Monday, September 15, 2014

"Our God is greater than all other gods ... His love endures forever!"

Day #262:  Daily Bible Reading plan - September 16th

Scripture Reading:  II Chronicles 1 - 5 ...

I love God!  I do!!  Without God I would be helplessly enslaved to the desires of the flesh and hopelessly misled by the temptations of the world around me and of Satan himself, that fallen angel who exists in rebellion against God and who deceives millions into joining him.  Apart from God's love and grace and power at work in me, my life would be one desperate attempt after another to find meaning and purpose.  But I know that God loved me and saved me through Jesus Christ to live in this world to glorify and enjoy Him, and finally to enter His perfect presence after this life, to praise Him with the angels and the saints forever, time without end.  That pretty well sums up why I love God!

"Love" is used so often in this world to describe a mere emotional feeling or attachment to someone or something, but the love of God for us who believe and our love for Him goes much deeper.  II Chronicles begins with a description of the relationship Solomon had with God ... or perhaps we should say, that God had with Solomon:  "Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great" (1:1).  Solomon had a relationship with God, and you and I can have one, too.

Solomon's father, David, had been told by God that Solomon would build a temple for His Name and David and the people had gathered all the materials except for some of the wood that was to come from the cedars of Lebanon.  After Solomon had met with the leaders to discuss his plans, God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give to you" (1:7).  What would YOU ask for?  God speaks through James to the early church and says, "You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:2-3).

That was not Solomon.  This was his request, "LORD God, let Your promise to my father David be confirmed, for You have made me King over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth.  Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?" (1:9-10).  Not only did Solomon make an awesome request, but he made it with such humility that God not only gave him wisdom, but wealth, riches and honor, too!  How important to realize that we do not deserve anything from God, but because of His love for His people, He WANTS to give us what we need to serve Him and to make His name great.

In writing to the King of Tyre (Lebanon), David explained, "The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods" (2:5).  How true that was, and how true that IS. Even the King of Tyre declared, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth!" (2:13).  This is where wisdom begins ... in acknowledging God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  The Apostle Paul proclaimed the same thing to the men of Athens in Acts 17, as he told them about the One who was the "unknown god" to them:  "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:24).

This is OUR God!  And He didn't NEED the temple then ... and He doesn't need a temple now.  So why did Solomon build it and why did God give him directions for its construction?  Because God wanted His people to know who He was and to worship Him.  The temple was for His glory, but was for their instruction.  All of the furnishings revealed, so much as human minds can comprehend it, the glory of the one true God.  As the Creator of the universe, God dwells in all of His glory in heaven, a place inaccessible to mortal sinful mankind.  Yet to reveal Himself in part to us, God told Solomon to build the temple and through the Ark of the Covenant and the Most Holy Place God taught the people how to come near to Him.

Chapter 5 describes the people bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the temple.  This time they did it right:  the Levites carried the Ark with the poles through the rings, as God had instructed Moses, so that no one would touch it.  There was nothing magical about the Ark itself, but it represented the very presence of God and touching it brought death.  That had been proven in previous times.  Sinful people cannot approach a holy God without their sin being "atoned for," without the debt being paid.  The "wings of the cherubim" on the cover of the Ark pointed to the reality of the angels guarding the entrance to the presence of God.  The two tablets of the law lay inside the Ark, symbols of God's requirement of perfection ... a requirement no one could or can meet.

With joyous celebration the people worshiped the LORD, their God.  The musicians wore fine linen and played "cymbals, harps and lyres.  They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD.  Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:  'He is good; His love endures forever'" (5:12-13).  After all the preparation and the return of the Ark of the Covenant, the theme of the song they sang with such powerful accompaniment was God's love.

I love God!  But that's not what is so amazing, considering all that I know about God and what He has done for me.  What is more amazing is that God loves ME; that HIS love endures forever!!  Perhaps it was Solomon who wrote Psalm 106:1:  "Praise the LORD.  Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever!"  Every true believer must know that our love for God is but a response to God's love for us.  Only by His mercy and grace to us can we know that the Creator of the universe is OUR God, and that He is greater than all other gods because in Jesus Christ, our Savior, HIS love endures forever.  "God demonstrates His love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Give thanks to the LORD our God today and rejoice in His love for you.  All who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord can KNOW that our God reigns, that there are no other gods, and that His love for His children will never, ever change or fail.  With the Apostle John we can say, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (I John 3:1).  Ask the LORD, your God for wisdom to reign wisely over sin and the temptations you face in this world.  Pray that He will strengthen you daily to stand firm in your faith, no matter what the circumstances you face.  Live to join with God's people in building that spiritual "temple," the Church, which will greet Jesus when He comes to gather His own.  Then your life, like Solomon's will serve to bring praise to our God!!

"O LORD, my God, You are great above all the gods that people worship in the world today, for You alone ARE God!!  I confess my love for You because I know that You first loved me.  I give You thanks for choosing me to be Your child, for redeeming me and forgiving me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus, and for adopting me into Your family.  Such love demands my all and I pray that You will continue the work You have begun in me so that one day soon, when I see You face-to-face, my love for You will be as perfect as Your love for me.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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