Psalm 26:8 (NIV) Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.
Today is Sunday. Our family attends weekly worship services. We will worship today just like any other time but today will be different. Rather than donning regular “church” attire, it will be old work clothes and tennis shoes. Gathering in our newly acquired sanctuary, many will continue the work begun just yesterday but in their hearts and minds years ago. Our church building has selected a new location, larger facility, bigger parking lot with room to grow and expand. The property had become neglected as foreclosure grew eminent but now it is coming back to life.
Pulling up yesterday, my heart was overwhelmed. I do not recall the last fellowship that I have been a part of with so many people who were willing to give up their Saturday to move, clean, demolish, build and paint. The muscles of my body ache but I am excited to return to God’s House today though I know the long list of tasks yet to be accomplished. I love the House of the Love. I love the Place where His Glory Dwells. It is the part of me that must be a part of this body of believers.
This will not be a long discourse on the need for others to engage in rebuilding the House of God but rather the invitation to an opportunity to become part of something more than ourselves. Our family is blessed to have a house that we have lived in more than a decade. We have grown here, prayed here, endured here, played and celebrated in this house. It became our home. The Peace of God lives here because it is in the heart of the occupants. When returning from a trip, when I open the door and can “smell” home. As I sink into the loveseat, I love the familiar comfort. At the end of each day, I can settle into my bed and the smell of fresh sheets makes me sigh. We love home. When we are away, it is that thing that calls us back. I have also come to realize that God’s Glory dwells in this building. It is not the structure of the house that makes it home to the Holy Spirit but the living stones inside that emanate His Presence.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
It is important to examine the foundation of our life. We are members of a community much greater than ourselves and immediate family. Have we lost touch with the others? Absolutely. Churches are not factions although characteristically they have become just that. A faction is a small organized group within a larger one usually in a state of conflict. Welcome to the modern day church. We do not serve, fellowship or worship together. Yet, throughout the Word of God is clear it blesses the Lord for us to live in unity, serve and fellowship together. Is it time to remodel the church to look like the Body of Christ? Is it time rebuild the breaches between congregations to strengthen our influence and make our light burn brighter. Unity gets people’s attention and harmony attracts them.
What if all churches big and small set out to be “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit? What if we all worked together rather than tearing each other apart? What if we could be confident in our relationship to Christ trusting Him to care and provide for us as we shared life with others? I have no doubt that if we placed Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone of our life and committed our life to be living stones, it would fall into place completely. People would be saved, healed, delivered and set free in our midst.
We are His House. (Hebrews 3:6) Have we allowed His Holy Spirit to make Himself at home? It is important that our life is home to the Living Breathing Spirit of God. Our family has been house hunting. We have visited many homes. Looked at countless properties that are for sale. We found a house that we love. We can see our life filling it. It will one day be our home. We love home! If we could only see that our life is part of something larger and commit to becoming part of it, we would see a shift and change in the Body of Christ for the better.
I Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We have the opportunity to become part of a holy and royal priesthood called and ordained by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. A stone all by itself is insignificant and small until it become part of something greater. It cannot be given and taken away but committed to the building it is connected to lest the building become unstable. Do you have a church home today? Are you part of a body of believers? Are you haphazard or fully engaged? It is important that we become connected to the Body of Christ. We all have a place but it is not always the same place. Just like Jesus, we have been chosen by God to be an important part of His Kingdom. Are you willing to take your place? If so, be prepared. It will require obedience to step into our rightful place. One must make a commitment to the structure at sacrifice of self.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 (NIV)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
My family was part of a congregation for about four years. We loved the pastors and people of the church but never became fully engaged. After much thought and painstaking prayer, it was time to go. When we visited the congregation which we are members of today, it was clearly evident that this was the place the Lord had led us. Our gifts and talents had a place, our children were growing, and every weight and burden I had been carrying was released and I experienced immediate relief. We fit here. God has made a place for us here to live in His Glory. Is the other church bad? No. Should everyone leave because we did? No. We must understand our place in the Body of Christ. When we are in the right place, His Peace and Glory will expand thanks to the Holy Spirit as God confirms our steps.
Guard your steps when you go to the House of God today. Consider your commitment. Examine your heart. Step out in service. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in the areas that are keeping you from full engagement in the Body of Christ for His Service. Sacrifice is needed to become connected. Obedience is a requirement. His Spirit lives in us and empowers us to be a part of something more. In this passage, it is referring to the vows we make before the Lord. Do not utter anything before God that you are not committing to fulfillment. We must give our all to be a living stone in the Kingdom of God. To walk into a church today without considering the cost of carrying ones Cross or intent on becoming part of the Body of Christ makes it a waste of time. Grace is not an excuse to continue to rebel against God’s Way but to align our heart and mind with Jesus Christ to be complete (within His Body) lacking nothing.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
My body is tired today. I am not as young as I used to be. Hours of bending, stretching and carrying made me sore and tired. However, that is just in my physical body. My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus bought me with a price…you too! I must honor God with my body. This is much more than not participating in adultery or fornication or any other physical sin. It means to sacrifice our mouth, ears, hands and feet to the service of Jesus Christ who gave me back my life. It is to keep the Temple of my body clean so the Holy Spirit can dwell in me.
My life is now in total disagreement with sin. I must learn to live that way through constant repentance allowing grace to be the grease that turns me in repentance. 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 reminds me that the Holy Spirit lives in me and I am to separate myself from the world and its darkness. In doing so, I am to become separate and consecrated to the Lord. How do I do that? I get connected to the Cornerstone called Christ and become a Living Stone in His Temple. My life is not useless. I can do more than I think. I must make the commitment today to dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV)
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
God called believers not to live separate lives but to serve the Body of Christ together. We are many members forming one body in unity. (Romans 12:3-5) The only thing to remain separate from is sin and darkness. As believers, we must become engrafted in Jesus Christ because apart from the Lord we can do nothing. I want to flourish in the House of God, don’t you? We have the opportunity to do so by trusting His Unfailing Love and moving our expectation from people to the Living God. When we pursue unity and harmony with the Body of Christ, we are a living stone. One that the Lord can use to build His Kingdom rather than one who is constantly forming a breach.
Today as you may be preparing to attend a worship service, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the place that you connect to the Body of Christ. I will soon go don my best work apparel and head back out to the House of God under construction. I am praying and believing that the Lord will light a fire of unity in the many churches today so that all can reconnect without suspicion or hidden agendas to be part of something more. The early church understood the power of unity and thousands were added to the Kingdom from just a handful of faithful people. Let that be me and my church day. Place our Living Stones effectively into your Grand Design.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Psalm 84:10-11 (NIV)
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.