Friday, December 19, 2014

A Place to Worship God

READ 2 Chronicles 1-2

Solomon begins the preparation to build the temple, the house of the Lord. The plans that were given to him by his father David are magnificent and the materials are stunning in their costliness and beauty. The phrase “spare no expense” certainly comes to mind. But in the midst of all his preparation, in a letter to the king of Tyre, he acknowledges one deeply profound truth: “But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (2:6)

The temple, rather than a place that will “contain” God, will be primarily for the worship of God. It will be the place where the people come to make offerings to the Lord. He knew that heaven was the true dwelling place of God (1 Kings 8:30) but even heaven was not vast enough to “contain him.”

What was God doing? He was given his people a place to worship him and bring their offerings. The thought reminds me of Jesus statement, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) God is providing for man’s need to worship. There is no place in all of creation that can contain God for he is omnipresent — he’s everywhere. But that is not even an accurate description because God is never limited to a location (even everywhere) but is pervasive over all that is and beyond all that is. Don’t worry. It’s too big for us to grasp. Just think about it.

One day God himself will be the temple (Revelation 21:23). But right now the temple, the place of worship, is the Body of Christ, both individually and collectively (1 Cor 3:16 [you plural]; 5:19-20 [you singular]. So, as the people did in Solomon’s temple and as Paul exhorted, “glorify God in your body (the temple).”

Prayer: Father, the magnificence of the earthly temple of Solomon was perhaps the most beautiful building ever built, but it was not big enough nor splendid enough for even you. However, in the wonder of your grace, you dwelt among your people. Now you dwell in us. We are humbled and amazed that you would dwell in such a humble place. Help us to do what was done at that first temple. Help us to truly worship you in spirit and in truth.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gatekeepers & Parking Lot Hosts

READ 1 Chronicles 26-27

When I read 26:12 this morning I thought of Frank Miller. Notice the wording, “These divisions of the gatekeepers, corresponding to their chief men, had duties, just as their brothers did, ministering in the house of the Lord.” (emphasis mine) It seems that a distinction is being made of those who serve inside the house of the Lord and those who serve outside. That’s why I thought of Frank. You may or may not know that he is in charge of our Parking Lot needs on Sunday mornings and other special times. He sets out all the cones and signs and stands duty faithfully all the time.

The gatekeepers of Israel and Frank show us the importance of every helpful ministry that is done in the life of the church. There are no small jobs. One famous actress once said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” That is most certainly true in the life of the church. The jobs that are the least noticed are still vital to the overall health and life of the church. We see this in Acts 6. I’m thinking waiting on tables for widows wasn’t the most exciting job in the world. But it required “being of good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” So one needs to be Spirit-filled to be a gatekeeper or parking lot attender? Absolutely. Only then can it be done to the glory of the Lord. Thanks, Frank, for your example to all of us.

Prayer: Father, once again I am thankful for Frank and for so many others in our church who serve in “unnoticed” places. Lord, I know that you will reward their service with your blessings. Help us all to follow their humble example and honor you with our lives.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Second Fiddle

READ 1 Chronicles 22-23

Someone once asked Leonard Bernstein what was the most difficult instrument to play in the orchestra. His answer, “Second fiddle.” We all get it—but think about something even more difficult. What if one is asked to move from first fiddle to second?

In the listing of the priests and the Levites for the service in the temple we see this inversion take place in the descendants of Moses and Aaron. Moses, the great leader of Israel in bring them out of Egypt, was without question one of the greatest men of the OT. Aaron, his brother, assisted him faithfully as they faced Pharaoh and left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. But now the place of prominence is inverted. The sons of Aaron are to make offerings to the Lord in the temple (23:13) but the sons of Levi (including Moses) are to be their assistants (23:28, 32). I wonder if there were ever any jealousies that arose because of their lineage.

So it is today when we are asked to serve others. Is it possible that we might be resentful thinking we deserve a higher standing? Or do we humble ourselves willingly before the Lord and others for the glory of the Lord? “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Prayer: Father, help us to have the mind of our Savior in being willing to lay aside our privileges in order to serve others. Help us to honor you by the way we serve, even in secondary places, out of the limelight, where no one else will see. Thank you, Lord, for so many faithful servants who serve in this way before you.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our Threshing Floor

READ 1 Chronicles 20-21

David sins in Ch 20 by numbering the people. God is displeased and gives David three options for judgment, of which David chooses to be punished by the Lord himself knowing that he is more merciful than man (20:13). When God sends the death angel and the people are being killed, David repents and cries out to God. So the Lord sends Gad to tell him to buy the threshing floor of Ornan and use it to make a sacrifice that will avert the wrath of God from the people (21:22). Gracious Ornan offers to give it to David but David invokes those famous words of commitment to the Lord, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (21:24)

I must admit that my mind went to my own commitment to the Lord and what it has cost me to serve the Lord — even thinking what I need to do to avert the punishment of the Lord in my own life for my sins. But, thankfully, God didn’t let me go down that road for long. In my own mind, I was reminded of the Gospel. David is a picture for us of our Lord Jesus Christ. He averted the wrath of God for his people by what cost him his very own life. He is the threshing floor of Ornan; he is the altar of sacrifice; he is the offering to the Lord that is acceptable for our sins. Jesus is our all in all. Let us worship him.

Prayer: Father, how gracious you are to remind us of your love demonstrated on the cross for us. How merciful you are that you gave your only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. Father, you did not redeem us with ways that cost you nothing. Thank you for your great love and everlasting mercy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Yes, Lord, Yes, to Your Will & To Your Way

READ 1 Chronicles 18-19

Joab was David’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, except that he was more like an Eisenhower on D-Day or a Schwarzkopf in Desert Storm. As head of the Israeli army he was actually engaged in the field with the battle. David sent him and the army to take care of the Ammonite problem. But the Ammonites had hired the Syrians to come and help them fight against David’s army. They had separated into two camps so that Joab’s men were confronted front and back. So Joab split the army in two and gave his brother Abishai commanded of one of the forces.

Listen to Joab’s instruction to Abishai, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” What amazing faith and submission to the will of God is demonstrated in that statement.

Joab knew he had to fight and he knew that the situation could go either way. What he did not know was what the outcome would be. But he did have faith that God was in charge of the outcome and he also was willing to surrender himself to what God purposed to happen.

You and I can learn from Joab. We are to fight the good fight of faith in our lives before the Lord and we must stand strong and do all that we can in the power of the Lord. But we must also surrender the outcome to the Lord. He doesn’t have to do things the way we want them done. Remember Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, not my will but thine be done.”

Prayer: Father, you are holy and sovereign in all things. I praise you that this is true. I’m so thankful, Lord, that we are not left to our own ends but that you as the holy, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious God of all are overseeing the course of history to your purposes and your ends. Help me to surrender my will to yours and to be content with your ways.