I Love Your House!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

Have you ever walked into a friend’s house for the first time and just been blown away? It’s layout is cool. The décor is fabulous. It’s cozy. You just love it. You wish it was yours, and you start mentally jotting down ideas about how to improve your house. Psalm 26 is all about that. Except it isn’t simply a friend’s house, it is the Lord’s house. “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” For David, this referred to the tabernacle. After Solomon, it spoke of the temple. But for us, it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19-22 demonstrates that the collection of all Christians whether Jews or Gentiles is the temple of the Lord. Ephesians 3:19 is the prayer that this modern temple will be filled with the fullness of God, that is, being filled with His glory. While this refers to the universal church, the sum collection of all disciples of all places and of all times, we mostly interact with this temple at a congregational level. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying each congregation is a temple of the Lord, but our interaction with the temple (the universal church) is on that congregational level (the local church). This entire psalm is about “going to church.” No, it isn’t about going to a church’s building. Rather, it is about gathering with the church, the assembly, the brothers and sisters. It is about gathering to worship the Lord God with our spiritual family. Whether we are gathering to pray, sing, read Scripture, break the Bread of Life, or break the bread of communion, or a combination of these things, David demonstrates the attitude we should have. Do you look forward to Sunday? Do you look forward to congregational gatherings, classes, worship, singings, prayings just because it is time with God’s church, time in God’s house, time in the midst of God’s glory? Or is it a checklist item you want to mark off as quickly as possible and get out of the way so you can get on with all the other things you think are more important? No doubt. It’s a growth process. But may we all get to where we can say, “I love Your house, Lord!”

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

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The Wicked Will Not Stand

Today’s reading is Psalm 1.

The first psalm talks a lot about the blessed. But it also talks about someone else. It talks about the wicked. None of us like to think we are the wicked. But the psalm leaves no wiggle room. As good as we think we are, as good as we have tried to be, as good as others might think us to be, if we are not those who meditate on and delight in God’s Law, we are the wicked. And the wicked are the complete opposite of a tree that stands next to a stream of water. Instead, they are like the chaff that has been crushed out of the wheat that when it is tossed up in the air gives driven away by the gentlest of breezes.  We have a choice, delight in God and His Will or be driven away from God like chaff. Which choice will you make?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 1.

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Thousands of Jewish Christians

Today’s reading is Acts 21.

When Paul got to Jerusalem, James and the elders of the Jerusalem church wanted to impress upon him how important it was that the Jewish Christians understood he wasn’t teaching them to abandon the Law or forsake Moses. They asked him to “See how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed.” That is amazing because back in Acts 8:1, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were scattered. Essentially, only the leadership of the Jerusalem church was left in town. But by Acts 21, there are thousands of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem again. WOW! That shows the incredible working and grace of God. When the Lord’s hand is with a congregation, it is amazing what can be done. It also shows God’s incredible use of strong leaders. When Jesus conducted His life ministry, He did make disciples, but mostly He developed a handful of leaders. God used that handful of leaders from the day of Pentecost onward to cause exponential growth in the kingdom. And when the church of Jerusalem was scattered, it was essentially that same handful of leaders that God used to prompt exponential growth again. It’s important for churches to make disciples, that is our commission. However, as we make disciples, let us also develop leaders. After all, it is the leaders who will do the lion’s share of making more disciples down the road.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 21.

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Devoted to Praying

Today’s reading is Acts 1.

I have no desire to make any of us feel guilty. However, today I can’t help but notice how the apostles and other disciples behaved as they awaited the coming Holy Spirit. “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14, ESV). I have to ask myself a tough question. If Luke were writing about me, could he remotely record, “Edwin was devoting himself to prayer”? Then I have to ask about my congregation. If Luke were writing about us, could he remotely record, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer”? That is, not only are the Christians in the congregation praying regularly, but are we devoted to praying together as a congregation? I have no doubt Luke could record that we are devoted to learning. Between sermons, classes, “short” talks, and even Lord’s Supper devotionals, our devotion to teaching and learning is clear. But what about prayer? What about prayer together? Recently, I was pondering the seemingly universal decline in the attendance of Sunday night assemblies. I think it is clear that fewer and fewer Christians view what their congregations do in a second assembly on Sunday evening as really all that important. It makes me wonder what would happen if we turned Sunday evening assemblies into times to be devoted to praying. Would the attendance increase? Would your attendance increase? Would your participation increase? Or would the thought be, “Oh, they’re only praying tonight”? Again, I have no desire to heap any guilt upon us. I just can’t help but pondering and doing some self-examination. Would Luke remotely be able to claim I’m devoting myself to prayer? What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 1.

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The Bride

Today’s reading is Revelation 2.

The story of Revelation is actually a familiar one to us. It is the story of a hero who is to marry, but first he must conquer the enemies of the bride–whether monsters, foreign kingdoms, or female competitors. That may sound odd to you, but as we read Revelation, let me know if you don’t see it. In fact, in today’s chapter and the next, we are actually introduced to the bride. She isn’t called the bride until Revelation 21:9, but we who know the story know that is who we are meeting as we meet these seven churches of Asia. We know from Ephesians 5:25-33, in the letter God had written to the very first congregation in Revelation‘s list of seven churches, that the church is the bride of Christ. Here we find Christ’s bride is under attack, beset with troubles from without and within. Will she be victorious? Will her hero win? Or will she give up and give in? This is who we are, the Bride beset by perils. Keep reading to see the victory.

Monday’s reading is Revelation 3.

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