Monday, March 26, 2012

God's Temple or Yours?

One of my jobs at Northlake is to put the sermon slides together. This week our Senior Pastor asked me to help him find an image of the temple that King Solomon built for God. There's a ton of images out there of what it may have looked liked, but nothing we can scheme up could convey the magnificence of the temple. After all, it was to be the house of Yahweh. For a little perspective, check this out;

What set the temple of Solomon apart from other wonders was its incredible expense...All the gold in Solomon's temple would make up a cube six meters on a side. This is about one-thirtieth of all the gold ever mined up to the present.

Construction of the temple included 100,000 talents of gold and 1 million talents of silver, worth respectively $77 billion and $10 billion today. Including the cost of cedar wood and other construction materials, the wealth of Solomon's temple was about one hundred billion dollars. There is no building in today's world of comparable value. 

Can you imagine going to worship in a building that had 87 billion dollars worth of gold and silver in it's construction? A building that was worth 100 billion? It had to be nice, though; after all, this building was to be the house of God.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (2 Cor. 6:19-20)


Remember, the moment that Jesus died on the cross the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This tearing was incredibly significant. It meant (and means) that God no longer would reside in the temple made by human hands; but from that point forward He now resides in you. For those who have believed in Jesus and received by faith the gift of eternal life, He, God, lives in you. You are the temple. And you are worth more than 100 billion dollars.

There are many applications to this but the main points I want to make are these two;
  1. Do we honor God with our bodies? Do we put the same passion into our temples that Solomon put into his temple? God is in you (and me)...what kind of "temple" have we prepared for Him?
  2. Do you understand and comprehend the grace and love that God has shown you? His love is so vast that He has chosen to live in you. He has bought you with a steep price; the price of His Son.
The call for us is to glorify God in our bodies. How do we do that? Ah, that is for you and Him to work out...but let our "glorifying of Him in our bodies" follow the same spirit that went into Solomon's temple. He spared no expense to build the very best the world had ever seen.

soli deo gloria;
To God Alone be the Glory

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Anchor in the Storm

North Face (Eiger) with a storm brewing
Have you ever been in a storm? I mean a really big that was threatening your very existence? I have never been in a storm of that magnitude, but I have read plenty of books about men and women that have. I remember one account of a climber attempting to summit The North Face of the Eiger; arguably one of the most difficult summits in the world. This particular climber got stuck on the face in the midst of a horrific storm with wind, snow, sub-zero temperatures, and falling rocks seeking to rip him right off the face. His sole lifeline was a rope that was attached the rock via a couple of anchors. (He survived...which made for an incredible book).

All of us face times in our lives where the "storms" of life seem overwhelming. The list of things that affect us is un-ending; unemployment, divorce, death, hopelessness, loneliness, relationships that are fractured, children that are lost, and more. All of these things can lead us to dark places where we seem to lose hope. The million-dollar question is this; "when you are facing these times, what's your anchor?"

Jesus gives us an incredible anchor in John 14:1-14. He gives us a series of verses that we should cling to in good times and in bad. Here's a sample...

" 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.' " (John 14:1-3)
When we're in the storm what we most need is hope. In these 14 verses God through Jesus gives us hope beyond anything we could imagine...the hope of heaven. There's so much in these verses that we don't have time to un-pack; but notice that the promise is not just to be with Jesus, as if that weren't enough. But what Jesus says is that he has gone ahead of you and is intentionally preparing a place JUST FOR YOU. It's going to be your place. A place of safety and hope, a place of peace and security, a place of fun and excitement, a place just for you.

This should be an anchor for our soul. Far too many Christians spend far too little time looking forward to the fulfillment of this promise. I wonder, if God gave us a sneak peak of the place He was preparing and then sent us back to earth, how much difference would it make it in how we face our struggles?

My challenge for you is simple...simple to understand, at least. What's your anchor? If you don't know or don't feel like you have one, spend some time studying heaven. Learn about Jesus. And allow Him to be the anchor for your soul.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boiling it Down...

In my last post I wrote about the need to keep things simple in my life right now. To that end I stumbled across a familiar verse which again, cuts right to the heart of the matter.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7)

The question that jumps out is obvious; "who or what are you trusting in?" The easy answer is to say we trust in God. But upon closer examination I have to confess that in my own life I trust in too many other things.

- I trust in exercise and doctors for health.
- I trust in my job and my bank account for security.
- I trust in my 401k and the stock market for retirement.
- I trust in my my house for safety.
- I trust in my car...
- I trust in myself...(ouch)

And yet, the question still hangs in the air. Most of that stuff is neither good or bad; it's amoral. It's neutral. Some of these things are in fact gifts from God that I'm allowed and even meant to enjoy. But the minute it replaces God in my life as something I put fait and trust in, well, you know...

It's about our heart attitude and motivations. Unless you're Job. Job had all his securities taken away and for him it became a choice he had to make; would he continue to trust God...the same God that took it all away. For most of us, though, we will go through our lives and never have to face the crucible that Job had to face. So it comes back to a heart attitude, which does play out in our actions. Who or what do we trust in?

When you boil it all down we either trust in God or we don't. It's easy to spot in others but hard in ourselves. The person who trusts in God usually sticks out. 

- They are generous with their money and possessions. Very generous. 
- They may have "stuff" but they're not consumed by it. 
- They seem to have a peace and joy that the rest of us lack. 
- They don't worry about much, or at least they don't let worry drive them. 
- They aren't afraid to risk little or to risk much.
- They will go anywhere and do anything for God...and often He takes them up on that offer.

So where are you? Where am I? Are we trusting in the stuff of the world, or trusting in the one who made and gave all the stuff? 

Some trust in horses, some trust in chariots...and some trust solely in the name and person of Jesus Christ. How about you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Keeping it Simple

I need simple. Ever since my son was born almost 2 years ago, life has seemingly become increasingly crowded. Everything is a priority and the one thing I seem to struggle with the most is keeping things simple. It's partly because I tend to be a detail oriented person who sees a lot of complexity. This creates a conundrum; I need simplicity but I see complexity.

Which brings us to Christianity. Its core message is simple enough for a child to understand it;
- Jesus loves you. He died for your sins. Believe in Him and you have eternal life. And yet it's complex enough that you can spend a lifetime studying it and never fully grasp it all. Which brings us to a passage in Acts. In this passage we find Paul giving a defense of himself to governor Felix. It's in the middle of his defense that he says this;

" 'So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.' " (Acts 24:16).

This simple verse sums up so much for us. So much complexity boiled down to one verse. If we could do that one thing, keep a clear conscience before BOTH God and man, we'd be right in the center of God's will. How can I be so sure? Think about it. What would having a clear conscience before God mean? It would have to mean at least a few things...

  • We're not stuck in sin. A clear conscience necessitates we have received and understood His forgiveness and are living in the grace of God.
  • We're living in obedience. Jesus Himself said we show our love to Him by our obedience to Him. If you're not obeying Him, your conscience cannot be clear.
  • We have a growing love for our fellow man (and woman). The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor...and Jesus makes sure to define "neighbor" for includes those who are "not like us" (see the story of the Good Samaritan). 
  • We're totally surrendered to Him. A clear conscience is found when you're completely surrendered to God and His will.

You measure and hear your conscience in solitude, silence and prayer. That's when our conscience can speak the loudest.

  • Stuck in sin? God will reveal it to you.
  • Living in dis-obedience, or ignoring a directive from God? He will correct you.
  • Angry at people? Have an un-reconciled relationship with another believer? He has asked you to be a peacemaker and be reconciled before you come to Him.
  • Mostly surrendered, but have a closet or two that God doesn't get to access? He'll ask you for the key.
You see if you really want to know how you're doing in your relationship with God, it's simple; sit quietly somewhere, and ask Him. Ask Him to speak to you. He will. Ask Him if your conscience is clear before Him; He'll tell you. He'll speak through His written Word, through His living Word, through others, and He may just whisper to you something you need to hear.

And to be sure, my conscience is speaking to me about yours?