Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
When Solomon, the son of David, took over the kingship, he immediately began to do the work of building a temple to “the name of YHVH (the LORD).” Some might ask, why should we take time to consider this temple that existed some 3000 years ago? The answer: because it was the place where God dwelt with His people! And so I might ask, where does God dwell with His people today?
Dear friends and brethren, the scriptures tell us that “if we repent of our sins and are baptized, we shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). So, where does the Spirit of God dwell? “Don’t you know that you are a temple of God, and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1Cor. 3:16) But Paul doesn’t stop there. Later in that same letter, he tells the Corinthians, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God with your body.” (1 Cor.6:19)
In King David’s day, he wanted to honor and glorify God by building a temple for Him. God told him that it would be for his son Solomon to build that temple and as we saw last week, when the temple was completed, “A cloud filled the Temple of the LORD … for the glory of the LORD filled His temple.” (1 Kings 8:10&11) God came to His temple and Solomon knew it!! Solomon was filled with awe and rejoiced that the God of the entire universe had come to dwell with His chosen ones – the nation of Israel.
Solomon’s prayer of dedication is found in 1 Kings 8:22-53. Let’s break into the middle of this prayer and consider some of what King Solomon had to say to God, “But will God really dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and even the highest heaven can’t contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have respect for the prayer of your servant, and for his supplication, Yahweh my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which your servant prays before you this day; that your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there;’ to listen to the prayer which your servant shall pray toward this place.”
Are you a child of the living God? Do you consider yourself to be a “temple of God”? If you answered yes, then are you filled with awe at the presence of God within? Does this cause you to rejoice? Solomon prays that God’s “eyes may be opened toward this house night and day.” These words of Solomon are not just for the physical building he had built. These words are prophetic for the ages to come when God would see fit to dwell within His children. He sent His Son to cleanse and purify those whom He would call. Remember what we read above, “For you were bought with a price”. The price that was paid for you and me was the precious life’s blood of His Son.
“May your eyes be opened toward this house night and day.” God takes care of His own and watches over them! He loves His dwellings and desires to fill them with His glory.
We have been considering, in these articles, the topic of walking worthy of the calling we have received. We have seen that it is a very important topic, one which Paul “urges” us to do. We have seen that the Apostle tells us to “be completely humble and gentle.” He tells us to be patient and to bear with one another in love. This is the kind of “worthy walk” we are to take. Most times the things that are of greatest value, take the greatest effort.
I want to walk with my Heavenly Father! Do you have that desire?
I want to know what it is like to be in His presence.
I suppose we all have to decide what our priorities are in this life. It does not take too much wisdom to look around and see that the world, in general, has tossed aside the ways and things of God. We find ourselves surrounded by a secular society that, more and more each day, looks toward itself to solve the problems it has created!!
God really does have all the answers. This should be the starting point for all Christians.
We are told in the scriptures that Solomon was the wisest man on earth. Very early on in his book of Proverbs, we read, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Pro. 3:5&6)
I want to walk with my Heavenly Father! Do you have that desire? I want to know what it is like to be in His presence.
Early in his reign as King of Israel, Solomon took upon himself the commission of building a temple for God. When it was finished and he set about to dedicate it to “the name of the LORD,” we read that “a cloud filled the Temple of the LORD so that the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled His temple.” (1 Kings 8:10&11)
And then he asked a prayer over the temple. This prayer, in its entirety, is found in 1 Kings 8:22-53. Solomon knew that every answer to every problem resided with this God who created all things, this God who rules over all the universe, this God who would indeed, dwell with His creation!!
Shall we look at this prayer? “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, ‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart’”
Solomon wanted to walk with his Heavenly Father for he knew what it was like to be in His presence. Let us consider this prayer in future articles.
“I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle.” Last week we took a short detour from our topic of walking with God, but now let’s get back to this statement from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:1-3.
Humility is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the human personality to deal with. We humans delight in having our own way, of getting the glory for some of the non-essential things we do, and in patting ourselves on the back because we think we are so smart. No wonder Paul lists it first as he teaches us to walk worthy. It is interesting to note that he doesn’t just say “be humble,” he says “be completely humble,” and then he couples it with being gentle! I believe that Paul is really trying to open our eyes to this calling we are to receive.
So let’s not forget that Micah told us to “walk humbly with our God.” This calling we are to receive must be seen as a walk with the Almighty God and we cannot take that lightly.
Would you mind if we considered the outlook of a pagan king who encountered the true God? Nebuchadnezzar was the great king of Babylon and was pretty stuck on himself. When Daniel interpreted one of his dreams and told him that he was the “head of gold” on the statue in his dream, that wasn’t enough for him. Nebuchadnezzar decided to have a 90-foot statue completely of gold. Daniel had told him that the God of Heaven was revealing the future for him, but Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t too impressed. This episode of history is told in the book of Daniel chapters 2 & 3.
Later on in the book God got this pagan king’s attention when he humbled him by having him live like a wild animal for seven years until “he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms.” Nebuchadnezzar finally “raised his eyes toward heaven and praised the Most High.” Listen to what he had to say, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37)
As a side note, did you know that this mighty pagan king of Babylon is the only pagan that God would call “My servant!!”
It wasn’t as though Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have a worthy walk of humility and gentleness with God, but God wanted to teach both him and us a great lesson: humility and gentleness are necessary in a worthy walk with God.
What other attributes does Paul urge us to have in a walk with God? “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” It seems to me that patience is in short supply in our society today. “I want what I want and I want it now!!!” I suppose we have some serious self-examination to consider if we are truly desirous of this walking with our God. But, friends and brethren, we are called to walk with the One who created all things. He is awesome and believe me, He calls the shots!! Until next time, remember, we have good news in Him.
Breaking news!! We interrupt this series of articles concerning the “worthy walk with God” to bring you an important message. Wow! That sounded pretty interesting, didn’t it? But I do have a couple of comments to make about this up-coming weekend. Do you know what this Sunday is? OK, I can already hear someone say “June 9th”! And that is correct. But this coming Sunday, June 9th is a very special and unique day in the year. And all of us who are striving to understand the “good news” of God’s word should pay close attention to it.
There are many groups, churches and organizations that may mention this day but the bible would say, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8) Let us get our hearts into God’s truth!
What is this special day? Most of us will know the day as Pentecost and in the Bible we will find this day to be of extreme importance as we consider God’s “good news.”
The word Pentecost, in our English, is taken from a Greek word that means “fiftieth.” That in itself should cause a series of questions in many minds, “fiftieth what;" or “fiftieth from when?” So let’s take this from the beginning. We are introduced to this particular day in the book of Leviticus 23:15-22, “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath.” There is much to say concerning God’s festival day, but today we have only one column to look at, so we will move a little quickly. But remember this; God the Father is always painting pictures of His Son, through symbols and types in the Old Testament.
If you were to consider the gifts that God has given to His people, what would you say was the greatest? I am going to imagine your answer might be, “God gave His only begotten Son to be the Savior of mankind.” And I cannot argue with that. But concerning fifty days after the resurrection of our Savior, we read this in the book of Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The crowd that gathered to see this sight wondered greatly. Peter stood up and spoke (See Acts 2:13-36). As he finished his message the crowd asked, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
This day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day, for everything else that it signifies, stands out as the day the Church received this great gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Many have called it the birthday of the Church. God promises a gift in the Old Testament (see Joel 2:28) and then provides it in the New!
Oh yes, this is good news.
We have been on the subject of “walking with God” and we have seen that God desires those who would walk humbly with Him – this being a quote from the prophet Micah. It is interesting that we find a very similar statement from the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.
In this letter, Paul goes much further in his admonition to the Church. Let’s take a look! Ephesians 4:1 reads, “Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.” So far so good; we are to have a walk with God. But it is interesting how Paul introduces us to the concept; Paul tells us that he is a prisoner of the Lord. This is no throwaway line of fake humility on Paul’s part. Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome! Some translators use the word “for” in this line. Paul considered himself to be in prison “for the Lord” – he was incarcerated because of his belief in Jesus Christ. I have never been in prison “for the Lord,” but I can only imagine it must have been a humbling experience for Paul.
The next thing we see is that he is “urging” us to walk worthy. This is a strong word; Paul is imploring or exhorting us to walk worthy, not just suggesting. But what does it mean to “walk worthy?" What is this worthy walk we are urged to take? What does it consist of?
Let’s read on: Verse 2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” This is what Paul means by the words “worthy walk!”
First let’s notice the word “humble.” Since Paul and Micah are together in this, it must be an important concept.
But they are not alone. Peter and James use it also. In James 4:6 we read, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And in 1 Peter 5:5 we see, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”
God desires His children to walk humbly. This is but one of God’s many great attributes, and if we walk with a humble God, we too must be humble. To quote the author, Jerry Bridges, “Humility is the soil in which all of the other traits of the fruit of the Spirit grow.” The problem with humility is that when we claim to be humble, we lose the humility!! Our ego and our vanity get the best of us in that case.
One great tool that God has given us so as to attain to humility is fasting. Ezra 8:1 tells us this, “I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God.” King David tells us in Psalm 69:10, “I wept and humbled my soul with fasting.” This is not an easy tool but the Bible tells us that it is effective.
Oh, there is so much more to this “worthy walk” with God. Shall we consider it next time?
“To walk humbly with your God”; these are the words of Micah, the prophet we were looking at in our previous article. Perhaps as we ponder this thought, our minds must come to the realization that God is awesome, powerful, majestic and wonderful – and we are not! He is God of all the universe – and we are not! He is the creator and sustainer of all that exists – and we are not!
Okay, point made, we must walk humbly with our God. We reach back approximately 2700 years to grab this quote from the prophet Micah.
He was sent to the two capital cities of God’s people: Samaria, the capital of the northern tribes of Israel; and Jerusalem, the capital of the southern tribe of Judah. (Micah 1:1) The news he was to deliver was not good. His chastisements were deep and severe. God’s people were not walking with Him. On the contrary they were walking in rebellion to Him.
By the time we get to chapter 6 (where our above quote comes from) we read that God is, through Micah, setting up a “court of judgement.” God says, “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains, let the hills hear what you have to say” (6:1). In verse two, Micah speaks so as to announce the trial, “Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; …. For the LORD has a case against His people; He is arbitrating a charge against Israel.”
In verses 3 – 5, God’s case begins by asking a rhetorical question, “…What have I done to you? How have I burdened you?” He then goes on to refresh their memories, “I brought you up out of Egypt, and redeemed you from slavery …. Remember your journey through the wilderness that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD”.
But the people respond with a very arrogant defense, “So, with what shall I come before the LORD? …. Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my sin?” Essentially, they were saying, “Hey we’ve been offering sacrifice to you, what more do you want? How can we buy you off and get you off our backs?” These people had been offering sacrifices to Yahovah, the God of Israel, but they were also offering their sacrifices to the pagan gods, Dagon, Molech and Baal.
And so this is God’s reply through Micah, “He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD (Yahovah) require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Many times, you and I are just like the ancient Israelites. We spend some time each week (maybe) coming before God. We may even call Him Father and His Son, Jesus. We know the names to use and for one or two hours a week we even sing a song or two to Him. But do we then go and sit at the altar of this world’s gods? Oh, we have other names for them, but “a rose by any other name ….”
Will you act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God all the hours of the week? We will look more closely at this walk next time.
Do you like to go for walks? Many who live here in Elk Horn know that Sally and I enjoy a good early morning walk. Sometimes (not often) one of us may be ill or out of town and the other has to walk alone. Let me state right here, it is not as enjoyable!! To see the new flowers of spring and yet have no one to share with; well, it’s just not as enjoyable. To witness a bright, full, early morning moon, knowing that the sun rise is just minutes away is a lot more fun when a loved one is there to share it with. Or what about the star-filled sky on a moonless night – let us stand in awe together.
Did you know that God feels the same way? He desires to have His children walk with Him through this life here on earth. You will notice that I said, “His children have to walk with Him,” and not “He must walk with His children.” There is a big difference here! One must realize that God knows where He is going and that we do not. God’s wisdom and knowledge is perfect; but we are of a fallen race. That race began with our first parents, Adam and Eve. They were given instruction on how to have an abundant life in the Garden of Eden. I think we know how this story progresses, and it didn’t go well for God’s first children. They were given only one commandment and still made the wrong choice. They were told to walk in one direction, but they chose to walk in the other. Satan deceived them into thinking that they could make their own decisions.
If my wife, Sally, decides to walk north on Main Street and I choose to walk south, we obviously cannot walk together. In Micah 3:3 the prophet asks the question, “Can two walk together unless they have agreed to?” If we are to walk with another, we must agree to where we are going.
There is a well-known hymn called “Trust and Obey.” It begins with the words, “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way.” The author, John Sammis, gives us the same instruction as I did earlier; we must walk with our God. And when we do, He sheds glory upon our way! And why not? It is the joy of every parent to walk hand in hand with their little toddlers. How much more shall God feel blessed to have us desire to walk with Him?
How shall we walk with our God? That’s a very good question – I’m glad you asked! The same prophet Micah gives us a huge clue on the method we must employ; Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Yes you must walk humbly with your God!!
The prophet uses the words “your God.” And why does he? Why not say “my God” or “our God?” We must understand that this is a very personal admonition. We must first and foremost realize, it is our acceptance of God as our own that allows us to even walk with Him!! And then…..we must do so in a humble manner.
More on this the next time.
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.