The book of Chronicles (It’s one book divided in two) is written for people facing loss, people who need to pick up the pieces of life and find a new normal, people who have suffered and need to learn to thrive again. I’ve titled this series, “A Great Work for a Great God.” Superficially it is about rebuilding the temple, but the deeper application is about Spiritual Renewal, turning back to God. The Great Work is YOU. The Great work is the transformation of the heart, the renewal of the Spirit in Christ Jesus.
When somebody faces death one of the common messages well meaning friends give after a time is to suggest it’s time to move on: “Aren’t you over it yet?” The world has moved on but your world is upsidedown. And it hurts. Life is about transitions. When you face profound loss, I don’t think the answer is to get over it. Even good things can be a crisis because of the transition. A new job is a crisis. Moving is a crisis. A wedding is a crisis because you don’t know what the new world will look like. I’ve even heard of people facing the birth of their first grandchild and being nervous about all the newness it means and the unknown world that is coming about March 19…. Isn’t that crazy.
We are going through a portion of the book of Chronicles. The book is about God transforming us through the transitions of life. For those not here last week, Chad walked us through a five hundred year portion of the history of the Jewish people, from David, roughly 1000 b.c., up to the time of the exile by the Babylons and the return to the land of Israel, sometime in the 400 b.c. era… You can read the sermon online. It is generally agreed by scholars Chronicles was written five hundred years or more after the time of David and Solomon when the people were in a time of great transition. They returned to the Promised Land after 70 years of exile. It was hard. The problems they faced. Read Nehemiah to see how hard it was. The writer of Chronicles, many people think Ezra the Priest, reached back to the time of David and Solomon when the temple was rebuilt as an example of God leading the people through transition.
The world is about changes. It is always about transitions. Nothing stays the same. Without God you will flounder. It is a great act of trust to let go and let God when you face crisis and get to that place where you say God, recreate me, recreate my world, do something new.
How often I have said to families facing great loss, those who have gone before you would want you to have a great next chapter of life. Of course there will always be a time of transition, I would never impose an absolute timeline or process of grief, but I do know God is about doing something new. A great work. Transitions are now always just about individuals. The Church, the community, the nation, the world are in constant transition. When you list the greatest presidents of our nation, all of them are men raised up for transition times ~ Washington and Lincoln are on top of most people’s list…I look at this church, I am in a position where I have seen many generations of leaders. God’s great work is not only to recreate each of us, but also his Church and His Kingdom.
Two weeks ago, in the sermon nobody heard because we cancelled due to the snow, David passes the baton onto his Son Solomon to complete the work of building the temple. 500 years after David hands off the baton to Solomon, the nation of Israel finds itself in great turmoil as they return to Israel; they look back to the time of David as an example of how to make a transition… I love 1 Chron. 28:9 as a key verse to understand God’s greatest work: not the temple, but a spiritual awakening to know God. 1 Chron. 28:9 are words every Christian parent ought to want for their children. These are words every Christian ought to be praying for the struggling and hurting people iin their life. These are words that every missionary could put on a banner to remember the purpose of going to lost people who need God. These are words for yourself when you are hurting and struggling with loss. This is a vision for anyone who is in a transition and is looking to be clothed with the greater things that are promised by God. READ. Put in your own name, or the name of the person you are praying for… be open to God. You don’t have to understand the world, rather, invite God to understand you.
The other tremendous word from the message two weeks ago is the word sanctuary. The temple is described as a place of SANCTUARY. READ 1 Chron. 28:10. Sanctuary means a place of safety. When your world is out of control, this is precisely what we need ~ sanctuary. I listen to many people every week going through hell that just want peace, safety, rest. Sanctuary.
Last week Chad’s message was to not settle for less than the best God wants for you. It’s part of a transition. In a time of transition, making it through the day might be a great accomplishment for a time, but eventually, for God to do a great work you must get to the place where you experience and live the excellence of God.
Today, the scripture is about being generous. If I am in a crisis, how do I seek God, how do I allow God to do a new work in me? The people you and I admire who emerge from a great time of grief are those who give. They give themselves, they give out of what they have… God re-creates people who have a willing heart to serve Him! In this scripture David says be generous. David talks about how the greatest work of God is bigger than any one person: READ 1 Chron. 29:1. the next few verses describes David’s gifts… (1 Chron. 29:2-5). The key question is in 1 Chron. 2:5: Who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today? The people in Israel in the days Chronicles was written were overwhelmed. The question asked by David 500 years earlier is a question for them… who is willing to get involved. God uses willing hearts to bring about transformation. Who is willing to be generous?
1 Chron. 29:6-8 details all the willing people who gave. 1 Chron. 29:9 speaks of the amazing thing that happened: READ. I.e. they had fun. Giving became the vehicle for seeing God once again. It’s fun to be a part of God’s work. Amen! It brings great joy to be used to make a difference to others.
A spirit of generosity is amazing because it bridges the past, present, and future: you give out of what God has given you. It takes place in the present because you give today. And it points to the future because giving is always a blessing that you believe something significant will happen.
Generosity is a vehicle God uses to transform the lives of people who are struggling and grieving over loss. Generosity is a vehicle God uses to change people and communities into something new: A great work for a great God.
When you give of your gifts and resources, you are consecrated to God along with the gift. You are blessed. It is a joy. Generosity leads to praise. Generous people can see God with greater clarity because you are getting outside of yourself, yet you are the one that is blessed. It’s wild the way God works. I love the words on the grave printed in the bulletin: What we gave, we have. What we spent, we had. What we kept, we lost…. One person said it this way: “A consumer experiences self-gratification in his spending, and so does a miser in his saving; but a contributor knows a deeper joy and a greater gain” (Leslie Allan).
Generosity causes a spirit of praise to well up. It is a privilege to be a part of that which is greater than me. You want a transformed life of amazement: be generous. If you are not able to give yourself away today, perhaps tomorrow. God wants to do a great work in you / us.
Generosity leads to praise. I think its because when you give from what God has given you, suddenly your eyes are open to God and the things of God. A few years ago Sally and I bought a Ford Focus. I’m not a car person and I’d never heard of a Focus. We got the Focus and suddenly I see hundreds of Ford Focuses everywhere on the road. When you start giving to God, suddenly it does something to you so that you see God, and your world is changed, there is a joy that is birthed and a spirit of praise that is lifted up. You want to see God at work in the world, then be generous.
1 Chron. 29:10-18 is a marvelous prayer of praise. The truth is that only God can change lives, only he can take our meager gift and redeem them for his glory. Generous people are people that are amazed. Generosity in humility is part of the giving: READ 1 Chron. 29:14. The prayer goes on in honesty and humility about how little we deserve to be part of God’s great work. READ 1 Chron. 29:15-17.
Life is about transitions. Nothing stays the same. Loss and crises seem to be a constant companion. Know that God’s promise is to bring about a great work, to renew you, to re-create His people. God’s promise is to bring us through the changes. Building a temple is not the greatest work, the greatest work is God being present with His people providing sanctuary. Do not settle for less than God’s Best. God will transform you when your heart is willing to find Him. When you are ready, be a generous person giving of yourself and your resources and you will find a God given joy and your eyes will be open to God Himself, and the natural response will be PRAISE. Amen.