May 1, 2016

I Kings 8
Bringing all this to a climax, King Solomon called in the leaders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the family patriarchs, to bring up the Chest of the Covenant of God from Zion, the City of David. And they came, all Israel before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month, for the great autumn festival.... There was nothing in the Chest but the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb where God made a covenant with Israel after bringing them up from Egypt.  When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t carry out their priestly duties because of the cloud—the glory of God filled The Temple of God!

Then Solomon spoke:
God has told us that he lives in the dark where no one can see him; I’ve built this splendid Temple, O God, to mark your invisible presence forever.  The king then turned to face the congregation and blessed them:...“God has done what he said he would do: I have succeeded David my father and ruled over Israel just as God promised; and now I’ve built a Temple to honor God, the God of Israel, and I’ve secured a place for the Chest that holds the covenant of God, the covenant that he made with our ancestors when he brought them up from the land of Egypt.”

Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took a position before the Altar, spread his hands out before heaven, and prayed,
O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way.... Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, “You’ll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel’s throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have.”...
 I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now.... Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.... listen from heaven and act accordingly:... Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, return them to the land you gave their ancestors....Listen from your home in heaven, forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel.  Then start over with them: Train them to live right and well;... Listen from your home in heaven.

Forgive and go to work on us. Give what each deserves, for you know each life from the inside (you’re the only one with such “inside knowledge”!) so that they’ll live before you in lifelong reverent and believing obedience on this land you gave our ancestors....Listen from your home in heaven....Listen from heaven to what they pray and ask for, and do what’s right for them.....Listen from your home in heaven to their prayers desperate and devout and do what is best for them.
Forgive your people who have sinned against you; forgive their gross rebellions and move their captors to treat them with compassion. They are, after all, your people and your precious inheritance whom you rescued from the heart of that iron-smelting furnace, Egypt!

O be alert and attentive to the needy prayers of me, your servant, and your dear people Israel; listen every time they cry out to you! You handpicked them from all the peoples on earth to be your very own people, as you announced through your servant Moses when you, O God, in your masterful rule, delivered our ancestors from Egypt.

Having finished praying to God—all these bold and passionate prayers—Solomon stood up before God’s Altar where he had been kneeling all this time, his arms stretched upward to heaven. Standing, he blessed the whole congregation of Israel, blessing them at the top of his lungs:..The king and all Israel with him then worshiped, offering sacrifices to God.... 

This is how Solomon kept the great autumn feast, and all Israel with him,... They started out celebrating for seven days—and then did it another seven days! Two solid weeks of celebration! Then he dismissed them. They blessed the king and went home, exuberant with heartfelt gratitude for all the good God had done for his servant David and for his people Israel.

II Corinthians 2 - 
That is why I decided not to make another visit that could only be painful to both of us...That was my reason for writing  a letter instead of coming...I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you,  

As it turned out, there was pain enough just in writing that letter, more tears than ink on the parchment.  But I didn’t write it to cause pain:  I wrote it so you would know how much I care---oh more than care---love you!

Now regarding the one who started all this...I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you....Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet.  If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it.  

My counsel now is to pour on the love.  My focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church.  So if you forgive him, I forgive him.  Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudge.

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place, in one perpetual victory parade.  Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ...

Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation--an aroma redolent with life.....This is a terrific responsibility.  Is anyone competent to take it on?  NO--but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap.  We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face.  We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.