3 points: Consequences of sin, being prepared to pass on the mantle, recognition and acceptance that God is in control.
King David at Last 1 Chronicles 29 v10-20
A famous surgeon died and went to heaven. At the pearly gate he was asked by the gatekeeper:’ Have you ever committed a sin you truly regret?’
‘ Yes,’ the surgeon answered.’ When I was a young medical student at Saint Bartholomew’s , we played soccer against at team from the Salvation Army Hospital, and I scored a goal, which was off-side. But the referee did not see it so, and the goal won us the match. I regret that now.’
“Well,’ said the gatekeeper. That is a very minor sin. You may enter.” “Thank you very much, Saint Peter,” the professor answered.
“I’m not Saint Peter,” said the gatekeeper.’ He is having his lunch break. I am Saint Bartholomew.’
Sometimes, especially as we get older there can be a tendency to look back on our life and think ‘if only’ or with hindsight maybe ask the question would I have down things differently? Even if you have been blessed with a good life, I am sure most of us have regrets about things said or done or we failed to do in the past. In today’s reading we have what is considered to be King David’s last public statement before his death, giving such praise and acknowledgment to God’s Power, Might, Dominion and overwhelming gratitude for His love , mercy and grace to us his creation. David is nearing the end of his reign as king, which was part of the golden age of Israel. David is also nearing the end of his life as he writes this prayer in which he reflects on what God has done in the history of his people and in his life.
David lived a blessed life, but it was not a charmed life. David’s was a true rags to riches story. He started life as a mere shepherd boy with no prospects of rising any higher in Israelite society. Then God stepped in and chose David to become king of the people of Israel. David experienced the riches and all the trappings of being a king. But David also experienced hardship. One of his sons died in infancy. Another son lead a rebellion against him and almost dethroned him. This son, Absolom was killed in the rebellion.
From the mountain top experiences to the valleys of despair, David saw that God was always present in his life. God was always a part of both nature and history. Although not mentioned anywhere in the Bible that David in his dying days voiced regrets about the way he lived his life, I am sure that given a second chance he might have done a few things differently. David like you and me was far from perfect. Yes he was a mighty soldier, leader and king, a man with a massive heart for God, yet because of his acts of murder and adultery, although forgiven by God after genuine heart wrenching repentance, he faced as we do, consequences for his sin. Not only did God kill his first born son but now as he came to the end of his reign and life he was denied the right to build the Temple. Hey this was no ordinary building project like we at St Chad’s have undertaken. this was to be The Holy of Holies, the very place that God would reside in. In those times there could be no greater honour or privilege than to be the provider of such a place, the ultimate act of worship and provision to almighty God. Yet he took it on the chin! No grumbles or bitterness, with obedience and humility David, although providing much of the resources as instructed by God he passed on the baton to his son Solomon to complete the work.
Itâs not always easy to pass on the baton or mantle whatever our position in any area of responsibility or leadership, this can include situations in family, work and even church life! At the end of the day there can only be one boss, GOD! Listen to his plans and purpose and be prepared to have the obedience and humility of King David.
I think it’s also important to mention our own rebuilding project. It’s a fact that some of our fellowship will not be alive when it reaches completion. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will the new St. Chad’s! We are still years away from final completion! However some of us older members mustn’t adopt the negative attitude what’s it got to do with me I won’t be around to reap the benefits! As was the Temple, it’s being built to Glorify God and equip us to reach out with His love.
Neither must we forget that as Christians we are the temple that God cares most about today, for 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 17 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”
We can have the grandest of buildings but unless the fellowship allows the Holy Spirit room in their own lives and the life of the church the building will be an empty shell, as useful as a chocolate teapot!
The Holy Spirit isn’t a new fad just for modern day charismatic fellowships, he has been there since the beginning of time. There can be no doubt King David was a Spirit Filled Child of God. If we read the first part of ch 29 we would see it was the Holy Spirit that gave David and then his followers the spirit of abundant generosity to pay for the building of the temple. There were no grants dished out in those days , funding came from grateful worshipers who had to put their money where their mouth was so to speak! It was the Holy Spirit that convicted him of his sin and lead him to true repentance. It was the Holy Spirit that made him bold and courageous as well as make him a prolific songwriter. It was the same Holy Spirit that enabled him to hear the voice of God and be obedient to his commands. It was the Holy Spirit that bought him into the realisation of God’s greatness and that everything is God’s and God rules everything!
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, riches and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything.” I Chronicles 29:11-12
People often comment that they see God in numerous places in nature like a beach sunset, on a mountain top panorama, and the gently flowing water of a forest stream. It is more difficult for us to see God in history.
Not only is it difficult for us to see God, we often find ourselves (me included) wondering if God is involved in all world affairs and influences the course of history. “Where is God,” we ask, when innocent aid workers are beheaded, women and children are murdered or raped, when the whole world is under threat of Ebola? The list could go on and on!
Recently we remembered those people who have sacrificed their lives to give us what we enjoy today. I wonder where God was in their lives. Was it solely human effort, or was it divine power that has provided us with freedom and abundance? Most humanitarian aid is either Christian or based on Christian principles.
As Christians and I include myself, we must dismiss negative thoughts from the enemy and trust that God is supreme. That his will, be done here on earth and heaven.
It always amuses me when most churches virtually shut down in August due to summer holidays. God never takes a holiday! Just as well he doesn’t belong to the Unite Trade Union otherwise Len McClusky would probably organise a heavenly walk out! However God does want us all to be constantly united in union with him in thought word and deed. Although he never takes a holiday, he goes with us on ours! That’s a bit of a scary thought isn’t it!
Maggie and I only a few days ago returned from our holiday in Tunisia. To be honest we didn’t intend to do much apart from eat, drink and chill out at the fabulous hotel. Nowdays we seldom go on the overpriced and overrated organised excursions. However our friend who came with us mentioned he wouldn’t mind going on one of excursions which was to visit The Remembrance Service being held at The British and Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Medjez el Bab just North of the town of Tunis. I must admit that I had my doubts because the atrocious terrorists group IS roots started in Tunisia and many worldwide ambassadors including the USA & UK were to attend. Sun bathing around the pool seemed a more sensible and safer option! Especially as the Foreign Office had issued tourist warnings for parts of Tunisia. However my friend explained his father served in the army in North Africa and although he survived the war many of his friends had perished and he would like to attend and pay his respects. Also if possible wherever we are in the world Maggie & I try to attend a church service on a Sunday. Thankfully Tunisia, although a muslim country is relatively tolerant to other religions but to find a church would be more difficult than QPR beating Chelsea by 10 goals! So we decided to risk it especially as the trip concluded with a tour of Tunis and Ancient Carthage a major centre of early Christianity.
I must admit the nearer we got to the Cemetery and the number of armed police and army presence increased I wondered if I would regret my decision to go! However God was sovereign and we had a wonderful spiritual experience stood between the graves mixing with about 150 people including about ten ambassadors accompanied by their families and bodyguards. The Bishop of North Africa Diocese Bill Musk with the help of some of his fellowship from St. Georges Tunis lead an excellent and very dignified and respectful service. At the end my friend Des, whose last church attendance was probably when he was my best man when Maggie and I got married 43 years ago, told me how much he enjoyed the Bishop’s thought provoking talk and admired and respected the fact that he never watered down his Christian message to suit in this day and age of being politically/religiously correct! It was indeed an inspired Gospel message! If only more Christians in our country, including church leaders, worn their heart on their sleeves!
A few days later, having nothing better to do apart from soak up the sun around the pool, I downloaded and listened to Martin’s Powerful Remembrance Service talk from our church website, and suggested to Des that he might also like to hear it! So although unaccustomed to being preached at, Des heard 2 great sermons over the period of a few days! Do you think just maybe God might have been in control of that decision to go on the trip!
Although I have shared about my faith with Des on several occasions, he is yet to take a step of faith himself. He recently told me he has requested in his will that I take his funeral service. I just hope before that happens Des will come off the fence and as David did, declare his love, trust and adoration to our Supreme God.
There can be no doubt as we read about David’s final days on earth, his heart was right with God. He knew about and had received through the Grace and Mercy of God his salvation, everlasting life. You know heaven will be full of murderers, adulterers, thieves and other sinners but don’t be afraid as they will all be repentant murders, thieves and other sinners washed and redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Let me close with a few challenging thoughts: How prepared are we for our deaths? would our faith give us the peace, joy and gratitude that David felt in his final hours. Are there any regrets we can rectify before it’s too late? Like Bishop Bill Musk, are we unashamed to confess Christ Crucified! Or have we been brain washed not to cause offence to other religions? Have we really allowed the Holy Spirit to release our purse strings? Shortly we will take communion, ask ourselves, has this become just a symbolic ritual or is it a heart rendering celebration in Remembrance of what Christ did for our freedom, making the ultimate sacrifice.