Monday, July 29
Theme for the week:
Disciples Show Love to
Themselves Because They Are
Temples of God

Are we supposed to love ourselves? You won’t find a bible quote for it. The bible denounces self-love (2 Tim 3:2) and self-importance (Philippians 2:3).

But God does advocate a sense of worth (you are worth more than many sparrows – Matthew 10:31). If you agree with God, the end result will be a sense of self-worth. As followers of Jesus, we’re taught to care for others as we care for ourselves—clearly a form of love.

Jesus even uses the word love to express such actions when quoting Leviticus 19:18: Love your neighbor as yourself.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

• In Christ, My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, whom I received from God. I am not my own, but was bought at the price of Jesus’ life. I therefore honor God with my body.

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Pondering Point

Today we hear St. Paul’s call to honor the Lord with our bodies. He goes so far as to say that you are not your own, but were bought with a price, alluding to Jesus’ costly death. This teaching from God flies in the face of today’s talk of “its my body and I can do whatever I want.” As with all things, we are to honor God above ourselves – body included. You were bought – not by a man (at least not by a mere man), but bought by God – the God-man Jesus Christ. Some of you may be familiar with the hymn lyrics penned by Isaac Watts, so titled by its first line. Here are the first and last lines.

“When I survey the wondrous cross…
– demands my soul, my life, my all.”
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Prayer

Find a copy of Watts’ hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross or Chris Tomlin’s version The Wonderful Cross. Read it. Meditate on it. Listen to it. Sing it. Pray it. Use it to connect with Father God and offer once again to honor God with your body.

Tuesday, July 30
God’s Mission

John 2:13-25

Jesus Clears the Temple Courts

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

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Pondering Point

Just as Jesus describes his body as a temple, we too would be wise to think of our bodies as temples of God. As disciples, God our Father inhabits us. Jesus promised as much to His first disciples in John 14:23. This is part of the mission of God Jesus carries out. You see it again in Jesus’ prayer of John 17. Unity with God.

So it isn’t just the Holy Spirit that dwells in us, but the Father and the Son as well. This should not surprise us since there is unity in the Trinity. But hopefully it enthuses us. Let us honor Him/Them with our bodies and how we use them, how we treat them – ours and others.

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Prayer

Father God, thank you for the reminder that my body is Your temple. Thanks for honoring my body with Your holy presence. Thanks for the temple that is my body. I commit to honor You with it. Amen.

Dedication Prayer

Father, You created this body1

Jesus, You redeemed this body2

Spirit, You sanctified this body to be Your temple3

Father, in view of Your mercy, I offer my body as a living sacrifice4

Jesus, knowing that You bought this body at a price, I seek to honor You with it5

Spirit, knowing that my body is Your temple, I offer all parts as instruments for righteousness6

By Your strength God, I seek to glorify You today, heart and soul, mind and body, will and imagination in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

1Psalm 139:14
21 Corinthians 15:13
31 Corinthians 6:19
4Romans 12:1
51 Corinthians 6:20
6Romans 6:13

Wednesday, July 31
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

James 5:14-15

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

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Pondering Point

A straight-forward reading of these bible verses implies that sin and sickness can be tied together. It further implies that confessional prayer and physical wellness can be tied together. Psalms 32 and 51 are great examples of this in the life of King David.

Don’t let your body wallow in sickness. Don’t let your sins go unconfessed. And don’t be averse to letting your fellow disciples anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. We are, after all, the hands and feet of Jesus – the Body of Christ. Through them, you can experience Christ, your Good Shepherd, anointing your head with oil and enabling your cup to overflow, allowing goodness and love to follow you all the days of your life (see Psalm 23:5-6).

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Prayer

Father God, teach me to respect the connection between physical and spiritual wellness. You desire total wellness in Your people, and I desire to let nothing keep me unhealthy physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, financially – all of which have some spiritual link. As the Psalmist wrote, so I pray: See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:24). In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, August 1
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

1 Kings 8:22-53

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:

“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.

27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

31 “When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.

33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.

35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— 42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

44 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

46 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

52 “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”

Hear from heaven,
your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

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Pondering Point

Solomon’s prayer, commencing use of the temple, admits that God’s people will sin. It has always been that way – still is. AND, in the name of Jesus, He still hears from heaven and forgives. Let’s prayerfully re-center around God and seek forgiveness from within the temple known as our body.

Review the week

How have you sinned against God using you’re your body? Think about the use of your mouth, hands, or eyes, your facial expressions, your body language, coldness or coercion; your unsupportive absence, unhelpful presence, or selfish agenda.

Repent (if necessary)

To align with Solomon’s prayer, repent of whatever arose during the above review. Then complete this portion of re-centering with Solomon’s words (1 Kings 8:28):

Give attention to Your servant’s prayer and my plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear my cry and the prayer Your servant is praying in Your presence this day.

Return (as necessary)

You can conclude the prayer time with the phrase that kicked off this devotion:
Hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.

Here is an abbreviation of the blessing Solomon shares upon God’s people that day. The full blessing is found in 1 Kings 8:56-61:

May the Lord our God be with us; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him. May these words of mine be near to the Lord day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and his people according to each day’s need, so that all may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts always be fully committed to God to live by his decrees as at this time. Amen!

Friday, August  2
Discipleship Point and Prayer

Whether we are up or whether we are down, the enemy has a plan to get us to rely on our own thinking, to blame someone else for our defeat and to take all the credit for the victories. A man is tested by the praise he receives, and he is tested by the losses he experiences. If we keep our eyes focused on God, we can stay humble when we lose and when we win.

p.142, Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones.
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Humility Prayer

Father God, as I go through ups and downs in life, enable me to keep my eyes focused on You, staying humble in defeat and victory, through every trial and temptation. Amen.

Discipleship Point on Justice

How is sacrificial love expressed among those broken by the world? When love intersects broken lives, Christ's disciples are called to stand for justice. Biblical justice means lifting the bonds of oppression, identifying with the cause of the poor and meeting the needs of the downtrodden.
~ Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 155
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Discipleship Prayer

Lord Jesus, while our government debates politically over such issues of justice, you call us to practice justice in our daily lives with whomever we meet, broken or not. Show our spirits how to identify with and help the poor and downtrodden. Help us to see You in them and them in You. Amen.

Saturday, August 3
Scripture's Story for the Week

Ezra 6:1-18

The Decree of Darius

1 King Darius then issued an order, and they searched in the archives stored in the treasury at Babylon. 2 A scroll was found in the citadel of Ecbatana in the province of Media, and this was written on it:

Memorandum:

3 In the first year of King Cyrus, the king issued a decree concerning the temple of God in Jerusalem:

Let the temple be rebuilt as a place to present sacrifices, and let its foundations be laid. It is to be sixty cubits high and sixty cubits wide, 4 with three courses of large stones and one of timbers. The costs are to be paid by the royal treasury. 5 Also, the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, are to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God.

6 Now then, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and you other officials of that province, stay away from there. 7 Do not interfere with the work on this temple of God. Let the governor of the Jews and the Jewish elders rebuild this house of God on its site.

8 Moreover, I hereby decree what you are to do for these elders of the Jews in the construction of this house of God:

Their expenses are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury, from the revenues of Trans-Euphrates, so that the work will not stop. 9 Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail, 10 so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.

11 Furthermore, I decree that if anyone defies this edict, a beam is to be pulled from their house and they are to be impaled on it. And for this crime their house is to be made a pile of rubble. 12 May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.

I Darius have decreed it. Let it be carried out with diligence.

Completion and Dedication of the Temple

13 Then, because of the decree King Darius had sent, Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shethar-Bozenai and their associates carried it out with diligence. 14 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia. 15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

16 Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. 17 For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they installed the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their groups for the service of God at Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.

Ezra’s re-dedication of the temple is quite different than the one orchestrated by Solomon. While Ezra’s dedication comes with hundreds of sacrifices, Solomon’s came with untold thousands. The size and prestige of the temples were hardly the same. But both were still godly. Regardless of the size of the temple or amount of sacrifices, the size of God’s heart to receive such honorable dedications is still the same. The hearing of God is still the same. The forgiveness from God is still the same.

During the rebuilding of the temple a second time, many rejoice similar to those at the first building of the temple. But others – those who had experienced the first temple’s glory, find themselves weeping at what once was – and how it was lost through the sins of God’s people Israel (see Ezra 3:11-13).

For some of us disciples, our personal temples may not be what they once were either. But that makes no matter. Regardless of the vitality of the temple or its ability to offer sacrifices, it is the size of God’s heart that really matters. Father God still receives honorable dedications in the name of Jesus. The hearing of God is still the same. The forgiveness from God is still the same.

Sunday, August 4
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Revelation 3:12

The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 

Are these tattoos being described? Is Jesus branding his followers? Regardless, we are clearly being marked as His; he is definitively establishing ownership of His people. And these aren’t temporary tattoos—we are his permanently!

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Prayer for the Day

[Pray about how God can put joy and peace into your world, which will in turn cause you to overflow with hope.]

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Dear Lord,

I am providing these comments about the website and devotion to increase your greater glory.

Amen.

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