June 11

1 Kings 8:1-66

What an amazing day that must have been in Israel when they dedicated the Temple to the LORD! The Temple was glorious, it could definitely be categorized as a wonder in the world amongst the things built by man – but in all reality, without the presence of the LORD, it was nothing, and it would not fulfill its purpose. The same is true of our lives, our homes, and our churches. We thank God that He graciously showed up to fill our “temples.”

The priests and Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy of Holies. Then we read in:

1 Kings 8:10–11 (NKJV) “And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”

Solomon begins with a speech about the way this structure came to pass. It wasn’t something God asked for, He was content with the Tabernacle, but David had it in his heart. God told David it was good that it was in his heart, but that his son would be the one to build the Temple – and now…Solomon said, God’s word had come to pass (1 Kings 8:20).

Solomon then prays (1 Kings 6:12-39). It’s actually a beautiful prayer that glorifies God and acknowledges the fact that God is not in any way limited to the confines of the Temple.

1 Kings 8:27 (NKJV) “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”

Solomon goes on to recognize the Temple as the location where the sacrifices would take place and hence, through which prayer would be possible. He spends much time requesting that God would hear the prayers of the people when they prayed toward the Temple.  When they’d sinned, and been disciplined, but then repented in sincerity – that God would hear them. After famine, or pestilence, blight, mildew, locust, plague, sickness, whatever it might be, but if the people prayed toward the Temple:

1 Kings 8:39 (NKJV) “then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men).”

Solomon even includes the foreigner (1 Kings 8:41) he had a heart to evangelize and spread the Word and the name of the LORD. This brings up an interesting point, because the Temple was to be a place of prayer, for Israel and for all nations (Isaiah 56:7) we even see it here in Solomon’s prayer…but eventually, Israel lost sight of that mission. The House of Prayer for all nations became a den of thieves, where the religious leaders were making big-time money, ripping the people off. That’s when Jesus cleaned house (He actually did it twice in His ministry) (John 2:14-17; Mark 11:15-17)

Solomon was on his knees, pleading with God. He then rose to his feet and blessed the assembly and praised the LORD for the way He had fulfilled His Word in every way.

1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

(see also Joshua 21:45; 23:14 – God fulfills His Word!)

The entire chapter is rich with content – but I’ve always loved the principle found in 1 Kings 8:59, how God maintains the cause of His people, “…as each day may require.” I’m so glad that God doesn’t take a day (or even a moment off). Here we are, another day, O Lord, please help us today…whatever the requirements may be.

Solomon ends with an exhortation to the people. If only he would have remembered it for himself!

1 Kings 8:61 (NKJV) “Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”

It all ended with more sacrifices, supper, and assemblies for seven days. On the eighth day the people headed home, praising God for all He’d done through David and on behalf of the people of Israel. Today we thank God for all He’s done through Jesus – and all He’s done for His people.

Acts 7:51–8:13

Some say that Stephen’s life was cut too short, even wasted – that he had so much potential. But I believe he finished his race, that God would ultimately use his death to draw a young man named Saul to salvation (7:58). We remember the maxim, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

And the first Christian martyr was welcomed home by Jesus, who stood next to His Father to receive Stephen into heaven, as he called on Jesus, died like Jesus, and forgave like Jesus. Isn’t it amazing that Stephen prayed for his murderers not to be charged with this sin?

Saul guarded the clothes of those who stoned Stephen to death. Saul consented (voted) for Stephen’s death. And Saul went on to take the lead in persecuting the church.

Acts 8:3 (NKJV) “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”

As a result of the church being scattered – everywhere they went, they went preaching the Word. Perhaps the church had gotten too comfortable there in Jerusalem. They had forgotten, neglected, or even rejected the Great Commission; how they were commanded to go beyond Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Sandy Adams observed, “Jesus had commanded His disciples to go into all the world. So far they had been content to hang out at home. In Acts chapter 8 Jesus uses persecution to deploy His troops.”

God did a great work through Phillip in Samaria to the point that there was “great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8). That’s my prayer for the city of El Monte and the surrounding areas as well – Joy in Jesus.

Psalm 129:1-8

Another Psalm of Ascents, sung as the people traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. And another one of those Psalms that encourage us to say something, “Let Israel now say,” (and it’s repeated), “Let Israel now say…”

Psalm 129:2 (NKJV) “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

I would even encourage you, dear friend and reader, to say it out loud. “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.”

The enemy hates God’s people. He hates Israel because they are a sign to the world and he hates the church because we are not of this world. There have been many attacks to destroy us, but God has preserved and protected us – all of our lives.

The Psalmist prays that God would judge those who hate Zion – it’s his way of asking for protection that the haters would not be blessed, for they OPPOSE God – in that they come against the people of God.

Proverbs 17:1

If you had to choose, which would you rather have (be honest) steak with strife…or lettuce with love?

The wise man or woman knows which is better, they would choose the lettuce with love – “let us love one another.”

Better is a dry morsel with quietness. When quietness, peace, and love are  on the menu at home…it’s infinitely better than a feasting life of strife, defined as, “consistent or constant conflict, anger, arguing, and bitter disagreements.”

I hope we know that the rich, with all the food and stuff to stuff themselves – aren’t necessarily all that rich. If I had to choose, I’d much rather have God’s perfect piece of peace (John 14:27).

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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