Build that house

I’m not afraid to tackle a project I haven’t done before. In fact, today I discovered a broken laptop screen. So I took it apart and ordered a new screen. As long as I have some instructions I am willing to give it a shot. Some things are harder to build than others. For example, Ikea furniture. The instructions aren’t always clear and there are like a thousand parts. Maybe more difficult would be to build a house. If you’ve never done it before, it could be a serious challenge. It would require some devotion and probably some assistance.

In the Old Testament, King David really wanted to build a house. It wasn’t a house for himself; it was a house for the Lord – a sanctuary for God to dwell. He had all the plans drawn up according to God’s instruction. And when it came time to build, he turned to his son Solomon with this charge:

1 Chronicles 28:10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.

What an overwhelming task – to build a house for the Lord! No pressure, Solomon. It’s just a house for GOD! Can you imagine following those instructions? He would be building a house in which God would dwell. If it were me, I’d certainly want to do a good job with it. I’d like to make the place inviting – a place where God would want to dwell. I would make sure there were no idols set up. I would even make sure the floors were clean, because I would want to honor the sanctuary of God. But man, that’s a really important job – building God’s house. I’m glad Solomon got the job and not me. Or did I?

1 Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” That means that each one of us is the house of the Lord. If that’s the case, then the Lord has chosen YOU to build a house as a sanctuary. You are to be a temple where the Spirit of God dwells. So you’ve got to ask yourself, have I followed His instructions? Are there any idols set up? Is there some cleaning I need to do?

Build your own personal house today. Examine the walls and see if any repairs need to be made. Look for cracks and leaks; look for cobwebs and dirty floors. Get working on that house. You are a sanctuary; you are His dwelling place. Be strong and do the work! 

The Town Crier

“Hear ye, hear ye!”

Long before Facebook, before Google, before cable news, and before newspapers was the Town Crier. Dating back to the 18th century, Town Criers were elaborately dressed men who would deliver the news to the town. Often carrying a large bell to gain the attention of the townsfolk, they would then declare out, “hear ye!” When the crowd had gathered, they would deliver the important news. Back in those days, if you wanted to “share” a story, you actually had to tell someone.

The Town Crier was an important part of society, keeping the people apprised of current events. But long before the Town Crier, David instituted his own version of it: the Town Prophesier. This person had an even more important job than keeping the town up to date on the current events or town scandals. His job was to announce the Word of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.  

Can you imagine this job? The job description might have looked like this: hear from the Lord and declare it to the people. What a cool job! They even had their own band that followed them around. I’ve always thought it would be cool to live life with a soundtrack, but these guys literally had that. Set apart for the ministry of prophesying… how about that?

As I reflect on this verse this morning, what strikes me is how important it is to hear from the Lord and declare it out. It has always been important. But we don’t need Town Criers; we don’t need professional prophesiers. WE can hear from the Lord. The prophet Joel said that God would pour out His Spirit on all people and it happened in Acts 2. Now YOU can hear from the Lord. YOU can prophesy. YOU can declare out what God is saying. 

You just have to take the time to ask and to listen.

Carriers

When my son was very young, he got strep throat a lot. So much so, that he had to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. Even then, he would still get it. So the doctor decided to test him to see if he was a carrier. Apparently, someone can be a carrier of strep and constantly have it, even if there are no symptoms. It stays dormant most of the time then flares up occasionally. The good news is he wasn’t a carrier. What a relief!

Being a carrier of a disease is not a good thing. But being a carrier of good things isn’t so bad. How about being a carrier of the Olympic torch? That would be cool. Or a carrier of a letter from the king. There are lots of good things to carry that are not strep. In the Old Testament, King David assigned a group of men to be carriers of something pretty awesome: the ark of God.

1 Chronicles 15:15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.

Imagine what that would be like? Well, besides heavy. These guys were literally carrying the presence of God on their shoulders. Wherever they went, the spirit of God was there also. What an awesome privilege to carry His presence. Do you wonder what that would be like? Well, you don’t have to wonder, because you, too can be a carrier of His presence.

The late great Jerry Cook, said: “Where I go, He is.” What he meant by that is this – since I am a carrier of the Spirit of God, He is with me wherever I go. Pastor Jerry understood that he was a carrier of God. Where he set his feet was where God set his feet. Where he showed up, God showed up. All because God has chosen to make us carriers of His Spirit.

We don’t carry an ark on poles. But we do carry God’s presence with us. Where we go, He is. You are a carrier. Embrace that today and carry Him wherever you go.

Lucky socks

A rabbit’s foot. Four leaf clovers. That one pair of socks. Good luck charms. Some people gotta have them. They believe that they bring them good luck. They think that they make them succeed. Baseball players are known for it. They have to follow the same routine, wear the same pair of socks, tie their shoes a certain way, etc. If they don’t, they might not play well. I don’t buy it though. Dude, you didn’t strike out because you wore the wrong socks today; you struck out because you swung at three straight pitches that were low and away.

Nevertheless, people get superstitious about stuff. They think these things bring them a blessing or something. Speaking of that, there was this family in the Bible that had a good luck charm of sorts. Except it wasn’t a good luck charm; it was the presence of God. And that presence caused some serious blessing in their life.

1 Chronicles 13:14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.

Those must have been an amazing three months! Sitting right in your living room is the ark of the covenant. In that ark was the presence of God. It was WAY more than a good luck charm. It was WAY better than lucky socks (and probably smelled a lot better, too). The presence of God brought blessing upon this home. It brought protection and provision. The presence of God, right there in the living room of the house. Wow!

You know what, though? You can have the presence of God right in your living room today. The Bible calls you a house in which the Spirit of the Lord dwells. All you need to do is invite Him right into the living room of your house. Invite Him to come and to stay. You will find the same blessing that Obed-Edom found. You will find peace that you didn’t know was possible. You will find provision and clarity and hope.

The ark of God in your personal living room. Imagine it…

Now, do more than imagine it. Receive it.

Put your socks in the laundry and put on the presence of God, instead.

 

Made for this

anthony-run

My oldest son is just wrapping up his first ever cross country season. Now cross country is a unique sport. You run… like a long way. It’s not something I was made for. Okay, I’ll admit it; I’m out of shape. It’s not just that, though. I played sports, but the running part wasn’t the part I was good at. My son, however, he’s good at it. Like really good.

I find it awesome that God made us each so uniquely that we have different things we are good at. It’s like He had a purpose in diversity. It’s almost as though He created us differently for a reason.

Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

Bezalel was chosen by God and filled by the Holy Spirit. He was given wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Pretty awesome, huh? Here’s the plot twist: he wasn’t chosen and filled so that he could prophesy or perform miracles. He was chosen and filled to be an amazing artist! God gave him the skills and the creativity to do crafts. I’ve never heard someone say, “paper-mache’ – I was made for this!” Yet Bezalel was not only made for it, he was anointed for it! I wonder if a young Bezalel felt like his gifts weren’t useful. I wonder if he thought about how he could contribute to the Lord.

Maybe you have sold yourself short on what YOU can do for God. You might think that you don’t have the right gifts or the right skill set. Let Bezalel encourage you today:

You have have been chosen. You have been filled. And you have been made for __________.  I don’t know what that is for you, but God can help you fill in the blank. We have all been made unique in His image for His glory and His great purposes.

What have you been made for?

Gas for the generator

Exodus 27:20-21  20 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

Let’s just be real here. Neither one of us have ever pressed clear oil out of olives so that we could keep our lamps burning. Generally, if I want light, I just make sure to have a good light bulb and to always pay the power bill. That usually does the trick. Probably the closest I’ve come to this whole “oil for the lamp” thing is changing the butane can on my camping lantern. Either that or filling up my generator with gas during a power outage. Now THAT’S important. I wouldn’t want the generator to run out of fuel. I mean, shoot, all the stuff in my freezer would go bad. Not only that, but the 3 lamps I have on in the house would turn off and it would be dark. So ya, I guess I can relate to the Israelites and the oil filling. Sort of.

gascangenerator

But wait. What if this whole oil for the lamp commandment was more than just actual oil for an actual lamp? What if there was a greater purpose than bringing light to the temple? After all, God did say that this would be a lasting ordinance for generations to come. Is it possible that we are still supposed to be filling lamps with oil? Absolutely!

Here’s the picture: The temple isn’t a building – it’s you. The lamp is the light of Christ. The oil is the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The command is still the same. As God’s people, we are to be a temple of the living God. And with our lives, we are to shine the light of Christ. We are to be a lighthouse, a light on a hill, a beacon of light for the world to find life. Yet, the light in our lives fades unless we give it attention. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to fuel us to be that light!

Now some of you might say, “I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to come and empower my life.” Awesome! I mean that. That’s really awesome! But here’s the thing: you don’t just fill the generator with gas one time. You have to check the fuel level and fill up when it is running empty. You might be running empty, too. You might feel burned out, used up, worn, tired, and without oil.

Now what? Well, you simply ask. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill you today. Ask again tomorrow. And then ask again the next day. The oil of the Holy Spirit keeps our lamps burning. Don’t walk through life as an unlit lamp. Be filled today!

Grounded

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

groundedRemember getting grounded as a teen?  Unless you were perfect (not likely), you can probably remember the agony of losing privileges.  It is way easier to ground teens today.  They have phones, iPods, tablets, TVs, and all kinds of other stuff like that.  Take it away and they are left with the miserable existence that is actual human interaction, using an imagination, and enjoying their surroundings.  Yes, those powered devices are quite the thing.  A teen grounded from them can’t imagine living without them. How will I live without all these powered devices at my immediate disposal?

Here’s the thing: if you want the power, you have to obey Dad.  You have to live by his rules.  When we are young, we go through times where mom and dad’s rules seem impossible to follow.  It’s just not fair!  We would be better off living on our own.  Then we remember that with parents comes food, clothing, housing, and powered devices.  If we really think it through, doing it their way is worth it.  If we are in our right mind, we realize that the benefits of living by their standard is worth it!

God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life!  And when we reject that holy life, we reject Dad, who gives us the power.  It’s like we are grounded, but we are the ones who put ourselves in time-out.  We wonder why God seems so distant.  We can’t figure out why we can’t hear from Him.  We are frustrated that our life seems to be powerless.  And it’s all because we have rejected the giver of the power.  If we want it back, we need to live by the house rules.  We are called to resist what is impure and live a holy life.  We are to live set apart for our God!

*Are you striving to live a holy life?