DAY 92 // CLIMBING HIGHER, WITHOUT FALLING

THE TEMPLE PRØJECT
CLIMBING HIGHER, WITHOUT FALLING

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

// 2 Peter 1:8-11

Faith is the baseline and foundation for our life in God. When we were born again, we received Jesus' own faith with which to believe the Father, and then Jesus took us by the shoulders and turned us toward His Father and ours, presenting us to Him as a child. Faith's language, the high praise of God, erupted as we began to see all our Father's virtues and excellencies. We saw indeed how praiseworthy He was, and that opened our eyes to peer into the depths of His heart, to see wisdom and hidden mysteries, which we entered into as experiential knowledge.

Jesus, ever committed to our maturation, slipped self-control into our hearts as we stood gazing at the Father, lost in the revelations of who He is. By that self-control we learned to rivet ourselves to this spot, so we didn't abandon our great view of God. We learned to master ourselves so we could abide there, becoming true reflections of Him, degree by degree. And in the lessons of self-mastery we discovered the wisdom of perseverance, of enduring both hardship and glory, so that we'd push deeper into God's heart.

And the more we pressed in, the more godly our hearts became; the Holy Spirit stirred our hearts to greater and greater godly heart responses, making us more like the One at whose heart we gaze. Jesus, as our Elder Brother and Friend, sidled up to our side and whispered, "God likes you! God likes you and He likes the rest of the saints and sinners too. That's your message to say to all: God likes you and is a Friend to you. Tell the world!"

As tears streamed down our faces, as we gazed at Him who called us, we saw the explosion of love within His heart. We saw Him moved by the way our hearts responded to the friendliness of God, and we watched Him arise from His throne, set out a dinner table, and invite us to sit with Him – to dine at His dinner party, His love-feast, His agape. And He turned and said to us, "Tell others that they, too, have a seat at the table with you and I, with My Son and Spirit. Call many to My love-feast. Let the world know. We have a place set out for them, as My children!"

We've spent 92 days examining that amazing process of ascending upwards in the virtues of God, to sit with Him at His love-feast, atop His mountain in His palatial home. It’s a magnificent view, abiding here with Him. And here's the most striking truth – Peter says that if we continually practice the things listed above, that we "will never fall!" Did you catch that? If we stay faithful in our hearts to letting the Spirit keep us in this process of ascension, of our own maturation, He assures us that we won't slip and fall. We will stand, we will go higher, we will sit with the Trinity at Their table.

In other words, we don't have to fall. We can stand. We can go higher. We can sit and rest. We don't have to try, we don't have to work harder, and we don't have to stumble or fall, ever. Not even once.

We might balk at this. What about our sins? And our failures? Let’s not entertain these questions. He removed our sins, and He redeemed our failures. He forgot all our evil ways, and He perfected us by the sacrifice of His Son. In other words, we are without excuse: we can stand up, climb higher, and sit forever with Him. We do not have to stumble or fall. Why? Because all that He did perfected us, and all the ways that the Spirit now leads us are meant to mature us in His perfection of us. Christ did the perfecting already; we couldn't. The Spirit does the maturing; we are just here to receive.

If we learn to receive well, if we learn to live from the place of perfection, moving from glory to glory, then we will never fall. It's a promise He made to us. And it's solid; it's reliable; it's our insurance policy if we fail. And it all hinges on the pleasurable will of God to make it so.

As we close these 92 days of The Temple Prøject: Ascending the Mountain, recall what we've examined. Go back and re-read whatever theme that you most need. Be proactive. Let’s not sit on our hands, but stir ourselves up to pursue the Lord! Trust Him above all else. Let’s not rely on our understanding, but ask Him for His.

It's time we climb higher, and it's time we stay seated where He is, for the sake of the world, for the sake of being faithful to reflect Him to the world. It’s time to be the best image-bearers we can be, and reflect Him more perfectly!

// Samuel Nicolosi

DAY 91 // GOD IS LOVE

GOD IS LOVE

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

// 1 John 4:16-18

92 days of devotion. What a feat! It’s so beautiful that we have committed to worshiping Jesus together as a church for the past two summers; these last three months have been a time where we refocus our affection, desire and worship upon the one who truly deserves it. With so many distractions and things demanding our attention, it’s not easy to truly fix our eyes upon Christ. However, I have come to realize how bizarre it is and revealing about my fallen human nature that I find it difficult to rely on and fully trust God. It should be the most natural thing in my life to rely on Him.

John, the beloved apostle made of the same flesh as us, says these powerful words: “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” I don’t know about you, but it has definitely been a journey of coming to know, rely on and believe in the love that Jesus has for me. These last 92 days of learning from others, pastoring people, hearing their struggles and knowing my own struggles have taught me that I cannot rely on my own love for God. In fact, God is not asking me to rely on my affection or worship of Him. John makes a clear declaration of who God is, inspired by the Spirit of God Himself: “God is Love.” Do I believe in my heart of hearts that God is love? I have realized that God is still showing me how much He loves me, and that I don’t need to rely on my own love or the loves of this world to satisfy the desires of my heart.

My worship or idolatry point to whether I believe God is love. My giving in or resistance to temptation show whether I rely on God’s love. My boldness or fear towards life reveal whether I know God is love.

Do I know this love, and do I live in this love? John is talking about an assurance of our salvation, putting aside our human effort to make ourselves right before God and truly accept the fullness of Christ. To live – not just know – this love. Rest is connected to our surrender to God’s love for us. If you live in the reality that God is love, why do you run after substance, image, people, money, status, idols, fame? Why do we run from people, why do we isolate, why do we exclude, why do we gossip, why do we manipulate, why do we put down, why do we doubt, why do we lie, why do we think we are right, why do we know it all…why do we, why do we, why do we…? The list goes on.

When we stop – when we acknowledge that we run after all the wrong things, or run away from all the right things, and turn to see who God is and has always been – we begin to know and rely on the love God has for us. When we see how beautiful Jesus Christ is, when we see how majestic He is, how glorious, how wondrous, how big, how detailed He is, how in control, how perfect, how mighty, how wise, how gracious, how merciful, how knowing He is, how kind, how faithful, how protective He is, how for us He is…the list goes on and on and on. Maybe, just maybe, we begin to realize that the love we are looking for, He is. God is love.

I have tried to be devoted to Christ for 92 days and I pray you have as well. But what I have come to learn, and what I want to continue to know and rely on, is that He has been devoted to me since before time began. Before I ever wrote a devotion for Temple Project, before I uttered a word in prayer, before I preached a message about His love, before I gave in to a false love, before I turned away from Him, before I turned back to Him, before I helped someone, before I pastored anyone, He has been and always will be devoted to me. This is what keeps me going. This is why I love the church, and why I pastor – not to prove my love, but because God loves me.

God is love and in love there is no fear. This perfect love is what I want; my heart longs for something more. I have tasted of this world and it has left me wanting and waiting, broken and alone, but God’s love has healed me, restored me, regenerated me, reformed me, and continues to transform me. My prayer is that we would come to rely on, trust, hope, and believe not in the love of this world, but in God, the person of Jesus Christ, for love is not an emotion or a fleeting romance but a person. Jesus Christ is love and we know this by who He is and what He has done on the cross.

May we continue to be devoted to Him for the next 92 days and the next 92 days after that, and as long as we have breath in our lungs may He be the focus, our devotion and our center by giving in to His devotion to us. May we die to all other loves and awaken to Him. May we live and move and have our being in this love. May our eyes ever be upon Him, may our lips ever be praising Him, may our minds ever be fixed upon Him, may our souls ever be satisfied by Him, may our hands and feet ever be serving Him, may our hearts ever be beating for Him and out of this place may we ever be devoted to Him.

Let this be the heart and cry of C3 Brooklyn. He is our vision, and may the vision of who He is turn our eyes upon loving our neighbor, the stranger and our enemy the way He loves us. Let New York City be overwhelmed by a people who have come to know and rely on the love that God has for us, because we know God is love. We love because He first loved us. We have found what we are looking for; we have ascended the hill and we have found a King that would die for you and I. God is love. This changes everything.

// Pastor Josh Kelsey

DAY 90 // THE POWER OF ENCOURAGEMENT

THE POWER OF ENCOURAGEMENT

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.”

// Hebrews 6:10

Hebrews 6:10 tells us that God does not overlook our work and the love we have shown in serving fellow believers (the saints, the church). To me, this is quite extraordinary. The God of the universe sees our task, no matter how seemingly small or menial, done with a pure heart to serve. He does not overlook it, He values it. He proactively looks to the love we walk in, with an eye to reward us – He cannot overlook what He is looking for!

We as humans are imperfect in life. We often overlook things and miss the mark; we can also often highly esteem and value things that are actually not that valuable, and vice versa – we can easily get it all mixed up and backwards! But our God is not like us in that way. His love is so pure and strong that He sees, notices, values and esteems your pure heart to serve Him and others, even in the seemingly small things.

This is the love that we are called to walk in. What God values, we too should learn to value in life. What ‘good work done in love’ can you and I foster, encourage and build up in the people around us? It is my firm belief that we should never underestimate the impact and power of encouragement. To build courage in someone else is to ‘encourage.’ Hebrews 10:24 says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” Consider how and then do it. I don’t know about you, but nothing spurs me on more than someone genuinely believing in me – a word of encouragement goes a long way! Let’s be people who consider how to encourage others and then do it, because in this way we are extending the grace and love of Christ that has so graciously been given to us, glorifying our Father in Heaven and building up the body. Spread the love!

// Pastor Georgie Kelsey

DAY 89 //

CREATED TO LOVE

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

// 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The heart of every man, woman, and child groans with the desire to love and be loved. This desire manifests itself in different ways, but the root is the same: it is a desire ingrained in our nature because it is a reflection of our Heavenly Father. It is the example of a gracious God, obsessed with restoring our hearts. Created in His image, mankind bears the imprint of this loving Creator. The Bible beautifully and clearly details His nature, pointing to a love that goes beyond simple affection and revealing the root of humanity’s greatest desire – restoration of the intended relationship in the Garden.

Since we are created in God’s image and He is in fact the embodiment of love, why then are these characteristics not preeminent in our lives? It’s simple: the nature of sin blinds us to the nature of a perfect Creator. But God, demonstrating His character, sent Jesus Christ to be the ultimate example of love – by dying on the cross for our sins, He has offered us a way to be restored to our original design. Through Christ, we are given righteousness, and the same Spirit that exemplifies that love.

We were given Jesus that we might know love, the Word to teach us love, the Spirit to experience love and community to dispense love. Therefore, because we were created in the image of God and have been restored to Him through the cross, we can now demonstrate the same love to all of creation. We can do this by daily reliance on the Holy Spirit; submission vertically leads to application horizontally. We can love those around us unconditionally, patiently and kindly – never growing jealous of them, irritated by them or celebrating their sin, but rather  we encourage them in righteousness. God’s Holy Spirit leads us to love others with hope, faith, and courage without end.

// Colby Thelen

DAY 88 // PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART

PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

// Romans 13:10

What do Sonny and Cher have in common with Annie Lennox and Al Green?

If you guessed questionable hairstyle choices, then yes, you’re correct. But for you groovy 1970s-1980s music aficionados, you might also recall that each pair of singers covered the chart-topping hit song, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.” This love anthem, widely covered by several other artists throughout the years, shares the same message found in Romans 13.

The song starts off, “Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart.” Similarly, in verses 8-10 of Romans 13, Paul encourages us to love others as ourselves and to do no harm to our neighbors. He understood that when sin entered the world, it created division in mankind. God created the Ten Commandments in order to unify His people, to reverse the division that sin had caused – and exactly half of the commandments are about how we should treat each other. He commands us to not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet our neighbor [Exodus 20:13-17]. Paul understood that obedience of these laws simply meant loving each other, and as the song echoes, thinking “of your fellow man.”

Paul speaks of a love that fulfills the law, a love that is unbiased, preferential and sacrificial. God sacrificing His Son for us, “so that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life,” is the ultimate example of this love [John 3:16]. Since Christ loved so sacrificially and gave up His life for us, we should be empowered to share that same love with others.

Putting our neighbors first is sacrifice, but it’s also an act of worship. In our daily lives, this love looks like sacrificing our will in order to forgive someone who’s wronged us. This love looks like leaving the Saturday night party a little earlier, to be ready and prepared to welcome His people into church the next morning. This love looks like sacrificing a tenth of everything we earn because we believe a new building will reach more people with His endless love.

This love pierces our consciousness and challenges us to go above and beyond. When we’re emboldened to share it with our neighbors, “the world will be a better place, for you and me, you just wait and see.”

// Rasheeda Winfield

DAY 87 // LOVING THE BELOVED

DAY 87_WEB.jpg

LOVING THE BELOVED

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

// Romans 12:9

Coffee dates with fellow believers sometimes make me laugh in the best type of way. I have a close friend who likes to start conversations by asking, “How is your heart?” The great thing is that I know her well, and know that her genuine, straight-to-the-point question will lead me to an answer that will allow her to love me and encourage me where I most need it. She has experienced the pure, compassionate and preferential love that God has for us, and doesn't one second in showing it to me.

When God reveals the preferential and compassionate love (agape) He feels towards us through Christ, it is the first step on a beautiful journey to understanding how we can care for His beloved. And because we feel this love, we want to share it from the genuine outpouring of our overflowing hearts.

Catching a glimpse of this love opens doors for us to speak life and truth into others by recognizing the unique part of Christ’s character that exists within them. We recognize in each other gentleness, joy, mercy, steadfastness and other unending characteristics of our Savior. When we ‘hold fast’ to these godly qualities that already exist within His beloved ones, we immediately close doors that allow darkness to seep in. What better way to rebuke the enemy than by daily recognizing in one another the presence of Christ?

With all confidence, we can proclaim that agape love is the purest form of love that any of us will experience into eternity. This love that our Creator feels towards us is one of goodwill, gentleness and ever-lasting favor. He looks at us with compassion and preference – a mighty Father rejoicing in His created children, already celebrating our return to His side. There is no better way to worship our God than by approaching all of our relationships with His preferential and unconditional love overflowing from our hearts, and encouraging His sovereign identity in one other.

// Nathalie Mansueti

DAY 86 // SACRIFICIAL LOVE

SACRIFICIAL LOVE

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

// Romans 5:8

We often hear stories in the media of heroes risking their lives to save a friend or family member, or even those they have never met. The thought of someone dying for us is such a huge concept to grasp – what compels a person to make the ultimate sacrifice? It all goes back to love. Love prompts us to make sacrifices for the sake of those we hold dear.

What does it really mean for Christ to die for us, to forgive our sins, to set us free? His love is so lavish and so outrageously good that He sent Christ to die for us, to forgive our sins, to set us free. God loves us so much that He couldn’t bear the thought that our sins could make us feel separate from Him – so He paid the great price for the redemption of humanity, because He says we are worth the cost. Christ died of His own will, compelled by love for us.

But it's even more than that that, for it's not just the Son who loved us with His life, laid down. The Father and the Holy Spirit were “all in” with this kind of love we see at the Cross. All loved and adored us. Christ’s Cross evidences the kind of love it is. The Father and Spirit loved us just as much, for They were with Jesus at the Cross, loving us through Him. Each felt the cost of the sacrifice to redeem us.

Although we were once sinners, now through Christ’s death we are set free, justified, pardoned, renewed, sanctified and completely righteous. We can love Him with no constraints or fear, even when we having feelings of doubt. We can trust Him and all that has been done. We can embrace the overwhelmingly good love of the Father.

Are you willing to trust Christ's sacrifice, fully?

// Mike Lark

DAY 85 // LET YOUR HOPE RISE

LET YOUR HOPE RISE

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

// Romans 5:56

From the overflow of knowing God’s love comes the confidence to hope for a Kingdom that can’t be seen. We have a good, good Father, one who not only scarified His Son so that we could know Him, but also gave us a helper, the Holy Spirit, to encourage and equip us for the journey. It says earlier in Romans that through Jesus we have been justified and stand in peace with God, with full access to His limitless grace. Grounded in that foundation, it says we are to boast in the hope of the glory of God. But, are we boasting?

The Father calls us by name into His love, free of expectation. Romans 5:5 says, “God’s love has been poured out [past tense] into our hearts” and “the Holy Spirit has been given [also past tense] to us.” This means that right now, in this very moment, we have full access to His love. So, how do we stir up hope? Not through might, not through trying to be optimistic, but by getting to know His own Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who already lives within us. When we experience the fullness of God’s love we are able to rest in confident expectation and live the life He is calling us into.

A good music teacher will often remind their students that every hour they put into practicing their instrument will build within them a toolbox of knowledge, equipping and preparing them for whatever feelings or distractions may stir up during a performance. The same is true in our walk with God. We may not always understand why we are walking through or learning what we are, but He is building in us – through His Holy Spirit – a toolbox of revelations of His love for us.

That’s why we can boldly hope! Hope not just for the rational, but the miraculous. Our hope doesn’t put us to shame because God chose us before we chose Him. It is in this sacrificial love we stand, confident and able to take short sprints of faith, as well as jogging at a steady pace our life-long journey. Together, we are a team of cross-country adventurers who dare to set our course towards a kingdom we can’t even see, boasting along the way in the hope of the glory of God.

// Janel Navran

DAY 84 // MADE ONE IN CHRIST

MADE ONE IN CHRIST

“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

// John 17:26

“To pray is to invoke the resources of the infinite into the finite” (Pastor Touré Roberts). When we pray we call down resources from Heaven, an inexhaustible realm, and deposit them into our exhaustible situation, life here on earth. Bearing this in mind, with how much reverence and humility must we respond to Jesus’ prayer for us?

Just take that in! Jesus prayed for us!

In John 17:26, Jesus addresses His Father in Heaven and asks that we’d be made one with Him. He prays that we’d stay in His love, just as His preferential love stays in us. For He, God Himself, abides (remains, dwells, hangs out) where His love is. Therefore, we are assured that if we stay immersed in God’s love, we will stay where He is. This is quite possibly the greatest gift known to man – Christ restored us into complete unity with the Father; He in us and we in Him.

We cannot take our redemption lightly because it is the fulfillment of a prayer lifted up to God by generations of faithful followers. One of these was King David who so deeply loved the Lord that he wanted to give his life to building a house for the Lord to dwell in [2 Samuel 7]. Like the Tent of Meeting, David foresaw a magnificent temple in which God’s presence, or His ‘Name,’ would live.

About 1000 years before Jesus came into the world, David recognized humanity’s exhaustible situation: a broken relationship with God. Today, let us recognize that Jesus’ prayer invoked Heaven on earth, bringing restoration to that relationship. “You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?” [1 Corinthians 3:16]. We no longer need to position ourselves in a temple or tabernacle to be close to God and to experience the loving presence of our Father. Instead we are one with Him through Christ, the Father in us and we in Him. And where God abides, so does His unconditional compassion, forgiveness, and charity towards us. It is in the presence of God’s love that we are set free from all bondage.

No matter where we are or what we are doing right now, we can take a moment to be immersed in God’s unconditional love for us. Let’s allow His presence to fill us and His Spirit to stir our souls!

// Roshard Bryant

DAY 83 // PRESENT IN HIS PRESENCE

PRESENT IN HIS PRESENCE

“These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

// John 15:17

The love that the Father gives is unlike any love that we have experienced in the world.

When we remain and abide in His love, we bear much fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. His love shows us how to love others the way that He loves us. When we stay connected to the vine (Jesus), never disconnecting from the source, we realize that God's love never stops; it never leaves us, never ends. We find that we are continually filled by His love and, in return, we become like an overflowing cup with a never-ending supply source, ready to pour out to any vessel.

When our hearts are connected to the love of God we naturally and without restraint want to pour out that love on others. The world tells us to withhold love because it may not be returned, but the love of God teaches us that true love is unbiased and unbridled – it is freely given without the recipient having done anything to deserve it.

We are each made in the image of God, and as we abide in Christ we get to see a new side to His face, His character, by getting to know other people. Not only that, we get to experience the living and always present God in our lives on a daily basis. As we continue to press into Him, we learn new aspects of His love. Through these moments, our hearts become soft, and through keeping our hearts open to His love, we are allowing ourselves to be transformed and our relationships  to shift. If the love of God is allowed into every area of our lives we will begin to see and believe the truth that we are all worthy of unconditional love.

God's love is huge, greater than any love we could ever imagine and we will be exploring it for the rest of our lives. Let’s accept His love into our hearts – seeking after it and remaining connected to it – and then let’s give back that love out of the overflow of being present in His presence. By doing this we will build our relationship with God and, in turn, give others the same opportunity to experience His amazing, out-of-this-world love.

// Paula Lark