Tag Archives: temple

2 Chronicles 6:12-42; 1 John 5; Habakkuk 1; Luke 20

I love Solomon’s prayer when he dedicated the temple to God once it was completed.  Full of passion, his body  language denoted humility before an almighty God.  I find myself falling on my knees and raising my hands in prayer more often these days – probably an act of surrender acknowledging to God that more and more I need Him in my life.

Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven. – 2 Chronicles 6:13

Over the years, my “prayer batting average” is pretty low. I have prayed for the salvation of people who have not gotten saved. I have prayed for the restoration of sinning Christians, who have not repented and been restored. I have prayed for the reconciliation of many Christian marriages that have broken up.  I have prayed for physical healing for those in need and they have not been healed.  You would think that I might just give up.  I did once, when I was fourteen, and God showed up so tangibly that I will never lose my confidence that He is working everything out in His own time.

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14

I am still learning today the same lessons I did then as I face different situations in my life.  I still cry, still tell Him what bothers me and I have given God exactly what He needs to do to solve the problem – oops – He still is ignoring my solutions.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?  Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? – Habakkuk 1:1

I know there is a temptation for me to abuse prayer, to fake it and to tell everyone how pious I am in my prayer walk.  Pretty sure I have not fallen to the level of the scribes in Jesus’ time.

They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation. – Luke 20:47

Father, as I kneel before You with my outstretched arms, I do it knowing that as I come before You, it is to acknowledge that You reign in my life.  I yield my life before You and as Solomon consecrated the temple, I consecrate myself to You again this day.  As Jesus taught us to pray – I acknowledge You as my Father  –  I worship You today.  Be glorified in my life.  If that comes through answered prayer – that would be a blessing and encouragement to me – if it comes from Your hand another way, I am so thankful that You are still listening to me.  For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever – Amen. 

evanlaar

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Ezekiel 4-6; Psalm 82; John 2

“That’s not what I expected. I’ve been listening to others who have heard Him teach, and their stories of His divine wisdom and hints of rising power have excited me – even ignited hope to my weary soul…worn down with eking out a living under the heavy hand of Roman captors. Yes, I feel like a captive, even though I am not a slave, yet. What a miserable thought – that I might have to sell my body to have some means of caring for my family, paying tithes and purchasing sacrifices, and giving to those who are even more needy and poorer than I. Oh, God, when will You save us? Those were my thoughts that Passover when I brought the few coins that I had saved to purchase an offering and pay the temple tax in the house of God.

As I walked inside the temple, a commotion began at the east corner, a place to avoid when purchasing an offering, though the other vendors are not much better. Dishonest and unjust Ben-Hadad charges exorbitant prices for exchanging Roman denarii for shekels, and his cohorts squeeze every last coin for their pitiful excuses of a sacrificial animal, even selling doves with broken wings and blemished, scrawny sheep.

All of a sudden an explosion of wooden tables crashed all around me and a whirlwind spinning with coins and curses seemed to suck out all the air in the room. Men groped on the floor or pressed against the wall in confusion and desperation. Then His voice, clear and with authority commanded, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ This must be Jesus!” (Adapted from John’s account of the cleansing of the temple, John 2)

Today some see the temple cleansing story as instruction to churches not to sell pastors’ books, study guides, bible covers, CDs of the weekly sermons, etc. What came to my mind, however, was Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…” This Scripture is instructing Christians not to use the body for immorality, wickedness, and various sexual sins. We are told we are without excuse because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to convict us (let alone plenty of fellow believers and non-believers to condemn us). Yet, I wonder if the age-old practice of self-flagellation is just a misguided response to this conviction.  I don’t doubt that many of us feel a sound whipping is in order to cleanse our conscience! How long, though, does it take to forgive oneself and more importantly, what does it take for God’s forgiveness to sink in? I know how wretched a sister or brother in Christ feels to be caught up in sin. Christ still is consumed by zeal for His Father’s house – consumed by His desire to see us cleansed by His blood. But wait! Didn’t Jesus Christ already accomplish that? Are we truly forgiven or do we need to perform some ritual, penance, or sacrifice to cover sin?

I don’t think that is what the Apostle Paul was saying. Rather, what we need is to receive the ongoing regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, working out our salvation day to day in the presence of Almighty God.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are still consumed with zeal for my body, mind, soul, and spirit. Keep me aware of the places within me that need Your cleansing. Cleanse me by Your Holy fire and the washing of Your word. Have Your way with me. Thank You, thank You. Thank You, God for Your mercy!

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2 Kings 15-16; Matthew 21

King Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey and an impromptu parade begins. He heads straight for sacred and cherished real estate, the temple. Anger at what twisted and stoney hearts have sone to God’s temple into drives him to send furniture, people and doves flying. He chases away those who would capitalize on the guilty conscience of others. An odd situation follows; those who are most vulnerable, the blind and the lame approach the One who just scared away the others and receive healing.

What a Savior I have! He claims my heart as his precious real estate and fights to keep it holy, sacred and open to his touch. He claims me as his own and never turns his face from me. I am unworthy, crippled by many things and so often blind to my own need, yet He welcomes me by his side without fail.

I think that the chief priests and elders were right to ask Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave your this authority? Matthew 21:23.  It’s a tragic  that they didn’t want the answer, but after all, who hasn’t denied God’s authority in Jesus at one time or another? It’s when I open my heart to the wonder of who Jesus is and  his love for me that I am drawn into the great mystery of this divine dance.

So Lord, please, turn over the tables of my heart. Clear out those dark and stale places where I strive to keep control. Keep my heart tender and open to you so that I might praise you and thank you for all the beauty and strength you have shown me.  Help me to let go of those small dreams for myself and others so that I can see  and enjoy the freedom and beauty of your hand at work in humble lives. Amen.

klueh

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2 Chronicles 1, 2, 3; John 12:1-19

The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? 2 Chronicles 2:5-6

But who can build Him a house, since even heaven can’t contain Him…

God is so infinite that it is impossible to contain Him and Solomon understood that. He appreciated that the temple that He built was simply a gift for the greatest God, a place to make offerings and to give worship.

God is so limitless, that He doesn’t fit into a structure and yet He chooses to inhabit. He fills the heavens, and the earth, and His church, and my home, and my heart. I have become His temple.

In the Old Testament, Moses and the Israelites constructed the tabernacle, a place where God could dwell among the people when camped. It was a foretelling of the future of my relationship with Jesus. When Solomon built the temple it replaced the tent, again prophesying the permanent place that would be built by Jesus. Both structures were a place where sacrifices were made to appease God, to ask for forgiveness and where the people came to worship and give praise.

When Christ came to earth, He began to explain that the temple, as the people of Israel understood it, would no longer be necessary. It caused outrage among the priests because they did not recognize the truth of the Savior.

When Jesus gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice, when he died for my sins and rose again, the requirement for blood sacrifice was met forever. The price was paid for every sin. The picture of relationship painted by the temple came to fruition in Christ and the traditional ‘temple’ was destroyed.

When I believe that Christ was raised from the dead and I confess with my mouth that He is Lord, my body, becomes His temple. The hearts of the church, His children, become the Holy of Holies. Our offerings are no longer blood sacrifices, but living sacrifices.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3

Mary demonstrates what it means to offer myself as a living sacrifice. She gave her most treasured possession, most likely a part of her dowry, to honor Jesus. It was an expensive gift given freely and without reservation. It was offered in worship and praise, a preparation of what was to come.

As I build relationship with my Savior and daily ask Him to abide in my heart and in my home, I can’t help but question how I can be a living sacrifice. What can I give? What can offer to Him that is worthy of His praise? What will be a pleasing fragrance?

Yesappa, Thank You for Your sacrifice. Thank You for choosing to reside in me, for choosing to make my heart Your home, Your temple. Show me how to honor You. Help me be a living sacrifice with a fragrance like perfume. I give myself to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Chronicles 13; Revelation 3; Haggai 1; John 2

Victory for those who trusted the Lord.

13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.

16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 13:13-18 NLT.

Be alive. Persevere. Names written can’t be erased. Hear this.

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:20-21 NLT.

Fine houses. Ruin. Rebuild.

Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. Haggai 1:3-8 NLT.

His passion for God’s house.

17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

 

18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

 

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. John 2:17-22 NLT.

Home is a multidimensional word for me. We moved from my childhood home when I was 13, and ever since, I have been searching for a place of belonging. Maybe because this house reminds me of the type of community I grew up around (older home, mature trees), or maybe because God (undeniably) brought us here–this place feels like home. God’s name is written above my doors, and His scripture on heart and hearth. Lord, be welcomed in this place.

These verses move me–a protected land, rebuilding a place for God, a heavenly home … belonging. For me, home means things like welcome, included, safe and loved–I feel this with the Lord, my friend. The years of wandering feel over, and a joy replaces void–God lives in me, loves me, and I am never alone. I am his, and I am thankful to my very core.

Courtney (66books365)

13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!” Haggai 1:13 NLT.

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1 Kings 4, 5; Ephesians 2; Ezekiel 35; Psalm 85

David couldn’t build the temple because he was always at war. He could not build until the Lord gave him victory over his enemies. His son, Solomon, would experience  peace and prosperity in order to carry out the plan.

But now the Lord my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well. So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God, just as he had instructed my father, David. For the Lord told him, ‘Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’ 1 Kings 5:4-5 NLT.

And even though Solomon was the direct son who would build a physical temple, I see Jesus in the words–a son who would raise a temple to honor God’s name.

Sometimes I feel like I’m on the front line. Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing the target. Inside my skin there is a turmoil, a commotion, a storm that stirs. I get hit by cross fire of devil and flesh and the fight in me rises, ugly. I sense the commander of a spiritual warfare; and I remember who I was without Jesus.

You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. Ephesians 2:2 NLT.

When another’s words wound, I am strengthened by reminders (“Love is manifested in how we treat people, not in how they treat us.” Joyce Meyer Ministries; “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 NLT).

Jesus raises something new. He is the foundation, the cornerstone. He is victor over sin.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:4-10 NLT. (emphasis mine)

I try to wrap my mind around the thought: that kindness could turn one away from sin. And not force or fight or even silence. Saved by grace.

A Temple for the Lord

19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 NLT.

Oh, God, I need you! Help me with this kindness/mercy/love idea. When someone pushes my buttons long enough, sometimes I want to push back. Thank you for reminders in the day–you play by different rules. Your fight is the good fight. When I look in the mirror, or even back at the day, will I see the reflection of my former self, or who I am in you?

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 14, 15; Psalm 146, 147; Jeremiah 7; Matthew 21

The leafy fig tree. It highlights the power of faith–the strength to do much and more. But I still think about the tree’s leaves–an outward appearance of health, yet it was fruitless. Appearances deceive.

Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame. Jeremiah 7:19 NLT.

How many times had God’s people been warned and corrected? Only if, only if–“stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols.” Jeremiah 7:5-6 NLT.

In Jeremiah 7:8-11 NLT, there’s an assumption that just because the Temple was in their midst they’d be safe, despite their ongoing and intentional sin.

“‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

In Matthew, Jesus clears out the Temple with similar words:

12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” Matthew 21:12-13 NLT.

When the Lord’s Spirit is in me, this body of mine is a temple. I bear his name as a follower of Christ. A child of God. I don’t think God expects me to be perfect, but I do think he wants me to trust him. When I obey him, it shows that I trust him. I believe he does want good for me. Lord, I need to remember I can trust you! I really do want to obey you. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s such a struggle. Help me.

22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’

I read about Caleb in Joshua 14:6-9 NLT.

Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

God isn’t impressed by wealth or might or any outward appearances of success. I have to remind myself of this a lot–because these are the things that impress the world, not my Lord.

No, my God wants reverence and my hope in him.

10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
    or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
    those who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11 NLT

Lord, when it comes to following you and obeying you, I don’t want to fake it. But I see that I’ve been faking it in my struggle to forgive. I can trust you. I don’t need to be angry and hold on to past wounds. You’ve got me.  You’ve got this. I can put my hope in you and let go of it. The past is vapor anyway. Even if it is as recent as June. I pray that I would follow you, wholeheartedly. Thank you for your continued work in shaping my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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