Patience while Preparing

2nd Samuel 5:1-10 & 1st Chronicles 11-12

2 Samuel 5 2b NIV

We return to the people, places and events of King David’s life in our reading today.  The last we read of David, he had been named king of his tribe of Judah following the death of King Saul and he was ruling in Hebron.  It is now 7 years and 6 months later, David is 30 years old and he will finally be anointed king of all 12 tribes of Israel. And he will conquer the town of Jerusalem to convert into his capital city: The City of David.

He has waited a long time for this moment.  Remember the day long ago when the prophet Samuel was sent by God to the town of Bethlehem to visit the family of Jesse.   God had revealed to Samuel that one of Jesse’s sons would be chosen to rule over Israel.  And how surprised everyone was when it was the youngest son, David, a little shepherd-boy, whom God led Samuel to anoint.

Much has happened to David since then.  His life has been full of many twists and turns.  It was not an easy or clearly illuminated path to the throne.  There had been days with great news where it seemed the kingship might not be too far off: invited into the king’s court as a musician, killed the giant, the king offers his daughter to David in marriage, and the king’s son says he wants to see David become king. But, it wasn’t to be – yet.  There would be many difficult years of hiding in exile from jealous King Saul who wanted nothing more than to see David dead.  But, Saul’s plans were nothing compared to God’s.  God would protect David, and use this time to refine David and prepare him to be king of His people.

You may be questioning God’s plans for your life.  Remember David.  You may be wondering how long you will need to be patient.  Remember David.  Even when you aren’t sure what the next step will be – rest in knowing God’s plans and design is greater than man’s.  His promises come true.  Use this time to work on refining yourself  in preparation for whatever God is preparing for you.

Don’t miss the many striking similarities between David and Jesus.  From the town of Bethlehem.  To Jerusalem.  30 years old.  King of the Jews.

Never doubt that God’s plan continues through the ages – including David, and Jesus, and YOU!  And God has so much more planned – including the return of Jesus as King and a New Jerusalem and reigning with Christ!   How are you preparing for what comes next?

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+5%3A1-10%2C+1Chronicles+11-12&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Psalm 133 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Feeling Weak

Psalm 102-104

Psalm 102 1 NIV

I didn’t have to read for long in today’s passage to find something that might apply to me.  He had me at the intro to Psalm 102: “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.”  I have been there more than once, recently, what about you?  Verse 2 also got my attention as it sounded eerily familiar to my week: “Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.  Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”  Yup!  Come on God – we are working on a time schedule.  We need an answer and we need it now.

At our house we are making college decisions.  Well, it is my son’s decision, but it has been weighing heavily on us all as it seems unclear to any of us what the wisest answer is, and we need an answer very soon.  With so many different implications for the future and not able to visit any of the top contenders this spring, and with new information and opinions emerging daily, it is truly tiring.  And I am weak.

It doesn’t feel good to be weak – especially for those who relish being in control or regarded as strong.  The psalmist writes of how this anguished state is affecting his appetite, health, sleep, and relationships.  We have seen some of that.  He has been reminded once again of his frailty, limits, shortcomings, weakness – and it hurts.

But, in his weakness he still knows where to go.  To the One who sits on the throne.  “But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.” (Psalm 102:12).  The tone of the psalm changes from personal despair and questioning in the first 11 verses – to hopefulness – because he knew where to go when he was weak. Humbled, and at the feet of the all-powerful, all-knowing, loving and compassionate Creator, he gains a new perspective.  When we can put ourselves in His presence we know we can rely on Him no matter how weak we are on our own.  We know, “He will arise and have compassion…He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:13,17).

It reminds me of the poor kid who has been ruffed up by the bully on the playground, again and again.  He knows he is weak – and it hurts.  But this battered kid puts his broken glasses back on his tear-stained face and says to the bully – “Yeah, but my Daddy is stronger than your daddy.”  And, sure enough, Dad just arrived and is waiting at the gate.  It’s okay to be weak, when you have the strongest Daddy in the world!

I know you may be facing issues, decisions, and heartaches much larger than making a college decision.  And you may be struggling with feeling weak.  If you aren’t now – you will be later.  Weakness has a way of finding us all.

I want you to know what I want my son to know, and what I need to remind myself of over and over again.  God has good things in store for you.  He is a good God to His children.  Be His child.  Keep seeking Him.  I pray for you what I pray for my son and family.  “Dear God, we thank you for your greatness, power, wisdom and love.  Thank you for being what we are not.  Thank you for the gift of Your Son and your perfect plan.  Help us to sit at your feet, in Your presence, humbled, and drawing our strength and hope from You.  Help us to see You at work.  Even when life seems muddled, difficult and painful and we feel like we are being beaten up, give us your eyes to see how You ordered and provided and blessed.  We want to seek You first.  Please show us how to do that.  Help us to see your greatness – and share that with others, boasting of our Daddy’s goodness and strength.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and responding, quickly.”

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring – well, we don’t even know what today will bring.  But we are thankful we are not alone when we put ourselves in His presence.  In our weakness, He is strong.

 

A Weak Momma at the Feet of a Great Big God on His Throne,

Marcia Railton

 

PS – One great way to put yourself in His presence is through reading His Word.  Dig in.  He is there.

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+102-104&version=NIV

Tomorrow we jump back into the events of David’s life as we read 2 Samuel 5:1-10 and 1 Chronicles 11-12 in our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Tell the Next Generation

1 Chronicles 7-10

Psalm 78 4b NIV

 

I believe today’s reading will be the last of the genealogies for awhile.  There are a lot of names, a lot of generations.  Father to son.  Father to son.  Father to son – and sometimes a daughter.  Father to son. A whole lot of heritage.  A whole lot of passing along from one generation to the next.  It reminds us that our life is not just what we see and experience today.  We have a past that has shaped us and we (and our children) have a future for which to prepare.

 

I am reminded of a passage in Psalm 78 that we read last week but didn’t have time to discuss directly.

 

My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Psalm 78:1-8

 

I am thankful for a father who passed along to me the spiritual heritage he received from his father and grandfather.  Both of my parents brought their children up to seek and serve the Lord first – it is by far the most important life lessons that they taught.  In fact, today’s photo is a Bible timeline that I inherited from my dad, and one of my favorite treasures from him. He spent hours researching and meticulously drawing out this timeline to help illustrate for his Bible students (including his children) God’s faithfulness and plan for the ages.  And, he lived it out with his life, too.

 

So, now it is my turn to pass along what I have heard and learned.  How do I do that with the words I speak, with the priorities I set and with the life I live?  How do I help my children seek God, grow in faith and love Him more and more?

 

There are so many negative influences and evil that would love to help us and our children forget God’s great deeds, His law, His faithfulness and His plan for the ages.  But we must not forget.  Nor is it enough to just remember for ourselves.  We have a great responsibility to hand these truths down to the next generation so they can hand them down to the generation after them, etc…until Jesus returns.

 

Maybe you cannot celebrate an upright Godly spiritual heritage in your genetic past.  You don’t have the benefit of an antique family heirloom Bible timeline rolled up in your closet.  That’s okay.  Paper rips and ink fades, but if you have a love for the LORD you have priceless spiritual mentors you can call mom and dad.  And, then, we must in turn create a spiritual heritage rich in God’s goodness, laws, and plan for salvation for those around us: our children, grandchildren and those children of all ages and colors and countries who need to know what God’s Word says and who God is.

 

God’s genealogy doesn’t end here in 1st Chronicles.  It is continuing today, and into the future.  Will it be recorded that you passed along what is of the most importance to those that came after you?  Don’t let yourself, or your children, be listed as the ones that forgot.  Tell of His goodness.  Put God first.  Pass it on.

Marcia Railton

 

Too important to not mention: I love verse 6 in Psalm 78 (above) where we see the value and great worth of, “the children yet to be born”.  Whether the children are conceived or not, born or not, they were planned to play a part in God’s design of the passing along of family and faith.  How tragic that this link has been broken time and time again when the children yet to be born are killed for convenience before they even get a chance to hear, learn and share of their Creator.  Tell of His goodness.  And His Word and His law.  Do not forget.  And do not ignore the evil that rejoices when God is forgotten.  We need to speak louder since voices in the chain are silenced.

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+7-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalms 102-104 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Scrapbook of God’s Goodness

Psalm 81, 88 & 92-93

Psalm 92 4 NIV

 

“For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!…

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed in strength.  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.”

Psalm 92:4,5 & 93:1

 

I love the idea of keeping a Covid-19 scrapbook/journal/photo album to chronicle what you want to remember about this time in your life.  Sometimes a picture says 1,000 words and many emotions.  Some things are harder to capture in a photograph and you might want to add some of your own words.  But, here are some starter questions to get going – some of which were inspired by the snippets of Psalms above.

How did you spend your days?

What changed in your life?

What stayed the same?

What brought you joy?

What works of His hands made you smile?

How did you see God move?

How did you search out God’s thoughts?

What Bible verses meant the most to you during this time?

When or how were you reassured of God’s majesty and strength?

 

The Psalms can be viewed as the poets’ scrapbook of their lives and how they witnessed God at work.  What made them rejoice?  What made them mourn?  How did they see God?  What did they learn about themselves?  About their Creator?  About their world?  About those who reject God?  These are all still great questions to be considered today.  And it is well worth the time to look into the Psalms to see their answers as you work on your own.

I will talk less today so you have more time to work on your personal or family scrapbook.  Even if you don’t make a physical project, take a few minutes to answer some of these questions – or make your own questions.  A great starter is to scroll through your pictures to see what works of God make you glad – and thank Him – and share them.

OK – I will start.  The photo which accompanies this post was taken last weekend during a family hike.  So many things that made me glad – the warmth of the spring sunshine, family time – with no devices, and the health and ability to enjoy the rebirth and beauty of God’s creation.  The wild flowers growing off the path reminded me of God’s loving care and that He is still watching over us and I do not need to worry but I do need to seek Him & His Kingdom  (Luke 12:27-31).  I know, I am not quite as poetic as the psalmists, but that is okay.

Now it’s your turn.   You can post a comment below or share some pictures and thoughts with family and friends.   However you do it, just like the psalmists, take the time to ponder and share what the LORD has done for you.

Marcia Railton

Interesting Side Note- did you catch the Psalm in today’s reading that actually mentions the very modern problem of everyone on their own devices?   Hint – read Psalm 81 again – in the NIV.  Then, make sure you are not in that sinking boat.  Listen to the LORD.  Keep reading His Word and seeking Him as the psalmists did.  He has many treasures He is wants to reveal to you!

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+81%2C88%2C+92-93&version=NIV

In tomorrow’s Bible reading, 1 Chronicles 7-10, we will finish off the introductory genealogies and start in on the stories of the kings of Israel saved for us in the Chronicles.  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Strike up the Band!

1 Chronicles 6

1 Chronicles 6 32a NIV

As our Bible reading today we have just one chapter in the book of 1st Chronicles (chapter 6) – still in the genealogies.  This chapter is devoted to the tribe of Levi.  Levi was one of the 12 sons of Jacob and his descendants would be the ones God chose to be the Levites for the nation of Israel.  They were set apart for service to God.  They would be the care takers of the tabernacle (where people sought God), and later the temple.  From their tribe would come the family line that would serve as priests and the most holy role of high priest, which later Jesus himself would take upon his shoulders.

But, that’s not all – some of the Levites (those listed in verses 33-47) – were given the responsibility of temple musicians.  They were to play, sing, and make music to the Lord – to lead the temple-goers in their worship of the Most High.

I love that God created us to enjoy music.  I love the power of music – just read any article on music and the brain or music therapy – or better yet – listen to the nurse as he plays his guitar in the hall of his covid-19 ward.  Or witness the miraculous turn-around of the struggling infant when his big sister sings to him the song that she always sang to the baby in her mommy’s belly.  Or hear the band play as the Titanic sinks.  Music grips us and moves us in many ways.  Let music be a source that moves you toward God as you come to worship.

As our church has gone online during this time of isolation, I miss the community lifting their voices and instruments together in worship.  But even now, music remains as a powerful means to move us closer to God.  Look up the words to an old hymn.  Pick up an instrument you have neglected too long.  Thank those who have used the gift of music to lead you into meaningful worship.  Share with your family a song that reminds you of God’s love, character and promises.  Search for Bible verses about music.  Play worship music as you go about your day.  Research how many instruments are listed in the Bible?  Post a song of Christian joy and hope on social media.  Write your own psalm of praise – maybe you will even set it to a tune.

Music was a powerful part of worship long ago, it is still today, regardless of our situation – and it will be in the future as well.  I love the verses in Revelation where the faithful will sing in worship to God and the Lamb Jesus Christ as the Kingdom of God is preparing to unfold.  Let’s get started practicing today to be a part of that choir!  God and His Son are worthy of our worship!  Sing it out!

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+6&version=NIV

Tomorrow we go back to the Psalms – 81, 88, & 92-93 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

I found it all oppressive, UNTIL…

Psalm 73, & 77-78

Psalm 73 17 NIV

Yesterday we read the short short story (2 verses) of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10).  He prayed.  God granted his request.  Remember, we don’t know the timeline for the life of Jabez.  Since he had requested from God the expansion of his territory (amongst other things) I feel it is most likely that this answer didn’t come with a snap of the fingers  -though God can certainly work that way when He wants to. I wonder if this answer was achieved over a period of time, with some persistence and wisdom and work required from Jabez.  But still – it sounds so simple and sweet. A fairy-tale ending in just two verses. Jabez prayed.  God granted his request.

But, what about the times when the answer isn’t coming.  We may be praying hard – with a good measure of persistence, wisdom and work, too.  But, it’s just not coming together like we thought a good God would do.

I think of Job and the 41 long, difficult, trying chapters of his story – before the final 42nd chapter when we see God finally shower Job once again with double the blessings.  It would be great to read the book of Job today to remember Job’s anguish – and God’s answer.  Or, you can read Psalm 73 – it is like a mini book of Job boiled down into one powerful psalm.

The author of this psalm begins by acknowledging that he knows God is good.  And, yet, he personally had nearly lost his way and his faith because of his own serious struggles while simultaneously watching the wicked prosper.  He saw boastful, callous, violent, evil men succeeding and growing in popularity and wealth, all while denying and even mocking God.  Are we sure this wasn’t written in 2020, perhaps during a Covid-19 epidemic?  Haven’t we seen and heard the same thing this week and shook our heads and asked, “Where is God?  This isn’t right or just or fair?  The world is too messed up!”  And we sink down deeper in our despair.   As the psalmist said, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me…” (Psalm 73:16)

UNTIL…

Yes – keep reading!  The good stuff is coming – just like it came for Jabez and Job and the psalmist,  it is coming for you and for me.  Though it does require a little bit of action on our part.  The psalmist reveals the secret.  He wrote, he was oppressed UNTIL he, “entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (Psalm 73:17).  Look to God.  Put yourself smack dab in His presence.  Intentionally seek Him out.  Change your focus.  Consider the whole timeline, the big picture.  Look into the future.  Consider the consequences and coming judgement.  Rest in knowing God has got this.  And He has got me.  And if you let Him, He has got you.

The rest of this psalm has beautiful passages of God’s strength, guidance, comfort, plan, wisdom, & protection in any and every situation.  Don’t miss the chance to read it for yourself and soak it in.  Which verse is your favorite in Psalm 73?

 

Also, don’t miss out on the powerful truths in Psalm 77 & 78.  Psalm 77 begins much the same way Psalm 73 did – in agony and despair.  And maybe you have been there yourself sometime?  Perhaps you have asked yourself, “Has his unfailing love vanished forever?..Has God forgotten to be merciful?” (Psalm 77:8, 9).

And yet – here again we will see a great turn-around.  In a few short verses he will be writing, “Your ways, O God, are holy, What god is so great as our God?” (Psalm 77:13).  What makes the difference?  What happened in-between verse 9 and 13?  Did he win the lottery?  Did he get all his wishes granted in the sudden snap of his fingers?  It had looked so hopeless.  What changed?

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

His situation did NOT change.  His thinking did.

What he was focusing on changed.  He rewired his brain, his thought processes, his attitude, his words, his outlook.  He remembered the good God had done.  He meditated on God’s work.

The anguish and oppressive depression doesn’t have to win, even in a situation that appears so bleak.  You may find yourself in the dark, questioning God.  You are not alone.  But, don’t allow yourself to remain in the dark.  Keep stepping towards the light.  You don’t have to wait until your circumstances change.  Instead, change your view.  Enter His Sanctuary.  Search for the good things He has done – in the past and today.  Seek Him.  Read His Word. Remind yourself of His power, faithfulness and love.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+73%2C+77-78&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will jump back to 1 Chronicles – for just one chapter (6) as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God is No Magic Genie

1st Chronicles 3-5

1 Chronicles 4 10 b NIV

When we began 1st Chronicles two days ago we likened the beginning of this book to a family reunion.  It was written for the people of God who were returning to the Holy Land after years of captivity and living amongst foreign people who did not worship God (which had been their punishment for forsaking God).  Now, they were returning and receiving a history lesson on what it means to be God’s people.  If we listen in, I believe we can also benefit greatly from this lesson.

In today’s reading our list of genealogies is broken up in chapter 4 with a passage about Jabez.  In two short verses we learn: “he was more honorable than his brothers”, “his mother had named him” – PAIN (in Hebrew Jabez sounds like pain), he prayed to be blessed, “and God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9,10).  Makes you wonder why we don’t have any babies today named Epidural?

Seriously though, I hurt for this man Jabez.  It doesn’t seem very nice of his momma to pass along the brief pain she felt at childbirth (I know, in the midst of it, it doesn’t feel brief) to her son to bear the name PAIN the rest of his life.   Can you imagine the jokes he heard from the neighborhood boys?  We also know it can be very painful growing up with less than honorable brothers.

It could have been a rough life for poor PAIN/Jabez.  BUT – it wasn’t.  Even though he had a few strikes against him in his early years, he knew to cry out to God.  And, perhaps because of Jabez’s honor, and I am guessing his heart was in the right place, God was ready, willing and able to fulfill his request.

Just what was his request?  “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from PAIN.”  It is a touching prayer knowing his background.  Other versions have slightly different interpretations – I especially love the NKJV, “Keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” It sounds so much more noble.  But, either way, he cried out to God and God “granted his request”.

Does anyone else get a vision of a genie, or is it just me?  Jabez cried out (with a list of 4-5 wishes) and his wishes were granted.  Poof.  Who wouldn’t take a God like that!  I can fill a whole book with my wishes and cry out to God and all my wishes will be met.  Never mind what God requires of His children.  Never mind the timeline and big picture that God is working with in His infinite wisdom.  Never mind the growth, compassion and character that develops in the midst of trials.  I want no pain.  I want it now.  Give it to me, God.

I would love to read the rest of Jabez’ story – the daily details, his life’s timeline.  I highly doubt that he never felt ANY more pain – never stubbed his toe, never lost a friend or family member, never needed to cry out to God again.  But, we know that God was faithful.  He blessed Jabez and He answered his prayer.

God wanted the returning Israelites to know the story of Jabez.  He wanted them to know of God’s faithfulness and the good gifts that He brings to His children who are honorable and cry out to Him.  Likewise, God wants you and me and the world today to know the story of Jabez.  God takes us in our pain and gives us blessings.  God is good.  God is powerful.  God is love.  God is faithful.

BUT don’t be fooled.  God is no magic genie.   In fact, He is so much more.

Our history lesson continues.  Keep reading, in chapter 5 (verses 23-26) we meet the half-tribe of Manasseh.  They were God’s people. God had already fought their battles and given them land.  They had prospered and become numerous.  Their leaders were “brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families” (1 Chronicles 5:24).  It sounds so good.  It looks like they were leading a charmed life.  God’s goodness and power have provided for these people.  We see God’s blessings – but do they?  NO!  “But they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land” (1 Chronicles 5:25).  In their pampered state they turn from the One who has blessed them.  They leave their Provider and Protector to run after false gods.  They chase what the ungodly society calls good – rather than clinging to their Creator, the God of their fathers.

And, their foolishness comes with consequences.  They don’t get more wishes granted.  What they have is taken away.  God uses the Assyrians to remove them – to place them into exile in a foreign land.  They have earned themselves a Big Time-Out which will last several years, until God prepares the way for the exiles to return.

God wanted the returning Israelites to know the story of the half-tribe of Manasseh.  He wanted them to know of the serious consequences that He puts into action when His children flaunt their waywardness.  Likewise, God wants you and me and the world today to know the story of the half-tribe of Manasseh.  God has given blessings, how will we respond?  God is just.  God is powerful.  God is faithful.  His loving kindness requires our faithfulness, too.

Marcia Railton

Today’s reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+3-5&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Psalm 73, & 77-78 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan