At various times God has chosen to make his presence known at chosen places. The burning bush. The tabernacle. The Temple in Jerusalem. Regarding the Temple, God stated in Deuteronomy 12 that it was THE place to worship, sacrifice, and to experience God's presence in a unique way not available elsewhere.
When Jesus came, he was God-With-Us. HE was the place of meeting with God. John 1:14 states that he dwelt among us - literally, "He tabernacled among us."
Now that Jesus has ascended into heaven and has sent his Spirit, the church, gathered in Jesus' name, is the place of God's special presence! God is present everywhere all the time, but he makes his presence known in a special way when his people gather. In the gathering of the church, we experience God's grace through his people, hear his word, and worship him together. The church is God's plan for his people's good. As a family, discuss how you prepare to enter God's presence ahead of our Sunday gatherings.
The Narrow Way
In Deuteronomy 12 we found out that God invites people into relationship with himself, but he calls them on His terms. In the New Testament, we find that God has not changed! He has made a way for people to be forgiven and to enter into an eternal relationship with Him - but Jesus is the ONLY way into that relationship. Only through faith in Jesus will anyone enter into life! This is true regardless of how moral, kind, or sincere a person is. Without faith in Jesus, there is no salvation or eternal life.
As those who know Jesus and who have found the narrow way to life, we are commissioned to tell others! We are to make disciples of Jesus by inviting others to place their faith in him. This week, pray that the Lord will give you the opportunity to share the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus with at least one person. Jesus has sent us - may we fulfill our calling of making more disciples.
Perfected by Christ
Christ has died and risen from the dead! This is the wonderful news of Easter. More than a merely historical event, Jesus' death and resurrection offer transformation to all who repent and believe. Hebrews 10 tells us that, through Christ, we stand perfected forever. Our status before God is that of a perfectly righteous saint. Our sins are entirely forgiven once and for all because Jesus paid the debt for us. At the same time, Hebrews 10:14 states that we are being sanctified. God is transforming our character by writing his law on our hearts and minds. The incredible result of our transformed status and character is that we are invited into the presence of the Holy God without fear. Thanks to the work of Jesus, our status, character, and access to God are all transformed! As one who has received this great gift, pray that the Lord will enable you to tell one other person about Jesus' work and call to faith this week.
Matthew 21:1-10 records Jesus intentionally fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. After a ministry of healing, teaching, raising the dead, casting out demons, and commanding nature, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey to say loudly and clearly, "I am the promised king who is a descendant of David and Son of God. I am the one who will rule over all creation." A week later, Jesus was killed on the cross but then he rose from the dead. Romans 1:1-4 states that the resurrection validates Jesus' claims! Now the question comes to us: Will we believe Jesus was raised from the dead and confess him as Lord? Will our lives display loyalty and love to Jesus as his people? Moreover, Jesus promises to return to rule in power and glory one day! Knowing this, Christians are invited to live with hope in a fearful world. Is Jesus your king?
In Deuteronomy 9 we read that God took care to remind Israel that they were sinful people who provoked him. God and not the Devil! Why would God do this? He did it to humble Israel, to magnify his generous grace, and to motivate Israel to greater faithfulness. We see this same pattern in the New Testament. In Titus 3:1-8 we find a reminder of sin, a focus on God's grace, and a call to humility and gratitude. How do you respond when you remember sin with its shame? Rather than self-loathing, let the reminder of sin move you to rejoice in God's grace, to have compassion on the lost, and to gratefully serve the Lord.
Does God intentionally lead his people into hardship? Yes! In Deuteronomy 8 he tells Israel that he let them hunger in the wilderness on purpose to reveal what was in their hearts, to humble them, and to teach them to rely entirely on him. In Matthew 4:1-4, the Spirit led Jesus to hunger and to be tempted by the Devil also. In both cases we find the statement that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of the Lord. In other words, obedience is more basic than food! When we obey the Lord in difficult ways, we experience his provision and strength and come to know in a new way his goodness. In times of comfort, the great danger is that we trust in ourselves and come to love the gifts of God more than Jesus! Instead, times of comfort and abundance should be treated with care as we maintain our reliance upon the Lord. This week...