Tag Archives: Temple

Alone with God

Leviticus 16 alone with God

Leviticus 16 “Nobody is to be in the Meeting Tent when he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he goes out, and he has made atonement on his behalf, on behalf of his household, and on behalf of the whole assembly of Israel.” Lev 16

Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement reminds us of the work of our Savior. He came, he lived, he died; was buried and rose again, just as 1Corinthians 15 tells us. The picture of that series of steps is seen in the Atonement when Aaron or the High Priest would alone perform each step. Alone, Aaron understood, more than any other time, the price paid for his sin and the sins of the people.

Alone he would enter and adjust the light from the Menorah and change the Shewbread on the Table.  Alone he offered the incense on the altar as he prayed for himself and the people. Alone he would slaughter the animal and drain the blood. Alone he would take the blood behind the curtain and sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat. All of these steps were a picture of what Christ would do for us.

With each step, the High Priest was to be alone as a reminder that we must seek the face of God alone as we meet with God about our sin just as Jesus was alone as He paid for our sin.

When was the last time it was just you and God? 


Trivia Notes from John Newton

Psalm 87 “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”

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The song Amazing Grace was written by a slave trader but born again by God’s will, John Newton. What you may not realize is that after that he abandoned that trade he went on to be the parish priest of Olney Church in England. While reading this psalm he was overjoyed to read the words in our title and sought help from his neighbor, William Cowper, a classical writer. With Cowper’s assistance, Newton was able to publish a hymnal including a hymn by this title. Also, you may not know but the Confederate General Andrew Jackson loved this hymn and awakened his soldiers one morning as he sang it.

The words of this hymn come from Ps 87:3 “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” This is the place God calls “home” here on earth. He chose Zion for his dwelling place and it was there that Abraham came to worship as did others. It was there that Solomon erected the Temple in which the Ark resided. Now we are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit resides in us. Paul wrote: “do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Does God speak of glorious things about you?

Psalm 73 Asaph and His Questions

Are you inquisitive? Do you want answers? You are not alone! You wouldn’t think that Asaph, a court musician would be one of them but he is! King David appointed him to be in charge of the cymbals. When you watch an orchestra you will see only a few who carry that distinction. I mean how much training do you need to bang two cymbals together? Or so I thought! But, realistically there is a fair amount of training needed to know when one should clang those instruments as well as the technique. You can check it out – just google it like I did and you will walk away with a better appreciation of this simple but compelling instrument.

Asaph was a cymbal player but not just any cymbal player but one chosen for the Temple services. He also was like some people, very inquisitive and curious about life. Of all the people who walk this earth, there just are some people who are not satisfied with just an answer;  they want to know the “why!” Asaph falls into that category.

Many years ago I went to our pastor with questions. As he stood on a tall ladder fixing something I looked up at him and said I have a question; much like Asaph does here. His answer? Go home, study that topic and then come back and we will discuss your question. And so I did. Sometimes we have questions but we aren’t willing to do the homework to find the answer. That pastor was very wise. Maybe you have questions too much like Asaph. My advice—follow Asaph.

Asaph walked through his thinking about the proud. He analyzed them and discerned that they seemed to have it all together. They didn’t have the same problems as he and in fact, they were doing pretty darned good. He noted that they mocked and were not disciplined.  He noted, “I suffer all day long and am punished every morning.” He noted in his journal all of these thoughts and tried to make sense of it all. Then it was like he had a lightbulb moment when he entered the Temple. All of life flashed before his eyes and then he knew. Their lives might be okay now but had they taken time to consider their destiny?

Psalm 73 lightbulb moment2a


Asaph walked away from that encounter knowing all was right with his world and all was right with him and God. He drew a line in his journal noting: God’s presence is all I need.

Is it true that there is no hope???

Job and his three “comforters” have been dialoguing back and forth on the points of wickedness and righteousness. The three, Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar are sure Job is in the camp of the wicked. As their words show they believe the contrast to Romans 8:1!

Listen in to the dialog between Job and Eliphaz In Job 21 to 24  to get the whole story and then go and read Psalm 73 to see another person who faces this same conundrum.

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Job responds to the next challenge by asking the same thought Asaph pondered. Why do the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous seem to falter and many times fade away. Asaph wondered if he, like Job, had remained faithful for no reason. We often say the same thing as we watch all of our life’s savings eaten by moths and our bodies suffer from disease and harm by others. God is not in a box, closed and secure from all of life; He is omniscient!  So Job’s three friends and Asaph himself have to look at life from another viewpoint.

Asaph returns to the Temple where he says: I entered the precincts of God’s temple and then I understood the destiny of the wicked. But, Job has no temple yet to attend so he is left with his thoughts and trying to piece them together. He says the “counsel of the wicked is far from me!” I just don’t understand and if only God would come and we could talk about this it would all be made right. Eliphaz remains steadfast in his critical argument against Job but Job tells him: He knows the path I take and if he tested me I would come forth as gold. As we read those words we must decide if that is true for us. If God would come and stand in our presence would He say that? Job and Asaph looked at life without that confirmation but if you are a born-again believer you can attest to this truth because of Roman 8:1:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Earthly Stones vs Living Stones

1Kings 5  David had laid the foundation of friendship with Hiram of Tyre and Solomon reaped the reward.

Eccl 4:9 “Two people are better than one because they can reap more benefit from their labor”

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. David willingly had accumulated wealth but it took Solomon to complete the dream. Hiram willingly shared from his wealth to assist Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting companionship.

Solomon built the Temple for not just the Israelites but for the nations of the world. In Exodus, it was only the Israelites that built but the Temple was built along with the Gentiles. And both were to be places of worship to the glory of God.

God desired that the Temple be built but also that the construction itself be recorded that we might honor and glorify Him. This speaks of our lives under His leadership. He continuously records our lives and one day we will stand before him to hear of our deeds. Will they be of wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver and precious stones?

The Temple was built from stones from under the earth; we are the living stones building the church. “you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

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How Much Do I Trust God?

mark 12 trusting god 2aNow as Jesus is in the temple the rich in their long flowing robes and outward but false piety come to him to test him about money. But, Jesus knows their hearts and to their amazement he not only answers their devious question but challenges them to look within their hearts. They leave amazed at his answer but not before they drop their abundance of coins in the treasury box. It is then that Jesus takes a break and sits to do what he loves most, people watch. His attention is riveted on the widow who comes and drops in two small copper coins. This is a teachable moment that must be grasped for the disciples. Analyzing the scene He explains: “they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”  Others may have taken this opportunity to chide her saying why not keep one to provide for your needs? But she might answer; this is what I desire to do for God—from my heart. God cares for the ravens will He not care for my daily needs?

This is the question we all must ask ourselves. Do we truly trust God for “ALL” our needs as she did? She knew this truth and lived it:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord And whose trust is the Lord” [Jer 17:7]


Are you a Good Listener?

ImageHow good a listener are you? An old Turkish proverb says “if speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” Tests confirm that the majority of us today are poor listeners. Could that be a reason why God has repeatedly told us and as we read in Revelation “the one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says?”  Three sets of individuals in Luke 2 were exceptional listeners and were blessed by God for their attentiveness.  

Picture the Shepherds; the despised and rejected in Israeli society, yet necessary to the worship program of the temple. It was to these that God chose to send his angelic choir to announce the Lamb of God in a manger. The angelic figure began: “Listen carefully.” How good a listener were they?  In vs 15 they decided to go and see “what the Lord has made known to us.” And their memories were crystallized as they recounted to Mary and Joseph and the dwellers in Bethlehem all that had been told to them.

Picture Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit who had been looking for the restoration of Israel. He had been listening so that he was ready to hear the indwelling Holy Spirit speak. He followed the directions and came to the Temple just at the time Mary and Joseph were there. Simeon said to Mary and Joseph “Listen carefully” as he recounted the future of this child, Jesus who would be the Light of the World but would be rejected.

Picture Anna the widow who listened to God as she fasted and prayed in the temple for 84 yrs! She too came at just that moment to give thanks to God and may have said to those nearby “Listen carefully” as she spoke about the child.

It matters not where you are but it does matter how good a listener you are. The shepherds listened carefully, shared what they had heard and received a blessing. God blessed them as the first to report the birth of Christ. Simeon listened carefully to the Spirit, obeyed His voice and entered the Temple right on time. He received a blessing to see his prayers answered. Anna listened carefully in her prayer time and her senses were attuned to the Spirit’s voice. Her ears were attuned to hear the voice of the Spirit and she received the blessing of seeing the Christ Child.

How good a listener are you? Is your world quiet so you can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit or filled with noise that blocks His voice? The shepherds’ world was a field quiet at night with only God’s creation yet their  hearts were prepared to listen. Simeon’s world was a prayer closet where he could hear God speak. Anna’s world was in the Temple, both quiet and noisy depending on the season. Her heart was quiet so she could hear God speak. They all heard the voice of the Spirit, obeyed and were blessed.  

May our prayer today be as Samuel’s of long ago “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”



Jn 5; Ps 126-128 “Dreaming…”

ImageThe invalid of John 5 must have thought he was dreaming as he obediently picked up his mat and walked to the Temple. How could this be? Who healed me? Entering the Temple full of awe and surprise whom does he meet but the ‘religious police’ of his day; the Pharisees. Upon hearing of his healing they did not stop to celebrate with him but rather began to question him. Who would tell you to do this “on the Sabbath?” Caught off guard by this barrage, we wonder what his thoughts were; why the Pharisees would not stop to give praise to God for this marvelous healing. Answering as best he could he continues on. It is then that as he walked to worship with his mind filled with thoughts, questions and wonderment that John tells us that the healer appears from out of nowhere. There is only one statement to the man and no return dialog. In vs 15 the man reveals to the Pharisees that it was indeed Jesus. Why did he go back to the Pharisees, these religious naysayers? Could it be that the truth of Prov 29:25 fit in here? 29:25 “The fear of people becomes a snare”? We may never know.

Yes truly the man seemed to be in a fog, so unable to understand what has just transpired. So too, the early Israelites after being freed by Cyrus command from the Babylonian captivity, find themselves in much this same frame of mind, filled with awe, filled with surprise, filled with wonder as they return to Jerusalem. Ps 126:1 “When the Lord restored the well-being of Zion, we thought we were dreaming.” Seventy years of captivity have come and gone. We are really here even though we thought this could not happen in our lifetime! We are in the midst of Jerusalem shouting for joy, laughing loudly and the naysayers are not raining on our parade but giving God praise: “The Lord has accomplished great things for these people.” What a change of heart!

The ‘religious police,’ the naysayers of Jesus’ day, will always be with us. But, also there will be others who, when they see God at work, will have to stop and give God praise. Recognizing that this could only happen because of God’s grace we too need to stop and give God praise.  The psalmist in these three psalms gives wise principles. It is truly a choice on our part. We can choose to return to the naysayers or we can choose to join the chorus and give God the praise!  These psalms, although written to the Jew, are as practically applicable to us today as they were then.


  1. Give praise to God first and foremost: 126:3 The Lord did indeed accomplish great things for us.
  2. Recognize that apart from God no good thing comes to pass: 127:1 If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain. If the Lord does not guard a city, then the watchman stands guard in vain.
  3. Fear the Lord in all holiness and reverence: 128:4 Yes indeed, the man who fears the Lord will be blessed in this way.
  4. Seek God’s blessing upon others: 128:5 May the Lord bless you from Zion, that you might see Jerusalem prosper all the days of your life,
  5. With restoration comes a responsibility to live a righteous life. Blessed with God’s provision of healing seek to abide by what Jesus told the healed invalid: “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.”  

Did the invalid follow these principles? We must wait until eternity to find out. In the meantime, we are left with a choice. We can follow these principles today or we can join the naysayer’s camp. What will we choose to do?


Contructive Criticism from a Master Teacher: Paul

ImageSome years ago I was given an ENORMOUS compliment…that I was a master teacher. Humbly, I do not see myself in that category after studying the life of Jesus and further the life of Paul. Especially so in the third chapter of Corinthians!

Principle: Jesus is the Master Teacher of all and Paul learned at his feet. We would do well to follow his example. Now to our study for today 1 Cor 3:

A few days ago we talked about the fact that there is a grain of truth in every ounce of criticism. That fits here today as we walk through Paul’s loving rebuke to the believers in the Corinthian Church. Let’s see why and how Paul is a master teacher. What is a master teacher? A master teacher is one who drives their students to grow in whatever sphere of learning they are found. They are able to create independent learners who have the critical thinking skills to grow beyond where they find themselves at the moment. They use multiple learning strategies (intellectual, emotional or volitional paths) to cause their students to grasp the material. A master teacher  has the role of mentoring not training. You might want to go and research the role of a mentor here before you go on. I had to do that last year. What is a mentor? How do you distinguish a mentor from a trainer?

The first step in planning and preparing a lesson is to know your material. Chapter 2 shows us that Paul indeed does. His material consisted of the message of Christ crucified that men may yield their hearts and minds to Him alone. He reminded these precious believers that they have the mind of Christ so think and do as He would have done.  

Now the problem. Paul heard news of the divisions that were occurring in this church. He bluntly tells them that they are still infants, they had heard the message but had not moved beyond the message to the action that proves they understood the message.  After that blow to their ego he goes on to explain why he has said this. It was not about the doctrine but their application of that doctrine to real life.

A master teacher uses various illustrations to present a basic point. Paul uses three metaphors to show these precious believers (recall 1Cor 1: rich in knowledge, do not lack any spiritual gift) where they should have been at this time. First metaphor: the garden. One plants, one waters, but God is the master gardener.  Second metaphor: a building. One designs, one builds, but God is the master architect. Third metaphor: the temple.  Now to make it personal Paul says: You are the temple, the Illuminating Holy Spirit lives within you; do not destroy the temple. Thus with each metaphor, Paul is essentially saying God is ultimate and we (himself, Apollos, Cephas) are but servants. Do not elevate us beyond our station in life, instead honor God first and foremost.

Then to draw his lesson to a close Paul asks them to diagnose where they are. They are either a wise expert (vs 10), an unwise builder (vs 15) or one who is destructive (vs 17). Thus after this consider that one day judgment will come and God will prove which person they are by the works they bring to Him. Again to help them, Paul as a master teacher uses tangible gifts (gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay or straw) to help them see how their works might stand the test of fire. Paul is saying: diagnose where you are and how you are either building on the foundation or tearing it down. Paul reminds them once again: no man should boast except in the Lord alone!

Our question then is: How do you see yourself in your family/church/community? Do you see yourself as a servant of the Most High God? Are you building with precious gifts or gifts that will be extinguished in the fire?



Anne Frank and Matthew 24 … Are We Ready?

ImageIn the biography of Anne Frank, the little girl whose diary survived WWII but she did not; Anne’s father, Otto Frank, speaks of his optimism that life will return to normal. It of course did not and he was the sole survivor of his family.  Anne’s father inherited and shared her manuscripts that the world might never forget what truly happened. Even as Otto Frank watched his nation tumble into the abyss of anti-Semitism he kept saying, “it will get better.” Otto was not expecting the turn of events that ultimately would seal his fate as a Jew and his family’s death warrant.

How like Otto we are, optimists as to the future. But, then, as now we watch our world tumble into anarchy, chaos, economies drifting, leaders coming and going, false teachers/prophets deceiving and lawlessness on the rise we can no longer say…this too will pass and life will once again be “normal.”  Jesus says the root of the problem lies in that the love of many will grow cold. The hearts that once beat with the excitement of being a follower of the Christ will turn to apathy and discontent. The Apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reveals the downward spiral in the 7 churches as he penned Revelation. Jesus continuously reminded his audience and the disciples in particular “he who has ears to hear, better listen.”  

The disciples pondering Jesus announcement of the destruction of the temple leads to seeking answers to three questions. As Jesus answers he pointedly remarks that if truth be known we are unprepared due to the coldness of our hearts. We have allowed our minds to be dulled and our spirits flagging due to this one main issue. We are not studiously studying, memorizing, sharing and even worse is the fact that we are not expecting the return of the Master anytime soon. We have become comfortable with our world as it is. Jesus remarked two times: 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 24:50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee,” Just as in the days of Noah, they “knew nothing.” Today it is astounding how many do not know or choose to not know. Do you know the scriptures? Are you expecting the return of the Master?

The fields are ripe and ready for harvest—are we in the field? Are we ready? Are we waiting in anticipation of his glorious return? Are we watching the clouds?