“That I may dwell in the house of the Lord”

Those who would like a wish fulfilled know they have to do something for it. This also applies to the great desire expressed in one of the psalms—one that has been set to music and has evolved into a beloved classic in our circles. In a recent divine service, the Chief Apostle outlined a programme that helps us to stay in the house of the Lord.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” This was the Bible text that Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider used in a divine service in the congregation of Somerset-West in Cape Town (South Africa) on 10 December 2015.

“We know that God does not need a temple to live in. The temple is the place where we encounter God,” the Chief Apostle said. “We want to have fellowship with Him. The desire alone to dwell in the house of the Lord is not enough. It requires effort on our part.” Where exactly we need to make an effort, he outlined in five points.

Recognizing God’s goodness

“The people of Israel came to the temple to thank God and to bring sacrifices. We too want to recognize His goodness and offer Him our thanks.” We have to discipline ourselves to never forget that everything comes from God. “Count your blessings,” the Chief Apostle called on the congregation. This is the effort that is required. If we are thankful we can experience God’s goodness.

Fighting for salvation

“We want to dwell in the house of the Lord because we want salvation.” Salvation is possible through Jesus Christ, but we have to make an effort to attain it: “We have to resist and be strong in our resolve: ‘I will not tolerate being ruled by the evil one; I want to be an overcomer.’” For God can only save us if we want Him to save us.

Growing in knowledge

“We want the blessing of God. We know obedience is the key to blessing,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “We come to the divine services to listen to the Lord. The problem is: are we prepared to learn?” Some want to stick with the understanding they acquired five or ten years ago. They do not want to be led deeper into the knowledge of Christ because this is not always comfortable. “Let us be willing to learn and go deeper into the will of God. Do not be stuck in the past.”

Being repentant and forgiving

“We want grace and for that we have to be in the house of the Lord. This requires an effort on our part,” the Chief Apostle made clear. “It is not that easy, but if we want the fulness of God’s grace we have to be repentant and have to forgive.”

Struggling for unity

“If we want to dwell in the house of the Lord it means we also want to remain part of God’s people.” This too requires an effort, the Chief Apostle said. “Sometimes we even have to ask ourselves what we are prepared to give up for the sake of unity among God’s people, for the unity in our congregation? Unity is not a given.”

“Contributing to the beauty of the house of God is the fact that we can celebrate Holy Communion together,” the Chief Apostle said. “A blessed congregation is one in which everyone can say: I am delighted when my brother and my sister have their sins forgiven; we are all part of the same covenant and part of the same house, the house of the Lord.”

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Andreas Rother
South Africa, Divine service, Chief Apostle