Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When God Wanted to Shut Down the Church

I have been praying for the last 30 minutes or so. I was reading this Scripture from Malachi 1:10 in the BBE version, "If only there was one among you who would see that the doors were shut, so that you might not put a light to the fire on my altar for nothing! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of armies, and I will not take an offering from your hands."
The Expositor's Bible Commentary makes the following rather pointed commentary. "God, once again speaking of himself in the first person, wished that the temple would go out of business. As long as it was not serving as a meeting place for God and man, why should any perfunctory and self-deceiving rituals go on it it? Not only were the sacrifices ineffective, but the priests and the people were lulled into thinking that their deeds were winning God's approval. So why not shut the temple doors and be done with what was for priests merely a nuisance? The thought may be applied to present-day churches that have ceased to be places where people worship in spirit and in truth and are merely meeting places and nothing more. It would be better for them to close down that to continue misleading those who think that what they are doing pleases God. He could hardly have spoken his mind more clearly than he did in the last part of verse ten: "I am not pleased with you ... and I will accept no offering from your hands."
May the Spirit of the Lord never come to the place He says to us "You may as well quit what you are doing because it offends me and I will not be a part of it." Many good deeds are being done by many groups. May it be that the church never loses sight of our primary call and purpose.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Extravagant Worship

2 Samuel 6: 16 And when the ark of the Lord came into the town of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looking out of the window, saw King David dancing and jumping before the Lord; and to her mind he seemed foolish.

In describing the reaction of Michal to the worship of King David upon the entrance of the ark into the city of God the BBE says, "to her mind he seemed foolish."

And so extravagant worshippers still often appear to others. Does the worship of another seem foolish to you? Remember, they are not worshipping you. The question is not does the worship seem foolish to you but how does it appear to the One to whom the worship is directed?

The extravagant worshipper must not seek to offend others but must simply be so captured with the object of His love that the opinions of the others simply fails to enter the equation. The "Davids" must know their worship will always be "foolish" to the Michals of this world.

What was it that appeared to specifically annoy Michal? The BBE says it was his "dancing and jumping before the Lord." It seems the demonstrative worship tends to create more disturbance than the silent variety.

When Your People Rebel Against You

1 Samuel 30: 6 And David was greatly troubled; for the people were talking of stoning him, because their hearts were bitter, every man sorrowing for his sons and his daughters: but David made himself strong in the Lord his God. (BBE)

David is greatly troubled. First he is facing personal tragedy. His own wives have been taken captive by the Amalekites. Secondly the people were talking about stoning him.

Every leader will go through moments where the people they are leading will rise up against them in some fashion. It is important we understand why the people do what they do. The people were lashing out at David from their own hurt. Their hearts were crushed over the perceived loss of their families. Personal crisis will often cause people to strike out at the leadership. It is also important to note these were the men who were following David but the concerns of their family were of greater concern to them that loyalty to David. Family wins out over most relationships most of the time. Therefore do not expect people to support you at the expense of their family.

How are you to respond in those situations? David made himself strong in the Lord. Do not always be needing for someone else to pick you up. Make yourself strong. But understand this strength is found in your personal relationship with your Lord.

When the Crowd is Right

2 Samuel 18:3-5

Normally the leader sets the pace but from time to time the leader needs to bow to the wisdom of the group.

David said, "I will do whatever seems best to you."

He had planned on taking the lead in the coming battle but the people recognized quite correctly that on this occassion it was best this great military leader remain off of the front lines.

We must not let our stubborness keep us from hearing words of wisdom that come from the lips of others. Sometimes God's voice does come through the wisdom of others.

Lay your will down and accept His will regardless of how that revelation comes.

It is important to be able to discern when these times come. The wisdom from the crowd was based on two things. First it was based on the good of the Kingdom. Secondly it was based on the good of the leader.

The crowd was not limiting David's leadership. They were protecting both him and the Kingdom. The leader must look beyond his own ego to determine if the wisdom of the crowd is for their convenience or for the good of the Kingdom.

In this verse another reason for David to remain off of the front comes through. His own emotions were clouding his wisdom. He, as a father was quite concerned over the welfare of his son. He had forgotten that son did not share the same concern for him.

Had David gone to the front line he would have preserved the one creating the rebellion. Unless Absalom had a change of heart this action on David's part would have only delayed the inevitable.

A leader cannot allow his personal situations to cloud his vision. He must see what is best for the people he is leading.

There is no way to mitigate the pain the leader will feel when the welfare of the people being led and the welfare of the leader's family are in conflict

When Crisis Cuts Off Promotion

Jeremiah 45: 4 This is what you are to say to him: The Lord has said, Truly, the building which I put up will be broken down, and that which was planted by me will be uprooted, and this through all the land;
 5* And as for you, are you looking for great things for yourself? Have no desire for them: for truly I will send evil on all flesh, says the Lord: but your life I will keep safe from attack wherever you go.

When Crisis Cuts Off Personal Glory

Baruch is receiving both a promise and a caution or a warning in this prophetic word through Jeremiah. First comes the caution  or the warning. Don't expect personal greatness or security during this coming time of tragedy. Baruch is not to be concerned about developing his own ministry and personal fortunes during this time.

The promise is the Lord would keep him safe in the midst of all the terrible things that would befall the nation. Even if he was taken as a prisoner to another country the Lord would be with him and keep him alive.

The time in which one lives presents both opportunities and difficulties. Personal goals may be required to take  back seat because of larger public issues.

As followers of Jesus we still live within the context of the time we live in. World War II interrupted the lives of believers in the same way it interrupted the lives of non believers. Some will never rise to great personal heights because the situations in which they live will not permit it. However they can still be used of God in those situations. Noted politicians are speaking about living for a cause greater than yourself.

Secondly even in adverse international situations you can have the promise of Divine protection.

Who has your ear?

1 Kings 12:6-10
 In one sense the issue was not the age of the counselors but the wisdom of their counsel. One group gave wise counsel the other showed arrogance. In this incident the wisdom came from those of much experience and the arrogant response came from those of the more immature years.

One must be careful not to overgeneralize but this passage does depict the danger that often is experienced by the leadership of youth. If you are young and have been placed in leadership it is incumbent upon you to gather wise counsellors around you. Do not just look for those who flatter you with their opinions but for those who actions reflect a concern for the welfare of the whole.

Rehoboam appears to just be looking for the counsel that stroked his ego. He "gave no attention to the opinion of the old men." Those who pay no attention to the opinions of certain groups of people run the risk of alienating that group.

Servant leadership may not appear to be as “strong” as dictatorial leadership but it is more secure. People are looking for a leader. They will follow one who expresses concern for them. If the people think “you feel their pain” they will follow you.

Building Favour and Giving Thanks

1 Samuel 30:26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the goods to the responsible men of Judah, and to his friends, saying, Here is an offering for you from the goods of those who were fighting against the Lord;
 27 He sent to those who were in Beth-el, and in Ramah of the South, and in Jattir;
 28 And to those in Arara and Eshtemoa
 29 and Carmel and in the towns of the Jerahmeelites, and in the towns of the Kenites;
 30 And to those who were in Hormah and in Bor-ashan and in Athach;
 31 And in Hebron, and to all the places where David and his men had been living.

Not only does David reward all of his men equally for their participation in the victory over the Amalekites but he also sends gifts to those places and people where David and his men had been hosted (see vs 31).

First in doing this he is expressing thanks for their support of him during a time of need in his life. He remembered those who had blessed him and purposed to be a blessing to them.

Secondly he was creating good will among these friends and responsible people. He was sowing into the day he would be returning to become king and would need their support.

Thirdly it is possible some of these people had been adversely affected by the Amalekites and David is restoring to them what had been taken.

Finally notice David does not send these "love gifts" to the people of Keilah and Ziph who had betrayed him to Saul. He does not hurt them but neither does he honor them.