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?


Photo provided by @wittersgarden. Follow them on Instagram for more fun inspiration.

What if Praying for More Isn’t the Answer

Key Verse: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15, ESV)

More of you Jesus, I want more of you. Have you prayed it? I have. Out of a longing to know Christ more, to be with him and near him and breathe his presence into the depth of my soul, I’ve earnestly asked Jesus for more.

More of him in my life. More of him in my soul. More of him in my heart and mind – penetrating my hard to reach spaces. My anxious spaces. My hurt spaces. My unsatisfied spaces.

But what if it’s not a matter of more but a matter of less.

Less of me. Less of sin. Less of filling my heart with the things of this world so there’s still room for Him.

Because the truth of the matter is, at the point of salvation we are not given a partial filling of Christ, as though I need more of him poured into my soul. We’re given a full one. 1 John 4:15 states, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Not a little bit of God. Not a small portion of who he is. Not just enough to get us through until heaven. But all of God – in all of us. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead in us (Rom. 8:11).  So we can know he is with us and for us and walking right there beside us.

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

All of it.

Yet we walk in doubt. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Not because Jesus withheld some of it or forgot to give us a portion of himself but because we’ve left no room. Unawares perhaps, we push him aside for other things. Like when I’d rather sit and be mad than figure out a way to be God honoring through it.

Or when I hang out with envy and pride, and then discontentment shows up. And I’m completely stumped as to why Jesus didn’t come to the party.

Where did you go Lord? I need you. I need you right now to show up and be here. Yet I’m unwilling to give him any part of my day.

Give me the world and give me Jesus – this is the mantra we live by. But James reminds us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

But in all honesty it’s not that verse that got me; it’s the next one – “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?”

His spirit. The very spirit of God choked, smothered, pushed back, one selfish decision after another. Stuffed underneath layers of calloused arrogance and self-righteous preoccupations, while we pray: More of you Jesus, More of you.

I get it now….

Exchange worship of self for worship of Him, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange time in front of the tv with time for him, and you will have more of Jesus.  
Exchange that which is dirty, and dark, and wrong, for that which is true, and noble, and right, and pure, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the works of the flesh for the fruit of the spirit, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange sinful habits for holy ones, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange religion for a relationship, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange a prayer time for a praying life, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the ways of the world for the ways of God, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange a love of money for a love of God, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange envy for contentment, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange my will for His will, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange pride for humility, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange bitterness for forgiveness, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the heart of a master for that of a servant, and you will have more of Jesus.

We’ve already been brought near to God by the blood of the Messiah (Ephesians 2:13) There’s no reason to ask him to do it more. But there is every reason to ask him to make us less.

Less of me means more of Jesus. And more of Jesus means less of me. In the words of John the Baptist. If we want more of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Thy will be done Lord. Thy will be done. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What exchange do you need to make today to have more of Jesus?
In what area of your life does Christ yearn jealously over your spirit?

More Encouragement:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a