Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It Is Not Building Churches

"Today in history class, we are going to learn about viking burial rituals..."

Hmmm...okay...

But really, did you know that when vikings were buried, all of their belongings were buried with them?  This obviously included precious valuables but also food, weapons, and jewelry (Matador Network).  

When life came to a close, what was important for them?  Possessions, belongings, things...

...stuff.  

And the reality of it is that they will never see those things again.  So if "stuff" isn't important, what is?

King David had just witnessed an amazing offering for the soon-to-be-temple.  He knew his reign and life were coming to a close and he offered a beautiful prayer to the Lord.  Below is just a snip-it of the prayer in its entirety, but take notice of what one word sticks out:

1 Chronicles 19:17-19 - 17 Since I know, O my God, that you try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.  18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of your people, and direct their heart to You; 19 and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision. 

You see, David knew what was important.  Unlike the vikings, he didn't talk about material things - not about the wealth I'm sure he had accumulated, not about his weaponry or the wars he had won, and not about food (the good or the bad).  He talked about the heart.

First, he acknowledges the truth of the matter:  God knows and tries the heart.  The Hebrew word for 'try' is bachan - "to examine, try, prove" (Strong's H974).  Let's take a look at the English definition of 'prove': "to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument" (Dictionary.com).  God will establish the genuineness of our hearts - He can see ALL of the evidence...  This is fact and David knew it.

He then goes on to confess the integrity, or uprightness, of his own heart - in my opinion, to show that he was sincere (Strong's H3476), the whole time knowing that God would see the truth anyhow.

Then he brings his own people before the Lord, the people that he had ruled over, fought with, and cared for.  He doesn't ask that they be kept safe or that they have great wealth...he asks that the Lord preserve the intentions of their heart and direct their hearts toward Him - "Since it is from Thy grace that Thy people have such willing minds, continue that grace to them, that they may persist in the same generous disposition towards Thee and Thy worship" (Wesley).  Matthew Henry expounds further: "...that what good God had put in their minds He would always keep there, that they might never be worse than they were now, might never lose the convictions they were now under, nor cool in their affections to the house of God, but always have the same thoughts of things as they now seemed to have."  While David's prayer was not this lengthy, I do believe that all of this is what he had in mind.  This prayer should be a regular one among believers.  It would be the ultimate in building one another up!  And think of the effect this prayer could have on your children!

And lastly, he lifts up a prayer for his own son, Solomon.  Again, notice that he doesn't ask for Solomon to have wealth or that he would live a long and healthy life.  He only asks that Solomon would have a perfect, or whole, heart for the Lord and His work (Strong's H8003).  David knew that the Lord had blessed the work of the temple - but he also knew that Solomon's heart had to be in the right place: "It is not building churches that will save us if we live in disobedience to God's law" (Henry).

In the end, it would do the people (including Solomon) no good if they build the temple and forgot where their hearts belonged.  That is the key!  God does not look at the temples we build or the work we do...He looks at our heart!

I challenge you today to examine your life.  Are you doing the Lord's work?  Are you building up His church (and I do not mean the building)?  Are you serving Him in any capacity?  If so...is your heart in the right place?  Because if not...all of the former will have been in vain.


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