Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Greater Than the Holy Places

A few years ago I said something dumb to Kelly. Actually I say dumb things to her pretty often, but the specific dumb thing I have in mind was said a few years ago. We were talking about our wedding day, how special it was, etc. And Kelly mentioned what a fun day it was with all the make up, getting her hair did, all that girly stuff. And, in an attempt to be sweet, I said, "You looked as pretty to me on our wedding day as you do first thing in the morning." Now of course I meant that I think she's a knockout whether she's made up or not, that I'm just completely taken with her. That's not quite how she heard it. She heard her loving husband saying that on her wedding day, she looked like she had just rolled out of bed. Needless to say, my words didn't have the desired effect. But a few days later she calmed down and everything was OK. The point of that story is this; first, I'm apparently not the silver-tongued devil I always thought I was; and second, I was trying to get across that I love my wife for who she is. I love it when she gets all gussied up; but that's not why I love her. I love it when she has on her favorite outfit and knows how good she looks in it; but that's not why I love her. I love it when she takes care of things around the house and I don't have to worry about them; but that's not why I love her. I didn't marry her because of how she looks when she's dressed up, or for what she does around the house; I married her for her. And the reason I say all this is not just to score brownie points. It's because of a verse I read this morning. It's easy for me to say that I love my wife not for what she does but for who she is; but can I say the same things about God? Do I love God for who He is, or for what He does?

Look at David's words in Psalm 68:35: "O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places." In this Psalm he has referenced the 'mountain of God', an incredibly holy place for those in Israel. And as awesome and majestic as this place was, David says, "God, you are more awesome than this holy place." We could imagine David thinking of the tabernacle, the place where God met with men, where sin was atoned for, and God's holy wrath was satisfied. But as incredible as such a place was, God was more awesome than that. And what this verse caused me to think about is this simple question: Do I think God is more awesome than His holy places? Or asked another way, do I think God is more awesome than the things He does for, the things He gives me? How often do we hear Christians talking about how blessed they are, and then begin to list all the things God has done for them? Nothing wrong with being thankful for God's blessings, but if the gifts are good, how much greater must be the Giver? In your mind, is God more awesome than His holy places? Do you desire God more than the the things God can give? Our satisfaction, our fulfillment must come not in what God does, but in who He is. And the embodiment of who He is was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. My highest aim, my greatest joy, my soul's deepest satisfaction must come from a personal knowledge of, and interaction with, Jesus Christ. If not, I've turned Christianity into an exercise in selfishness. Is Jesus Christ your greatest joy? Is God greater than His holy places? Paul said in Phil. 3:8, "Yes indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ..." Paul wanted Jesus. Not things from Him, just Him. He was enraptured by, caught up in the grandeur of King Jesus. Sadly, my focus often falls far short.

In his book, "God is the Gospel", John Piper asks this question: "The critical question for our generation-and for every generation-is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ was not there?" Powerful question, isn't it? Our answer reveals where our heart lies. God is greater than His holy places. And knowing Jesus is the greatest experience we can have. Let's make sure our lives demonstrate that.

Father, forgive me for putting the things You give me above the One who gives them. Forgive me for finding my satisfaction in anything other than you. Lord, help me see Your greatness. Show me Your glory, that I may fall at your feet and worship You in spirit and in truth. Let me desire to know Jesus more than anything. And let me be satisfied with nothing but You. Amen.

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