Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. - 1 Chronicles 22

I was reading this morning from 1 Chronicles 22.  In this passage David is instructing Solomon in regard to building the Temple.  David has already set aside all the resources needed.  But Solomon has been given the task from God of completing the work.  David encourages him with these words:

11 ‘Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. 12 May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave to Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

I was so struck by a number of things
  • He has provided all we need, we just have to get on with the job (v14, [not quoted above])
  • Getting on with the job involves simply doing what He has already told us to do, and has said He would enable ("as He said you would", v11)
  • Getting on with the job involves keeping our hearts on Him and His way (v12).  But the Lord is the one who grants us the discretion and understanding to do so!
  • We've got to "Be strong and courageous."  Above all, and this is clearly emphasised: "Do not be afraid or discouraged."
He had no reason to be afraid of discouraged.  God had provided all that is needed.  God had said it would happen.  God has said that He would even provide the discernment and understanding to keep on walking with Him.

Yet, clearly God knows our hearts.  We're so easily put off by the task, so easily down-heartened, so easily distracted, so easily pulled away in our walk, so easily overwhelmed.  The difficulty of all we face so easily dominates our vision and plagues our minds, and we lose heart.

But God's call is clear - remember that He has called us to this work of His Kingdom,  remember that He provides all we need,  remember that it is His strength than enables us to walk the way,  and so Do not be afraid or discouraged, rather Be strong and courageous in Him!!

I'm reminded of Jonathan, who when the rest of the Israelite army were quaking in fear, realised that the enemy were only 'uncircumcised men' ... they did not have God with them.  And so he said "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few" (1 Sam 14:6) and set out boldly in God's strength.  He struck down 20, but God routed 100's of thousands.  Yet the task had seemed impossible.  It was, without God.  But by taking Him at His word, throwing off fear and discouragement, and by looking to Him and by His Spirit putting on strength and courage, God brought about tremendous victory and encouraged the remainder of God's people to fight and triumph.

May God help us to again see His plans already laid out for us in our 'works of service already laid out for us to do' (Eph 2:10), to see that He has provided and will provide all we need, and so may we walk out boldly in His service, refuting fear and discouragement, but being strong and courageous in Him.

So, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged."

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

When righteous men strike - Ps 141:5

Psalm 141:5 NIV

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

One of the hardest thing I ever have to do its to go to speak to people to deal with spiritual problems. Now, you might think that this is the 'bread and butter' of being a Pastor. Surely it should be what I'm good at. But its horrendously difficult.

No one likes to have problems pointed out. Even in other areas of life this is the case. I remember labouring hard to lay a new tiled floor only for my son to come in and point out that a tile right at the corner of the room wasn't quite level. He was right, but I was furious. It hit my pride, it frustrated me after all my effort, and it meant that all I had done wasn't as good as my ego told me. Now, of course, he could have been much more gentle with me in breaking the news, but the reality was that I needed to know about the problem then while I could rectify it and not later when the tile was grouted hard in place.

One of the greatest blessings we can have is a faithful brother or sister in Christ who is willing to say the difficult things and point out where we are not walking will with God. Of course, they need to do this in love with great humility of heart over their own lives (think of specks & planks!). But it is a huge help in our walk with God.

Yet, when those rebukes come, no matter how gentle and wise, they can seem to hit hard. It is like the 'righteous man striking me' of this Psalm... It hurts!!

But, when we see the blessing of it, when we understand the privilege of having someone prepared to say those difficult things, when we see that God has brought them to us just like God sent that Godly man Nathan to so wisely rebuke David, then realise the grace of God in the rebuke that hurts.

How we need to have hearts like David that realise the grace of God in the right rebuke of a Godly man or woman, and welcome it as sweet soothing healing oil on our heads.