Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 28 March 21:
Psalm 26:8 – “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.”
Psalm 27:4 – “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”
Is it hard for you to go to church, or is it hard to leave? During church service, is your mind on lunch, or do you hunger, thirst and long for God and to be in His presence with His people? (Psalm 42:1, 119:131) “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’” (John 6:35) Today, the Psalmist exclaims his love and desire to be in the presence of God above all else. Is that your passion too? God has an inherent, eternal desire to dwell in fellowship with His people in the “house of the Lord.” Through Christ and in Christ, the communion of God’s people is God’s temple, both house and household, in whom the Spirit of God dwells.
- 1 Corinthians 3:16 — Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
- 1 Peter 2:5 — You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 6:16 — For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- Hebrews 3:3-6 — For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
- Ephesians 2:19-22 — So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
- 1 Peter 2:4-5 — And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:49) You too must be in your Father’s house, in communal worship with God’s people, where God dwells
— “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) Watching or listening to sermons on TV, the internet or the radio and praying by yourself is no substitute for worshipping the Lord in the fellowship of God’s people. From the beginning of creation, God has made it clear that it isn’t good for people to be alone and that His love is manifested and matured through relationships – “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12) And when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…. (Matthew 6:9)'” Not, “My Father in heaven.”
“For we are the temple of the living God….” If a temple stone is off to the side, alone, it is simply not in place with the Cornerstone Christ, not fulfilling its God-given purpose, and not dwelling in the “house of the Lord.” Similarly, the Bible says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) A dismembered human body is a horrifying thing as is a dismembered church body. You cannot retain the life in Christ you are called to have disconnected from the body. If you are separated, detached or disengaged from the body, consider this a time-critical emergency – get reconnected immediately!
We can’t be in fellowship with God while being out of fellowship with God’s people – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22, 23) When you are in right fellowship with God, like Jesus displayed even as a child, people will know where to find you, in the midst of God’s people, the “Father’s house.” In fact, you will desire to be nowhere else more — “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 wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10)
“I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14, 15) “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1) Today, in general, the church community has become more casual, but we must be cautious not to become complacent, not to treat lightly the holiness of God when we come together for worship. Don’t lose sight of the fact that when you enter into communal worship, whether it be in a cathedral, a public building, a tent, or someone’s home, you are in the presence of the Almighty God on holy ground. Your attitude should naturally be a ‘be-attitude.’ (Matthew 5:2-11) Finally, just as you would take great care not to disrespect a national monument, a great cathedral or an important historic building, so too should you show honor and respect to the “stones” of the “house of the Lord” (God’s people), in fact even more. Make the temple walls stronger, not weaker, by promoting unity, order and mutual support.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 Feb 21: Today, before church, pray that God will give you the right spirit for communal worship to Him, in His presence, with God’s people, who are the “house of the Lord.” Enter the house of the Lord with an expectant heart of love, awe, reverence, praise, and worship, ready to receive the counsel, conviction, and instruction of the Holy Spirit.