God Sends Answers

1 Chronicles 25-26

Reading through Chronicles it is easy to skim past large sections that seem to drone on for hours. But the fact that the whole book of Chronicles was true history of the Israelites, that was written down for us to read thousands of years later is truly fascinating. The book of Chronicles which starts off with the genealogy from Adam, shows how much the Israelites appreciated and treasured their heritage and lineage. They viewed their history as all the ways God provided for them over the years. 

Chapters 23-26 are devoted to the organization of the temple. It tells in detail the families who served in the temple and how God chose the people to be servants of the temple by being musicians, gatekeepers, treasurers, and temple officials. These positions were cast by lot. The high priest who wore the special ephod was able to cast lots using the urim and thummim. This was one way God communicated with his people. It allowed God to give the Israelites a direct yes (urim) or no (thummim) answer. 

There are many times in the Bible where it tells us that something was determined by lot. For example, Saul was appointed King of Israel by lot, and the lot was cast on Jonathan when he ate the honey he wasn’t supposed to eat according to Saul’s orders (1 Samuel 14:42), and Matthias was chosen as the apostle to replace Judas by lot (Acts 1:26), and to make decisions on how to divide the land to each of the 12 tribes (Joshua 18:6). The Bible records many other times when the people used lots to seek God’s counsel. 

So what can we take away from all of this? God loves his people, He wants to show us His plans for our lives. Part of God’s character is that he is immutable- never changing through the ages. In most cultures today, casting lots is often overlooked as a means of receiving communication and answers from God, but we must not overlook His word given to us – including Chronicles- which show God’s continuity and love to His people. God knows that we are a forgetful people who don’t remember all the many things God has done over the years. Through Chronicles we see a God who kept his promises to the Israelites and who organized the temple and determined its leaders by lot. This same God is involved in our lives as well. It’s filled with the history of God providing for and keeping true with his promises to his people. It was used to remind the Israelites of these things and it can remind us as well how God was working through their lives and how He is and was and will work in ours. And knowing this helps us Stand Firm for Him.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 25-26 and Proverbs 29

Stand Firm against Deception

with Humility

1 Chronicles 21-22 and Proverbs 27

My family, several of my church family, and many friends and family from across the Midwest and beyond just returned home from a week of church camp for the whole family where the theme was Stand Firm. So, I am seeing Stand Firm everywhere. Sometimes good examples, sometimes bad examples, but always examples to learn from.

1st Chronicles 21 starts right off with “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”

One evening at Family Camp our theme was Stand Firm against Evil and many warnings were given of the roaring lion who seeks to devour – not just nibble at your toe. I found it interesting that in this passage (which is one of the few Old Testament passages besides those in Job that uses Satan’s name) Satan’s target is not an individual but a whole country and his means of attack is through their leader. Thanks to Stephanie Schlegel, our writer last week, I know that Israel is about the size of New Jersey and I can much better picture this beautiful land that God chose for His people and that Satan wanted to bring down.

It reminds me of the importance of praying for our leaders who are in vulnerable positions and are themselves perfect targets through which an entire nation or church can be attacked by spiritual evil. And the laws and policies they put in place are sometimes actually brought about by the devil’s deception, as we see in the case of David.

In this case I believe Satan saw David’s ego as a possible chink in his armor through which Satan could attack a whole country. David, unprompted by God but deceived by Satan, decided it would be a good idea to number the fighting men in Israel. His army commander, Joab, tried to talk David out of it. He pleaded with David to be content just knowing that ALL the fighting men were loyal to him and God was watching over them, regardless of how many or few they were. But that wasn’t enough for a man deceived by Satan, he needed to know exactly how large and vast his kingdom had grown. It’s better for bragging rights to be able to say, “The nation I built has one million one hundred thousand fighting men.” But God wanted him to be content saying, “The nation God built is large.” God was disappointed in David and there was a price to pay – by the whole nation. One man’s sins can reap a punishment for a whole nation. And it is a sin to let your pride grow, especially when it grows greater than your trust in God.

The Proverbs have much to say about pride and humility, including Proverbs 27:1-2

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

How can you Stand Firm this week – in humility. Never get puffed up about how well you are standing firm, or how large your army or influence is. Resist the devil and his attacks. Don’t be deceived. Stand firm – trusting in God alone.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 21-22 and Proverbs 27

So that you may know…

the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

1 Chronicles 1-6

The very last class of my undergraduate education taught me something I’ve remembered for years. I was finishing up my minor and taking my last sociology class. I made a statement during a class presentation that earned me a grade that pushed me into a new academic rank that I thought was impossible to achieve. The presentation was on being a voice for change in society. “If we want to bring about societal change, we need to make some noise!”

I’m going to sound a tad irreverent here. I used to cringe every time a modern agent of societal change preached “Fact-check!” My disdain from the message grew with each passing day that the seemingly one-sided social sermon that I immersed myself in on an almost daily basis, was made light. The noise was bringing change but to me, it was not warranted change.

At first, noise is all I ever allowed myself to hear from the opposing side’s communication. My mind went straight to the need for taking the stick out of the opposing side’s eye. There may have been a beam in there too.

I had to turn off the noise and get myself immersed in something else because I wasn’t helping the situation. I was supposed to be the light that brought change, not the opposing societal view. Right around this time, I started digging into the various things Jesus was called. In the quiet I reacquainted myself with The Light of the World.   

Through my continued immersion in the word, I did something I had rarely done. I actually took the time to read the genealogies of Jesus, the boring stuff, in the beginning chapters of Mathew and Luke. It dawned on me.

In the quiet, I realized that the words so often skipped over were God’s fact-checks! Through these, he made certain we knew who the Messiah was, the one who would bring about the right change. It was all in there waiting to be discovered. The Messiah is exactly who God said he’d be and exactly who Jesus said he was. There are facts that lead to him in the genealogies, the lineages, the “begats”, the “in the lands of-s”, the “in the times of-s”, through the recordings of kings of kingdoms, in the astronomical signs of the times, etc. All fact-checks leading to Jesus Messiah.

The genealogies of Jesus were written by eyewitnesses of his ministry. I love the beginning of Luke:

“Since many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting to me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in an orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” -Luke 1:1-4

I took a little more time today reading through the genealogies recorded in 1 Chronicles chapters 1 – 6. They’re fact-checks. They can help us to be prepared with an answer to anyone who questions our faith.  

Through this experience, I have begun to listen to the opposing side before opposing them completely. I have come to value the opposing side’s pleas for fact-checking. They are right. We need truth. But we need to fact-check society as a whole – all sides.

I’m still a bit put off by the societal noise and social pressures of our time. Although it may be true that making noise may lead to societal change, it may not be what God wants for us. There were times when Jesus spoke softly and times when Jesus rebuked. There were times when Jesus was offensive and there were times when Jesus remained silent. He always did whatever he heard from his father. If I’m going to be the light of the world like Jesus, desiring to cause societal change, I need to hear Jesus and heed his statements. I need to do it his way. His way is often the unpopular way but it is the only way that’s going to bring about change that matters. 

-Juliet Taylor

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 1-2 and Proverbs 17

Loyal to God

1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

1 Chronicles 29 18 NIV sgl

Today we finish off the book of 1st Chronicles as King David is finishing his 40 year reign and is passing over the kingship of the nation of Israel and the plans for building God’s temple to his son Solomon.

I love the example we see of accepting God’s will and passing on the torch.  Even though David had wanted to build the temple himself, he accepted that this was not God’s plan for him, and he fully immersed himself in doing all he could (with God’s spirit to guide him) to see the project succeed for the next generation.  How well do we accept changes from what we had planned and desired “in our heart” (1 Chronicles 28:2)?  Do we devote ourselves to God’s will even when it wasn’t our personal “first-choice”?  Do we do all we can to see others succeed with what we wanted for ourselves?

I also love the picture we have of giving and sacrifice. In a Spirit-led manner, David gave of himself, his time, his talents and his possessions to prepare the work for the tabernacle.  He passed along to Solomon very detailed plans, “of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28:12) including specifics such as the division of labor for the priests and the weights of each of the lamp stands and bowls and other items to be used in the temple.

David knew the plans were no good; unless, there was also the means to follow those plans.  It was going to take material goods to do the work of the Lord.  He opened Israel’s storehouses to provide the gold, silver, marble, bronze, fine stones and other materials that would be used to build this “palatial structure,” “not for man but for the LORD God” (1 Chronicles 29:1).  And then he dug deep and gave from his own treasuries and bank account.  And then he asked the people, “Now who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord?”  How do you really set yourself apart and show your devotion to God – you give, just as David gave.  And Israel responded just as their king had set the example for them – and they gave willingly.

And they gave with humble, thankful hearts – knowing that everything they had belonged to God.  I really love that part!

David rejoiced and praised God when he saw the people respond with generous, giving hearts.  He prayed to God, “keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” (1 Chronicles 29:18).

This, too, can be our prayer for our own generation and the ones to follow.  We are now God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19) and we have been given so much.  May we not wish for what isn’t in God’s perfect plan for us, but work wholeheartedly where he wants us to be.  May we be leaders who inspire others to give back to God.  May we and our children and their children be consecrated to Him and show that in our generous giving with humble hearts.  God, please keep our hearts loyal to you.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+26-29%2C+Psalm+127&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 111-118 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God Speaks

1 Chronicles 23-25

1 Chronicles 25 1 NIV

I remember the song that came on the radio immediately after receiving the text that a dear woman of God was being placed in hospice care following her 4 year battle with cancer – I Can Only Imagine.  And God spoke to me.  My friend and mentor was getting closer and closer to the dark sleep of death and we would be separated from her for a time.  But at Jesus’ resurrection she will rise and be closer to Jesus than ever before!  I wonder – will she sing and dance or fall silent at his feet?  I Can Only Imagine.

I remember the song that echoed in the rafters as the Family Camp worship band led worship at the close of a Family Camp which had come at a time of great searching and pain for our family when we were unsure of what was next but felt God leading us away from the church that was home – These are the Days of Elijah.  And God spoke to me.  “There is no god like Jehovah”.  Yes, Elijah, Moses, David had trials, too.  They were unsure, they questioned, they experienced pain, and God showed up for them in mighty ways, just as He was revealing himself for us, one day at a time.  “There is no god like Jehovah”!

I remember the song that just last night my daughter started to sing as I read aloud the Bible reading for the day from Psalm 108 – “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”  The tune probably wouldn’t sound familiar to you because my 3 kids wrote it out and practiced it over and over with piano, guitar and voice to remember it now, 4 years later, during our devotions.  And God spoke to me – through the words of David and the tune of my children.  God is worthy of praise – through all the years and generations and ages.  Sing to Him and tell the nations!

Music is powerful.  People choose and leave churches based on the worship style.   Many report that during the time of online church they miss most not meeting to sing together with the body of Christ.  It is interesting that the most popular post on this site was one titled after a rousing and uplifting worship song which vividly brings to mind God’s might and protection – The God of Angel Armies.

But what gives music its real power is that GOD speaks through it.

In our reading today we have 3 chapters written for the Jews returning to Jerusalem after many year of living in captivity.  They are reminded of how to be God’s chosen, holy people – and that includes the temple worship spoken of in these chapters – 1 Chronicles 23-25.  We read in 1 Chronicles 23:5 that King David himself provided the instruments for the 4,000 Levites selected to lead the people in musical worship to their God.  Chapter 25 lists the heads of the families selected, “for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.” (25:1).  Often we think today of prophesying as foretelling the future.  But more generically, and often used in the Scriptures, prophesying is simply speaking for the Lord.  To be God’s mouthpiece.  To say what God wants to be said.

God speaks.   And sometimes that is done with a tune, set to music, with instruments and voices lifted high.   Sing to the Lord – and listen for what He is speaking to you today.

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+chronicles+23-25&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be back in the songbook of the Bible: Psalm 131, 138-139 & 143- 145 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Which verses would you make into a song to sing today?  

Do you have an interest in writing one devotion for this week?   If so, drop me a line at grow16br@gmail.com and we can discuss.

 

 

Stay in His Program

He is for you

2 Samuel 11-12 & 1 Chronicles 20

2 Samuel 12 8 9 NIV sgl

A couple of weeks ago I was working on my unit as a residential counselor for severely traumatized and troubled youth. There is a younger kid on my unit named Mike, for the sake of this story, he has a history of violent aggression and has anxiety issues which can lead to this violent aggression. In order to help him when he gets anxious to avoid his going into crisis and having a violent episode, we take him for safety walks or he can go for a walk outside by himself as long as there are no other youth outside.

Mike and I have a pretty good relationship and I have been able to calm him down and deescalate the situation to keep him from going into crisis. I have also helped him work through the aftermath of a crisis. At the current moment because the whole country is shut down my background check from Georgia has not come back. I am not allowed full clearance to be alone with any of the children until that clears, unfortunately. This has caused a lot of problems and has interfered with my effectiveness at work.

Mike was starting to get anxious a couple of weeks ago so he asked if he could go on a walk by himself. Unfortunately, there was already another child outside on campus going for a walk. So, the only way that I could get Mike outside for a walk was if he went with a staff member. Due to the restriction I couldn’t take him unless another staff member went with me. So, I start running around seeing if there were any additional staff to take him. I asked the supervisor who could take him and he told me to find another staff. In order to let Mike know I was working on it I went back to my original unit and let him know. Otherwise his anxiety levels would continue to rise. After that I went and found the staff member and asked them to take him for a walk. They said yes. So, I go back on to the unit and tell him they are coming, just give them a minute.

A few minutes go by and I can see his anxiety levels rising and could tell that he was about to hit the crash bar or emergency exit. The crash bar when its hit sounds an alarm and also means that the client is out of program and an incident report needs to be filed. This means that Mike would have consequences for leaving without a staff member. So, in a rush to try to keep Mike from the crash bar I go get the other staff and urge them along to try to keep Mike in program. I wanted desperately to keep Mike in program and to not have him suffer the consequences of acting impulsively by not waiting for a staff member.

I talk to the staff member and they grab their jacket and we walk on to the unit. Where Mike had literally just hit the crash bar and went outside by himself and out of program. All Mike needed to do was wait 15 more seconds. 15 more seconds was all that he needed for a consequence free walk.

This was so frustrating. I remember saying this is so stupid. It was so stupid. 15 more seconds. I was frustrated because I went running around talking to different people and he still went out of program. I wanted so badly for him to have another good day and stay within the rules.

This more than anything I think is the feeling portrayed by God in 2 Samuel 12.7-15. In my case, if Mike had waited 15 more seconds, he could have realistically been one more day closer to going home. I think we all know the story of David and Bathsheba. So, I am not going to rehash it.

I want to look at God’s response through Nathan.

“I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?” (2 Samuel 12:7-9)

Does God condemn David for his actions? Totally, but he also says something else here as well. God goes over all that he did for David to try to set him up for success. He saved him from Saul and anointed him and made him King over Israel, he gave him peace, gave him his wife, Saul’s daughter, back, and made him the beautiful covenant promises that we saw in 2 Samuel 7. Was there any more God could have done for David? Yet David still did this absolutely terrible thing. The last line in verse 8 really gets me. God tells David He would have done much more for David. If David had waited 15 more seconds and stayed in God’s program what would God have given him? God was actively rooting for David and trying to help him stay in his program. His program that gives life and peace and a relationship with God.

In verse 9 I can hear the sadness in God’s voice. Why did you despise my words? Why did you go astray and hurt yourself? Why did you hurt me, God, by doing this? Why did you have to make me see you do that? Why did stray from me?

I’m not framing it like this to heap grief on us for our sins. I am framing it like this because I want you to see there is someone actively working to help us follow Christ. The way that leads to peace, life, love, and grace. He is actively with us trying to help us keep on his way. I want you to know the depth shown in scripture of how the Lord cares for us and how he is seeking our good through righteousness. In our times of temptation, we have a loving God alongside us to ask for help. He is seeking our good far more than we seek our own. Fulness of life is found when we hold true to his way to love God.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+11-12%2C+1+Chronicles+20&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 32, 51, 86 & 122 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

In God’s Big Hands

2 Samuel 10, 1Chronicles 19 & Psalm 20

2 Samuel 10 12 NRSV sgl

Have you ever felt a little weird asking God to heal someone who is sick? I know I totally have. Inside my brain I feel this want to pray that God would heal the person but I also feel this tension between wanting God’s will to be done and wanting my own specific will to happen. For the record I absolutely think that we should be praying for the sick. I think that in some ways the tension exists because we want what we want and we all want this world to be as pleasurable as possible for everyone. While I think it is a little short sighted, it makes perfect sense. We don’t want to see our loved ones in pain, so we pray that God would bless them.

On the other hand, I do believe that the will of God will be accomplished eventually in this world. I also believe that the will of God is absolutely the best solution for each situation. Babies still die and sometimes younger people die too early. They don’t get to grow old and experience life through a number of years. This leads me to believe that there may be a creature out there in this world who is in opposition to God. So the question sort of remains do we pray that people will be healed or do we just pray that God’s will would be done in this situation. I believe that our prayers can be effective through God’s actions if they are God’s will. I think above all else in the realm of prayer my goal is to praise the Lord for all he has done and to try to pray according to his will.

In the reading today in 2 Samuel 10 we have this super weird story with half shaven beards and half naked men. Kind of crazy. The retaliation of this is where I want to focus though. So here the Ammonites had hired the Syrians and the king of Macaah and his men and the king of Tob and his men. This is looking to be a pretty intense battle. It’s sort of looking like everyone versus Israel in this scene. Now the Ammonites hired 33,000 soldiers and in addition you can throw in there all the men that the Ammonites had together. I can almost guarantee you that this was a formidable force against the army that Joab had.

Now this situation is kind of tricky because not only are they facing an army  that is larger than them but that army is also facing them on both sides. This is what is known as a flank and it’s a well used military strategy. Joab, the commander of Israel’s army, knows this and he knows that the odds are not in his favor at the current moment. He is well aware that he is already in trouble and the battle hasn’t even begun yet. Joab does the best with what he’s got and makes a plan to fight the battle. He divides his two forces and tells them we will help each other where we need it and after that Joab gives an awesome pep talk.

We don’t hear a lot about Joab’s life. We mostly hear about his military conquests but here we get a little glimpse into his spiritual life. In verse 12 he says, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him.” Love this motivational speech. He says be of good courage, which in my head and maybe some of Joab’s men immediately kicks me back to Joshua where Israel was winning every battle set before them. Then he says do for the fam, or for the family, and for the cities of our God. He acknowledges that they are God’s cities, Amen, right?!

The next subphrase though I want to hone in on a little bit. He asks that the Lord may do what seems good to him. That is nuts. He has all these men under him, he is literally responsible for all their lives. That is how leadership works. No begging and pleading for mercy and asking for blessings on his men and his nation. All he is asking is the Lord to do what seems good to him. He must have really believed that he deserved good to be done with him or he must have decided that God deserves to have what is good done in his eyes. He believed in putting it in God’s hands. He may have even believed and had confidence that God would want to do good to him. Not because of his actions surely, but because of God’s nature.

I think this phrase was spoken in humility and he was allowing his life and the lives of his men to be put in God’s hands. Of course all our lives are in God’s and the things that go on in our lives are still in God’s hands but Joab was crazy enough to voluntarily submit and acknowledge it. That’s the best type of crazy. I think this was the same attitude Jesus had in the garden of Gethsemane.

I think what is actually going on is these people are volunteering their sense of control over their lives. They are submitting to God and telling him you do what you think is good to you. This is the point of surrender in our lives that I believe God is continuously working us towards – an emptiness of our own and fullness of things of God. It is ushering us towards the freedom that we yield control over our lives to God.

So let’s give to God what is his and pray that he would do what is good to Him in our lives.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+10%2C+1Chronicles+19%2C+Psalm+20&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalms 65-67 & 69-70 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Extreme Grace

2 Samuel 8-9 and 1 Chronicles 18

2 Samuel 9 3 NIV

I somewhat recently took a job as a Residential Counselor at Residential Treatment Facility for youth in the teenage age range. These kids have had severe traumas in their lives and have had terrible things done to them and happen in their lives. Most of them have terribly dysfunctional families that have hurt them in extreme ways. In order to cope and also survive through learned behavior they verbally and sometimes physically abuse staff for reasons as simple as being told “No.” There are times they will use all the ammo on you to try to hurt you or get a rise out of you. This isn’t normal teenage behavior like saying I hate you or You are dumb. Think the worst things that people have ever said to you. Now I want to be super clear that these behaviors are not entirely these kids’ faults. They’ve simply been dealt an unfair hand and do not entirely have the capacity to behave in ways other than this.

One night, I was handling a situation with a kid where other kids had lied to a girl, I will call Ivery, and told her the lie and how I reacted to the situation. In an attempt to advocate for the youth on the unit she proceeded to call me every name under the sun. She called me a pervert. She made fun of me in every way she could think of and then because she knew I had a girlfriend started to say anything to get a rise out of me in that area of my life. Finally, when she was running out of ammunition to get me off kilter, she threatened to kill me, my family and my girlfriend. Now, I knew she couldn’t actually pull that off but it was quite an experience to be threatened like that. I responded as best I could and didn’t try to discuss anything when she was just looking for an argument. After the fact I was definitely hurt that anyone would say those things about me.

I would love to say my next shift I just showed up and loved her and it all went away but those feelings stuck with me longer than I would have liked them to.

2 Samuel 9 is a great example of a man who despite what was done to him didn’t let the actions of other people affect how he treated overs. In this chapter David is looking for someone from the house of Saul to bless on account of Jonathan, Saul’s son. If you remember, this is the same Saul who had chased David through the desert and caves all over Israel seeking to kill him. This wasn’t just a brief period of time. Some scholars imagine this time period to be 7 years!! I can’t imagine what I would feel toward my oppressor after being chased under threat of death for even 3 years. All the same, I feel David’s desire to try to find someone from Saul’s house to bless is an amazing story of forgiveness. I could probably write a whole devotion about that but I want to focus on one particular verse of this awesome story.

In verse 3 David is talking to Saul’s former servant and asks him, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?”. This whole line is crazy to me. David is asking and even seeking out someone to bless from the house of Saul. I’ll be honest, most my kindness doesn’t go past the people I interact with. It stays in my world. I am not seeking out people that I can bless.

Let alone am I seeking out people from the family of the man who had just tried to kill me for 7 years and literally only by his death could I return to my home country. But that is David, the man after God’s own heart. This is extreme grace, thoughtfulness and care that he would go out of his way to search out a man from Saul’s house to bless.

The phrase “that I may show the kindness of God to him?” says once again so much about David and how he viewed everything. David releases in this simple phrase any form of ownership to how he was going to bless Saul’s relative. He points it directly back to God. He didn’t try to take the credit and say look at my kindness to my enemy. He identifies back to God.

This line continues to show just how much David acknowledged the fact that what he had wasn’t his. He lived in continual recognition that what he had been given to him was by God. He acknowledges his forgiveness isn’t from himself. His kindness isn’t his. His life isn’t his. His kingdom isn’t his. It is God’s.

He viewed the world not “how can I be kind to people” but rather “how can I show God’s kindness to others.” While the difference is oh so subtle, one is making our good deeds about us and the other is pointing the kindness back to God. David recognized as a servant to God it was no longer him doing it. It wasn’t his resources that he was using to bless this descendent of his enemy it was God’s that he was temporarily in possession of.

Now, in the same way I had the opportunity to show God’s kindness to Ivery the next day by overwhelming her with love or by showing her kindness. Don’t let opportunities slip by in your own life to give away something that isn’t ours. Rather, give away what God has given you to give away.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+8-9%2C+1+Chronicles+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow we return to the Psalms (50,53,60,75) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Unworthy of His Greatness

2 Samuel 7 & 1 Chronicles 17

2 Samuel 7 21 NASB

Sometimes I feel like I keep beating the same drum but when we talk about David and the Psalms I have such a difficult time getting away from his heart. The heart of this man is extraordinary and I think because of this God made him into someone extraordinary. God molded him into someone that we are still talking about to this day. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here we go.

When we talked about David’s ability on Sunday, we talked about how he looked after God’s people and put their desires above his own. Today we will look at how David continued to be an impressive man after God’s own heart.

I want to look at the entire incident in 2 Samuel 7. In the opening paragraph David recognizes what he sees as injustice. The injustice being that though he lives in a house made of cedar, the ark of God dwells in a tent. David’s heart here is pure. He sees that what represents the presence of God for the nation of Israel is dwelling in a measly little tent while he is living in a full-blown swanky house made of cedar. He recognizes that this just doesn’t seem right. It seems very wrong that the maker of heaven and earth, the God of this nation, the reason for this nation’s success, the reason they even existed, the God who had blessed them and literally done everything for them didn’t have a proper dwelling place. He did everything from singling out Abraham and blessing him and all his descendants after him, saved them from oppression in Egypt by sending the plagues, delivered them out with Egypt’s spoils, parted the Red Sea as they walked between walls of water on either side, saved them from their enemies by collapsing that sea on the army seeking to kill them or enslave them. I could go on and on and on about all that God did for the nation of Israel. David didn’t forget any of this. He looked back in gratitude and decided that his God should at least dwell in a place as nice as the one he had. That gratitude sparked a desire in David to take the action of wanting to build a house for the ark.

God’s reaction to David wanting to build a house for him is quite interesting. He says, “Did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” God had never before asked someone to build him a house. Have you ever wondered why God never asked anyone to build him a house? Maybe he didn’t want one. Gods of other nations had physical temples. So why wouldn’t the one true God? When you look back in the history recorded in scripture it seems like God was hesitant to have a physical representation on earth that could be misconstrued. This was not without cause since in the time of the temple when God’s people had drifted away from him, they claimed that they couldn’t be taken over because of the temple. It seems like God’s focus is on his people believing in him and not becoming preoccupied with something that simply represents him. This is continued in the New Testament with what is defined as the church. God defines the church as his people and tells us that we are all the building blocks of his temple as the body of Christ. That is so awesome and mind blowing to me! The thought that I would be a building block of his temple is an overwhelmingly beautiful thought.

Let’s keep going with this passage, though. God continues to speak to David and tells him He would make a great name for him, plant his people and help to leave them undisturbed, give him rest from his enemies, make him a house, allow his children to build him a house, establish his child on the throne, love that child and discipline him as a father, establish his throne, house and kingdom forever. Dang, that is a list, right? Those are some amazing promises! For you girls, if a guy promises you the world – don’t believe him. But if God promises you all that, I would believe him. Utterly blown away is how I think I would feel if I were David.

David responds in the best way ever. He responds in the only way someone who was qualified to receive these promises should. Who am I and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? David didn’t let being king get to his head rather David knew that he was nothing without God. David knew without God he would still be that shepherd in that field. He felt unworthy of all that God had already done for him. Here is the thing, he totally was unworthy. David recognized he deserved none of these things. He recognized that there were better and smarter. David recognized how undeserving he was of the grace and love that God extended to him.

David’s response continues as I think he is lacking the words to even handle this and he says as much in verse 20. He continues to acknowledge and praise God throughout this response where he speaks about God’s knowledge of his heart, his greatness, how none is like him, praising him for raising up the nation of Israel, and stating that because God spoke those promises they would surely come true.

I think it would be too easy to disassociate from this passage and say “God never promised me any of those things” and in doing so we would miss the very heart that David had.

God sent his son to bear your sins. God has made the whole earth and it is all his. I didn’t make anything and yet I still have everything I need. My actions and my sin without the cross mean I don’t deserve a relationship with God, life or breath. My first sin should have been the end of my life and yet the Lord still gives me life and breath. He still wants me and a relationship with me. He is continually extending his grace to us EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t even want to think about what my life would look like without God’s grace.

In this way all of us should be responding every single day “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far?” (2 Samuel 7:18)

 

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+7%2C+1+Chronicles+17&version=NASB

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 25, 29, 33, 36 & 39 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

For Others not For Yourself

2 Samuel 5:11-6:23; 2 Chronicles 13-16

2 Samuel 5 12a NIV

 

Have you ever been in class, at home or with your friends and you start to get the impression that the people around you don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind? In fact, I think one of the most heartbreaking things in life is that moment that you start to realize that you have to look out for your interests. You start to realize that people will talk behind your back, they will say nasty things about you, they may try to take advantage of you. It’s truly heartbreaking for me to see someone have their trust betrayed.

The reason why this is heartbreaking for me is it leads people to have a cynical view of the world. This view can be seen all over the world. People looking out for themselves instead of caring for those around them. In some ways, this is a natural behavior for humans. Inside all of us there is this innate desire toward self-preservation. This isn’t entirely a learned behavior. I can see this in my 2 and half year-old nephew as he interacts with his 10-month-old sister. He doesn’t want to share his toys with her. When she is holding one of his toys his desire is to take the toy away from her. Even if he isn’t playing with that toy or even wanted it before she started to play with it. As a parent or adult, one of the things you are supposed to teach your child is how to share or how to look out for the interests of others. Putting others wants and needs above your own is unnatural but that is the way that love works.

One of our passages for the day is 2 Samuel 5.11-6.23 but as I began to read this passage it was the second verse that struck a chord with me. I encourage you to read the whole passage; it really is a great passage. That being said I really want to just hone in on this verse today and get all we can from it.

5:12 “And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

To give you a little backstory David at this point had overcome Saul and was no longer a “criminal” on the run. God had established him as king of Israel through all the trials that he had to overcome and endure through. This was a long time coming for David but God finally gave him the victory.

The first statement gives us an indication of David’s heart when becoming king. David knew and gave the credit to God for when he assumed the throne. He didn’t try to say it was because of all he endured that he was now the king of Israel. He gave the credit back to the one who actually put him there. Even then as the king of Israel David was humble before God.

The next line though is really what I want to hone in on. David knew that God had exalted his kingdom for the sake of the people of Israel. God put David on the throne because God and David loved God’s chosen people, Israel. David was given the responsibility of the kingdom, not for his sake, or for his own self-interest, David was climbing the ladder from shepherd to harpist to giant slayer to mighty warrior to king but for God’s and his people. He was seeking the people’s best interest and this is where God put him. God put him there because he knew he cared for his people and that he would seek God and seek the people’s interest above his own.

David had unlearned that natural tendency towards self-interest and preservation and learned to put other’s interest, safety and good above his own. He put on the heart of a servant. The world and our own minds have taught something that may be the way that this world works but it isn’t the way that God works. He works through people who have laid themselves aside and serve and put others ahead of themselves.

The fascinating thing about David in this is he didn’t have Jesus telling him to love others as he had loved them. David just had a heart for people and I don’t think this was something special because of who David was. I think David had this because of his relationship with his heavenly father.

Here is my exhortation for us today—go serve people. Go out there and lay aside your own self-interest and seek someone else’s good. Seek the good of those around you. In the same way that David wasn’t given the kingdom for his own good, the things that we are given whether it’s our money, time, attention, or work—what has been given to us is meant to serve those around us. Whether we acknowledge it all the time, or not, ALL that we have, including this very day, has been given to us by God. So, let’s lay ourselves down to serve those around us.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+5%3A11-6%3A23%3B+1+Chronicles+13-16&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 1-2,15, 22-24, 47,68 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan