Some time ago as I was praying for our church, four verses from Matthew came together with a significance I had not quite seen before in those particular verses.

(Matthews 21:12,13,14,19) Jesus went into the temple and drove out all who bought and sold in the sacred place, and He turned over the tables of the money-changers and the chairs of the sellers.

He said to them, "The Scripture says, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers." Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the porches and courts of the temple, and He healed them. ..... And He saw one single leafy fig tree above the roadside and He went to it (seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves) but He found nothing but leaves on it. And He said to it, "Never again shall fruit grow on you." And the fig tree withered up at once.

In the temple they were too busy with their plans and schedules and programs to have time or room or compassion for the needy. Jesus cleared the place; He made the room and He had the time. As soon as Jesus took His position of authority, He made room for the blind and the lame; and right away they came to Him.

Just like the fig tree, this temple had offered appearance with no substance, false hope and empty promises. A good thing had become the big thing and so became the wrong thing.

There was just one, single fig tree; the only possibility of sustenance. The temple had been the

only possibility of hope for the physically and spiritually blind and lame; but it was all show,

all leaves but no figs! How dreadful that God's house could be called a den of robbers; the temple robbed of its intended purpose and the people robbed of what they really needed.

We need to make sure that Jesus is always the Authority in our lives and in our Church, so that

the needy, the hurting, the timid, will not be crowded out by the schedules and programs of a busy organization which has forgotten that it is to be a living organism. This cannot happen without the prayer and personal holiness of the people. Do I remember as I go about my day that my body is the temple where the Holy Spirit prays? Are there times when Jesus could call this particular temple a den of robbers because other things are crowding out the work of the Spirit?

What happened to the fig tree? -- It withered up!

What happened to the temple? -- It withered up!

What will happen to our church? --

Will it wither up or become a house of prayer?

If it is just another church, among many churches, it doesn't really matter if it withers up. If it is truly God's house, it must be a house of prayer.

Christmas comes again with the reminder that "HE CAME" and because He came, nothing was ever the same again. Have I grasped the staggering fact that God intends my prayers, our prayers, to be part of His timing to BRING BACK THE KING?

Lord, teach us ... teach me ... to pray.

With love & prayers,