The House of God
Peter Davies, Swansea, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
3) Harmony in the House of God
This is certainly a matter that needs our attention in these days of strife and contention. Remember when there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, it grieved Abram, and he could not rest until the matter was settled, ‘And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren’, Gen.13. 8. Paul was concerned about this when he wrote to the Philippians, saying, ‘Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves’, Phil. 2. 3. How wonderful it is when there is harmony, and unity. Says David, in Psalm 133 verse 1, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’. Sadly, to the Corinthians, Paul declares, ‘it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren . . . that there are contentions among you’, 1 Cor. 1. 11. Could this not be said of us? It should not be for we are all of ‘one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all’, Eph. 4. 4-6.
In the intercessory prayer of our Lord we hear Him pleading ‘that they all may be one; as you Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent Me’, John 17. 21-22. The exhortation of scripture is that we should always be ‘endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’, Eph. 4. 3. Are we endeavouring, giving diligence, labouring to maintain this blessed unity? Or are we those who disturb the peace and harmony by our petty jealousies? Are we numbered among those who cause division by an overemphasis of one doctrine against another? Are we taken up with personalities instead of with the Lord. Are we those who seem to delight in causing controversy, trouble makers and not peacemakers? These things are very serious in the eyes of the Lord. His word to us in Philippians 2 verse 5 is that we should have the mind of Christ in these matters. This is the humble mind, the mind that looks on the interests and well-being of others rather than on our own. There is perfect harmony and unity in the Godhead, and that is what should mark the House of God.
4) Happiness in the House of God
Some would say what has this to do with the House of God? Let the scriptures speak for themselves. Listen to the psalmist who says, ‘Blessed are they that dwell in your house; they shall be constantly praising you. Selah’, Ps. 84. 4. Again, ‘Happy is that people whose God is the Lord’, Ps. 144. 15. Solomon in his wisdom declares, ‘whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he’, Prov. 16. 20. There is yet more for the psalmist insists that we, ‘Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His Presence with singing’, Ps. 100. 2. Hear David again, ‘In your Presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore’, Ps. 16. 11. Has God not put a new song into our mouths and isn’t that a song of joy?
When we come over into the New Testament He still desires His people to be a happy and singing people. Is this not one of the great themes of Philippians? ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice’, 4. 4. Surely our happiness, our joy, should be at its fullest when we are in His wonderful presence. The whole of creation is going to sing one day when His final triumph will be accomplished and the last enemy will be destroyed, and God will be all and in all. Should not then the House of God, the local company of redeemed ones be happy, glad, rejoicing in Him?
5) Help in the House of God
How dependent we are upon the Lord. Do we think that we are self sufficient like those around us who live in darkness and have no knowledge of God in their lives? Like the psalmist we too can say, ‘My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth, Ps.121. 2’. David prays, ‘The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary’, Ps. 20. 1-2.
Where did men of God in days of old go in times of trouble? ‘Hezekiah went up into the House of the Lord . . . and prayed before the Lord’, see 2 Kgs. 19. 14. It was a time of great distress when the name of the Lord had been blasphemed, and the Assyrian invader oppressed the nation. Jehoshaphat, in a day of great crisis, went to the House of the Lord to pray. There are those who would say we can pray at home, but how much better it is to be able to gather in unity to share the burden with others and present our prayers and petitions before our God. The House of God in Old Testament times was a house of prayer, even our Lord referred to it as such. At the dedication of the temple Solomon pleaded with the Lord that whatever prayer was made toward that House, the Lord would hear and bless, 2 Chr. 6. 29. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper’, 13. 6. Do we not need His help today, when there is such a falling away, a decline and a removal of many lampstands? Can there be a more inspiring word to us than this today, ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’?
Despite the privilege and the promise, the assembly prayer meeting is often the least attended, and sadly brethren come without an exercise and burden to pray. Isaiah would remind us, ‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength’, Isa. 40. 31. The House of God, beloved, should be our greatest source of help and encouragement.
6) Health in the House of God
John, writing to his beloved Gaius, says, ‘Beloved I wish above all things, that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers’, 3 John 2. We are all concerned that our bodies are healthy, but are we as concerned for our spiritual health? The House of God is the place where we can receive the entire blessing that we need, physical and spiritual. David experienced this and he shares with us this beautiful thought, ‘How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. They shall be satisfied with the fatness of Thy House; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light’, Ps. 36. 7-10. Another interesting word from David is found in Psalm 65 verse 4, ‘We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy House, even of Thy holy temple’. Is this how we value the House of God, dear saints? Is it the place where we find our satisfaction, our pleasure, and our delight? Growing continually in the knowledge and appreciation of the Lord’s bounty and grace. Here we will mature spiritually, becoming more and more like our blessed Lord. This is the evidence of real spiritual health and vitality and should characterize those who belong to the House of God.
This was not so at Corinth. The church there was anything but healthy, ‘are you not carnal, and walk as men?’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. 3. 1-3. How different must things have been in the church at Rome. To these Paul says ‘pray . . . that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed’. This is what the House of God should be to us, a haven of rest, the place where we find our refreshing and renewing.
7) Hope in the House of God
In the words of David, ‘And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee’, Ps. 39. 7. Over now into the New Testament and hear the apostle Paul, ‘Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost’, Rom. 15. 13. If we are going to know the wonder and blessedness of hope, beloved, we will need to abide in His presence, not only individually but collectively, in the House of God?
This is clearly the mind of God for us for the Lord gave commandment to His people of old saying, ‘Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice’, Ps. 50. 5. Hear now the exhortation of our New Testament, ‘Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more as we see the day approaching’, Heb.10. 24-25. That is our hope, is it not beloved – the coming of our blessed Lord? ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven’, 1 Thess. 4. 16-18. Where else could we find this encouragement and comfort, other than in the House of God?
May we find the House of God all these things and much more to us in the coming days. If not then do not let us merely bemoan the poverty and barrenness among us, but let us each as individuals play our part, fulfil our responsibility, and seek to bring something of the fragrance and beauty of Christ into the assembly. Was this not the message of God to Malachi, chapter 3 verse 10, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing?’