A Cloud That Never Fades

(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)

2 Chronicles 5-6

cloud of god2 Chronicles continues the historical account of Israel’s history by continuing where 1 Chronicles left off. 1 Chronicles ended with the inauguration of Solomon, David’s son, as king, and the death of King David. God blesses Solomon immensely, giving him wealth and (most famously) wisdom. Verse 1:15 says that Solomon “made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone.” One of the most notable things that Solomon is known for is building the first Jewish temple. The vast wealth that the Lord had given Solomon (and therefore Israel) allowed him to furnish the temple with incredible detail and adornment. All of this is the fulfillment of the promise that the Lord made to David in 1 Chronicles 28:6 that the temple that David longed for would be built by Solomon.

In chapter 5 we see that after the temple is built in Jerusalem Solomon brings the Ark of the Covenant into the temple and places it “in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place.” The Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies; the innermost part of the temple where God’s presence resided, and the place where the priest would enter once a year to commune with God and ask for the forgiveness of Israel’s sins. And what happened next was incredible. The musicians began playing music and worshipping the Lord. Verse 13-14 says that “when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever’ the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” Notice that in 2 Chronicles 5 the cloud of the Lord’s presence did not descend on the temple until the people began worshipping Him. Likewise, in our worship of God today in the church the Lord shows up when we begin worshipping Him.

In the same way that the Lord showed up on the tabernacle when the Jews were in the wilderness, so did He show up on the temple in Jerusalem. The cloud represents the divine presence of the Lord. Just as God’s presence was with the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness, so is He with the Jews as an established nation. In the history of Israel before this event the cloud, God’s presence, showed Israel that He was with them. It guided them in the wilderness (Exodus 13:22), came down on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9), and is again seen in the same way here.

We have this same presence living in us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit was promised to dwell in those who are born again. We have this divine presence represented in the cloud here in Chronicles 5 living in us. Jesus promised us that the “helper,” the Holy Spirit would come (Luke 24:49) and give boldness and power to the church. We see this happen at Pentecost (Acts 2) where the Holy Spirit comes down in fire and enlivens the church. In the Old Testament whenever the Lord finds a sacrifice acceptable there is fire. In the New Testament the acceptable sacrifice of Jesus led to the fire of the Holy Spirit coming down on the Apostles. The Holy Spirit is the driving force of the church. Without it the church is not the church. In Acts we see that the Holy Spirit gives boldness and wisdom to the disciples who previously seemed to have none of either of those qualities. Notice that they are referred to as the Apostles in Acts because they are living out the authority that the Holy Spirit has instilled in them.

The presence of the Lord has been given to us, the church, in order to carry out our role as the church. The last words that Jesus spoke before He went back up to Heaven was to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The Holy Spirit was given to us to carry out that commandment. In addition to this, it is our role to walk in the gifts of the spirit, building up the church and showing the world the power and truth of God. We should not shy away from this presence that lives in us, and instead seek to foster the gifts that He has given us, and become more in tune to the presence of the Lord that is within all of us who are born again. Doing so will allow us to do what we are born again to do: to bring the kingdom of God onto the earth, cause the darkness to flee, and allow God to use us in bringing freedom to those who are oppressed.

So let’s seek to welcome this Holy presence into our lives, into our worship, into all that we do in church, and into every aspect of our lives. Let’s not quench the Spirit and instead open our hearts fully to it, listening to His leading. Without the Holy Spirit we are denying the identifying marker of those who belong to Christ (Romans 8).

Finding Jesus in the Messiness

(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)

Psalm 109

dirtyhandsThis past Sunday Scott Moore made the comment that Jesus is found in the messiness. When we are knee deep in the pig sty that is when we are able to see the activity of God all around us. I am a mess. I am not one to air dirty laundry in a blog post but suffice it to say that my relationship with my dad is a mess. My family is a mess. People I see every day are a mess. With Scott’s statement from Sunday we should then be seeing Jesus all around us in all of our messiness. Why don’t we? Or, is He there, moving and acting and working and we are just too lost in our mess to notice? Many of you reading this would probably say that you pray daily, sometimes many times a day. But the reality is that many believers only pray when they are facing some sort of difficulty in their lives; some sort of mess. “Help me Lord, I am broken. If it is your will to heal me I will…..” those dots are where the deal usually goes. Where we try to bargain with God in order to influence His will in some way to make us better. Why is it that many must get to the point of utter destruction before they cry out to the Lord?

David was considered a devout man of God. He was a MESS: adulterer, murderer, etc. But he was credited for his faithfulness in God. That faithfulness led David many times to cry out to God in the midst of his normal life, but many of his Psalms were lifted up during times of messiness. In Psalm 109 David is speaking to the Lord concerning his enemies and frankly the image that I get when I read the first five verses of this chapter is an image of Satan himself: wicked and deceitful, constantly speaking out and accusing us in lies of his own creation, hating us for being God’s children he attacks us to get us to forsake our decision to follow God, and for every ounce of good we try to accomplish Satan’s attacks against us seem to multiply exponentially.

David goes on in the next few verses to suggest to God what He should do his enemies and I believe this is where the context of the associated time in history and how it differs from today comes boldly into awareness. In many of David’s messes his life was in danger. Therefore, his desire to repay his enemies in kind is expected. In many of our messes our lives are not in danger. Oh, we may think our world is coming to an end but is it really?! With David what he is asking for may seem extreme to us but in context it seems reasonable. I mean I can’t see a prayer going like this for that person who cuts me off in traffic right? “Dear God make that crazy driver’s children be fatherless and may his wife become a widow!” Just doesn’t fit does it.

So what can we take away from this chapter? Even though we are all messes and don’t deserve God’s grace we must have faith in Christ to always be there (mess or not) to help us through. So whether you are in a mess or not have faith that God loves you anyway and that Jesus has conquered death, hell, and the grave for you.


Let It All Out

(Today’s post by Chris Queen)

Psalm 137-138

shoutWe tend to think of the Psalms in terms of the familiar verses that we use to get us through our day. “The Lord is my shepherd…” “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…” That sort of thing…

Sometimes I think we lose sight of the human emotions in the Psalms. After all, these songs and poems are the raw expressions of feelings by the Creative Arts Team of the nation of Israel.

Take today’s reading, for example. We see a bunch of different emotions on display in Psalms 137 and 138, and they reflect the heartfelt sincerity of their authors.

We see sorrow:

137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our harps. 3 For there our captors demanded songs and our tormentors asked for joy: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How can we sing a song of ADONAI in a foreign land?

(…for those of you who are fans of old school ska and reggae who are singing along to The Melodians in your head, I feel you…)

We see determination:

137:5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. 6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I cease to remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy.

We see joy:

138:1 I praise you with all my heart. In the presence of the mighty I will sing praises to You. 2 I bow down toward Your holy Temple and praise Your Name for Your love and Your faithfulness.

We see gratefulness:

138:7 Though I walk amid trouble, You revive me. You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand delivers me. 8 ADONAI will fulfill His purpose for me. Your lovingkindness, ADONAI, endures forever. Do not abandon the work of Your hands.

We even see some pretty harsh and vengeful anger:

137:8 O daughter of Babylon, the devastated one, happy is the one who repays you as you have paid us. 9 Happy is the one who seizes your little ones and dashes them upon the rock.

The point of these observations is pretty simple: never be afraid to pour out your emotions to God. No matter how raw or rough those emotions may be, He’s heard them all. He’s big enough to handle our emotions. (And if those thoughts and feelings are sinful, the Holy Spirit will convict you.) He provides us comfort and peace when we need them, and He gladly accepts our praise and thanks.

So let it all out to Him – I dare you.

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