Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put 1 Chronicles on the Old Testament History Shelf

1 Chronicles 29 - David's Life Comes to a Close

LINK: 1 Chronicles 29

BACKGROUND 

Continuing with the theme of giving from 1 Chronicles 28, David gave to the temple from the spoils of battle and his personal wealth (The treasure from battle amounted to 3,750 tons of gold and 37,500 tons of silver, 22:14.). Then he encouraged others to give, and they gave "wholeheartedly" They made an offering "willingly," "with a whole heart," and "rejoiced greatly" (29:9). 

WOW! How often do your hear about that regarding giving? Actually, my pastor preached excellently on this passage once, and God just moved on so many people's hearts to give this way. It was a beautiful (and rare) sight to behold!

David's worshipful and humble prayer from 29:11-13 is a great one to memorize and pray through! 

With this, they made their sacrifices, Solomon was made king a second time, and David breathed his last. I am so sad to see him go. Thank You, God for the example of David's life. 

REFLECTION

After all of his missteps, David certainly ended well! 
Compare the opening chapters of David's life with the closing ones, and you will come to a startling conclusion: David ended his life the same way he began it -- with humble confidence in God. In spite of his great and numerous accomplishments, he never let success go to his head. His final words to Solomon and the nation reflect the same wholehearted devotion to God that David first expressed as a youthful shepherd in the pasturelands of Judea. With the dream of his heart (building a temple) entrusted to his son, and the tokens of God's blessing all around him, David dies "at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealthy and honor. His son Solomon succeeded him as king" (29:28). 
The Daily Walk, April 19/20, 2008
David was not perfect, but none of us are. That is why I love studying his life!

APPLICATION 

While not billed as a leadership study, I did the study A Heart Like His by Beth Moore during a time of intense leadership challenge in the summer of 2000. I remember weeping when I got to the end of this study. I did not want to leave David and the lessons I had learned through his less-than-perfect life!

I heartily recommend this even if you are not in leadership (although I would venture to say that most of us wear some kind of leadership hat in our family, work, or ministry). 

PRAYER

I memorized 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 when I was in college (When the New American Standard Bible had "Thine", "Thou", "Thee", and "Thy"; making it sound even more majestic!). I pray it often because it is so packed with worship and wholehearted dedication to the Lord. Pray through it today! I have been walking around the house shouting it from the rooftops (my family is gone, by the way). 

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)

Monday, February 27, 2012

1 Chronicles 28 - David's Final Words

LINK: 1 Chronicles 28

BACKGROUND

In his final words, David hands the leadership of the building of the temple over to his son, Solomon. We know that God had decided that Solomon would be the man to build it since he was a "man of peace" (22:9: It is so interesting that I just wrote about the "man of peace" from Luke 10 in the Gospel Harmony Book Club). 

The temple followed the pattern of the tabernacle in a general way, but it was in elaborate building form. David refers to it as a "house of rest for the footstool of God" (28:2). That footstool of God (Psalm 99:5; 132:7) is the Ark of the Covenant, and "heaven is his throne of glory; the earth, and the most magnificent of temples that can be built upon it, are but his footstool" (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, 1 Chronicles 28). 

This whole chapter is about wholehearted devotion to the Lord. This account does not mention the drama with Adonijah mentioned in the parallel account in 1 Kings 1-2 because the focus is the temple and God's plan for David and His descendants. God had promised to "establish His kingdom forever" and this would ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus!

David gives Solomon a solemn charge and specific instructions. He also tells him to "be strong and courageous" and "do not be afraid" because the Lord was behind this project and would provide everything (including the manpower) to see it to completion. 

REFLECTION

I memorized 1 Chronicles 28:9,10 many years ago. I have prayed it for myself, but now I pray it for my children. 
King David gave his son Solomon principles to guide him through life (see 1 Chronicles 28:9,10). These same ideas are ones that any Christian parent would want to present to a child: 
1. Get to know God personally 
2. Learn God's commands and discover what he wants you to do. 
3. Worship God with wholehearted devotion. 
4. Serve God with a willing mind. 
5. Be faithful. 
6. Don't become discouraged. 
(Life Application Bible, p. 709)
 APPLICATION

Pray these things for yourself and, if applicable, for your kids. 

 PRAYER

Lord, I ask for those of us with children, that You would draw them to Yourself. I pray they would know You personally, know what Your commands are and respond obediently to them, love and worship You wholeheartedly, serve You willingly, and persevere through every trial. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

1 Chronicles 27 - Army Divisions

LINK: 1 Chronicles 27

BACKGROUND

27:24: The book of the annals of King David was a historical document kept in the royal archives and no longer exists (1 Kings 14:19).

27:33-34: Ahithophel betrayed David in Absalom's rebellion. Hushai pretended to be with the rebellion and gave valuable advice that led to Absalom's downfall. Absalom's rebellion is not mentioned in 1 Chronicles since the primary concern is the temple and the line from David to Solomon. You can read about Absalom's rebellion in 2 Samuel 15:31-17:23.

PRAYER from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions:


In Prayer
O LORD,
In prayer I launch far out into the eternal world,
and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs
over all evils on the shores of mortality.
Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments
never appears so inconsiderate as then.
In prayer I see myself as nothing;
I find my heart going after thee with intensity,
and long with vehement thirst to live to thee.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.
In prayer all things here below vanish,
and nothing seems important
but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.
In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear,
and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.
In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts
at what thou are doing for thy church,
and I long that thou shouldest get thyself a great name
from sinners returning to Zion.
In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life,
and taste heavenly joys;
entering into the eternal world
I can give myself to thee with all my heart,
to be entirely at thy disposal,
having no will or interest of my own.
In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers,
sinners, the church, thy kingdom to come,
with greatest freedom, ardent hopes,
as a son to his father,
as a lover to the beloved.
Help me to be all prayer and never cease praying.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

1 Chronicles 26 - The Gatekeepers and Order in the Spirit

LINK: 1 Chronicles 26 
(Listening by audio is a totally acceptable way to read your Bible and much easier when lots of names are involved!)

BACKGROUND

The temple had 4,000 gatekeepers (23:4, 5) who were Levites. They guarded the four main entrances to the temple and opened the gates each morning for those who wanted to worship. In addition, some of the other duties included 1) checking out and keeping track of equipment and utensils that were used each day, 2) storing, ordering, and maintaining food for the priests and sacrifices, 3) caring for temple furniture, 4) mixing incense, and 5) counting gifts.

REFLECTION

Who would have thought that God would have spoken to me in the midst of lists of priests, singers, and gatekeepers this week, but He did! I am so impressed with God's order in all things, and how he used David to administer order in the temple. It helped me with some questions I had about order versus the Spirit's leading.

I had a hard day yesterday because I perceived I was being "put down" for wanting to get some order and dates on the calendar regarding a project that I was doing with another person. The response back was something to the effect that "we just need to let the Spirit lead." I thought, "Well, just because I want to get a date on the calendar and a delineation of duties does not mean that I do not want the Spirit to lead, does it? God likes it when things are done in order, right? It was a very simple question to this person about logistics, and it became what I perceived to be a "pat on the head" to follow the Spirit! It left me wigged out for a few hours. Maybe my organized personality is not of God? Can't I be organized AND follow the Spirit?

Then I spent time in 1 Chronicles and saw the beautiful order and division of the duties in the temple. Following my reading, I noticed this footnote in my Life Application Bible:
The temple service was highly structured, but this did not hinder the Spirit of God. Rather, it provided an orderly context for worship. (Compare 1 Corinthians 14:40 [But let everything be done in a fitting and orderly way]) Sometimes we feel that planning and structure are unspiritual activities that may hinder spontaneity in worship. But order and structure can free us to respond to God. Order brings glory to God as we experience the joy, freedom, and calm that come when we have wisely prepared in advance. (p. 701)
God spoke through the wisdom of those words! Of course, I'm not talking about being like Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh who was rigid and always maintaining his "schedule." I'm talking about HIS schedule for our lives that is full of joy, freedom, and calm as we listen to Him for the direction of our days!

APPLICATION


But let everything be done 
in a fitting and orderly way. 
(1 Corinthians 14:40)

How is the order of your life? Are your priorities in order? Is your physical world in order? Does your home and life run with joy, freedom, and calm because you are wisely preparing in advance?

PRAYER

Lord, You are not a God of chaos but of order. Help our lives to be run and orchestrated by You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

1 Chronicles 24 & 25 with Psalm 88 - Everybody in Their Place

LINK: 1 Chronicles 24 & 25  with Psalm 88

BACKGROUND


After David had appointed Solomon as the king, he wanted to make sure that the temple was organized in every way. Organization and preparation glorifies God!!! David was a gifted administrator. In 1 Chronicles 23, he organized the Levites. In 1 Chronicles 24, he organized the priests. In 1 Chronicles 25, he organized the temple singers. David wanted to be sure that everything in God's house would be done "decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). David and the two priests made these decisions by drawing lots. This was the same process Joshua used when the land was divided up between the twelve tribes of Israel (Joshua 14:2; 23:4).

A key phrase throughout these chapters is: "for the service of the house of the Lord" (or similar phrase).

NOTE: The population of Israel had grown quite large. Therefore, there were many more priests than the number needed in the temple. So, the priests were divided into 24 lots with each group serving for a two week period each year. They were also "on call" for the feasts. We will see an example of this when we learn about Zacharias (John the Baptist's dad) in Luke 1!

REFLECTION

Rebekah, a woman I am discipling, is trying to help a woman she is discipling get some direction about where God would have her serve. She does not really know her gifts and how she would serve for God's glory. I remember taking Rebekah through a similar process of discovery in 2005 that has really helped her to find a place in the Body of Christ that is fruitful AND fulfilling. Because she has a better idea of God's place for her, she is better able to discern when she should step into projects and when she should say no.

I wish we had someone like David to organize us! (Organization can be a godly thing and does not have to be the opposite of "going with the Spirit's leading," by the way.) The ministers in the temple knew their ministry. Some were priests, some were temple servants, some were musicians, and some were singers. Everyone had a place. I wish it were so clear for us!

That is why I love taking people, like Rebekah and this other woman, through the process of discovering how God has uniquely designed them to glorify Himself.

APPLICATION

Do you know your place in ministry? I have mentioned the SHAPE process in previous posts, but here is a nice website that can help you with the process:

SHAPE Profile

Sometimes, it is nice to do this with other people though. So, if your church has a SHAPE class, you might want to join it. If you are local, I am happy to do it with your group!

PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You ordered everything for the temple. Help us to know our place in Your kingdom. Lead us for Your glory. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Since Heman is mentioned in this chapter, I have included a Psalm written by him in your reading today. 

LINK: Psalm 88

BACKGROUND

This is a new author in the book of Psalms: Heman. We read about him in 1 Chronicles 15:19; 16:41-42; 25:1, 6. He was a singer who sounded aloud the trumpets, lyres, harps, and cymbals of bronze along with Asaph, another author in this book. What talent!

This psalm is often called one of the saddest psalms in the whole Psalter. It is a petition to be saved from death and is the heart's cry of one who has suffered constantly. Most psalmists express hopeful expectation of God's deliverance after they pour out their heart but not this one. The psalter wants the Lord of His salvation to deliver him from death because he is unable to declare His glory if he is dead (88:1, 9b-12).

This poem is written in a Hebrew structure of three four-line stanzas (88:3-5, 6-9a, 9b-12) surrounded by two two-line prayers. Appended to this is an additional four-line stanza in which the psalmist summarizes that his present troubled condition is one he has had his whole life.

REFLECTION

This sounds so much like the story of Job; but even Job had a good life before and after his affliction. This poor guy sounds like things have always been really bad. My heart aches for him.

Heman suffered intensely, but He still continued to pray to the "God of [his] salvation." Many people turn their back on God when things go wrong. 

We recently watched a Mark Twain documentary by Ken Burns. After the death of one of his family members, the scholars said, "Twain ceased to believe in a benevolent God." While I have compassion for Mark Twain's loss, I do not understand that sort of mentality. The reality is that life is not always happy and without sorrow and always involves loss, but it does not mean that our God has forsaken us nor ceased to be a benevolent God.

We can learn so much from Heman's psalm when our lives are filled with overwhelming sorrow. Here is a summary of what we can learn that is adapted from Be Worshipful by Warren Wiersbe:
Come to the Lord by Faith (vv. 1-2) Heman comes to the "God of [his] salvation" and continues to address Him as His LORD throughout his prayer (vv. 1,9,13,14). Weirsbe says, "No matter how we feel and no matter how impossible our circumstances, we can always come to the Lord with our burdens." 
Tell the Lord How You Feel (vv. 3-9) - Heman didn't sugar-coat it. Life was hard, and he was completely transparent with the Lord about his problems. We can be this way with God. It is not disrespectful to do so. Pour out your heart! 
Defend Your Cause Before the Lord (vv. 10-14) Hemen's argument is that his death will rob God of an opportunity to demonstrate His power and glory. He couldn't serve God in death. Could he? Keep praying transparently to God and pleading your case before Him. 
Wait for the Lord's Answer (vv. 15-18) - This guy's pain was like Job's only more prolonged! He continued to wait and pray though. What an example of perseverance! Persevere in your trial, dear friend. God is good and will hear your pleas in the darkest times of life. 
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
 (Job 13:5)

I would have despaired unless 
I had believed that  
I would see the goodness of the Lord 
In the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; 
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. 
(Psalm 27:13-14)

APPLICATION

If you are struggling, come to Him, tell Him how you really feel, defend your cause, and wait for His answer. You might even want to pray responsively through Psalm 88. Ask others to pray for you too.

PRAYER

Lord, You are the God of our salvation, and we worship You in our struggle. We acknowledge that You are good and know what is best for us. Sometimes we do not understand why You have allowed us to struggle, but we trust in Your unfailing love. Help us to be strong through the sorrowful, struggling seasons of our life and to wait on Your perfect timing for deliverance. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Psalm 29 & 30 - Worship and Dedication

LINK: Psalm 29 & 30

BACKGROUND

Psalm 29

The Hebrew word for ascribe (NASB) or give (NIV) "emphasizes the notion of presenting or setting an object or person somewhere." This is a worshipful Psalm!

The cedars of Lebanon (Psalm 29:5) were giant trees that could grow as high as 120 feet and 30 feet around. God's voice is VERY powerful! 

Psalm 30

This is a song at the dedication of the house written by David. It is believed that the most probable event connected to this psalm is in 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:6 where David is preparing to build the temple at Araunah's threshing floor. Prior to this, David had felt secure in his wealth and power and numbered the Israelites. This displeased God, and He sent a great plague to discipline David. This accounts for why David said "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help and you healed me." This Psalm is a response of praise from David celebrating His deliverance.

Historically, this psalm is chanted at Hanukkah which is a feast that commemorates the rededication of the temple after the soldiers of Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it by slaughtering a pig in it and forcing the Jews to eat it. When the men refused, the soldiers cut off the men's hands, feet, and tongues, then scalped the men and burned them alive on the altar of the Lord. This occured in 165 B.C.

REFLECTION


For His anger is but for a moment, 
His favor is for a lifetime; 
Weeping may last for the night, 
But a shout of joy {comes} in the morning. 
 Psalm 30:5

David's response of praise is a response after the Lord's discipline. I cannot tell you how many times I have clung to this verse when the Lord has disciplined me. Sometimes, even after I have confessed, it is hard for me to move on from the "squishiness" I feel about my sin. His discipline is a good "shot in the arm," and it just lasts for a moment.

We need to remember that He disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. He is a good Father who wants to discipline us so that we will grow to maturity (Hebrews 12:5-11).

One way I have moved on from the "squishiness" is to just go to bed! Things always look better in the morning because EVERYDAY is a new beginning with the LORD if we "confess and press" on!

We can stand on this promise when we have a hard time receiving the LORD's forgiveness after we have been disciplined by Him:


If we confess our sin, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

APPLICATION

Have you been disciplined by the LORD lately? Are you having a hard time really believing that He disciplines us for our good and that his discipline is for a moment but His favor for a lifetime? Meditate on Hebrews 12 and 1 John 1:9 and talk to the Lord about it.

PRAYER

Here is a verse from the song "The Beginning" by Michael Card. Each day is a new beginning with our LORD, Hallelujah!

CHORUS
The Beginning will make all things new
New Life belongs to Him
He hands us each new moment saying
My child, begin again
My child, begin again
You're free to start again

This very moment is filled with His power

That we might start anew
To break us away from the past and the future
He does what He must do

And so the Alpha brings to us this moment to commence
To live in the freedom of total forgiveness 
With reckless confidence
With reckless confidence

LORD, thank You for Your lifetime favor because of the blood of Christ. Help us NEVER to take that for granted. It is in His name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1 Chronicles 22 & 23 - Solomon and the Temple

LINK: 1 Chronicles 22 & 23

BACKGROUND

The material from 22:1 - 29:30 does not overlap with the parallel passages in 2 Samuel. Remember that the chronicler was a priest, and his primary focus was the temple, the priests, and the royal theocratic Messianic kingdom under David and Solomon.

1 Chronicles 22

At the beginning of this chapter, David designates that the house of the LORD God (temple) is to be at the threshing floor of Ornan (Araunah) the Jebusite (Jebus is Jerusalem) and not Gibean where Saul had moved the tabernacle. Gibeon is two hours northwest of Jerusalem.

The location of this temple is so significant. Please do not miss it! It is a hill north of the capital city that David took from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6, 7). David built an altar and offered sacrifices there (2 Samuel 24:18-25, 1 Chronicles 21:18-30). It is also the hill, called Mt. Moriah, where Abraham obeyed God and was willing to offer the sacrifice of his son, Isaac (2 Chronicles 3:1; Genesis 22:1-14). 

David was a man of war, and he could not build the temple. There is thought to be a play on words in this chapter since David was a man of war and Solomon was a man of peace. Solomon sounds similar to the Hebrew word for peace, shalom. In fact, some scholars believe that his name is derived from shalom.

1 Chronicles 23

David was an old man, and he turned the reigns of leadership over to his son Solomon. The Chronicler omits the fight for the kingdom by Solomon's older brother, Adonijah, and his eventual execution (1 Kings 1-2). Remember, the chronicler's primary concern is the temple and the line of David and Solomon.

The chapter concludes with an accounting of the Levites who were organized by three clans (GershonKohath, and Merari). The descendants of Kohath were Aaron and Moses. Aaron's descendants were to be the priests while the descendants of Moses had lesser duties. Note that David lowered the age of temple service from 30 years (Numbers 4:1-3) to 20 years (1 Chronicles 23:24, 27).

The principle responsibilities of the Levites were to assist the priests in the temple, prepare the bread of the Presence and grain offerings, and to thank and praise God during the burnt offerings every morning and evening (1 Chronicles 23:28-31).

REFLECTION

I took a class where I was to give a presentation about an "achievement in my adult life that was a breakthrough, one that was done deliberately and required effort" and one that I was "proud of." I spoke about being the back-up center to an All-American and eventual 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in basketball, Carol Menken-Schaudt. I brought her gold medal as a "prop" for the presentation. The gold medal was not my achievement, but my premise was that sometimes achievement in life is measured by making other people successful in their God-given roles.

This is what David did for his son, Solomon. He knew that God had not ordained for Him to build a temple, but he did everything he could to help Solomon succeed by selecting a site, providing materials, and giving a command and a promise: "Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you" (22:16).

Sometimes God does not have for us to be the one who achieves the "great things" or becomes the "star" of the team, but we all have a role to play. Through my experience with Carol, I learned a very hard lesson of becoming a behind the scenes servant by working as hard as I could in practice to make her better in the games in which she played and I watched from the bench. It was humbling, but it was definitely a "breakthrough" in my life where God began to build in me the heart of a servant who can be behind the scenes building others up by discipling them to be all that God made for them to be!

APPLICATION


"The Scriptures were not given to 
increase our knowledge 
but to change our lives.
D.L. Moody


What about you? Who are you helping to achieve great things for God (can be children, spouses, employees, people you are discipling)? What are you doing?

PRAYER

Lord, help us to be content with the position you have for us to play in this life. Help us to make others achieve great things for You like David did for Solomon. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1 Chronicles 20 & 21 - War and Census Taking

LINK: 1 Chronicles 20 & 21

BACKGROUND 

We are continuing with our review of the history we covered last year in the Bible Book Club. 

1 Chronicles 20 (parallels 2 Samuel 12:26-31; 19:41-20:22)

David's sin with Bathsheba is not mentioned in the Chronicles account. We do know that it was the spring and time for battle, and David did not go (1 Chronicles 20:1), but what he did during the idleness is not mentioned here (see 2 Samuel 12:1-25 for that). 

Eventually, David did go out to war, and the people of Rabbah were brought to their knees. The crown described would have been fifty to seventy-five pounds (compare this with the English crown which is three)!

1 Chronicles 21 (parallels 2 Samuel 24)

The census occurred late in David's reign prior to David giving Solomon instructions for building the temple (1 Chronicles 21:28-22:19).

There is a difference in the two parallel accounts. The 2 Samuel account says that God's anger burned against Israel and God led David to number the people. This account says that Satan did (see other instances of Satan's work in Genesis 3, Job 1-2, and Zechariah 3). God allowed Satan to prompt David because He had a purpose: that Israel might be punished and David learn a valuable lesson in humility. 

What was wrong with taking a census? Usually a census was taken only when preparing an army (Numbers 1:2; 26:2). Since David had peace on every side and Israel was a recognized power in the region, there was no need for a census to be taken. The only other reason was David's pride and ambition. He wanted to glory in the size of his people and army. He was putting his faith in this rather than God, who is ultimately the one who was protecting David and giving him peace on every side. Even Joab, who was not known for high moral character, knew that this was wrong. Thankfully, David realized his sin of pride and self-sufficiency and confessed his foolishness to God (1 Chronicles 21:8), but there was still a consequence for his sin. 

Some commentators believe the angel of the Lord in 21:15 is probably a "theophany" or the pre-incarnate Christ (Genesis 16:13; 18:1-2; 22:11-12; 48:16; Judges 6:16, 22; 13:22-23; Zechariah 3:1) as it is identified with but distinct from Yahweh (Genesis 24:7).

The chapter concludes with David's purchase of a very rich piece of real estate. He purchased the threshing floor on Mt. Moriah. Where have you heard of this before in the Bible Book Club? This is the place where Abraham offered up Isaac in Genesis 22! It will also become the future home of Solomon's temple. Stay tuned!

REFLECTION

It is now 2014, and I am editing this post originally written in 2011. I am saddened, but not surprised, at what is coming out about a nationally known pastor. 

My first exposure to him was a video from 2007 on the website of an older pastor whom I have respected for the last 25 years. I was appalled. I thought, "Who is this guy, and why is this older pastor allowing this horrible teaching to be a part of his website?"

I did not know he was the "it" pastor of the country. I did not know he had one of the fastest-growing network of churches in America. I just saw a very insecure man who should not be lauded as a great teacher. Something was really wrong. 

I wrote this older pastor who hosted the website to ask why he had this person as one of his teachers, but I never heard back. Now it is seven years later and documents of this "it" pastor's selfish power and ambition, as far back as 2007, is coming to light. The people exposing him were former elders and pastoral staff who tried repeatedly to hold him accountable for his actions, but they were ostracized and shunned. 

I am sure this young man started out well, but somewhere along the way, it got more about growing his empire than serving God. Will he "course correct" as David did when he realized his sin of pride and self-sufficiency and confessed his foolishness to God (1 Chronicles 21:8)? Time can only tell. My heart is sick for the trail of "dead bodies" he has left along the path. My heart is sick for him. I know he does not get it yet.  I hope he gets it. I really do not wish harm or evil on him. He just needs to get it. Lord, help him to get it. 

2015 Update: He stepped down, and I think he is getting it. This is an answer to prayer!

APPLICATION 

Have you put your security in your money, possession, or your own strength rather than the Lord?

PRAYER

Lord, You are our wealth and strength. Who have we in heaven but You? Besides You we desire nothing else. Amen. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

1 Chronicles 18 & 19 - Rest on Every Side

LINK: 1 Chronicles 18 & 19 
(Parallel passage in 2 Samuel 8 & 10 included in link)

BACKGROUND 

1 Chronicles 18 (2 Samuel 8)

God promised David, in 2 Samuel 7:11, that He would give him rest from his enemies, and the events in this chapter are a fulfillment of this promise. David would see rest to the west (Philistines), east (Moabites), north (Arameans and Syrians), and south (Edomites).

Israel had been warring with the Philistines for 125 years, and David attacked and defeated them. Next, he defeated the Moabites. The 2 Samuel account mentions "lines" while the 1 Chronicles account does not. Apparently, it was a practice of Eastern kings to have prisoners of war lie down in lines. Then they chose to kill a certain portion of them by lot or measuring line. The 2 Samuel account goes into much more detail about how David slaughtered two thirds of the people. It is surmised that the chronicler was focusing on David's dynasty, and a bit of those roots were founded in Moab through Ruth (Ruth 4:13-21), his great-grandmother! Also, Abraham's nephew Lot was the father of their ancestor Moab (Genesis 19:30-38).

We do not know why David would attack the Moabites in the first place since David had ancestral roots there and had been at peace with them (1 Samuel 22:3-4). It may be because the Moabites had hired Balaam to curse Israel and then led Moab into seducing the men of Israel (Numbers 22-25). 

There is also a difference in the numbers in 1 Chronicles 18:4 (1,000 chariots and 7,000 horsemen) and 2 Samuel 8:4 (the Hebrew reads "1700 horsemen"). 1 Chronicles 18 is believed to be the better-preserved of the texts.

Finally he defeated the Arameans and the Edomites and "the Lord helped David wherever he went" (1 Chronicles 18:6) giving him rest from his enemies.

This is all recorded because God had promised that He would give Israel all the country as far as the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 24:17). 

1 Chronicles 19 (2 Samuel)

David wanted to show kindness to Hanun, the new Ammonite king, because Hanun's father had been kind to him, but Hanun''s advisers led Hanun to believe that David had sinister motives for sending his men. So, David's men were humiliated by having their beards and garments cut. In Israelite culture, a full beard was a sign of maturity and authority. 

What Hanun's men did to David's men was a great indignity. This was considered a declaration of war, and the Israelites responded by defeating the Ammonites. The Chronicles account mentions that Hanun hired the Arameans of Mesopotamia, Aram Maach, and Zobah while the 2 Samuel account mentions Arameans of Beth Rehob, Zobah, Maach, and Tob. Also, Chronicles mentions the silver payment while the other omits it. Lastly, Chronicles mentions chariot forces while the Samuel mentions infantrymen. There are no contradictions but just complementary accounts that give us the whole picture. 

REFLECTION (written in 2012)


And the Lord helped David wherever he went. 
(1 Chronicles 18:6, NASB95) 

Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous 
for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; 
and may the Lord do what is good in His sight. 
(1 Chronicles 19:13, NASB95) 

The minute I start thinking that I have done some great thing is when I fall. The minute I start thinking that I am all alone in my battles is when I go into a tailspin. I have been there and done that so many times in the past; but lately, not so much! GROWTH! I am realizing (sometimes almost unconsciously) that the Lord is the one who helps me. The Lord is the one who does what is good in His sight. 

I was trying to think of a recent battle, but there have not been any lately. I have rest on every side, but it is not because I have done anything other than let go and gotten out of the Lord's way. 

I had a potential battle on my hands when someone chewed me out on the phone a few months ago, but I did not take it as my battle. I knew it was the Lord's, and I knew it was between that person and her God.

What was so great was that I was able to respond to this person without defense because, in that moment, I could recognize that this was God's job. In the past, I could probably come to that realization after much prayer and hearing the truth from God, but I was hearing truth from God right as it was happening in real time! Such growth for me! Such a slow lesson to learn too.

Not only was I able to hear God's truth, but He gave me the words to ask the hard question that got to the heart of the matter, and I could say, "Is maybe this other situation behind your frustration with me?" 

The response was a flood of tears about loneliness and loss she was experiencing that had nothing to do with my failures to meet her expectations in certain areas. We grew closer from it, and there has not been any weirdness between us as a result. 

I laid down that night saying to George, "Why am I not more shook up about this? She really chewed me out. Why am I so peaceful? This is not like me!"

But it is like God when I move out of the way and "do what is good in His sight." 

APPLICATION 

Are you fighting some battle that is beyond you and your strength and ability? Well, this is a perfect opportunity for you to move out of the way and let God "Do what is good in His sight."  

Ready?

MOVE OUT OF THE WAY by talking to God about it right now. 

PRAYER

Lord, we humbly admit that we often try to fight our own battles. We admit this as pride and self-sufficiently. Please forgive us, and help us to move out of the way so that You can do all that You see good in your sight. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1 Chronicles 17 - The Davidic Covenant

LINK: 1 Chronicles 17  (Parallel passage: 2 Samuel 7)

The Davidic Covenant  is a very important concept to understand. Below is the post for 2 Samuel 7.


BACKGROUND

This is a KEY chapter in the Bible with far reaching effects for the future of our Bible reading. You would do well to read it over again and mark it in your Bible.

David wanted to build a permanent structure in which the Lord could dwell among His people. Through the Prophet Nathan, God told David that there was not yet a need for a permanent structure but that he would build a house for David that would be a royal house that would never end (2 Samuel 7:16). The kingdom of David and his throne would be forever. Let us pause in the story for a very important announcement. This is part of the . . . .

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption!!!!!!

This promise fulfills the earlier Abrahamic Covenant blessing that the patriarchs would be the father of kings (Genesis 17:6; 16; 35:11). Later Judah, the great-grandson of Abraham, was given the pledge that a promised ruler would come from Judah (Genesis 49:10). David was from the tribe of Judah and part of the Messianic line that would result in a divine descendant and King (Psalm 2:6-7; 110; 89:3-4). We will see in our study of the prophets that they attested to the Davidic Messiah who would rule over all and forever on his throne. Of course, that Messiah is . . .

JESUS!!!! (see Luke 1:31-33)

It is all so very exciting. :)

Now back to our story . . .

Regarding the temple, David's would not be allowed to build it, but his son would do it. How did David respond to this? He acknowledged the Lord's goodness and sovereignty! He did not show disappointment because he would not be the one to build the house for God. I believe this indicates that David had the motive of bringing glory to God and not to himself. He trusted in God's sovereignty and timing and was not going to get ahead of God's plan. Why do I believe this? He says "O Sovereign LORD" (2 Samuel 7, NIV) seven times!

REFLECTION (written in September 2008)

David's dream of building a house for God was perfectly timed for me! Just last night, my women's ministry director reminded me of the vision God had given me for "building" women in our church and beyond through discipleship. She said, "Carol, I still remember that vision you articulated in an email to me over a year ago. It is so obviously your passion. I am so excited. I want to pray into that vision with you."

Then, I got up this morning and meditated on 2 Samuel 7 and read this in the Daily Walk:
"Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God." That motto would provide an apt summary of David's early years as king over the 12 tribes of Israel. He moved speedily to implement his godly convictions and to reverse the godless influences of his predecessor, Saul. And though God would not permit him to fulfill certain dreams (such as building the temple), He never rebuked David for his motives or discouraged him from attempting other great enterprises for Him." 
"Great projects for God are costly, demanding vision, time, sacrifice, and perseverance. The great Christian schools we enjoy today, the majestic churches whose pulpits are aflame with righteousness, the missionary organizations that touch millions of lives spiritually and physically --each began with a dream in the heart of a committed child of God."
"One person with a dream is equal to 99 who only have interests." (March 2008)
Now, it is just a matter of me listening to the Lord and waiting on His sovereign timing for all things to come together for His glory!

2011 Update: How fun to read this post from 2008 and see that we are on the cusp of something very exciting as we have waited on His sovereign timing for discipleship in our church!  I met with the women's ministry leader mentioned above two weeks ago about starting Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ during the Sunday morning women's study. I am also excited to hear that one of our pastors has a triad of people going through this book right now and many of our staff have read Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time and are catching that vision. As late as March of this year, it seemed like this was maybe "dead in the water," but I was wrong! The vision is coming to fruition after many years of waiting and praying (Habakkuk 2:3). YIPEE! "Desire realized is sweet to the soul" (Proverbs 13:19).

And like David, I will look on in wonder but not be involved in the nuts and bolts of it inside the women's ministry because God has called me to minister to women outside the walls of the church. I am so happy to be a resource person for the building project though!  I rejoice like David and am not sad that I cannot be part of the day to day "building" because it is all about God's glory!

2015 Update: I continue to thrive building into women outside the walls of the church. I am passionate about equipping them to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God to every people. This year, I have a group of five women so hungry and F.A.T. (Faithful, Available, and Teachable - see previous post about that HERE)! They are affecting the lives of many others. I also have a group of women leaders in the community that I continue to pray for and encourage to listen and obey. It does not get any better than this! 

APPLICATION

The Daily Walk continues:
Do you have a dream of how God might want to use you, your family, your church, your skills, and your resources to impact the world for Him? If not, allow Him to implant in you a dream for His glory; then dream it, plan it, pursue it - and as God enables, achieve it. (p.31)
PRAYER

O Sovereign LORD, who are we that You have brought us this far in our journey with You? We are Your servants. For the sake of Your Word and according to Your will, accomplish things in and through us that bring glory to Your holy name. There is no one like You, and there is no God but You. Make Your name great through the witness of our life and service. And Lord, please build discipleship DNA in every church throughout the world!  We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

1 Chronicles 16 & Psalm 105 - An Anthem of Praise to God

LINK: 1 Chronicles 16 & Psalm 105

BACKGROUND


The Ark is in its rightful place (with Asaph in charge), and there is reason for national rejoicing. God's presence is in the midst of His people! This hymn of thanksgiving is a compilation of three different Psalms. In today's reading you do double duty because 1 Chronicles 16:8-22 correspond almost word-for-word with Psalm 105:1-15. After this, flip over to Psalm 105 and continue praising God in Psalm 105:16-45 as David recalls God's past acts on behalf of Israel. It is a "history song" recalling God's faithfulness from Abraham to the Promised Land!


APPLICATION


Reflect upon what God has done in your life by recalling where you have come from. How did He lead you to Himself and deliver You from captivity? Praise Him for this as you read this psalm.


PRAYER



Thank You that, like Israel, You have protected me while I sojourned in "other lands" far away from You. Thank You that You sovereignly led me out of captivity and into Your very presence. I give You praise for deliverance from darkness into Your wonderful and glorious light. You redeemed me from bondage so that I might obey Your word. Hallelujah!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Psalm 83 - God's Power to Deliver

LINK: Psalm 83

BACKGROUND

Psalm 83 is our last psalm of Asaph (or one of his descendants).  He laments Judah being surrounded by many enemies set on crushing her. He alludes to past victories through Gideon at Midian (Judges 7-8) and against Sisera through Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5). He prayed for God to destroy their enemies and let them know that God "alone [is] the most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18), and that other nations should not trifle with God's cherished people.

REFLECTION

A big (and theological) word describing God's power is omnipotence, and it comes from two Latin words, omni, "all," and potens, "powerful." He is all-powerful and able to do anything that is consistent with His nature:
Your right hand, O LORD, 
is majestic in power . . .
(Exodus 15:6)

The LORD, strong and mighty, 
the LORD, mighty in battle!
(Psalm 24:8)

Nothing is too hard for you.
(Jeremiah 32:17)

We have an all-powerful God behind us to accomplish His purposes through us even when we are overwhelmed and "hemmed in."

Maybe you feel "hemmed in" today and overwhelmed by your circumstances and unable to see a way out. I have felt that at times in my life.

A few years back, I was so overwhelmed with a bad situation that the only thing I could do was rely on God's power to get me out! David's words resonated with me:


For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;

No one cares for my soul. 
(Psalm 142:4)

(I should clarify that the "no one" regarding or caring were in reference to the people in the specific situation. People outside the situation cared a great deal and were all counseling me to GET OUT and GET OUT quick!)
I cried out to You, O LORD;
I said, "You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Give heed to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are too strong for me.
 
(Psalm 142:5-6)
And they were too strong for me but not too strong for God. For years, I tried to fight a battle that only God could win. (As you know from reading my posts, self-sufficiency is a besetting sin.) The years of fighting on my own strength had brought me very low. I cried and cried over this situation until I finally rested and relied on God's power to deliver me. I felt much like David and cried out with very similar words:
Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me. (Psalm 142:7)
And He most absolutely did deal bountifully with me, above and beyond! He brought my soul out of prison, and I want to give thanks to His most holy name. It is so amazing to be meditating on this psalm today because I was just taking a prayer walk this week and thanking God for surrounding me (overwhelming me, really) with righteous, loving, and caring people. God has absolutely dealt bountifully with me since my years "in prison" around some pretty cruel and uncaring people. Glory to God!

APPLICATION

Are you feeling "hemmed in" like Asaph and David? Can you rely on God's power for deliverance?

Do a mini-study on the power of God and use this list as a jumping off point:

Power of God, The.
1. Is one of his attributes. Ps 62:11.
2. Expressed by the
.........a. Voice of God. Ps 29:3,5; 68:33.
.........b. Finger of God. Ex 8:19; Ps 8:3.
.........c. Hand of God. Ex 9:3, 15; Isa 48:13.
.........d. Arm of God. Job 40:9; Isa 52:10.
.........e. Thunder of his power. Job 26:14.
3. Described as
.........a. Great. Ps 79:11; Na 1:3.
.........b. Strong. Ps 89:13; 136:12.
.........c. Glorious. Ex 15:6; Isa 63:12.
........d. Mighty. Job 9:4; Ps 89:13.
........e. Everlasting. Isa 26:4; Ro 1:20.
........f. Sovereign. Ro 9:21.
........g. Effectual. Isa 43:13; Eph 3:7.
........h. Irresistible. De 32:39; Da 4:35.
.........i. Incomparable. Ex 15:11,12; De 3:24; Job 40:9; Ps 89:8.
.........j. Unsearchable. Job 5:9; 9:10.
.........k. Incomprehensible. Job 26:14; Ec 3:11.
4. All things possible to. Mt 19:26.
5. Nothing too hard for. Ge 18:14; Jer 32:27.
6. Can save by many or by few. 1 Sa 14:6.
7. Is the source of all strength. 1 Ch 29:12; Ps 68:35.
8. Exhibited in
.........a. Creation. Ps 102:25; Jer 10:12.
.........b. Establishing and governing all things. Ps 65:6; 66:7.
.........c. The miracles of Christ. Lu 11:20.
.........d. The resurrection of Christ. 2Co 13:4; Col 2:12.
.........e. The resurrection of saints. 1 Co 6:14.
..........f. Making the gospel effectual. Ro 1:16; 1 Co 1:18, 24.
..........g. Delivering his people. Ps 106:8.
.........h. The destruction of the wicked. Ex 9:16; Ro 9:22.

(Torrey, R. (1995, c1897). The new topical text book : A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos research Systems, Inc.)

PRAYER (from 2009)

Almighty God, we give You praise for Your power. The snow blanketing the ground this morning reminded me of Your power in creation. The sun shining into my "happy place" right now reminds me of Your blinding power to shed light on every situation. Thank You God for Your power to deliver us by Your almighty hand. We give You praise for Yours is the kingdom and the POWER and the glory forever and ever, Amen.