Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 3:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Water.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 19:45-46 (ESV). And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” A House of Prayer Today the temple of God is the body of believers in Jesus Christ who have trusted in him to be Lord and Savior of their lives. We have turned to the Lord away from our sins, having been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We have been regenerated of the Spirit of God in new birth of the Spirit, and now the Holy Spirit indwells us, and empowers us to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Our sins have been forgiven, we have been delivered out of slavery to sin, freed from the punishment of sin (eternal damnation), and we have been given eternal life with God. So, we individually, and we collectively, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to be a house of prayer. What is prayer? Prayer is talking with God. It is having a conversation with him in which we say something to him and he speaks to us in return. When we pray, if we are praying in the Spirit, with the right heart attitude, we are communing with our Lord in a time of sweet fellowship with him. One of the biggest components of prayer is petition, in which we make our requests known to God and we seek his guidance, direction, and answers to our prayers. During this time of prayer, we also praise him and thank him for who he is and for all that he has done for us and will do in answer to our prayers, as well as we confess any known sins in our lives and/or we ask him to search our hearts and to reveal to us any sins we may not be aware of or we have ignored and forgotten (pushed aside). When we pray, we should pray in Jesus’ name. A person’s name is his character. It is who he is. So, when we pray, we should pray in accord with God’s/Jesus’ divine character and will for our lives. Prayer is not ritualistic, though. It is relationship. The Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing. When I was much younger that was a difficult concept for me, because I thought of prayer as a specific thing you do at a particular time of day and then it is done until the next time you decide to pray. Now, Jesus went aside to solitary places to pray, so we do need those times when we get alone with God where no one else is around so that we can talk with him and hear from him what he wants to say to us. This time also includes the reading of his word, through which he speaks his messages to our hearts. Yet, we should always be in an attitude of prayer and have such a relationship with our Lord that we converse with him throughout the day and we hear him speaking his words to our hearts even before we have even voiced our concerns or requests to him. Jesus is living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, so we have him with us all the time, and we can talk with him any time. When we pray, we need to pray in faith, believing that God will hear our prayers and that he will answer. When he speaks his words to our hearts, and tells us what he wants us to do and where he wants us to go, then we need to obey him. When we don’t obey, it breaks our fellowship with our Lord. It is a lot like a marriage. In fact, as believers in Christ, we are his bride and he is our groom (husband). In a marriage, if we sin against our spouse, and we hold on to that sin, and we don’t confess it, it breaks our communion with our spouse. It is the same in our relationship with our Lord. If we are holding on to sin, and we are not willing to confess (repent of) the sin, it hinders our prayers and our fellowship with God. So, confession of sin is a critical aspect of our prayer lives, so that we keep open communication between us and our Lord, and so we can hear his voice clearly and obey him. A Den of Robbers A den is a home, a dwelling place, a place of refuge or a hideout (secret place). A robber is a thief, i.e. one who steals from other people, usually stealthily or secretly; one who takes what belongs to other people without asking or getting permission from them. In this case, the robbers are taking from what is God’s, without his permission, and they are making it their own, to be used as they wish, not as God wills. And, they are stealing from his temple, i.e. from his body of believers in Jesus Christ, not physically, but spiritually. When we, as followers of Jesus Christ, take what is God’s, and we use it for our own purposes, without permission, then we are robbers in his temple. So, how might we do this? For one, we rob God when we take our salvation for granted and we don’t treat Jesus like he is truly Lord (owner/master) of our lives. Yet, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he redeemed us, meaning he bought us back for God with the price of his blood shed on the cross for our sins. We are no longer our own, to live our lives the way we want, but we are his, and we are to honor and glorify God with our lives, for we read in scripture that Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say "No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if after we come to faith in Jesus Christ, if truly we are in relationship with him, we begin to think and act as though our lives are our own, and we can live them how we want, and that we don’t have to seek God’s guidance and counsel, and we don’t have to obey our Lord, then we are robbing God. We are turning his house into a den of robbers, because we view our salvation as all about us, and what Jesus did for us, and not about God/Jesus, and living to please him in all that we do and say. And, that makes a mockery of what he did in dying for our sins so that we could be set free from bondage to sin. It is a slap in the face to him who gave his all so we could go free, and so we could be free to now walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. So, we need to inquire of our Lord as to what he has for us to do with our lives, and then we need to follow him in obedience and surrender to his will. And, then there are the leaders within our church fellowships who are robbing from God and are taking what is his and are distorting it for their own evil purposes. These men (or women) twist the scriptures to say what itching ears want to hear. They pick and choose which scriptures they will follow, and leave out many others which do not fit with their lifestyle choices. Now, we are not bound by the Old Covenant rules and regulations, but we are to obey the commands of Christ and the teachings of his NT apostles. We can’t, therefore, pull scriptures out of context and build entire belief systems around those few select verses while ignoring the bulk of teaching in the New Testament concerning our salvation, and what is required of us as followers of Christ. Yes, it is only by God’s grace that we are saved, and this is not of ourselves, not of our own fleshly works lest we should boast that we somehow attained our own salvation. But, we are also saved by faith, and that faith involves turning away from sin in order to follow Jesus Christ with our lives. And, that faith involves walking in obedience to our Lord, in accordance with his Spirit. When we trust in Jesus Christ, we die to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6-8). Many people who profess to know Jesus Christ as Savior live their lives not much different from the people of the world who make no profession of faith in Christ at all. This should not be! We were walking in the way of sin’s deceitfulness. When we turn to follow Christ, we turn away from living to sin and self. We forsake our idols, and God becomes our only Lord! If we are still going after the things of this world to satisfy us, then we need to repent of our sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and we need to return to our Lord, to walk in his ways, and in his truth. And, we need to become a house of prayer; a place where we commune with our Lord, lay our requests before him, seek his will for our lives, and follow him in his ways. We need to seek what pleases him and do it, and we need to pray according to his will, believing that he will answer our requests, and then live like we say we believe. Believe me, this is the only life which satisfies, and which brings true peace. Living Water / An Original Work / November 21, 2013 Based off Various Scriptures My people have forsaken Me, Their Savior, who died on a tree; Made idols, and they worshipped them; So empty, they will ne’er fulfill. Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones. Those who turn away from You will be shamed; The Spring of Living Water left behind. Living Water satisfies. The thirsty, let them come and drink; Believe in Jesus as their King; The gift of Jesus given them, So they will never thirst again. Indeed, the Living Water flows within. It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin. Eternal life in heaven promised them. Living Water glorifies. Oh people, won’t you come to Him? Obey Him and repent of sin. Let Jesus come and live within. Surrender all your life to Him. My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me? Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free. Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee? Living Water sanctifies.