"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?...Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly;" 2 Cor 9:24-26

Proof of the Importance of Unity

Posted by Emma on February 14, 2013 | Filed under: Christianity,Studying the Word

If you read my post on Sunday That I May Dwell Among Them, you have seen that I am thinking about how we as Christians are the temple of God. I also established the fact that it is good to study the Tabernacle and earthly Temple to discover how we, as the temple of God, should live.Ultimately, we want to glorify God and show Him to others as He dwells in our midst. The Tabernacle was copied after the heavenly one, which shows God’s glory and holiness. Our lives too should show God’s glory and holiness. All of that to say, I’ve been studying the tabernacle.

In my study, I came to this verse. “You shall make fifty hooks of gold, and you shall attach the curtains to one another with the hooks, so that the Tabernacle shall become one.” Exodus 26:6

God’s tabernacle was to be one, a single whole. That reminded me of John 17.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world make know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23

Knowing that the tabernacle was to be one, it should be no surprise to us that we are to be one. Look at the end of those verses. Why are we to be one? So that the world will know that God sent Jesus and loves us and Him. We are not told to be one because our lives will be easier, or because God did not want church splits. No, we are told to be one so that the world would know that God sent Jesus and loves Him and us. This is not about us, at all. It is all about God.

The earthly tabernacle was not to bring glory to its earthly builders. It was to bring glory to God and show His holiness to the people. The body of believers are not to bring glory to us, but to bring glory to God and show Him to the world. I think the American church thinks entirely to much of ourselves and to little about God, when in reality everything is about God and nothing is about us. It is once we really grasp this view that we truly can be one.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” And Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” If the truths of these verses sink into our hearts, we could live as one within the body of Christ.

There are two truths those verse present that are critical to living as one. The first is from the Galatians passage. We must be dead to ourselves. We must see ourselves nailed to the cross and then raised, except it is not us who has risen it is Christ in our place. This is very challenging to really live out. I struggle with it everyday, and every morning (when I remember) I pray and ask God to kill myself, I reminded myself that I am dead with Christ, yet I live, but not I, it is Christ in me. Praying that daily helps me remember that it is Christ in me and not myself. You see, self claims to have tons of rights, and wants, and needs, and desires, and annoying emotions that get in the way. When self is dead you have no rights, wants, needs, or selfish emotions, all you have is Christ. Christ living in you produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, you know the fruits of the Spirit. So the first thing you have to do to live as one is to kill yourself and live in Christ.

The second truth is that we must look on other men’s things. Now, this does not mean you covet them or want them. No, this means you are looking out for the best interest of your neighbor. If you see him in trouble, you help in out. If you find something she lost, you return it to her. If you hear something bad about him, you do not repeat it. Remember the golden rule you were taught in first grade Sunday School? Yeah, this is basically that. Love your neighbor, plain and simple. Put other people before yourself. (This should be easy because you are dead, see above.) If you always put others before yourself and their interest before your interest, you would avoid many of the arguments and fights that people have. So look out for your neighbor’s things before your own.

These truths may sound simple enough on the internet, but in reality they are very hard to live out. However, it is essential that we do live them out so that we can be at one with one another. We want to keep God’s testimony true to the world, and Jesus said the way to do that was to be one. Strive for unity. Forget yourself. Be a peacemaker.

This is not to be taken lightly. It is serious. If nothing else motivates you to be one with your fellow believers think about this. When we are at strife with each other and do not have unity, we are destroying the temple of God. God says He destroys those who destroy his temple. Can we afford to not be united?

“That I May Dwell Among Them…”

Posted by Emma on February 10, 2013 | Filed under: Bible,Christianity,Studying the Word

Today I was reading in Exodus 25 and it set me to thinking, particularly verses 8-9. “They shall make a sanctuary for Me–so that I may dwell among them–like everything that I show you, the form of the Tabernacle and the form of all its vessels; and so shall you do.”

God wanted Israel to build Him a sanctuary for the soul purpose that he might dwell among them. This could not just be any sanctuary, it had to be perfect. God is perfect and holy, he can only dwell where it is perfect and holy. His sanctuary had to be made exactly as He said, exactly like the pattern of the heavenly one that He showed Moses on Mount Sinai.

Often times we easily dismiss these chapters as well and good but not applying to us. Be honest the last fifteen chapters or so of Exodus are boring, excepting the golden calf incident, right? However, the more I read the rest of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, it becomes impossible to just dismiss these chapters.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

Wow. You are God’s temple and you’d better keep it holy, if you do not want to be destroyed.

That natural question is how do we keep the temple of God holy? We live according to the pattern shown us on the mountain. Which mountain? Well, two actually. The first is Mount Sinai, where God gave us his instructions, showing us the pattern we should live by. They can be summed up in the ten words (as the original Hebrew says) or ten commandments as the English scriptures translate it, which in turn can be summed up in two commands, love God and love your neighbor. (See Matthew 22:37-40) The second mountain is Calvary. On that mountain our Savior died willingly for our sins. On that mountain He proved that He was Lord of all. On that mountain He started the process that would make us the temple of God. We must live according to the pattern that He set for us.

As I read on through the New Testament, I come to 1 Cor 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

The Spirit of God rested on the Tabernacle and the first Temple, in Hebrew it is called the Shechinah, Today, God’s Shechinah does not rest on a building, one place in the world, instead it rest on every believe who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price and now the Shechinah, the dwelling presences of God’s glory, the Holy Spirit, dwells in you. That is why we must glorify God in our bodies. If you are not comfortable being owned by another, you have no business calling yourself a Christian. You cannot be a Christian without being the temple of the Holy Spirit and owned by God. When you accept Christ, you give control to Him and you are not your own.

The next passage that stood out to me was 2 Cor 6:16-18. “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.’”

Again we see that we are the temple of the living God and He will dwell among us. Sounds familiar? It is very similar to Exodus 25:8.

These passages make it clear that the current dwelling of God’s Shechinah is not in a temple made with hands but in the midst of His people and as such we are to be holy, we must be separate from the world and stay way from unclean things. (This unclean is not unclean as in covered with mud. Essentially, it means unholy, a full definition would require another article.) In the American church we often miss the reason for why we must be holy and not destroy our bodies, God’s temple. As we look back to the Old Testament and study how God’s Shechinah dwelt in the Tabernacle it becomes clear. When God’s Shechinah dwelt in the Tabernacle not even Moses was able to enter because of the glory. (See Exodus 40:35) What makes us think that we can be flippant about God dwelling in us?

Scripture is clear we are the temple of God, but do you really understand what that means? Can we really understand without studying the chapters in Exodus about the Tabernacle? I do not think we can. I think we must study Exodus, and the rest of Scripture to know how to live so God can dwell in us. The books of Exodus and Leviticus make it really clear that God will not dwell just anywhere. We should be honored that He will make us His temple but we also should be scared stiff because the living God, who is so holy that not one tiny speck of unholiness can abide in his presences and whose Shechinah glory was so much that not even Moses could enter the same dwelling with it, dwells in us and has bought us with a price. We are not our own. We are the holy temple of the living God. God dwells in us and in our midst. Live like it or be destroyed.

Two Questions

Posted by Emma on February 11, 2011 | Filed under: Christianity,Psalm 119,Studying the Word

“How many are the days of thy servant? When wilt thou execute judgement on them that persecute me?” Psalm 119:84

The psalmist has sounded down and tired in the last few verse, it continues in this verse. The first word in this verse is כמה (camah) which means how. The next word, ימי (yema), means my days. עבדך (avedecha) means thy servant. The word מתי (mata) means when. תעשה (ta’aseh) is a verb meaning do, make, execute. The word ברדפי means persecute or persecution. The final word in this verse is משפט (mishephat) which means judgement.

The psalmist ask two questions in this verse. At some point in our lives, most of us also ask these two questions. The first is how long will I live? How many are my days? When things are rough it is easy to wonder how long is life, how long do I have left. Even though the psalmist is going through some really rough times he does not lose sight of who he is. At the end of his first question are the words “thy servant.” He is God’s servant, no matter how hard things are or how down He is, He is and always will be God’s servant. We should live and know that we are always God’s servant. If that knowledge if constantly with you you should act as the servant of the most high God. In the roughest times, when you wonder how long your life can be remember you are God’s servant.

The second question in this verse is when will you execute judgement on those who are persecuting me? Most of us do not know what real persecution is. We have not been told to deny our faith or go to jail or die. But we can be persecuted in little ways and by individual people. It could be someone you work with, go to school with, live with, your neighbor, or some random person who persecutes you for being a Christian. At these times we do wonder, when is God going to bring judgement on them? God’s timing is not our timing and we must trust His timing to be perfect.

The answers to these questions are not found in this verse, but will get answered in the psalmist’s life. If you stick to God and ever remember that you are God’s servant, when these questions come to your mind, you will find an answer.

A Bottle in Smoke?

Posted by Emma on February 10, 2011 | Filed under: Analogies,Christianity,Psalm 119,Studying the Word

“For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.” Psalm 119:83

This verse starts out with the word כי (cey) which is a conjunction meaning that, for, or when. It would seem to mean for in this verse. The next word, הייתי (hayity), means come to pass, become. The word כנאד (cenod) begins with a כ (caph) which means like or like as. The root of the word means a skin-bottle, or skin. The root of the word בקיטור (bekitor) means thick smoke. The ב (beit) at the beginning means in.

The word חקיך (chukecha) means thy statutes or thy dues. This is something prescribed. These are God’s statutes, the things He wants us doing. לא (lo) means no or not. The final word in this verse is שכחתי (shacachety). The root of which is a verb meaning forget.

Why would the psalmist use the description of a bottle in the smoke to describe himself? From the previous verses we know that the psalmist is tired and down. But why this analogy? What is it about a bottle in the smoke that is bad? The bottles that they had back then were different then the glass or plastic bottles we think of today. As you can pick up from the actually meaning of the word translated bottle, they were made of skin. Adam Clarke comments in his commentary that, “one of these hung in the smoke must soon be parched and shriveled up. This represents the exhausted state of his body and mind by long bodily affliction and mental distress.” The psalmist felt like he was parched and shriveling up. Often times when we are going through trials and tribulations we can feel like we are parched and almost gone. At those times describe yourself as a bottle in smoke.

Even thorough all of this, the psalmist did not forget God’s statutes. He still remembered God’s word and did it. That takes faith. It is hard to keep obeying God and seeking Him when He seems far away and we are tired and feel drained, but we must keep seeking Him. He is a reward of those who diligently seek Him. He promises that in Hebrews 11:6. No matter how hard your trial is, no matter how tired you feel, no matter how much like a bottle in smoke you have become, keep seeking God. Do not forget His statutes. Do not forget His word. Do not forget Him. He will show Himself strong at the end.

When will God Comfort Me?

Posted by Emma on February 9, 2011 | Filed under: Christianity,Psalm 119,Studying the Word

“Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying when wilt thou comfort me?” Psalm 119:82

As we enter this section of the Psalm, we start seeing more sorrow and despair in the psalmist. Up until now, for the most part, he has held onto the promises of God and sounded secure in them. This verse and the ones following it seem to have a slightly different tone.

The first word in this verse is כלו (calu). It is the same word that started off verse 81. This verb means at an end, spent, waste away, be exhausted, fail. It is reaching the end and having just about nothing left. The next word is עיני (yeena) which means eye. The psalmist is saying that his eyes are failing or wasting away.

The root of the word לאמרתך (le’imeratecha) means utterance, speech, word. This is especially talking about God’s word, his commands and promises as found in the Bible. The ל (lamed) at the beginning of the word means for.

The word לאמר (leemor) is a verb meaning utter or say. This is followed by מתי (mata) which means when. The final word in this verse is תנחמני (tenachamany). It is a verb meaning comfort or console.

The Psalmist’s eyes are failing for God’s words and His promises. As they waste away, they are asking when God will comfort him. It seems the psalmist’s eyes have been looking to God’s word and His promises and now they are exhausted. They are asking when they will see the promises in God’s word fulfilled and be comforted.

Often times we feel the same way. When you go through difficult times you look to God’s word for comfort, you cling to His promises, but bit by bit you get tired as the pressures and trials keep coming at you. You start wondering will you see those promises fulfilled and start asking when will God comfort me? I know I have gone through this at times. When there seems to be no relief you start wondering when will you see God’s promises, when will He comfort me? Sometimes our faith wanes and we wonder if He will comfort us.

The psalmist still has faith in God. He is not asking will you comfort me? He is saying, when will you comfort me? He knows God is still in control and that God will be true to His promises and God will comfort His children. God is in control. We must never forget that. God does comfort His children, it is just not always in our time. Sometimes God wants to refine us like gold before comforting us.

When you are going through hard times, do not despair and say will you comfort me? Ask, when will you comfort me. God is faithful. To quote someone I know, “God is good and God is sovereign. If God is good then it is going to be okay.”  I know God is good. I know God is sovereign. And I know that if God is good and He is sovereign it is going to be okay. Trust that and ask God when He will comfort you,  because if you keep true to Him, He will comfort you in His timing.

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