Tag Archives: the church

June 12; There Is Still Some Good

I Kings 14:1-18,22-28; 2 Chronicles 11:5-12,18-23, 12:1-12; Psalm 89

When Solomon’s son Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah repented after having sinned as a nation, God did not destroy them like He said He would. When they humbled themselves, God delivered them. Their sin resulted in some consequences they had to live with, but God spared them.

Here is the verse that jumped out at me this morning. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 12:12, and it says:

“… Indeed, there was some good in Judah.”

I think this verse stood out to me because I think there is still some good in the USA, too. There are churches standing true to God’s Word, people being led to their Savior, Jesus Christ. There are state legislators who are taking a bold stand for life, and national leaders who are vocal about their faith in God. There are local fellowships reaching out to the lost, the needy, and the unloved in Jesus’ name.

Yes, I know that evil is rampant, that Satan’s lies are being proclaimed in the media, in our government and universities, and even from some pulpits. Yes, I know there are people killing people every day, and those who stand for the Truth of Scripture are being harassed. Our country is in serious trouble.

But Satan’s troops have nothing on the army of God. Evil can’t win when God is in it. When God’s people (that’s us Christians. What follows isn’t expected of non-believers) humble themselves, when we Christians repent of sin in our own lives, when those of us who say we follow Jesus REALLY follow Him, God will deliver us. He’s done it countless times before as recorded in the pages of His Word, and in the pages of history. He can do it again.

In fact, I believe He wants to do it again.

So come on, Church, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s do it! Let’s get on our knees and humble ourselves, one soul at a time. Then let’s see what God can do with the good that is still here in the USA.

May 25; But Then Monday Comes

I Kings 8:62-9:28; Psalm 132; 2 Chronicles 7:4-8:18, 9:21

Solomon’s Temple was completed, and busy with activity. But Solomon didn’t just sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor. He built a house for his wife, built and rebuilt cities, conquered other cities, built ships and financed mining expeditions, and he observed all the feasts and Sabbaths of the Lord.

Have you ever been involved in a project that required long hours and hard work, decision making, and overseeing workers? The job is complete, you step back with a sense of accomplishment and euphoria. You drink in the accolades, and have a wonderful sense of well deserved satisfaction.

But then Monday comes.

Have you ever been on a retreat or at a conference where your heart soared in worship, you were encouraged, uplifted, and challenged? You leave there excited to be a child of God, and excited about what He is doing in your life.

But then Monday comes.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some people are driven to live in a state of euphoria, some others experience  the down times and can’t seem to pull themselves up. Because when Monday comes, when things settle down and the day-to-day happens, you are the only one changed. The demands of the day are the same as always. The attitudes of people around you are the same as they were. And you have some choices to make.

The same is true in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes God brings us through valleys, and sits us up on that mountaintop. He is so real to us we feel like we could reach out and touch Him. We look around with His eyes of love, and see this wonderful world He created. But it’s unrealistic to think we can stay there. Because Satan is gearing up for round two.

Sometimes our walk with the Lord feels distant. We don’t feel blessed, or even heard. We try, and try, but nothing changes. I think that is a tragic place to live.

God seems to be encouraging me, through Solomon’s example, to keep going. There is always something to be doing for God’s Kingdom, always people to minister to, phone calls and visits to make, people who need to hear what Jesus did for them. Sometimes you have to get off the mountain to meet people where they are. And sometimes you have to let God drag you out of the pit, and into the lives of others.

Solomon enjoyed the celebration of the Temple’s completion. But when Monday came, he started another project, then another. I am reminded that the work of the Church, the effort to make disciples, to minister to hurting people will never be done until God calls us home or Jesus returns. We’ll have our ups and downs, our victories and defeats. But when Monday comes around, where will we be?

Besides, no matter if we are basking in the satisfaction of a job well done, or struggling to keep our heads up, we have reason to lay it all aside and praise God. Solomon did.

My prayer is that we all will be exactly where God leads us, busy working, continually praising Him, for His sake and His glory. And one day, when we look into those eyes, we’ll hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And we’ll have lived our last Monday.

 

May 22; Spectacular

I Kings 5:13-18, 6:1-38, 7:1-12, 9:15-16, 20-23; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18, 3:1-17, 8:7-10; Psalm 127

Whenever I read the description of Solomon’s Temple I am amazed at what must have been a beautiful structure. All the gold details, the intricate carvings. I can imagine the look of the chiseled stonework, and the scent of freshly cut cedar. It took seven years of hard work, but the result must have been spectacular.

Paul, in I Corinthians 3, reminds us that we are God’s temple. You and I, as believers in Jesus are together building His Church. The foundation is Jesus Christ. Each of us are building on that precious foundation using a variety of materials: gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. (vs 12)

I’m pretty sure none of the walls in Solomon’s Temple consisted of stacked hay bales. It probably never crossed Solomon’s mind to use anything less than the best building materials for that Temple. Why would anyone choose inferior building materials for God’s Church today?

I think that if I’m trying to build God’s Church with good works: church attendance, honesty, charity, mowing my neighbor’s lawn, I’m using inferior building materials. Good works aren’t good enough. It would be like trying to build a wall using filthy rags. Really?

If I preach a gospel other than Jesus Christ, I’m building a house of straw even if I have thousands of followers.

I want my life to be built on the sure foundation of Jesus, built up by the gold of His Word, decorated with the jewels of submission and obedience. And I want to contribute to the building of His Church with the souls of people who come to Him because I invested myself in their lives for Jesus’ sake.

Solomon’s Temple must have been spectacular. It’s what he thought God deserved. I think God still deserves spectacular.

May 16; How Far Will It Go?

I Chronicles 6:31-53, 25:1-26:32

I love that the names of the men assigned tasks in the ministry of the temple (not even built yet) are listed here. Most of these men are unknown, regular guys – except for this one thing. Most of these men aren’t listed with kings, or warriors, or prophets. Yet their names are being read today, thousands of years after they’ve gone.

Why?

They served God.

I also love the fact that so many fathers and sons worked side by side in their ministries. I would think nothing could be sweeter for Christian parents than to have their children serving God alongside them. What a blessing that must be!

There is something else that I noticed here in these lists: Accountability.

All these men were assigned duties, and with that we read about the supervision of their fathers, or the commanders, or those who were “in charge.” All the men were given jobs, but none of them did their “own thing.” Even those with authority still answered to the king.

This is a great picture of the inner workings of the Church, isn’t it? Ordinary people working shoulder-to-shoulder in various ministries, some with the responsibility to oversee, to ensure the works gets done to the glory of God, and ultimately, all are accountable to the King of Kings.

You and I might be just regular people, working behind the scenes in ministry of some kind. We might never be lauded or applauded in this lifetime. The men whose names we read today probably weren’t, either. But here we are so many years later, talking about them. I guess we’ll never know how far-reaching our obedience in ministry will go, either.

May 15; Building The Church

I Chronicles 23-24, 6:16-30

I’ve shared that my church is in the middle of a building project. We are excited about moving forward, to laying a foundation now that the land is cleared, to see walls go up, and to eventually move to the north end of the island. The drawings of our future home are beautiful. Not ornate. But you’ll definitely be able to identify it as a church, unlike the remodeled garage we worship in today. It’s so exciting.

David was excited about his building project, too. We saw yesterday how he did the prep-work, buying materials and hiring skilled workers. David even went one step further, an unimaginable step, when he made Solomon king in his place. A king just didn’t do that. Death was the only thing that removed a king from a throne, or maybe an enemy victory. Never a willing abdication in favor of a son.

I imagine David was hoping he’d live long enough to at least see the temple built, even if God had told him Solomon was going to be the builder.

But, and here’s what spoke to me today, David wasn’t only concerned about the physical building of the temple. Oh, he wanted it done right, with the best materials. He wanted it to be the most beautiful building in the world. But David was not satisfied with a  beautiful structure. What use would it be if there wasn’t ministry happening there?

So, even before the foundation of the building was laid, he assigned people to be gatekeepers, musicians, officials, judges, bakers, dish washers, as well as priests. David doesn’t seem to be satisfied with the outward appearance, and not with what was to happen inside.

It’s nice to worship in a beautiful building with state-of-the-art technology, comfortable chairs and air-conditioning. But if there isn’t ministry happening in there, what good is it? The size or appearance of our churches are meaningless if God isn’t finding willing workers inside.

There are vital, beautiful churches that meet huddled together in someone’s living room, or in buildings with holes in the roof, and dirt floors. There are amazing churches meeting in store fronts, in tents, or barns where people are gathering together to worship, and grow, and then getting out there and making disciples.

Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on the physical, how our churches look, from the size of a steeple to the look of a stage, from how the landscaping looks to how the worship service looks, we neglect the ministry opportunities and responsibilities.

Let’s take care of our buildings, make sure the bills are paid and the lawn is mowed and the toilets flush. But let’s also remember why we have those buildings in the first place. Are we using them during the week for ministry, or only on Sunday for a couple hours? Are we who meet on Sundays sharing the Gospel when we leave those four walls, or are we only there for an experience?

You know the Church is not a building. It’s important to take care of our meeting places, but the Church is you. It’s me. Building God’s Church doesn’t involve hammers and nails, but men and women who are out there serving, ministering, people who are involved in the lives of other people, and leading them to their Savior.

I pray that we will have the same singular focus on growing the Church as David had in seeing that temple built. Let’s build the Church one redeemed soul at a time.

 

May 7; First Things First

2 Samuel 5:13-16, 13:1-5:6; I Chronicles 145:3-7, 3:4-9

Amnon committed a sexual sin with his sister Tamar. What he did to her was vile and inexcusable. There should have been severe consequences for his behavior. But we don’t read that David, his father (and Tamar’s), said or did anything to Amnon.

Did David remember his own sexual sin he had committed with Bathsheba? Did the fact that the king had taken many women into his own bed prevent him from taking a stand against the sin Amnon committed?

Years ago I had a friend whose 18 year old daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My friend was not happy about it, but she threw up her hands and said to me, “How can I say anything? I did the same thing when I was 18.”

I wonder if she was giving her daughter permission to commit EVERY sin she herself ever committed, or just that one? I’ve come to believe that having committed sins in our past, then repenting and experiencing God’s forgiveness for those sins, gives us every right to speak up. I’d go so far as to say it gives us the responsibility to speak up. David took the easy, the comfortable way out and kept silent.

It angers me that Amnon was allowed to go on with life as though nothing had happened. Yet Tamar, the victim, ended up living in her brother Absalom’s house, “a desolate woman.” For whatever reason, Amnon’s sin was never addressed by David, and Amnon never repented.

Well it angered Absalom, too. Because two years later, Absalom had his brother Amnon killed. Yet another example of someone committing a sin to pay back a sin. When will we learn? What we see is another sin that is never addressed.

Absalom takes off and hides in Geshur. Good riddance, right? I mean the guy murdered his brother. Nope. Scripture tells us David “mourned for his son every day.” But even mourning his son’s absence didn’t prompt David to confront the sin. I believe that’s why, when the woman from Tekoa came to David, she could easily convince David to take Absalom back.

I mean, she invoked the name of God, so what she said must be true, right? “Send for poor Absolom, Bring him home. Accept him. You’re like an angel of God, David. You’ll do the right thing,”

So David, without asking God what he should do, invites Absalom home. Sounds like the Christian thing to do. I mean, who are we to judge?

What is glaringly missing from this account is any repentance on the part of Amnon or Absalom. Amnon died without asking for forgiveness. And Absalom doesn’t admit guilt, doesn’t ask for forgiveness for the murder of his brother.

Yet we read that eventually, David welcomes Absolom with open arms and kisses anyway. We will read more of this story, and see how embracing an unrepentant sinner will effect David and his entire kingdom.

Folks, welcoming sinners into the Church body is as destructive as David welcoming Absalom into his home. I believe Scripture is clear that repentance HAS to come first. The church that embraces sinners (who in reality are God’s enemies), the church that accepts sin, and refuses to keep the fellowship holy, is doomed for destruction. I know this is contrary to what most of us believe because it sounds so harsh, so unloving. But in reality, it’s the only loving thing to do.

I believe with all my heart that churches aren’t dying because of the hymns they sing on Sunday morning, or the lack of fancy technology, or a foyer with no coffee shop. Churches are dying because of sin in our midst. God will not bless sin. God cannot be present where sin is allowed to exist. Making our churches a comfortable place for sinners to come is counterproductive. That has never been what church was intended to be.

I think the account we see here of David’s life is an example of what happens when sin is allowed to exist without being addressed. I see Scripture telling us we need to keep the Church holy, undefiled, an exclusive organization for believers only. But I also believe Scripture is clear that we who are members of God’s Church need to be out there loving on people who haven’t dealt with their sin, spreading the Gospel, leading people to the Savior, making disciples, THEN inviting them to church.

First things first. And repentance has to be the first thing.

 

 

April 30; The Rescue

Psalms 19, 24, 65, 68, 110; 2 Samuel 8:1, 21:15-18; I Chronicles 18:1, 20:4

It occurred to me, after reading these passages this morning, that as members of God’s Church, we have an opportunity to help each other. We read psalms like the ones included in today’s Scripture and hear about our mighty, powerful, enemy-crushing God. And sometimes I think we might take it too personally.

Like: “I have this problem. I need to tap into God’s power and overcome this sin, or this situation. If victory doesn’t happen, there must be something wrong with me.” We have the mistaken idea God expects us to go it alone, or that means we don’t have faith. We end up feeling guilty and defeated because we still struggle, even though we are calling out to God to help us.

Now, maybe it is you. Maybe you really aren’t being obedient, or repenting of sin. But it also could be God wants to use one of us to come along side you and be His power for you.

A Philistine named Ishbi-Benob said he was going to kill David. “But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him…” (2 Samuel 21:17a)

I’m not saying David wouldn’t have successfully beaten Ishbi-Benob himself. But I love it that he didn’t have to. Abishai rescued him before the Philistine even got to David.

I hope you are close enough to your church fellowship that you recognize when someone is struggling, even when they wear that cheery smile every Sunday. I hope you faithfully pray for them. But I also hope you ask God if He wants you to stand along side this person, to prevent this person from having to handle the problem on their own, to rescue this person.

What a privilege it is to be God’s arms that wrap around a hurting brother or sister, to be his voice that speaks words of comfort, to be his legs to go into action on another’s behalf.

Even Christians hurt. Even Christians struggle sometimes. Let’s ask God to show us how we can come to the rescue.