Here is a sermon I recently preached at Feltham Evangelical Church. It did me a lot of good in the preparing and the preaching. Here is the outline:
A.. Finding Your Feet (vv1-3)
B.. Stabilizing (vv4-5)
- In the presence of God
- Fellowship with God
- The goodness of God
C.. Looking Forward (vv6-8)
Have a listen if you wish.
I was somewhat euphoric some little while ago as regards to the outcome of a certain situation. I have pondered a little on that subsequently and wondered about what is the substance of our lives. I muse on this because if my life is based on circumstances and outcomes, and generally upon happenstances, then I am living a very precarious life. This is so because as good days come, so do bad days. There are times where all seems to flow swimmingly and there are days when everything seems to be a mess. One will make me happy and the other will make me sad.
This is really how so many people live unless they impose upon themselves some stoic indifference to circumstances. The Christian though is called to a better way; the way of the Christian is the way of faith. Whether all goes well or all goes badly, I am called to trust in the Lord. This reminds me of the incredible truth of Psalm 112:7 where we read They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Here are people who are truly living in a bigger way. This is not a detached way because there is an awareness of bad news. However, it is a more secure way because it is a way not dependent upon my circumstances. Such a way is a way of settled trust and joy. It is so because I am looking away to the God who does not change; I am looking to the One who is in control of good and bad news.
I am looking to the Lord God who is overseeing overall and as my soul is enfolded with Him by faith I am established in a settled way. This way is the mature way. It is the way of peace and hope and joy. Circumstances bring temporary hope and peace and joy. The faith way brings settled joy in God’s eternal purpose in Christ. A circumstance based Christianity is an infantile Christianity. A faith based Christianity is a mature Christianity.
Today I want to counterbalance the post from last Thursday (see here) which dealt with the issue of elders keeping their focus. I am addressing here the issue of the need for the elders at times to make sure that they do not avoid getting involved in a pressing task.
In Nehemiah 3 we see a wall being built. This wall was essential for the effective operating of the city of Jerusalem. Moreover, if the people of God were going to start effectively to function as the people of God again they needed this wall. So as we look at Nehemiah 3 we see that all were involved in contributing their part to make sure that the wall was built.
It is interesting that the first involvement was with Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate (Neh. 3:1). The leaders led the way to indicate that this was something all needed to be involved in. And interestingly there is a gentle hint of condemnation concerning the nobles of the Tekoites who would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors (Neh. 3:5b). They thought themselves of too high a station in the community to lower themselves to working for building foremen.
So what do we learn:
- There are times when there is necessary works to be done among the people of God for the benefit of God’s church. In such a situation all, including the leaders need to be involved.
- The leaders need to take the lead in being involved in these tasks.
- The leaders need humility to submit to others who are perhaps more familiar with building work. Pompous refusal to submit to others with appropriate gifts and expertise is not golly.
- We need to consider the comparison to last Thursday’s post. There are times to delegate and times to get involved. It takes wisdom to know which one to do and when.
- Even when there are necessary jobs to be done elders need to retain tehir focus on prayer and the Word. These are, after all, at the heart of our calling.
If you are an elder in a church you need to keep your focus. The apostles in Acts 6:4, by way of example, indicate to us what our focus is to be upon when they say that they will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ Acts 6:1-7 indicates how a problem in the church was resolved. In resolving the matter, though, the apostles insisted that they had to keep their focus on the priorities for their ministry. Prayer and the ministry of the Word had to be be focused upon if they were to function for the good of the church.
This is equivalently applicable today for the elders of every church who have been granted oversight of God’s church in their specific locality. To be deflected from this focus is to lead us away form our calling. The church needs leaders who give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
So every day i should be setting myself to keep my focus on prayer and the bringing of the Word into the church. And if you are an elder this should be your focus every day.
If you are not an elder you should be working and praying and ministering to make sure that the leaders of your church are able to retain their focus. If the elders are distracted then the spiritual health of the church and your spiritual health will be affected.
In Exodus 34:21 we read ‘Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest. Our Lord Jesus said that ,‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27)
The significance of the demand to keep the Sabbath even in ploughing and harvest season is tough. This is because these are the times which would be most busy for an average Israelite. These were the times when there was every justification for getting the ploughing and harvest done and thereby missing Sabbath. The LORD is not happy about that thinking though, He says it is always best to keep to the six days work and one day rest cycle even when tehre are many pressing demands
We so easily are prone to find ourselves overdone with the demands of life. We can feel “I am too busy to have sabbath.” But rest is so important for our functioning properly.
We must be therefore aware, that the Lord knows what is best for us. After all it was He who gave sabbath for our benefit. If we fail to follow the sabbath principle then we do so at our peril.
Here is George Müller giving us profound wisdom about what we should concentrate upon at the beginning of each day:
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.”
this is a great reminder about what our priorities are to be in our devotional time at the beginning of each day.
I have written further about this here.