03/04/W – A House of Prayer, Power, and Praise

Exodus 12:40-13:16; Matthew 21:12-22; Psalms 26:9-12; Proverbs 10:24-25

NT: “Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!” The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that he did and the children shouting in the temple, “ Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus replied, “Yes, have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?” …Early in the morning, as he was returning to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” At once the fig tree withered… Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”” (‭‭Matthew‬ 21:12-16, 18-19, 21-22‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

In this passage, Jesus passes judgement on the money changing in the temple and the fruitless fig tree. The temple was to be a place for people to offer worship to God – not a place for people to profit off the needs of others. Worship is not supposed to be an industry, it is to be an open opportunity for all to draw near to the Lord. Instead of facilitating worship, the money changers were blocking access to worship for sincere gentiles and charging them exorbitant fees. Once Jesus cleared the way, prayer, power to heal, and praise filled the temple. That is what the temple should be filled with instead of profiteering. The next day, Jesus came upon a fig tree that was fruitless. The purpose of a fig tree is to produce fruit. This particular fig tree was full of leaves and had the appearance of life – but no fruit could be found, so led by the Father (because everything He did was led by the Father), He cursed the fig tree symbolically stating that having the appearance of life is not acceptable to the Father. We can perform all the right religious behaviors and appear righteous on the outside without actually producing any fruit. The Father desires fruit. He then used that as an opportunity to teach on the power of faith. When we are full of faith in the Father, our “temples” will be full of prayer, power, and praise – and our lives will bear fruit.

Proverbs: “What the wicked dreads will come to him, but what the righteous desire will be given to them. When the whirlwind passes, the wicked are no more, but the righteous are secure forever.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Interesting that this was proverb was in the reading plan the day after a “whirlwind” (also known as a tornado) hit the Nashville area. This isn’t a commentary about the tornado itself – just interesting timing. People that rely on self and don’t have faith in God tend to deal with dread. Since they rely on themselves and/or fate, they are always fearful of losing what they hold dear… that something or someone is going to come along that is greater than they are, and take everything away. Those who have faith in God shouldn’t be full of fear, but faith and hope instead. They know that their desires for life, peace, and joy are in the hands of a good God who is greater than any someone or circumstance. The whirlwind is no respecter of persons. It is the result of a fallen world that is under the sway of the evil one. The whirlwind affects the righteous and unrighteous alike. The difference between the righteous and unrighteous is revealed after the whirlwind passes. Has your life been destroyed, or is your faith and hope in One greater than the whirlwind? Is your identity built around what you have or in Who you belong to? The Lord can and will use random devastating whirlwinds to accomplish good for those who are submitted to Him – but if you aren’t submitted to Him, you are on your own and subject to fate.

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