Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Scripture for Becoming A House of Prayer Champion

Becoming a Prayer Champion…

May we hear “an urgent call for spiritual and prophetic leadership toward
the new developments in our culture …

“The call is to unLearn - to break the rules of conventional wisdom in
order to translate God’s ancient purposes to today’s postmodern world …
visualizing and articulating alternative pathways of ministry based on who
you are and how God has uniquely gifted you.

“It’s time to go beyond knowing and believing God’s truth to
experiencing and demonstrating God’s presence.”
Michael Slaughter, unLearning Church (Group Books)

Isaiah 56

1 This is what the LORD says:
"Maintain justice and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

2 Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say,
"The LORD will surely exclude me from his people."
And let not any eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree."

4 For this is what the LORD says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant-

5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant-

7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."

8 The Sovereign LORD declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered."

John 2 – Early Minstry

11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men 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 area, 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! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous 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 The Jews 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.

Long, McMurry: Prayer That Shapes The Future:

"Jesus was the ultimate Creator, building a New Creation, which is to grow and grow until it fills heaven and earth for all eternity. His methods for building this new reality include prayer...(especially) a certain type of prayer, based on the conviction that prayer is for builders and shapers. [not movers & shakers] If we want to build and shape the Kingdom of God, we must learn this type of prayer.

"This is not the meditative prayer that New Agers recommend as a way of dealing with stress in the workplace. It is not ritualistic prayer that Muslims pray five times a day as they face Mecca. It is not the flowery and poetic prayer of the pietistic movement of the past.

"It is bold and gutsy stuff, a tool for creative people, like the rough hammer-and-nails materials used by framers of buildings. This prayer builds new realities - spiritual homes, safe neighborhoods, new churches, missions outreach - where before, none existed. By prayer, we are challenging to envision realities in the midst of the world's devastation and emptiness. By
sharing in this work of prayer we will shape God's future.”

Matthew 21 – Later Ministry

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" 11 The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." 12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.

Mark 11
12 The next day (following the Triumphal Entry) as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

The Court of the Pagans

One of the remarkable features of the temple Herod built in Jerusalem was the large plaza known as the Court of the Gentiles.

It developed from the outer court of Solomon’s design — little more than a ring of pavement surrounded by booths—but was expanded with each rebuilding until it took up a significant portion of the temple precincts. As it expanded, the outer court became the place for non-Jews to worship God. Although Scripture does not explicitly extend this function to the outer court, it may be inferred from passages like Isaiah 56:7. In this way, it represented God’s intention that salvation would come to the whole world through his people.

But it seems few among God’s people understood the purpose for which they were chosen (Is. 26:18: We have not brought salvation to the world). They became fascinated by their selection and absorbed with their personal routines. Consequently, the outer court was not filled with the number of gentiles it was designed for.

Far from understanding this as a testimony against their complacency, God’s people put the “wasted space” to other uses. It is this dimension that
we sometimes miss in reading about Jesus’ outrage when he visited the temple courts (Mark 11:15ff). Here the World’s Salvation finally visited the temple courts, but the nations that were supposed to be gathered there were missing.

I wonder if the design of the temple is meant as a template for our churches. Our mandate to reach outsiders is even clearer, so have we designed a larger place for them? Or do we rob them by using that space for ourselves? My experience is that our expectations are traumatized when we allow pagans in sacred places; it is all we can do to remind ourselves that we are not the One that owns them.
The question remains: when he next visits, will he find the Court of the Pagans full?

Luke 19
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

45 Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. 46 "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Jesus is not asking our permission
He is calling for our passionate participation!

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