Key verse: 1 Kings 9:9
Big idea: Worship starts with obedience.
After Solomon completed the Temple, God came to him in a second vision, like the one where He had granted him wisdom. This is not as well known as the first, but it is perhaps even more important. In this chapter, God reaffirms the covenant that He had made with David in 2 Samuel 7. God's blessing would not depend on the faithfulness of the whole world, on the faithfulness of all of Abraham's descendants, or even on the faithfulness of all of Israel. Instead, God would give His people His presence through the Temple if David's son was faithful, and forsake the Temple and the land if David's son was faithless. God's rescue plan that we first considered in Genesis is now nearing its fulfillment: there is only one more stage of narrowing left. One particular Son of David would perfectly obey, redeeming Israel and through Israel the whole world.
The connection between the Temple and obedience is not arbitrary. Truly experiencing God's presence is inseparable from holy living. When we love God, our first response will be to recognize Him as who He is: the King. If we reject obedience (the most basic form of worship), all of our other worship is superficial and meaningless. As Samuel said back in 1 Samuel 15:22, "to obey is better than sacrifice".
Discussion idea: Why did God wait to give this assurance until after the Temple was built? How does the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD relate to Jesus' final victory as the rightful King?
Prayer focus: Thank God that He provides His presence and the opportunity for us to worship Him through Christ's perfection, despite our sin.
Key verse: Romans 8:18
Big Idea: The gospel takes us all the way to glory.
Today, we are concluding the first half of Romans. This section of the book has been laying out the theological framework for our lives, from sinners under God's judgment, to justification by faith to sanctification by walking in the Spirit. But now we come to the climax, where God finishes what He started and the new creation which began in our hearts encompasses all of us and all of the world. He has justified, He is sanctifying, and He will glorify.
Everything which happens in the life of a Christian is used by God for our good. The problem is our definition of good. We think good means comfort or prosperity, but God is not nearly so short-sighted. When God says all things work together for good, He is saying that everything in our lives works together to make us like Jesus. Finally, when Jesus returns and His children are revealed, we will be made perfectly like Him forever, and will reflect His untarnished glory. The lingering sin in us will be cut loose, and the whole creation's bondage to decay will end once and for all, as God makes everything as it always ought to have been.
Those who have trusted Jesus as their Savior will be His joint-heirs, inheriting the world with Him in life, even as those who chose to remain in the flesh will die (Romans 8:13). The triumph of every Christian is total: we look forward in hope to the day that we receive what we have been eagerly waiting for. Between here and there, we find a lot of tribulation, but in all of those things, we are more than conquerors through Jesus.
Discussion Idea: How does the promise that God will heal every hurt of this world and every sin of our heart encourage us to face challenges?
Prayer Focus: There is an old expression about being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. For most Christians, the opposite problem is the real issue: we are so earthly minded that we have lost sight of heaven. Pray for God to help you walk today with an awareness of eternity.