(A study in the first few verses of I Chronicles 29)
In 1 Chronicles 29, the temple is not yet built, but the time to start on it has come. In this chapter King David speaks to the people and publicly prays to God. Through the message David delivers, he reveals his passionate attitude towards seeing God glorified through the building of the temple. The temple is one of the primary figures of the Old Testament ministry, and there are a lot of powerful things in this chapter that we can relate to Christian ministry.
Verse 1: "Solomon my son... is yet young and tender [inexperienced] and the work is great: for the palace [temple] is not for man, but for the Lord God."
The young, inexperienced person has many lessons to learn yet in life, but the Lord is ready to use all who are submitting their will to do His. God had entrusted Solomon with the responsibility of building His holy temple. Solomon had some things going for him. He had a heart for God, and he had a desire to please and obey Him.1 A heart that is in this condition is moldable to the things of righteousness, and it is willing to cast off wrong desires and actions. We all need to cultivate the attitude of a teachable spirit. It is then that the Lord can use us.
Observe this phrase: "and the work is great." The Lord's call to reach out to the lost is a mountain of a responsibility. We are to make Him known to those around us and beyond. How important this is. It should be our burden because it is that of our Savior's. Right here in the U.S., there are numerous children and young people that know next to nothing about the Lord, let alone understand what it means for their life.
Some of my family, a few other Christians, and I, have been doing a Good News Club for the elementary public school children. We teach it during after-school hours on a weekly basis throughout the school year. Our focus is to try to show children the way of salvation and teach them biblical principles. It's totally new to most of them. We see this obliviousness first hand.
What about the amount of understanding across the globe, regarding the way of salvation? Christianity is the most world-distributed, and widespread of the religions, but many have yet to hear even the name of Jesus. The message needs to be told by a greater amount of believers. Revival is needed. It is surely a great work (a huge task), but let it be done His way. As Christians, we must with great carefulness seek to represent His heart, share His emphasis, and shine forth His likeness in order to effectively reach and disciple. We need to know that He is with us, approving of all that we do. A work for God cannot be done without Him.
We need to be shaped to have His message integrated into our outreach, and we need to have a sincere Christian walk with a godly, living testimony. It has been noted that converts are often equally affected by seeing real, lived-out Christianity in the message bearer, as much as from hearing the message of the Gospel. What we need is to allow the Lord to refine us. We can only build His character in us as we keep to the task of obeying Him, being faithful in the little things.
Note what the verse says: "...for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God." Paris Reidhead, a well-known pastor during the 1960s, told in his message titled "Ten Shekels and a Shirt"2 how he had gone to Africa with the mindset of reaching through to the heathens running around in the jungle because they needed the Lord. After trying to reach them for some time, he went back to his homeland discouraged. The Africans liked their evil ways, and they didn't want the Lord. God showed him that mission work was not to make their life here on earth happier, nor to make their time in eternity happier by bringing Jesus into their lives, but it is for the propose of bringing glory to Him. We need to be careful not to fall into humanistic views of mission work. With this mindset of doing all for the glory of God comes a care for people. Because we're thankful for our salvation through Him, we should feel responsible to tell others so that they also may taste and see that the Lord is good.3 Loving our neighbor as ourselves would be to show them the way to Jesus, and to be compassionate to their needs.
Verses 3 and 4: "Moreover because I have set my affection to the house of my God, ...I have given...over and above...even three thousand talents of gold...and seven thousand talents of refined silver..."
King David gave of his own resources (well over half a billion dollars) because of his strong desire to see God glorified through the building of the temple. Do you have a passion for God-honoring service? One of the first steps to being the salt and light of the world for Christ is to have a passion for seeing His light shine in the hearts and lives of those that we can affect. This is a worthwhile passion—one that you can choose to cultivate. It's exciting to be of use for our Lord. Our passion for it should go further than a certain season of activity. Instead, it should be a life-long burden where the love of God constrains us to care about others. Most of us don't start a passion unless we feel like it. But as Christians, we should be willing to sacrifice our desires and resources for His mandate.
Throughout the Bible, the central message is that He wants all to come to Him. This is His unfathomable desire and longing. The numerous verses in His Word on the subject are for us to catch the vision as well. K.P. Yohannan said in one of his books4 that "a declining interest in missions is the sure sign that a church and people have left their first love. Nothing is more indicative of the moral decline of the West than Christians who have lost the passion of Christ for a lost and dying world." How easy it is to lose sight of who we are on this earth.
Notice I Chronicles 29:15, where King David prays, "For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners...our days on the earth are as shadows, and there is none abiding." We are Christ's ambassadors. As His servants, we need to have the attitude of being "about my father's business."5 If there is a desire to lead the lost into the fold and to disciple believers, then that vision can be built into our lives. It would need to be built into one's life if that person wants to be useful, because without that passion, not much fruit will follow.
The passion for service can be grown into your life by praying for the lost and for believers. Seek the Lord to give you that passion and ask Him to show you what He would have you to do. Direct your focus to good books that will help plant and grow your desires. Allow input from articles, periodicals, live and recorded messages, ministry/mission web sites, missions conferences, and fellowship with ministry-minded individuals. Be observant as you read the Bible, and obey it.
Equal to nurturing your values to make them become those that Christ has, you should also be weeding out the "cares of this life that choke out the Word."6 They make you become unfruitful. Obedience to the Great Commission is the first step—passion will carry it through.
Backing up to verse 2: "Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God..." The verse then goes on to list many of the materials that were gathered for the construction of the temple. Our Savior has done, and is doing, much to draw all people to Himself. He is not helpless when it comes to the lost. But He has entrusted believers with the responsibility to prepare for and do the work of the Master: He then can work in individuals' hearts through that. God set the children of Israel as His design to be His witness to the nations of the earth. But they hardly had any impact and did not reach out. They rarely even took the first step of developing in themselves the mindset for reaching out. They chose instead to keep God to themselves, or often even less than that, by living for themselves and rejecting His ways.
To prepare, we need to be mentored and have examples to follow, showing us how to live out godliness. This mentoring comes from others who help us build righteousness in our lives. This happens through both in-person involvement and through good-quality training materials. The Bible is the most powerful mentor if we read and obey it. We must know the Word, and be able to communicate Jesus to others. We need to have this preparation in order to mentor others.
The key responsibility in missions is to make disciples—not just converts—teaching them to observe all that Jesus taught, and to follow all the directives of the Bible. A fully-developed passion for serving God is to serve Him with all your might, and with complete obedience. The topic of preparing yourself for ministry is a very broad one, with the goal being to serve in a biblical, Christ-centered and effective way.
Verse 5: "...for all manner of work to be made by artificers [craftsmen]. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?"
God gives individuals different giftings, as the phrase "all manner of work" certainly could imply. Not every one needs to go to the same level of service. This verse is a call for laborers. Those with a willing heart know the need, and they step out to give of themselves for the cause of our Master. In many nations that restrict the spread of the Gospel, the Christians are willing to suffer much persecution to share their faith. Their zeal brings a great challenge to us. It represents the urgency that others are truly lost, and for Christ's sake it is worth it to suffer persecution or inconvenience to advance His kingdom.
God's Spirit is moving mightily all over the earth in these times. We can get involved. Let us strive to have our passions in line with His. The results will be eternal, as He is glorified through our life.
Notes: 1 I Chr. 28:7, 2 www.sermonindex.net, 3 Ps. 34:8, 4 The Coming Revolution in World Missions, K.P. Yohannan, 1998; Gospel for Asia Books, Pg. 124, 5 Lk. 2:49, 6 Matt. 13:22, paraphrased.