May 17 “Believing”

Believing

After the big parade, people were wondering what to expect from Jesus.
He quietly dismounted the young donkey and handed the guide rope to the Disciples, patting her strong neck to let her know she had done well, never balking at all the noise or stumbling on the streets. Before he headed for the Temple, He borrowed a whip from a camel driver. The man surrendered the whip without a question but wondered why Jesus would need one.

In the Outer Court
Jesus entered the Temple and slowly walked through the courtyard. This place was intended to be a place of preparation for sacrifices in the Temple, a place of repentance where sins were regretted and forgiveness sought. Not today. It was a marketplace. Animals for sacrifice were on sale everywhere: expensive lambs for rich people and expendable doves for the poor. Instead of the solemn sounds of prayer, the courtyard rang with shouts, bickering, and the ever-present clank of metal coins.

As the offense of such profanity boiled over in His Spirit, Jesus cracked the whip. Those close enough to hear it over the din of commerce gave Him a furtive glance and quickly went back to their selling. He cracked the whip again, louder, and this time across the back of a dove handler. His cage full of condemned birds fell from his hands and broke open granting the birds a welcomed reprieve. Jesus then had everyone’s attention. A few more cracks of the whip and merchants scattered for safety as birds, lambs, and tiny goats took advantage of broken cages and dropped ropes. The noise of the animals, the screams of the merchants, and the protests of the priests watching profits escape ruled several minutes of chaos. Finally, with a cordon of fearful souls surrounding Him, Jesus spoke His rage:

“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”

In less than a minute, the crowd again took up the songs of the parade and the religious leaders renewed their protests. Sick people rushed toward Jesus and a great healing service was the result. There was little the leaders could do. In the presence of such power, their picayune protests were dismissed by Jesus:

“Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?”

Over the objections of the mistaken leaders, the healing and rejoicing continued as merchants scrambled to recapture doves, round up sheep, and collect their scattered coins.

To Bethany and Back
The parade over and the healing service ended, Jesus returned to Bethany to rest, most likely to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus,. The next day He returned to the city and to the Temple. On the way, He was hungry and stopped by a fig tree but found no fruit. He pronounced judgment on the tree and it withered from the roots up. When His men marveled at this, Jesus interpreted the whole sequence of events for them.

It was all about believing.
The merchants and the priests believed that the forgiveness of sins was a business; they were wrong. The crowd believed Jesus was Messiah; they were correct. The sick people believed Jesus was their healer; they were right. Such was the power of belief when the things believed were actually true. Jesus told them, and us:

“…whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Let us, therefore, believe!

Scriptures:
Matthew 21:12-22
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe! In believe in You and in Your Word. Your promises are true and they are for me. I believe in Your will and plan for my life. You are my Savior, my Healer, My hope and My rejoicing. Show me the things that You have planned for me so I can fill my prayers with them. I believe in the future that only You can see and I know that when I get there You will already be there ahead of be. Hosanna! To the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Amen.

Song:
Because We Believe
Words and Music: Jamie Harvill and Nancy Gordon

1. We believe in God the Father.
We believe in Christ the Son.
We believe in the Holy Spirit.
We are the Church And we stand as one.

2. We believe in the Holy Bible.
We believe in the virgin birt.h
We believe in the resurrection,
That Christ one day Will return to earth

Refrain:
Holy, holy. Holy is our God
Worthy, worthy. Worthy is our King
All glory and honor Are His to receive
To Jesus we sing. Because we believe

3. We believe in the blood of Jesus.
We believe in eternal life.
We believe in His love that frees us
To become the bride of Christ.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 8, 2018 “Temple”

Temple

Marketplaces murder worship.
When worship leaders trade the prophetic for the profitable, they make a truly terrible bargain. They destroy the worship before it can traverse from the earthly to the heavenly. The songs, the confessions, the well-rehearsed gestures, and the beautiful vestments all become commodities stained with human pride and disqualified for the courts of heaven.

The Angry Jesus
The gospels relate only a very few incidents where Jesus showed public anger. Each of them involved the desecration of the true worship of Jehovah or the abuse of power. Why did the apostasy of the Temple anger Jesus so? Perhaps it was because Jesus remembered the Throne Room of God in Heaven. The tabernacles and temples the Jewish people built for worship were patterned after the Throne Room of God in heaven[–His Throne Room! (Hebrews 8:3-6) False worship desecrated this holy pattern.

Also, false worship did not deliver the promises of God to the people who came to worship with sincere hearts. They would come in obedience but go away unchanged, still laboring in their guilt and pain. Jesus had such great love both for the Temple and the people, this daily failure broke His heart. He would walk these same streets in power. He would heal and deliver in this same Temple Court. The wilderness would be His school and His healing station. But on this day, near the time of Passover, the power of God was missing from the House of God.

Jesus struck at the most visible representation of the apostasy—the Temple merchants. They were profiting from the sale of animals for use as sacrifices in the Temple, a severe desecration of the Holy Place.

With Whip in Hand

The sounds of worship—cymbals, chants, silver trumpets and ram’s horns—mixed with the sounds of commerce—animals and auctioneers, coins and clamorous hucksters, pickpockets and pious priests—greeted Jesus in the Temple courts.

“He made a whip of cords, (and) He drove them all out of the temple.”

Never was a there such a day in the Temple Courts. He shouted as He drove them out.

“Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

His disciples were used to the commercial chaos in the Temple but today they ran for cover like everyone else. Some of them, though, could see His point though they had never before considered it. They remembered a verse from childhood.

“Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

The Counter-Punch
After a time, things settled down and after a moment, beggar, thief, merchant, and priest alike, all scrambled to recover the scattered coins and corral the liberated life stock. The leaders made a quick huddle, elected a spokesman and challenged Jesus.

“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

Seemed reasonable—a man has to have some sort of authority to create such a ruckus. Jesus answered with a whole new thought.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The leaders looked at each other and broke out laughing. They reported the facts—This Temple was 40 years in the construction and still unfinished—raise it up in three days? Laugher erupted all around.

Jesus did not explain that He was talking about a different Temple—His own body. He threw down the whip and departed the Temple; His men followed silently. The strength in His stride quenched the laughter like water thrown on a fire.

Scriptures:
John 2:13-12

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Hebrews 8:3-6 NKJV
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your House is still to be a House of Prayer and nothing else—the prayers of praise, worship, adoration, intercession, faith and desperation. May we always keep Your House pure and free from lesser concerns. You have promised to meet with us when we pray, when we call out to You. You pledged to inhabit our praise and be enthroned upon our worship. I know You are faithful to these promises. Help me be faithful in prayer. Amen.

Song:
The Lord Is in His Holy Temple

Words: Habakuk 2:20; Music:George F. Root

The Lord is in his holy temple,
The Lord is in his holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence,
Let all the earth keep silence before him –
Keep silence, keep silence before him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved