Best Laid Plans

Preached FCCW July 22, 2018

2 Samuel 7:1-14

 

The poet Robert Burns once wrote these words, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Which is another way of saying that no matter how good an idea may seem to be, there is no guarantee that it will be a success.

Does anyone remember New Coke?

In 1985 Coca Cola introduced a new formula for their iconic soft drink.

Someone must have thought this was a good idea.

Unfortunately, for Coca Cola, that someone was not the average consumer, who never indicated there was anything wrong with the old Coke and never asked for something to take its place.

As a result, New Coke was a colossal marketing failure.

Coca-Cola finally pulled the plug on New Coke and went back to the old formula under the name “Classic Coke.”

This is one example of an idea that could be filed under, “Best laid plans that went awry.”

Another example would be King David’s idea about building a Temple.

A long time before, on Mt. Sinai, God told Moses to construct a tent – called the Tabernacle.

It was to be the place where Moses would go to confer with God about God’s will for the people.

A tent lets you pull up stakes and move on a moment’s notice.

When the Israelites were nomads travelling through the desert, the Tabernacle was a reminder that it was God who was leading them.

And when the people moved from one place to another, the tabernacle that travelled with them was a reminder of God’s presence with them wherever they went.

But now, that the people were settled in their own land, building God a more permanent home, like a Temple seemed to King David, to be a good idea.

David calls his advisor Nathan and shares the plan and Nathan seems to think it is a “no-brainer.”

Why wouldn’t it be a good idea to build God a temple?

But the best laid plans of mice and men, and even mighty kings, often go awry.

And in this case, God derails David’s plan for building a Temple for God before the the first brick is laid.

The problem with David’s vision for building God a Temple was just that; it was DAVID’s vision, not God’s vision.

Just as the cola drinking public never asked for a new and improved Coke, God never asked David or anyone else for that matter, to build Him a temple.

David’s error was thinking that he was in the driver’s seat, instead of God.

The story brings this out in that whenever the narrator of the story mentions him, David is always referred to as “the king.”

The focus is on David’s power.

But in the parts of the passage where God is speaking, whenever God refers to David, God doesn’t call him “the king.”

God calls him, “my servant David.”

The emphasis is on God’s relationship to David, with God being the one in charge, and David being the instrument for carrying out God’s will.

I’ve heard it said that, “The difference between God and me is that God knows what I tend to forget, which is that God isn’t me.”

I think that describes to a T, what is going on in this conversation between David and God.

But it is also a pretty accurate picture of some of the conversations we in the church have with God, when we make our plans without bothering first to discern what God’s plans are.

Sometimes, people forget who is in which position by thinking in terms of “my church” or “our church” instead of “Christ’s church”?

The end result of a church following its own agenda without discerning God’s will in the matter is usually that the path we choose can fall short of the greater blessings that God wants to give us.

David had an idea to build a Temple for God.

God had a better idea.

Instead of David building a house for God, God promises to build a house for David.

Not a house of cedar and stone, but of flesh and blood.

The Hebrew word used in this passage, can mean house, as in a dwelling place.

Or it can mean house, in the sense of a household, a family, or a royal dynasty.

God promised David, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”

In the short term, this promise was fulfilled through David’s son Solomon.

Solomon actually built the Temple in Jerusalem that David only dreamed about.

But that Temple did not last forever.

When Israel was conquered, the magnificent Temple was destroyed.

David’s dynasty didn’t last forever, either.

As with all human kingdoms and monuments, this one that David envisaged, ran its course in time.

But what the Israelites discovered was that even when the Temple of God lay in ruins, the presence of God was still with them.

And then, centuries after the destruction of the Temple and the end of David’s dynasty, a distant descendent of David was born in the very town where David himself had lived as a shepherd boy.

Bethlehem.

God’s promise to David of a descendent who would provide the dwelling place God would inhabit and whose kingdom would never end, finally found its complete fulfilment with the birth … of Jesus.

Only, Jesus did not build a temple … Jesus was the temple.

In Colossians 1:19 it says, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” that is, in Jesus.

God’s plan was never to be housed in a building made by human hands.

It was to dwell in the human person of Jesus.

The promise that David’s offspring would produce someone who would be the builder of the house where God would dwell on earth, had been partially fulfilled in Solomon; but it was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.

Solomon’s reign came to an end eventually.

David’s dynasty would not last forever.

Only in Jesus, who brought God’s kingdom into being on earth, did the promise to David that his offspring would rule over a kingdom without end, come to be.

But there is still more to the story.

In First Corinthians 6:19, the Apostle Paul wrote these words, which were addressed to the believers in the ancient city of Corinth, but which were intended for everyone, everywhere and at all times, who follow Christ.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

Do you hear that?!

When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, you and I become the Temple that God has always wanted!

In the end, it turns out that God does want a dwelling place on earth.

Not one built of brick and mortar, but of human hearts that have been swept away by God’s love and are passionate about sharing that love.

God longs to live in us and among us so that ultimately God can live through us.

Church isn’t some building we “go to” on Sundays.

It’s something we are, every day of the week!

Sometimes though, church folk develop an “Edifice Complex.”

An “Edifice Complex” happens when our relationships to the churches we build become a substitute for a relationship with the living God for whom they are built.

As planning our Capital Campaign progresses, we would do well to remember that there is something more than a building that we will be supporting.

It is all that the building represents, which is the mission and ministries in Christ’s name that take place under this roof and outside these walls.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln was once asked if God was on his side. His reply was, “The question is not: Is God on my side, but am I on God’s side?”

And, the question before us is not, “is God on the side of the decisions and plans we make?”

But, are our priorities and programs on the side of God’s plans for us?

Our rule of thumb should be seeking God’s will for our future and discerning what is and isn’t going to serve our claiming the future God desires for us.

David had a vision of a Temple he would build for God.

But the best laid plans of mice and men and mighty kings, often go awry.

And when churches operate on a misguided assumption that God blesses whatever is important to us without discernment about what is important to God, we will find that our best laid plans often go awry, as well.

But if we devote ourselves to understanding God’s plans for us, and putting that understanding into action, we will be participating in the best laid plan of all eternity.

Copyright 2018    Raymond Medeiros