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Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

Nearly 40 years ago my in-laws purchased a small, modest home on a quiet street in the metropolitan area they lived in. A couple years ago they sold that home and moved to a smaller place outside the city…their retirement home.
By the time they sold their home it was no longer located on a quiet street. The area had bloomed over the years, a major interstate and shopping mall moved in just a few blocks away, and the ‘quiet street’ was now one of the busiest four-lane thoroughfares in the area.

From time to time we drive by the old place. It has different owners now. The in-laws didn’t like clutter in the yard. Their definition of clutter was not only bicycles and other things out of place, but lawn ornaments and plants which seemed to just randomly appear.

Ironically, and somewhat humorously, the new owners seem to have a strong desire to place as many lawn ornaments and flower bushes as they can in the small yard. Even though it’s not the taste of my in-laws, there is nothing wrong with what they’ve done. They have the right to do as they please. It’s their house now.

How inappropriate would it be for my father-in-law to stroll into the yard and start dismantling and removing all the ‘lovely decorations’ in his old yard? Not only would it be illegal, it would be preposterous to think of such a thing. It’s not his to touch anymore. The price was paid. There is no more ownership or responsibility.

When each of us was born, we were owned, so to speak, by the ruler of this world (Satan) and our human nature (Satan’s chief ally). Our thoughts, our actions, our desires were a result of his ownership over us.

Now, because of Jesus, we have new owners, or should I say owner. God loved you so much that he purchased you from the slavery to fear, anger, worry, and uncontrollable, rampant desire. The price he paid was huge. It cost him his son. You and I were so valuable that He was willing to spend what it takes to purchase us.

I have a friend that ‘turns houses’. He buys an old, deteriorating shack and spends hours refurbishing, cleaning and restoring the house in order to sell it. Often, when he is finished, the house isn’t recognizable. My friend sees the value others overlook.

In the same way, God saw the value in each of us. As a result he is more than willing, ready and able to take us in our beat-up condition and make us new again. He sees the value in you that others overlook.

PRAYER: Lord God, during those times when I’m feeling insignificant or unable to accomplish anything of any value; during those times of failure; help me remember that you love me enough to purchase me. Keep me from allowing the enemy to try to regain control of me. I’m yours now. Thank you. Amen.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16

There’s a small house down the road from us. I’m not sure when the grass was mowed last and since it’s in the country, there are no ‘rules’ to govern its upkeep. I’ve never seen the blinds or drapes open. The yard, what you can see of it, is cluttered with a couple old cars and some other debris. The siding doesn’t match. In fact, in a few places plywood patches damaged siding.

I’ve never seen anyone at this house. For all I know it could be abandoned except that on rare occasions there is a vehicle parked in the driveway. A nice, shiny, very expensive truck that I confess I’ve coveted on occasion!

While I know nothing of the story of this building and it’s inhabitants, it’s obvious to me where the priorities may lie and they are not on a dwelling place. I’d hesitate to step foot on the very property much less enter the building.

Paul writes to us about another kind of building, a spiritual and physical building that we take with us every day. I confess to you that I wish I would/could live every moment of my life with the realization that my body is the dwelling place, the house of the most high God. Even more amazing to me is that his dwelling is the place he has chosen.

There are some that teach (by lifestyle, if not verbally) that there is a separation of the spiritual and the physical; that what we do and what we believe don’t have to completely agree with each other. The spiritual me and the physical me can’t be separated though. We are one.

All across our nation fitness centers are springing up. Even the smallest of towns will have a place where people can come to care for their bodies. It’s ironic that we spend millions of dollars on churches every year to provide beautiful, comfortable places where people can come and ‘worship’. Yet, in reality we are a nation that is physically obese and spiritually starved. We don’t care of our souls work I really God dwells

Now, before you think that I’m pointing fingers, let me tell you about me. I’m 25 pounds overweight, don’t exercise nearly enough and wish I could find more time for study of God’s word and prayer. I often find myself saying things and doing things that, if God were standing beside me, I’d think twice about.

The point is, I’m not perfect. I’m far from perfect. Yet God. THE God. The creator-sustainer of the universe indwells me. Even more amazing is the fact that he CHOSE to indwell me because of his love for me, not because of how I take care of his home.

If we truly believe in this God we claim allegiance to, let us together strive to put a priority on his dwelling place, our hearts.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for your love for me. I praise you for the fact that even though I don’t always care for your dwelling place the way I’d like you still love me. Empower me with your Spirit to live in such a way that reflects your glory. Amen.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Have you ever felt the need or desire to pray, but were at a loss for words? Maybe it was during a very trying time in your life like divorce, financial crisis, or relational issues. Often, when crisis hits, the first word that comes to our mind is ‘Why?’ We question ourselves, we question the actions of others, we question where God is and why he isn’t acting.

The best way to describe these times is ‘perplexed’. By definition, perplexed means completely baffled or very puzzled. Psalm 13 expresses the emotional prayer of a perplexed David.

Psalm 13: 1-4 says, How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall”.

Times of turmoil often affect our prayer life and we find ourselves speechless. Paul encourages us in the book of Romans to remember that even when we are beyond words, the Holy Spirit ‘helps us’. He supports us, holds us up, shores us up like a weak beam and assists us in carrying our burden

The second thing Paul acknowledges is that there are times when we just don’t know what to pray for. We don’t always know what’s best for us. We don’t know what God may be willing to grant us. We are ignorant of God’s true character or the reasons he acts as he does.

When times of trial and temptation come along we are reminded of our inability to live the spiritual life as we’d like and that leaves us speechless. That’s when the Holy Spirit, our intercessor, utters words we cannot speak on our behalf to the father.

So, during those times when you don’t know how to pray; when you feel completely confused or abandoned by God, remember that it’s during those times we can lean on God’s Holy Spirit to speak for us on our behalf.

Let’s go back for a moment to Psalm 13. After the Psalmist voices his confusion over God’s seeming silence, he says, in verses 5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” God’s silence isn’t a sign of his absence but a call to lean more heavily on the fact of his presence. His Holy Spirit knows your heart and is interceding on your behalf. With God’s Holy Spirit embracing me, I can be undaunted when life is perplexing.

PRAYER: Father, there are times when life becomes too confusing for me and I can’t find you. During those times remind me that your Holy Spirit will intercede for me and reassure me of your unfailing love. I will sing to you O Lord for even in my perplexity, you are good to me. Amen.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

“‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin (1789)

Funny how these words penned so long ago still ring true today. Maybe it’s not really so funny if you think about it. Nor really much to look forward to, is it? Unless you have your head in the sand, you, like the rest of us, have this uneasy feeling in the bottom of your stomach.

Perhaps you are going through some personal issue with your relationships, your job, your kids or your finances. Maybe your health isn’t what it used to be. Maybe you are looking back on life and wondering how you got where you are, and why you haven’t accomplished what you hoped to do.

It’s not hard to get discouraged with the way things are. Politically and economically the world seems on the brink of disaster. If that weren’t enough, if war or bankruptcy doesn’t get us, natural disasters and new disease outbreaks will!

Part of the problem we all have is that we see just a small slice of the pie, a tiny square of the jig-saw puzzle of life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could back up and get an eagle-eye view of the landscape of this journey we are on? To be able to get high enough to see what is on the other side of that mountainous obstacle that seems to be sapping your strength?

There are many reasons why that’s not possible. The obvious one is that we are finite beings only capable of understanding a small part of the dimension we are in. Looking beyond that would just be too much to take in.

The good news we need to be reminded of (constantly?) is that we have someone who sees the final curtain. He has the whole thing planned and when it’s done we’ll give him (and us) a standing ovation for making it through!

One of my best friends is a drama director at our local high school. I’ve watched him direct plays for years and have been involved in some community productions with him as well. It never ceases to amaze me how he puts certain changes in the script to match the cast and situation. There have been times I’ve thought he was crazy, only to watch the play in its finality and realize everything worked out just right.

When life seems to be out of control, remember this. We are not in a play where all the actors and actresses are going their own way, doing their own thing, using their own script and ideas to accomplish a stunning and understandable end!

Life is a play of sorts in which we have a small part to play. Our director has each scene precisely choreographed for a stunning and grand finale in which we will meet him face to face.

Paul says ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER, not just a few. Our part? Love God. Trust God. Do the work of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

PRAYER: Father God. Great Director. Even though I question and worry about what is going on around me, help me to remember that my part may be small, but you have assured me it will work exactly according to plan. Amen.

Wrote this a couple years ago and thought it a good reminder today.

Built with Grace

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

A few years ago the then-governor of Minnesota made the statement that “Faith is for weak-minded people.” However, weak-minded faith is faith in something that isn’t true. Weak-minded faith is faith in a lie, a system, a human, a philosophy.

Faith in the one and only triune God isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and courage. It’s faith with a capital ‘F’.

A person with this kind of Faith has the strength to face the challenges of life with the attitude that says I’ll do what I can to make my world better, knowing all the while that the success of my venture isn’t dependent on me but on God.

A person of Faith makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are…

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October 2013
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