July 4, Saturday

UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provide by a former staff at an AMI church, is an updated version of his blog originally posted on July 5, 2014.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Hosting the Presence of the Lord”

Hebrews 12:18-24

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

fernando-puente-Pje_ZMU1M9A-unsplashAre you familiar with the saying, “Hosting the presence of the Lord”?  If not, it simply means that you become the receptacle of God’s presence through the Spirit.  And that is the deepest desire of my heart—to host this presence of the Lord. It’s also a theological reality that my church has been intentionally cultivating for the past several years, a reality that today’s text points to.

Hebrews12:18-24 reveals the heart of hosting that flows into everything we do. Verse 18 begins with an allusion to Exodus 19. The Israelites are camped around Mount Sinai and the presence of the Lord descends like a thick cloud. God sternly warns the people that if any man or animal touches the mountain, they must stone it to death. The people saw the presence of God through an astounding manifestation at the mountain, but they were at a distance.

Yet, because of Jesus, this is not the mountain we’re invited to. Through His blood, which covers us, the mountain we’re called to is Mount Zion. It is the mountain of God’s presence that is life giving instead of life taking. It is one where we can enter in confidently, as it says in Hebrews 4. This is the core of what it means for us to host the presence of the Lord. God’s presence is one that we draw near to instead of running away. It is delight, life, and righteousness as God makes His presence known.

As an Asian who grew up in the Asian American church, this was a foreign concept to me. The Mount Sinai God was what I knew. God was to be feared and revered from afar because I was so sinful, but this morning’s text says that we come to the festal gathering of angels.

Praise the Lord that this is God’s desire for us!

So, we pray and seek God’s presence as He desires for us to do through Jesus. We long to dwell in the city of the living God even as we wait for His fullness to arrive with Christ’s second coming. We pray according to what Jesus taught us: “Your kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” We host His presence.

If God’s desire for us is to come to the mountain of the living God, then we should not only earnestly seek this but also prepare the receptacle (i.e., our hearts) by way of “purifying ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

Let’s make it our constant prayer and desire for more of His presence.

Prayer: Lord, prompt me, through the Spirit, to desire to host the presence of the Lord in my heart.  May I not only fear You but also enjoy Your magnificent presence.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 10-11

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