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Holy Hill















The sermon this week is one of the best I have ever heard. It is by Michael Reeves, whom we discovered when we did The Song of Songs. He is so gifted and discerning — and sees things in this psalm I never would have seen on my own.

I must tell you about a huge blooper I made when speaking at Set Apart in St. Paul this month. I wanted to give credit to Mike Reeves for the insight he has given me into The Song of Songs. I said (and of course this is being taped and sold to hundreds who missed the first day) “There is a brilliant theologian to whom I want to give credit for helping me see Christ in The Song of Songs. You can google him along with The Song of Songs and find these wonderful messages. His name Is Mike Ashley.

It didn’t sound quite right when i said it, and yet I couldn’t think why. It was only after I sat down I realized, “Mike Ashley plows my driveway.” This is a man I’ve seen an awfully lot of this winter.


I had to correct my mistake the next day and our own Nanci was there to hear it. There was great laughter, and we were off to a good start. I think our Lord laughed too, for He is a God of love, of mercy, and of tender love for us, His bumbling children.

There are wonderful sermons on Psalm 15 by Mike Reeves, Tim Keller, and Paul Tripp — three amazing minds. But Mike Reeve’s sermon is one of the best sermons I have EVER heard — and I cannot wait for you to hear it, so we are actually going to listen sooner than usual with this sermon, and then I’m going to give you the option on Friday of hearing from Paul Tripp, as we so rarely get a sermon from him — and it is very good too. Of course Keller is always stellar — so you may be listening a lot this week if you choose — for this is a profound psalm — perfect for Lent.


1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. In a sentence, if you can, share one of your memorable bloopers or embarrassing moments.



3. What question is asked in Psalm 15:1?

4. Let’s prepare for Mike Reeve’s message by studying what “holy hill” means.

Eden River

               A. According to Genesis 2:10-14, how do we know Eden (meaning delight) was a hill?

           B. What does Ezekiel 28:14 say Eden was?

           C. According to Genesis 3:22-24, what happened after the fall?

Jacabo Bassano 1570-1573 “Garden of Eden”
fineartofamerica.com Cherubim guarding the way into Eden

               D. When we studied The Song of Songs we saw many of the symbols that were reminiscent of Eden: vines in blossom, lilies, flowers everywhere…these symbols were carved or embroidered in the Tabernacle which sat on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem — the place that was a symbol of Eden and the heaven to come. The way to the Holy of Holies was guarded by cherubim, just as the return to Eden was guarded by cherubimwith flaming swords. (I love when, in another sermon, Mike Reeves said, “Cherubim are not babies because you don’t give flaming swords tobabies.”) Obviously there are parallels here — so putting them all together, what must the holy hill mean?

5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?




We so rarely get a sermon from Paul Tripp, if you have time, listen to his take on Psalm 15. One of you commented that he always convicts her and he does me too — but he is so on target.

8. If you have time, listen, comment, and pray! While it is true Christ makes His own as white as snow, it is also true that then, out of gratefulness, we are called to respond with the kind of holy lives described in this psalm, like the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer.


9. Thank the Lord for the holiest hill and what is cost our Lord.



9. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate Son of God in every psalm. How do you see Him here?
    Just as in Psalm 1 where Jesus is the Blessed Man who does all things perfectly, here He is the only One who can fulfill each of these standards perfectly…
    His walk – blameless…He is righteous…He is truth itself…He never slandered or sinned with his tongue…He did no wrong to anyone…He never gossiped…He keeps all His promises…never hurt the innocent. Also, in an above post I mentioned some other things that stood out to me such as He didn’t come to accuse us but to save us…He kept His promise to go to the Cross even though it was going to hurt, and He didn’t let Satan tempt and bribe Him to abandon us.

  2. 3. What question is asked in Psalm 15:1?
    Who can be in God’s presence?…what does it require?
    4. A. According to Genesis 2:10-14, how do we know Eden (meaning delight) was a hill?
    The text states “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden”…for water to flow “from” Eden, Eden must have been at a higher elevation. 
    B. What does Ezekiel 28:14 say Eden was?
    “The holy mountain of God”
    C. According to Genesis 3:22-24, what happened after the fall?
    Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden…angels protected the perimeter of Eden to guard against their re-entry.
    D. Obviously there are parallels here — so putting them all together, what must the holy hill mean?
    Where God is present…heaven?
    5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?
    Psalm 15 talks of one who is “blameless, does what is righteous, speaks the truth from their heart, utters no slander, does no wrong to a neighbor”…this can only be Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who meets these requirements.

  3. 5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?
    I totally agree with what Susan posted just above.   However, I would also like to add that Jesus’ teaching as seen in Mark 12; 29-31 parallels Psalm 15.   

    “The most important one, answered Jesus, “is this:  Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this,  Love your neighbor as yourself.   There is no commandment greater than these.”   

    Also, as I am reading The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer, I see in his discussion of the Beatitudes and the sermon on the mount some of the same thinking.  In the section  on p. 112 in which he is focused on “Blessed are the pure in heart,” he says: 

    “Who is pure in heart?  Only those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus that he may reign in them alone.   Only those whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil–and by their virtues too.   The pure in heart have a child-like simplicity like Adam before the fall, innocent alike of good and evil:  their hearts are not ruled by their conscience, but by the will of Jesus.”


    1. Deanna, these do seem to tie-in with Psalm 15…loving your neighbor as yourself would mean that you would treat people as the psalm describes. But the Bonhoeffer quote, unfortunately for me, personally, discourages me a bit – I feel so far from his description of “who is pure in heart”. My heart feels so often like a war zone, a battle between being controlled by the Spirit versus the flesh. Anytime I am pulled back or turned around from sin, I can only give the credit to Him for helping me to turn. I so wish I could have the child-like simplicity like Adam before the fall, innocent alike of good and evil but my heart seems more complicated than that!

  4. Psalm 15 – Sermon by Mike Reeves  
    I’m going to apologize up front for the length of these notes.   Believe it or not, I still cut some things out.   It was a great sermon and it was just loaded!
    Verse 1 – Lord who may dwell in your sanctuary, who can live on your holy hill?
    This is exactly what most people expect from the Bible.  It comes off sounding like “Who may come to church, who may be a Christian, who may be saved?   The answer is “he who is a self-righteous, prudish, good-goody!” Something about being human makes us default to this – we imagine Christianity is about beating us to become more moral.   It drives us to guilt.   
    However, Psalm 15 doesn’t encourage us in that direction at all.   Rather it removes guilt and swaps the guilt for the sweet smell of very good news.   
    What is this sancutary and holy hill?   Why do we care?  This is first seen in Genesis 2:10.  Basically this section is about God placing Adam in the Garden of Eden, in that paradise.     Genesis 2:10 states a river watering the garden flowed from Eden.   Also in Ezekiel 28:14 we see that Eden was a mountain.   Mt Eden is the Holy Hill.  
    In Genesis 3, Adam sinned.   In verses 23-24, God banished him from the Garden of Eden, from this mountain, to work the land from which he had been taken.    Because of his sin, man was barred from being with God on his Holy Hill.   
    By the time David wrote this psalm, the cherubim had not been forgotten.  The Holy Hill could still be seen and also the cherubim.    Mount Eden (Eden means delight) was now reduced to being called Mount Zion (Zion means “drought.”) That is what human sin does – it turns delight into drought.   In 2 Samuel 6, David moves the Tabernacle there.  In the Tabernacle was a copy, a picture for all of Israel to see of the Garden of Eden in its Holy of Holies.  There were cherubim woven into the massive veil which barred man from entering the Lord’s presence.    The sanctuary is where the Lord lives, a little copy of paradise.   
    Psalm 15, verse 1 asks who will be guaranteed eternity in paradise, who may avoid the furnaces of hell and enjoy the pleasures of heaven?    Verse 2 gives the Lord’s answer: He whose walk is blameless and he who does what is righteous.   We can’t just say “I’m fairly blameless.”  It is clear cut: are you or aren’t you?   If you are not blameless, you are not coming in.  He who speaks the truth from his heart.     He who does his neighbor no wrong.    The longer Psalm 15 goes on the more we know we don’t fit the description.  We have no right on the Holy Hill.  Some think it is easy, that heaven is for all of us.  But look at the qualifications the Lord has laid down – ten qualifications that condemn us.   
    Have you ever had a day when, at the end of it, you can’t think of any sins to confess?   Don’t you think you are just a little bit more worthy to stand before Lord?   Psalm 14 and 15 tell us that however good you think your life has been, you are not good enough to stand on God’s Holy Hill.  So we cry with David at the end of Psalm 14, verse 7:   “O that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion.”   The Lord is going to have to rescue us – a Holy One who can do all of Psalm 15 for us.   
    Psalm 16:8 “ I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand.  I will not be shaken.”    Who is this Holy One?  Anyone in Israel could tell you – it is the high priest!   The high priest’s uniform included a gold plate tied to the front of his turban, and on it was written “Holy to the Lord.”      Only the high priest was allowed to enter the Lord’s presence in His sanctuary.   All high priests only went into a mini-model of the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, because they were only copies or models of the true high priest, Jesus Christ.    Jesus ascended into heaven itself.     Psalm 15 is used for Ascension Day.  Jesus now sits enthroned – installed on the Holy Hill.   We have the best friend in a high place!   There is one who is being holy for us.  By simply trusting in our one High Priest, we may enjoy all that He has.  
    We replace guilt, self-obsession, and all striving to win God’s favor with rejoicing and trust in a paradise already won for us.   
    Our acceptance is not won by our feeble attempts at holiness, but has been won by Jesus Christ, our High Priest.    Our unworthiness, guilt and shame we feel within ourselves should drive us to Jesus, and to know that Jesus’ perfect holiness has covered all of our unholiness.   We have been rescued from corruption and have been given a holy future freely.   Because of this, we will do these things listed in verses 2-5.
    We never despair as we have an unshakable foundation in Jesus Christ.    James Bond, shaken not stirred, Christians not even shaken!!    Those who have sought to be holy enough in themselves and so rejected all Christ has done for them, will be beaten away.   In Jesus Christ, we unholy ones – we are holy and we are unshakable.   

    1. No apologies, please, Deanna…I listened to the Reeves sermon this morning and your notes are a wonderful, thorough re-cap.   Many thanks!

  5. Just reading a GC article with this quote from Bernard of Clairvaux, convicted my heart “The soul that loves God seeks no other reward than that God whom it loves. Were the soul to demand anything else, then it would certainly love that other thing and not God.”

  6. So busy lately at school and at church but I am trying to keep up with our study here. Thank you to all who are taking so many good notes on the messages. Between Mike Reeves message and the song by Indelible Grace, “Come ye sinners” I can not help but be reminded once again of my sinful state and the lavish sacrifice of Jesus. My daily feeble attempts to qualify to ascend to the holy hill are of naught. What a comfort to know Jesus, my high priest has already ascended the holy hill for me! “Only Jesus can do helpless sinners good.”
    Guilt should not drive us to despair but to Jesus and rejoice that the holiness of Christ covers all..
    …Atttempts to live morally are only denials of the gospel if only we want to win the favor of the Lord; holy life has been lived for us by Jesus so we can start living the holy life… Give me Jesus and only Him alone!

    1. Ernema, I found hope in your post and much wisdom.

  7. The sermon by Mike Reeves was overwhelmingly good.   I wrote down nearly everything he said…..and I appreciate Deanna’s thorough notes so I can refer back to them this week.  I won’t add mine here.
    What is going through my mind is these words from a meaningful Lenten hymn:
    Guilty, vile and helpless we,   Spotless Lamb of God was He. 
    Full atonement!  Can it be?      Hallelujah!  What a Savior!
    I can’t think of a better way to summarize the message and Psalm 15.  Who can ascend to the holy hill?   Not me.   Only Jesus.  Who can go to heaven?   I can.  Only because of Jesus.   It is completely amazing to me, how perfectly the pieces fit together, the parallels….the symbols.  The Law and The Gospel.    From Genesis….to Leviticus……to Psalms……to the Gospels; Gethsemane, Golgotha, the Resurrection…..to Hebrews……to Revelation…….it is all here!  (and so much more).  and it all points to the spotless Lamb of God.    Lord, You alone are worthy.  Let me humbly bow before you.   Let me see you in your holiness.  Let me see you in your passion.  Make my heart ever grateful.  Amen.

  8. 5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?
    This Psalm is definitely reminiscent of Jesus. He is perfection and it describes that very thing. It describes a high standard of living that can’t easily be reached by we human beings; Jesus could be that person. The only verse that throws me off is verse four; “…who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord…” (Psalm 15:4 NIV) I just don’t get that God would despise anyone as he made everyone. He might despise for their actions, but still love that person, or feel sorry for them, right? I get confused on verses in the Bible that talk about God hating or despising things.

      1. While going to Isaiah 53 for a different reason, I came upon this note about the word ‘despised’.  Perhaps, it is not the same Hebrew word as what is translated in Psalm 15 as ‘who despises the vile man’.  But here’s what I have.  In reference to Is. 53: ‘He was despised and rejected by men’,  I have written (a note from a sermon of my pastor’s)  that the Hebrew word, ‘despised’ refers to something that is insignificant; not newsworthy.’  If this definition applies to the word in Psalm 15, it would shed a lot of light on the meaning!  By despising an evil man,  we would be giving him no acclaim, no status…..no validity.  It would be the complete opposite of the second part of the verse that says to honor those who fear the Lord.  That makes sense in a poetic sense of making a contrast and in a contextual sense.    And it does not contradict the bigger picture…which we know is true….that God loves us all unconditionally.   I remember writing that in my margin……but wasn’t looking for it.  Just needed to read Isaiah 53 tonight.  How sweet that God showed me this as well!

        1. and a little addendum to my above note in regard to Laura’s question.   Continuing in Isaiah 53:3 ….the prophet says, that he was ‘like one from whom men hide their faces.   He was despised and we esteemed Him not.”  ‘Esteemed Him not seems to define ‘despised’ as in the Hebrew meaning which I wrote about earlier.  Further clarification, perhaps, that when Jesus ‘despises’ a vile man (Psalm 15:4) …..it does not mean he ‘hates’ him as we use the word…..but that he ‘esteems him not’…. does not honor or give him high regard.    (See my above comment).   Seems like a possible answer anyway.

        2. 5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?
          Some passages from Isaiah 53, where Jesus is described as the suffering servant coincide well with the description of the one who can dwell on the holy hill:
          Psalm 15: ‘He spoke the truth from his heart’    Isaiah 53:9  “He had done no violence…..nor was any deceit found in His mouth.”
          Psalm 15:  He had no slander on his tongue:   Isaiah 53: 7  “He was oppressed and afflicted…as a sheep before her shearers is silent, but he opened not his mouth.”
          Psalm 15:  ‘He keeps his oath even when it hurts.’   “He was pierced by our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities…”   In the garden of Gethsemane,  Jesus prayed, ‘not my will but yours be done’. 
          Psalm 15:  He cast no slur on his fellow man.  Jesus said,  ‘he that is without sin, cast the first stone.’  and exemplified perfect love by slandering no one.
          Psalm 15: ‘…..who lends his money without interest and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.’  What came to mind was Matthew 10:8  ‘Freely you have received.  Freely give.’     Jesus gives freely of his mercy and grace.

        3. Love your thoughts of the definition of despised, Wanda S. It makes sense to me that despised here might not mean “hate” but “insignificant”. 

        4. This seems to make sense, Wanda. I was also reading Isaiah 53 a couple of days ago!

    1. Laura–are you feeling better today? I still have a faint “L” and “D” on my hand–prayed much for you & Diane yesterday especially. You are so gifted at digging deeper into those hard questions–I can imagine what an excellent teacher you must be! I have no wisdom-but I did think Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse was really helpful:
      In his eyes a vile person is contemned. Wicked people are vile people, worthless and good for nothing (so the word signifies), as dross, as chaff, and as salt that has lost its savour. They are vile in their choices (Jer. 2:13 ), in their practices, Isa. 32:6 . For this wise and good men contemn them, not denying them civil honour and respect as men, as men in authority and power perhaps (1 Pt. 2:17 , Rom. 13:7 ), but, in their judgment of them, agreeing with the word of God. They are so far from envying them that they pity them, despising their gains (Isa. 33:15 ), as turning to no account, their dainties (Ps. 141:4 ), their pleasures (Heb. 11:24, Heb. 11:25 ) as sapless and insipid. They despise their society (Ps. 119:115 ; 2 Ki. 3:14 ); they despise their taunts and threats, and are not moved by them, nor disturbed at them; they despise the feeble efforts of their impotent malice (Ps. 2:1, Ps. 2:4 ), and will shortly triumph in their fall, Ps. 52:6, Ps. 52:7 .

    2. I don’t have any answers, but will continue to ponder.   
      I sometimes wonder about translations…I wonder if knowing Hebrew or Greek might help in understanding; Keller will sometimes highlight a word and give it better meaning than the translation with his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.
      What does come to mind is the flood and the Lord’s cleansing of the earth except for Noah and his family and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

    3. Laura, have you had time to listen to Tripp’s sermon? If so, I heard an answer to your question about the meaning of “despising a vile person”. He said “Do you find entertaining something that God says is evil?” A good question to ask ourselves as we watch movies and TV, the books we read, music we listen to. We should not be letting certain things into our minds-vile things that God says are evil. I hope that is helpful to you.

  9. I was the one who commented that Paul Tripp always convicts me, and  this sermon did not disappoint! He is one of my favorite authors and like Dee, his words seem to cut through my layers of self-righteousness and penetrate with truth. Both he and Dee have such humble transparency—God uses it to show me my deepest ick.
    A few nuggets from the sermon—
    I was made for relationship with God,I was given breath to enjoy communion with Him. Whatever rules my heart, rules my words and behavior. I can’t blame it on anyone or anything else, I do what I do because of  how my heart reacts to what is around me. Righteousness always begins with the heart-the question is who or what owns my heart?

    I humbly related to him saying there is still a war being fought in my heart—not always wanting what God wants, thinking my way is better, having my own agenda.

    I loved the balance he talked about that this psalm in intended to both crush us and comfort us, but first we must be crushed.

    “You can’t really understand Psalm 15 unless you understand this psalm is meant to remind you that you and I will never achieve acceptance with God based on our own righteousness. This psalm calls you to abandon your righteousness.”

    This too was so good– the balance of accepting the comfort of the gospel as we also accept the call, the obligation, “you must not receive that comfort in a spirit of self-absorbed laziness.” We are called to sanctification—we are called to pray and study and fellowship.

    Loved the end, the promise of stability—“when you live that way you will not be moved. “ Stability in relationships, emotions.  “You want stability? You put one foot on the comfort of the gospel and you put one foot on the call of the gospel, you will have a life of remarkable stability because you are actually placing your feet on the solid rock.”

    1. I notice that in the previous verses there are guidance for how the righteous man acts – no slander, does his neighbor no wrong, casts no slur… Some translations say “condemn” instead of “despise.” Perhaps this is more of an approach like “do not align yourself with evil” or “have no business with a man that does evil.”
      In my mind despise goes deep in the heart (like hate) but like I said above the verses just previous say there is truth in the man’s heart, he casts no slur and does no wrong to his fellow man. Maybe our cultural use of the word despise makes this picture different than David intended? I could not find the original language to look at…
      Just some thoughts.  I like to hope all will be redeemed but some will not – there are certainly times in the Bible when it seems Christ and God know a man will not be. Hard stuff to ponder. Good question.

  10. 5. Remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to see the incarnate son of God in every psalm. How do you see him here?
    There have already been lovely comments on Christ in this psalm.  I am struck, especially, by the last verse. “He who does these things will never be shaken.” I always saw this as if a man can keep doing the right things he will not be shaken. And initially in seeing Christ I see, well, of course He will always do the right thing… not be shaken.
    But now meditating on the psalm for a few days I am reminded of Psalm 11:3-4 “When the foundations are being destroyed what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.” Regardless of what happens God will always sit on His throne.
    My foundation in Christ will not be shaken.  I am safe. I am secure because I am in Christ.  He will not be shaken! This is far deeper than just the behavior I was seeing in the description…. What joy. =)

    1. Thanks for that honesty and retraction, Dee.  I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.

    2. Dee, I was just thinking this morning how grateful I am for all the time and effort you put forth for this bible study blog…many thanks to you for all you do.  Enjoy your time with family these next few days!

    3. Thanks for the retraction, Dee. Sometimes it is so hard to have the big picture of a person’s theological views. I know you try to be cautious. I’m glad you have friends who help point out concerns. Another case of iron sharpening iron. Hugs to you.

  11. Thank you so much for your prayers…my daughter and husband made it home safely…Praise God.    Praying for you…. Laura and Diane….hope your having better days.            Jill, did I hear that you will be at Dee’s retreat in Kearney this week-end?  I hope to get to met you then…I’ll be there Friday evening…don’t know if I can come Sat. am tho.      Can’t wait to see you Dee!

      1. Praying, Dee, for your retreat. How wonderful that Jill and Joyce will be there.

    1. Joyce, how exciting you too will be there! Also that you get to see Jill and Dee..how awesome!! :)) love you.

    I am traveling most of today (waiting now to board first flight) to nebraska to visit a dear friend and hear Dee speak. So excited! Please pray for safety. And please pray for my boys n hubs as they ‘survive’ without me for 4days. =) THANK YOU!
    Joyce, I will look for you friday night!

    1. Jill-SO excited you will be there and will get to spend time with your friend and with Dee..yeah!!!!! :))))))  Will pray ahead-love to you! 🙂

    2. Praying for safe travels and a GREAT time, Jill.

    3. Praying for safe travels and a wonderful time of fellowship!

    4. And I will look for you Jill!   Praying for your boys and hubs, as it is always harder with mom gone.  Pray your flight went well too!  Praying for you and the retreat too, Dee!  So excited to get to see you both!!

    I listened while at work so I didn’t take notes but love the notes of everyone here who did! 🙂 
    Bottom line-I was encouraged while listening inwardly rejoicing that Jesus is my righteous covering-that I don’t have to strive to be holy to win his approval-rather because of Him I am blameless and holy before God. I couldn’t also help but extend it a bit that even though my heart is wicked there is this desire to yield to Him-this battle inside is usually daily for me-but it is because of Him for He steadfastly prompts that in me via the Holy Spirit inside! That isn’t from me..this is what blows me away-not only did he save me from the penalty of sin but He wants to transform me into His image saving me from the power of sin..He continues to pursue me when I stray-and that is sealed-I AM HIS and He will never forsake me even despite me! :))) My redeemer savior!  
    The Gospel melted me again via Reeves sermon right when I needed it.
    7. Lord you love me that much! Praise your holy name-that you would die for me to cover me in your righteousness-that you would see me as blameless..thank you for reminding me yesterday and encouraging me again. Thank you that you understand I am so limited and like sheep easily led astray. I am grateful you have me and will not let me go for it is all You in me and to you be the glory. I need you today Jesus-help me to have my mind on you-to commune with you throughout the day.  Lord I ask that You would melt me again today to desire to run the race with perseverance and to let go of the DAILY things that hinder me and they will come today..and help me let go of the sin that EASILY entangles me. You are greater. In your Holy name-name above all names, amen.

    1. praying with you Rebecca “Lord I ask that You would melt me again today to desire to run the race with perseverance and to let go of the DAILY things that hinder me and they will come today..and help me let go of the sin that EASILY entangles me. You are greater. In your Holy name-name above all names, amen.”

  14. This week has been so rich, what a blessing to have such good teaching–from Dee, Reeves, and Tripp. I was just re-reading my notes from Reeves, and this struck me anew, my prayer this morning-
    I replace my efforts of being holy and religious enough, and rely instead on the One who has done it all for me. Seated on the Throne of Heaven, next to the Father, is my Assurance—not dependent on my performance. …My acceptance is already won by Jesus Christ. My feelings of unworthiness, guilt and shame, should never drive me to despair or spiritual sulking…but to Jesus—and then to rejoice that His perfect holiness covers all my un-holiness.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you for voicing this prayer. It will be my prayer, too. “Seated on the Throne of Heaven, next to the Father, is my Assurance—not dependent on my performance. …My acceptance is already won by Jesus Christ. “
      Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
      Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!

    2. AMEN.

    This psalm should drive us from our own righteousness to the cross. This is the moral standard by which we should live. I need to be crushed by this psalm. Psalm 15 is both a comfort and a call…
    The moral standard by which we can aim for
    To quest for the impossible- our call this is the Standard
    should drive us from our righteousness to the cross of Jesus Christ
    That is where you find the power to do what you are called to do
    Move further to the standard by the grace and power of God
    A balance of the comfort and call of the gospel.
    We are people of low standard
    I’ve been called to be holy and I will work towards it.
    What powerful exhortation! Paul Tripp sure convicted me of my “low standard”. And yes, I was convicted and where do I go from there. Oh, the power of the cross! Jesus, thank you that you did not leave us to our own resources. We would never have made it. To you be the honor, praise and adoration!
    7. Lord, this is my song for you. Who am I? that you would care for me…that you would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart. Thank you for Jesus, my righteousness-for living the holy life so I can be equipped for doing such a life while here on earth. No one is righteous, no not one. Psalm 15 is all about you. May I strive to live like you-help me to live this out as my calling. For in your matchless name, I pray, Amen.
    Who am I? lyrics by Casting Crown
    Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth Would care to know my name Would care to feel my hurt Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star Would choose to light the way For my ever wandering heart Not because of who I am But because of what You’ve done Not because of what I’ve done But because of who You are  I am a flower quickly fading Here today and gone tomorrow A wave tossed in the ocean A vapor in the wind Still You hear me when I’m calling Lord, You catch me when I’m falling And You’ve told me who I am I am Yours, I am Yours

    1. Yes indeed, Ernema,  the song Who Am I has been “on my mind” all week.   I have listened to it several times.   I love it!!

  16. 6. Listen and share notes and thoughts (Mike Reeves)
    What an encouraging message! I would sum it up in this way…simple yet profound. Reeves explains profound truths so simply, and I really liked how he tied Psalms 14, 15, and 16 all together.
    This grabbed my attention right away: “What most people expect to hear from the Bible – a fancy, religious way of saying, “Who may come to church? Who may be a Christian? Who may be saved? He who is a self-righteous, prudish goody-goody.”
    We imagine that Christianity is all about beating us to become more moral. Psalm 15 doesn’t pile on the guilt; it removes it. It gives us the sweet smell of very good news!
    The explanation of the meaning of “holy hill” – Eden was a mountain, the mountain of God. And Mount Zion means “Mount Draught”.
    Sin turns delight into draught.
    The tabernacle being a picture of the mountain of God – Eden – and the cherubim are woven into the fabric of the veil, still guarding the entrance, barring access.
    Psalm 15 proves the point of Psalm 14. Psalm 16:8 and on…who is this “holy one” whom the Lord accepts?  The high priests with the gold plate on their turban where it was written “The Lord’s holy one” – mini-copies of Jesus Christ, The Holy One. The conclusion of Psalms 14-16 is the happy news of Jesus!
    Psalms 14 and 15 have shown us that any assurance of heaven based on dreams of our own holiness or decency are just that – mere dreams.
    This following part had special meaning to me, reinforcing what Dee has taught us on how to speak the truth to our souls and not listen to our feelings, to take our souls in hand…
    We (I) may feel far from God, that we (I) have not lived as we (I) should. But Psalm 15 shows us (me) that such feelings are no gauge of reality at all, for our (my) acceptance in heaven is not won by our (my) feeble attempts at holiness. Our (my) acceptance has been won by Jesus Christ our High Priest. The guilt and shame we (I) know within ourselves (myself) should never drive us (me) to despair of any sort, OR TO THE SORT OF SPIRITUAL SULKING WHICH MEANS WE (I) FEEL WE (I) CAN’T PRAY. Our (my) unworthiness should drive us (me) to Jesus, and then to rejoice that His perfect holiness covers all our (my) unholiness.
    Like I said, how simply and clearly Mike Reeves explains these very great and profound truths. That has been one of my downfalls as a Christian – believing what my heart/feelings are telling me as reality, and that “spiritual sulking” he referred to, feeling like I’ve blown it again and instead of running to Jesus, I back away, feeling unable to pray. Or, that because of my sin, He doesn’t want me to pray to Him.
    Just yesterday, I had a relapse into an area of especial temptation and weakness for me. This morning, I “talked through it” and applied the gospel to my sin, pointing out where I had exchanged the truth for a lie, naming the sin. Then to hear this message this morning was so encouraging to me.

    Dear God,  I don’t always speak the truth in my heart.  Sometimes I color things the way I want them to be.  I certainly don’t always do right by my neighbor, and there is a myriad of ways in which I can be proven not to be blameless.   Of course, I am sorry for all of this, but at the same time I seem to be helpless to permanently make a change.    I thank you that Jesus has rescued us from ourselves and from the penalty of our sin.  Jesus is the one who is blameless and holy in a way that I can never be.  I have hope because He has paved the way for us and now sits at  your right hand. Thank you for the peace that brings when we can stop flailing in the water trying to get our nose above it, lest we drown in an ocean of despair.   Now instead of striving hopelessly to please you, we can instead rejoice in our rescue  and long to find our niche to serve you.  It is so wonderful to know that we are yours!!  Amen.  

  18. 8. If you have time, listen, comment, and pray! While it is true Christ makes His own as white as snow, it is also true that then, out of gratefulness, we are called to respond with the kind of holy lives described in this psalm, like the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer.
    Because Elizabeth posted the link to the transcript for Paul Tripp’s sermon, I see no reason to post my complete notes here.  I will just post a few selections that really resounded with me.

    We were each created for a relationship with God.  That is what your life is about. 

    He said that Psalm 15 crushed him.    Only the person who is purely righteous in every way, only the person perfectly holy has the right to be in the presence of God.  We all say “Not me, not me!!”   Psalm 15 adds layer upon layer on us, and we are crushed by the high standard of this Psalm.    

    I want to interject that I am finding this true also when reading Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.    Because of that, I am finding that I am inching through the book – certainly can’t read that book like a novel!!   

    About speaking the truth in our hearts: Your heart never stops talking.   A righteous man’s heart is filled with the truth.  He only thinks right, desires right, purposes right.  (My aside here is that under those standards, I don’t have a chance!)

    We can’t blame our actions on our parents, coworkers, friends, government leaders, etc.  We do x, y, and z because of how our heart reacts to things around us.    “The heart of our difficulty is our heart!” 

    “Love your enemies.”   He said “I don’t even think I love the people I say I love – I am much too busy loving me!” 

    I thought he asked a good question with “What did you feed yourself this week?”  By that he meant things like the internet, television, or other forms of entertainment.    “Maybe, brother and sister, we’re losing our edge.”    We consume a continuous diet of polluted things.   He asked, “This month did you find entertainment in something God says is evil?” 

    The gospel is not just a comfort – it is also a call.  You cannot accept comfort without the call.  Some are living lives not pleasing to the Lord because you are dancing on the comfort and forgot its call.     Or conversely, some of you look beaten up because you are suffering under the call and forgot the comfort.  We need the balance of the comfort and the call of the gospel.

  19. A wonderful song based on Psalm 15. Please listen-you will be extra blessed!
    Have a great week-end!  Bing 🙂 (this is my nickname that I go by with here in the US)

    1. oh Ernema, “Bing” 🙂 this is so beautiful–thank you for sharing it!

    2. meaningful,  beautiful song, Bing. 

    3. “Bing”, this song is so beautiful with such gorgeous pictures!  Thank you!

    4. Okay, “Bing” it shall be!    Thank you so much for sharing the link for that beautiful song.  It was a real find!!    Did all of you notice that one of the last screens gave us the scripture passage of I Thessalonians 5:23.   I think that is a fitting benediction for this week!     

      1. I Thessalonians 5:23 is a beautiful benediction, Deanna.  Thank you for pointing that out.  It stirs me and gives me peace and the same time…..

      2. Yes, Deanna!  The song was a great find. I heard it long time ago and the song came back to memory and I just typed the first line on youtube. Thankful that it was there, indeed! And your point on the I Thes 5:23 verse is awesome! What a benediction indeed as we close the week! (or enter a new week)

  20. Such a great sermon. Take-a-ways:
    The heart of my difficulty of mine is my heart.
    Abandon my righteousness
    I don’t have to be afraid, the price has been paid.
    The gospel gives comfort but also is a call.

  21. http://youtu.be/7W4Wj42Ut0g

     Found this song that Mercy Me sings, that I’ve never heard before.  I was thanking God that I get to see Dee and Jill tonight and give them a hug and was wishing that we could all be together …all us sister’s in God….but I know that could never happen…in this lifetime…but it will one day….in heaven!

    1. I had a wonderful time tonight!  Dee looked beautiful as usual and so did Jill!  How wonderful to met you Jill and give you a hug too!  I feel so blessed.

      Dee spoke on Idol Lies and  it touched my heart so much…just like the first time I heard her speak about it, on video  when the book come out.   I know I need a reminder all the time about my idols.  It’s always so good to see you on video  too Rebecca!

       I so wish I could be there in the morning, but it’s just too hard to get away from Kendra so early.  Dee is speaking on The Songs of Solomon….please keep her in your prayers as she touches so many hearts.  

      1. Joyce, I’m so glad you were able to have that time on Friday with Dee and Jill! You are so right – we could listen to Dee speaking on idols again and again – always need to be reminded all the time-me too!

        1. I love you too, Dee….thank you so much!

  22. Listening to trip..oh my..so far I think I have violated all of Psalm 15-even just yesterday! :/

    1. Okay..ouch..stop..stop now..let’s move on. :~)

  23. 8. If you have time, listen, comment, and pray! 
    Oh I SO SO loved Tripp’s sermon..So convicting-YES Psalm 15 is talking about Jesus but it is also a call for us. At the end I loved how he said we need the balance of the comfort and the call of the Gospel. This is what it truly looks like as He transforms us into His image. 

    I read this great article on the Gospel Coalition’s site a while ago and now after listening to Tripp’s sermon I am left with this nagging question-Why do I desire to obey him-to walk in the call of Psalm 15? Any desire in me is from Him indeed but do I REALLY love and obey Him “for His sake and His sake alone”?  I think obeying out of a heart of gratitude is important-because of what he has done for me how can I not desire to sacrificially obey Him? Yet I am starting to think it goes even deeper than that.

    1. That stood out to me too, Rebecca, what he said about the balance of the comfort and the call of the Gospel. I liked the word picture he used of standing with one foot on the comfort, and the other foot on the call…and that is standing on the Rock that is Jesus Christ.
      Like your ponderings on the desire to obey Him…

    2. I read the Tripp article “why we obey”. I too think it was a great article and highly recommend it. 

  24. 7. Pray on the basis of what you have learned.
    Lord, forgive me for even sub-consciously believing that I can do anything to earn your favor and love. I wouldn’t say that I believe that, but it must be true for the times when I sin and fail and then I think You must be mad at me or not even like me. Help me to replace such thinking and spiritual sulking with running as fast as I can to Jesus. Help me to get my mind off of earthly things to see Jesus, my Hope, my Confidence, my Assurance. And Jesus, I praise You for Your perfect, pure heart. If anyone could look into the depths of Your heart, all the way to the bottom, he wouldn’t find even one speck of dirt. Your heart is perfect and pure, Your words are lovely, flawless like silver refined. You always spoke the truth, never hurt anyone, always kept every promise. You are Someone to look up to…You are my Hero.

  25. 8. If you have time, listen, comment, and pray.
    Paul Tripp’s sermon was also very good. He talked about what is the basic meaning of our life in the very beginning of his sermon. The opening question of the psalm ties into this – we were made to have a relationship with God. So, how do we ever hope to dwell with Him?
    I liked his thoughts on verse 2 about the heart. The heart rules your words, rules your behavior. He described the constant “internal conversations” that go on in our hearts…who can say that they are always about pure, righteous things? The heart is the turf of an internal war.
    That is how I often feel about my own heart.
    He said that Psalm 15 is a comfort for those who have first been crushed by it. I thought his thoughts on both the comfort and the call of the gospel were very good. Referring to Romans 8 on the comfort we receive – no condemnation, but the “therefore” – the obligation/call. This was especially helpful:
    We live defeated when we try to live the call without the comfort. But living in the comfort only results in self-absorbed laziness. (I felt an “ouch” there but also can relate to why I often feel defeated-this helps to explain it.)
    9. Thank the Lord for the holiest hill and what it cost our Lord.
    Lord, when I look at the picture of the three crosses on the hill, it seems a place of such loneliness and abandonment. I think of your journey up to that hill and the pain and suffering of it. I know that now You live on the Holy Mount of God, in heaven. But first came that other hill. I am humbled that You died for me so that I would never have to walk up that hill to face a cross. On that hill there is no comfort, no relief, only where God exacted the payment for sin. I belong on that hill, but even if I had to go there and be punished for my sin, how could I, a sinner, remove or somehow pay what is owed for my sin? Only You, Jesus, the Holy One of God, were able to make the payment for sin because You are the only One who lived a perfect, sinless life. Thank You for sparing me from that awful hill so that I can live with You in heaven one day.
    9. What is your take-away and why?
    I am still processing what I learned from the two sermons by Mike Reeves and Paul Tripp. Reflecting and praying through what both men taught, listening to the music from this week, reflecting on the picture of the hill with the Crosses…trying to pray these truths from my head down into my heart. How Psalm 15 gives me an impossible standard to live by…seeing Jesus all over this psalm as the One who did live this way…the “upside down” of the gospel in that it is the person who thinks they are so righteous and good who should be afraid to approach God but the person who abandons and gives up all dreams and ideas of being good and righteous who does not have to be afraid to approach God and say HELP!
    I really want to apply the truths of the two sermons to the problem of why I am so often defeated in living the Christian life…that “spiritual sulking” that Reeves said is not necessary and what Tripp explained was the balance of living in the comfort and the call of the gospel. Another wonderful week of getting so much out of the Psalms!
    Also praying for you, Dee, as you speak today on the Song of Songs at your retreat!

    1. Susan, I love your ponderings and how the two sermons are touching on some recurring struggles you are having, but, oh my, I love your heart-felt prayer about the Cross on the “holiest hill”. I have only been able to listen to Reeves so far but I’m looking forward to hearing Tripp.

  26. Sermon by Paul Tripp:   I listened awhile to get a feel for his voice…..and then switched to the written transcript.  Thank you Elizabeth, for the link.  I learn best by visualizing the words.    This psalm should crush us….when we acknowledge the high standards God has to dwell in his holy presence.  “Who has the right to actually do what he was created to do?”   Tripp said that this psalm was possibly used when Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount.  (What an imagery that is.  Jesus teaching.  From a hill.  About the holy hill.  About the impossibly high standard to achieve admission to the presence of God…..the very questions he was about to answer by giving his life blood to pay the price for our sin…..and become the ‘door’ to be admitted into God’s presence.’)
    In regard to ‘speaking the truth in our hearts’,  Tripp said, “… you are in a constant conversation with you. Your heart never stops talking and your heart is always conversing about something, always has a viewpoint on everything, always is full of some kind of content”     This is convicting to me when I realize that all of the self talk I do…..(which is sometimes even out loud….I’m one who talks audibly to myself when I’m alone…..and also goes on silently when I’m with others)  is the place where my thoughts and words are formed…..if it’s not a place that God is controlling with His truth…I will be acting on thoughts and words that are not from him.
    The balance of the comfort and the call of the gospel was very well developed.   Titus 2 tells us that the grace of God has appeared to all men and teaches us to say no to ungodliness, worldly passion and live self controlled, godly, upright lives.  It’s not the Law that teaches us.  It’s Grace. 
    This ties in exactly with what I am reading about Costly Grace  in The Cost of Discipleship this week. 
    Thank the Lord for the holiest hill and what it cost Him.
    Jesus…..how can I thank you for being my Redeemer?  You have borne my sin, carried my transgressions and by becoming sin for me on the hill of Golgotha, you have become the mediator between me and your Father.  Because of you, I can ascend to the holy hill…. the holiest presence of God Almighty.   You are the door by which I can enter into His presence.  Because of your sacrifice and unbounded love, I am comforted.  And because of the comfort of the gospel, I am called to a life that emanates the costly Grace of the gospel.  And it is all through you.  Cleanse my heart and make me ready to follow you today. 

  27. Takeaway for the week:   I would say that this week was the best I’ve had since joined this study.  (and they’ve all been very good!)  The sermon by Reeves at the beginning of the week, captured my mind and heart.  The perfect picture of the  spotless lamb of God and everything that entails….from the fall of man and the old covenant to the resurrected Savior and Redeemer was made so abundantly clear in his message.  I could sense the Lord teaching me from the truth of this psalm throughout the week, as I re-watched a documentary of Bonhoeffer’s life and read more of his works, began to ponder the meaning of Costly Grace and worked through the rest of the blog assignments too.  It was a wonderful week of challenge and assurance.   Thank you, Dee, for putting this lesson together so thoughtfully.  Peace to each of you this weekend! 

  28. My take-away for the week:
    Psalm 15-a comfort and  a call. WOW! “Not to us, O Lord; not to us. But to your name be glory because of your love and faithfulness. Amen” Psalm 115:1

  29. My take-away:

    “He who does these things shall never be moved.”

    “Small Enough”, the Nichole Nordeman song above, has been one of my favorites for a long time. I keep the CD in my car’s player but have to be selective when I play it–it has never failed to bring a flood of tears. So today was the day, and I showed up at Target with a tear-stained face–but it was good. There are some hard things right now, some darts that don’t seem to stop–but I am overcome by His presence, His mercy, His grace. I am overwhelmed by the love that says ‘no you cannot measure up, you cannot handle this…but I have done it for you…it is finished.” And so I stand on that solid, unshakable ground. I will dwell in His house forever–because He has said so. And the tears keep coming, but it is gratitude–this love He has given me for Him–to be near Him, oh I thank Him for that. And I praise Him for His power. There is hope in His power, always. Both Reeves and Tripp pointed out the promise of the last verse–we are promised to never be shaken. We will be stirred, we will have much turbulence, but He is greater.

    These are 2 more Nichole Nordeman favorites–I hope some of you may enjoy:

    “I AM” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b7vXuslOGQ

    “Gratitude” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PEzM-4VXdg

    1. Thanks for those links, Elizabeth, and for your honest testimony of God’s presence.  I haven’t kept up with contemporary music for many years….though I have CDs of  Nichole Nordeman from  15 years ago or so.  It’s been good to re-visit her work.  “Small Enouth” is powerful and it also really reminded me of how much I love Fernando Ortego’s music, so last night, I was googling his website to see where he’s been lately and  to find out about his later albums too.  I’ve surrounded myself with mostly classical and choral music for the last several years (after decades of being very immersed in the Christian rock and contemporary genre)….it’s always nice to know that some of the most passionate and meaningful songwriters have longevity in their ministry.  And  isn’t it good that God uses music to bring us to those cleansing tears? ….. Hope your day has been a good one.

    2. They are beautiful!  Thank you Elizabeth!!

  30. I just want to say how much I appreciated Tripp’s sermon “On God’s Hill”.  The sermon helps clarify some of the confusion and struggle that I have been having reading Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer talks of costly grace. Tripp speaks of it as the call to obedience that goes hand in glove with the comfort of the grace of the gospel. So helpful. People are sorely mistaken if they believe that God’s grace means freedom to continue living their lives with no regard to the high standards of righteousness and purity that God calls us to in Scripture. It is a balance. Sadly, so many do not understand that.
    Thanks, Elizabeth, for the link to the transcript. I love having the transcript so that I can go slow and highlight and reread and ponder. 

    1. I so agree, Diane.  Costly Grace has been very challenging.  I’m so glad I’m reading the book.   The sermon was good for clarification. 

  31. I listened to Reeves’ sermon 5 or 6 times this week 🙂

    1. Wow!  🙂

  32. I really enjoy the message by Mike Reece. Keep me update thanks and God bless you.