August 4, 2014

From one little room, the world is changed

Yesterday I watched most of the closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Besides stirring my Scottish blood, I noted the grandeur of the venue. Filled with color, lights, singing, pyrotechnics, and so many happy faces, it was the site of the “greatest games ever” and a place of action, emotion, and the unifying power of a common passion. 

Yet today’s devotional reminds me of “little rooms where worlds were made” citing a chamber in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the little rooms where great documents and books were written and world changing products and processes were invented.

The church is described as “the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” with “Christ Jesus the cornerstone” and “in Him the whole structure grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19–21) However, the church did begin in an actual building . . . .

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” (Acts 2:1–3)

These new Christians were mostly Israelites who were familiar with the events of their nation. They would know about David’s experience of calling to God with his offerings . . .  
“David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering.” (1 Chronicles 21:26)

They would also know what happened when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated to God with praise . . .  

“All the Levitical singers . . . stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:12–14)

As they sat together on that day of Pentecost, these first Christians experienced fire also, not on an offering or the building, but on each of them. They became the household of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the purpose of this fire was to purify and refine them to serve the Lord . . .

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:1–4)

Pentecost fire fell in one place, in a literal house that became a spiritual household. From that day on, the world was never the same.

This reminds me how much the church today needs that cleansing fire from God to purify our hearts and reunite us into one holy temple. When that happens, it may not be as visually spectacular as that earlier first event, but lives are still changed as God endues His people with the power needed to become world-changers.

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