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Lord wants to Dwell Among His People
25:8 “And let them make Me
a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I
show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all
its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”
Corinthians 3:16 Do you not
know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in
Old Testament Tabernacle
children of Israel were certainly a blessed people.
God had chosen the weakest of the nations to display His glory on
this earth. They were
redeemed out of their bondage in Egypt to walk with the Lord through a
wilderness to the Promised Land. But
the Lord did not leave them alone, He went with them.
He led them by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
And now he tells them to build him a sanctuary where He can dwell
Observations about the Tabernacle
sanctuary was a big ornate and heavy tent.
It was built by a number of different people who were following
the blue print for their section. The
builders had to follow the pattern exactly in order for this tent to fit
together properly when it was all done.
If someone had made a board a little too tall or not quite wide
enough, the final product would not have been a display of the glory of
the Lord, it would have been a display of the inability of the builders
to follow the directions.
tabernacle where the Lord wanted to dwell was built so that the glory of
the Christ would be seen. For
example, there was wood speaking of his humanity.
The wood was overlaid with gold speaking of his deity.
The boards sat on silver sockets speaking of redemption.
There was brass, speaking of judgment.
There was linen speaking of righteousness.
We could and should go on and on.
Observations about the Church
Old Testament instructions help us understand the importance of the
church as a sanctuary in the New Testament.
It also is a place where the Lord dwells.
The local church is designed to display His glory.
However, the passage above deals with the temple.
The Jews of that day would likely have been more familiar with
the temple than with the tabernacle since they had a temple.
The temple replaced the tabernacle when the children of Israel
finally got into the land and possessed it.
Most of the principles of worship in the temple were the same as
they were in the tabernacle.
we look at the church as a tabernacle (temporary) or temple (permanent),
it is a place where the Lord wants to dwell.
It is designed to display His glory and not ours.
It should reflect His desires and not ours.
When we come to the New Testament worship in the temple, clearly
this was not the case. We
read in Matthew 21:13, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a
house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
The Jews were using the temple as a place to do “religious”
business. They were getting
rich by selling animals to those who had come from a distance to
sacrifice. They were also
exchanging foreign money for Jewish money at very profitable exchange
rate for the money changers. Only
Jewish coins could be used to buy or sell in the temple.
would the Lord deal with our Church?
primitive or first century church seemed to be characterized by praying
and prophesying. We know
what praying is but prophesying is not a word with which many of us are
comfortable. Likely it had
to do with preaching or being the spokesman for God rather than with
predicting the future. Doctrine
was extremely important in the early church.
Money was collected for the needs of the church, but the Gospel
was never “sold”. Singing
was important to the Lord (He sang a hymn after instituting the Lord
’s Supper in the upper room) and singing was important in the church,
but music is not mentioned as one of the four pillars that describe the
activities of the church in Acts 2:41-42.
All four of those pillars are associated with a people who are
worshipping the Lord. Singing
has to take second place to good preaching in the church.
If our doctrine comes from our singing, we will be shallow in our
beliefs and guided more by emotion than by good Biblical doctrine.
Where Does that Leave Us?
am now speaking from experience and from my own personal prejudices.
But I would like to see more preaching about Christ without
losing the beauty of singing about Him and to Him.
I would like to see more men talk to the Lord at the Lord’s
Supper—I would like to hear prayers of thanksgiving.
I would like to see money mentioned little or not at all in our
assembly meetings. I would
like to see the Christians take responsibility for the cost of programs
and outreaches rather than asking those who might be unsaved to
“pay“ to come and hear the Gospel.
That is what I would like, but I think the Lord would like that
as well since that seems to be the pattern of the early church.
for the week of February 1, 2015
9:6 For unto us a Child is
born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His
shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful,
Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
people with “problems” go to counselors, they usually seek out those
who “understand” them. People
with alcoholism go to recovering alcoholics; people with lust problems
go to those who have somehow claimed to have conquered the problem.
People with anger issues go to those who they feel have overcome
those issues and will understand them.
However, that approach can leave the best counselor in the world
on the sidelines instead of THE WONDERFUL COUNSELOR being directly
involved in the battle.
have been thinking lately about Hebrews 4:15 which says, “For we do
not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but
was in all points tempted as
we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of
grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of
need.” I have quoted from
the NKJV. The KJV says that He is touched by the feelings of our
infirmities rather than saying that He cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses. It is the fact
that he was in ALL POINTS tempted as we are that has gotten my
verse we are dealing with shows that while He didn’t sin, he
understands us and sympathizes with us in ALL POINTS.
We understand the particular sins that afflict us.
We often are very critical of people with sins that we have never
had tempt us. But the Lord
has been victorious over the temptations of ALL sins that Satan uses to
tempt humanity. Instead of
that hardening Him, it causes Him to sympathize with us.
Did the Lord Get the Victory?
the Lord was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, it was when He was
physically weak. He was
hungry. He had been fasting
forty days and forty nights. One
of His temptations had to do with that hunger.
Satan seemed to be saying that since He had the power to make
bread out of stones, now was the time to do it.
The Lord resisted the temptation to do that which He could have
done since He would have done it for the wrong reasons.
The Lord always used His power to benefit others and not to
benefit Himself. He was also
asked to prove that God’s promises were real by intentionally throwing
Himself off the temple, and He was given the opportunity to have a
Kingdom without the cross. He
resisted all three opportunities to sin by quoting and living the truth
of the word of God.
are some things we need to understand when we are tempted.
First of all the Lord was lead into the wilderness by the Spirit.
Our temptations are allowed by the Lord Himself.
When the temptations come, it is necessary to know the Word of
God and to depend upon it.
Then we need to realize that the Lord cares and if we come boldly
to the throne of grace (the place of favor that we don’t deserve), we
WILL obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Men and woman may not understand us, or trust us or forgive us,
but the Lord will. And He
will do it over and over again.
we have a problem, we need to start talking to the Lord about it before
we start talking to men about it. The
Lord is going to call sin “sin” and we are going to have to confess
it. But the Lord knows how
to provide mercy and grace that an earthly counselor cannot.
I believe earthly counselors are helpful.
Many can provide Godly coping skills.
They can help us understand whether the problem we are dealing
with is the symptom of a deeper problem or whether it is the disease
itself. For example, in many
cases the person just needs to come to a saving knowledge of forgiven
sins. In other words, they
need to be born again. But
even a new creature in Christ will struggle with sin.
When that happens, we need to remember that the Lord knows and
understands. He is ready to
provide mercy and grace to help in time of need.
Lord is a Wonderful Counselor.
for the week of February 8, 2015
is this Greater Love?
15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life
for his friends.”
14 is Valentine’s Day. It
is the one day in the year when we tell our significant others that we
love them. And then that is
supposed to carry them through another year.
I had a friend who went further than that.
He said that when he got married, he told his wife that he loved
her; and if it ever changed,
he would let her know. My
limited observations seem to indicate that men are generally not as good
at vocalizing their love as women. Of
course, maybe it is just me that has trouble with this.
likely your significant other told you not to spend any money on her,
that she knew you loved her. However,
I would suspect that if you were wise you did not take her at her word.
I considered what to do this year. While we have plans to do some
fine dining, we weren’t going to be able to do it on the actual date
and maybe not on the actual weekend because both of us have the
“creeping crud” which is either a cold or the flu.
So I was trying to figure out how to make my wife feel special
without spending a lot of money. I
didn’t really pray about it but sometimes God answers prayers that we
haven’t really vocalized yet. He
does know our needs. So
while sitting at McDonald’s, an enterprising young girl came along and
tried to sell me Girl Scout cookies.
At first I told her no. I
knew my wife would say that they were not on her diet. Then
I realized that this girl was an answer to an unspoken prayer.
I bought a box of “thin” mints and put a bow on them and took
them to my wife. She got
chocolate that she would have told me not to buy but that she seemed to
enjoy. I got
appreciated, and I didn’t spend a wad of money.
What could be better? Our
fine dining is still on hold.
or Best or Chief Love
the Lord, Valentine’s Day was a dark day on an old rugged cross.
But why, in this passage, does He say that there is no greater
love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends? The
Good News Bible translates this, “The greatest love you can have for
your friends is to give your life for them.”
Most more literal translations seem to leave us with the idea
that laying down your life for your friends is the greatest love that
there is This love is not
just the greatest love you can have for your friends even though that is
also true.. Why would laying
down your life for your friends be a greater love than laying down your
life for your enemies which is what the Lord did? It
would seem to me that there is a sense in which the greatest love was
laying down His life for those who rejected Him, who envied His
popularity, who hated Him without a cause.
But the word greater may mean most valuable or most
important. For example it
seems to me that in Matthew 23:17, the temple is more important or
valuable than the gold of the temple.
The passage says, “Fools and blind! For which is greater, the
gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?”
is the greatest love that the Lord could provide for his friends and
that may be all that the Lord is saying.
But I think He is going further and is saying that this is the
greatest love because it is a love that is appreciated.
We know that love often has to do with duty and action.
But friends are people who love each other in an intimate way.
The Lord is talking to friends in this passage.
They have responded to His love and that is what makes the love
here greater or intrinsically more valuable than the same love found in
John 3:16. The love shown for His friends will motivate them to keep His
commandments. They will talk
about and remember that love. The
same love shown to the unbeliever will be mocked and forgotten.
you bring home a box of chocolates for your wife on Valentine’s Day
and when you say, “ I love you,” I suspect you are hoping for a
reciprocating response. If
she throws the gift in the trash and says that you shouldn’t have been
so foolish as to have bought the gift she would certainly be diminishing
the value of the love behind the gift.
The love therefore in this passage, is “greater” or more
valuable or more appreciated than the love offered to everyone at the
cross because many are foolishly rejecting that love.
doesn’t just love, He is love. But for His love to be meaningful and
valuable it has to be accepted and appreciated.
God has provided a love with infinite value because His love is
undeserved and saves for eternity. The
Lord put Himself between us and the judgment of God.
He took the bullet that could have destroyed us. He could do no
more for anyone, believer or unbeliever alike.
But what value have we placed on that love?
for the week of February 15, 2015
8:11-15 “Now the parable
is this: The seed is the word of God. “Those by the wayside are the
ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their
hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock
are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have
no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard,
go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and
bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground
are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep
it and bear fruit with patience.”
Kinds of Soil
people who call themselves Christians or “believers” today are not
the kind of people that I identify with as a Christian.
Many seem to be more concerned with making people act like
Christians before they tell them how to become Christians.
believe that the problem of Christianity and of Christian behavior is
found in this parable of the sower.
We have four kinds of soil represented by the parable and only
one kind of soil produces true believers in Christ. Not everyone who
calls themselves a believer has truly repented and believed in Christ.
The demons believe but are not saved (James 2:19).
Simon the Sorcerer believed but was not saved (Acts 8:13, 20).
Apparently he believed Philip and in the power of the Gospel but
never trusted Christ with regard to his own personal need of a Savior.
We know that all who truly believe or trust in Christ are saved
from the eternal penalty that they deserve because of their sins, but
the parable makes it clear that we can say we believe without truly
trusting in the Lord.
comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
When the devil manages to snatch the word of God out of the
hearts of those who hear it, those people have nothing in which to put
their trust. Satan wins.
These people are not “saved.”
They probably would not claim to be believers.
who believe for a while are troublesome.
A true believer does not believe for a while.
The reason is because they have their faith in Christ and not in
their believing. If we have
our faith in our believing, then our faith is in us and not in Christ.
When life becomes difficult and the Lord does not work according
to our expectations, our believing will not be enough.
We will question everything that we have been taught is true.
We may start promoting the doctrines of universal salvation (the
idea that all are ultimately saved). We
may accept the idea that all religions lead to heaven. Or
we may come to the conclusion that nothing that the Bible says is true.
These people only like the good news when the road leads downhill
and the wind is at their back. When
troubles and trials come, they “fall away” but not from what they
had but from what they could have had if their faith had been in Christ
and not in themselves.
all know for seeds to grow the ground has to be properly prepared and
the weeds have to be killed or pulled.
But when people “sign up” for the Christian experience
without any conviction about the cost of discipleship, they have a
shallow kind of belief that is not true belief at all.
We live in a day when most people get more enthused about movies
and sports than they do about reproducing themselves through the spread
of the Gospel. The seed is
choked and becomes unfruitful because people are more concerned with
this life than with the next.
is fruitfulness in this parable? Quite
clearly seed planted produces grain like the seed that is planted.
Corn produces corn, beans produce beans and wheat produces wheat.
The test of good ground is that the seed reproduces itself.
Some reproduce more and some less, but there is reproduction.
These are the only kind of believers that the Lord says are
“saved” or “real.”
have noticed that when people are first saved, they are immediately
concerned with friends and loved ones who are not.
They may show that by inviting their friends and loved ones to
meetings where they can hear the Gospel.
They may show that by giving out literature.
They may show that by supporting churches that are concerned
about the unsaved. Many show
that by sacrificially giving to those who spread the Gospel.
Not all have the same gift but all have the same desire.
That desire is to reproduce.
Those and only those are really ready to meet the Lord when this
life is over. People
who hear the Gospel and receive it into hearts that are properly
prepared by the Holy Spirit are the only people who can honestly advance
the kingdom of God.
for the week of February 22, 2015