My House Is a House of Prayer

Jesus was clear in telling the faithful in His day to honor the sanctity of the Temple, which had a courtyard reserved for non-Jews to use in prayer. That was the arena confiscated by synagogue leaders to overcharge Jewish peasants for the animals used in sacrifice for their sins. Non-Jews also were discouraged from attending. Our houses of worship are to be dedicated to God’s use — to praise Him and to serve our neighbors.

“The offerings and sacrifices they place on my altar will please me, because my Temple will be called a house for prayer for people from all nations.” — (Isaiah 56:7b NCV)

[Jesus] said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” — (Matthew 21:13 NLT)

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Join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion.

YOU CAN JUST SEE JESUS GROWING ANGRIER BY THE MOMENT.

He has completed his triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, which fulfilled Scripture (Zachariah 9:9), while His faithful followers called  out Hosannas, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38 NIV).

63. Jesus-cleansing-templeThen He enters the Temple and clears out the money changers and sellers of animals for ritual sacrifice.

“It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Luke 19:46 NIV)

Continue reading “My House Is a House of Prayer”

Today’s Meditation … THINKING ABOUT OUR LIVES

As you reflect on God’s Word, can you see how he is calling you — yes, you! — to be His special friend?

“Fools will believe anything, but the wise think about what they do.” (Proverbs 14:15 NCV)

“Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” (Psalms 14:1 NLT)

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RECENTLY, PROF. STEPHEN HAWKING — a brilliant theoretical physicist and avowed God denier — perished from this life. Like everyone, upon earthly death, he met the Lord. My fear is that it did not go well with him. Even sadder is the outpouring of AA. night-sky-starssupport from among his fan base, praising his skepticism and denial.

Psalms 14:1 NLT says, “Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” 

What about our loved ones who join Hawking in his non-beliefs? How do we reach them? How does one live a life that lacks self-reflection or that doubts the eternity that God has placed within out hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

How does a person, especially an educated and highly intelligent one, ignore the sacrifice our Lord made on the Cross to atone for our sins?

Let us pray that the Lord will quicken the hearts of our loved ones who do not know the Him, softening their resistance to Him. Let us pray that He will strengthen our walk with Him that we might be better witnesses for His saving grace.

PRAYER: O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. The heavens 44. Cross_on_Bibledisplay Your glory, the variety of life shows Your imagination and creativity, our very bodies show Your kindness and consideration. Thank You for molding us in Your image. Lead us to be faithful witnesses for the Truth, to be God-honoring in our thoughts, our speech, and our deeds. For the Kingdom’s glory. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

QUESTIONS: Whether you need to ask for forgiveness or you need to grant forgiveness, did you find it comforting to pray this prayer? Could you feel God’s Holy Spirit moving through your heart? How can you move forward in asking God to speak into your heart His message of forgiveness and mercy? Are you convinced now that God exists and that He is calling you — yes, you! — to be His special friend?

 

Resisting Our Temptation to Lie

God tells us not to lie. Telling the truth is one of the 10 Commandments, which places lying as a no-no right up there with murder or stealing your neighbor’s new car. Why is the truth so important to God? Could it be that our very salvation hinges on whether we can believe God’s promises to us? He takes great pains to impress upon our feeble minds that He is telling us the truth when He says our salvation depends on our believing in Him. To make that clear to us, He wants us to practice that same trait.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. (Ephesians 4:25 NLT)

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. (Colossians 3:9 ESV)

Dishonest scales are detestable to the LORD, but an accurate weight is his delight. (Proverbs 11:1 CSB)

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Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

Join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion.

“YOU SHALL NOT GIVE FALSE TESTIMONY AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR.”

That verse, from Exodus 20:16 (NIV), is the Ninth Commandment.

61. God-Writes-TenCommandmentsOne of the Big Ten that God gave to mankind through Moses. With His hand, He chiseled the words onto stone and told His people to obey each of the 10 commandments so they would be righteous before Him.

Were we to rephrase the Ninth Commandment, we might replace it with the more direct wording from Leviticus 19:11 (NIV): “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”

There it is, plain and clear: “Do not lie.”

Some of us might want to look for a caveat, starting with the word “except,” as in “except in certain circumstances,” or “when the truth will hurt someone,” or “when the truth implicates us.”

Well, those caveats don’t appear in Scripture.

What’s more, Jesus emphasized their importance when the rich young man asked Him what he must do to merit eternal life. Jesus 

told him to  obey the commandments. The man asked, “Which ones?”

Jesus replied, “All of them.”61. Rich-young-man

While Jesus didn’t list all of them, He did reference a few key ones. In the same breath as “never murder,” He said “never bear false testimony.” (Matthew 19:18 GW)

So, in God’s eyes, lying and killing convict us equally.

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OF COURSE, THE BIBLE IS VERY CLEAR that salvation is the free gift of God’s grace for those who believe in Him (Ephesians 2:8) and is not a reward for good behavior. That point is true simply because no man or woman is perfect when measured against God’s perfect standard (Romans 6:23).

However, in this discourse on the rich young man, Jesus’ focus was less on earning salvation — which we cannot do — than it was on being obedient to God’s commandments. Jesus also used the occasion to signal the importance of honest dealings with one another.

The commandment to be truthful — that is, not to deceive — is part of a package of commandments, including not to steal from another, not to covet another’s possessions, not to destroy another couple’s marital bonds, as well as not to kill someone.

The rule against deception undoubtedly refers back to Genesis 3, when  the serpent
deceived Eve into eating the “forbidden fruit,” which she then shared with Adam, her husband.

We easily can see the chain of malevolent events kicked off by that deception, from our forebears being kicked out of the Garden, to Adam tending soil that bears thistles as well as food, Eve suffering more in childbirth despite the joys of motherhood, and the frequent conflict between husband and wife caused by human sin.

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LYING IS A BIG DEAL TO GOD.

Most of us see lying as a bad thing, but certainly not the type of wrong we would equate with murder or armed robbery. Yet God is focused on lying like He was eradicating cancer.

61. Garden-of-Eden-EveIn one of the first books in the Old Testament, the LORD declares, “God is not a man, so he does not lie.” (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

In one of the latter books in the New Testament, the writer declares “it is impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18 NIV)

Then, there’s this commandment from Paul to the church in Colossae. “Do not lie to one another,” he said, “since you have taken off the old self with  its practices.” (Colossians 3:9 BSB)

In other words, since your heart has been changed by the LORD through your salvation, you must act differently; you must be more Christ-like; you must not lie to one another.

Then there’s Paul’s strong condemnation of lying in his letter to the Roman church, when he said “God gave them over” to their sins, why? “because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25-26a NIV)

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WHY IS LYING SO IMPORTANT TO GOD?

Because our salvation depends on God’s faithfulness.

The whole point of God’s message to us is that we can trust Him.

        • When He tells us that Jesus so loved us that He gave His life to atone for our sins (John 3:16), He meant it.
        • When He tells us that salvation is found in Jesus and in Jesus only, that His is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12), He meant it.
        • When He tells us that all who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved (Romans 10:13), He meant it.

God went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate His faithfulness and veracity to us. He loves us and wants us to know that He will make good on His promises no matter how we respond.61. God-gave-them-over-Romans-1

The first covenant God made with mankind was with Abraham (called Abram, at the time), and it was one-sided. God ordered Abraham to dissect a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, and a three-year-old ram. Traditionally, both men entering the agreement walked between the split animals.

The Bible tells us when darkness came, Abram fell into a deep sleep, during which God — and God alone — walked between the two halves, signaling that God was bound to His side of the covenant regardless of Abraham’s obedience.

The Bible describes it this way: “After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals.” (Genesis 15:17 CEB)

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GOD’S GREATEST DISPLAY of love for mankind was in sending Jesus, His Son, to bear the punishment for our sin. To make that equation work, that exchange of the Sinless One sacrificed for the redemption of the sinful many, required complete trustworthiness.

Jesus emphasized that in His ministry. Recall these words:

        • “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37 ESV) (Jesus appearing  before Pontius Pilot), or these:
        • “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV), (Jesus teaching His disciples), or these:
        • “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17 BSB) (Jesus praying to the Father before His arrest and crucifixion).
        • “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:32 MSG) (Jesus talking to his followers).

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THE ‘TRUTH’ IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES GOD from other sources of enlightenment. God is not just trustworthy; He is the very epitome of Truth.61. Jesus-Truth

We base our salvation on this … on being able to trust the living God, the God of the Bible, for our very souls. Here are words of assurance that God purposed to include in His Word to us:

        • “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:81 NIV)
        • “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35 NLT)
        • “But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.” (Galatians 5:5 NLT)
        • “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NASB)
        • “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10 NKJV)
        • “Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NLV).

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WE CANNOT ESCAPE IT.

Our salvation is based on God’s faithfulness, and we must trust Him.

In turn, He demands that we be faithful and trustworthy in all our dealings.

Seems only fair.

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PRAYER:  LORD, our faithful redeemer. You have told us that You are Truth and that we 44. Cross_on_Biblemust be truthful in all our dealings with You and others. It is through Your truth that we know of our salvation, that we will be with You in Paradise. LORD, we pray for the strength and courage to be honest and faithful in all of our actions. We praise You, LORD, and give You all the glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

QUESTIONS:

  1. Does telling the truth as a commandment rank with refraining from committing murder, as you see it? Why do you suppose God equates the two sins? Is it to show us that breaking one commandment, regardless of how insignificant it might seem to us, violates God’s holy and righteous standard and renders us in need of a Savior?
  2. Can you see instances where you think shading the truth a bit is the wiser course of action for everyone involved? If so, are you as confident of that position now as you were when you began reading this meditation?
  3. Based on the Scripture shared in this meditation, how would you counsel a friend or young person who asks you for advice? Would you remind him/her of God’s commandment not to lie? Would you take your own advice?