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ing the house of God a place of “mer chandise.” There is probably no sin which is so common in the churches of today as this—and none committed so thoughtlessly. In fact, if you even so much as utter a m i l d p r o t e s t against it, you are likely to be put down as a fanatic. Yet no sin seems to have stirred our Lord to greater in dignation, even to the point of driv ing out the sellers with a whip, over throwing their tables, and pouring out their money on the floor (John 2:14- 16). He denounced it as a sin of robbery. “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” He said, “but ye make it a den of r o b b e r s " (Matt. 21:13, R.V.). The church that opens its doors to such sôrry profiting in a very real sense becomes guilty of robbery of the following kinds: 1. The merchandising church robs the world. Very often the churches that enter the business of selling food set up a form of competition that is utterly unfair to legitimate business concerns. Because their supplies are generally given to them, the churches can undercut the prices of ordinary eating places. Furthermore, the hotels •are expected to maintain service every day of the year, while the churches can enter the field when business is good and shut up when it is bad. Still further, the churches can bring pres sure upon people which almost com pels them to buy their meals of the church when it decides to serve. 2. The merchandising church robs itself. Such a church may maintain an imposing front in the community, but even worldly businessmen do not r e s p e c t it. Furthermore, such a church robs itself of real success. The scheme of trying to finance the church by merchandising never succeeds in the end. It simply does not work. Any unprejudiced observer will find, upon investigation, that the churches which try to pay their expenses with selling schemes are always in hot water. 3. The merchandising church robs its members. In the first place, they are robbed of the joy of real giving. And thus grace cannot do its proper work. When deprived of this impor tant means of grace, no Christian can grow spiritually as he should. And in the end, such a c h u r c h rohs its members of final rewards. Certainly it ought to be clear that heaven will pay no rewards for the meals pur chased in some c h u r c h basements. Such buyers have t h e i r reward—in their stomachs. 4. The merchandising church robs God. It robs Him of His house which is dedicated to prayer, not to the res-, taurant business. It robs Him of the freewill offerings that He has a right to expect from those who are saved 'without price. And it robs Him of the opportunity of blessing His people, for
there is a special blessing which He can confer only upon those who have been caught^ by the divine grace of sacrificial giving. “No wonder the Lord whipped the sellers out of the temple. And He changes not Golden Text Illustration I sa ia h 56:7 A minister who had been very pop ular found his church gradually be coming empty, and at last he called a meeting of the deacons to discover the reason. After some discussion, one old man said: “God’s house is a house of prayer, and yet we never have prayer meetings now. Your sermons are still good, Sir, but the people must pray, or they will drift away.” So prayer meetings were once more resumed, with the result that the minister now preaches to a crowded church of praying people.—The Sun day Circle, in Cyclopedia of Religious Anecdotes, by Lawson. In the House of the Lord M atthew 21:12-22 MEMORY VERSE: “The Lord is. in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (HaB. 2:20). APPROACH: Benny had been out in the yard playing football with his older brother. When they came in to dinner, Benny started to kick the ball
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we do them. The church is God’s house. There are some things we should not do in God’s house, either. Can you think of any? LESSON STORY: Last week you re member how all the people welcomed the Lord Jesus as He rode into Jeru-
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