The run around

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:44-47

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4:33

Things have been busy in my life. I’ve just started a new job as a Training Information Management Systems Officer with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and I’ve just finished 2 weeks of induction. Its been a steep learning curve and I’m learning to live day by day on the grace of God.

A friend of mine has moved in with us. She is a single soon-to-be mother who is having trouble with finances. We’ve got an extra room, and she needs a place to stay. Perfect! Thats exactly why God has blessed us with a house – so that we can bless others in need who have nothing to offer us back. We’ve been getting mixed reactions from people. While most are proud of us for helping out a friend in need, others caution us about inconveniences to us. I’ve found wisdom and encouragement in both responses.

To those who caution us about inconveniences: We’ve found that people are generally willing to help, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them. They would rather contribute money, food, clothing… anything as long as its not them she is staying with. There is always “someone else” who can house her, but when everyone says “someone else” will do it, who is that someone? Sara and I decided that we are that someone. We as a family want to be marked by generosity and an open heart.

To those who are proud of us: we’re only doing what we’re called to. That is the model that the early church exemplified. We’re really not doing anything more than that. We say “to God be the glory”, because none of what we have to offer is truly ours anyway.

I’m still sorting out my schedule with all this going on. Until then, I suspect my posts will be irregular.

A house for God

After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”
2 Samuel 7:1-3

Life could not be better for David. He had brought the ark of covenant back, his enemies had been squashed and he built for himself a magnificent palace. It was a time of rest and luxury after all his accomplishments. As he admires his work, he looked at the tent that housed the ark of covenant – representing the place where God dwells. Compared to his huge palace made of the best wood, God’s tent looked insignificant, plain, unworthy of the glory and splendour of God. It was almost pitiful!

Then it struck David, he should build a glorious house for God! A temple that reflects God’s splendour! He spoke to Nathan the prophet about it. As we know, Nathan and David had a close relationship. You could say that Nathan was a close friend. Nathan sees that David has a good idea and agrees. Afterall, it can’t be a bad thing to build a temple for the Lord.

But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
2 Samuel 7:4-7

Nathan couldn’t be more wrong. David’s idea was a good idea, just not a God idea. God’s reply reveals not just His heart, but David’s heart. A few things to note:

  • David is addressed as “the king” 3 times (v1-3) at the beginning, until God addresses him as “my servant”. This is no coincidence. Basking in his accomplishments, David thought that he could do a favour for God. Afterall, he was the king. But once God steps in, He puts David in place right at the start.
  • When God asks a question, it is often rhetorical. It causes the listener to self-examine and think. It brings our attention to a significant point. God asks David “Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?” or in another translation “Do you really intend to build a house for me to live in?”, He seems to say “Who are you to build me a house? Think about it carefully.”
    Stephen got it right when he said that God simply does not dwell in a temple. God never asked for a temple in the first place. Whats more, a temple is made of things which God himself made! The wood, stone, metals and jewels in the temple are God’s creation (Acts 7:45-50, Isaiah 66:1-2). Who are we to say that we built something (or anything at all) for Him?

This is God’s rationale. He has not asked for a house. From the beginning of Israel’s journey coming out of Egypt, their wandering, their conquests, all the way to David, He has never asked for a house. If God didn’t ask for it to be changed, then the current setup is good enough. If God had wanted to have a house rather than a tent, He would have said something to one of the leaders in the past. God was asking David, “when did my tent become not good enough?” When did God’s timelessly perfect plan become outdated and imperfect?

David has fallen into the trap of seeing the things of God from worldly eyes – palace of cedar versus tent of leather. David thought that he could improve on God’s tent! It is too easy to fall into that trap, it is in our nature to seek advancement and improvement. When have we measured the things of God by worldy eyes? When have we tried to improve on what God has instituted? When have we thought that we could do God a favour in our service?

Have we looked at a sluggish congregation on a Sunday morning and thought that worship was bad? Have we looked at a guitarist playing the wrong chords and thought that it wasn’t pleasing to God? Have we looked at a God thing and said that we can make it better? Have we approached service as a favour to God? Do we lead with humble hearts?

Ever so often I need to get off my little pedestal, think about it and get it right again.

All kinds of busy

December 2011 is turning out to be the craziest month in my 28 year history.

We got keys to our new house on 7th December and we’re planning to move in on 29th December. That means, we need to get tiling put in, get the wooden floor laminate installed, get the internal wall painting done, evaporative unit installed, security system installed, furniture purchased and delivered, the house cleaned and dusted and everything in our rental place packed and ready to move. All that in a span of a little more than 3 weeks. And somewhere , we will be celebrating my dear wife’s birthday and Christmas. It is going to be fun fun fun.

From 2012, this will be our home. Our very own suburban dream come true.  

A house is a big deal. It is something that we’ve saved up and sacrificed for. Now that we’ve got a nice new home with beautiful furnishings, so what? What now?

I am reminded of 2 passages in the bible that relate to building houses.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7:24-27

and

After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying:
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ …
The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you…
2 Samuel 7:1-7, 11

Both significant scriptures with loads to say. I’ll be looking at these 2 scriptures in the next few weeks or maybe when things settle down.

I am reminded again and again of the goodness and greatness of God. I am so in awe that all I can say is in David’s prayer of praise: “Sovereign Lord, you are God!”

“LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
2 Samuel 7:27-29