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Archive for October, 2013

A Heart for All Seasons

October 31st, 2013

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

Possibly Solomon was comparing his work as king with the work of his father David. David was a man of war who united Israel and gained security for the nation, but he was forbidden from building the temple. His was a time of war, of tearing down, of uprooting, in order to plant, heal, and build. Solomon was the man to build, unassociated with the bloody wars David fought.

Sometimes I hear someone bemoan that they were born at the wrong time, that their gifts or preferences were outside of what was necessary or expedient in their own day. I can understand this feeling - we all probably feel that way at one time or another - but I disagree with the thought because it rejects the sovereignty of God in our birth. He chose when we would be born. But it also suggests that only the popular ideas of the day are the good ideas. In every age we need a different perspective because times are always changing, and the one who seems contrary to the spirit of the age can merely be God’s instrument to prepare future generations for the coming change.

But the heart devoted to God and His work is a heart for all generations. Thomas a’ Kempis penned this profound prayer to the Father.

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights Thee most,
To value what is precious in Thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to Thee,
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;
But to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Thy will, Amen.

Here is the heart of devotion that weathers every age. The times in which we live will color our understanding and our application of God’s truth, but it will not change in one iota the true heart of God. He is ever the same. As our hearts search His heart and long to know Him, “to love what I ought to love,” He will open our minds to understand, our hearts to believe, and strengthen our steps as we follow Him.

Daily Devotions , ,

Broken Builders

October 30th, 2013

But God said to me, “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.”

1 Chronicles 28:3

We are all broken builders for Christ and can only serve Him in His grace and in His power. Sin mars, scars, maims, blinds, enslaves, and renders us ineffective for Christ. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the writer wrote that though some things slow us down in our race of faith for Christ, sin entangles our legs making us unable to run at all. But God forgives and cleanses us from sin, making us fit for service.

It seems strange to us that there would be any limitation to God’s forgiveness, as this passage above seems to suggest. But that thought is a misunderstanding of it. There is no sin that God cannot forgive. There is no sinner who is so sinful that he cannot be forgiven and restored by the grace of God in Christ, if he will repent and believe. There is no life that is so fallen that it cannot be brought into a state of spiritual cleanness and usefulness to God.

But sin leaves a legacy here. The nature of sin means that the very sinner whom God fully restores to Himself may experience limitations among men in what he can do for God on earth. We lose opportunities through sin and though forgiveness with God is complete, and though God can use us for some things, often the nature of our sin makes us unfit for other things - not everyone else will forgive us. We are all broken builders in the kingdom of God, and have our limitations as to how we can serve God here. We can lean upon God and let Him show us the opportunities He has for us. If we will do that then we will always be amazed at how God will use us.

David as a man of war had shed blood with his hands, and through the commands he gave to the men who fought under him. Even a just war is war and innocent lives are lost. David had repented of all his sins, and it was in his heart to build a house for God, but he was the wrong man to do it. The nature of his public life had been too long associated with the shedding of blood. It is not that the warrior deserves more blame than the one who orders him into battle - they are both equally to blame - nor that God cannot use soldiers to build up His church. Many of the greatest and most effective pastors and evangelists have served in the military and fought in battles.

Mitsuo Fuchida was in the Japanese Navy and led the first wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was the one who first gave the command, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and coordinated the entire attack. After the war he became a Christian and an evangelist and toured the world proclaiming Christ, being God’s instrument to win many people to Christ.

God’s rejection of David the man of war to build the temple placed the emphasis on peaceful means of conversion, and not on warlike means. God’s kingdom is built by love and compassion, not by anger and vengeance. And David was most remembered as a man after God’s own heart. David’s limitation by God seems slight when we see all that God allowed David to do for Him in the Bible. More space is devoted to him than to any other character in the Old Testament. Psalms, examples of courage, his humility and repentance from sin - through these things he has encouraged people through the millennia. (And by the way, did you pick up the truth that building the temple was not just an obligation, but a privilege, and much more privilege than duty!)

Solomon built the temple, and he was not less sinful than David. He was also a broken builder and fell into sin in later life. He was also born amid conflict, having himself been the son of Bathsheba, with whom David had committed adultery and ultimately for whom he had murdered her husband. That God would use Solomon was a picture of grace as well. God redeems and all we can do is to set our circumstances in His hands and trust Him to use us and to bless us as we do the things He allows us to do for Him.

And there is always some way God can use us. That is the amazing good news. If we keep our eyes on Him, if we bury our selfish ambition in the grave of this world’s concerns, then we will be delighted and thrilled at the doors God opens for us. He restores, redeems and uses broken builders, and that is all of us.

Evening Devotionals, The Core , ,