May 25, 2015

Worship with sincere faith

1 Chronicles 16:1–17:27, 2 Timothy 1:3–18, Psalm 84:1–12

Soon after David became king of Israel, he offered a song of thanks containing these words: “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered . . .” and ending with these: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:10-12, 34)

After the celebration, “all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household.” (1 Chronicles 16:43)

David impresses me as a man who has his priorities right (at least at this time): God first then family. A little later in the reading, he expressed his desire to build a “house” for God that would replace the tent-tabernacle used at that time as a place of worship. Nathan the prophet gave a go-ahead, but God intervened. One of David’s sons would built the “house” while God said He would build David a house and establish his throne forever.

Again, David expressed his gratitude: “For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you. And now, O Lord, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O Lord, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever.” (1 Chronicles 17:25–27)

This impresses me too. David wanted to do a great thing for God, but God would not let him. Instead of feeling rejected or sad about it, David blessed God for His decision. I’ve a lot to learn in that area. Recently, God made a decision that affects me negatively. While I can see His wisdom in this, I’m not yet rejoicing over it.

Today’s NT reading speaks of another of God’s decisions, His choice regarding the purpose of life for His people. In these verses, Paul is writing to a young pastor, but there are principles in them that apply to all Christians, including me . . .

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.... which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:5–9, 12)

Faith needs to be sincere, never faked or hypocritical. I cannot ever pretend to believe or act as if I am trusting God when I’m actually full of doubt or trusting my own resources. This seems obvious, but there are times when I declare I’m trusting God to do something, but try to “help” Him without being directed to do so. That is insincere faith.

Lack of faith is often connected to fear. God gives the faith, but when I let fear into my thoughts and become anxious about things that are out of my control, then I need to remember that God is not the author of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.

Self-control is a bit of a misnomer. It actually means trusting that God is in control, not self. It is produced by the Holy Spirit and gives me the power to keep my hands off. If God promises to do something, then I must trust Him to do His thing without me meddling. This is not the activity of saying “no” when God asks me to take action, but saying “no” when my lack of trust is pushing me to take action.

The reading from Psalms takes me back to David’s desire to build God a house. For David, and for me, the place is not as important as meeting with God and being in His presence. In the OT, that was associated with the tabernacle, and later the temple. Since Christianity was established, most Christians associate God’s presence with a church building, even though we know that we can meet with God anywhere because He is everywhere.

When I read these words, I’m thinking less of a place and more about the event: “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.... For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” (Psalm 84:2, 10–12)

The event is about glorying in God’s name, seeking Him, seeking His strength and presence continually, and remembering the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and judgments. Such worship also ends with thanksgiving that declares the goodness of God and that His steadfast love endures forever!

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