The Work Is Great

1 Chronicles 29:1-2
And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

David saw the building of the temple as God’s “great work.”

  • Just because David couldn’t directly oversee the building of the temple, this work did not lose any value or importance in his eyes. David got even more involved because what was important was the glory of God’s house, not who got to be in charge. God’s work is great, the workers are only great if they are humbly seeking God’s glory as servants. We are only servants. Greatness is not in being in charge, it is doing what is best for the great work of God.
  • David recognized the immense need to prepare the next generation for leadership in God’s great work. King David didn’t live at the end of his nose; he looked down the road and planned for future leadership of God’s people. He organized the priesthood, prepared his own son as king, arranged all the workers to build the temple, put the military in order, arranged the finances, etc. Sometimes leaders just find themselves reacting to current problems instead looking to the future and preparing.
  • He gave his all for this great work. At first, David thought his “great work” was to build a temple for God (1 Chronicles 22). But God wanted Solomon to build the temple. So, David’s “great work” was to prepare Solomon and all Israel to build the temple. Look at 1 Chronicles 17-22! Look at all the work David did to prepare for the building of the temple. His great work was to prepare the next generation, and he spent every ounce of his energy doing it!

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation

Acts 13:21-22 “Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'”

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,”

David served God’s purpose and God’s will in his generation. But what does that really mean at a practical level? For David here’s what it meant: He wanted to build a temple for God and His glory, but God said, “No…your son Solomon will build it for Me.” So at a practical level for David, he spent the rest of his life preparing Solomon and the nation for the temple-building project. This was God’s calling for David.

God gave David a clear “to-do” list, and David went about that job with “all his might” (2 Chronicles 29:1-2). He defeated the enemies on every side, creating peace and national security. David organized the priesthood into divisions so they could divide up responsibilities in leading temple worship. He also did the same for the military, so it would be properly organized. During his reign, he collected a TON of money through his military victories and he took a big stash of his own cash to put in the treasury to help build the temple. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he also drew out and wrote out the building plans for the temple. Again, with God’s guidance, command and inspiration, he designed musical instruments for worship and he wrote all kinds of worship music to be used in the temple. David was one pretty busy dude during his reign! On top of that, David gave first importance to the spiritual training of his young son Solomon and helping him see the value of God’s wisdom.

This was God’s purpose for David in David’s generation. God said “No” to building the temple, but “Yes” to helping get all the preparations together to build that temple.

I’ll leave you with this thought: You may not get to do the job you think you should do for God, but what can you do for God? How will you, like King David, dive in to help prepare the next generation of God’s people so that they can be ready to build God’s house in their generation? Are you serving God’s purposes for you in your generation?

James and Fathers, Part 2

Last Wednesday, we began a look into the book of James and some things we learn about God as our Father. Here are a few more thoughts.

As a Father, He wants us to bless Him, but He is also deeply concerned with how we talk about our brothers and sisters. As dads, remember to keep a check on how your kids talk to each other. That’s a big lesson they will learn and hopefully translate into other areas of life.

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
(James 5:11)

We can always trust that God’s intentions and purposes for us are good. Even when we don’t understand why things happen or why God asks certain things from us, we can trust He loves us and know that in the end my soul’s salvation is first on my Father’s mind. This is important for us, dads. My end goal is not being “right” on a matter. My end goal is not having my child be perfect in every way. My goal is to keep my heart as a Father in line with the heart of the Father in heaven. If my heart is line with my Father’s, then that will affect everything I say, do and think when it comes to my kids.

We may think too much about the training and instruction we are giving our kids, and all the investment we have poured into them, but fail to think about some very important things. Sometimes we lose sight of the working of God in our sons and daughters. We also at times lose sight on the transformation that God is working within us as well. Our Father loves us very much, too, and He is transforming us every day as dads so that we will imitate our Father as dear children (Ephesians 5:1)

James and Fathers, Part 1

The book of James has been on my mind a lot lately as we are preparing to be part of a camp next week where the theme will be from the book of James.

Today (and also for next Wednesday), I wanted to look at a few passages from James that give us a picture of the God we serve. He is our Father, but what kind of Father is our Lord?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
(James 1:5)

He gives generously, and doesn’t hold it over our heads after He gives. Of course, God does remind us of what His gifts have cost, but He doesn’t do it like a lot of us dads do. The result of dads reminding kids repeatedly of how much they “cost” is guilt and feeling like a constant inconvenience. Our Father does not do that for us. He gives and gives and gives and gives. One of my favorite verses on this is Romans 8:32 – read it. The result of God’s giving to us is praise, gratitude, and a desire to come to Him for everything! The reason sometimes people feel guilty asking the Father in heaven for things, is because they have been conditioned by their dads on earth to feel bad for coming AGAIN to ask for something.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
(James 1:17-18)

He is a gift giver, who gives good things with the best interest of His children in mind. He is also a Father who is not a different dad each day. There is no variation within Him. As we mature in Jesus, we become more stable and there are less “variations” in our thinking and behavior as Fathers. God “gave birth” to us through His word, and that is the same way we as dads will bring life and growth to our children is through the power of the word.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
(James 1:27)

God has made it plain as a Father what He really wants. Yes, there are other details to “religion,” but there are the main things He wants us to focus on. As dads, we must have to keep focused on what the big things are, and what God really is looking for in them. It can get really easy to get lost in the weeds of all the little things our kids are doing that are either wrong or need to improve, but keep focused on the big things first.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
(James 3:9)

More on this next Wednesday, Lord willing.

Do Not Take to Heart

Sorry for no article yesterday, wasn’t feeling well.

Anna and I were reading Ecclesiastes 7 and came across this passage:

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
(Ecclesiastes 7:21-22)

Is that wisdom or what? Don’t take to heart all the things people say. How easy is it to get caught up in everything that people say or think. I’m not sure if it is harder now, but it seems even harder with so many people freely and quickly posting their thoughts and judgments through internet, text, social media, etc.

Here are a few quick things that we observed when talking about this passage:

  1. “Lest you hear your servant cursing you.” It’s better not to know sometimes what people are saying. Do you really WANT to know what people are saying about you? Of course there are times you need to hear something so you can make the proper changes and address a situation. But sometimes people just get frustrated and say things they shouldn’t. Then they work through it and all is better. Do you really need to know that whole process? Your servant may have been temporarily upset, but he’s better now.
  2. Don’t be so quick to be offended. It just seems that so many folks are just waiting for the wrong word to be said so that they can be upset. That shouldn’t define us as Christians.
  3. Remember the things you’ve said about others. Before you get all self-righteous with indignation, look in the mirror. We’ve all gotten fast and loose with the tongue at times and said things about others that we later regretted. We want grace and mercy when we behave that way, so let’s extend it to others as well.
  4. Keep this in mind as a parent. Do you remember all the things you said either to your parents or about your parents when they weren’t around? Yeah, reflect on that for a bit. Don’t be so hasty to react and step on every thing your kids say, otherwise they won’t want to talk to you. Again, if you want grace as a parent, give grace to them. It is so easy to get caught up in reacting to the things our sons and daughters say. A simple conversation can turn into a nightmarish battle because we are all reacting instead of responding. I know this parent constantly needs this reminder. Don’t take to heart everything they say, and that is very easy to say. We can really get hurt in a hurry by taking to heart everything our kids say, but let’s calm down and put things in perspective. If God took to heart everything you said to Him or about Him, would you still be alive? God’s loving-kindness should be our model in how to handle all those words that get thrown around and spoken to us carelessly.

Overcoming Fear

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Rom 10:11-13)

And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
(Act 15:8-9)

The people of the New Testament churches had a very difficult time grasping the concept that Jesus was Lord of all. He was the Lord of the Jews but He was the same Lord to the Gentiles. They all were saved the same way, by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no distinction. Jesus cleansed my heart through faith and He cleansed your heart through faith.

I want to take this and apply it to how I see my kids. Is there a distinction between my kids and me when it comes to salvation? No. We are saved the same way. Because I believed in Jesus and obeyed the gospel, I am a Christian. The same is true for my kids.

This also implies that we are all in need of salvation. Our kids will need the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They will sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), because that is the direction of all mankind. I don’t mean to say that we take all hands off as parents because we know they are going to fail anyway. But you can’t keep them from sinning. You are not strong enough nor smart enough. What our kids need from us is the wisdom to give them instruction, the freedom to make their own choices, and the grace to accept and receive them during those times when they fall.

My Lord is their Lord. Jesus loves me and works in my life, and He loves them and He works in their life, too! He has begun a good work in them and He will keep working on them until the final day (Philippians 1:6). What Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for our kids far exceeds anything we could ever do for them. Jesus’ love for our kids is beyond our comprehension. He is no less committed to their salvation as He is committed to mine.

Pray for Jesus to give us as parents the power of faith to overcome our fears. May we always remember the presence and power of Jesus in their lives. We still teach, correct and even at times rebuke, but our faith is not in our power as parents. Nor should our comfort lie in how perfectly our kids turn out. Grace is amazing, because we all are wretched sinners who need the blood of a risen Savior.

A Spirit of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

How much of our parenting is done through fear? I don’t mean causing our children to fear, but I mean our own fears as parents? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I don’t have a lot of advice on the matter, but I know that this is a problem for a lot of parents, this one included.

We are afraid that our kids are going to make the same mistakes we did, so we go overboard on trying to KEEP them from repeating those mistakes. Our fear of where something may lead influences us to such a level that we make such strict guidelines and boundaries that are are not only unscriptural, they are smothering. We’re so afraid of the wrong, that they are not allowed to do what is clearly right. This can happen in our approach to sex, to dating, to technology, to finances, etc.

I’ve seen this as a preacher for a long time. Folks are so afraid of being too excited and outwardly emotional because they don’t want to appear like those “other churches,” but the result is stiff and stoic people that don’t express the joy of the Lord. We can be so determined to keep ourselves from making a wrong Biblical decision that we don’t make the right ones. Just as in parenting, this approach to religion is unscriptural and smothering.

Being afraid of doing wrong, by itself, will not guide you into wise decisions and godly living. Mere fear of our kids going down the wrong pathway will not give us the wisdom to help them navigate the pathways of life.

Being afraid of doing wrong, by itself, is not the spirit God gave us. Yes, we are to be warned of dangers and we are to warn others, especially our children. The Proverbs are full of such warnings. But we must remember the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 that God did not give us a spirit of fear that overwhelms us and immobilizes us. He gave us power, love and “self-control.” If He is working in us to produce self-control, is He not also working in our kids to do the same?

Hopefully this helps a little. There will probably be more on this later.

Receiving Correction

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-11

So, how do we receive correction when we need it? Whether it is from a spouse, or a parent, or the government, or a boss, or from God the Father, how do I receive correction?

Here are some quick observations on the above text about receiving correction, specifically God’s discipline.

  1. God trains us because He loves us, not because He despises us (Heb. 12:6).
  2. He disciplines us because He receives us as children, not because we are rejected as outcasts (Heb. 12:6).
  3. The chastening, though painful, is temporary, but the rewards / benefits are eternal (Heb. 12:9,11).
  4. His goal is for us to share in His holiness, and to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:10-11). It is “for our good.”
  5. Our attitude toward that training should be out of thankfulness, submission and respect toward God. Don’t grow weary during those times, and do not regard lightly what God is working within your life (Heb. 12:5,9).

 

Father, Help Us Raise Our Children

Here is a beautiful song that is in our new hymnals at our congregation. I wanted to share the lyrics with you today for your meditation and prayer.

Father, Help Us Raise Our Children

Little children, from above, Sent to us with joy and love,

Bring a hope so clear and bright; Father help us raise them right.

O how tender is the sight; Little ones in bed at night,

Parents praying at their feet, “Father keep them pure and sweet.”

Little children soon are grown; Can they face the world alone?

As they strive and struggle through, Father, let them turn to You.

When our time to go draws near, We may leave our children here;

To the new land, far away, Father bring them home some day.

Hymn and Tune by C.A. Roberts, Copyright 1995 David and Nelline Watts

Saying Goodbye to Gramma

This is a letter a good friend, Abe, wrote to his mother about the passing of his Gramma Bettye. She passed from this life over the weekend, and Abe’s thoughts are very helpful for us all. With permission I am sharing this letter with you.

I typed this this morning before I went to work. Wasn’t sure if I would ever share it. But maybe knowing Gramma (really GOD through Gramma) did one more great thing in my life will be comforting.

Saying goodbye to Gramma was hard as I left the nursing home Sunday afternoon. For some reason I thought it would be much easier since her eternity was settled, and she had already lost so much in this life in the last couple of years or so (None of those losses matter now:-)

But I am so glad that I got to whisper in her ear: “I love you. I am glad GOD gave me you. You have done your job. You gave us your faith. You have run the race. Now go rest. It’s okay to go. Go get the prize! Bye Gramma. See you soon.”

Goodbye is hard.

It feels like such a long goodbye. But it really won’t be too long!

There was such value in sitting by her bedside (Ecc 7:2). That value was not in comforting HER (which I believe was my original intent). Instead, in one final 7 day period she gave back once again and refocused my life on things not of this world. What a remarkable woman. What an Amazing GOD.

For 7 days, in her toughness while she lay in a room lacking all possessions, to me she demonstrated how fleeting even a 91 year life is (James 4:14). We entered this world with nothing and we will exit with nothing (I Timothy 6:7). And that truth was there for my eyes to see.

In our last moments all that matters is our rock solid faith (Matt 7:24-25) in a Loving, merciful GOD who causes all things to work together for good…for HIS purposes (Romans 8:28)…..Who desires us to be with HIM, worshipping in HIS presence for eternity (Rev 5:9-14). WHAT A GREAT TIME THAT WILL BE!

Indeed, there is great value in experiencing death while on this earth. I thank GOD for Gramma and this week of watching her enter into HIS rest. She finally gets to rest. She made it!

I love you Mom. Your….what was it….25 years of service to her were amazing. What an awesome example you and dad have been (Philippians 2:3-7, 2:17, Romans 12:1)

Abe