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House of Prayer of Den of Thieves?

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"Oh, Lord Jesus, come into your temple..."

That was part of my prayer this morning as I knelt in His presence, going beyond the veil and into the holy of holies, worshiping before the throne of Almighty God. As those words passed from my lips, I thought of the passage in I Corinthians, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" As those words sunk into the recesses of my mind, the Lord began to whisper to my heart, and I paused in reflection.

Our body is the temple of the Living God. As was the case in the actual temple, then, there must be a holy of holies somewhere in the depths of our heart. In II Corinthians 3:13-14 Paul mentions the Israelites who "Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." When Jesus died on Calvary, the veil to the temple in Jerusalem was torn in half, and the Spirit of the Lord departed from a house made of hands to a temple of flesh and blood. When we come to Christ, the veil is taken away from our heart, and we are allowed access into a place where once priests feared to trod. "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." (Hebrews 10:19,22)

The question the Lord laid upon my heart was the condition not just of the temple, but of the Holy of Holies. As Christians, we strive daily to live a life of holiness pleasing to the Lord. We battle personal sin and the pull of the flesh, and that within itself is a job and a half. The scripture that the Lord laid upon my heart was the one in the book of Luke 19, where Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. "It is written," Jesus told them in verse 46, "My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a 'den of thieves'". Jesus was making a reference to the words of Jeremiah, and therein are words that every Christian needs to hear.

"Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 7:8-11) Those are powerful words for a morning devotional.

Our heart is supposed to be the house of prayer. Yet too often, it becomes a den of thieves, because we spend more time doing other things than praying. In Romans 6:16, we are told that "To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness." Who are we presenting our lives to, God or this world? Is the house of God still a house of prayer, or has it become a den of thieves? Are we robbing God of what is rightfully His? If so, is it any wonder that our prayer life is futile and powerless?

We have to allow Christ to come in and clean the temple. We have to allow Him to put out of His house those images which we have erected, those things that take preeminence in our lives. Only when our temple is no longer a den of thieves, but a house of prayer, can God come in and be glorified, only then can God begin to work miracles in our lives.

The Lord closed the thought with a passage from the book of II Chronicles. Solomon had built the temple as God had directed, being careful to follow the pattern the Lord established beforehand. When the temple was finished, Solomon dedicated the temple to God with worship. We pick up the story in chapter five, verse thirteen.

"Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: "For He is good, for His mercy endures forever," that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God."

Has that Shekinah glory that filled the temple of Solomon filled our temple of flesh? When we seek after God with all of our heart, we are promised that we will find Him. In that hour the glory of God will fill the temple of flesh, in so much that we as priests can no longer minister to God, but simply sit and weep in the presence of our creator. "And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight." (Malachi 3:1)

Once again, let our temple be called the house of prayer. Let us, as Christians, who are called by His name, stand holy before Him, seeking first His kingdom. Let our thoughts no longer be on the things of this earth, but on the things of heaven. May we once again realize the importance of a relationship with God. Because in reality, that relationship is the only thing that matters in this life.

In Psalms 46:10, we are called to "Be still and know that He is God." We are not called to have faith that He is God, to believe with all our heart that He is God, or even think that He is God. We are called to KNOW He is God. We could all say with assurance that we know God, and even that God is God, but could we prove that in a court of law? In order for us to know that He is God, there has to be proof wherewith we can establish as fact that He is God. More to the point, do we know God...or do we know about God? Do we have a personal relationship, established through unhindered prayer, with the God of our creation?

Before we answer that question, we would do well to hear once again Christ's words in the book of Matthew 7:22-23: "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU.'"

Knowing God cannot be stressed enough in the life of a Christian.

Today we need to make our house the house of prayer. We need to know the One who died for us, and we need to make our relationship with Him the priority in our life. Until then the house of prayer will be the den of thieves, and when we present ourselves to God in that condition, nothing will happen.

Is your temple a house of prayer? Or is it a den of thieves? Let Jesus clean your temple, and experience the glory of God once again.

My name is Charles Wise, and I am a slave owned by Jesus Christ. I first had a God encounter as a vagrant on the streets of Arizona. When I allowed God to have ownership of my life, He took away the addictions of alcohol and drugs which were destroying my life--and replaced them with an undying hope of eternal peace. I have been a Christian for twenty years and the message I share today is the same I shared twenty years ago: anyone can, with enough will power, alter their life; but only Jesus can change it. My hope is that you can find God in the messages I share. If you are a new Christian, or an established Christian wanting to get back to foundational issues, I would invite you to my webpage where you will find weekly Bible studies that will take you on a walk with Jesus through the gospel of John. I also have a link to my new book,"The Last Four Signs", which I am hoping to publish soon. You can read it for free at this time. You can even download it to your Kindle, and if you take a few moments to register on authonomy, you can rate the book and even post comments. I also have a blog on my website in which you can interact with my ministry. Thanks for reading my work and I pray God's blessings on your life.

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Charles Wise
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