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In II Chronicles chapter seven verses one to three we read about the dedication of Solomon’s temple.

When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple. The priests could not enter the Temple of the LORD because the glorious presence of the LORD filled it. When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the LORD filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying,  “He is good!  His faithful love endures forever!”

The temple was an amazing building, probably the most spectacular of its time. It took seven years to complete involving thousands of workers. For example, scripture says there were eight thousand hewers (of stone) working in the mountains. However, without the presence of God it was spectacular but essentially an empty building. While living in England we had the opportunity of visiting many churches and cathedrals. Some of these took generations to build and massive funds. (Check out Follet’s ‘Pillars of the Earth.’) While perhaps there was a time when they were filled with the presence of God, today they are basically beautiful but empty tourist attractions. Very sad indeed.

We do well to regularly remind ourselves that we are not exempt from this pitfall. Unless we have the genuine presence of God, we too will become another empty edifice perhaps trying to make ourselves more attractive to a sceptical world through more attractive interiors and spectacular stage presentations. Our passion, our hearts desire must be for God’s presence, a presence that only comes from the grace of God, not the efforts of man. I believe that it only comes when’s Gods people are desirous of it, desperate for its genuine manifestation.

Note from these verses the changes that came with the presence of God. It was so intense the priests could not even enter. But of far more importance is that the presence resulted in the people falling face down on the ground, an acknowledgment of the awesome holiness of God when compared with the sinful nature of mankind. The genuine presence also prompted genuine worship, praise, and acknowledgment of the goodness of God.

Some of the lyrics of a worship song go this way: This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me, This is my daily bread, Your very word spoken to me, And I, I'm desperate for you, And I, I'm lost without you.   Are you desperate for his presence living in you and in our church? I hope so because I believe that it is the genuine presence of God that changes us and changes our church.                                                                                     Pastor Dave