August 26

Ezra 3:3 (NIV) 3Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

Over 40,000 of the captives returned with that first group, led by Jeshua and Zerubbabel. The amazing thing is they returned with over 7000 servants and animals, personal possessions of gold and silver. Captivity had not been that hard on them. Many had prospered.

When they arrived, the first thing they began to do was to build the altar. The temple footings had not been laid. The walls of the city lay in ruins, but they focused first on the altar. It had been 70 years or more since a priest had offered the morning and evening sacrifices. As they studied the Law and saw the need for the lamb to be slain for their sins, they were most anxious for the sacrifice to begin again.

Before we can do anything of value, we need to be right with God. The blood of the lambs did not wash away their sin, but looked forward to the Lamb of God who would be the perfect sacrifice. They wanted to be obedient to the Word of God and do as they were instructed. Unlike most of the world today, they had a fear of God and His wrath upon sin. In fact, they feared God more than they did the people around them that threatened to rob and destroy them. Perhaps this was one good lesson from the captivity.

Is the sacrifice more important than your temple and city walls? Is the cross and all that it means more important than your church building, appearances, and physical security? If you understand God's attitude toward sin, His hatred of evil, then it should be. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

Thank God for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!

August 26

1 Corinthians 3:14-16 (NIV) 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

The Corinthian church had divided into factions over who was the best instructor. Paul is telling them that the value of a person's life will be revealed on the Day of Judgment. On that day, everyone's work will be tested by fire. We think someone has done so many things for God, but when the fire hits, what will be left? The fire tests the motive and therefore the ultimate lasting value of the work done. Fire reveals the source of the work. That which was initiated by the Spirit and done in the power of the Spirit will be lasting.

Paul compared the church to a building and a field. We all labor in it in one way or another. The point he is making is that not all labor is lasting. Some of us will arrive in heaven with nothing to show for our life on earth. We have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, but we did absolutely nothing of lasting value about it. All the work we did was out of our own nature and for the impure motive of pride. We scratched around in the field and banged on the building, but we never really invested in eternity.

Jesus warned us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Those who do so will find the reward was well worth the investment we made. God's interest rates are fantastic. We have something of value to gratefully lay at the wounded feet of our Savior. He will return those treasures to us, for He said, "Lay up for yourselves..."

We are the temple of God. We are His building. Are you letting Him direct your activity? Are you a house of worship? How we listen to and obey the Spirit within us is directly proportional to our treasure in heaven. These thoughts in the verses above are together for a reason. Don't neglect to listen to the Spirit. Quench not the Spirit. Don't let His abiding presence be in vain.

Remember: He came in to save your soul, but also to save your daily life.