Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Whose House Are You?

“Jesus' house is the House of Prayer ”

Website:  http://www.lefi.org/

“My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Mark 11:17).

If we ask a man on the street to identify a house of prayer, I wonder what he would say. Probably he would point to a place where charms are sold and weird counsels given and call it a house of prayer.

The very conception of House of prayer has totally disappeared in most countries. A house of annual festivity of one sort or another, or a house where devotees dance with their bodies smeared with oil or bright colours, or a house which resounds with chants not easily understood—yes, you will find. But what is a House of prayer and where is one to find it? Surely not in modern Christendom!

Someone took me over to see a very beautiful church building in the United States. It glistened with paint and polish and everything was tastefully and, in fact, very expensively appointed. Someone said one or two millionaires too worshipped there. Yet in spite of the sheer beauty of the interior decoration, there was only one service held there each week and that on Sunday morning. There was no prayer meeting or any mid-week meeting whatever.

A church without a prayer meeting is a dead church. You and your children are not going to get anything of lasting value from a prayerless church.

What is known as the church is a body of believers, who have found in Jesus forgiveness of sins and deliverance from sin and pray effectively from their hearts, withal enjoying true and loving fellowship with each other.

Where there is true love, there is always genuine concern and heartfelt prayer. Now, that is what the Lord Jesus wished to see in the temple. But alas! He heard only the bleating of the sheep, the dolorous cooing of doves kept there to be sold as sacrifices, the vigorous and vociferous haggling over purchases and the jingling of coins at the moneychangers. You can well imagine what a shock and sorrow all this noisy cacophony of voices and sounds must have been to Him!

“My house shall be called the house of prayer for all people.” Jesus found the temple to be anything but a House of prayer. There was neither the atmosphere of prayer nor were there men intent on prayer there. The heart of the Saviour was filled with anguish and abhorrence and He cried, “Ye have made the house of prayer a den of thieves.”

I don’t know how commercialism and a money-motive slowly and imperceptibly [attach themselves] to a religious cause. Then it soon develops into a stranglehold, and be sure it is all downhill from that point. Where prayer was wont to be made, it is fights and arguments instead! Where there were godly and upright men before, crooks and clever dissemblers take over. Thereafter, a heartless commercialism holds sway over what was meant to be a spiritual institution or a place where the weary and the heartbroken find peace with God and rest. I’m sure there are still some right-thinking men who are well and truly fed up with the manner in which religious places of worship have become the seats of moneymaking racketeers. These temples do not promote holiness of life but are hotbeds of immorality and vice. Thugs and thieves do not come here to pray and repent but to express their appreciation for a religious system or deity who, they feel, has helped to fill their coffers with money, regardless of its being ill gotten.

A temple is a House of prayer, where sin is rebuked and from which men return wholly transformed. Men who had gone there under the grip of alcohol return with an abhorrence of liquor and crooks turn into straight-living men. They have had an encounter with God in the temple and their lives have been transformed. This transformation or new life penetrates deep into the total-life of the recipients. Where he was a failure as a father, he begins to make amends. In the place of a home-wrecker, we have now a homebuilder—a man who can be trusted as a true and faithful husband anywhere he goes. Yes, meeting the Lord Jesus produces in you a change of life which thrills you and makes you wonder at yourself.

On the other side of the picture, you see men who approach a religious festival with the grossest of motives. They never once heard that a visit to the temple should be with the firm intention of praying and getting right with God. Such an idea is novel and totally alien to many people in our world today.

While walking through the majestic St. Peter’s in Rome, I found hordes of tourists casually strolling round the place, not bothering to even pay scant respect to those people who were carrying out routine religious observances in a small enclosure. The irreverence and the godlessness of the scene were quite shattering. Have we only an impressive and magnificent structure to show? No! We have a great God, who changes sinners, teaches them to pray and be men of God, and rebuilds sin-ravaged and broken homes, a God who dwelleth not in mere buildings built of brick and mortar.

Standing in a long line of waiting people, who had travelled great distances to get a fleeting glimpse of a famous gilded idol, a young man told me that he had indulged in grossly unclean deeds in broad daylight! His visit to a fabled temple had only worked him up to a state of uncontrolled bestiality! A den of thieves indeed!—where men are robbed of their virtue and women of their virginity.

It looks as though, currently, in the name of religion, almost anything can be done. What a tragedy!

The Lord Jesus, who had come into this world to die for mankind’s sins, was heart-broken when He saw the temple of His day devoid of prayer and true godliness. Nor did He get paralyzed by the scene of prolific wickedness—He cast out the wicked from the temple and cleansed it.

When we are washed in Jesus’ Blood, the dynamic of God’s holiness takes hold of us; the uncleanness and wickedness around us hides its head in shame and flees from us. There is something vitally wrong with a Christianity that cannot change the world around it and usher in purity of life where none existed.

The thieves and evil men are turned into soul-winners when Jesus comes in; and a scene of total spiritual desolation and moral bankruptcy is changed into a scene of spiritual revival and renewal when you repent before the Crucified and Risen Saviour who is waiting to cleanse and receive you. Oh, may the Living Saviour bring a cleansing wave of revival over homes and nations.

—Excerpt from Pray with Purpose by Joshua Daniel, published by Laymen’s Evangelical Fellowship International

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