Thank God For Our Fellowship Center! (11/12/17)
King Solomon had just completed the most spectacular building project in the history of God's people (& possibly the world!), the Temple of God, called Solomon's Temple, or the 1st Temple. Not a huge bldg in terms of size, about 90' x 30' x 50' high. Much smaller than all of the mega churches today, but this temple was never meant to house all the worshippers. Its focal point of worshippers, its where sacrifices were made to God.
But there were over 180,000 workers involved! Cost 2 build today? $4-5 billion!
It would last for about 400 yrs, destroyed by Babylonians, God's judgment on Judah.
I. Our ultimate focus is on our great God, not our great facility (1 Kings 8:22-23).
As great as the Temple was, Solomon's focus was on our great God, not the building.
8:22 - "spread out his hands toward heaven" - this was expression of surrender, to expose our vital organs, act of submission to God, no defenses of self righteousness, baring our soul before God!
8:23- "no God like you" - worship the one true God, unique.
"covenant of love" - Heb = Hesed, loyal love.
8:24 - God keeps His promises.
Later today we celebrate Thanksgiving & 10th anniversary of our Fellowship Center dedication which took place in Nov 2007.
There is always a risk of losing our focus since we tend to focus on things we can see, touch, tangible things can become idols! ~ focus more on gifts than the Giver!
- this has always been a concern for God's people, Cp Jews about to enter Promise Land in Deut 8:11-14 and 8:17-20. If our church loses focus on God, if we become proud, focused more on ourselves, our nice facilities, any other idol, God can remove our spiritual effectiveness, our testimony, etc in just a few short years! Far too many great churches that are one time were beacons of light in their communities for God's glory became empty shells, monuments w/little or no spiritual life or vitality whatsoever.
Some of these church facilities became museums, mere spectacles for tourists, etc.
- How can we help keep our focus on God vs this beautiful gym, fellowship center?
1. Every time we see it being used for all the various programs, ministries, meetings, events, etc. pause and thank God for providing this facility that can be used to experience and share His love!
2. Consider how we are using this facility, new possible uses for God's glory?
LL experience w/large black church in Bay Area hosted new Asian Amer church plant!
LL asked by pastor to share w/their church leaders, Pastor asked leaders, "What would Jesus want us to do with this opportunity?" Good question for us as well!
This helps remind us that this church facility does not ultimately belong to us, but 2 God!
II. Our church facility should help us live in fellowship with God (8:33-40).
Solomon prays for God's forgiveness when His people sin and suffer consequences.
8:33-34 - defeat by enemies. 8:33 - "making supplication to you in this temple"
8:35-36 - drought, need rain again.
8:37-40 - famine, plague, misc other disasters that are forms of God's discipline on His people for their sin. (Not all negative problems are result of our sin! Cp. Job!)
Here, its sin, problem of our hearts! 8:38 - "afflictions of their own hearts" and
8:39 - "Forgive and act" - God knows our hearts, motives, attitudes, etc.
When we drift away from fellowship with God, we may be helped as we think about God and His love connected with our church. Church should help us remember God, His love!
When we first trust in Christ as personal Lord/Savior, its like our wedding day, just got married. But if we don't communicate at all with God (Bible, prayer), this relat will not grow, it will stagnant.
Many uses for our fellowship center, gym. But what is our ultimate purpose in how we use our facilities? Fun? Social interactions? Experience our culture? No!
Its to encourage, support, stimulate our personal relationship with our great God!
III. Ultimately, church is about the people, not the building (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Solomon's temple was an amazing building that God designed as a tangible expression of His loving and holy Presence among His people.
The local church is to be a tangible expression of the Universal Church, the Body of Christ, made up of every genuine believer in Jesus Christ.
1 Pet 2:5 - we are living stones. The Universal Church is called a "temple" in
Eph 2:21-22. Every Christian (not just clergy!) are part of this priesthood, we can all pray, minister to the needy. PTL for so many in our church family who are ministering to others both within our church family as well as outside. I joke about how some do not even realize when I am absent, but seriously, its a great blessing! The pastor is only one of many ministers in the church family!
God has blessed us with very nice facilities, incl. a gym!
But ultimately, our church is much more than nice buildings. Its all about who God is, its about us as God's people, to better experience and share God's love!