Better Temples

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 8.27, 30, 41-43
27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!… 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. 

Ephesians 5.8-10, 13-14
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord… 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: 

“Wake up, sleeper, 
rise from the dead, 
and Christ will shine on you.” 

Reflection: Better Temples
By John Tillman

The dedication of the Temple was a momentous occasion for Israel. It was in many ways a culmination of God’s promise to Abraham to bless the nations. 

The dedication of the Temple and God’s indwelling of it was an event that later generations would look back to as part of God’s unique identity. He was the God who brought them out of Egypt and the God who sanctified his own Temple.

In many ways, Jesus is our Temple and Solomon’s prayers are better answered in Jesus than in the structure Solomon built.

Jesus’ life stands, like the Temple, as a miraculous work of God. He is the promised one who fulfills all of God’s promises.

Solomon asks the question, “Will God really dwell on Earth?” In answer, God’s Spirit fills the Temple as a cloud, but the more resounding answer was described by the apostle John, who, speaking of Jesus, said “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Solomon asked that the Temple be a channel of prayer, open to all people at all times. Regardless of location and even when being punished for their sin, he asked that God would hear from his Temple the prayers of his people. In Jesus, we become not just worshipers but family, able to cry to God as our father. God’s Holy Spirit hears us not from some distant structure, but from within our own hearts.

The most significant request Solomon repeats is that the Temple be a place of God’s forgiveness to which sinful people could cry out, cling to, and be saved. This is also answered in Jesus. The cross is an altar greater than Solomon’s. It’s sacrifice more precious. It’s forgiveness enduring forever. It is an event we look back to as a part of our God’s unique identity.

As believers, we are God’s Temple. (1 Peter 2.5; 1 Corinthians 3.16) We are God’s means of blessing for the world. We are his priests offering forgiveness to the world. 

May we be a better Temple, shining the light of truth that exposes sin but also celebrating and proclaiming forgiveness for all.

To a world asleep to sins of all kinds, both individual and collective sins, we must sound the call to wake up, return to God, and receive forgiveness and life forevermore.

“Wake up, sleeper, 
rise from the dead, 
and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5.14

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us. — Psalm 9.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 8 (Listen – 10:23)
Ephesians 5 (Listen – 3:42)

Read more about Christ our Temple, River, and City
Christ himself is our temple. He is the gate, the doorway, through which we enter to worship.

Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
It is difficult to overstate how confident Judah was…It was unthinkable that the Temple would fall.

From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest

Scripture Focus: Ephesians 4:1-2

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Many churches in the United States celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century. Jon provides us an excellent reflection on today’s reading in Ephesians drawn from events of Francis’s life.

Reflection: From Privilege to Prisoner to Priest
By Jon Polk

St. Francis of Assisi is generally known for his peaceful disposition and love for animals and nature. The Prayer of St. Francis (authorship uncertain, but often attributed to Francis) begins…

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

However, this devoted follower of Christ, widely regarded for his vow of poverty, did not begin life in a humble way. Francis was born in Italy around 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant and his beautiful French wife. By age 14, Francis, spoiled by luxury, dropped out of school and gained a reputation as a rebellious teen, known for drinking, partying, and vanity.

His privileged upbringing afforded him training in archery and horsemanship and when war broke out in 1202, he joined the cavalry. Having no combat experience, Francis was easily captured by opposing forces and imprisoned for a year before ransom was negotiated.

But during his time as a prisoner of war, Francis began to receive visions from God and arrived home a changed man. He turned his heart towards God and spent time in prayer, seeking direction.

Eventually, he felt the call of Christ to serve the Church and to live a life of extreme poverty—fully devoted to Christianity. He is considered by many to be one of the purest examples of living the Christian life, other than Jesus himself.

Certainly, Francis embodies Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and to “be completely humble and gentle.”

Francis’ deep dedication and gratitude to God is seen expressed in these excerpts from a song he composed, Canticle of the Sun. May these words guide our worship and service to Christ.

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 7 (Listen – 7:47)
Ephesians 4 (Listen – 3:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 8 (Listen – 10:23) Ephesians 5 (Listen – 3:42)
1 Kings 9 (Listen – 4:16) Ephesians 6 (Listen – 3:17)

Thank You!
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Read more about Paul’s Prayer for the Power of Faith
Give us service to perform.
Give us needs to meet.
Give us debts to cancel.
Give us trouble for which you are the only answer.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/pauls-prayer-for-the-power-of-faith/

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