How Sweet It Is

Psalm 133:1

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

The psalmist is calling us to action. He desperately wants our attention, and calls us to look at the brethren dwelling together in unity. The unity he was speaking of was a united desire to seek after and worship Jehovah. This Psalm was one of the many songs the travelers to Jerusalem would sing as they made their way up the mountain to celebrate the feasts of the Lord. People from all over Israel congregated together with the unified purpose of devoting themselves more wholeheartedly to the Lord. The Psalmist declares, it is a good and pleasant thing, something worthy of our attention. This uniting of the brethren is good and pleasant for many reasons; not the least of which is the result it brings. David declares, it is like the anointing oil that was poured out upon the priests.

Shortly after being delivered from Egypt, God established the worship practices for the congregation of Israel. In order to ensure their spiritual development, He set up the descendants of Aaron as the priesthood. They would be responsible for much of the labor involved in making the corporate worship possible. The priests were clothed in special garments (a picture of being clothed in righteousness), then the sacrificial blood of the lamb was placed upon them for cleansing, and finally the anointing oil was poured on them. The blood serves as a type of Christ being crucified for the cleansing of our sin, and the oil a type of the Spirit of God, poured upon us, and equipping us for service. David describes the oil being poured on Aaron’s head and dripping down upon his beard and garments. It is a picture of the flowing of the Spirit upon those who have gathered together.

There is something special, something holy and divine, when we gather for corporate worship. Paul spoke of the body ministering to itself in love. As each of us are filled with the Spirit of God, and gather to seek the face of God, an atmosphere develops where the Spirit is flowing. How many times have you been met by God in the midst of worship? It is because the anointing oil is running off the beard of the worship leader. How many times have you been ministered to after service while speaking with another, and they begin to share things with you that encourage, edify and challenge you? It is because the oil is dripping from their beard. How many times have you been sitting in the service and felt as though the pastor was speaking directly to you? It almost seems as though the room has emptied and you are alone, hearing directly from God’s Word. It is because the oil is dripping from his beard. It is possible for the oil to drip from yours as well. When you gather next with the saints, don’t come simply to receive, come ready to give. As you walk into the fellowship, be praying that God will bring you face to face with someone to whom you will be able to minister. Few things are more exciting than knowing the Spirit of God has worked through you in the life of another.

Pastor Jim

The Cross 

2 Chronicles 6:29-30

“Whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways…”

Once the Temple was erected and the altar and priesthood put in place, Solomon explained the purpose of the Temple. It was designed as a means for sinful men to have relationship with a holy God. As Solomon prayed, he revealed the great benefits of the Temple. We might say, 2Chronicles 6 gives us the doctrine of the Temple. It became clear, no matter what the cause, turning to the Lord was the cure. If the people were suffering loss, pain, sorrow, sickness, or defeat, they could turn toward the Temple, pray, and find restoration with the Lord. Since the Temple provided access to God, it was the means to receiving mercy from the Lord.

The Temple no longer exists, but the mercies of God are still accessible to sinful men. Instead of looking to a building where sacrifice is offered, we now look toward the cross. It was at the cross two thousand years ago, God expressed His mercy, love and grace by sending His Son as a sacrifice for sin. The cross is now the way to access the mercy of God. Whatever suffering sin has caused in your life, the cross can cure. No matter how often or how far you have fallen, when you look to the cross and confess your sin, you will find His mercy in the form of pardon and restoration.

Whatever you are facing today, the cure is at the cross. Take time this morning to sit at the foot of the cross and call upon the mercy of God.

Pastor Jim

Prioritizing 

Psalm 132:4-5

“I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the Lord, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

This psalm is referring to a time when King David took a spiritual inventory of his life. His days of fleeing from Saul and living in caves were no more than a memory; he now dwelt within the palace. The Philistines, who had plagued the nation for so long, had been conquered, and Israel was at peace with the surrounding nations. As David began to muse over his life, he saw an area of inconsistency; while he dwelt in a palace, the ark of God still resided in a tent.

Immediately, David was filled with a desire to give God center stage in his life, and within the nation. The first step in this process, was to bring the Ark of the Covenant out of storage, and into the capital city, so all might see that God was at the center of the nation. David’s first attempt to bring the Ark back was a monstrous failure. He tried to do the things of God with the methods of man.

Later, after careful inquiry into the Word of God, David was able to safely bring the Ark to its resting place in Jerusalem. National revival broke out as a result of the King giving the Lord center stage. One day, as David was residing within the palace, he was struck by how God had blessed him; the forgotten son of Jesse, who was often ridiculed by his older brothers, was now king. As he reflected on the blessings of God, he was reminded that while the Ark resided in the city, it remained within a tent.

To David, the tent seemed a proper habitation for the Ark when the people were nomadic, but now that their borders had been secured, it was time to build a proper Temple. One that would reflect the way the nation honored their God, and would serve as a magnet to draw people to worship. This project would ultimately be completed by Solomon, after the death of David, but it was birthed in his heart, with a desire to always keep God first.

The application is simple. What place does God have in your life today? When is the last time you took spiritual inventory and sought to give more of your time, talents and treasures to the Lord? Today would be a great time to look back at all that God has done for you and elevate His place in your life.

Pastor Jim

House Of God 

2 Chronicles 4:19

“Thus Solomon had all the furnishings made for the house of God…”

The primary purpose of the Temple was to serve as a place where God and man could meet, however, it also serves as an illustration of the our salvation. Each of the furnishing depicts an aspect of our relationship with God. We can walk through the courts of the Temple and be reminded of the main elements of our salvation.

Once we entered the main courtyard, we would come face to face with a massive altar designed for sacrifice. It was on this altar that a substitute would be sacrificed in place of the guilty. The altar is a picture of the cross where the Son of God died for the sins of man. Our first step into relationship with God is to come to the cross and have our sins forgiven.

Beyond the altar, and in front of the Temple, sat an enormous bronze pool held up by twelve brazen oxen. This pool was designed as a place for the priests to wash before entering the Temple. This pool is a picture of the Word of God which is designed to wash the believer, daily. The Psalmist declared that our way can be cleansed by taking heed to the Word.

Beyond the pool was the Temple. This massive structure, standing 180 feet tall, 90 feet long and 30 feet wide, was divided into two chambers. The first was called the Holy Place, and contained the table of Showbread, the lamp stands and the altar of incense. The Showbread illustrates Jesus as the bread of life, the lamp reminds us He is the light, and the altar is a picture of prayer. The second chamber was the Holy of Holies, where the ark of the covenant sat. This room could only be accessed by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. It pictures the intimacy available to the child of God, where we meet with the Lord, and experience His mercy and grace.

It would be a good idea to take a symbolic walk through the Temple this morning. Begin at the cross where you confess your sins, look into the Word and allow Him to wash you and direct you, continue on in prayer, experiencing Communion with Christ and direction for life, and end up enjoying a flowing stream of mercy and grace for the day ahead.

Pastor Jim

Established 

2 Chronicles 3:17

“Then he set up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left; he called the name of the one on the right hand Jachin, and the name of the one on the left Boaz.”

In addition to building the Temple, Solomon had two large pillars erected, which he named Jachin and Boaz. Jachin means to establish and Boaz means strength. Whenever a person approached the Temple, they would see these two massive pillars. A reminder that the nation, the kingdom, the Temple, and each of our individual lives, are established and strengthened by God.

I recently had a pergola built in my yard. The first step was to clear away the weeds, the second was to establish a foundation. This is true of any building project. Rubble must be removed and a foundation must be laid. As we seek to build our lives, it is important we clear out the things that do not belong, and we build on the proper foundation. The Bible refers to many principles which are foundational to establishing a strong and healthy life.

We are told Jesus is the chief cornerstone of life (1 Peter 2:6). He should not be treated as an additive to life, but as the most important aspect. The bedrock of life is set when we trust in Christ for salvation.

Jesus went to great lengths to explain that even believers can build their lives on shaky ground. He warned of building on a sandy foundation rather than on solid rock (Luke 6:48-49). The rock He referred to was obedience to His written Word. The secret to a successful Christian life is to read and obey the Word.

Finally, Jesus told us the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all (Luke 10:27). In other words, we must give Jesus first place in our lives. One way we can do this is by starting our day with Him. Rather than running out the door to face the day in our own strength, it is a good idea to take some time to read His Word and pray before we face the challenges of the day.

Pastor Jim

Accusations 

Psalm 130:3-4

“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”

The Psalmist is rejoicing in the pardon the Lord provides. In doing so, he considers what would happen to us if the Lord treated our wrongdoings the way we do. What would happen to us if, instead of forgiving sin, God kept a detailed record of it. Instead of removing it as far as the East is from the West, or casting it into the depths of the sea, He held it close by, to remind us of it each time we struggled or fell.

At one time or another, we all struggle with receiving the complete pardon offered at the cross. We lie in bed tossing and turning, unable to find rest, because we are haunted by a failure of the recent, or at times, even the distant past. We find ourselves crippled with guilt and feelings of unworthiness. Keep in mind, it is not God who is bringing up your failures.

The Spirit of God will shed a brilliant light on our sin in order to bring us to confession and repentance. God will never rub our nose in our past failures, like an angry man reacting to a puppy’s little gift on the carpets. There is one who is quick to bring up yesterday’s sins in order to keep us from today’s victories.

One of the descriptions the Bible gives of Satan is “The Accuser of the Brethren.” We are told, day and night he brings accusations against the Christian. The prophet Zechariah (3:3-4) was privileged to witness Satan bringing accusation against Joshua, the High Priest. The Scripture says Joshua stood before the Lord in filthy garments; an apt picture of a man who has sinned. Right away, we read of the Accuser of the Brethren, poised, ready to hurl guilt upon the child of God. However, before a word can pass his lips, Satan is rebuked by Jesus. He not only silences the mouth of the Accuser, but also removes the filthy rags and replaces them with robes of righteousness. God refuses to listen to the insults and accusation Satan hurls against the child of God.

All sin is forgiven when we take hold of the cross. It is vital to our growth and success as believers, to lay hold of that forgiveness, rather than wallowing in the failures of countless yesterdays. Instead of thinking of all the ways you have disappointed God, how about spending your time musing over His amazing love which has provided complete and total pardon from all your sins.

Pastor Jim

Heavy Lifting 

2 Chronicles 2:5-6

“And the temple which I build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?”

Solomon faced a great predicament, he desired to build a temple where God and man could meet, but he realized that all the heavens were too small to contain Him. He knew the dwelling place for God must be grand, but he also knew that no earthly building could ever truly reflect the glory of God. The temple he would build would be a mere shadow of the real glory of God, and was designed to point Israel to the Lord. For generations to come, this building would serve as a place where man worshipped God, and was the focal point of many revivals within the nation. It interests me that this glorious building was the byproduct of a multitude of people investing their many different gifts. In fact, we find thousands of men were hired for the work of quarrying stones alone. Seemingly, innumerable man hours were spent doing nothing more than working with rocks.

Sometimes, it is difficult to see the value in what we are doing for the Lord. We might have a role in the ministry much like a wood cutter or stone mason. We swing a hammer or lift heavy objects, and do not see the intrinsic spiritual value in what we are doing. I think it is important to step back and see the big picture. Without the massive foundation stone, there would have been no altar, tabernacle or mercy seat. The stones were truly the foundation upon which the ministry was built.

The temple serves as a illustration of the church. There are ministries like worship, prayer, and Bible teaching that are clearly spiritual. However,  for these ministries to be effective, there are a host of things that must take place. Cars need to be parked, people need to be welcomed, children need to be cared for, the rooms need to be properly prepared, the lights have to work, and the list goes on and on. In many ways, those who are laboring in the things that may seem mundane, make it possible for people to encounter the Lord. Don’t reduce any service for the Lord as though it didn’t matter. If you are a stone mason, then cut away with all you heart.

Pastor Jim