[Christ in You & You in Christ-- A pastor was walking with his son along the beach. His son questioned his father's sermon from Sunday. "Dad, I can't understand how Christ can live in us and we can live in him at the same time." The father noticed an empty bottle laying on the beach with a cork in it. He picked up the bottle, put some water in it, stuck the cork back in, and threw it into the ocean.
As they watched the bottle bob up and down in the ocean, he said, "Son, the sea is in the bottle and the bottle is in the sea. That's a picture of Christ being in you, and you being in Him.”] What an amazing thing that God dwells in us and we can in turn enter into the fullness of His presence.
Tabernacle Instructions— Some time ago I began going through the Bible from beginning to end. And I remember coming to God’s instructions to Moses (in Exodus) as to how the Tabernacle was to be built. And that can be a more difficult section of scripture to read because it can at times seem very long and tedious,
I remember recently before a Sunday morning service I was greeted as I came into my office with a model of the Tabernacle on my desk; not put together as I had expected. I thought that out of the box it would be all ready to go and I could have it as kind of a nice visual illustration. And it was not and so I began to look through the instructions and how to put it together; and I became a little bit overwhelmed. And in a way that is kind of a picture of how we feel whenever we come to this passage. “What in the world does this have to do with me? Why do I care about what color the Tabernacle curtains are or what the tables are made of, or why and who wears what.” And if you are like me you kind of hold your breath until you get through chapters 25-30; and then after some more brief instruction in chapter 31; and then you come to the golden calf episode. And although it is a frustrating story, at least its a story! And, though we may be embarrassed to say it, it almost comes as a relief because at least its narrative rather than a long list of (what can seem like) tedious instruction. And then you have some more narrative for a while (with some instruction) until you hit chapters 36-39 where the details of the construction of the Tabernacle are given again as it is described in detail how each part was completed. There’s no “see previous chapters for how they did it”. No, the details of its construction are given again. It’s like God is intentional about this being in our Bibles twice; it’s like God repeats Himself. Now anytime in scripture God says something, you know it’s important; anytime He repeats Himself, you know whatever He’s saying must be very important; and anywhere you see God repeating Himself within such a narrow time frame, you know that not only is it important; not only is it really important; but that thing is absolutely central to the heart and mind/will; of God and you had better pay attention. This thing God calls the Tabernacle is important because it is the place in which His presence is going to abide. God was going to dwell with His people. God was going to pitch His tent right there among them.
The Feast of Tabernacles-- Now some of us may know a little bit about the Feast of Tabernacles; more from the New Testament because Jesus went to the Feast of Tabernacles, which is still celebrated even to this day. But The Feast of Tabernacles is a time of looking back and remembering when the Israelites (during this time) lived in smaller tabernacles (tents) in the desert; of when they had been tent-dwellers. And so they had their tents; but then in the midst of all their tents you had another much bigger tent; God’s tent; the Tabernacle (also called the Tent of Meeting). Now we focus on God’s tent; and rightly so. But I also wonder about the guy next door to God’s tent. “Who’s your neighbor?” “God.” “Get outta here! No, really; who’s your neighbor?” “God.”
Dwell In Them-- I mean can you imagine? That is how real the presence of God was to the Israelites. But as close as that was, it wasn’t close enough. God didn’t want to only dwell with them; He wanted to dwell in them. He wanted to pitch His tent within the very confines of the human heart.
Moses' desire— Now Moses needed help; so he is commanded by God to go out and grab 70 men of the elders of the people to serve as aids to him; and he’s to place them around the Tabernacle (we see this in Numbers 11). So he does so; and God comes down and takes some of the Spirit that was on Moses and puts it on the seventy elders. And they start prophesying, but soon stop. But two guys who had remained back in the camp, Eldad and Medad, also experienced this blessing as the Holy Spirit rested on them. And they too begin prophesying. But the Bible says…
Numbers 11:28-29 (ESV)-- 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
Dreams for Our Church-- If you could have one of your dreams for our Church come true, what would it be? Are you praying for that dream to become a reality?
Moses’ Dream-- Moses had a dream; and that dream (which was also God’s dream), was to see a people; a community that had the Spirit of God resting on them so fully, that they could be used as His instruments to reach a lost and broken world. You see Moses saw the power of what was happening here. And His heart began crying out for that reality. And then comes this prophecy from Joel that Peter mentions in his sermon in Acts 2…
Joel 2:28-29 (ESV) The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit— 28 [a] “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
Joel’s Prophecy Fulfilled at Pentecost-- One of the most important events of all time in human history (and the one Christ’s death and resurrection made ready for) was Pentecost. And the reason why the event was so critical was because it was a fulfillment of this prophecy in Joel. This marvelous event that marked the birth of the Church (Pentecost) was when the Holy Spirit of God fell upon His people and they were empowered to fulfill His mission in the world. They no longer needed to go to a temple (or Tabernacle) to enter into God’s presence, but had God’s presence in them; they themselves were His temples. And as the Holy Spirit dwelt in them, so also He cleansed and sanctified them; He made them Holy, so that His dream (of having a people to Himself) might be made a reality.
The New Covenant— And so the new covenant has begun; as Hebrews 8 declares, a better covenant; a covenant that doesn’t set rules for us to follow in order for God’s presence to dwell with us, but a covenant that allows our very hearts (the source of all our actions) to be purified so that God might not only dwell near His people in a temple, but in His people. The new covenant brings us that much closer to God; He indwells us. That is what Christ’s death on the cross did; because He paid for our sins and covered those sins with His blood so that God could move into us; so that we ourselves might become His temples.
What I wanted-- Do we want that? Now for many years of my life I thought I wanted that, when in reality what I wanted was eternal security. I wanted to know that if I died, I would go to heaven; and that I would not go to hell. For many years, that was the central focal point of my religion. I didn’t care as much as I thought I did about having God’s presence abiding in my life; I wanted to know I wasn’t going to roast for eternity. But what I didn’t realize is that that security is only found as we dwell in His presence and allow Him to dwell in us. It is in relationship with Christ that we discover the love of God; a God who is seeking to bless us; not harm us.
Freedom From Fear-- What is His presence all about? It’s about freedom; freedom from fear, freedom from the prison bars of sin we have constructed; its about freedom from bondage to ourselves; its about freedom from our money and all the temporal things that just don’t matter. When the Holy Spirit abides in us as individuals and even more so as a community, we let go of everything in order to embrace Christ; and in embracing Christ we discover that we have embraced everything worth embracing. As a Church we must seek that anointing. Because when it comes, our entire Church will change; when it becomes marked by the presence of God.
Now in Acts 2 Peter preached a long sermon, longer than is recorded. And after the part of his sermon that was recorded, it says…
Acts 2:40-41 (ESV)— 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Early Christian Practice-- Now, immediately after these early Christians were baptized and received the Holy Spirit) they entered into community with one another; a community marked by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.
Acts 2:42 (ESV)-- 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Imagine those first Bible Studies— Now the first thing mentioned is of course the teaching of the apostles. And this struck me in a new way as I studied this passage because I began to imagine what it must have been like to attend these first Bible studies, led by the very guys who not only would soon write much of scripture, but who had personally walked and talked with Jesus. And one of the key things the apostles were doing, and we see this particularly in Peter's sermon is they are taking the people through many of the key passages in the Old Testament and showing them how Jesus fulfills those prophecies; how He is revealed in the Old Testament. To those Christians who say we only need the New Testament I would like to say the primary way those early Christians were taught about Jesus was from the Old Testament; and the personal experience of the apostles. Now that's a powerful combination. Because imagine hearing an apostle teaching you from Psalms or the messianic prophecies in Isaiah and then they stop and say; hey guys, I just want to let you know. This Messiah David is talking about; this Redeemer Isaiah is talking about; He's The Lord of Heaven and earth. And guess what; I saw Him, I heard Him; I even touched Him. But more importantly, He touched me; He washed my feet; then He washed me with his blood on the cross so that I might know Him even more intimately; so that I might be His temple. And when He came to dwell in me, I knew Him more fully; in a more real way than when I saw, heard, and touched Him. And guess what, you can know Him just as fully as I know Him. Now that's a Bible study. God being made real; not in heaven; not in a Tabernacle or Temple; but in the very confines of our human hearts.
OUR CHALLENGE— Today Christ wants to fill the tent of our hearts with His presence. Will you let Him? Will you let Him pitch His tent in you ? If you do, it will require surrender; but it will be a surrender that will bring into your life all of the fullness of God. Let’s surrender to Him today. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.