Put the filter of doing our best for God through everything we do as a church, every ministry, every volunteer service that you are a part of… I’m staying away from decision making in the Foodbank because I have limited energy/time, but as a cheerleader for the Sumas Food Bank that is going through a transition, I so much want the community to rise up and do it well. The folks that need a helping hand deserve the best we have, whatever that looks like. The Elders are going to start putting together specific plans for Chad to start immersing himself in ministry, whatever we do, let’s do it well. Be All In. Do you want to be a part of it? Talk to Chad, keep your ears open, immerse yourself. Let’s live by the Gold Standard for God! Solomon gave what he had for the glory of God, doing his best.
Another principle: Never Forget the Purpose of Project. God’s greatest purposes are always about people. Always about pointing to Jesus Christ. Even the temple, built to Glorify God, is ultimately about God having a relationship with His people. Forgiveness and worship. Sacrifice and communion with God.
I had to laugh. Often in preparation for a sermon I look on the internet to see what good ideas I can find. One pastor chose this scripture because the congregation was about to break ground on their first building and he found parallels between Solomon building the temple and his church building their building. Here’s the paragraph that made me laugh as he spoke of the new building they were about to begin:
“We have to always keep in mind that we are not just working on a building…This won’t just be a place with a warm office for [the Pastor]. We have to realize that we are not just in the process of providing a permanent worship centre for [the church], this will be a house of God. And that is going to be a tough adjustment for some folks because we have never had a "church". We’ve met at the Lions Den, and at the Empire Theatre and again here at the Lions Den. We’ve worshipped from time to time at Fish Hatchery Park, the Board Room at Sunnyside Mall and the Lawn Bowling Centre. And they have all been real blessings but they haven’t been a church. You don’t mop up spilt beer in a church and we’ve done that on occasion, you don’t open the doors of the house of God to get rid of the stale cigarette smoke and we’ve had to do that.” (Building Temples, Denn Guptill, sermon 2004)
I’m not advocating we start allowing smoking in our building, but I’m having a hard time saying those places were not church. God doesn’t need our buildings! In one of the monumental bible stories, the great prophet Isaiah, a few centuries before the writing of Chronicles, is overwhelmed by a vision of God in the temple. It is abundantly clear God is vastly too large to be confined to the temple. READ Is. 6:1-4. God doesn’t need the temple. God doesn’t need our buildings ~ the WHOLE EARTH IS FILLED WITH HIS GLORY. In Isaiah’s vision, the only part of God in the temple is the train of his robe, or other translations, the hem. (show blanket) Think of it. In the days of Chronicles as he is inspiring the people of God to rebuild the temple by telling the story of the first temple built by Solomon, he undoubtedly knows the vision of Isaiah. Surely he knows the temple is at best built to house the hem of God’s robes.
The purpose of the temple is to be a place of sanctuary for the people of God. God doesn’t need the temple. God doesn’t need this building. But we need sanctuary. We need forgiveness. The temple is a tool used by God to draw people to Himself. My favorite part of this building is the steeple, because every time I go by I see it as a giant arrow pointing to heaven. It’s a reminder. If an earthquake opens up and swallows the entire property this week, God is still God, high and lifted up.
The whole earth is God’s temple, his place of residence, but even the earth cannot contain the whole of God. There is a tension I personally face as I read about the building of the Temple. I’m not really a temple guy.
At home I have a 36” tv screen I use as a computer monitor because I spend so much time working on stuff for my work… A few months ago I ran across a quotation that made a lot of sense to me, so I boldly made a crazy meme and put it on the front of my screen so every time I turned on the computer I would see it:
“Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.” ~ C.T. Studd
How does the truth of that quotation square with the building of the temple? We need safe places to meet God. We need sanctuary. We need to rest and receive forgiveness. We need times to gather with God’s people. We need moments of rest for God to speak to us to recharge our batteries and refresh our spirits. The temple is the place for God to refresh his people, but then we are called to go out “within a yard of hell.”
Never forget the purpose of the Temple. The temple is a tool for the Greater Work. Restoration, then Preparation to go out. Finishing the temple is only beginning. Who builds a personal house only to let it sit empty? 30 years ago when I started preparing sermons a minor goal was to just not embarrass myself and at least mildly impress people, not very lofty goals I know. I think I’ve matured a little bit since then. Now my constant prayer is that whatever is said that the words make a difference whether it be somebody’s thinking, patterns, emotions. I want to see people grow in faith. I want to see ministry increased. Who cares how much you like or don’t like the delivery? So what if I make a huge mistake. I am not hear to entertain! It’s dopey if the purpose of a sermon is to impress you!
Whatever you do, the ultimate goal of all ministry in the name of Jesus Christ is to set the stage for Jesus Christ to speak into the life of the person/people you are serving. The purpose of the temple is sanctuary to refresh the people of God, and preparation to go out…. Surely it is highly significant that Jesus Christ himself declared the earthly temple is nothing. Hear the words from John 2:13-20. READ
First they forgot the purpose of the temple, by turning the temple courts into a marketplace they were in effect not allowing people to worship God, to be refreshed by God. Also, Jesus is saying the physical temple is not needed. It’s only a tool. Give your heart to God, get away from formalities.
I learned something new in studying Chronicles, and talking with Chad about it. While he may tweek the details, God will always bless the desire of your heart if the purpose is Kingdom Work. A significant detail that has always been there but I’ve never noticed: the temple was David’s idea, not God’s. A thousand years earlier, the people also wanted a King. God objected to that idea telling the people it was a bad idea. But he relented when the people kept whining. He warned them of some of the problems. The problem with the desire for a King is that it was all about them and their comfort, to be like the neighboring countries, but the Temple was different. It is clearly a heartfelt desire for David to honor God even if the Temple is unnecessary for God. Temple or no temple God is God. God will always bless the desire of your heart if the purpose is Kingdom Work.
God listened. He put his own stamp of instructions on building the Temple by having Solomon build it and not David. But God blessed the plans of the people because the desire was a genuine desire to honor God. This is partly why, I think, when Jesus declared it was time to destroy the earthly temple it wasn’t a big deal, God never did need the temple! It was no longer serving the greater purpose. The work of forgiveness and restoration continues to this day without the temple, because we are all invited directly into the presence of God, because no more sacrifices are needed because the final greatest sacrifice was Jesus death on the cross.
Sometimes we have a hard time trying to figure out what God’s will is for our life. I can tell you this, God will always honor the person who is seeking to Glorify God. /Kingdom work. The Temple was David’s idea, not God’s. Yet God blessed it because it was a tremendous way for God to meet His people. He changed the details up on David, but he blessed the desire. Always desire more of God in the world and more of God in your life and he will bless your desires.
Lessons of the Temple:
- Give your best to God.
- Never forget the purpose of ministry ~ it is always to point to Jesus Christ.
- God will always bless the desire of your heart when the purpose is Kingdom Work.
The need for sanctuary is still real: forgiveness, restoration, and preparation to go out into the world. Be all in for God’s great work.