The Absurd Reality of Every Believer

There’s a truth seeking to intrude the everyday moments of life – both the mundane and the monumental. A truth I let slip into the daily drama every once in awhile but would do well to let drench the difficulties and decisions and dilemmas that arrive on my doorstep each morning. A truth I long to live within – snug and secure within the boundaries it provides, the comfort it gives, and the hope it exhales.

Key Verse: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

But instead of soaking in this immeasurably wonderful revelation, with all it’s lovely attributes, I more often than not set it aside for less feasible realities. Like having a beautifully put together life (the kind that is social media worthy) or a number on the scale that is less than last week or a completely picked up house or every dish in the cupboard or a floor that has less food on it than an all you can eat buffet.

Consumed with the hope of making such lofty goals the truth of my everyday, I forget the real truth. The truth that would have blown the sandals off every godly Israelite of Moses’ day or Joshua’s day or David’s day.

The truth that in Christ, God is with me. Always and forever with me. Indwelling me with His perfectly righteous Spirit. Going before me, walking beside me, carrying me when I’m too tired to walk on my own. Or too overcome. Or too weary. Or too confused to take one more step.

“That’s impossible!” The Israelites would have said. “A holy God cannot dwell within sinful man!” Yet this side of the cross, He does. It’s not a ridiculous notion, it’s reality. The God who was once shielded nicely behind two curtains, on the other side of an altar, constantly smattered with blood – now dwells within every man, woman, and child that confesses Christ as LORD.

It’s a privilege unlike any other considering only the high priest could enter the presence of God (within the Holy of Holies), prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And even then it was only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, after cleansing and draping himself with special clothing. To do a job only he could do – sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of atonement.

While the people outside waited. Are we accepted, or are we not accepted? Fear intermingled with hope; desperation threatening any shroud of confidence they felt after watching a goat, 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs make their way across the bronze altar – the required number of sacrifices for that special day.

The vast gap between God’s righteousness and theirs requiring more of the same sacrifices not only on the Day of Atonement but at the first of every month and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost (Feast of Weeks). Along with two daily lambs a year old, without blemish, split open every morning with a drink offering and every night with an offering of grain – as long as they existed.

But nothing compares to the Feast of Booths. It lasted eight days during which 71 bulls, 15 rams, 105 lambs, and 8 goats were required to be struck, broken, and splattered across the altar that kept guard over the tabernacle entrance like a fierce watch dog reminding the people to not come any closer. To remember their unholiness. Confess their uncleanness. And adhere to the commands of the LORD or face the consequences.

Yet me, on this side of the cross, I get to walk right past the altar of burnt offering, past the bronze basin that the priests used for washing, through the veil separating the Holy Place from the courtyard, with its “blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen,” (Ex. 26:36), straight into the light of the golden lampstand.

Past the bread of the presence, which I could eat of if I wanted to, straight to the curtain separating me from the Holy of Holies.

Lungs filled with the sweet smells escaping the altar of incense, I get to slide the golden rings to one side, folding the cherubim embroidered on the large, expansive curtain, and walk straight into the presence of God.

Invited by the King himself. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Cleansed and covered by His blood, I am not only encouraged to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), I’m expected to as an adopted daughter of the Most High. So that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, may shield me wherever I go. (Phil 4:6-7)

An awesome blessing every believer this side of the cross has the privilege to experience. Yet what do we do with it? What do we do with this ever present reality? Do we exchange it for something less lovely? Less beneficial? Less likely?

Sometimes we do. Ignoring the fact that we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16). An amazing concept I long to capture.

The presence of God is not shielded from me, but dwells within me (within you). “Therefore we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Heb. 6:18b-19, NLT).

My friend, whatever reality you’re facing today, in Christ, this is the truth behind it – You are welcome in God’s presence. Invited by and through the blood of Jesus Christ.

What a privilege! A reality I pray we each live within – snug and secure within the boundaries it provides, the comfort it gives, and the hope it exhales. May it always and forever be the truth that rises to the top and prevails. Mending the brokenness of yesterday and binding up the uneasiness of tomorrow in the pure wonderment it provides.

Thank you Jesus for your presence in my life. Forgive me for setting it aside. Help me to live within the reality of this great and wonderful truth. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Why is God’s presence in us such an amazing privilege? Is it reality you live within? How can you make fellowship with God a truth you daily experience?


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Is Church the House of God?

When Jacob left home I don’t think he expected to find God. A wife perhaps, but not God. After all do any of us really expect to find God when we’re out and about? Usually I’m just hoping to find a sucker or two in the bottom of my purse. Encountering God would be an incredible bonus! But in all seriousness don’t we tend to categorize God? He’s here (because I’m doing good) but not over there (because I don’t want him there). Or we imagine him in places of grandeur, as he undoubtedly deserves. Holy spaces dedicated to just Him. Churches. Little white ones with steeples and mega ones with coffee bars. Places where people gather to worship and pray and recite Scripture…that’s where God is right?

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 28:18-22
Key Verse: “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

So when Sunday rolls around we spruce up! And not just in the areas of hygiene. Hearts, minds, mouths…it all looks a little different come church time. Because we be visitin’ the house of God!  But does God dwell in a church building? Do we have to go to church to find God?

It certainly seems logical in light of the Old Testament. When God needed a place to dwell among the Israelites He said to Moses “And let them build me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Ex. 25:8). Then after establishing themselves in Canaan the Israelites (i.e. Solomon) built the temple. Giving God a permanent residence. Solomon actually calls it God’s house in 2 Chron. 2. He adorned it with precious stones and overlaid everything with gold – “it’s beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors” (2 Chron. 3:7). Just as one would think God’s house should be.

Now vying these examples it seems perfectly reasonable that God would dwell in a church building. A place where we can go and worship and meet with God. Even Jacob made a correlation between God’s presence and the need for a house. Waking from his dream he proclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17).

He even named the place Bethel, meaning house of God. He also took the stone he had used as a pillow “and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on top of it.” Saying, “and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house” (v. 22).

God’s house? What did Jacob know of God’s house? There was no tabernacle yet. No temple. No one particular place to go and sacrifice. In all honesty I’m a bit taken back by Jacob’s proclamation. But what really blew my hairs out is the similar use of wording in 1 Peter 2:5. Writing to believers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter states, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house.”

Jacob may have set up a stone to be God’s house. But in Christ we are the stones of God’s house! Us! Believers! Anointed not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

We are His house! Not a little white building with a steeple. Or a large one with a coffee bar. Us! Please tell me your hairs just blew out! I pray we are not bored with this idea. It’s truly amazing! God went from Beersheba, to Bethel, to the intricately woven tabernacle, to the gold over layed temple, to us! I just…I mean…there are no words. Me – his dwelling. You – his house. Not a tent or a building or a place – us!

So is God at church? Indeed! If you are in Christ and you are at church. But when the building is empty…it’s empty. We are his house! A mind-blowing revelation with mind-blowing responsibility. What’s the one thing that always went on in God’s house? Sacrifices. Constantly. At the tabernacle, and the temple, and even at Bethel. If we jump ahead to Genesis 35 we see upon his return to Canaan, God told Jacob to go back to Bethel and make an altar. If you’re gonna call it my house then go back and do what’s necessary for it to be my house.

And Jacob did. He went back and offered up his sacrifices. Do we? Not physical bloodshed, Jesus took care of that. But spiritual sacrifices. Like offering our lives to God (Rom. 12:1). And our stuff (Phil 4:18). And our praise, “the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Phil 13:15). Striving to live a life of holiness, at whatever the cost, because He is in us and we are in Him. 1 Peter 2:5 goes on to call us a holy priesthood. And what did the priests do? They took care of God’s house.

Maybe…I mean I’m just wondering…if we got a little housework to do. And I’m not talking about the endless parade of Fruit Loops under the kitchen table. I’m talking about God’s house. I’m talking about us. “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Would God be proud to call you his home? Why or why not?
What evidence is there of spiritual sacrifices in your life?
2 Corinthians 6:16 says “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” Anything we set between us and God is an idol. Anything we hold in higher regard than him. Are there idols in your “house” that need to be removed? If you aren’t sure ask Him. I know it might be scary, but I promise it will be well worth the effort.

Photo Credit: Pixabay