Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Sanctuary for Me

Oh Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true ...
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

(From the Song "Lord, Prepare me to be a sanctuary for you; Randy Scruggs)

Here is the meaning of this praise song:
1 Corinthians 3:16 ( ESV) "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"
As Christians we are to be a sanctuary for God. His temple is no longer the tabernacle in the wilderness or the one built from the cedars of Lebanon covered with gold! The former was thought to be unfit for God, so the latter was built to honor God. However, God didn't want the fancy temple; he wanted the spiritual temples within each of us. He wanted his Holy Spirit to fill our souls, his temple.

Have you ever thought about that? Our soul is ours, but it belongs to him. It's where God desires to reside in this world. Those who accept him are his chosen people. He wants to reside in us.

 A sanctuary is a place of refuge. It's where God goes to get away from sin. Yes, he can look upon sin because God is who judges sinners.
Acts 17:30 (ESV) "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent..."
In order for God to overlook sin he does see it. Although God can see sin, he doesn't want to be in it's presence. His temple is refuge from sin.  He doesn't look at sin from a standpoint of approval. As such, a sanctuary for him is righteous living.
 1 John 3:7  (ESV) " Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous."
Sanctuaries are places of righteousness which is where our own wills are to do God's will. We are not our own. Us "little children" (of God) belong to him. His desire is that we no longer live for our genetic father, the devil, but for our spiritual father, himself! That milieu is the sanctuary we provide for God, according to the lyrics preceding.

Our "flesh" is the spiritual sensory system which transmits pleasure from the world to our minds. Our mind relishes in the pleasures we find and contaminates the soul, God's temple.  We must cut off the flesh so that the sins of the world cannot enter in.
1 John 2:15 (ESV) "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
Since Satan is Prince of the World, we are to keep sin away from our flesh to provide to God a sanctuary. To avoid sin, and to provide a sanctuary for God, we must seek refuge from the world. We live in the world, but if we're born again, we are not of the world. We belong to the kingdom of God.  Everyone knows the passage "flee from temptation". That's our part of providing God a sanctuary. That entails our own refuge from the world.

At work and in entertainment we are constantly bombarded with sin. Psychologically speaking, we become what we  take in. All that surrounds us effects and affects each of us. When we hear a catchy tune, it's difficult to get it out of our minds. That's why in commercials for products they sing jingles. Likewise, when we hear evil, our thoughts are on evil. It's difficult to filter out that to which we have been continually exposed. Our minds acclimate us to the evil around us!

For instance, when I lived in Detroit, my co-workers used the F-word continually. When I prayed what do you suppose contaminated my prayer. You're right... the F-word. I had to pray first to be delivered from those thoughts before I could even pray for other things. I needed a refuge from the F-word. Church was my sanctuary and still is!

I go to church for various reasons: to honor and praise God, and also commune with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to get my flesh away from the world so that I can quit taking in sin. It's a place where I choose to not look upon sin.

Now for my point for today's commentary: The church, my sanctuary is contaminated with sin just like the temple was when Jesus threw out the money-changers. They disrupted his sanctuary. Likewise, when the Holy Ghost came in the early church it was when they all of one accord. Harmony is a pre-requisite for the Holy Ghost having sanctuary, and it is us in accord which creates that milieu for the Holy Ghost.

We are to be righteous because God is righteous. Conversely, if we are righteous we create for God a sanctuary and if the church is righteous a sanctuary is created for both us and God.

Unfortunately, the church is no longer a sanctuary. I think of the gossipers who are obvious about it. I think of the immodest and grandiose attire worn by some. I think of those who fail to love even their Christian friends (sic), let alone their enemies. I hear Christians use God's name in vain, even in church! These folks rob me of my sanctuary, and as such, as we're not in one accord, we ruin sanctuary for God.

The Holy Ghost lives, not in the church, but his temples. Fortunately he does reside in some, but in others his existence is squelched by sin which has not been repented. That's why one of the first things in the Lord's Prayer is to ask forgiveness for our trespasses. It provides sanctuary for God when we allow him to clean out our temple. However, the church is only cleansed when the people within it are!

We can prepare a sanctuary for God in ourselves by being righteous. The church can prepare a sanctuary for me, you and God by being righteous, loving and in one accord. That's where our churches are lacking. We are the sin merchants in his temple and defile his sanctuary. Some create chaos in the church and there is no refuge. Some people need to change. The rest of us do as well!

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