Thursday, July 29, 2010
Today’s Topic: God Is Our Sanctuary
Today’s Text: The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. (Isaiah 8:11)
I am about to make myself feel old. I want to tell a short story from my daughter’s life but it is forcing me to calculate how much of life has already passed me by. It’s bad enough to think that this story took place 17 years ago, but then I realized that she was already 16 years old at the time. That astounds me! It also causes me to rejoice in the faithfulness of God to guard and to guide our lives.
Anyway, to the story. One day, in my office, as I was reviewing some literature from Focus on the Family, I discovered a t-shirt they had for sale. It would be perfect for my little girl. It said exactly what she was living while in the public high school she attended. On the front of the shirt was a picture of a bunch of fish all swimming in one direction. Right smack dab in the middle of this school of fish was one different colored fish swimming in the other direction. Underneath the picture was written the words Go Against the Flow. I ordered the shirt, and she wore it proudly.
I was so proud of my daughter for how she was living for Jesus in a very difficult environment. I am so thankful for the three friends God provided her who went against the flow with her. I rejoice that she is still living that way today.
Isaiah was another one who went against the flow. He was commanded to by God. God strong armed him. I’m glad God loves us enough to strong arm us when He needs to. Here’s what God said to him:
“Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary;”
Let’s put that into modern day and culturally relevant language.
“Don’t let your imagination run wild thinking about how the government is falling apart and ruining your life. Don’t spend your time imagining that people are constantly plotting against you as an individual or against our country. Don’t get involved in all the critical coffee shop conversations about the economy or the war or anything that makes us doubt that God is in control. Don’t be afraid of terrorists, oil spills, environmental catastrophes, or crashing stock markets. Don’t let the fear of anything dominate your thoughts or dictate your actions. Instead, trust the Sovereign God. He is your sanctuary.”
I don’t think we are aware of how often we choose to go with the flow of culture. I am convinced that we have allowed ourselves to swim along with the current so that we fit in with all the other fish. I believe that we have made a conscious choice to let the world – the people and the material benefits – be our sanctuary.
I looked up the Hebrew word for sanctuary and I was blown away by the definition. It cut right to the bottom of my heart. It powerfully impacted me. The word now has new meaning to me. It gave me the resolve of a salmon on its way upstream to its breeding pool. I think it is the key to going against the flow; at least it is for me. Let me walk you through it.
The word sanctuary has as its root the word sanctify, which means “to set apart.” Right away I thought, “To what or whom have I been set apart? How I am living is the evidence of the answer to that question.”
Then I saw the word holy in the definition. My own personal definition of holy is to be without contradiction. So again I thought to myself, “How many contradictions to my faith exist in my life? How many times do I turn and go with the flow, thereby contradicting what I said I believed?”
Then I came to this – “to be honored and treated as sacred.” Bam! That was it. God is my sanctuary where I am treated as sacred and where I am honored. Every time we go with the flow of the world it is because we are looking to be honored and treated with respect by someone. We are all looking to be affirmed. We are all looking for acceptance. But when we go with the flow, those needs will never be satisfied. God is our sanctuary. It is in Him alone that you will be honored. It is in relationship with God that you will be treated as sacred. Not just special, but sacred! And the love you find in God’s sanctuary is unquenchable. It is unconquerable. It is eternal. It is what you long for.
So come on all you fellow saved salmon – let’s swim into the sanctuary of God, no matter how strong the current is against us.