Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ebenezer Memorials

In my daily devotions I have been reading on a schedule that will take me through the Bible in a year by reading portions from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs each day.

I am currently in Exodus, and I have recently noticed how many times the Lord instructed the Israelites to "remember" something. As I did a quick word study on the Hebrew word zacar (to remember) I came across some interesting passages.

In Exodus 13:3 the children of Israel are instructed to remember what God in bringing them out of the bondage in Egypt. It was by the strength of the Lord's hand that Israel was released by Pharaoh.

In Joshua 1:13 they were instructed to remember what Moses had said: it was God who gave the Promised Land. Man could not do it - God did. They were to remember...don't forget...God did this.

Judges 8:34 tells us to remember the Lord and His deliverance. This comes in the form of the sad commentary "...The children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God."

1 Chron. 16:12, 15 give instructions to remember the marvelous works of God, and His covenant.

Isaiah 46:9-10 really caught my attention. It reads "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." It seems that we would not need to be reminded that the LORD is God, or to recall to mind the marvelous miracles He has wrought. Yet there are many instructions to remember. Don't forget. God did this.

In my reading today in Exodus 17 I was struck by the fact that God told Moses to write down what He had just done to deliver Amalek into Israel's hand (vs.14ff). It was to be a memorial, and to be rehearsed in the hands of Joshua, Moses' successor. God knows that we will forget His wonderful works and strong hand on our behalf - many times we forget sooner than we like to admit. Should we not also have a book of remembrance - a memorial to the great things which our God has done?

In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel erected a memorial to God and called it "Ebenezer" (stone of help) because he said, "Hitherto hath the LORD helped us." Samuel wanted a physical, tangible reminder of what God had done on their behalf. That is what the stone memorial represented - a reminder of what God had done. I am reminded of the familiar hymn, Come Thou Fount. The second verse reads,

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; (some versions say my sign of victory)
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I know, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

I want to start writing down those things which God does for my family. I want to record the miraculous answers to specific prayers, so that I can look back and see what God has done. Then I will remember. I won't as easily forget. God did this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Polished Palaces, Part 3

Good morning! Now that we have looked at the polished palace, the cornerstone, and the building materials, we need to consider some questions regarding our motive to be a polished palace.

1. Who is the palace for?

1 Chronicles 29:1 Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son,

whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.

This verse refers to the building of the temple. David was told by God that he would not be allowed to build the temple because he was a man of war, and he had blood on his hands. God chose David’s son, Solomon, to build the temple. In this verse David makes the point that the work was great, because the temple (palace) was for the LORD God. This was a special building designated for the worship of the One True God. It was special, holy, dedicated, and set apart.

Just as the temple was for the Lord, we must realize that the palace of our lives is for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Our motive to be a polished palace cannot be the praise of others, or pride in ourselves, or to "keep up appearances". We must seek to live a life pleasing to God because He is our Lord and Master. The fashioning of our spiritual lives must be to please the Lord and not men

Ephesians 6:6-7 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

Psalm 45:6-11 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. 9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. 10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; 11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

What a beautiful description of our God! I want to be beautiful for my God.

Consider also: The King has free reign in his palace – He was not banned from any part. Does God own every room in your heart? Is there a nook, cranny, or closet that you have blocked Him out of?

2. Why is the palace beautiful?

A. Because of the building materials that were used. We discussed this in Polished Palaces, Part 2.

B. Because it is maintained. A palace may be beautiful when it is first unveiled. But if no maintenance is ever performed, it quickly becomes a run-down disgrace.

In the same way, our relationship with God requires maintenance. Just as you cannot physically live on one meal per week, or month, so you cannot live on one to two Bible readings a week. To develop intimacy with God requires effort and consistency. Sporadic Bible reading and prayer will accomplish very little. How is your spiritual palace? Do you need to do some maintenance to get it back into shape? Daily communication and Bible reading and quiet is essential to maintaining your polished palace.

C. Because of what is on the inside. The picture of the outside of the Alcazar de Segovia (at the beginning of this post) is impressive enough, but I would venture that the inside was even more spectacular in its day. The outside merely reflects what is on the inside.

1 Peter 3:1-4 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

These verses demonstrate that what is on the inside is of prime importance. Our beauty should start inward and work outward. Does your appearance and behavior before others in public match what you are in private? Do you only in conformation to certain standards or expectations, or do you have Biblical convictions that are motivated by your personal relationship with Christ?

D. Because of their size. Just as babies need to grow in order to mature, so Christians need to continue to grow and mature, becoming “larger” in their likeness to Christ

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

E. Because of their location – usually beautiful palaces are not built in the slums or where their beauty does not match their landscape. The grounds are usually nicely manicured to match the edifice. Our location is “in Christ” if we are built on the cornerstone.

F. Because of the riches and wealth associated with the owners/inhabitants of the palace. Who indwells us? The risen Christ, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and who has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Our Owner and Master, who dwells in us from the moment of salvation, makes us beautiful by His very presence. Can He be seen in your life? Do others know that you belong to Him?

I hope you have enjoyed these posts on the Polished Palace. The theme verse first caught my attention as my Pastor summarized Psalm 144 on a Wednesday night, and made some brief comments. As I meditated upon the verse, and mulled it over in my head, I began to draw some conclusions. As a Resident Advisor in charge of a ladies dormitory in college, I chose Polished Palaces as our dorm theme for the year. The devotionals I brought during that year were centered on the theme, and I have further developed some of those devotionals in this blog. May you become more of a Polished Palace for Christ each day!