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.

Becoming Light — Readers’ Choice

Readers’ Choice Month:
In August, The Park Forum looks back on our readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post today.

Today’s post was originally published, December 4th, 2020, based on readings from Nahum 2.
It was selected by reader, Michelle Perez from New York City.
This was a most beautiful reminder of the hope and light we have in our Savior Jesus Christ.  After a very dark and trying year, we can rest in knowing:  “Our hope is unshakeable because God’s love for us is unshakeable.”  

Scripture Focus: Nahum 2.2
2 The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob
    like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
    and have ruined their vines.

Ephesians 5.8
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

1 Thessalonians 5.5
5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Reflection: Becoming Light — Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

As we close out the first week of Advent, we move from hope to love.

We can have hope because God has love for us as his motivation. The core of who God is, is love. Therefore, we can have hope.

No matter what army comes…
No matter what sickness stalks…
No matter what calamity crashes down on us…
No matter what attack the enemy brings against us…
No matter what destroyers come and lay our work to waste…
God is our restorer and he will work in us to bring forth his splendor.

Our hope is unshakeable because God’s love for us is unshakeable. Even in the judgment that Israel faced, even in the exile that would come in a few years for Judah, God was still working things together for their good. He was refining them through the struggle and the exile into a people who would become a light for the nations. This was always God’s intention for them and is his intention for us as well.

What does it take to be a light to the nations? Let us pray using some of Paul’s words from Ephesians 5.7-14 and 1 Thessalonians 5.4-8.

Remind us, Lord, we are not of the darkness 
We are children of the light and children of the day. 
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 
So then, help us not be like those who are of the dark.
They are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 
Since we belong to the day, let us put on faith and love and hope as armor.

We were once darkness, Lord, but now you are making us light. 
Help us to live as children of light
May the fruit of the light shine from us.
May goodness, righteousness, and truth beam from us.
May this be pleasing to you, Lord. 
We reject the fruitless deeds of darkness and seek to expose them
In our communities and in our own hearts.
May everything exposed by the light be confessed and repented of.
By your grace, may we be transformed and become a light
We do not want to sleep any longer.
Wake us up.
Raise us from darkness and death to light and life.
Shine on us and through us, O Christ.

Divine Hours Prayer: Greeting
The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken, he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God reveals himself in glory.
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.1-3

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Ruth 3-4 (Listen – 6:24)
Acts 28 (Listen – 4:56)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
Have we heard from you yet? Tell us about posts from the past year (September 2020 – July 2021) that have helped you in your faith.

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Read more about The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent
The hope of Advent is not a naive or weak hope, but one that perseveres into the darkness.

Becoming Light — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: Nahum 2.2
2 The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob
    like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
    and have ruined their vines.

Ephesians 5.8
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

1 Thessalonians 5.5
5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Reflection: Becoming Light — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

As we close out the first week of Advent, we move from hope to love.

We can have hope because God has love for us as his motivation. The core of who God is, is love. Therefore, we can have hope.

No matter what army comes…
No matter what sickness stalks…
No matter what calamity crashes down on us…
No matter what attack the enemy brings against us…
No matter what destroyers come and lay our work to waste…
God is our restorer and he will work in us to bring forth his splendor.

Our hope is unshakeable because God’s love for us is unshakeable. Even in the judgment that Israel faced, even in the exile that would come in a few years for Judah, God was still working things together for their good. He was refining them through the struggle and the exile into a people who would become a light for the nations. This was always God’s intention for them and is his intention for us as well.

What does it take to be a light to the nations? Let us pray using some of Paul’s words from Ephesians 5.7-14 and 1 Thessalonians 5.4-8.

Remind us, Lord, we are not of the darkness 
We are children of the light and children of the day. 
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 
So then, help us not be like those who are of the dark.
They are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 
Since we belong to the day, let us put on faith and love and hope as armor.

We were once darkness, Lord, but now you are making us light. 
Help us to live as children of light
May the fruit of the light shine from us.
May goodness, righteousness, and truth beam from us.
May this be pleasing to you, Lord. 
We reject the fruitless deeds of darkness and seek to expose them
In our communities and in our own hearts.
May everything exposed by the light be confessed and repented of.
By your grace, may we be transformed and become a light
We do not want to sleep any longer.
Wake us up.
Raise us from darkness and death to light and life.
Shine on us and through us, O Christ.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, — 2 Corinthians 4.6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Today’s Readings
Nahum 2 (Listen – 2:06)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:27)

This Weekend’s Readings
Nahum 3 (Listen – 3:04), Luke 19 (Listen -5:29)
Habakkuk 1 (Listen – 2:39), Luke 20 (Listen – 5:07)

Read more about End of Year Giving and Supporting our work
We produce over 100,000 words a year to:
Encourage believers to engage the culture with the love of God.

Read more about The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent
The hope of Advent is not a naive or weak hope, but one that perseveres into the darkness.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/becoming-light-hope-of-advent

Mustard Seed Prayers—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Jason from Texas
Prayer can take many forms and is not limited to a specific time and place. Our technology has taught us to abhor any downtime, fill any silence, and avoid every moment of solitude. It is these brief moments on the train, in the line, and on the couch when we can freely connect with an ever-present God.

Originally published, April 1, 2020, based on readings from Proverbs 19 & Colossians 2.

Scripture Focus: Colossians 4.2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Ephesians 6.18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 4.6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Reflection: Mustard Seed Prayers—Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman (Prayer by Melissa Tillman)

There are some things which electronics cannot improve—some systems in which analog beats digital. Our previous car had no power-anything. Locks, windows, and seats all had to be moved manually. When it comes to the seats, my wife and I miss the manual adjustment. One swift movement— kachunk—was all it took for us to switch drivers. With the powered seat, we have to wait, listening to the electronic motor whirr. For me, this also involves cramming myself uncomfortably into the tiny space and waiting as it slowly expands. Even though it is only for a few seconds, we are accustomed to instantly moving from one to the other, and that makes it an annoying inconvenience. Power seats are an annoying waste of time.

Into this new crack of “waiting,” my wife injected the tiny seed of a prayer, similar to a breath prayer. At first, it was just to keep herself from being cranky about the powered seat—something similar to, “Keep me safe.” But it grew. It became a prayer that supported us through great difficulty and motivated us in tough decisions. We prayed the prayer at funerals, at weddings, when donating to causes, and when beginning difficult experiences. Soon it became a living prayer for our family. Many families have a “life verse,” but this became a “life prayer.”

“Lord, please keep us safe, keep us sane, help us focus.
Let our time, money, and energy 
Cover all that we need to do 
And all those we want to bless.”

Into any uncomfortable time of waiting, such as the one we are all in now, inject prayer. It is okay if it is not fancily worded. It is okay if it is selfish. It is okay if it is just a request. But don’t let it be just a stale repetition. Let it be like a seed that can grow. 

As God speaks to you, adjust your prayer. As new needs arise, adjust your prayer. As better wording occurs to you, adjust your prayer. Allow your prayer to be shaped and rewritten by your relationship with God and all that you learn and experience in God’s Word.

A prayer of a few words, thrown into an inconvenient crack in your life, can grow like a mustard seed into a towering tree that can provide spiritual shelter and sustenance for you and others.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies. — Psalm 28.2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 46 (Listen – 4:59)
Psalm 22 (Listen – 3:49)

Read more about Breathing Prayers
Out of your relationship with God, you can also write your own breath prayers.

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Mustard Seed Prayers

Scripture Focus: Colossians 4.2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Ephesians 6.18
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 4.6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Reflection: Mustard Seed Prayer
By John Tillman (Prayer by Melissa Tillman)

There are some things which electronics cannot improve—some systems in which analog beats digital. Our previous car had no power-anything. Locks, windows, and seats all had to be moved manually. When it comes to the seats, my wife and I miss the manual adjustment. One swift movement— kachunk—was all it took for us to switch drivers. With the powered seat, we have to wait, listening to the electronic motor whirr. For me, this also involves cramming myself uncomfortably into the tiny space and waiting as it slowly expands. Even though it is only for a few seconds, we are accustomed to instantly moving from one to the other, and that makes it an annoying inconvenience. Power seats are an annoying waste of time.

Into this new crack of “waiting,” my wife injected the tiny seed of a prayer, similar to a breath prayer. At first, it was just to keep herself from being cranky about the powered seat—something similar to, “Keep me safe.” But it grew. It became a prayer that supported us through great difficulty and motivated us in tough decisions. We prayed the prayer at funerals, at weddings, when donating to causes, and when beginning difficult experiences. Soon it became a living prayer for our family. Many families have a “life verse,” but this became a “life prayer.”

“Lord, please keep us safe, keep us sane, help us focus.
Let our time, money, and energy 
Cover all that we need to do 
And all those we want to bless.”

Into any uncomfortable time of waiting, such as the one we are all in now, inject prayer. It is okay if it is not fancily worded. It is okay if it is selfish. It is okay if it is just a request. But don’t let it be just a stale repetition. Let it be like a seed that can grow. 

As God speaks to you, adjust your prayer. As new needs arise, adjust your prayer. As better wording occurs to you, adjust your prayer. Allow your prayer to be shaped and rewritten by your relationship with God and all that you learn and experience in God’s Word.

A prayer of a few words, thrown into an inconvenient crack in your life, can grow like a mustard seed into a towering tree that can provide spiritual shelter and sustenance for you and others.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth; in the midst of the multitude will I praise him;
Because he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save his life from those who would condemn him. — Psalm 109.29-30

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 19 (Listen 3:09) 
Colossians 2 (Listen -3:45)

Read more about Breathing Prayers
Out of your relationship with God, you can also write your own breath prayers.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/breathing-prayers/

20200331

Read more about Prayer for Purpose, Community, and Freedom :: Guided Prayer
As we face a lengthening road through this crisis, we focus on prayer.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/breathing-prayers/

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