Friday, May 26, 2017

Draw Near to God

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like You in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep Your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before You in wholehearted devotion. (1 Kings 8:22-23 NLT)

The Temple that Solomon built is meant to honor God.  God accepts this building as an honor, but also warns that there is far more to this Temple than an extravagant act of love and devotion.  Our lives need to reflect that love and devotion.  When we don’t walk with God in this way, the Temple becomes a reminder of another part of our relationship with God: forgiveness.

May You watch over this Temple night and day, this place where You have said, 'My name will be there.' May You always hear the prayers I make toward this place. May You hear the humble and earnest requests from me and Your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where You live, and when You hear, forgive. (1 Kings 8:29-30 NLT)

Solomon asks God to be faithful to forgive people who have strayed.  This forgiveness is offered to everyone involved in sin against God or people.  Solomon pleads the case of both the accuser and the accused (1 Kings 8:31-32), those defeated by their enemy attackers (1 Kings 8:33-34), the times when drought (No Rain) (1 Kings 8:35-36) or famine (No Food) (1 Kings 8:37-39a).  Solomon pleads on behalf of God’s chosen people, Israel (1 Kings 8:39b-40), and for the foreigners (1 Kings 8:41-43) who hear about The LORD.  God promises to forgive all who want to draw near to God.

"If they sin against You--and who has never sinned?--You might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near. But in that land of exile, they might turn to You in repentance and pray, 'We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.' If they turn to You with their whole heart and soul in the land of their enemies and pray toward the land You gave to their ancestors--toward this city You have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor Your name--then hear their prayers and their petition from heaven where You live, and uphold their cause Forgive Your people who have sinned against You... (1 Kings 8:22-53 NLT)

How about you?  Do you want to be with The LORD?  Are you willing to let go of any rebellion in your heart, mind, words, or actions, and return to The LORD?  Do you want to draw near to God?