thought should level the playing field, as they had a common destination and common need of grace. Today, we have the hope that God dwells in us, and our journey is not one of distance but one of becoming more and more like Him. We journey until that day we we reach “bright heaven’s sun.” (Be Thou My Vision). Common destination, common need should lead to unity.
4.) Capture the Big Idea
There are few things more beautiful when diverse groups of people, whether it be from different races, socio-economic, age, or interest come together around the gospel in a local church. When there is a unity in heart and a common sense of mission, this is truly a picture of God’s blessing. I just finished reading The Hobbit last night to my 7 year old. By the end of the story, the Hobbit, a small 3-4 foot human-like creature, found that he had more in common with those he once considered weird or even enemies, than he did with other hobbits. The dwarves, elves, and a wizard, though they came from completely different backgrounds, worldviews, and stories, found themselves united by a common adventure and journey. Shouldn’t Christian brothers and sisters from different backgrounds, even different denominations feel the same way about each other?
5.) Personalize the meaning/response: how would MY life be different if I believed this?
Again, this is FOR ME (notice the Personalize part) not necessarily you. Geoff, stay in close contact with pastor friends from a variety of theological backgrounds. Learn from them in their devotional practices as well as how they do ministry. Pray for unity of vision at Harbor. Look for gospel-centered people, and go from there. Remember that we are all on a journey, and when we lose sight of that, we fight and squabble about silly stuff. Keep the outward face. Keep everyone’s need for grace in front of them as well.
So here is just another way to have a personal devotional time. Hope it helps!