Well, good evening to you all! It's good to be back with you tonight, and thank you to the choir and to the quartet and to the ensemble for that wonderful, God-glorifying, singing and music. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to a portion of Scripture this evening from the Old Testament, to 2 Chronicles and chapter 6, please. Now don't worry if you don't have a Bible, perhaps there is someone near at hand that will share one with you, or just listen as we read the word of God together. It's not a long portion of Scripture tonight. I want to speak to you tonight on the subject 'A Resting Place for God'. Now we're breaking into 2 Chronicles chapter 6 at verse 40, but just to give you a little bit of understanding of the context of these verses: it is the dedication of what has come to be known as 'Solomon's Temple'. This is the Temple that Solomon has built to the glory of God, in which there will be the worship of God.
We are interjecting here at verse 40, where Solomon is praying - 2 Chronicles chapter 6 verse 40: "Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant".
Perhaps we could pray and, as I said this morning, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are born-again, I would ask you that you would pray now with me that the Lord will manifest His presence here tonight and speak to hearts - that's what we're in this for, we're not just going through motions to have meetings because we have little else to do, we're here to meet with God. We want to encounter God in His reality, and He is real! So do pray, believers tonight, that God will come in a mighty way. Maybe you need a touch in your own life - and I don't think there's any of us who would say that we don't need God to break into our experience and do something new - maybe you're here and you're not a Christian? All this is foreign to you, and maybe it has been a bit of an ordeal even coming to the meeting tonight. Well, I appreciate that, it's maybe a strange environment for you and you're not used to going to church - but we believe that it's no coincidence that you're here. We believe God wants to meet with you, God wants to speak to you, and God wants to save you and change your life. So why not even now, you open your heart to the Lord, and say: 'Lord, speak to me, if You're there, speak to me. If You have something to say to me, speak to me', and He will do it.
Let us pray: Abba Father, in the name of Your Holy Child, the Lord Jesus Christ, we come to You. Lord, we thank You that we are not alone. We thank You that the Lord Jesus came to us, and He promised to send the Holy Spirit to us, and He promised that when we do His will and abide in Him, that You, Father, and He will come and make Your abode with us by the Holy Spirit. Lord, we want to know that experience tonight of heaven coming down and glory filling our souls. We want to know what it is for God to fill the house, just as You did in Solomon's Temple as it was dedicated unto Your service. O God, we believe the You're the same God, and Jesus Christ, Your Son, is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. So Lord, we say to You: O God, vindicate Your name, manifest Your glory, presence Yourself with us. Save sinners tonight, restore those who have backslidden, revive Your people, the saints of God. O God, renew Your church, and come and do us all good. Meet with us, we pray. O God, may we know the stillness of what it is when God descends as the rain upon the freshly mown grass, come, Lord, tonight - in Jesus' name, Amen.
I don't know how familiar you are with your Bible. I know some of you are carrying them, or maybe you haven't got one tonight - but irrespective of that, the Bible teaches that it has always been God's desire to dwell in the midst of His people. Indeed, I'm not overstating the matter to say that His desire to dwell in the midst of His people is the great passion of His heart. In fact, there is more written in Scripture about God wanting to dwell with His people than there is about people desiring to dwell with God. Right at the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, we read of the first man, Adam, walking in the cool of the day with God in an idyllic situation called 'Eden'. Right from that moment right to where we read in 2 Chronicles chapter 6, where the Shekinah glory is manifest - the glory of God is revealed - in Solomon's Temple, we see that God has been in the practice of manifesting Himself to human beings. God has always desired to dwell in the midst of His people.
I mentioned a very strange word, perhaps you may have picked up on it: the 'Shekinah' glory of God. It's derived from an old Hebrew word that means 'to dwell', the word 'Shakan'. 'Shekinah', simply, is the visible manifestation of the presence of the living God. You can see it in numerous incidents in the Old Testament in particular, for instance when Moses was out in the backside of the desert in Midian, and God appeared to him in a burning bush. Now I don't know whether you know the story, but this was a unique sight because the bush was on fire but it was not consumed - in other words, this was a supernatural fire, and God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Well, that was 'Shekinah' that was on that burning bush - a visible manifestation of the glory of God. You see it again when the children of Israel are delivered through Moses, by the power of God working in him, from bondage in Egypt. They are brought to the Red Sea, and they cross it, and they wander in the wilderness for 40 years - but they are guided there by the pillar of fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day - that was 'Shekinah', a visible manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of His people.
Now, the question begs - and you should be asking it - well, how does God dwell now with His people? Well, that's the great message of the New Testament - 'What's that?', you say. That God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, what I mean by that is simply that God is no longer interested in a building, whether it's the Tabernacle, a tent where He met with people, or a temple made with bricks and mortar like Solomon's Temple that we read about - and there were several temples in Israelite history. God is no longer interested in temples made with men's hands, but He is building His own Temple, a spiritual Temple. The New Testament says simply that, with the coming of Jesus Christ, God's Son, God came personally to humanity to dwell with men. He came in the flesh of His own Son, that's why the angelic annunciation was that He would be called 'Emmanuel', which means of course 'God With Us'. So we no longer see God's glory, as it were, in the 'Shekinah' of fire and cloud, but we see God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ. God is no longer dwelling in physical temples, rather on the foundation of the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is building a spiritual Temple made up of living stones.
'What are those living stones?', you might ask. Well, simply: God's believing people - they are the living stones, people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ are placed in this great edifice that is the church of Jesus Christ. We talk about ecclesiastical buildings as being churches, but they're not really, they're only meeting houses - because the church is a group of people, a body of living souls that have been born-again by the Spirit of God. We know this because, in Acts chapter 2 at Pentecost, the birthday of the church, God came to indwell the Temple, the Church of Jesus Christ, and He did this by outpouring His Spirit upon them. So not only did God come to be with us - Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, He came in the flesh - but at Pentecost God began to build a church, a building of human souls saved by grace. Not only did He come to be with us, but He came to indwell us by His Spirit.
Now let me pause for a moment, because I'm conscious that some of you might be feeling this is going straight over your head. Maybe you have no experience of church, per se, or Christianity, or at least not this type of Christianity that you're seeing and hearing about tonight. I want to challenge you by asking you a question: do you know anything about what I've just been talking about? Now I'm not too familiar with Australia yet, but I'm very familiar with Ireland and I know this much: it's a very religious country. There are a lot of people that go to church and chapel, and whether they're Roman Catholic or Protestant matters very little, but many of them have equated Christianity with going to a place, going to a building, a religious surrounding and environment, engaging in rituals and even following rules. But, my friend, the question begs: what is the church? The Bible teaches us that that is not what the church is - some funny looking place with a steeple - but rather the church is a people, a community of men and women and boys and girls who are indwelt by God Himself!
Now, my friend, let me ask you again: do you know anything about this? Oh, you might go to church, but the Bible doesn't talk about going to church, the Bible talks about being the church, a part of the church! You see, that's why Jesus said to a very religious Jew in John chapter 3, by the name of Nicodemus, 'You must be born-again' - that's the 'B.A.' that you need, born-again by the Spirit of God from above. So many people, even people who profess to be Christians, think that Christianity is all about rules, dos and don'ts, it's about regulations and rituals. But no, my friend, it's much more than that, it transcends human tradition, Christianity is simply God living in you! When God lives in you, God changes you! Sure, you would know that. God could never come into a life and leave it unchanged - but that's not the whole story. The reason why I say that is: God has a dilemma.
You might say, 'Well, that's news! If He's God, how can He have a dilemma?'. Well, He does, He has a problem with us - it's called 'the sin problem'. You see, if God - and that is His desire to dwell amongst His people and His creation - if He's going to do that, He can't simply bypass the inherent disease that we have foisted upon ourselves called 'sin', the choice to do that which is wrong rather than that which is right. In other words, the choice to go our own way rather than God's way. You see, there's a problem, because God is holy. We hear a lot today about God being love, and He is love - but He also is a holy God, and He's a just God, and that means He cannot tolerate sin. He's not partial, the way we are, He's impartial, He's absolutely just. So the question hangs: how can a holy God dwell with a sinful people? The answer is the Gospel! The Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ: that sin has got to be dealt with, and God Himself has solved this dilemma. He has answered the sin problem. When Jesus Christ was manifest in the flesh, God dwelling in the midst of His people, it wasn't just so that God could come down, but rather it was so that He could go to the cross and so that He could die as the Lamb of God, as the sacrifice for sins forever, and cleanse us from our sins in His own blood.
Isaiah prophesied of it hundreds of years before Jesus was born. In Isaiah 53 and verse 6, he tells us: 'All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all'. 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement', or the punishment, 'for our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed'. You see, this is the answer! How can God dwell among men who are sinful and who are wicked and who are lawbreakers? And you are, my friend, if you don't admit it I'm sorry about that, but the fact still remains that all of us in some shape or form have broken the holy law of God. You know your commandments, don't you? At least some of them: don't lie, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't covet. All of us have broken at least one, but you see the law of God is an entity, it's like a wheel with its spokes - if one spoke is broken, the whole wheel collapses. We are lawbreakers if we've ever sinned, and if there's a perfect man or woman here tonight I'd love to meet you afterwards - and if it's a man, I'll speak to your wife and find out the truth about you! But my friend: the answer is the Gospel. Because of Calvary, because of Jesus bleeding and dying and taking our sin, the Almighty, Holy God of heaven can take up residence in the soul of a man or a woman. Is that not the greatest thing you've ever heard? Maybe you've never heard it before, that you must be born-again, that you must receive the life of God into your heart. It's tragic that so many people believe that Christianity is about working and about earning and about achieving, and without the life of God in them they try to live the Christian experience which is an utter impossibility. The only way you can live a Christian existence is with the life of God in Christ in you. My friend, the only way to get that is to come by repentant faith to the foot of the cross, where Jesus died for you.
'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' - that means you've got to take it as a gift. It's been purchased for you at Calvary, and you can have God take up residence in you - but I've got to say more to you than that. God does not just want to take up residence in you, He doesn't just want to be resident, He wants to be president - He wants to be in control of you! That's where the problem comes for some, particularly Christians. You see Paul, in Ephesians 5 - and one of these nights I'm going to preach at length on it - says: 'Be filled with the Holy Spirit', that simply means 'be controlled by the Holy Spirit'. Let the indwelling Spirit of God, the life of God in you, be in control of you - and this is how God intends to dwell with His people. When you're born-again, He comes up and takes residence in your life, but when you surrender completely to Him as Lord He takes precedence and He fills you - and, sad to say, that is not so evident in the church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. We aren't seeing too many people born-again these days in the West - praise God, there are places in our world that are seeing it. But equally so, we're not seeing too many Spirit-filled Christians.
The twofold mission of the church is still the same: to proclaim God's desire to take up residence in men's hearts, to proclaim 'You must be born-again'. Jesus said: 'Except a man be born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God', you'll not even see it, let alone enter it, if you're not born-again. But the church is also to proclaim that God must be, and wants to become, president in our lives, He wants to control us. So we are to preach the new birth, we are to preach the Spirit-filled life!
Now I hear that Australians have a little bit of an interest in cricket, is that true? Well, C.T. Studd was a great cricketer, and he was also an inheritor of great wealth in his family - but he was also a Christian. He gave it all up to go to the mission field, and people thought he was - as we would say - 'bonkers'. Why would you throw away a cricket career and an inherited fortune to go to Africa, as he did, to preach this Gospel? This was his answer: 'I did it because I want to see God walking around in African skin', that's what Christianity is: the life of God in you! Do you have it? I'm not asking you do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I'm not asking you do you tick the box when it says that He was crucified, and was buried, and three days later rose again. I'm not asking you are you reading your Bible. I'm not asking you do you pray. I'm asking you: are you born-again? I'm asking you: have you had this supernatural experience of new birth? Young people here, particularly 'Christian young people', I mean by that that you've grown up in a Christian environment, all you've known all your life is church. I'm asking you not 'Are you trailing on the coattails of your mum and dad?', but: are you born-again? Have you had a supernatural experience with the God of heaven, where He has come to live in your life and He indwells you? Is God with you? Is God in you? Christian: does God fill you? Oh, there's a wonderful phrase that Paul uses: 'to be filled with all the fullness of God', that's the Christian experience! That is our right, our blood right through the death of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection: to be filled with all the fullness of God! It's like taking a little thimble, and filling it at the edge of the ocean.
Now, that's how God dwells with us now - but we were reading in 2 Chronicles chapter 6 about the way God dwelt with His people after the exodus from Egypt. As they went through the wilderness wanderings, God dwelt with them in the Tabernacle. Now the tabernacle is just an old name for a tent, this was a tent of meeting where God met with men, and there was a priesthood. There were three parts to the Tabernacle: there was an outer court; and then as you went through the outer court you came into a holy place inside the tent, a large compartment; and then at the very end of the compartment, the far end, there was a small cubicle compartment called 'The Holiest Place of All', or 'The Holy of Holies'. The Tabernacle was the focal point of the divine presence of God, but particularly one piece of furniture in the Tabernacle, in that third cubical compartment called 'The Holy of Holies', and that piece of furniture was called 'The Ark of the Covenant'. There are archaeologists still looking for it today. It is an oblong chest made of acacia wood and overlaid on the outside and on the inside by pure gold. It was effectively a box, a container for holy things. Within this box were the two tablets of the law, I mentioned the Ten Commandments, the Ten Commandments inscribed by the finger of God onto tablets of stone were in this box. Also there was a pot of manna - 'What's manna?', you say. Well, maybe you've heard the expression 'manna from heaven', that's exactly what it is. During the wilderness wanderings God miraculously fed His people with angel food, and there was a little pot of this in the Ark. Also the rod of Aaron that miraculously budded was in the box.
On top of the box of the Ark there was a lid, and the lid had a special name. It was called 'The Mercy Seat'. Once a year the High Priest was to make atonement for, that means to cover over, the sins of the people of Israel. This is how he would do it: he would come into that holiest place of all, and he would sprinkle on the Mercy Seat the blood of bulls and goats. Now this lid was called 'The Seat', because the Lord was enthroned between the two angelic gold figures, called Cherubim, on the top of the lid. They were positioned facing each other, but there was the belief that God hovered over this lid.
Now, the significance of this Ark was simply this - and I hope you've been following me tonight - it was the visible sign of the invisible God dwelling in the midst of His people. People knew that God was there, because the Ark was there. People had a visual manifestation of the invisible God. Now I want to say to you that this has great significance for the Gospel and New Testament truth, because it's a picture of Jesus Christ Himself, the Ark of God. We said that the way that God dwells with men today is through Jesus Christ, that's how He came to us, and through His death and His resurrection, and through the Holy Spirit taking up residence in us through the message of salvation - well, this Ark was a picture of Jesus. I could go on about this tonight, but there's two things at least - the acacia wood of this Ark speaks of the humanity of the Lord Jesus, but the gold outside and inside speaks of the deity of the Lord Jesus. He was not just a man, it doesn't matter what other religions and cults say about Him. God testified of Him, by raising Him from the dead, that He indeed is His Son. Jesus Christ, man fully and God fully, is our Mercy Seat. There is a big word in the New Testament used of this, 'propitiation', He is our atoning sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God from us because we are sinners, and because of His shed blood we can meet with God through His sacrifice, a once and for all complete sacrifice for sin - not one performed every year, not one performed every Sunday, not one performed every day, but once and for all finished! That's why He cried, when He hung on the cross, 'Tetelestai', 'It is accomplished!'. What a wonderful picture!
Now listen, dear one, Jesus Christ is where God meets man today. He is the one who brings us into the presence of God. Believer, if you're going to know the Lord Jesus Christ, you're going to have to realise what it is to abide in His presence. Let me give you a little bit of the history of this Ark which is very instructive. We read in the Old Testament that from Mount Sinai to the promised land this Ark journeyed with the children of Israel. It was a constant reminder of the presence of God, in His holiness, among His people. But the sad story goes that there came a day during the historical period of the Judges when the children of Israel took God's presence for granted. Imagine that! God manifesting His presence, and yet they became familiar with it and took it for granted. It was demonstrated in their behaviour toward the Ark. They began to treat it like a talisman, or a good luck charm. Whenever they got into trouble in battle with the enemy, they would say: 'Right, go and get the Ark!', and it was as if they were bringing God with them and for them, and all of a sudden they were going to turn the tide and win the battle.
So, what they were doing was they were using and abusing God's presence. They were not recognising it, nor reverencing the presence of God, and the result was that there came a day that they lost it! The Ark was captured by the Philistines, the enemies of God's people - and, my friend, there are wonderful lessons in that for God's people here tonight. I believe we are living in a period that is akin to the period of the Judges. It says of the Judge period that every man did that which was right in his own eyes. There was no king in Israel, there was no authority, there was no respect and reverence for the things of God - but do you know something else about the Judges period? It was second-generation spirituality. Before the book of Judges is the book of Joshua, and in Joshua it's all about the conquest and how these men of God took God's promises and, by faith, they entered the land and they achieved an inheritance by the promises of God. But then they settled down, they had children, and those children bore their children, and they were comfortable in the land. In their comfort and in their complacency they began to lose respect for the truth of God.
Some of you young people here tonight - and I don't want to be down on you, it's wrong to be down on you - but you're in danger of doing that. I was in danger of doing that, being a fourth-generation Christian, taking the truth that I had received for granted. Now, my dear friend, understand this: we can do this, that they did - we get into trouble, our back is against the wall, and we pull God out of the cupboard and say, 'Now come on, answer my prayers!'. Is that not the case? He is a slot machine at times, for us. He is like, I don't know what your dial code is for help, '999' it is at home, He's for emergencies, for when we are in dire straits, between a rock and a hard place. But, my friend, that is disrespecting the Almighty God! That is using and abusing His presence! That is failing to recognise and reverence His presence! The result of that type of behaviour is that you lose it, you lose His presence. That's why many a Christian, when they don't pray, and they don't commune with God, and they don't read their Bible, and they don't live a holy life, then they try to pull God out of the medical cupboard whenever they are in difficulty and they don't find Him! They struggle, and their faith fails them, and they don't understand why God isn't coming through for them!
Is God speaking to you about this tonight? Well, eventually Israel recovered the Ark of God from the Philistines, it was during the time of Samuel - but the Ark was never restored into its rightful place during Samuel's time. I believe he probably suspected that God's presence was still not cherished in its rightful place in the people's hearts. You might say: 'Well, was that the end of the Ark of the covenant?'. No it wasn't, thank God. David, the man after God's own heart, the King, when he ascended the throne he had a passion for God. He had a heart that beat according to God's heartbeat. He had a desire that God would dwell amongst His people once again, and he wanted the Ark to be in its prominent place, he wanted it to be reverenced and respected, and he was grieved that there was no place for the Ark to dwell, for God's glory to rest. What did we say at the very beginning? God's desire has always been to dwell in the midst of His people, and David had a heart in tune with God and he knew that. So he was going to do something about it, but I want you to see tonight: if we are going to have a resting place for God, if we're going to have God manifest in our churches and in our lives through the new birth and through the spiritual filling of the Holy Ghost, we need a desire.
This work commenced with a desire. David said to the prophet Nathan one day: 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tents of curtains'. I believe his desire to have a resting place for God was birthed in prayer. Let me show you that, if you turn with me to Psalm 132 please, Psalm 132 - of course the Psalms are not only songs, they are prayers, and this Psalm contains our text that we read at the very beginning from 2 Chronicles 6. Verse 1 of Psalm 132: 'LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions: How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob'. This work commenced with a desire: he had a passion that God would have a resting place, a dwellingplace in the midst of His people.
Nathan came to him and said: 'David, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you'. The Lord liked that - and, you know, today God's people need a passion, like David's, that there would be a resting place for God. But of course we said that today the resting place for God isn't a building, it's a people. Let me challenge you, believers here tonight, do you have a desire, a burning desire that God would find a resting place upon His people in this day and age? Do you have a desire that God would rest upon your family? Do you have a desire that God's presence would be manifest upon your church? That the glory of Christ would be manifested again? That the Ark of God that is Christ would be seen in all His glory? That will only happen through our Spirit-filled lives. Do you recognise that our church, in the West in particular, is in the Laodicean period? That simply means, like the church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3, Christ is outside the door! He can't get a look in in a lot of our churches! Our churches are being run by men, and the wisdom of men, and philosophies of new ideas of marketing - and Christ is outside the door. If you recognise that, that in some place, and in some way, we've lost the presence and power of Christ - well then, you ought to have a desire.
Now, of course, if you know the story, you will know that God told David: 'Well, you can't build the temple'. He had too much blood on his hands, and he wasn't allowed to build it, but his son, Solomon, would build it. Now it's interesting, because the heart that had the desire didn't belong to the hands that built its fulfilment. Now you know there are generations gone by, and some of you could name names tonight of old godly men and women who are now promoted to glory, and they had the desire - maybe a desire greater than we - that the glory of God would be manifest again in the church. They have died longing and praying for it, they did all that they could to realise it, they made great sacrifices, like David did, to build the temple of God today - and yet they've gone on. But we need to ask the question: do we who are living have the same passion for a resting place for God? Younger generation, do you have that passion? I don't know what it's like here, but I know at home that between roughly the ages of 40 and 60, 45 to 60, there is a missing generation as far as spirituality is concerned. Something went wrong in that generation. They did not take on the baton and the desire, and God is raising up a new generation of younger people who are on fire for God. I don't know if He's doing that here, but He can do it! What about you? Maybe some of you young people see hypocrisy in those who profess Christianity, maybe you see an absence of a manifest true reality of the glory of Jesus Christ in what is professed to be the church, but that is not a reason for rejecting it my friend - God is still the same, young person! Why don't you rise up and prove to be true? Be born-again, be filled with the Spirit!
Such desire is birthed in prayer, that's what happened to David - Psalm 132. His heart got in tune with God's heart in prayer and communion. The work commenced with a desire, the desire was birthed in prayer, but see something else: the work continued with diligence. Now I haven't got time to recite the money and the materials, the manpower and the hours, that went into Solomon's Temple in building - but all I say is that it continued with diligence, that's absolutely sure. The diligence involved sacrifice. Sure, even the portion of land where this temple was built was offered to David free of charge, and his response was: 'I will not give to the Lord of that which cost me nothing'. You see, there's sacrifice in diligence when we're building something for God. The church of Jesus Christ today, these living stones, born-again lives, Spirit-filled believers, it's built with diligence - not the labour of our hands, but prayer!
The work continued with diligence, and the temple was not only birthed in desire and prayer, but it was built in prayer. Do you know that Solomon's temple was built without the sound of a hammer, an axe, or any other tool? During the building on that building site there wasn't a noise, because this was a picture of how God works: not by human wisdom, not by the energy of the flesh, but the living stones of the temple of Jesus Christ, which is the church today, is built in answer to prayer! The power of God coming in answer to prayer! We shouldn't think - we so often do - of praying for the work of God, we've got to see that praying is the work of God! For God builds this temple!
Later on Solomon's Temple would be destroyed by the enemies of God, and another would be raised called Zerubbabel's Temple. The prophet Zechariah spoke the word of God when he said: 'It's not by might that it will be built, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord'. The Spirit's work is how we're going to see the glory of Christ, the Ark of God, set in its rightful place again, so that men may see it in the new births of souls won for Jesus, and the fullness of the Spirit in the life of sanctified believers glorifying Jesus Christ - but it's going to come in answer to prayer. Are you praying?
The work commenced with a desire, and that desire was birthed in prayer. The work continued with diligence, and that diligent work was built in prayer. We see finally that the work concluded with a demonstration of God's glory, the work concluded with a demonstration of God's glory. See chapter 7, the next chapter of 2 Chronicles, verse 1: 'Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house'. Imagine! Please imagine, don't read these things like fairy stories: the glory of the LORD filled the house! 'And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD' - pastor, imagine not being able to enter this house for the glory of the Lord filling it. Verse 3: 'And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever'. The fire came down to devour the offering that the people of God were giving, and then the glory came down to dwell! Now understand this: many of us want the glory, but we're not prepared for the fire! We're not prepared for the offering, we're not prepared for the cost, whatever it will be! Now you've got to understand that there is no gain without pain, there's no crown without the cross, there's no glory without the suffering! It was the fire that came down, and the glory, and the blessing came down, the work concluded in a demonstration of God's glory - and, look, the blessing came down in prayer.
The desire was birthed in prayer. The temple was built in prayer. The blessing came down in prayer. Isn't it interesting that prayer brought the blessing down, and when the blessing came down what is the first thing they did? They fell to their knees and they prayed. It started with prayer, it continued with prayer, it ended with prayer. This blessing is not only for that day, it's for any day when they needed blessing. Look at chapter 7 again and look at verse 12: 'And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually'.
This was not just for that particular day of dedication, this was for any day that they needed blessing! Prayer was available to the living God at the place of meeting, which was the Temple - but that's now Jesus Christ, and we are in Him, and we have a right to come to God, and all the promises of God are 'Yes and Amen' in Him, and if we come He will hear us! I believe this promise is still true. If God's people today humble themselves and pray, and seek God's face, turn from their wicked ways, He will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land - but the blessing comes down in prayer.
In 1901 in Melbourne, 2000 home prayer circles were instigated for an outpouring of God's Spirit, and it resulted in the city being moved from end to end by mighty movings of the Spirit of God. I'm led to believe that these home prayer circles caught on in England and elsewhere in 1902, and it is said that these led to revivals in various parts of the world from 1904 right until 1907. They owe their origin to prayer, prayer that started in Melbourne. In fact, during the 1904 revival, in other parts of the world, people felt the presence of God very definitely - but even further afield, away from the revivals, the presence of God was evident. In fact, it was very tangible. A year later, after the 1904 revival, here in Australia, God was at work. At meetings in Bowden Methodist Church the congregations were reluctant to leave the meetings because, I'm quoting: 'There were manifestations of the divine presence and power that were marked and felt by all present', in answer to prayer.
Now, when God wants to revive His people He sets them a-praying. Is there a burden for prayer in this fellowship? Is God moving? You will know if God's moving if people are meeting together for prayer - not just at the prayer meeting (and you be at the prayer meeting if you can), but even together, individually, little groups when you've got time - that's how God starts to move. I told you yesterday of the 1859 revival in Ulster, and four young men met together at a schoolhouse in a place called Kells in County Antrim. All they had was a Bible under one arm, and some peat under another arm to feed the fire. They read their Bibles, and they prayed to God, and they cried - only young men in their early 20s - and God heard, and a year later there was over 100,000 souls swept into the kingdom of God! Because God answers prayer, and God glorifies His Son, the Ark of God, when we cry: 'O God, arise, and the Ark of Your strength, into Your dwellingplace', when we allow ourselves to become a dwellingplace, a resting place for God's Shekinah glory.
Do you believe in the power of prayer? Well, maybe the better question is: are you praying? The church has an affliction: unbelieving believers. Or, to put it another way: practical atheists. They believe, in the sense of profession, and they truly believe, but practically they don't live it out as if they believed it. I heard a story recently, and with this I finish, of a US church that had a nightclub opening up beside it - can you imagine what that would be like here at Coffs Harbour Bible Church? They really hated that nightclub - noise during the prayer meetings, you can imagine people hanging around, drunks and so on, afterwards. They prayed against that nightclub, boy they prayed against that place! You could hardly believe it, but one night lightning struck the nightclub and it burned up to smithereens! But what is more unbelievable is that the nightclub owners took the church to court, and in the court the church pastor and elders and deacons protested: 'This was not our fault! You can't blame us for this, for lightning striking and burning down a nightclub'. The nightclub owners, they accused them of causing this - I don't know how the case ended, but all I do know is this: when the judge made his ruling, he said that there was one thing he was sure of, that the nightclub owners believed more in prayer than the church did.
You're laughing, but what about you? If we're going to see God's glory again in our day and generation, there must be a desire to commence such a work, and that desire will only be birthed in prayer. There needs to be diligence, there needs to be sacrifice, and that building will be done in prayer. When we pray, the blessing will come down. The blessing comes in answer to prayer, it starts in prayer, it continues in prayer, it is consummated in prayer. Jesus said: 'Men ought always to pray and not to faint'.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Coffs Harbour Bible Church, New South Wales, Australia, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "A Resting Place For God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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