Day 141: The Temple of God

1 Kings 8-9; John 5:1-24

In 1 Kings we read of God coming down and filling Solomon’s temple with His glory (8:11)! But God’s presence in the temple would be temporary. God’s Holy presence would eventually leave the wayward Israelite nation. In John, we see God’s permanent temple…Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s glory on earth. He became the temple of God.

After Jesus ascended to the Father, and the Spirit came at Pentecost, God made a new temple. God chose to manifest His glory through His people, the church. It is there, among God’s people, that we experience God’s presence. We are His temple…

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

I wonder what Solomon would think of God’s temple today? Just something to think about…

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Day 140: Glory over all the earth

1 Kings 5-7; John 4:31-54

The last time we read of Solomon in 1 Kings, he had been given incomparable wisdom, so much so that “people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

Solomon’s treaty with King Hiram of Tyre is another example of how Solomon’s wisdom affected the world. And the world would watch as Solomon used the finest material to build two houses… one for God and one for himself.

Solomon’s glorious temple may have made the people wonder… Is Solomon the promised King that will establish God’s Kingdom on the earth forever? It is true that the glory and power of Israel was at its highest under King Solomon’s rule, but Solomon was not to be the Forever King. Solomon’s heart was divided (1 Kings 7:1). And ultimately, his divided heart would bring about the division of Israel.

We know that it is the humble carpenter’s son that was destined to be the Forever King – not just of Israel – but of the world. Remember John 3:16? How God so loved the world? We see Jesus blessing the world in these last few chapters of John…

In John 3, we saw Jesus teach a Jewish leader how to be born again to gain eternal life. In the beginning of John 4, we saw Jesus teach a Samaritan woman how to “never thirst again” through the living water. He stayed two more days and many more Samaritans believed in Him. In the final verses of John 4, we see Jesus heal a Gentile centurion’s son.

Jesus started with the Jewish nation, and then reached out to the surrounding areas – and then finally stretched his blessing to all the earth.

Although Solomon’s temple was glorious, it was only temporary. Jesus is forever.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Day 139: A woman of excellence

Proverbs 30-31; John 4:1-30

The Proverbs 31 woman. Just the thought of her makes me feel stressed. She is kind to the needy, makes fine clothes, prepares nutritious meals, doesn’t get much sleep and has a real estate business on the side!

I have to remind myself every time I read this chapter, that she is the ideal embodiment of wisdom. This description is actually an acrostic poem – describing her entire life. It is NOT “a day in the life of the perfect woman”!

If I’m honest, I have more in common with the Samaritan woman found in John 4. I’m not referring to her promiscuity – but to her imperfections in general. Her life was scarred by a cruel world – yet she still had hope for the Messiah.

Little did she know she would meet her Messiah in the most mundane of ways. Here was the King of all creation, sitting beside a well, tired from traveling. I imagine he was dusty and thirsty. He used this ordinary moment to teach an ordinary woman that He is the living water. She listened because she was thirsty – and she needed some of that living water!

I’m thirsty… oh so thirsty. And that’s the first step to becoming the woman of excellence described in Proverbs 31. She is full – filled with the living water of the Spirit of God – which has overflowed into all areas of her life – bringing peace and joy to her and to others.

I need to go find myself some of that living water :)

Day 138: Increasing & Decreasing

Proverbs 28-29; John 3:22-36

John the Baptist was not a prideful man. He didn’t aspire to greatness. He didn’t want accolades. He lived in the wilderness, dressed strangely and ate a poor man’s diet. He understood his role. He was to prepare the way for the King.

When Jesus came, John knew. He must decrease so that the Son might increase. His role was complete. He fulfilled his mission, and God was honored.

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor (Proverbs 29:23).

John the Baptist is honored because of his place in the redemptive story of Jesus. He had no idea that millions of people would learn of his humble obedience through the gospels. In the same way, we have a place in God’s redemptive story. We have been adopted as His children. We are part of His family.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him “(John 3:36).

This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is where we find the strength to decrease so that He might increase… This is our hope. This is our life!

Day 137: Hope for the sinner

Proverbs 26-27; John 3:1-21

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 26:12).

Nicodemus. If any man were to be wise in his own eyes, it could have been him. Firstly, he was a Pharisee. Pharisees were the respected religious leaders of the Jews. They were notoriously pious. Jesus was constantly berating them for their hypocrisy.

If being a Pharisee wasn’t enough, Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin… the elite ruling body of the Jews. In other words, he was the elite of the elite.

But Nicodemus wasn’t a fool. He was smart enough to recognize that Jesus possessed power and knowledge that he did not have. Nicodemus humbled himself and sought Jesus by nightfall.

It is in this context that we find the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. It is one of the clearest statements of the gospel in all of Scripture. But to whom was Jesus speaking? He was speaking to a religious man who knew he didn’t have all the answers. He was speaking to a respected man who knew the darkness of his own heart. Nicodemus was not wise in his own eyes. He sought the Savior. In John 7:51, we read how he defended the Savior and at the end, Nicodemus helped to bury the Savior (19:39).

Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus, the Pharisee, what His purpose was… Whereas the Pharisees acted the role of judge to the Jews – creating rules and handing out condemnation – “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Jesus came into the world to save a man like Nicodemus – not because he was religious – but in spite of it. He saved Nicodemus because Nicodemus knew he needed to be saved! 

John 3:16 is for the humble. John 3:16 is for the lowly. John 3:16 is for the sinner.

Day 136: Jesus’ Kingly Acts

Proverbs 24-25; John 2

John 2-4 are fascinating chapters because these events happened before Jesus officially asked any of his disciples to be “disciples.” He hadn’t asked them to leave their nets, or homes or other jobs. A few men – we know of 5 for sure- just traveled with Jesus and watched. And John, being one of those 5 – gave us details that none of the other gospel writers did…like Jesus’ first miracle (John 2:1-12). It was AMAZINGLY… ordinary. He made wine from water to save the host from embarrassment, and nobody saw the miracle except Jesus’ ragged companions and the servants. …Doesn’t sound very king-like to me.

Then John takes us to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:12-22). Jesus seems to act like a mad-man, making a whip out of chords, driving all the animals from the temple and overturning tables. Money was literally scattered everywhere. Why? Even the Jews asked Him why; “Give us a miracle to show us you have the authority to do this,” they cried. And he speaks spiritually; “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” The Jews take him literally, and they scoff, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”

Why did he make such a public spectacle in the temple? I’ll tell you why – He. is. the. King. He’s not aiming to be King of just the land of Israel. That’s way too small for Him. His is a spiritual Kingdom – one that has no end, no limits. He comes into His place, and we watch as He overturns the spiritual leadership of the day.

John writes that later his disciples remembered what He had said and they believed. Later refers to… after the crucifixion, after the three agonizing days of despair, after the ressurection and after the ascension to when the Spirit came – and gave understanding. When we believe, His Spirit comes down and gives us understanding and makes our heart a temple – and Jesus comes in… and becomes King, overturning and scattering. Why? The answer lies in John’s next paragraph…

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man (John 2:23-25).

He knows what is in me. It’s not always pretty. But He came anyway, while we were still sinners, and destroyed the old temple – and built a new one in three days. Jesus is building His Kingdom…

one lowly sinner,

one weak vessel, and

one sacrifice at a time.

Day 135: The Lamb of God

Proverbs 22-23; John 1:29-51

John gives us gives us an insider’s close-up view of Jesus’ first meeting with himself and the other future disciples, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael.

When Nathanael first meets Jesus, he says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” He expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.

But John the Baptist saw something different in Jesus. He says twice in this passage, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This is an astonishing statement!  By calling Jesus, “The Lamb of God,” John the Baptist was connecting Jesus to the Passover Lamb, which automatically conjured up images of Sacrifice and death. Somehow, John the Baptist knew Jesus would be sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb. How else would He “take away the sins of the world” (vs. 29)?

Jesus was not what the Jewish nation expected. We have the luxury of hindsight, and know why the Messiah had to suffer and die. We know that He is both the Lion and the Lamb! He established his spiritual Kingdom on earth through his humble Sacrifice. And because He is our King, He deserves our worship and praise!

Day 134: The Word

Proverbs 20-21; John 1:1-28

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

How did God create the world? He spoke, and it came to be. John teaches us in the first verses of his gospel that it was Jesus, the Word, that made the world. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). Doesn’t this make sense? God the Father created the world through Jesus – He created through the WORD.

Proverbs teaches that even the words of men are powerful…

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 10:11

A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 15:4

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits. 18:21

Our words are powerful because we are made in the image of our Creator!!

This is my favorite image of Jesus…The Word. Not just any word – but logos. The source of all things.

Think of words that describe Jesus… kind, humble, truthful, compassionate, gentle, just, powerful.

But Jesus isn’t just powerful – he is the source of all power. And he isn’t just compassionate – his life was the living definition of Compassion. And what about truthful? No, the adjectives are not sufficient – he is the very embodiment of Truth, Humility, Kindness, Justice and Power. He is the Word. He is the source.

As we study John, we see the Word squeeze himself into human form – and walk and live and embody every good word in this world…

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Day 133: Too good to be true!

Proverbs 18-19; Luke 24:36-53

Jesus appears to his disciples and proves to them that he is flesh and blood – not a spirit. They touch him. He eats. And they marvel.

And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

“Disbelieved for joy.” Imagine if someone told you that you had just won $5 million? Or if you or your wife had been infertile for years, and at a regular checkup, she learns that she’s pregnant? You would wonder if it could really be true. It would just seem too good to be true! …Or if a man offered to take the punishment for your sins by dying in your place – and then rose from the dead??!!

Sometimes I think the gospel is too good to be true. And the idea that God will make a new heaven and a new earth and we will get to live in perfect communion with God and each other for all eternity. Well… that seems too good to be true, too! I understand how the disciples felt. I get “Disbelieving for joy.”

But it is this hope that gives us the strength to persevere through this difficult world. And it is God’s grace that gives our hearts and minds understanding into the gospel – and all the joy that it contains…and we dare to hope that it’s true. And we marvel. :)

Day 132: Understanding

Proverbs 16-17; Luke 24:1-35

How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Proverbs 16:16).

Understanding. Jesus’ followers needed it. They needed it during the darkness of the Crucifixion and during the darkness of His burial. They needed understanding during the hours that passed – with all hope lost – in utter despair.

Understanding. The women didn’t understand when they came to the tomb Sunday morning. The angel asked, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Could it be? They didn’t understand. Not yet…

And Jesus – walking with the men on the road to Emmaus. Luke tells us that He opened the Scriptures to them – revealing from the Law and the Prophets that the Christ had to suffer and die. And then – their eyes were opened. And they understood.

Understanding. True understanding of the Scriptures – how Jesus is the culmination of all redemptive history – is a gift from God. A gift that should be valued over all this world can offer!

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)