2 Chronicles 7:11-22 (Part 2) – The Lord Lights Up The Area Around the Lamp Unto Your Feet

Posted: August 5, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 7:11-22 (Part 2 of 2)

The Dedication of the Temple

Opening Illustration/Comments

Being on vacation over the past week where we visited our daughter in Indianapolis and then visited with so many friends that we made in our previous church over the weekend while in Moline, IL, it gave me time to reflect. I took a week off from writing of any kind (this blog, my sermons, my dissertation proposal) and just relaxed. Though it was filled with visiting and seeing family and friends, the mind clearing time allowed me to put these thoughts together this morning after I read the passage under study this morning.

Being a first-year pastor in charge has been different and a learning experience for sure. My previous church experiences were as an associate pastor for business affairs in a large church in northwest Illinois and as a volunteer and part-time ministry leader and finance director at a large church in upstate South Carolina. Those previous experiences were a total of 9 years of preparation for where I am at right now. But there are just some things that those experiences just could not prepare me for, though they were invaluable to say the least. There is a huge difference between being a staff pastor or a staff ministry leader and being THE pastor. Here, at Lamar UMC, I am the pastoral staff. I have an administrative assistant but I am the pastoral staff. Nothing can prepare you for that, being the head or solo pastor. It’s just different. In my previous ministry experience, I could always defer to my previous senior pastors when there were decisions that were “above my pay grade”, as the old saying goes. Now, as another old saying goes, “the buck stops here” with me.

When you are a first-year and have had 9 years of previous intense experience in church leadership and you get that first chance to be the lead guy, there is so much that you want to do right away. All the things that you have seen work in previous settings and all the things that you wanted to do that were your dreams that just couldn’t get realized in the mix of the previous settings, you want to do it all. And, you see what’s not working and what could be done in the current setting, and you just want to change the world in your own new little world. As another old saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day!” That was the lesson of this first year. Slow down. Take aim at one thing a year. That’s what I have been reassessing as we begin our second year here at Lamar. That this is a marathon and not a sprint. Sure, there are problems concerning the large drop off between the 55 and over crowd at our church and the 55 and under crowd at our church. This is the problem with many older, established churches everywhere now and is no different here. We must make decisions soon that can determine the health of this church for a generation as to whether the church will be here in 25 or 50 years from now. However, what I have learned in the first year is that I must seek to find just one thing a year that can help us ensure survival of the church. God is abundantly teaching me about patience.

That’s what He has been pouring into me lately just as he taught me in the 9 years of preparation for this stage of my ministry career. Patience. Plowing the field right in front of you. One step at time. Leave the big picture to Him. Pray to Him about the big picture but there is a reason that He is “a lamp unto my feet”. He wants us to see what’s in front of us and concentrate on that. That’s not to say that God has not given me a vision for this church. He has. But what He is teaching me is that for the vision to come to fruition you must do things in a methodical pace and do the things that are urgently important first. Nothing else matters but the urgently important building blocks right now. Everything else comes after that. Plow the field in front of you. And, even if it seems like nothing is happening. It really is happening. We must trust that even when we don’t see immediate results, IT IS happening.

It is that idea of targeting that one thing, that one step that must be taken and trusting God with the rest that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 7:11-22. Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12 Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’

19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’

22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.”

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that months, maybe even years, had passed since Solomon’s prayer of dedication (see 2 Chronicles 6). Several building projects had been completed after the Temple (see 2 Chronicles 7:11 and 8:1). Then after all this time, God told Solomon that he had heard his prayer. How often do we look for immediate answers to our prayers, and, when nothing happens, wonder if God has heard us? God does hear our prayers and will provide for us. However, we must trust that the prayer has been heard and that God is working out His plan for us in His timing. God’s timing is not always on the same scale as ours. His sense of timing comes from His eternality and we have a limited sense of time scope in comparison to His. Therefore, we must have patience when we don’t get an immediate answer to our prayers. We must have the same trust that God has got our back just as we have the same trust in our parents when we are young children.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that God will give us vision, but visions are not accomplished in our timing. They are accomplished in His timing. We must trust Him with the entire vision and trust that He will reveal to us what needs to be revealed. He has taught me that this past first year. Yes, I believe that I was sent here to accomplish His vision for my ministry here. He has taught me that His vision for my ministry here is only part of His vision for this church. It is His church not mine. It is His overall vision for this church. His vision for this church does involve me, yes. That’s why I am here. He has things for me to accomplish here and I pray that I will accomplish those things. But I must trust Him with what He wants to accomplish here. The thing that I have been hearing the loudest from Him is relax and let Him reveal that one thing that He wants accomplished in Year 2. There’s a larger vision for my ministry here that He has given me but what He has been telling me lately is that visions are accomplished by smaller steps that are part of the greater journey. Just as when I do my usual 8.5 miles of walking and jogging in the mornings, it begins when mile 1 and then mile 2. When I am at mile 4, it’s like I am only half done, but you keep walking and jogging and then all of a sudden after another hour you are at 8.5 miles. That’s the deal. Keep plowing. Keep your eyes on the lighted area by “lamp unto my feet” and trust the rest to God. It will happen in His time and at the appropriate time. Trust the lamp unto your feet.

Amen and Amen.

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