June 2, 2015

This temperamental temple

2 Chronicles 4:1–6:11, Titus 1:5–9, Psalm 92:1–93:5

I began today in a bad mood, feeling sorry for myself, and wanting more instead of being grateful for what I have. It didn’t take long to get less sorry for me and more annoyed with me, but that saying “Don’t worry, be happy” does not work very well. Instead, I need to hear from God.

Today’s reading from the OT is about the celebration that happened when Solomon’s temple was finished. It was a grand place where God’s people could offer their sacrifices to Him.

“And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.” (2 Chronicles 5:3–6)

This put me on my face. I probably could count what I have sacrificed for God. However, what happened next took my eyes off me and put them where they need to be . . .

“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place . . . 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 5:11–14) The glory of the Lord filled God’s house and stopped everyone in their tracks. This fills me with awe.

After Jesus came, that dwelling place for God is no longer a temple constructed of stone, wood, and overlaid with gold. Instead, it became the hearts of His people. How incredible! Yet I have to admit that God never intended or planned that His dwelling place be full of self-pity and grumbling.

In the next reading, Paul describes those who should lead the church, this group of people where God dwells. As I read the qualifications for being an elder, I remembered other verses that show how these qualifications describe the idea life for every Christian.

First Paul says to Titus, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you . . . .” He is charging Titus to do what David did; appoint men to lead each area of worship in an orderly way. The church is not a haphazard assembly. My life isn’t supposed to be like that either.

Then he says what how these leaders should live: “. . . . if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:5–9)

He gives no allowance for complaining, self-centeredness, or a lackadaisical attitude. The words disciplined and hold firm stand out. If I am not like that, I cannot teach or edify others, nor expect to be joyful in Christ.  

The reading from the psalms crowns these thoughts: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” (Psalm 92:1–4)

The psalmist is right. If I am not thankful or more interested in what I’m doing than what God is doing, can I expect to be singing for joy? I don’t think so.

Finally, God gave me these words that are both a hug and a kick in the backside: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:12–15)

Of course I want to flourish and bear fruit as I become older. I want to stand on a solid place until I die, and I cannot do that when I’m busy criticizing myself instead of praising God.

Oh God, “Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house (including this human temple where You dwell), O Lord, forevermore.” (Psalm 93:5)

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