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Consecration



When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3 NIV)


Today, October 8, 2023, the congregation I serve as pastor consecrates our new worship space, giving thanks to God for His faithfulness to us and for providing everything we have needed since we began to worship together on February 26th. When Solomon consecrated the Temple he had built as a place for God to dwell among His people, the glory of the LORD filled the temple so full that the priests could not enter it. The response of the people was the response of my heart today: “He is good; His love endures forever.”


Our first worship service was in borrowed space, in the fellowship hall of Parkwood Baptist Church. We will always be thankful for their hospitality and support in giving our church a place to worship as we launched. Next we worshipped for several weeks at the Copperfield Room, a local event venue. Then, beginning the week after Easter, we gathered for worship in the auditorium of Concord High School. Again, we are grateful for the hospitality we have been afforded as we moved from place to place, like the Israelites following the pillar of cloud/fire and setting up the tabernacle in the place where God took them. And in each place where we have worshipped, God has shown up and lavished His great love on us! “He is good; His love endures forever.”


Now God has provided for us a leased space which we can occupy for ministry full-time, instead of a couple of hours on Sunday morning. We have remodeled and fitted it with offices, classrooms, rest rooms and a beautiful, spacious worship center. Today, we formally consecrate this building as a place of worship and prayer and ministry going forward. It is my prayer that the glory of the LORD would fill our "temple" with His presence and grace and love in unmistakable ways. It is my prayer that Grace Church Concord, a congregation that was birthed from a prayer meeting, will always be fixated on God's manifest presence with us, and not on bricks and mortar. The building is not the church. WE are the church.


The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His ascension into heaven and sending the Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of those who entrust their lives to Him by faith fundamentally changed the place where the Living God dwells. Stephen, the first martyr among the followers of Jesus, said this in his defense before the religious leaders of his day:


However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

“‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?'" (Acts 7:48 NIV)


God is interested in more than being confined to a building, no matter how magnificent it is. God cannot be contained in a temple or a cathedral. And the apostle Paul makes this shift even more clear:


Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV)


The congregation is the temple. God's Spirit dwells in our midst. Where two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus promises to be with us - in the midst of us. And even more personally, Paul says this later in his first letter to the Corinthians:


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV)


Our individual hearts and lives are God's chosen dwelling place. My heart is His sanctuary.


So today we consecrate our worship space and give God thanks for His faithfulness in bringing us this far, and we look to the future with confidence that God will continue to dwell among us and accomplish Kingdom of God purposes through us. And we consecrate ourselves to that Kingdom ministry, knowing that ultimately God does not dwell in rented retail space in a strip mall or in great cathedrals. God dwells in human hearts. God dwells in us.


As we consecrate our new building and our hearts to Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that only His presence and grace can transform our lives, our families, our neighborhoods and our community in the redemption that was made for us on a cross in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. And we give thanks to the Living God that He shows up in the sanctuary of our hearts, and He shows up in the sanctuary of our gatherings, wherever that may be. “He is good; His love endures forever.”


Lord prepare me

To be a sanctuary

Pure and holy

Tried and true

With thanksgiving

I'll be a living

Sanctuary for you


Come, Holy Spirit! Inhabit our worship and our hearts!



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