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Sunday: A Day in Your Courts Is Better Than a Thousand — 13 Comments

  1. What is the equivalent today of the sanctuary? We don't live in Israel, nor serve in its courts, or travel on pilgrimages like the ancient Jews. Is it the church? Or the community of believers? Or something else?

    I want to argue that the sanctuary today is wherever God lives, manifests his glory, or displays his presence. That is, everywhere, to everyone, at all times. We need eyes to see, open hearts to feel, clear minds to perceive. The world of nature, the hospice bed, the laughing family, the praying believers in the next town, are God's sanctuary. The hearts of our children are the nearest thing to heaven we will ever know, and God's is present in them today.

    • JR, your questions really got me thinking and your answer rings true with the words of Jesus to the woman of Sychar: “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” (John 4:23 NASB1995.) It is not about location: Mount Gerizim versus Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. It is not about a temple in Jerusalem or a holy tent in the wilderness. And it is not about ceremonies and bloody rituals. The Lord is in his Holy Temple—his people—in spirit and truth. That is what he is seeking.

      That is why there is no temple in the New Jerusalem; the Father and his Son are the Temple. (Revelation 21:22.) Just like Jesus said repeatedly in John 14 to 17 that he is in the Father and the Father is in him and that everyone of their children are in them both. No need for a temple if the Father and his Son are in your heart and you are in theirs. The temple with its rituals and ceremonies are just directional pointers to the heart of God. No need for pointers if you are already there.

      There is enough room in the Father’s lap that every child of his can climb up, rest their head on his chest, hear his heart and know his love. This is the gospel.

  2. If chemical reactions had emotions a rechargeable battery is probably happiest when it is sitting on a charging device connected to power. It is gaining energy and storing it for future use. But a battery that stays on a charger is useless unless it takes that energy and deploys it elsewhere. The whole purpose of a battery is transportable energy.

    The notion that God has a special physical dwelling place, the sanctuary, was important to the Hebrews but it was also important that the sanctuary experience was something that you took with you. Psalm 23 makes this clear:

    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23:6 KJV

    It implies that God can be with us wherever we are all the time. It is like having a spiritual rechargeable battery.

  3. After teaching public elementary school for 11 years, I was ready for a new career. But Providence opened the way for me to travel in Asia and I taught in rural Cambodia and Thailand in 2011. What a different experience. This may sound cliche and I don't mean to paint everyone in with too broad a brush, but generally my experience is that kids (and their parents) in the USA are not excited to be in school. It doesn't bring huge smiles to their faces for the privilege or gift of learning and having so many resources at their fingertips.

    Whereas, in my experience overseas, I experienced something very different. The general sentiment about school was very joyous. I'm thinking of a rural school just over the border from Cambodia in Vietnam. Dirt floors, no electricity, no supplies at all, just a few desks. We brought chalk and watercolors. The kids were so eager to participate. Those not officially in school were peaking in the windows at the back. They longed for us to walk with them to their nearby village at lunchtime to take us into their homes. The much bigger K-9 school in northern Thailand where I spent a lot more time was equally full of daily excitement. I noticed a certain amount of freedom in learning that we seem to miss in the USA, but also it was definitely a community. Older students mingled with younger students in the afternoon to jointly work on projects such as native musical instruments and singing and dancing, weaving,model airplane building, soccer, computers, Thai massage, cooking, hairdressing, and more. Teachers chatted easily with each other at a common table and there was not that same pressure of time and testing as in the States. In all my time there, I don't remember any visits to the principal's office for kids...and I was living with the principal's family so I saw behind the scenes. School was a pleasant experience that I and everyone looked forward to from day to day.

    Today's Psalm 84 reminds me of this in an analogous way to church, and how we feel about meeting every Sabbath for worship. I'll share the questions I ask myself as I read through this psalm.

    Ps.84:1 Are my feelings about churchgoing so lovely that they are inexpressible...lovely to my memory, my mind, my heart, eye, whole soul...the assembling of the saints? Do I meet the Lord of Hosts on Sabbaths?

    Ps.84:2 Does my soul long to worship in the appointed place? Do I find spiritual rest? Do I find myself near to God there? Do I cry for church, like children in some countries cry for the privilege go to school?

    Ps.84:3 Do I take away a little heavenly food, like a sparrow, for spiritual hunger? Do our children find God's house to be a warm, safe little nest?

    Ps.84:4 Do I wish I could be constantly engaged in worship? Do I long for places of prayer, screened from the noisy world? Do I long to praise God more constantly?

    Ps.84:5 What does it mean to throw all my energy and strength and heart into worship?

    Ps.84:6 Do I find sweet communion with brothers and sisters on my pilgrim journey, which make me forget the discomforts of the road? Do I find duties of church leadership delightful?

    Ps.84:7 Do we gather strength as we proceed from week to week in our worships? Is my faith strengthening? Is my energy to serve others strengthened? Are people added to our company as we travel along, is each holy song more sweet and full? Do we have a sense of "appearing before God" from week to week?

    Ps.84:8 Do we leave time to really plead with God in our weekly services? Do we hold onto God in prayer until He speaks His Word of grace into our souls?

    Ps.84:9 Can I see Jesus's face at church?

    Ps.84:10 Would I rather have a few hours at church with other believers, or in service to God with other believers, than 1,000 days elsewhere? Do I see glimpses of God's love from week to week in God's House? Would I rather be with those who want Jesus within, than to be in fancier spaces with those who do not know or want the Son of God? [Just as the students in countries with less resources may be more content and learning more about life and relationships than those in school districts with so much more money.]

    Ps.84:11 In my faith convoy, do I experience the light and shelter of God dwelling with us as a shield? Am I filled with vitamin D (Divine grace and glory) from basking in God's Son (sun) during weekly "sanctuary" time? Can I agree with confidence that God withholds "no good thing" from me...the more so as I am letting Him keep me upright and not leaning on this or that form of idolatry and sin?

    Ps.84:12 Am I trusting in God with my whole self? Can I receive the blessing that is for true believers? Do I have a life of real faith and the subsequent true rejoicing in the Lord's worship, His house, His Son, His ways?

  4. David’s Psalm 122:6-9
    ”Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.
    Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.
    For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say; “Peace be within you.”
    Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.”

    I consider that David already recognized deep within his heart that God dwells within him and in everyone who loves and trusts Him; he can hear His counsel and follows it. God has now transplanted His temple into each individual who loves and trusts Him.

    The believer is now the Temple of God in which He dwells – 1 Cor.3:15-17. It is God within - His Holy Spirit which expresses Himself through us - John 16:13-15.
    ”For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” – Eph. 2:9-10.

  5. The whole purpose of a battery is a power storehouse. It is the Alternator that plays the role of transportable energy.

    • That is another way of describing electricity but it did not really fit the lesson I was trying to illustrate.

    • Are you only talking about a car battery, or do my AA rechargeable batteries or my battery backup for my phone or fan,etc. use an alternator to work?

      • I am talking about the recharageble batteries we use in lots of devices these days. That scenario illustrated the principle that we were looking at in todays lesson.
        An alternator is a generator, typically in vehicle. They are used to charge car batteries, using energey from the energy. It is a similar but different and more complicated situation and doesn't fit the lesson all that well. Just remember illustrations are not perfect.

  6. Your ornithology pictures are very near perfect though. I would advise the readers to spend a Sabbath afternoon on YouTube after punching in Maurice Auston Australia. Nature is one avenue where Christ draws us to Him. Birds don’t have a GPS to migrate, we now need a GPS to drive across town. What a God we serve!
    Psalm 50:11.


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