The Bible says that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God no longer lives in the Tabernacle of Moses or the Temple of Solomon, but instead He chooses to reside in the hearts of believers themselves. Because of this, there are some parallels that we can draw from those old places of worship concerning our devotional life and extending to a lifestyle of worship.
Let's talk first about what we often call the believer's "devotions" or "quiet time". In short, there needs to be a time set aside each day for you to get alone with God and talk with Him just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. How that all looks depends greatly upon your personality and emotional makeup. Some have been known to lock themselves in a room, others sit on a log in the woods reading the Scriptures, while others in our modern day shut out the world with their headphones, and read the words of God on their Ipad while sitting in Starbucks. There is no formula; no set way of doing things. God is the God of the individual, and because of this we each approach Him in our own individual way. Here are some thoughts, however concerning the Temple and our private time with God.
- The Role of Silence - There wasn't anything inside the Holy Place or Holy of Holies designed to make noise and distract. If we are going to spend quality time with God we have to make the decision that we are going to shut off electronic devices and shut out other distractions. For couples with children, that means some negotiation as to who is going to referee fights and repair skinned knees at what times, but make sure your spouse has quiet time alone with God.
- The Role of Solitude - Now, you can be alone in a crowded room, I'll give you that. But as for me a quiet corner of the house or sitting near a country stream is a whole lot better than trying to ignore everyone else. God is a jealous God. He wants time with just you, because He wants you to know Him on a deep level. We wouldn't treat our relationship with our spouse the way we treat God and our quiet time sometimes. Undivided attention...it's what He deserves.
- The Role of Music - Now I know that I have just broken my own rule about silence. But if we look at the temple, they had musicians. Whether you sing to God in praise or turn on worshipful music and meditate on the words sung by others, music has the ability to move our emotions in the direction of our Creator. Don't neglect music. It is a very useful tool.
- The Role of Food - Remember the table of Shewbread? Let's make two applications here: First, we know that the Bible refers to itself as the "milk" and the "meat". We cannot properly build that inner relationship without reading (or listening) to the scriptures as part of our devotions. To neglect the Bible is to have a one way conversation with God. Second, there is an application concerning our physical food. If our body is the temple of God, we should be more careful concerning our diet. Many times we do not have the energy to get up early or stay up later to talk to God because we have fed our bodies junk throughout the day.
- The Role of Light - It is interesting to note that the only light in the Holy Place came from the lampstand. Now, God could have lit up the whole place as bright as noon in the Sahara, but He didn't. I'm not much of a candle person myself, but I do know that there is a certain mood set with candles and quieter lighting features (reading lamp) that set a mood more conducive to reflection and contemplation.
- The Role of Sacrifice - Let's be real here. Building an inner relationship with God takes sacrifice. There are some things that you will have to give up to achieve what you want to in this area. Whether it is sin that has to be confessed and forsaken, or time that has to be reallocated, sacrifices must be made.
- The Role of Washing - The laver set outside the Tabernacle door. It was there the priests washed the daily grime off their hands and feet. As we walk through this world we have the dirt of our lives that has to be confessed and forsaken. Don't go through your time with God feeling dirty, get washed first. I John 1:9
- The Role of Prayer - I'm not going to try to replicate great writing that has already been done on this topic. Get a copy of any of E.M. Bounds books on prayer and a book called "The Intercessor." These are great resources in teaching and inspiring us to pray. As for me, to start with I generally work my way through the parts of the Lord's Prayer and make each statement my own. Then I try to ask the Holy Spirit what He wants me to pray for that day. I just figure that He will urge me to pray for those things that are on His heart.
- The Role of Fasting - The Jews had several national fasts in the year. I'll not take time to deal with fasting now, but we will in a future post. Just take note that showing God you are serious by giving up something that is important to you is no small thing in His eyes.
- The Role of Time - May I urge you to think about doing life slower? What are you trying to accomplish at breakneck speed anyway? Do you see Jesus acting like that? He was here to save the world, but never looked like he was in a rush. Oh, we have responsibilities and cannot spend the same quantity of time every day. But averaged out we ought to be able to say that we have spent significant time with God. Maybe we should set a goal of a tithe -- giving ten percent of our waking hours back to God in quiet worship and conversation.
Ok, so that's the first ten. We have at least that much more ground to cover. The reading is easy, the application will take a lifetime. Hope these few thoughts have been a help.
To be continued...