March 18

Deuteronomy 4:7-8 (NIV) 7What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Our God fills the universe, and yet He is near everyone, ready to commune with hearts that are receptive to Him. He is over all and yet willing to have a personal relationship with those who seek Him in truth. There has never been a god invented by any religion that is so great and so loving as the God of the Bible. We did not invent our God. He revealed Himself to us. He continues to reveal Himself to us as long as we continue to seek the wonder of His infinite greatness.

Though Israel was a nation with the privilege of seeing Him move on their behalf, all the nations that came in contact with Israel could witness the same and decide if they wanted to pursue the God of Israel. He would be just as near any of them that sought Him whenever they prayed to Him.

What really made Israel unique was that they had the recorded word of God. The laws that they received were full of the Creator's instructions that kept them from the diseases and injustices that the nations around them experienced. The revealed Word gave them a new culture, the culture of God. Even the culture was meant to be a witness to the nations.

Consider: Appreciate the fact that you have a God that is near when you pray. Appreciate your unique culture by living as a person of the Word. Both will speak to the world you come in contact with and show that there is a Living God who is near those who call upon Him.

March 18

Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV) 12Jesus 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.'"

Jesus had cleaned out the outer court of the Temple on the first Passover of His ministry. At the last Passover, He did it again. The outer court was the area dedicated for the nations of the world to come and pray to Jehovah. The religious leaders had allowed it to become a market for exchanging coins to pay the Temple tax and for the purchase of sacrificial animals. The archeological finds of opulent homes of the priests indicates there may have been some financial gain for them in allowing this to take place there. Instead of a quiet courtyard for people to come before God, it was a noisy business center. It had also become a shortcut from one side of the city to the other. You can bet the religious leaders would never have allowed any of this to go on in the inner courts! It was a blatant disregard for the call of God to the Jewish people, to present the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the world. It was an attitude that said, "We know God, and we could care less about the rest of you that don't know Him." That was a complete misrepresentation of God who loves the world.

We are the temple of God today. Is your heart a quiet place of seeking after God and communing with Him, or is it filled with busy shouts of profiteering? Is our heart a place of merchandise or praise and thanksgiving? Our testimony can present the mandates and price tags of ritual, or the peaceful invitation to commune with God. Jesus' desire is for our hearts to be a house of prayer. His heart is for the nations. If your heart is a house of prayer, the worshipful atmosphere with the outward expression of your life will draw the nations to Him. You will be bringing the outer court of prayer to every unbeliever you contact.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, make my place of worship and my heart a house of prayer.