Locked doors

As we read from Song of Solomon 5 today, it’s hard not to have in mind the words of Jesus. Depending on your translation, Revelation 3:20 begins with LookListen or Here I am! It’s Jesus at the door of the lukewarm church.

He comes bearing an invitation.

The church’s works are neither hot nor cold. As a result of their insular attitudes, their ministry is worthless. But there’s a chance to repent. That’s when Jesus affirms his presence just outside their door: Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

To eat with someone is a sign of friendship and affirmation. What love Christ has for his church that he does not wish to be apart from it!

So, what keeps his church from wanting to be with him?

Oh, we don’t say that, of course. We say everything is about Jesus. As long as we say his name a few times and meet in his building, what more would we need to do?

There is a dream told of in Song of Solomon 5; it is the fair maiden’s vision. In her dream, she hears her beloved at the door knocking. It is late, but he has made every effort to be with her.

It’s her first response that I’m reflecting on today.

She had already turned in for the night. Bathed and tucked comfortably in bed, it’d be too much trouble to open the door, even for someone she loved so dearly. When she finally decided to get up, it was too late.

It seems to me God’s church today stands to learn something from her. My church is currently reading through Ephesians. One of the themes we have seen is the need for the church to turn from its old life. There is new, abundant life in Christ!

Sometimes, though, it feels like we haven’t been willing to make the full turn.

We sing love songs and prayers behind the locked doors of our hearts. How do we know this? When the church isn’t enraptured by the love of God, it’s pretty obvious. When attitudes don’t change we’ve added another lock to the door. When we remain steadfast in our bickering, gossiping and prideful ways, it’s like we’ve moved every piece of furniture in front of the door, keeping Christ away.

But there is always hope.

Christ hasn’t turned away from his church. He loves her so much. All the church needs to do is seek Christ with every ounce of being it has.

Stay blessed…john

Church closets

Last week, my wife and I traveled to a funeral.

If you don’t know, she had ankle surgery two weeks ago to repair three tendon tears. She’s been at home with her leg up. The funeral was one of two outings she’s had in that time. Long story short, she fell at the funeral. As she lay on the floor catching her breath, I could tell she was in pain.

She’s told the story several times now. When she has, she’s mentioned something funny. As she was on the floor in pain she couldn’t help but notice how clean the floor was. Before we left the funeral she told me, “I could’ve eaten off that floor!”

That impressed her.

What’s the condition of your church floor?

Forgive me if this turns out sounding more like a pet peeve of mine than an actual daily devotional. I’ve been a part of churches that have still had that new church smell. My children also have a fond connection to “that old church smell.” Some of you know what that means.

No matter the condition of the facilities, you can take care of what you have. We say our sanctuaries and buildings are places people encounter God’s grace. We say they are gifts from God. Then why wouldn’t we take care of them as such?

There have been times I’ve seen Bibles used as doorstops and pews as garbage disposals. We’ve let furniture and other junk rot in rooms. And don’t get me started on church closets! There are few church events that include a proper clean-up. So, stuff tends to hang around for quite a while.

Okay, what makes me think this is devotional material? Have you ever known someone who took extra care of their car? You knew they loved that car. You take care of what you care about. Now, cars are just one example.

You get the point. 

In Song of Solomon 3, there’s a procession coming. Presumably, it’s a woman coming to meet the king. There’s no mistaking the pomp and circumstance of her arrival. The woman’s arrival is seen coming from the wilderness. Of course, this is Solomon’s ride. So, you’d expect it to be lavish. But there’s one line that struck me. Verse 10 says that the “interior was inlaid with love.”

Now, that’s not a cheesy love reference. There are several ways to understand what that meant. Still, it says something about what the vehicle was meant to be.

I don’t mean to suggest your church is the only place you experience grace or meet God. Not at all. I am also not implying you restrict the use of your buildings in the spirit of “not ruining our facilities.”

But these are places we’ve set aside as holy. Let’s take care of them as such. Maybe eating off the floor is a bit extreme, but it does say something to other people about what we think happens in our building. I’ll go so far as to suggest it says something to God about what we think happens there.

Stay blessed…john

Masterpiece

This year’s Summer Sermon Series was titled “Masterpiece.” I based it on Ephesians 2:10.

For the record, I love the book of Ephesians. It’s my third favorite book of the Bible to read. How I wish I could convince the church who Ephesians says they are! I think your church should read it at least once a year.

For this year’s sermon series I asked everyone to create a masterpiece. The idea is that part of living into our identity as God’s holy church is employing our creativity. Creativity, of course, put within us by our Creator.

And far be it for me to not join in what I ask the church to do.

My masterpiece is a song of praise. I summarized a lot of what we’ve talked about in the series. Not to be too original, I titled my masterpiece “Masterpiece.”

VERSE ONE

We have our victory in Christ our Lord.

There is no power he can’t overcome.

We share the mystery that we are one

made alive together by the love of God.

VERSE TWO

The church’s redemption is through the cross.

Filled to the measure all the fullness of God.

Now, we are strengthened together we walk

in the glory of God as his masterpiece.

CHORUS

God has saved us and raised us

We are one in the Lord.

Now our glory is only

When we live as one.

VERSE THREE

Marked by the Spirit our lives are transformed.

With every effort to live in God’s peace.

Now, it’s our witness that proves we believe

there is hope in the name of our Jesus.

BRIDGE

Praise be to the God and Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ

who has blessed us in the heavenly realms

with spirituals blessing in Jesus.

My kids will help me record it later. Why don’t you get to creating something!

Stay blessed…john