131006 I Chronicles 29:1, 12, 10-18

Last Updated on Monday, 07 October 2013 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: I Chronicles 29:1, 2, 10-18
Theme: Pray David's Way

It was a grand day, a glorious day, a day of celebration and transition. The gathering was like a who's who of the most important people in Israel: officials, officers, commanders and mighty warriors. After all the leaders had assembled, their leader King David rose to his feet.

This was not the young boy who shepherded the sheep. This was not the brave warrior who slew the giant Goliath. This was not the powerful ruler who united the nation and established the nation's capital in Jerusalem. No, by this time David was an old man. The ruddy complexion was marked with deep wrinkles. Forty years on the throne had taken their toll. It was time for the great king to pass the scepter to his successor.

David had not been allowed to build the temple (the Lord had given that honor to his son Solomon), but that didn't stop the departing king from making all the necessary preparations. And in his farewell address David detailed how much of the groundwork had already been laid:

"With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities" (2).

David continued (in verses not included in our text) by giving an account of how much he had given to the temple project out of his own personal funds: 110 tons of gold and 260 tons of silver. After I tried to process what 370 tons of gold and silver looks like, after I tried to imagine how wealthy David must have been to give a gift like that, after I got over the staggering amount David had pledged I started asking myself some questions. Maybe you have some questions too.

Why did David publicly disclose how much he had given for the building of the temple? Didn't his actions contradict the stewardship principle that when we give we shouldn't let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3)? After so many years of faithful service was David looking for some kind of acknowledgement or recognition or praise?

No! David knew that this day was not about him or Solomon or the immense wealth and increasing power of the nation of Israel. A closer look at King David's prayer reveals what this day was about, and I pray that the Spirit-inspired words of this man of God will inspire each of us to...

PRAY DAVID'S WAY

After David addressed the people standing around him, he lifted up his voice to the One enthroned above them and said: "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name" (10-13).

The opening verses of David's prayer can be summed up in a single word: adoration. He praised God for his power and glory. He praised God for sharing his power and glory with his people. It gave David great joy to acknowledge that the Lord was the supreme ruler of heaven and earth and everything in between, but confessing his faith in the one true God did have a downside. It forced David to recognize something less praiseworthy about himself:

He continued: "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope" (14,15).

I don't know what it feels like to be a king, but I am guessing that it can be a challenge for a king to remain humble. With everyone around you literally bowing at your feet it would be difficult not to develop an inflated opinion of yourself. Some of King David's writings demonstrate that he did his best to avoid that trap. He was the one who admitted: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5). He was the one who confessed: "For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin" (Psalm 38:17,18).

And to keep us from thinking that he was boasting when he pledged massive amounts of money to build God's house, to assure us that both the king and the king's subjects were very much aware of the source of their blessings, David prayed: "O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you" (16).

This was not false humility. This was a heartfelt confession. David understood that when he gave offerings to God he was only returning to God what was already his. Without the Lord's blessing he had nothing. Without the Lord he was nothing. Without God's grace God's people were without hope.

How did that realization make David feel? Distressed? Depressed? Resentful? Or would you believe thankful? He prayed: "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you" (17).

David was thankful for everything the Lord had given him. David was grateful that God had given him the opportunity to express his gratitude in a tangible way. Even more, it gave David great joy to see the same joy and the same response coming from God's people. It wasn't the fourth Thursday in November, but the mountain of precious metals that had been pledged for the temple was truly an offering of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Not surprisingly David's prayer concluded with a number of requests, or supplications. For many people petition and prayer are synonyms. We pray to God when we need something from God. What is somewhat surprising about this prayer is what David does (and does not) ask for.

David didn't ask the Lord to replenish the funds that would be depleted by this massive project. David didn't ask for good weather or a good economy so that the building would go smoothly. David didn't even ask God to bless the effort with success. Instead he prayed: "O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you" (18).

At its heart and core, the temple project wasn't about bricks and mortar. It was about a believer's motivation. It was an opportunity for God's people to put their faith into practice. And David could see the Holy Spirit working. He could see the faith in the hearts of his people being lived out in their lives. And he boldly asked God to keep those flames of faith burning brightly, not until the project was completed, not for a few months or even a few years, but forever.

We could put an "Amen" on this prayer and this sermon right here, but before we do there is one more thing we need to talk about. We have worked through this beautiful prayer, but we haven't considered how we can imitate the pray-er. How can we follow in David's footsteps? How can we pray David's way?

A couple years ago when I was a student in catechism class, the pastor who was teaching the class taught me how to compose a prayer using a basic outline. I have never forgotten it, and now I share the same outline when I teach catechism class. The easiest way to remember it is by using the four-letter acronym A.C.T.S.: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. You probably didn't notice it, and I doubt that David was aware of it, but he used the same basic outline in the prayer that is our text.

We pray David's way when our prayers begin with adoration. We praise God for his greatness and his goodness, for all the gifts he has given us and for the greatest gift of all, the gift of a Savior, the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life in heaven.

We pray David's way when our prayers include confession. Sinful human beings have no right to approach a sinless, sin-hating God. Sin affects and infects every area of our lives, including our prayer lives. We don't pray as often as we should. We don't pray with the boldness and confidence that we should. And far too often we honor God with our lips while our hearts are far from him.

It is precisely because we don't deserve to pray to God that Christian prayers are filled with thanksgiving. Among many other things, too many to count, we thank God for the gift of prayer and for the one who makes prayer possible. Jesus knocked down the wall of sin that separated us from God when he died on the cross. Jesus recued us from death when he rose from the dead, and now he lives. He lives and he gives us direct access to God's throne of grace. Thanks to Jesus God is not a merciless taskmaster or an angry judge. We call him our Father.

And just like children who aren't afraid to ask their parents when they need something, our prayers are filled with supplication. We ask God not because we are greedy, not because we are being selfish. Jesus tells us to ask and seek and knock. God encourages us to cast our cares on him, and so we do. We pray for ourselves and our personal needs, for our family, for our leaders, for our friends and even our enemies, confident that the Lord will hear us and answer us.

A.C.T.S. provided David, and it provides us, with a good way to pray, but it does more than that. The word A.C.T.S. reminds us that Christians also ACT. God wants us to pray to him, but he also calls us to live for him, to reflect his love in our lives. There are many, many ways for Christians to do that, but today's text focuses our attention on just one.

Fall is a time when many people think about giving. Fall is the time of year when many churches focus on stewardship. At St. Matthew's we just wrapped up a successful special offering to send care packages to students and members in the military, and next weekend we will begin our annual Thanksgiving food drive. In last Sunday's open forum and in the four that remain we will gather together to talk about the possibility of building and the above and beyond gifts that will be required to make it happen.

Talking about stewardship is a good thing. Talking about our present ministry and the potential for new ministries is a very good thing, provided that we keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, it isn't about dollars and cents. It isn't about bricks and mortar. It's about the believer's motivation. It's about honoring and praising God. It's about giving back to God what is already his. And so we pray for the faith to trust in God, to follow God, to express our gratitude to God, to pray David's way. Amen.

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