1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 3) – When the Fog Clears and You See How Steep the Mountain Really Is…

Posted: June 17, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 3 of 4)

David’s Instructions to Solomon

As some mountain climbers will tell you when they are climbing a major mountain and the mountain is shrouded in fog, you just focus on what’s right ahead of you til the fog clears. They will tell you as well, sometimes, the most depressing moment can be when the fog clears and you can see how steep the rest of the mountain really is. That can be depressing for a mountain climber. You have been forging your way in the fog and mist and think you have been accomplishing a lot and then the fog clears. Ah man! Look how steep that is. Look how much mountain lies above and ahead!

Similarly, you can get turned sideways by what you think God expects of you as a pastor but yet you are not seeing any results. Something happens and it gets you going down a path of negative thinking. For example, this past Sunday, we were allowed by our state conference (the equivalent of state conventions in other denominations) to return to inside worship services. We had been promoting it in various ways over the past two weeks. Through social media posts, pulpit announcements, newsletter blurbs, and handouts to the attendees at the last three outdoor services that we held before we moved back inside this past Sunday. For outdoor church, we had been averaging between 70-75 attendees each Sunday (compared to the 80+ we had been averaging in indoor attendance before the conference asked us to suspend all normal church operations on March 17th). I was hopeful that this attendance was an indication that people realized that we can worship anywhere. But I also expected that when we returned to indoor worship this past Sunday that there would be this resurgence in attendance over and above our pre-March 17th attendance averages.

However, I was disappointed. Attendance was down a good bit this past Sunday. We had a total of 21 people for Sunday School (usually average about 38). Worship attendance in-person (not counting the 9 folks that tuned in online for all or part of our Facebook Live broadcast) was only 50 people. I had thought there would be a hunger for getting back inside to worship the Lord that attendance would have been in the 90s. I was sadly mistaken and dismayed. I am sure that there were people who were out of town. I am sure that there were people who afraid to come because of the flare-up in cases of Coronavirus cases during the week before last Sunday. Both of these were plausible factors. But the gut punch was still there. When you are struggling to see passion and growth in the church little victories mean a lot but then also little defeats mean a lot as well.

During the time that our church was shutdown, I was in crisis management mode. This pandemic was a new thing for even the most experienced pastor and the most experienced church. Never before had anything but weather-related incidents or freak power outages caused us not to gather inside our worship centers for more than one or max two Sundays in a row. This was all new, the 13 week hiatus on church indoors so as a new head pastor/solo pastor I was right in there with the guys that had been doing this 20, 30 and 40 years. We each had to chart our own course and it was to each pastor to figure out all the various ways to continue being the church without a building to be in. The whole time I think my church and I responded well. We made church work via video church, parking lot church, and church under the trees. It was all an adventure in doing things differently, experimenting with what works and what doesn’t within your own context. It was adjust and adapt. It was crisis management and we did well. People actually enjoyed all the different things we were doing (whether that feeling would have remained long-term? who knows). Then, this past Sunday, it was a return to as close to normal as we can be in the life cycle of this pandemic. So, in a sense the toughest part of our church crisis was over and you could attempt to breathe at a regular rate again instead of the breath rate of a crisis. Surely, there were many things that I read that said when church opens back up, don’t expect it to be the same for a while…if ever again. I wanted to think, since my people had so enjoyed the outdoor church we had done that they had somehow regained a passion for church. However, the experts were right. It was not the same when we started having church inside again. And it may not be for a while, if ever.

The feeling that you are fighting an uphill battle can be real for a pastor. The passion that you want to have in your church for your church among your people that matches your own can be a struggle. You realize that we live in a culture today where church is an optional activity, an add-on to things. It is no longer the central focus of people’s lives among even those that go to church regularly. It’s not just a my church problem. It’s an all churches problem and this pandemic may have made the hill for us to be even steeper. Although we had faithful people come every Sunday during outdoor church. We even had some inquisitive guests and non-regular members attend sporadically during the past months of outdoor church. However, at the same time, we have had some members who attended indoor church probably 60-70% of the Sundays that disappeared completely during the hiatus from indoor church. These may never come back. They filled their Sundays will other things while we were doing outdoor church and may have found that they like those activities better than church. Therefore, the hill just got steeper. It can all be a very daunting feeling to a pastor. The mountain sometimes feels too high to climb and makes you just want to quit trying to climb this continually steepening mountain. Sometimes as a pastor, you feel like you are trying to sell last year’s model of car in the couple of months just after the new year model has come out. It’s a tough sell and can make you feel unequipped for the mountain climb. You become fearful that you can’t sell the car. You become fearful that you are not up to the task or that the task is too large, too steep, too much!

That idea of feeling unequipped for the huge task ahead is what came to mind this morning as I read through this passage of David speaking to Solomon about taking over as king for David. Solomon’s dad was trying to reassure him that he was capable for the twin tasks of being king and building God’s Temple all at the same time. With that idea in mind, Let’s read 1 Chronicles 28:1-21 for a third time this morning:

Chapter 28

1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

In this passage, we see that David advised Solomon not to be frightened about the size of his task as king and builder of The Temple. Fear can immobilize us. The size of a job, its risks, or the pressure of a situation can cause us to freeze and do nothing. One remedy for fear is found here: Don’t focus on fear. Instead get to work. Getting started is often the most difficult and frightening part of the job.

That’s the takeaway for me this morning and maybe for you in whatever huge task you may be facing in your life. For me, it is now in the post-shutdown church world, how do we relight the flame of the people that you already have in your care. How do we shift the attitude away from church being a nice option instead of a central focus? How to conquer that mountain is the new mountain placed in front of us. It is the mountain we must now conquer before we can conquer the mountain outside the church. It can be an overwhelming feeling. However, as the old saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Further, the thing to remember too is that God is sovereign and we must rely on Him for help. We must do our part (like David in gathering the materials for the Temple and Solomon in supervising its construction) but we must see that we are not in this alone. God is with us. Immanuel. We must realize that what happens in our churches do not depend on us. He has us in our churches because we have specific talents and passions for this moment in this church’s life. But it’s His church. I just need to be faithful and keep making progress. We must leave the rest of the mountain to be climbed to God. When we look at the mountain by ourselves, it can be too daunting and can make us want to give up. When we plug away at faithfully climbing the part of the mountain that is in front of us and leave the rest of the mountain to God, then, we can handle it better. God’s better with the rest of the mountain than we are! We just need to faithfully scale the part of the mountain that He has right in front of us. He’s going ahead of us to work out the rest of the mountain.

Amen and Amen.

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