Since becoming a full-time employee, I’ve noticed it is a lot harder to “soak” in the word. While I once used to set a timer to limit my devotions and study times now it is harder to plug them into a regular work week. We intentionally set aside time on the weekends to spend more time in the word and daily we have a quiet time, but I miss the extended devouring of the text and drawing out charts and diagrams with the husband. A “happy place” in my mind is sitting around a table covered in butcher paper and fleshing out the meaning of the text. I liken it to eating a good meal of chicken – not at KFC, where you get the bucket special. I’m talking about my moms fried chicken, dripping with oil and seasoned goodness. The time when you savor every bite and pull off every bit of chicken off the bone. A good meal is like that, a good sermon keeps giving flavor upon flavor until it’s all gone, and you just wait for some more.
This weekend we had a full course meal that is still satisfying our spiritual bellies. The boys came home from children’s church talking about the “box”. I was weaving something in my mind, so I initially thought it was my train of thought . At home we were studying 2 Samuel and at church they studied the ark of the Covenant. God’s box carries His presence was the theme. They had sister Bonnie telling them about Jesus and they (the boys) just seemed different. I guess God’s box has that effect on people. I saw the results before I heard what they had learned.
Then we went into the service and the worship time was sweet. I had come off a 16 hour shift and had been praying through the night. In my tiredness my filter to be reserved was absent. It was fun to fully enjoy the presence of the Lord. (Yes, it is sanctified and holy to have fun in God’s presence). It was an extension of that time and as I poured out my heart to God it felt like the release of prayer and praise reached the Heavens, more importantly God’s heart. We had a huge outpouring of people crying out to Jesus for healing and the pastor took his time following God. There was no rush to perform. After many weeks of snow cancelled services, the sheep just needed time with the Shepherd. It reminded me of 2 Samuel 24. The cost for the altar in the Old Testament was often born by those in leadership in ways the sheep may never see. David says, “24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” In the New testament we know the “cost” of the offering was Christ. Leaders bringing that sacrifice to the people still requires their effort in teaching, time and gathering the saints. It comes with a price, sometimes even in spiritual attacks, resistance or distraction. I was convicted and stirred to pray more for those in authority.
I’m thankful for men and women of God who go before a holy God on behalf of their congregations on a daily and weekly basis. Ministers who present their lives as a sacrifice, so others can be healed, saved, discipled. When I was younger this text was often heard as a call to humility and not “numbering” the folks. The appeal was to trust in God and not the arm of flesh and we do see that in this text. I wonder though in all our aim and effort to focus on the negative we miss the beauty of what David provided by way of bringing the sheep to the altar. The compassionate God was working through this young shepherd boy, now warrior King to reach His people. I don’t believe David ever forget the lambs in all his life and ministry.
Over the years you see the struggles of leaders and the ebb and flow of ministry. I’m thankful for the New Testament and that we don’t have bloody wars like those in this precious book. There definitely are still spiritual wars that continue to affect God’s people however. God does still get angry at sin and leaders still encounter lots of hard things. This focus of this book can be studied in commentaries and encyclopedias, etc. and I’m not trying to summarize every book on this blog. That’s french for those of you looking for this blog to be perfect will be disappointed. My hope is to stir interest to read more of the Bible – awards for best scholar I gave up years ago.
What I noticed in 2 Samuel was that David inquired of the Lord – and God answered him. The prophet Samuels work and ministry continues in David’s life and God’s anointing was David’s secret to success. The royal line is promised to David and I don’t think he had any clue that it would be the Messiah. Like Hannah presented Samuel to the Lord, like Ruth presented Obed to the Lord, like Mary presented Jesus to the Lord, God will use those surrendered to Him for His glory. We don’t know what God has in store for us or our legacy’s, but we can look at David in this book and find similar patterns: we go to God, He answers, and we follow His directions. That equals success Kingdom style. In order to build God’s kingdom rather than our own, we need to seek and serve the King.
What will we push aside to make room for the Lord? What will we leave undone to do the things the Lord requires? What will we not buy or sell in order that we have money to increase the time and prayer at the altar? How will we make room for the God box in our lives?
24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” What is the point of all the wars in Israel? What was the point for all the power struggles? God wanted a people for Himself, a worshipping, obedient people for His kingdom. Lord have Your way!
I watched yesterday as the altars filled with people. I saw people there recovering from addictions, struggling with family issues, people that others would not have received in their churches, I saw them weeping and calling out to a Holy God. I watched as men and women who had sacrificed time and money praying over them. People who were once faulted for welcoming “those people.” People who could have gone to a more popular, better built church stood there ministering. People who could have been golfing, shopping or sleeping were laying their hands-on people, entering their struggles and pain without any thought of reward. All needs were considered equal and all people loved and welcomed. That gathering did not come without a price – emotionally, spiritually and relationally. A price that Jesus paid long ago that we could identify with and claim. I don’t think the intercession or anointing was there just because of placement or titled authority. I think it came from years of choosing God, facing their own struggles and hearing from God in seasons of darkness. It was beautiful to behold. I don’t know their cost, but it seems that their seasons in God produced beauty that could not come any other way.
David’s life was not calculated. David’s life was not planned for career success. He was a shepherd boy that was called into leadership and warfare by a wandering prophetic priest. His claim to fame was sticking to the script- God’s script and building God’s kingdom. His failures and highlights in this book serve as reminders to us to fulfill God’s call and obey His will.
Please forgive my running train of thought this morning. It is not the usual exegetical focus I try to keep. I want God to imprint these words on my life, not just my mind. My heart is moved by this book – a weary soldier and a BIG hearing God. Life was anything but orderly for him. He kept his relationship strong despite the jealousies, competition, cynical voices and war around him. He kept moving towards relationship with God and loving on his sheep. The bookends of his life are prophetic and speak of sacrifice and obedience. I pray my life; our lives will look the same.
What is the cost for your altar today? Your churches? Those who minister to you? How does the “God Box” (God’s presence) in our culture, in our churches, change those things?
Seeking and studying with you, RenaeRoche2019