Sunday, May 20, 2012
Welcome to Day 140 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
1 Kings 6:1, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.”
37 “The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38 n the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.”
2 Chronicles 3 gives a less detailed account of the building of the temple, than is recorded in 1 Kings.
Psalm 97:5 “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.”
Romans 1:11, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”
18-28 speaks of God’s wrath against sinful humanity… in no uncertain terms. Clear, concise.
What I see in today’s readings, all of them, is God’s presence…
In 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles 3 the temple is being built for his presence, so to speak.
Psalm 97 speaks of the mountains melting like wax in his presence.
In Romans 1, that mankind “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” Thereby reducing him to a lifeless idol, instead of worshiping in his presence.
At the end of the day, his presence is what it’s all about.
His presence is what sets us apart.
In Exodus 33, “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you.”
Moses didn’t want to go anywhere unless the Lord’s Presence was with him.
The term “His Presence” can be a little tricky…
When we read that “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) or “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) it would appear that God’s presence is always with us.
It’s equally as true, that there are times when his glory appears. Not necessarily in a visible way, but it’s evident that he is with us.
I know people who have actually seen a “glory cloud.” I haven’t but I have seen video footage.
But his presence can be there when there is no cloud. You can just tell he is among us.
Even as I’m writing this, I feel a bit like I am splitting hairs, but his “manifest presence” is what I am referring to. Think of “Where two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20). That is a promise… and it’s worth noting that something happens when there’s more than one person… “two or more.” I can be in his presence in my living room, and I often am… but something happens when we gather to worship him. Together…
What we try to do make room for him to come. To allow his presence to come. To fling wide the heavenly gates. To create an atmosphere that “welcomes” his presence.
It’s not the songs or the instrumentation or even the length of time that makes it happen. You can’t “make” it happen. (Although all of those are factors…)
I think it’s our level of faith and expectation and participation that is inviting to him.
The danger is trying to create a formula to make it happen… That’s a little scary…
But at the same time, that’s why we do conferences and Stirring the Waters, to set aside a focused time to worship, to make room for him. As Steve Bowen would say, we are creating “God space.”
My friends who have seen a glory cloud say it always happens after 11:00 PM on Friday nights.
But it doesn’t always happen. And it’s only happened a few times.
And just to see or make a glory cloud appear is a hugely wrong motivation anyway, right?
(But I do keep an open eye every time we are gathered in worship… I am anticipating a glory cloud at any moment.)
I can’t make it happen, and it’s not the goal. But I believe that God is pleased with where we are headed in our times of worship. His presence is with us. And, at some point, I hope he lets us see his glory.
Just to be clear, worshiping him, that’s the goal. Period.
Whether we ever actually see a glory cloud or not. : )
I love, I love… I love your presence.