Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TENTS, TEMPLES AND TABERNACLES: LIVING WITH GOD

For the believer, God's Presence and Provision are displayed in front of us, behind us, on either side of us, above us and within us.

God describes His presences in front of us with a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105)He depicts Himself as one who protects on either side - A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalm 91:7) God also portrays Himself in at least two places as your "rear guard" - Isaiah 52:12 and Isaiah 58:8Then in Deuteronomy 32:11-12, Moses poetically illustrates God as an eagle that hovers over its children. "...like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him." Even from above us the Holy Spirit is present and covers.

John calls the Holy Spirit the Parakletos. This is one who comes alongside another, not only in the sense of physical presence but as a helper throughout life too (John 14:16)

Observe the manifest presence of God throughout history and you will find He desired to be with His creation, especially His own image - us. In The Garden of Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve "in the cool of the day" (Gen. 3:8). With Abram (later Abraham) the Lord would periodically appear before him to speak (Gen. 12:7). God spoke to Moses face to face (Ex. 33:11). For the rest of the people God's presence was found in The Tent of Meeting for a while, then The Tabernacle of Moses, then Solomon's Temple. After God came and tabernacled in the flesh - Jesus - the next place God would manifest His presence would be highly personable.

One place Paul refers to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is Ephesians 3:17, where he wrote, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…being rooted and grounded in love.” As Rick Renner explained in an email publication I subscribe to - That word “dwell” is the Greek word katoikeo, a compound of the words kata and oikos. The word kata means down, and the word oikos is the Greek word for a house. When kata and oikos are compounded, the new word katoikeo (“dwell”) carries the idea of one who permanently resides at a specific location. Thus, Paul’s use of this word implies not only that Christ establishes His physical residence in a faith-filled heart by the Holy Spirit, but also that He is at home and permanently settled there. That location has become His dwelling place, His temple, His property, His place of permanent residence— and He has become a perpetual, never-to-move-out Occupant!

Remember in Hebrews, He said He would never leave or forsake us. However, for many Christians, remembering that Christ makes His home within you by the power of His Holy Spirit is a challenge. We get caught up with life and it's minutia. Our focus is taken off of The Companion we have to empathize with us and The Counselor we have to advise of our next steps. God's presence, provision and counsel are always present and available. Godly responsibility and accountability of our mind, body and soul is our part. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 provides the imagery and instruction needed - 

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

When Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth the second time, he mentioned if you are already a believer in Christ then there has been a transformation that has occurred. A former mindset, behavior pattern and attitude about things has been abolished and replaced with a new Christlike one. The verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

It is a wonder with God's presence surrounding me and infiltrating my every fiber that I doubt Him and continue to rebel at times (sin) against Him. I understand, as a transformed new creature my mind is continually being renewed (Ro. 12:2) and will therefore always be a work-in-progress. A bed of roses lifestyle is not promised after accepting Christ as Savior. But doesn't life get somewhat easier, have more direction, contain more victories? I mean just as Christ promised persecution for believers because He was persecuted, I hear He also has some other beautiful and powerful promises for us to cash-in on now.

I believe this challenge to Living With God is two-part: the enemy and our poor decision-making. The devil, knowing he now does not have you within his kingdom, is going to his Plan B - Kill You. You see, Plan A was to steal you away from God. When you accepted Christ as your personal savior, that plan was thwarted. Plan B is to kill you and me in every aspect of our lives - our hopes, dreams and all that is dear to us. But just remember James 4:7 - "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." The devil's third tactic, to destroy you, will come from every direction. He will even attempt to destroy the memory of you. However, the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

The original word for "resist" in James 4:7 is anthistēmi. This word means to withstand; stand against or oppose an enemy as in the expectation of a long fight or many fights. Just as we are to be persistent in pursuing God for His will and way in our life, we are to be persistent in staying in the fight and standing our ground with God's Word! And there is power and Holy Confidence knowing that my body is the tent, the temple, the place of tabernacle with The Holy Spirit where I can acquire the right amount of help just when I need it (Psalm 46:1).

The other fight is against ourselves. We need to make better decisions. In our private life, in our family life, in our public life - our decisions will shape us and our future. We cannot afford for knee-jerk reactions. We cannot tolerate fast, inconsiderate methods of choosing the next major step in our lives. The process needs to be slowed down. The gears need to be shifted down in this drag race world we live in. And when we finally gear down slow enough to consider all of our options in a given situation - don't forget The Lord! 

I feel deep within my spirit that as a nation America has lost The Art of Inquiring of The Lord! This is so sad when He is only a breath away. He is right inside of us. I can almost hear Him clearing His voice to get my attention so that I might seek an audience with His Majesty and seek His counsel - before moving on any decision.

In the past people had to go to a physical place - a tent, a temple or a tabernacle to experience God's manifest presence and seek His provision. Christians have His presence inside and the availability of His counsel and provision at every breath. Believers don't have to go to church to experience His Presence, they have Him already! It brings new life to the verse - "...in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) I encourage you, don't miss out on considering God in all things. Use the Holy Spirit as your Filter in all things. Slow down and restart the art of inquiring of The Lord. Realize God's Throne on earth is in the hearts of His Believers. This is what it means to be a tent, a temple, a tabernacle of God. This is what it means to live with God.