Ezra 1-5 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  Styles come and go, but He never changes

My laptop PC had served me well for several years.  I understand most of the nuances and foibles of my Windows PC, and I’m comfortable with it, like a pair of well broken-in shoes.  It was with reluctance that I accepted the necessity to buy a new laptop, but it was time. Voices were encouraging me to make a change, a change for the better they said, change to a…Mac.  Help! They promise no viruses, user-friendly computing, amazing video editing and on and on.  I like things the way they are, and who needs change?  Maybe…no…well, I just don’t know…but it may be the way to go…but it’s just not me…I could learn to like it…to Mac or not to Mac. Hmmm… 

@ Ezra 3
“When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets…With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:  ‘He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!’  Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy.  The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.” (3:10,11-13)  Change can be difficult.

I am almost positive I have heard the “joyful shouting and the weeping mingled together” in some of our church services throughout the land.  Church just isn’t the same as it was years ago.  Newer music, relaxed style of dress and quicker paced services are just a few of the changes that many churches have grown into over the past few years.  Many seasoned believers feel disconnected from the church where they had experienced so many wonderful moments with the Lord – the new Temple is just not the same, not as magnificent as Solomon’s Temple.

History reveals quite a shake-up in the church world when the now somewhat disconnected believers were younger.  Coming out of more liturgical services, they started to accept gospel songs, clapping, raising hands to God and even shouting at times.  I’ve read that the elders from their former churches thought they had lost all respect and reverence for God; but of course, they had not.  Their new-found freedom in the Lord was in keeping with the day in which they lived, and it was like a breath of fresh air to the church.  But to some, the new Temple was just not the same, not as magnificent as Solomon’s Temple.

After 40 years in youth and young adult ministry, I can say that the current generation, with very few exceptions, does not really understand the style of the past.  As a rule, it doesn’t touch them, it doesn’t reach them and without some new wineskins for the new wine God is pouring out today, they may be lost for eternity.

When I worship in church today, beyond the music and the style, I am most blessed by seeing people’s lives changed by the power of God, and that is really the bottom line for me.  If I didn’t see this taking place in my church, I would find a place where it was happening.  Methods and music style, whether new or old, without the touch of God are simply entertainment.  The temple may not look anything like the temple of my youth, but I’m not going to weep because too many young lives are finding the Savior.  Hear my joyful shouting!

Moving Forward:  I’m rejoicing today over lives being changed by the power of God.  It may be a different approach, but it’s the same God and the same power. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 131-133

2 Chronicles 1-5 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He is our firm foundation

It’s always troubling to watch television news reporting on the California mudslides or similar places that seem to occur every year.  We see homes literally sliding down the hillside, sometimes into the coastal waters below.  As the furnishings and memories of a lifetime are swallowed up in mud and debris, I often wonder if the great ocean view their homes afforded them was worth the devastation.  There’s nothing like building on a firm foundation. 

@2 Chronicles 3
Whether building a home, a marriage, a church or a family, we want to build something that will last, something that will survive the storms of life.  David had chosen such a place for his son to build God’s temple. “So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected.” (1)  Solomon’s Temple on Mount Moriah was built on a firm foundation, both in structure and in history, and the history is intriguing.

Mount Moriah was a place of faith:  Mount Moriah was first mentioned in Genesis 22:1-2,9-11, “Sometime later, God tested Abraham’s faith. ‘Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains’… Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar…Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’”  Is whatever we are building in our lives based on faith in God, is He the sure foundation?  As with Abraham, God may give us an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in our process of building to be certain that it will stand.

Mount Moriah was a place of sacrifice:  Because of David’s sin of taking a census, the hand of God was set to destroy Israel, but the angel from God halted its destruction at the threshing floor of Araunah when David repented.  This special place where God would spare His people was Mount Moriah.  David went to purchase the land, but the owner, Araunah, wanted to give it to him – David would have none of it. “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!’” (I Chronicles 21:2-4)  It will cost us something to build on a firm foundation.  Careful planning, diligence and countless hours are just a few of the sacrifices that go into building a marriage and home or anything that will last.

Mount Moriah was a place of worship:  Solomon completed the beautiful and ornate Temple for the Ark of the Covenant to dwell, the presence of God.  May all that we build be a place of worship to God, where His presence dwells.  Solomon’s Temple was built with careful planning and the very best quality of supplies and furnishings – it was built to last forever.  However, 400 years later it lay in ruins.

The Temple had a firm foundation – it was built on faith in God, it was a place of sacrifice to God and it was a place of worship to God.  Should it not have lasted forever?  Although the foundation was good, the structure lost its function when the Israelites left the Temple and put their faith in other gods, sacrificed to other gods and worshiped them in others places.  They abandoned the very principles the Temple was built on, and God allowed pagans from other countries to demolish it.

From this sad history we learn not only to build our lives on faith in the Lord, but also to hold fast to those principles that guided us from the very beginning.  The world will forever attempt to seduce us with many other areas to place our faith, to offer our sacrifices and to bow our knee to worship, but it never ends well for us. What we build will last when we build on the Lord, our sure foundation, and we stand firm. 

Moving Forward: On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!

Tomorrow@Psalms 111-113