6 Steps to a Joyful House of Prayer

Money. Taxes. Noise. Busy days. A challenge today. A challenge in Jesus’ day.

Each year, men paid an annual temple tax equal to two days’ wages. The tax could only be paid with temple currency. In the outer courts of the temple, money-changers exchanged everyday money for the temple currency. They charged high fees.

Merchants also sold approved sacrificial animals at inflated prices.

Baahing sheep. Cooing pigeons. Talking merchants. Unceasing commotion.

The outer courts of the temple were the only areas that the Gentiles could worship and pray. The outer courts where the animals were. The outer courts where the money exchanging was taking place.

Imagine worshipping and praying in the hub-bub of a farmer’s market.

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Walking in The Holy Spirit’s Stunning Power

Gate Beautiful

The Beautiful Gate or Eastern Gate where the lame beggar sat was the largest gate to the temple and the most beautiful. In Hebrew, the name of the gate means “Gate of Mercy.” It took 20 men to move the gate. The gate faces the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley. It was sealed shut, and a cemetery was placed before its entrance to render anyone who walked through the cemetery unclean. Jewish tradition says that the Messiah will come through the Eastern Gate when He comes to reign. Ezekiel writes of the glory of God entering the temple through the Eastern Gate.

Look at him! He’s walking. He’s jumping. He’s prancing around and praising God. Wait … he’s going into the temple with those men. He can’t do that; he’s unclean. Hasn’t he been lame since birth? I’ve seen him begging every day for decades. What happened?

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How are you honoring your body?

Mama's flowers

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here. Genesis 50:24-25

We buried Mama yesterday. She traveled from The Woodlands near Houston, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma and was buried with Daddy. Most of the family traveled from Texas. I traveled from California.

I considered not going. I rationalized that she wasn’t there, just her body.

… absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

I prayed for wisdom. Joseph came to mind, and I read Genesis 50.

Mary’s anointing the feet of Jesus with the costly perfume of nard and Jesus’ response came to mind.

Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. John 12:7

The body is important to God. In the story of creation, “God said,” and the light was created, the waters were separated, and vegetation sprouted.

But God “formed” and “breathed into” man.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

God “fashioned” the woman.

The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Genesis 2:22

There’s something special about the body, even when the spirit has left it. The body is God’s “poem,” His cherished handiwork. We honor the body in many ways. We decorate the body with clothes and jewels. We workout to shape it into today’s idea of beauty, and we use makeup to paint it.

The honor I was not giving to the body, and particularly to Mama’s body, was that the Holy Spirit had considered her body His temple. Yes, I had acknowledged that many times … read the Scripture and interpreted it to mean that we should take care of our bodies and avoid joining them in immorality.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

When God formed and fashioned the bodies of man and woman, He breathed His life into these temples that would house the Holy Spirit. Our God of artistry and love created them in His image, something to honor and cherish.

The Holy Spirit’s temple! Not St. Peter’s Basilica. Not Cathedral Notre Dame. The Christian’s body.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Mama’s spirit is in heaven now, and her body is in the earth waiting for the trumpet of God to sound. I know that her new body will reflect God’s artistry and love.

My Prayer

Father, thank You for creating our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for giving significance to every part of our lives. You took such care in creating bodies with the senses that could give pleasure and richness to this earthly life. Thank You for Your gentle lessons and guidance. I am glad that You have given honor to our earthly bodies and that You have new bodies for us.

How are you honoring your body?

Are you expecting healing from God?

Gate BeautifulBeautiful Gate in Jerusalem

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10

The lame man was dependent on other people to get to the gate outside the temple. He asked for money as the people passed him to enter the temple to pray. Every day, people entered the temple. Every day, he sat outside the temple.

Continue reading Are you expecting healing from God?