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The Temple (Part 4)

1 Kings 8:14,  20-21, 25-26 “14 Then the king {Solomon} turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Isra...

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Temple (Part 4)


1 Kings 8:14,  20-21, 25-26

“14 Then the king {Solomon} turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. He said...20 Now the Lord has upheld the promise that he made, for I have risen in the place of my father, David; I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised,  and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.  21 There I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of the land of Egypt… 25 Therefore, O Lord, God of Israel,  keep for your servant, my father David, that which you promised him, saying, there shall never fail you a successor before me to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your children look to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.  26 Therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you promised to your servant, my father David.”


Solomon’s words are full of pride and arrogance; full of the word I- I have risen.., I sit on the throne.., I built the house.., I provided a place for the ark.   He pointed to his father, David, and actually reminded God of His promise to him, as if God had forgotten.  


In these words we see the seeds of Solomon’s spiritual downfall.


When we begin to believe that God’s accomplishments are our own and they were accomplished by our strength, power, and wisdom, then, spiritually, we are treading on thin ice.


“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.”


Amen.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Temple (Part 3)

1 Kings 8:6

“Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary  of the house,  in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.”


Just as David brought the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem, Solomon brought the ark into the temple with much ceremony.


The priests placed the ark in the most sacred place in the temple, the “Holy of Holies”. The Holy of Holies was covered by a veil or curtain and no one had access except the High Priest, who was allowed to enter only once a year.


The veil represented the sins that separate us from God.  The priest entered the Holy of Holies to make sacrifices and to seek atonement for the sins of the people.


Christ came to tear the veil, to give us direct access to God through His sacrifice on the cross.  Because of Christ, we have access every second of every day through the acts of prayer, worship, scripture study, service, and fellowship.  


Through these things, God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit that dwells in all believers.


51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom…” (Matthew 27:51)


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Temple (Part 2)

1 Kings 6:37

“ In the fourth year [of Solomon’s reign] the foundation was laid...38 In the eleventh year [of Solomon’s reign]...the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications.   He was seven years in building it.”

1 Kings 7:1

“Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.”

Solomon spent seven years building “God’s house”, the temple, and thirteen years building the royal palace, the place where he would live.  How much more invested was Solomon in the trappings of power than in the things of God?

If we, as Christians, invest twice as much of our energy in the things of the world than in the things of God, then our spiritual lives will suffer. 

Matthew, the gospel writer, said it best, “ For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. (Matthew 6:21)


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, May 17, 2024

The Temple (Part 1)

1 Kings 6:1, 11-13

“1 In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord...  11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.”

If you read the description of the Temple in 1Kings 6, you will read that it was large and ornate.  No detail was left out, no cost was spared.  Solomon built God a luxurious house.  

But this is not where God wanted to live.  God wanted to live in the heart of Solomon and the hearts of all who believed in Him.  Rather than fine things, God desired faith and obedience above all else.  Only if Solomon and the Israelites were faithful and obedient would God live among them.

God does not want a large, ornate church, large columns, polished floors, large entrance ways or well kept grounds.  

God wants our hearts; the true temple of God.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Thursday, May 16, 2024

God’s Wisdom


1 Kings 3:24-28

“24 So the king said, “Bring me a sword,” and they brought a sword before the king. 25 The king said, “Divide the living boy in two; then give half to the one, and half to the other.” 26 But the woman whose son was alive said to the king—because compassion for her son burned within her—“Please, my lord, give her the living boy; certainly do not kill him!” The other said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours; divide it.” 27 Then the king responded: “Give the first woman the living boy; do not kill him. She is his mother.” 28 All Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered; and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him, to execute justice.”

Solomon began to display God’s wisdom in his earthly judgments and everyone was in awe.  Solomon’s wisdom was to be the key to his success as the ruler of Israel.  

Wisdom, God’s wisdom, according to Proverbs, is the basis of human happiness.  “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.”(Proverbs 3:13).  We can have vast knowledge of science, mathematics,  literature, music, etc.,  and still not be happy, unless we have God’s wisdom to accompany this knowledge.

Christian’s can receive God’s wisdom and understanding through the power of the Holy Spirit, if we live a life of prayer, worship, study, service, sacrifice and fellowship.

It is through these things that we will find God’s spirit, God’s wisdom, and true happiness.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Desire to Change

1 Kings: 3:9-14

“9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

Solomon knew his limitations as a ruler and asked God for wisdom.  

Few of us care to dwell on our limitations, but it is through this knowledge that we grow, especially spiritually.  In fact, it may be impossible to grow spiritually if you do not recognize your faults, your sins, and the things you need to change.

All Christians are called to change, to be transformed.  Yet, it is not possible to change without self-awareness.  The good news is that the Holy Spirit can give us this kind of awareness and the power to change.

All we have to provide...is the desire.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Unknown Man


1 Kings 2:10-12

“10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David.  11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.  13 So Solomon sat on the throne of the father David, and his kingdom was firmly established.”

Solomon sat on the throne.  David’s kingdom was now his.  The kingdom that David fought for; the kingdom for which David struggled and was willing to shed not only his blood but the blood of many others, for which God called him a “man of blood” and prevented him from building the Temple that he longed to build.

Now Solomon sat on this throne as an untested, unknown man.  The kingdom was his and the people wondered what the future would hold.

Christians, on the other hand, know their king.  We know the one who shed His blood so that we could be members of the kingdom of God.  We know the sacrifice He made, the price He paid.

Christ sits on the throne.  We know what the future holds.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Monday, May 13, 2024

Walking in the Way

1 Kings 2: 1-4

“1 When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. 4 Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’”

David, near death, charged his son, Solomon, heir to the throne of Israel, to be strong, to be courageous and to keep walking in the ways of God.

The Christian life is a life of death to self in order to live a life by faith; to walk in the ways and teachings of Christ.  

Such a life requires us to be different, to seek to be set apart, and requires the strength of character to go against the grain of society. It also requires the courage to act in love and forgiveness when the world is calling for hate and retribution.

Walking in the way of Christ is difficult.  

But it is the way.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Light of the Morning

2 Samuel 23: 1a, 3-4

“ 1a: Now these are the last words of David:...3 The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, 4 is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”

I used to walk to the park early in the morning.  Some mornings the air would be fresh and clean and the sky would be cloudless, clear and blue.  The sun would be shining on the dew of the grass of the soccer field, and as I walked I could feel God’s peace.

Many people, including David, have had this same experience.  David said that people  who walk with God, who have within them the spirit of God, carry with them the light of morning.  Have you ever known a person like that, who, when they walk into a room, you can feel that the room is brighter, feels lighter, and more joyous?

Christians are called to be the morning light; the hope of the new day; the blue cloudless sky ….even in the ever darkening world.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)



Friday, May 10, 2024

The Tamarisk Tree


1 Samuel 22: 6-7

“6 Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. 7 He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds?”

A tamarisk tree in the Middle East grows larger than the tamarisk tree in the United States.  They cannot survive in wilderness areas and normally grow in communities where people who plant them on their property can give them the care and nourishment that they need.  

They are very slow growing trees and need much care to do well.  People who plant tamarisk trees do not plant them for their enjoyment, but for the enjoyment of those who come after them.

Saul, sitting under a tall tamarisk tree, accused his closest commanders of disloyalty.  He thought that they might have thoughts of defecting  to David.  And he thought that their  loyalty could be purchased.  

But there are things in this world that money cannot buy, such as the cool shade of a tamarisk tree, planted on a hill and cared for  by someone 50 years in the past, or the loyalty of  commanders.

David was chosen by God to be King when he was just a youth.  During that time he was nurtured and cared for by God’s Holy Spirit.  And in the near future, Israel would bask in the shade of David’s shadow.

Sometime in our lives, the seed of faith was planted in us. And someone nurtured and cared for that faith and over the years it blossomed in us  and grew. Just as God’s Holy Spirit nurtured and guided David, the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer, leading us in an ever deepening, ever growing  relationship with God.

Christians are God’s tamarisk.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Suffering


1Samuel 20:1

“Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”

I once knew a man who devoted his life to the service of God.  He gave selflessly and sacrificially and he loved unconditionally.  Yet he suffered.  And I thought, at the time (and still do), that he did not deserve his suffering.  

David, chosen by God to be the next King of Israel, felt persecuted, unjustly. He had served his King, he had won victories over the King’s enemies, he had brought honor to Israel, yet King Saul was trying to kill him.

Sometimes our sufferings make no sense.  Good and innocent people suffer and die while the not so innocent prosper.

David overcame his suffering and became a great king.  In his reign as king, his sufferings seemed always in the back of his mind.  They shaped and molded his reign. 

Our sufferings make us the people that we are.  They will either make us or break us; strengthen our faith or cause us to question it or lose it.

The man I knew loved until his last breath.

God’s love is like that.  


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Jealousy

1 Samuel 18: 6-12

“6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. 7 As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” 8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. 12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul.”

Saul became increasingly threatened by David’s success and his popularity.  Instead of coming to terms with these things within himself, he lashed out at David. Instead of  repenting of his sins in order to strengthen his relationship with God, he attempted to kill David.  His solution to his problem was to sin more.

The sins of narcissism and jealousy clearly clouded Saul’s judgment.. In Saul’s mind, it was David’s fault that the Lord’s spirit was not upon him and that by killing David the Lord’s spirit would once again be with him.

How is it that we refuse to see our sins when we see the sins of others so readily?

Christ said, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is present in every believer, and will give us the spirit of humility and an awareness of our own sins.  


All we have to do is listen and obey.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Monday, May 6, 2024

Fellowship


1Samuel 18: 1-4

“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”

David and Jonathan were close friends who shared good times and helped each other through some tough times. We need close friends in our lives; people that we can count on. 

Fellowship comes from the Greek word koinania, and in the New Testament it often means “sharing,” “close association,” or “mutual participation” and involves the ways believers help one another with their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.

Christian fellowship is essential for our growth as Christians and  in our relationship with God.  Some of the most important things I have learned over the years have been with or because of other Christians.

Our relationship with God is important.  

And God expects us to carry this relationship forward into our relationships with other people.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Saturday, May 4, 2024

What Do We Need


1 Samuel: 17:38-40

“38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.”

What is it that we need?  Sometimes the things we have weigh us down and cause us to move slowly or not at all.  David was weighed down by the armor that Saul thought he would need to fight Goliath.  So, he took them off. Instead, David chose simple weapons that enabled him to move quickly, to adapt, and to adjust.

The decision to remove the armor of Saul was an act of courage, an act of faith in himself and his abilities, and an act of faith in God.   David knew that God dwelled within him in a powerful way and would enable him to accomplish His will.

John Wesley once said “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”

More often than not, we think we need many things to accomplish God’s will when in reality these weigh us down.

Maybe we should take off the heavy, shiny armor, strengthen our faith and pick up the smooth stones from the stream.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, May 3, 2024

God’s Spirit

1 Samuel 16:8-13

“8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.”

David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as a youth (approx. 15 years old) to be the future king of Israel.  He was tending his family’s sheep when he was called in from the fields.  His life as the youngest child of seven was never the same.

Immediately after his anointing, David was indwelled by the Holy Spirit and began a lifelong walk with God that was to take him into the court of Saul and to the throne of Israel where he became the nation’s greatest king.

God’s Holy Spirit dwells in each believer. We, like David, are walking with God; in relationship with God; led by the Holy Spirit deeper into God’s truth.  In order for this relationship to grow we must remain open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We do this through the practice of prayer, study of scripture, worship, service to others, self-sacrifice and the practice of fellowship.


God dwells within each believer. 

And our lives are never the same.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Thursday, May 2, 2024

The Imperishable

 1 Samuel 15:10-12

“10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”


Saul, after defeating the Amalekites in a crushing victory, went to Carmel where he set up a monument to himself in order that his great victory over the Amalekites would be remembered.


By doing this he displayed a profound arrogance.  Instead of recognizing God’s role in this victory, he chose to focus on himself and gave himself the glory.  Instead of remembering God, the people would look at the monument and remember Saul.  In Saul’s eyes Israel was no longer a testament to God but to himself.


We all want to be remembered.  We want something that we do, or something we make, or something we write to live on after us.  But this is a vain desire.  


We always need to remember that the world persistently offers and tempts us with shiny things that look good, but will break down, fade away and be forgotten.  Christians are to pursue those things that are imperishable; the eternal things.


“Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.”(O God Our Help of Ages Past, UMH p. 117).


But…


God’s presence, God’s love, God’s word, God’s promise,..........


 endures forever.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The Good Shepherd

John 10: 14-15

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Christ describes himself as the good shepherd.  He cares for his sheep.   He knows the sheep, leads them to green pastures, guards them, and looks for them when they are lost.

In turn, sheep know their shepherd.  They recognize his voice.  They follow the shepherd wherever he leads them. 

A relationship exists between a shepherd and his sheep.

Christ knows His sheep.  Do we know His voice?


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

He Knows Your Name


Isaiah 43: 1

“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:  “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

How does it feel when you discover that someone who is important in the world knows your name?  You feel important!  You think, I have arrived.  You say to yourself, all that hard work has finally paid off.  

Well, did you know that God knows your name?  The creator of the universe knows your name.  And, by the way, He knows the number of hairs on your head.

And, on top of this,  God claims us as his own.  He knows us and He claims us.

How does this make us feel?  Proud?  

How about humbled?

When Isaiah discovered that he was standing in God’s presence he cried out “Woe to me! ” I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)

To realize that God knows us and loves us and claims us should humble us beyond measure and fill us with a sense of awe and wonder at God’s mercy and grace.

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier


Monday, April 29, 2024

Our Daily Lives with God

Psalm 61:8

“So I will sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.”

Our daily lives should be songs of praise.  Everything we do and say should glorify God.  If we are aware of God’s presence, this will be easy.  It is only when we don’t notice God or purposely ignore Him, or repress His presence that we stray.

I was out running one hot summer day on a lonely road near my home.  I was thinking about how hot it was and how miserable I was, when someone working in their garden yelled, “God loves you.”   My run didn’t get any easier, but I felt differently about it.

Our lives are different when we live it in His presence. 


May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier