This morning we are going to take a break from Proverbs so that I might indulge my personal need to sing God’s praises. Fifteen years ago today I taught my very first Bible lesson at Britton Christian Church. This past week I have been reminiscing. It has been a week in which the Lord has called to mind blessing after blessing that He has showered upon us as a church. I’ve been praising God for His wondrous acts that He has allowed me to witness throughout the past fifteen years.
I have to tell you that being here with all of you for the past fifteen years has been one of the greatest thrills of my life. I’ve had opportunities to get to know new friends who have become like family to me. Connie and I have been stretched like you can not believe. When we told the search committee that we felt like God was calling us to come to Britton Christian Church I told them, “I’m a youth minister, not a pastor, but if you will allow me to work with kids then we can try and learn what being a pastor is all about.” Fifteen years later I still don’t feel competent as a pastor, but God has been faithful to lead us as a church.
There are so many memories that stand out in my mind as I have thought about the past fifteen years during this past week. I could take a week to tell stories of the memories that cause me to smile, laugh, cry, and stand in awe. I can sum them all up by simply saying, “I’ve seen God at work. Consistently, faithfully, magnificently—God has been at work in our midst!” I stand in awe of His handiwork displayed in so many different ways.
I was thinking about all that I’ve seen God do during the past fifteen years this past week and an experience from King David’s life came to mind. In 2 Samuel 7, the Ark of the Covenant, the most precious possession of God’s people, had finally come to Jerusalem, the capital city of King David. David was on cloud nine. His days of living on the run from King Saul were behind him, he had been made King of Israel, and now God had blessed David to be able to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David looked around and took inventory of his life after the Ark had come to Jerusalem. He was living comfortably in his palace, he was experiencing peace in the land, but he saw the Ark resting in a tent. That just didn’t seem fitting for the most prominent symbol of God’s Holy presence. David decided that he would build a “house for God” – a place to house the Ark of the Covenant.
I want us to read together the entire chapter of 2 Samuel 7 this morning so that we can fully understand the overwhelming awe and gratitude that David felt in his heart when God responded to his desire to build God a house. I also want us to read this chapter so that we can understand the nature of God, the God of David, but also the God who has led us and guided us through the past fifteen years. Let’s begin.
1After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” 3Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.” 4That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: 5“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’” 17Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. 18Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD? 20“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD. 21For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. 22“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God. 25“And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, ‘The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27“O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. 28O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7 NIV)
This experience of David has been so prominent in my mind this past week as I have reflected on the time that we have been serving the Lord together during these past fifteen years. There are three things that I want to draw out of this chapter before we end our study this morning.
First, I want us to notice that it was God who had done it all in David’s life. As you read 2 Samuel 7 you can see that David had a great desire to do something for God, but God makes it clear to David that He had done it all. God was the Architect and Administrator of the events of David’s life. Let me show you what I am talking about. Take a look at verse 8 where God says, “…I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. (2 Samuel 7:8 NIV) Now take a look at verse 9 where God says, 9 “I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.” (2 Samuel 7:9 NIV) God made it plain to David that everything that had happened in his life had come about because of His Sovereign hand. God had taken David from the position of a shepherd, tending sheep, and made him King over God’s people Israel. God had been with David wherever he had gone. God was not only with David now that he was at rest from his enemies, but God had been with David when he was living as a fugitive on the run from King Saul. God was with David when he felt totally alone at Ziklag. It was God who had cut off David’s enemies—not David’s strength, not David’s military genius, but God’s mighty hand had done this.
God had not only acted “past tense” in David’s life, but God’s work wasn’t yet completed—He was going to continue working in David’s life even beyond the span of David’s lifetime. Take a look at the last sentence of verse 9 with me where God says,
“ Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.” (2 Samuel 7:9b NIV) Here we are now three thousand years after the reign of King David and his name is still on the lips of people all over the world. If you go to Israel today, or talk to any faithful Jew and ask them, “Who was the greatest King in the history of Israel?” They will not hesitate—it is David.
God was also going to act in the lives of those David was serving. God says in verse 10.
10And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. (2 Samuel 7:10 NIV)
God was going to provide a place for all Israel, not just King David, and He would plant them, establish them, and protect them.
In verse 11 God says that He will give David rest from his enemies. Just as God had acted in the past to deliver David from the hands of his enemies, so God would continue to work in David’s life to deliver him from all of his enemies. God said, “I will also give you rest from all your enemies.”
God chronicled for David all that He had done and all that He was going to do because David wanted to do something for God. David wanted to build a house for God where the Israelites could place the Ark of the Covenant. In verses 11-12 God says that there will be a house built, but He will do the building. It won’t be a church or temple, but God was going to build a dynasty for King David that would endure beyond David’s lifetime. Read along with beginning in the last sentence of verse 11 through verse 12.
“‘ The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (2 Samuel 7:11b-12 NIV)
Isn’t this an amazing section of Scripture? David, from a heart overflowing with gratitude wanted to honor God, and God turns the tables and speaks to David of how He had honored him. Is it any wonder that David was overwhelmed with the goodness and grace of Almighty God?
Secondly, I want us to notice David’s response to God’s goodness and grace. After David hears what God has to say he went in and sat before the Lord. David was staggering in awe before the glory and goodness of God my friends. Let’s read together once again verses 18-19.
18Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign LORD? (2 Samuel 7:18-19 NIV)
After David heard all that God had to say, all that God had done in his life in the past, and all that God would continue to do in David’s life, he was in awe. David asked the right questions at that point. He said, “Who am I? What is my family that You have done all of this?” David recognized that he was only a man and it was the Sovereign King of the Universe who had acted in his life in such a gracious and glorious way. David, in effect says, “Why would You, the Sovereign Lord, do such a thing for someone like me and my family?”
I’ve had the opportunity this past week to sit before the Lord and be reminded of all of the glorious things God has done in my own life and in the life of this church. It has been a humbling experience.
I have always been a very driven person. Whatever I have done in the past in any area of my life, whether it was play sports, school (well, maybe not school), but in most of the things that I’ve been involved with I’ve given 110%. When I came here our church was struggling. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew how to work hard. I wanted to do something to help build this church back to health once again. Now, looking back I see what David saw in his own life. God has done marvelous things, wonderful things, things beyond what all of us together could have never accomplished. This morning I have to ask the same question David asked, “Who am I and what is our church that You have done all of this?”
There is so much in our society today that points you in me in the direction of self-reliance, self-esteem, and self-determination. We believe that we can do it if we will just roll up our sleeves and get the job done. As I look back I see something totally different. I see the hand of our Sovereign God at work. I see the Lord drawing people to this church from all corners of this city and beyond who are gifted, so gifted, and He has brought you here to fulfill His purposes for His ministry in this place. This leads me to our final item.
Thirdly, I want us to notice why God acted in David’s life. We hear stories today about how those that are famous or high profile in society get special favors done for them because of their fame or notoriety. Is this why God did these wonderful things for David? Did God act in David’s life and in the life of the Israelites because God was impressed with David? Was it David’s holiness, his Sunday school attendance, or some other attribute of his life that caused God to do such favors for David? Hardly. David knew why God did what He did and that is why He said in verse 21,
21For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. (2 Samuel 7:21 NIV)
For the sake of God’s Word and according to His will—God acted. God had given His word, He had made a covenant with Abraham concerning the Hebrews, the Israelites, and God would always and will always keep His word—the Jews are still His chosen people. It was God’s will to raise David up from the fields to the palace. It was God’s will to take the shepherd’s staff from David and replace it with the King’s scepter—God did these things so that God might be glorified. When God revealed these things to David the natural response of David was to praise God.
For those of you who have been around here any length of time, I hope that you have come to recognize the same thing concerning this church that David recognized about his own life. I want us to stop and think for a moment. There are some 1400 churches in Oklahoma City. We all know some high profile, very successful churches that God is using in wonderful ways around Oklahoma City. We are not one of the high profile, “successful” churches. We are a little out-of-the-way church that you have to search for if you want to attend. We are not successful in the way that many people view success. We have had to trust God to pay our bills, to underwrite our ministries, and we’ve never had excess money to build big, new buildings.
Why would God choose to bless this little church in such wonderful ways? Is it because of something we have done or who we are? Hardly. God has blessed this church because He has a purpose for this church. His purpose for us is to be a “Lighthouse of Hope” to this community. His purpose for this church is for us to teach His Word, to give people from all walks of life an opportunity to learn His ways by studying His Word, His purpose for us to honor and glorify His name above the name of this church, and His purpose for us to be obedient to His purpose for His church.
It is God’s glory that is preeminent. It is God’s glory that is to be our priority. We are still here and working together so that God might be glorified, not us, not Britton Christian Church.
We can look back and see how faithfully God has acted in this place during the past fifteen years. This should cause all of us to stop and stand in amazement and awe. What will the next fifteen years hold for Britton Christian Church? I have no clue what the details of the next fifteen years will look like. Those who will be here fifteen years from now will have to look back and tell the story of God’s faithfulness. I can tell you that what He has called us to do for the past fifteen years we are to continue. There are three things that are quite evident:
First, we are to teach the Word of God. There is no substitute for the Word of God. Cutting edge programs are fine, but they are not a substitute for the plain teaching of the Word of God. Beautiful facilities are, well beautiful, but they are no substitute for the teaching of the Word of God. God has called us to teach His Word. This truth is confirmed to me over and over again as I talk to people who come to visit this church. I am increasingly hearing, “We love our church, but our pastor just tells stories. He tells them with charisma and passion, but we want to hear the Word of God.” We must teach God’s Word.
Second, we are to be a house of prayer for all people. Fifteen years ago we began meeting on Sunday nights to seek the heart of God and tonight at 7:30 pm we will gather once again, just as we have for the past fifteen years, to seek the heart of God, to intercede for the needs of this church and community, to lay our burdens before His throne, and to listen to His voice.
There are not many folks who come to the “Sweet Hour of Prayer” but that is not my concern. Those who know the importance of prayer will continue to come and pour out their hearts before God’s glorious throne on behalf of each of you who are in need, for this church, and community.
Last of all, we are to reach out to the “least of these.” So many of the people who come through our doors during the week wouldn’t even think of attending a church. They feel like they don’t have the right clothes, their lives are a mess, and they don’t feel worthy to come to church. God has called us to reach out to them with the love, grace, and mercy of God so that they might know that it is not their worthiness that God is looking for—He is looking to redeem them by His worthiness, His glory, and His grace.
One of the unique aspects of Britton Christian Church is the diversity that God has developed here during the past fifteen years. It didn’t use to be this way. God has brought people from all walks of life, people of different shades and economic situations, people who have Ph.D’s and other folks who may or may not have a G.E.D., but I’ve come to realize that we have much more in common than we think.
I was teaching a Bible study on Wednesday night when I told the people in our study that many Christians look back at their life before they accepted Christ and they now view where they are as a badge of pride. Many Christians suffer from a terminal case of self-righteousness as they look around at people’s whose lives are messy and conclude that they are somehow different. At Britton Christian Church, as we study God’s Word, we see that we have much more in common as sinners saved by grace alone.
We are to reach out to the hungry, to the lost, those whose lives are messy with drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and prison as part of their past and share with them the glorious grace of our Savior. Maybe you are one of those folks who has come here this morning and don’t feel like you “fit in” because of your past or your present messy circumstances. My friend, I want you to know that God’s grace is sufficient. He will forgive you of your sin and claim you as His child if you will just let Him in. Won’t you invite Jesus to come into your messy life and recreate you into the masterpiece He desires to make of your life?