Enter the Sanctuary

photo courtesy of Lawrence OP on flickr.com

photo courtesy of Lawrence OP on flickr.com

What is your sanctuary? Have you every thought about that? We speak often of the large room where we gather in a church building as a sanctuary, and indeed it is. But what do you do on Monday when one of your work colleagues unjustly accuses you of losing that account or when your wife looks at you wondering where you will find the money for that avalanche of bills?

The truth is–we all need a sanctuary. Sometimes we need one a lot closer than the auditorium at our local church. I love reading Psalm 73 and seeing the radical change of perspective when the psalmist decides to make a conscious act of worship even when his circumstances seemed less than praiseworthy. For sixteen verses, a heart is poured out concerning the injustices in the world and those in his life, but in verse 17, something radical happens as a result of a simple, yet deliberate act of worship–“…until I entered the sanctuary of God, then I understood their end.”  After this his tune changes…BIG TIME!
Our psalmist here now realizes that the injustices and evil that he has observed in the world is not only temporary and subordinate to a sovereign God, but that he has been a contributor! He rests in God’s mercy, wisdom and power and can say from his heart “…but as for me, it is good to draw near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” WOW!
I doubt that the writer was in the sanctuary long enough to see his circumstances change, but we can know that he saw them through an entirely new set of lenses–the lens of worship. He made the conscious decision that regardless of his circumstances he would praise God anyway. Why don’t you decide today to make your heart a sanctuary? From what I can tell, it seems to be God’s favorite kind.

By the Mercies of God…

As I look back on the past couple of weeks, I am reminded of the great God that we serve! Pastor Tom’s series on the Prodigal Son has made a huge impact on my life. Every possible response that I can imagine seems to fall so short of the radical grace that God pours into my life every day.

Romans 11 gives such a great picture of God’s grace (on a large scale…especially for us Gentiles!) and Romans 12:1 begins with what our response should be to this radical grace–offering ALL of ourselves in worship (latreia) to Him. There is no other response that is fitting compared to the radical grace of the Father. Even this falls so short, but there’s nothing more that we can offer, and this is all He asks–nothing more, nothing less.

Worship is the constant outpouring of all that we are in response to all that God is and does. As in the story of the Prodigal Son, the Father doesn’t need anything we have (including our worship), yet He desires a relationship with each one of us. That relationship is only found when, much like the prodigal, we come broken and empty handed before Him, with nothing to offer but ourselves, and desiring nothing besides Him. It is at this point that we can sing with reckless abandon, “O Praise the One Who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”.

As we approach this coming Lord’s day, exhort and encourage one another to good works and let’s join together as one unified, hell-conquering body to lavish extravagant praise on the God who has lavished such extravagant grace on us.

View the message here:
\”The Extravagant Grace of the Father\” – Tom Messer

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