What’s going on in the temple?

So this broke my heart this morning.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. – Matthew 26:3-4

From what I can tell, while the Second Temple stood, until 70 AD, this hall of the high priest, where the Sanhedrin met, was located in the temple. I can’t be completely sure, but I think this is the place they met.

My heart was drawn back to the dedication of Solomon’s temple.

David had this great idea. I’m going to build a house for God. God liked the idea, but would not let David the warrior build it. David was a warrior from His youth, and God wanted His house built by a man of peace.

When Solomon finished the building of this house for God, He showed up. He filled the temple with His glory, and promises were made.

It’s a wonderful passage. It’s a few verses, but worth reading. The offer God makes to Solomon is staggering when you think about it.

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. – 2 Chronicles 7:12-16 NASB

The passage goes on to make promises and layout conditions, but essentially, God promises Solomon and Israel, as long as you walk with Me, I’ll be your God, a Father to you, and care for you.

I know this temple was destroyed, and the temple we see in the Gospels was rebuilt in the days of Ezra. No such promises are made, no such glory is imparted, but God was in the rebuilding.

The ark of the covenant is in this temple. The holy of holies is considered the dwelling place of the Most High God. It’s in this temple that Zacheriah meets with Gabriel. It’s here the Messiah is dedicated as an infant.

But here in Matthew 26, these High Priests and elders of the people plan out the murder of God’s own Son.

David’s great temple, a place for God to dwell among His people has fallen so far from it’s place of glory. Rather than a house of prayer where God’s people could come and cry out for God’s mercy, and He would hear and answer and forgive, it’s been usurped by those who would cry out “No God for me,” and “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

It so saddens me.

And it warns my heart.

How easy it is to take our own temples, the heart we once dedicated as a dwelling place for the Most High, and allow it to house sedition and betrayal. We allow the unclean into the holy of holies. It comes in through the eye gates and ear gates and settles in the halls of the high priest.

The hall of the high priest–that place designed for intercession and worship–for righteous judgment–turned into a place of darkness and secrecy–a place hidden from the light of day. The secret place turned it a place of secrets.

Lord, clean the temple of my heart today. Bring the light of Your presence into the corners where I’ve let darkness prevail. Flood this dwelling place with your presence as You did when Solomon invited You into the temple he built centuries ago.

Have your way in me today.

BenSee you again soon,

Ben

Alert

Will you allow me one more note from Colossians 4:2?

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; – Colossians 4:2 NASB

I commented briefly about being devoted to prayer, but Paul gives further instructions regarding our prayer that needs our attention.

keeping alert in it.

It’s far too easy to let prayer become talking at God.

Let’s think in the natural. If I’m broadcasting a news report, I can just read it to you and I’m good to go. I have communicated to you. I have not communicated or communed with you.

This might be the way some pray, but it’s not the kind of prayer God desires. At least it can’t be our entire prayer life.

Paul, here, is exhorting us to get up close to the Father and be with Him. When we pray, we must keep our ears attuned to Him. Give Him our attention. When we cast our cares on Him we must keep paying attention to His Spirit’s whisper. He may give us solutions or strategies as we pray.

One of my favorite prayers these days, especially when faced with a difficult situation, “Lord, teach me to pray,” or “teach me how to pray for this.” And then—it’s time to listen!

Ok – simple and obvious, right. But I’m learning.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in today.

Have a great Lord’s day.

Ben

Devoted

There’s a bit of rhetoric going around these days that goes like this.

You can tell how popular your church is by how many show up on Sunday morning. You can see how popular your pastor is by how many show up on Sunday night. You can find out how popular God is by now many people show up at prayer meeting.

Catchy, and probably intended to carry some “you ought to” with it. Hey, it could be that prayer meeting is a miserable time. Maybe the intercessors of your church are the depressing–God’s glass is almost empty and His bowl is almost fullkind of people. Maybe the prayers offered carry so little faith that it actually leaves you less in love with God than when you came.

And yet, Paul says this:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; – Colossians 4:2 NASB

Hey–I know you can pray in secret. I know prayer meetings can miss the mark. I know some people loath praying out loud. I know some people (I’m sure there are those who would point this finger at me) seem like they love the sound of their own voice.

But we must pray.

It’s the first thing to slip in our lives.

Private, personal prayer is the first thing to go as we drift.

The first thing to slide in the Church setting is corporate prayer.

My inclination is to end with a “you oughta’…” but instead, I’m just going to ask you to meditate on this one phrase today:

Devote yourself to prayer…

And see where it takes you.

cropped-BenHeadshotHey – thanks for coming by.

Shine on!

Ben

Paul’s Prayer Request

In Colossians 4 Paul asks the folks in Colossae to pray for him.

He finds himself in prison, and like any of us, he calls on those men and women of faith in his life to pray.

He prays, as I surely would, for an open door.

But I’d be asking the church to rally and pray for my release.

Wouldn’t you?

Not so with Paul.

praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; – Colossians 4:3 NASB

Want some open doors in your life? Join with Paul in prayer.

What some more freedom? Pray that you find an opening for the gospel.

What to be more Christ-like? Rather than looking for a way out of your circumstances, be thankful in them and look for a way to use your current moment to make Christ plain to those around you.

cropped-BenHeadshotSomething to chew on, anyway.

Blessings,

Ben