The Great House of God
“…I want to come home”, who hasn’t voiced that desire at least once in their life? One of Maslow’s fundamental human needs and a terminal thought, the longing for the security, warmth and familiarity of some place called home is sensed in times good and difficult. For not-yet-God’s-people, the destination called home may be an ill-defined concept but for God’s people, the great promise of being safe and secure in the house of God is a promise that brings calm to discord, raises ones vision from the mire of life and powers the endurance of the soul. Pastor Max Lucado writes longingly of the promise of this abode in his exposition of the Lord ’s Prayer, “The Great House of God”.
Lucado brings his pastoral gifts to the five great verses from Matthew’s gospel, bringing each thought of the praise and petition into full bloom as a chapter of its own. Though brief, the chapters give the reader enough to savor for a week of prayer time. His subtle shifting of emphasis in the opening verse for example-our FATHER and OUR father-can leave you to meditate upon the importance of these words corporately and by themselves. Room by room Pastor Lucado continues the tour until you cannot wait to enter the gates of heaven and settle into the place promised just for you, ‘safe and secure from all alarm’.
If you are not a fan of Lucado’s work, give this book an opportunity. It is not a deep theological tome but that is not his genre. Filled with his trademark folksy charm, it is meant to lift your eyes and heart to the promise of the prayer rather than dwelling on the technical aspects of the verses. I found myself enjoying the chapters and the subsequent reflection so much that it too much longer to read this book than the 160 pages would lead me to expect. Perhaps it is just this that makes the book so good, the slow release of the spiritual nourishment, the savoring of joy and the increased longing for the promise of the great house of God.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Ask and it will given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)
Saved is saved but saved is not always righteous. When salvation is graced upon us, we are recipients of the righteousness of Christ. This transfers places us in right standing before the Father, cleansed and released from our bondage to sin. A newborn in the world, weak and needing to mature. Many Christians never leave the cradle and then ponder aloud why their prayer seems to be weak and ineffectual.
The fact that their lives bear no fruit may have something to do with it.
Our Savior repeatedly teaches us that we are to be growing into a life of increased righteousness and piety. We are to be diligent about becoming better at keeping His commands and obeying all that He has taught us. Only with this obedience will come the power in prayer that we so earnestly desire. We cannot have one without the other. Christ must be first and foremost in our life before our prayer will have the depth and response that it was meant for. Anything else would cheapen the unfathomable price of the grace we receive.
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Peace comes to the Christian when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our innate desire for judgment and retribution into a Spirit-driven act of forgiveness. As we forgive we are released from the bondage of rage that threatens our hearts and keeps us tied to past actions and injuries. Reflect this midweek day on Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
The horror visited on YWAM and New Life that has broken the peace of our Advent causes us ask ourselves whether or not we can forgive the young man who brought the violence to life. The Lord calls us to repent of our desire to judge others while avoiding our own judgement. As Glen Stassen eloquently posits, “Grace teaches peacemaking, not putting all the blame on others and building up hostility against them but acknowledging our own contribution to the problem.” It can be difficult for us to associate ourselves with the violent but we can find in our lives many opportunities to put this ideal into practice. Why not now?