Sanctuary

Sanctuary

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NLT) This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true; with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you. – Sanctuary by Randy Scruggs and John Thompson

Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength resides in His Faithfulness. To the believer it is not fictional fantasy but a factual realization that there is more to life than what is the current reality. Hope identifies temporary now and eternal forever. Faith is our response to hope. It moves us from our present conditions to promised outcomes. In this passage, it calls “hope” a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. But hope in and of itself, though completely credible, does nothing for us without a connection called faith. Faith leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary… or at least faith has the potential to do so. Faith needs feet. Our feet must follow Christ from everyday living into the inner sanctum opened to us when Jesus died on the Cross and the temple veil tore from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.  They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit and died. At that moment, the curtain in the sanctuary that once separated the common man from the Holy of Holies tore in half from the top to the bottom. This curtain was approximately 30 feet high and 30 feet wide. The fabric was 4 inches thick. This was not a feat that a man could have accomplished with speed and accuracy. I believe that when Jesus released his spirit – the Holy Spirit that the first order of business was to remove any and all separation between God and mankind. To offer an invitation into the sanctuary and refuge of His Presence. The first to respond would be the godly men and women who died being raised from the dead. The same folks who went around Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the history of our invitation to live in the Presence of God. It is up to us how to respond to His Invitation.

Sanctuary is defined as a sacred and holy place. However, if you continue in the list of definitions – you will find that sanctuary also means immunity afforded by refuge. Immunity is exemption from an obligation, service, duty or obligation. The place of grace is our exemption from any liability associated with sin. To step into God’s Presence by way of grace is to walk away from darkness into His Marvelous Light and be granted immunity. The word “refuge” in the same definition means shelter or protection. It is recourse or access to relief or escape. We need God’s Refuge on a regular basis. Life is hard. Faith isn’t logical outside of God’s Word, His Voice and His Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit. Even so, there are times when we need relief or escape from the pressures of life and His Presence is that place.

John 2:19-22 (NLT) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

Do you attend church? How many times a week? We go to the House of God on Sunday and Wednesday like dutiful Christians. Sunday is packed. Wednesday not so much. Maybe you attend a small group regularly and the occasional conference. It is part of our routine. It is our habit. But the building it is located is NOT really a sanctuary. Jesus is our sanctuary. He is the One who lives in us and as believers we live in Him. Hope is the anchor for our souls but it matters what our soul is anchored to. What is our faith connected to? Is it our Christian habits or the Presence of the Living God? I know I am meddling right now. Splitting hairs that make us all a bit uncomfortable.

When our son was undergoing cancer treatments off and on for three years, I didn’t attend church on a regular basis for obvious reasons. What then? Without the weekly worship and sermons, what was I going to do? Without the Wednesday night prayer meetings, how was I going to pray? Without other people, how would I stay encouraged? It was usually just Jesus and me. Hope is found in the sanctuary of God through Jesus Christ. Our faith cannot attach itself to other things or idols rise up in the midst of good intentions. At the end of the day, I have access to the Presence of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Spirit leads me to the edge but my heart and soul must learn to live there to have real hope and productive faith.

Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
 than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

I absolutely 100% believe in church membership and organized religion as a part of our fellowship with others. However, I also 100% believe that my relationship with Jesus Christ requires relocating my life to the heavenly realm of hope that is His Presence. To step out of ordinary life and into His Extraordinary Power requires grace that turns my weakness into His Power and faith that oversteps the logic of life into the realm of impossibility as the Truth lived by. See there is more to life than this – it’s called hope.

Hope has a location. It is a place of divine opportunity that must be experienced individually to contribute anything of worth corporately. Faith must first connect us to hope. Hope that is found only in heaven to prosper our soul which will then spill over into our life. A single day in His Courts is better than a thousand elsewhere because it changes us. Transforms us with resurrection power and life that will move us from surviving on this planet to thriving in His Kingdom. We cannot miss the step marked sanctuary. There are battles to win. There is sickness to overcome. There are promises yet to be received. There is blessing after blessing accessed by grace through faith that is found in hope.

God is our sun and shield. He is giving us not only His Grace (through Jesus) but His Glory (His Presence). We must strive for both. I am to be a sanctuary of Christ. I am a temple of His Spirit. I must seek the sanctuary of His Presence to fully discover every benefit hidden there for me. Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary. Teach me to live in Your Presence. Not just run to it when I need shelter or relief, but for all things and everyday residing in hope. Make my faith bigger than my fears. Fill me with your grace and glory, Father. I love your Presence. It is better than life.

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

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