Church to Look Like Jesus Again
On a recent ministry road trip through western Canada and the Midwest USA, which lasted almost two months, God gave me a consistent theme to preach and teach. He led me to preach from the book of Acts and the restoration books of the Old Testament. I was given these two concepts:
1. God is crying out to His people, "I want My Church to look like Jesus again." When the Church truly accepts its role as the undivided, totally submissive Body of Christ, it will certainly look like Jesus, as did the early Church in the book of Acts.
2. I was also given a campaign slogan that went like this: MAKE CHURCH GREAT AGAIN: MCGA. If we want God to restore America, we should be much more passionate about Him restoring His Church.
His Temple and Dwelling Place
"He wants our fellowship and honor, but He also wants to pour out blessings on us to remind us that He is a loving and all-powerful God."
Since returning home to prepare for the holiday season with our family, God has highlighted other Scriptures and has been speaking to me about His desire to restore His temple or dwelling place on the earth. Literally, from Genesis to Revelation, God has revealed His own passionate desire to dwell as close as possible to His people.
It began in the Garden of Eden with beautiful fellowship of God with man, the way God intended it to be. Later, after Adam's catastrophic fall, God instructed Moses to make a sanctuary and position it in the very center of the camp in the wilderness. Then David, the "man after God's own heart," built a special tabernacle with incredible worship where people could come close to the Ark of God's presence.
His amazing son, Solomon, built the most incredible temple where God again manifested His glorious presence. After that temple was destroyed by conquering emperors, Ezra was assigned the task of its restoration. Finally, in Revelation 21:3, we see that God sets up the New Jerusalem in such a way that He pitches His own tent in the middle of His people.
Thus, throughout Israel's history, God's dwelling place or sanctuary (a place set aside for a special purpose) played a very important role in the life of God's people. But what we may miss is how important it was to God, Himself, to dwell in their midst, surrounded by His family. As a grandparent with five children and twelve grandchildren, I have a little inkling of what that means, especially around the time of our special feasts.
Make Me a Sanctuary
Exodus 25:8 probably says it the best. God says to Moses: "And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them."
Exodus 25:22 begins like this: "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat."
Exodus 29:43 adds this: "And there I will meet with the children of Israel and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory."
Exodus 29:45-46 restates it again: "I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the Lord their God."
If we add the word "so" before the word "that" in the first and last verses above, we will better grasp what God is saying: "Let them make Me a sanctuary (so) that I may dwell among them" (emphasis mine). The chief reason for the sanctuary was not so they could have a special place to worship. Rather, the chief reason for it was so that God, Himself, could live in the midst of His people.
If we fully understand the New Covenant, we will understand how these verses apply to us—God's real sanctuary and Holy Spirit-filled temple. God is still passionate about being the center of attention and activity in the Church.He wants our fellowship and honor, but He also wants to pour out blessings on us to remind us that He is a loving and all-powerful God.
Remember how He announced Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7, after Moses had begged God to show him His glory: "...The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation."
"Literally, from Genesis to Revelation, God has revealed His own passionate desire to dwell as close as possible to His people."
The first adjective God uses to describe Himself is merciful. He uses the word mercy again after several other adjectives. He wanted the people to realize that He was not primarily a harsh judge, but a loving Father—although He would not hold back executing justice on the unrepentant. He knew that His people would feel uncomfortable living in the presence of a holy and powerful being, because of their many failures and sins. So He made sure they understood that He was full of compassion and mercy and always ready to forgive.
"I Am More Zealous Than Ever"
Today, I am hearing the Spirit of God saying:
"Do not look back on the past and say, 'Those were the good old days, where God manifested His glory in His temple, or in the past days of our movement.'For I am more zealous than ever to dwell in the midst of My people and to manifest My glory in them and through them. For as I have declared, 'THEY ARE MY TEMPLE.' My apostles and prophets are its living and growing foundation stones, and My evangelists, pastors and teachers are expanding the house of My glory as they unite their gifts and resources for the building of My Kingdom.
"And as your holidays now come to focus on Thanksgiving and the birth of My Son, Jesus, so My people will begin to give thanks for what I am doing in My Church and what I am birthing through them. For it will soon come to pass, that no one will be hidden by the darkness, but My angels will once again herald My coming—and not just to a few shepherds. They will accompany My chosen evangelists, who will be sent to every nation and tribe and will shine light into every dark corner of the world. Those who sit in darkness will see a great light and I will come to dwell in their hearts and unite them by My Spirit with every person who truly loves Me.
"I will never abandon My people, even though many have abandoned Me. But I will once again display My mercy and lovingkindness to them, so that I can reveal to the world that I am the Lord God that created them for My glory to be My own inheritance. For I will bring about a Great Convergence of all the glorious aspects of previous sanctuaries that have been built in My honor.
Wisdom, Wealth and Shaking
"You will see again the Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Cloud from Moses' day. You will hear the most wonderful worship sung by men and angels, accompanied by newly invented musical instruments as in David's day. You will experience the wisdom and wealth of Solomon's glorious reign in Jerusalem, and you will be in awe of the way that My Son will once again cleanse His Body of anything that has corrupted My temple on this earth.
"Finally, this convergence of past glorious events will be capped off by a global shaking, as when Mount Sinai shook at My presence. This shaking will touch every element of society and will bring great confusion to those who do not know Me or My ways. But to those who know My ways, it will be a time of great joy and victory.
"My Kingdom will advance quickly, and My warriors will conquer much territory for My Name's sake. After this season of shaking, the House of My Glory will stand taller than any earthly house and the whole world will know that I have visited and empowered My people to demonstrate My Love and My Power to every hungry soul."
As I read on in Exodus, after Moses' encounter with God on the mountain, I find that the people become incredibly generous to donate their resources and talents to build and beautify the "Wilderness Tabernacle." They were so eager to participate in this project that the workers had to tell them to stop bringing their resources. They already had too much. I believe this is truly prophetic of the season into which we are entering.
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