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Dec 31, 2017

You are the temple!

Passage: 1 Kings 6:1-14

Speaker: Scott Shelton

Category: Weekend Message

Good morning, and thank you for being here on New Year’s Eve. Thanks to the Sawyer Family – the Simple Gifts Band – for leading us in worship – all the way from the great state of Texas – family of Butch and Jan West.

In your bulletin this morning on the back is an announcement that ZPC will be taking a trip to Israel – the Holy Land – in 2019. You can hear more about it in a short info meeting on Jan. 28 and hold a spot with a $100 deposit. It’s with trip leaders I’ve been with and trust. Today’s scripture talks about the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, you can still see the Temple Mount there today. Let’s read together:

Let’s read today’s scripture: 1 Kings 6:1-14.

“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. 2 The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. 3 The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house. 4 For the house he made windows with recessed frames.[a] 5 He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary; and he made side chambers all around. 6 The lowest story[b] was five cubits wide, the middle one was six cubits wide, and the third was seven cubits wide; for around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.

7 The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built.

8 The entrance for the middle story was on the south side of the house: one went up by winding stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; he roofed the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 He built the structure against the whole house, each story[c] five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David. 13 I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.”

14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NRSV)

“19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

This is the Word of the Lord – thanks be to God. Let’s pray. Lord may you bless our time this morning. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be honorable to you, O Lord, our rock and redeemer. Amen.

You may be coming down off the joy and busyness of Christmas. Perhaps you even crashed this week a little bit. I have. And now it is time to celebrate today the end of one year and the coming of the new year. It is common to make New Years’ resolutions.

According to USA Today, a new poll shows that "being a better person" is the most popular New Year's resolution for 2018. It was also the No. 1 resolution last year.

Exercising more, eating healthier, and getting a better job each garnered 9 percent;

7 percent want to improve their overall health, 6 percent want to stop smoking, and 6 percent want to spend less and save more money.

I don’t really like doing resolutions so much. One thing I know I need to do in the new year is treat my body better. Maybe that’s my resolution. I had my annual, once every 3 years, physical back in the fall and I did pretty well. But 2 things my doctor said was to 1. exercise more and 2. eat less sugar.

I do like to take long walks, play some tennis and other exercise occasionally. I like this winter watching my boys Luke and Graham play basketball, and Jacob and Lexia who play tennis – so if I watch them play does that count for me? Ok, no.

What about sugar. Sugar tastes really good. I do ok with that except for one area. Coca-cola!

Ummm, coke is so good. Not Pepsi, but Coke. It’s good for me too, right? Ok, no.

I’ll take it in a 2 liter, a can, a bottle, but it’s best when it’s carbonated and from a fountain. Like at McDonald’s – did you know you can get a large Coke for a buck? $1.09 with tax. I love it - and coke with salty snacks, like French fries, or even better – chips and salsa, so good! Ummm – so good!

My body could use work in 2018. Because here’s what we talk about today –for me and you. Our bodies are God’s temple – repeat – yes, that’s right. So I’m convicted by the Bible even to drink less Coke and exercise more.

Now ancient Greeks looked down on the body – it was the soul that mattered and not the body. We may feel a little bit that way today too – in our relationship to God. But Paul is clear here in 1 Corinthians and other letters, that the body and soul are together, and our actions, our behaviors matter much – as much as in our hearts and minds and souls. Jesus said to love God with your heart, mind, soul, – and strength – your body. But before we look at how we do that, let’s take a quick look at the original Temple – the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem – before we see how we might use our Temples – our bodies – to honor God.

But first let’s look at the idea of a temple in scripture – see notes in bulletin.

The Jewish Temple – Some history:

Mount Moriah – Abraham offers Isaac – Genesis 22

King David – purchases the threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite – 2 Samuel 24, ca.1000 BC

Solomon builds the First Temple – God chose his presence to be here, began building ca. 966 BC

Second Temple finished around 516 BC after return from exile in Persia

King Herod rebuilds Temple and Temple Mount – the time of Christ – ca. 20-19 BC

The baby Jesus presented at the Temple – Luke 2

Jesus at the Temple – festivals, teaching, healing, money changers

Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost – Peter may speak from the Temple steps

The Temple destroyed by Romans 70 AD

691 AD – The Dome of the Rock is built. Al Aqsa Mosque is there – 3rd most holy site for Islam

The Western Wall – of the Temple Mount – the holiest site for Jews

Temple Mount – less than half a mile to Church of the Holy Sepulchre – the holiest site for Christians

So, Jerusalem itself is a very holy place. And the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is maybe the most holy site – as it is so important to 3 major world religions.

And yet as important as the Temple is, and we can be and should be so respectful of this area, where we can learn so much about where our faith originates from, the temple today has a different meaning.

Now today we don’t have a Temple in Jerusalem – or build any temples – since the time of the New Testament. But we do have church buildings, like this one. We have this beautiful building to meet in – and this beautifully designed sanctuary to worship God in. This is a special place – set apart for worship – even for worship times, not only on Sundays, but at special events like Great Banquet, Awakenings, or VBS. It is a place we meet God, but certainly not the only place where God is. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 again:

We read earlier from 1 Cor. 6. Here’s what the New Testament says now about the temple. Here it is again. “19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

Our bodies are the temple. Let’s think about that – we are God’s temple.

The Holy Spirit lives in you. God lives in us.

When Jesus left the earth, he said to the disciples he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them. And just several days later, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, and ever since then, we believe that God sends His Spirit to be with us – whoever believes in Him.

So what do we do?

Simple. We live for God. I could leave it there but I won’t.

As we head into 2018, here are some ideas to be God’s temple. About how to live for God with our bodies being the Temple!

Spiritual, Social, Season of life, Skeletal.

I was looking for an s word – instead of physical. So I chose skeletal! Just trying to see if you are paying attention too!

  • Skeletal or physical - We sometimes say at ZPC that a disciple has a heart for Christ alone. This means we put Jesus first. It’s not just a head thing, but a heart thing. It’s not just belief, but passion, living, action. How do I live differently, devoted differently, committed differently because Jesus is first? This is a heart for Christ alone. It’s flesh. And bone. Skeletal. We feel it all the way in our bones, and our flesh.

1 Corinthians 6 talks about being pure – in the terms of being sexually pure. It’s not just our body is a temple in a figurative sense, but a literal sense. We need to guard our bodies physically.

Paul says this, “12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.”

Paul goes on to say, in one of our verse for today “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” So while it may not seem that spiritual, our bodies are God’s temple and we are to honor God with our bodies.

I joke about loving Coca-Cola – and I do – it’s no joke. But I am learning and starting to take more seriously that I need less sugar in my body. I have the right to drink Coke, but it may not be beneficial.

I am also to watch not only what I put in my mouth, but what I put in my mind. Music, movies, websites, what we read.

Simply said, we can honor God by living healthier lives with our bodies – what eat and drink, exercise – and we can dishonor God – through our bodies and even our minds – when we put bad things in – to our bodies and minds.

So in 2018, Let’s honor God – even with our bodies. Take inventory of are you honoring God with your body – even your heart – to the depth of your bones. Take a look at what’s going in and what should be going in or not.

I joked about skeletal – but it’s physical. What about spiritual?

  • Spiritual - The start of the year is a good to take inventory spiritually? How close do you feel to God? Are there spiritual practices you’re doing that are helping with that? If not, what would you want to do differently?

At staff and with an adult ministry team I lead, we’ve been discussing how we can better serve you to grow spiritually. Certainly, from the front you hear a lot about how important it is to be in worship together, to be in a home group to grow with others. Or to attend and participate in Great Banquet – a spiritual retreat where you do take inventory of how you spend your time, money, and resources.

We’ll also be communicating later in the spring how you might grow spiritually. But there was some fascinating research from a nationwide study of hundreds of churches and tens of thousands of Christians about 10 years ago that made this statement:

Reflection on scripture helps people grow closer to Christ than any other personal spiritual practice.

So it is not only the reading or study of Scripture, but the reflection on it. Praying about it, thinking about it, and applying it to our lives.

I know reading the Bible can be hard – I’ve been reading some in the prophets this fall – and I’ve been slogging through it. Parts of the Bible are hard to understand. Yet, it is God’s Word and is there for us to learn. So I encourage you to find a way to study the Bible – through a blog, online devotional, your own reading plan, or to join a class, home group or study this year at ZPC – so you’re not alone in it – yet you are reading, praying, REFLECTING, and applying.

  • Socially – how do we honor God with our bodies even socially?

Who do your spend your time with? Maybe you are a person who needs to be challenged to spend more time with others – you’re a little bit of an introvert or a homebody – like I am sometimes. Perhaps God has put it on your mind to reach out to someone. God made us to be in relationships, and it’s good for us.

Maybe you are a person who needs to be challenged to cut back on your social time. Perhaps you spend so much time with others that you don’t have enough time for yourself to be healthy or enough time to be with the people who are most important to you. How can you best honor God with others in 2018?

God says to love your neighbor. Jerry says that too! We are called to love God – heart soul mind and strength - and to love neighbor – as ourselves. One way we can love others is by….Serving!

  • Serving - Are there even some small places or big ways you might serve? You are such a generous congregation – so many of you filled the Shepherd totes for kids in need at Christmas. Thank you. Thanks to you for how you have given to the financial needs of the church – you are so generous.

So many of have served at Str8up, or Habitat, or Wheeler or one of the many ministries that ZPC does right here on campus – like Jeremiah House or Food Pantry or children or youth ministry.

This time of year is good to re-evaluate how you serve others. My family and I have enjoyed going to Reynosa, Mexico on trips to build houses and work side by side with the people there – but we need to evaluate how are we touching our real actual neighbors here – people and ministries right around us. It’s something good to discuss and think about and then set some goals about how we might do that – in the midst of busy lives.

So how do we serve God with our bodies being the temple – physically, spiritually, socially, and even in our:

(5) Season of life. Why include this? Why include honoring God with our bodies in our season of life?

I think as I get older, I have greater respect for how people have different gifts, abilities, time constraints, and opportunities, and yes even restrictions at different seasons of life. How will you honor God with your body being a temple – with God living in you?

For kids and teens – they are restricted by not having a driver’s license, doing what their parents let them do. But they might honor God by using social media or their cell phones for good – how can you use your phone to connect with people who need connecting – who need some affirmation. How can you use your young energy and excitement to give the rest of us some excitement and inspiration – cause we need it! We learn from our children – their simple and profound faith – and they often teach us how to lead them, teach them, and we learn ourselves.

What about those in mid-life – working long hours, trying to pay bills, raise a family, save for college or retirement, and give your best to God – how do you honor God because God lives in you – you are his temple? What is in your time, talents – where you might honor God – where you are?

What about our empty nesters or senior saints? You may have more time but not as much energy when you were younger. What are ways you can connect? Through Second Half Adventurers or through others, offering care for those in need – because you see the need, maybe you have some of the same issues – a loved one getting sick, or passing away, or you’ve been ill or been through surgeries. My Dad, who just passed 80, says with a smile, the golden years aren’t always so golden! Yet in your wisdom and life experience, which we lack, you can teach us, and honor God – and help us – with your presence.

 

If Jesus can be anywhere, even as baby in a stinky stable, with animals and straw all around, he can even live with you – as Emmanuel. God lives with you – and in you. When Jesus ascended to heaven, in view of the Temple on the Mount of Olives around 2000 years ago, he said he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us. You are God’s temple.

I know about 450 of you took part in receiving the – daily devotionals received by texts – from ZPC. I was so impressed by them. Sally Bias put that together – and she asked me to write one which I did more than a month ago. Mine was to be on Dec. 24th – I didn’t pick the date – she assigned it. But I was worried as I read everyone else’s, how good they were, how personal they were.

The theme was Emmanuel – God with us. God was with us in mystery and in redemption – and in other ways. But God is not only with us at Christmas – but all year – every day. He even lives in us. I thought as I read the daily devos – how meaningful they were – and they reflected the personalities of the writers. I thought that was a beautiful picture of how God lives in us – we are his temple – but still each of us is unique – and God uses our unique selves, to honor him. Season of life, spiritually, physically, socially – we are different – people from all different ages and stages, but the same God living in each of us – a beautiful mosaic of the church – the church is not a building but each of us – God’s people with God living in each of us.

Here are some final thoughts about the temple, the church and you:

The temple does not stand anymore, yet where it was, is holy ground for 3 of the world’s great religions.

ZPC is not a temple. Yet our building, we need to be good stewards of – as a gift of God and all the people like you who have invested in it.

But…ZPC is made up of people who follow God.

4775 West 116th Street – the building is not the church. The Sanctuary is a great room to meet with each other and to meet with God – but we can be with God anywhere.

ZPC – is the people, not the building. We are the body of Christ – the people of God – normal regular people, but made in God’s image, with God living in us, through the Holy Spirit.

Think about – take inventory – how you belong to God – physically, spiritually, socially –and in your season of life.

So now,                                                      You are the temple. God lives in you. So you live for God.

                                    Let us pray…

Lord lead us and guide us, to know you, that you came down for us, as a baby, that we might live, for you. Help us to know that you pitched your tent and live with us – so that we can live with you.

May we live with God all this coming year, knowing that God lives in you through His Spirit – and calls you to live for him. In Jesus name, amen.