Thursday, March 22
Prayer is the easiest to perform yet the most under utilized spiritual discipline. You can do it most anywhere and at many different times during the day. It requires only that you focus on God
for a few minutes. Yet our busy and distracted lives prevent prayer from having it's transforming impact in our lives.
Now I'm talking about any kind of prayer here. There are many different kinds of prayer. And the Tabernacle Prayer is my favorite by far. But TP is like a college education vs. a grammer school assignment. I believe all prayer is good. And more prayer is better than less prayer.
This week, a familar verse... an often lost subtlety...revealed in the Amplified version. These kinds of things only apprehend your soul when you are praying them. Review in Matthew where the Lord is encouraging us to be prayers:
Mat 7:7 Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.
There are several profound lessons in this verse that become very clear in the Amplified. "Keep on" is one. Your pastor has probably mentioned this from the pulpit a time or too. "Keep on" means "keep on" asking until something happens. "Keep on" until there is peace about it. "Keep on" until a specific answer is clear. Or "keep on" until your heart sees things differently. So keep on praying every day about it until something happens.
One or two prayers about a situation vs. "keeping on" could be a key to how faith is activated in us.
"Keeping on" in prayer lends itself to the Tabernacle prayer because by practicing the Temple prayer, the Holy Spirit (your best teacher) teaches us to develop a daily prayer discipline so we get maximum benefit from our time with God. And more importantly the Lord experiences a blessing from your focused and consistent worship of him according to His pattern of worship.
But there is more in the (amplified) version of this verse: Mat 7:7 Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.
Whoa... knock reverently.... what is that? Here the Lord is revealing a secret to approaching Him. God your father, the creator of heaven and earth, the one who formed us in our mother's womb, he deserves reverence.
Dictionary says: reverence - 1 : honor or respect felt or shown : DEFERENCE; especially : profound adoring awed respect 2 : a gesture of respect (as a bow) synonym see HONOR
We Americans are very poor at honoring or being reverent to anyone. Yet God says that if you want to really please him, show him the reverence that is due his name... even in prayer.
Now I could write a book about this but suffice it to say in this blog that there is a proper protocol to approaching the president of the United States. And there is a proper protocol to approaching God.
I believe that the biblical pattern of reverence is best revealed in the Tabernacle of Moses and best exemplified by Jesus Christ. It is by far the best and most throughly documented pattern of worship in Scripture.
So give it a try and watch what God does when you approach him reverently.
Until next time ... stay in His House!
It's where the action begins!
Monday, January 8
My kids used to ask me, "Dad, why do you pray so many bible verses outloud?"
It seems many people who consider praying the Word at some point wonder why they should do it. On one hand it seems kind of foolish, praying the words God wrote back to Him. Are we so dull that we cannot come up with meaningful prayers ourselves?
I told my kids at the time that when you pray alot you run out of your own words and since I want God's promises to come alive in our family I declare them outloud. The Bible is full of people praying that way, quoting other Scriptures.
By watching me they are learning how to pray the Word as well.
The other day I felt like the Lord let me in on a even better reason why praying the Word is so important. The revelation came through my son D.J. He's two years old now and learning to talk up a storm. How does he learn to talk? The same way we all did, by making the same sounds his dad and mom make. He learns to speak to us by saying the things we say. As he experiences the world around him he sees us communicating with stange sounds and he begins copying us, "truck, cars, mom, dada, more" etc. From one word spurts he began putting two and three words together into phrases. The closer he gets to intelligble words the more we understand and answer his requests. Things move especially fast when he really wants something so he is very motivated to learn how to say it so we understand and give it to him.
It's the same with us and God. The best way to learn to communicate with God is by saying things his way. He wants us to learn a new language. He wants to teach us a new way of thinking. So he gives us a whole vocabulary and new way of thinking in his words to us.
As we learn to declare his words appropriately, a new bond of communication between us and Him develops. The more we do it, the better it gets, and we sense our relationship with the Lord becoming stronger and more passionate .
We forget that we are really babes and one of the signs of growing up in spiritual maturity is how much we pray God's words.
So much of our bible teaching today looks at God's words as literature, or history. While all that is fine and good, it diffuses the true nature of God's word. Let us not forget that Jesus Christ literally is the Word.
Joh 1:1 IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. [Isa. 9:6.]
Joh 1:14 And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. [Isa. 40:5.]
So praying the Word is praying Jesus Christ into our mind and into the atmosphere surrounding any situation.
My wife points out that children learn to say words before they really understand the meaning of them. It's the same with us in the Spirit realm. As we declare God's truth even before we fully understand it, his Word begins to take effect. It's as if the more we say it, the more we learn what it means.
So next time you pray... try turning a verse or two of meaningful scripture into your prayer to God.
Tuesday, December 12
The Jewish culture has always centered on temple worship. It is we gentiles who are ignorant of it. Yet we know from Ephesians that Jesus died to make one new man out of the two. (Jew and Gentile) In our ignorance we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Our modern form of worship pales in comparison to simply following the pattern established by God in temple worship. That does not mean we sacrifice animals. It means we honor the process of worshipping Christ according to the same pattern he himself fulfilled according to Hebrews. Eastern Gate – Jesus Christ the only way, Brazen Altar – Jesus Christ our Savior, Laver – Jesus Christ our Lord (reflect on the Ten Commandments). The Candlestick – The Holy Spirit, Jesus the Light of the World, Table of Shewbred – Jesus the Word and the Bread of Life, Altar of Incense – Worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, Holy of Holies – Intimacy with the Father through Jesus the Ark of the Covenant.
If a new pattern of worship was established when Jesus died on the cross then surely Jesus would have made it known. Instead he honored the old ways. He taught in the Temple. He did come down on the religious leaders for turning sacred worship into religion. And He did drive out the money changers from the Temple, saying, “my Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”. He honored and was jealous over the temple because he viewed it as symbolic for the real temple in heaven, and the pattern of worship which was symbolized by the Jewish customs was symbolic of the requirements for anyone to access God the Father.
Monday, December 11
My theory is that prayer is the activity but worship is what we are doing.
Basically God instructed Moses to build the first portable Tabernacle in the wilderness so he could dwell with his people. Today we are a 2.0 version of that tabernacle in the wilderness. We are portable temples that God dwells in, and we are to conduct our lives accordingly.
This Temple pattern of worship is throughout the Scriptures from Moses, to David, Solomon, the Kings, Prophets, Herod's Temple, Jesus saying "tear down this temple (him)", to Paul telling us we are temples of the Holy Spirit, to a look at the real temple in heaven in Revelation, Ezekiel, and other passages.
So the Temple is really THE PATTERN for worshipping (drawing near to God). I don't see any other one. But wait a minute, what about Jesus Christ? Jesus is the mediator of the new way to worship God the Father. He is our Savior (Brazen Altar), our Lord (laver), the Spirit & the Light (Candlestick), the Word & the Bread (Table of Showbread), our intercessor (Altar of Incense), and our High Priest giving us unique access to the Holy of Holies anytime we want. Jesus Christ is the personification of the temple pattern. He fulfilled every aspect of the temple requirements. He literally was “the Temple” in the flesh. That is why he said, “tear down this temple and I’ll rebuild it in three days.” He was speaking of his own body.
When he died on the cross the veil was rent....but the Temple pattern was not destroyed. In his death on the cross the Temple went from being a physical place in Jerusalem to being a spiritual house in each one of us who become believers in Jesus Christ. The old priestly lineage from Aaron was now replaced with a line in Jesus Christ.
So instead of being priests like Aaron we are new covenant priests... ministering to the Lord by praying through our temples, our spiritual houses that he is building in us each day, and as we do so, we receive all that he has for us each day.
This is an incredibly deep and mysterious thing that I don't claim to understand very well. But I certainly have begun to perceive it and am energized by it everyday.
Friday, November 10
It's been awhile since I had the grace to post here. But now there is fresh air blowing across the campus at New Life Church. Unconfessed sin has been confessed. The facade of a church without scandal is no more. It is no coincidence that Pastor Ted's last sermon was on Saul and how he disobeyed God and was removed from leadership. Now Ted is an illustrated sermon.
Was it coincidence that Ted's last book was on the Tabernacle? I don't think so. Eventually every man, no matter how respected, and how "high up" in Christian circles will be shown for what he is in his heart.
Does this stop us from loving him.... no way. Ted did so much good for so many that surely there are very few like him. And he was an amazing leader and evangelist. But God Ted's legacy will be none of those. Ted is now a clear example for all of us that God insists on truth in our innermost parts. And Ted's day came for truth, as it will for each of us. Let us never forget that truth is not just being accurate in what we say. Truth is Jesus Christ. To worship Jesus Christ is to worship truth. There is nothing false in Christ. To compromise or live life with only partial truth on display, which really we all do everyday, is to worship at another altar... the altar of lies. And the God we worship there is the father of lies. Think about it. You want to boil life down to it's most simple parts. Truth and lies. Truth is truth... pure and holy...nothing false.... Jesus Christ. Add a little compromise and you no longer have pure truth.
That's why we do what we do with the Temple prayer. It is a soul searching way to cleanse your conscience and keep the weeds of sin very low in your life. Keep truth flowing... confess and repent. It's a lifestyle.
No prayer, no bible reading, no church attendence record, no sermon preaching matters if there isn't a clear conscience behind it. To the extent we ignore the confessional aspect of what Christ has provided at the laver and through confessing sin to others, we are denying the very essence of what Christ died for.... forgiveness of sins. It is the confessing, the agreeing with God, that brings the clean slate, the washing away of our sins.
Christ has provided it, our confessing applies it to our own lives. No confession demonstrates pride and no humility. God resists a proud man, He give grace to a humble man.
Practicing humility and contriteness by praying through the 10 commandments at the laver is the best excercise I've found for confronting significant pride in my own life.
Lord leave no stone unturned in my life, no door locked to you in my own heart. Amen.
Friday, April 21
The Laver, second station in the Temple, was used by the priests of old for ceremonial washing before entering the Holy Place. Today we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, use the Laver like a spiritual bath for daily cleaning of our conscience before we come into His presence. (Acts 24:16)
Just as we brush our teeth daily, we clean our minds daily through the practice of repentance. At the Laver we reflect on God’s commandments, see the difference between His standards and our behavior and realize we are no longer condemned, but drawn to repentance, contriteness, and humility.
The only way to dwell with God is to have a contrite heart. (Isa 57:15-21) We gain a clear conscience by appropriating God’s forgiveness through genuine confession. (1 John 1:9)
We remind ourselves that under the New Covenant the commandments are not there to condemn us, but instead to lead us to repentance and a clear conscience. (Rom 3:20) This daily practice enables us be set free from sinful behavior, transformed in our mind. No longer a slave to bondage that leads to spiritual death. (Rom 12:2)
The Laver is a major obstacle for most of us. We shy away from a regular, honest, appraisal of our behavior. (Psa 26:2) Actually fooling ourselves into thinking we have not sinned. (1 John 1:10) Or that Christ has already forgiven us so we don’t need to confess sin anymore.
This of course is not true, we are deceiving ourselves and missing out on the fundamental way to stay very close to God.... a contrite and humble heart.
Thursday, April 13
An initial defining moment of humanity...
The serpent plants a new thought in Eve's mind.
"Did God really say....?"
Although Eve had never experienced a cunning liar before, she still pondered that idea, then made a choice based on the birth of her covetous heart. A covetous heart questions the real meaning of what God says, and twists it into permission to go one more step down the road of disobedience.
How do we do the same things today?
Everytime we question the Word of God. Everytime we are doubleminded about God's standards. Everytime we put on our intellectual hat and investigate looking for ways to undermine biblical authority. Everytime we say. "that doesn't apply to us today."
Questioning what God said is nothing more than a method of justifying our rebellion. Satan doesn't have to get us to choose evil directly. To render our faith powerless, all he has to do is get us to question God's Word. If we are doubleminded, James tells us that we will not get anything from the Lord. James 1:6-8
Transforming a double-minded mind bent on rebellion is a difficult thing. But not impossible....nothing is impossible with God. The way we do it is by daily immersion. Declaring God's truth over ourselves. Find verses that deal with your areas of weakness. The areas where you are most likely to say to yourself....did God really say?
Instead of indulging in questioning God, declare His Word on that topic. And do it like you mean it....with passion! Do this everyday and in no time you will find yourself thinking differently about that issue. You will find yourself actually believing God! That's what the Temple Prayer is all about. Coming to one non-negotiable conclusion.
God did say it. I believe it! His Word is truth for me today.