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Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16

There’s a small house down the road from us. I’m not sure when the grass was mowed last and since it’s in the country, there are no ‘rules’ to govern its upkeep. I’ve never seen the blinds or drapes open. The yard, what you can see of it, is cluttered with a couple old cars and some other debris. The siding doesn’t match. In fact, in a few places plywood patches damaged siding.

I’ve never seen anyone at this house. For all I know it could be abandoned except that on rare occasions there is a vehicle parked in the driveway. A nice, shiny, very expensive truck that I confess I’ve coveted on occasion!

While I know nothing of the story of this building and it’s inhabitants, it’s obvious to me where the priorities may lie and they are not on a dwelling place. I’d hesitate to step foot on the very property much less enter the building.

Paul writes to us about another kind of building, a spiritual and physical building that we take with us every day. I confess to you that I wish I would/could live every moment of my life with the realization that my body is the dwelling place, the house of the most high God. Even more amazing to me is that his dwelling is the place he has chosen.

There are some that teach (by lifestyle, if not verbally) that there is a separation of the spiritual and the physical; that what we do and what we believe don’t have to completely agree with each other. The spiritual me and the physical me can’t be separated though. We are one.

All across our nation fitness centers are springing up. Even the smallest of towns will have a place where people can come to care for their bodies. It’s ironic that we spend millions of dollars on churches every year to provide beautiful, comfortable places where people can come and ‘worship’. Yet, in reality we are a nation that is physically obese and spiritually starved. We don’t care of our souls work I really God dwells

Now, before you think that I’m pointing fingers, let me tell you about me. I’m 25 pounds overweight, don’t exercise nearly enough and wish I could find more time for study of God’s word and prayer. I often find myself saying things and doing things that, if God were standing beside me, I’d think twice about.

The point is, I’m not perfect. I’m far from perfect. Yet God. THE God. The creator-sustainer of the universe indwells me. Even more amazing is the fact that he CHOSE to indwell me because of his love for me, not because of how I take care of his home.

If we truly believe in this God we claim allegiance to, let us together strive to put a priority on his dwelling place, our hearts.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for your love for me. I praise you for the fact that even though I don’t always care for your dwelling place the way I’d like you still love me. Empower me with your Spirit to live in such a way that reflects your glory. Amen.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. Genesis 15:17

All of us, at one time or another have suffered from broken promises. It started when we were young with the promises of parents and other ‘trusted adults’ who promised to play with us, take us to the zoo, or go on that fishing trip.

As we grew older the promises became more complex, but no more secure.

“I’ll be your best friend forever.”

“I promise I won’t tell anyone your secret. You can trust me.”

“I promise I will never leave you. I will always be here for you.”

Broken promises break our hearts, wound our souls and cause us to doubt others as well as ourselves.

The problem with promises is that they are only as strong as the person making them. A common misconception we have is that some promises are conditional.

“I promise I’ll go to the dance with you if…”

“We’ll watch the ball game together if you promise you’ll clean your room.”

But promises are unconditional. Once you add a condition to a promise the promise and it’s accompanying obedience becomes a rule/wage situation. None of this is more true than with the story of Abram and Jehovah God.

Abram bursts onto the Old Testament scene rather abruptly and from out of nowhere. For no apparent reason, God promises him tremendous blessing both in wealth in this life and in a legacy that will last throughout history.

In Abram’s day, promises were covenants that were sealed with sacrifice. The ceremony involved cutting animals in half and laying them end to end. The participants in the sacrifice would walk together through the carcasses as a sign of their allegiance to the sacrifice. In a sense it would be like saying, ‘may I be like one of these animals if I break this promise.’

The interesting thing is, Abram didn’t walk down the path, only God did. The meaning is amazing. The promise of God’s love and blessing is entirely dependent on him alone, not Abram. The blazing torch symbolizes the Shekinah Glory, God himself in all his power and majesty. The smoking fire pot may symbolize despair and pain. To me, it symbolizes the pain Jesus bore on the cross for me.

God’s promise is not dependent on us in the least. There is nothing we can do to tear us away from his love and power and forgiveness. Without God’s love, our lives are full of pain and broken promises. With him we shine as lights in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for your promise of salvation. Thank you that there is nothing I can do to invalidate the covenant because it all rides on you. And thank you for the forgiveness that only comes through Jesus. Amen.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5

Q: What do you need to do to make Jesus love you more?

A: Nothing. That’s right. Nothing.

The problem is, from a human perspective, love doesn’t work that way in real life. We say we’ll love each other forever. We tell ourselves and our loved ones that nothing can ever change our love. But then real life sets in.

Affairs happen and destroy the intimacy that once protected our trust. Lies happen and shatter our faith. Health issues and financial calamity hits and we lose sight of what love is all about. No one ever walks the aisle with the hope that this union will last a year. ‘Til death do us part’ is the ideal we all hope for.

Love isn’t guaranteed in the parent/child relationship either. Children are abused or asked to leave their homes. They are abandoned or neglected by parents who are so wrapped up in their own lives and needs that they completely overlook the needs of their offspring. It’s unthinkable, but true.

Love dies when we fail to consider the feelings and value of the other person. Love dies when we fail to see ourselves as God sees us. If I see you as the special creation you are because of God’s fingerprints on you, then I’ll not hurt you. I’ll cherish and protect you at all costs, no matter what. If you love me as Christ loves you, then the mistakes that I make will be forgiven.

That’s how Jesus loves us. He loves us with an unconditional love that says no matter what you say, or where you go, or what you do, I love you. We may suffer consequences for our actions, but even then we are loved by the Father through Jesus Christ. We need only to confess our sins to receive forgiveness in order to feel his love in our lives.

Loving others as Christ loves us isn’t easy. In fact, in some situations it’s almost impossible. Sometimes we have to separate ourselves from those that hurt us for our own safety and their own good. But separating ourselves from other people due to abuse doesn’t mean we don’t still go on loving them through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Loving others doesn’t always mean trusting others.

Love as Jesus loves. Love others based on who you are in Christ Jesus. Love others based on the fact that even though they may have hurt you, in reality they are God’s creation and his desire for them, like you, if for relationship.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the unconditional, eternal and merciful love that you have for me. I look back at the path I’ve taken and see so many times when I’ve ignored your love and taken you places and let you see me do things that I never should have done. Still you love me! Empower me with your Spirit to love others in the same way you love me. Not for my sake but for yours. In your name I pray. Amen.

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