Sing On The Way

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, gather to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about! If you’ve lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. Go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure.

sing-boy-oldschool

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 84
Focus: Psalm 84:10

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. And while technically, this psalm isn’t included in the psalms of assent, like those songs, this song extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence. This is a good song to sing on the way to church.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition of singing on the way. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, gather to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

Making Life Work: Try it. Start singing about the goodness of God on the way to church. If you will, at some point the goodness of God will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

The House Of God

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 48
Focus: Psalm 48:9

Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.

There was something pretty special to the psalmist about the city of Jerusalem and the tabernacle that housed the earthly manifestation of presence of the Lord. If you read the rest of Scripture, you’ll find that God thought it pretty special, too.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit dwells in believers individually (I Corinthians 6:19) and collectively (I Corinthians 3:16-17), and we now are God’s temple, his dwelling place on the earth. Yet there is still something special about the place where believers come together to collectively lift their voices in praise, pour out their hearts in prayer, share their love in fellowship, serve one another in kindness, receive God’s anointed Word in gratitude, and convincingly call the lost to salvation.

Yes, we are the church—let’s not forget or get confused about that. But neither let us forget that the place we gather is also the church, and by virtue of our collective presence, along with the active presence of the Holy Spirit, the building becomes sanctified as well. It, too, is God’s temple.

All that to say that the church is a wonderful place to come and meditate on God’s unfailing love, just as the psalmist described. I would encourage you to add a new dimension to your regular routine of worship (if worship can ever, or should ever, be routine). Not only should you actively fellowship with God’s saints in the church (Hebrews 10:24-25), but slip into your church’s prayer room or sanctuary often for a time of simple solitude and quiet meditation. It can be with other people present, or just go in when you are alone and give it a try. Just sit and soak in the presence of God, and quietly reflect on who he is and what he has done.

Maybe like David, you’ll end up singing, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘let us go to the house of the Lord.'” (Psalm 122:1)

__________________

“In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step home within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God, and feel His good presence; this will carry you evenly through your day’s business.” (William Penn)

 

Making Life Work: Go often to the physical place where the spiritual community to which you belong gathers for worship, and see if you don’t grow in your appreciation for the house of God, and more importantly, for the unfailing love of the Lord of the church.

God’s New Temple On Planet Earth

Being With Jesus:
John 14:12-14 (NLT)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.” That is a pretty amazing promise Jesus made to his disciples—and by extension—to you and me!

Jesus was laying out his succession plans for God’s kingdom. He told his disciples that he needed to go back to the Father, and in his absence, they would carry on his works in the world, extending the kingdom wherever they went. And although he would no longer be with them physically, he would be with them—and more importantly, live in them and work through them, by the indwelling Holy Spirit:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you” (John 14:16-18)

Literally, to his followers who would completely yield their lives in obedience to his word, commitment to his purposes, and availability to his work, Jesus promised, “My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” (John 14:23) Make his home in them!

What a thought: through the initial infilling and ongoing indwelling, the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Holy Trinity—would actually take up residence within Christ’s followers, making their lives, body, mind and spirit, the new temple of God on Planet Earth.

Those words are from the lips of Jesus himself, and they are meant for you! As you go about your life—wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you are with—you are God’s temple on Planet Earth, the dwelling place of God’s presence. Do you believe that? If you do, Jesus’ words will transform you to the core of your being. They will radically alter the way you perceive yourself and interact with your world. And they will lead you to have the kind of impact for Christ in this world you have always dreamed of having.

The story is told of a private in the army of the Greek general, Alexander the Great, who ran after and retrieved the general’s runaway horse. When this lowly soldier brought the animal back, Alexander offered his appreciation by saying, “Thank you, Captain!”

With one word the private had been promoted. When the general said it, the private believed it. He immediately went to the quartermaster, selected a new captain’s uniform and put it on. He went to the officer’s quarters and selected his bunk. He went to the officer’s mess and had a meal. Because General Alexander had said it, the private took him at his word and changed his life accordingly. He was simply now doing life in the authority of Alexander.

Why don’t you take the word of Someone far greater than Alexander and change your life accordingly. If you will, greater works will you do!

“We are Jesus Christ’s; we belong to him. But even more, we are increasingly him. He moves in and commandeers our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues. We sense his rearranging: debris into the divine, pig’s ear into silk purse. He repurposes bad decisions and squalid choices. Little by little, a new image emerges.” (Max Lucado)

Getting To Know Jesus: Offer this prayer for radical alteration: “Lord, I believe what you said. On this day, I ask the Father, as you have commissioned me to do, to empower and embolden me to do the very kingdom works that you would do if you were in my place. And may all glory go back to you!”

A Song For Going To Church

Read Psalm 84

Featured Verse: Psalm 84:10

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. These songs usually extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, come together to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

So start singing about it on the way to church, and pretty soon, it will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do not worship alone, we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”
—Marianne H. Micks

Psalm 84: Sing On The Way

Read Psalm 84:1-12

A Song For Going To Church

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalm 84:10)

Do you sing on your way to church? The Israelites did. There was a whole series of songs written just for people on their way to the tabernacle, and later, the temple, in Jerusalem. They were called psalms of assent. These songs usually extolled the blessings of belonging to God and the anticipation of coming to the earthy dwelling that housed his uncontainable presence.

Perhaps we ought to revive that tradition. I’m sure it would heighten our anticipation of entering the Lord’s presence with the community of believers and deepen our experience of his mighty presence in the house of worship.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that we no longer need to go to the temple in Jerusalem in order to worship—a good thing, since it no longer exists. Under the new covenant, God, himself, continually dwells in you, personally—you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19) Yet while God dwells in you individually, your salvation is not to be divorced from God’s people collectively—the church. You and I, together, make up the new covenant temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:15-17; Ephesians 2:20-22)

As we come together corporately, the very place where we gather—church building, school auditorium, family room, under a tree—along with those who gather, is the temple of God, his holy dwelling place on earth. Something powerful happens when we, the body of Christ, come together to exalt the head of the body, Jesus Christ. As Christ is worshipped, God’s presence fills the temple. And that is something to sing about!

If you have lost the kind of anticipation for going to church that makes you sing, I would suggest you have misplaced your understanding of what the community of believers is all about. I would challenge you to go back and find it—it is crucial to your spiritual health. When you come to church, you are coming into the very place and to the very people who are now the dwelling place of God! And where God dwells there is both earthly joy and eternal pleasure. (Psalm 16:11)

One day of the kind of earthly joy and eternal pleasure we experience as God dwells among his people is better than a thousand days on the best beaches of Maui or on the rides at Disneyland or on the greens at Pebble Beach or in between the sheets of your bed. If you don’t get that, your vision is clouded.

So start singing about it on the way to church, and pretty soon, it will get into your spirit and you will begin to see what the psalmist saw—and then you can write your own psalm of assent.

“When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do
not worship alone, we worship ‘with all the company of heaven.’”

—Marianne H. Micks

Psalm 48: The House Of God

Read Psalm 48:1-14

The House Of God

Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
(Psalm 48:9)

There was something pretty special to the psalmist about the city of Jerusalem and the tabernacle that housed the earthly manifestation of presence of the Lord. If you read the rest of Scripture, you’ll find that God thought it pretty special, too.

Of course, the New Testament teaches us that under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit dwells in believers individually (I Corinthians 6:19) and collectively (I Corinthians 3:16-17), and we now are God’s temple, his dwelling place on the earth. Yet there is still something special about the place where believers come together to collectively lift their voices in praise, pour out their hearts in prayer, share their love in fellowship, serve one another in kindness, teach God’s anointed Word, and convincingly call the lost to salvation.

Yes, we are the church—let’s not forget or get confused about that. But neither let us forget that the place we gather is also the church, and by virtue of our collective presence, along with the active presence of the Holy Spirit, the building becomes sanctified as well. It, too, is God’s temple.

All that to say that the church is a wonderful place to come and meditate on God’s unfailing love, just as the psalmist described. I would encourage you to add a new dimension to your regular routine of worship (if worship can ever, or should ever, be routine). Not only should you actively fellowship with God’s saints in the church (Hebrews 10:24-25), but slip into your church’s prayer room or sanctuary often for a time of simple solitude and quiet meditation. It can be with other people present, or just go in when you are alone and give it try it. Just sit and soak in the presence of God, and quietly reflect on who he is and what he has done.

Do it often, and see if you don’t grow in your appreciation for the house of God, and more importantly, for the unfailing love of the Lord of the church.

“In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step home within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God, and feel His good presence; this will carry you evenly through your day’s business.”
—William Penn

Give Me Chastity—Just Not Yet

Read Romans 6

“Use your every part of your body as an instrument
to do what is right for the glory of God.”
(Romans 6:13)

Food For Thought… A six-year-old little girl burst through the door one afternoon, excited to tell her mother what she had learned in school that day. “Mommy, guess what I learned today?” she blurted.

“What honey” her mother replied. “What did you learn?”

Pointing to her head, the girl began to describe her first official lesson in human anatomy, “Mommy, I learned about my parts. I learned that this is my head, and it’s where my brains are.” Then she held out her hands and her looked down at her feet, “these are my hands and my feet, and they help me to do things and to go places.” Then she touched her chest and said, “here is my chest, and inside it is my heart. And it keeps me alive.” Finally, she put her hands on her tummy, and exclaimed, “and mommy, these are my bowels, and my bowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y.”

She got most of her parts right, anyway. And that’s what Paul is calling us to do, to get our parts right by offering them every day in every way for the glory of God.

But do you? Is your brain an instrument to do what is right? Are the things that you allow your mind to dwell on the kind of things that will bring glory to God? If your thought life were to be played out in living color on the big screen, what kind of rating would it be given: P? PG? How about R? What? Really…you’d have to give it an X? What about the kind of things you allow to come into your thinking? Are those things—the TV shows you watch, the places you go on the Internet, the books you read—do they count as instruments of righteousness?

What about the things your hands do, or the places your feet take you? Would Jesus be comfortable doing those things and going to those places? What about your heart—have you closely guarded it, since it is the wellspring of life? And your “vowels,” I mean, your bowels—what about what you take into your body? It is the temple of the Holy Spirit, after all. How are you treating the temple, the dwelling place of God? Are you treating the ol’ bod more like a temple, or a sewage treatment plant?

Paul’s point in Romans 6 is that we have been freed from the slavery of sin in order to live in the freedom of slavery unto the glory of God. We are to be instruments of praise and righteousness with every fiber of our existence: “When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:10-11)

Have you consecrated every part of your body as an instrument of righteousness to the glory of God, or are there some parts that are still doing their own thing? Far too many of us are like Augustine, who once prayed, “Oh Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Dedication and consecration are an either or thing: You are, or you aren’t. God wants you to be totally dedicated to him, fully consecrated in mind, body, heart and energies. And he deserves it, particularly in the light of his saving grace.

You have been saved by grace—God’s unmerited favor. You have been freed from the slavery of sin; you are no longer under the threat of death—all because of God’s rich and undeserved mercy. You have been given the free gift of eternal life—all at Christ’s expense. Even the faith to believe was supplied by God. Don’t you think God deserves you, in response, to give “your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of him”? Since God has graciously done all that, the least you can do is exert your will and consecrate your whole life as an instrument of praise.

C.S. Lewis said, “The full acting out of the self’s surrender to God therefore demands pain: this action, to be perfect, must be done from the pure will to obey, in the absence, or in the teeth, of inclination.” St. Augustine finally got it; he surrendered his desire’s will to God, fully dedicating his wandering will to the glory of God. Having experienced that spirit-renovation, Augustine made this observation: “Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.”

God has given you his grace. Now mount up and get going! Use your whole body—every part—as an instrument to do what is right to the glory of God.

Prayer… Oh Lord, give me chastity and continence of mind, heart, soul and body—now!

One more thing… “Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives.” —Andrew Murray