Saturday, June 30, 2012

2 Chronicles 3 - 4; Temple of God

Sorry... For some reason this morning's blog didn't save - must have been bogus or I need to quit working on 2 computers at the same time.  That's probably more multi-tasking than I need to be doing :)  Soon and very soon, I will retire the old computer.

Solomon builds the temple and the vessels for use in the temple inside.  As in 1 Kings 6, there is a lot of detail included in the description.  It is hard for me to imagine the immensity and the beauty of this temple.  Every time I read these description, I am trying to calculate, in my head, a cubit as about 1 1/2 feet and a cubit as about 75 pounds. 

As hard as it is to imagine what this temple looked like, it is even harder (impossible) to imagine the magnitute and magnificient of the temple that was raised when Jesus the Christ was raised from the dead.  Just try to imagine this glorious temple - the Body of Christ.  It is beyond the scope of our imaginations.  It is beyond words.

It will be, I am sure, easier to post this successfully!  God's Peace.... Pr. J

Friday, June 29, 2012

2 Chronicles 2 - Worship Where?

Who indeed, can build a house for the LORD?  No one, not even Solomon, can build a house that will contain the LORD for the LORD cannot be contained in a house.  He cannot even be contained in the heavens.  Our LORD is greater than all that exists!  God cannot be contained by a building or a planet, or even the heavens! And... that is a very good thing!  For God is wherever we are.  There is no place that God is not.

So what is the use of building temples and churches?  The reason for today is not so different than it was in Solomon's time.  They are places to gather together and to bring our offerings;  to hear and remember what God has done for us; to thank God for all that God has done for us; and to praise His Holy Name.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear that we can worship in the woods or on the lake or even on the golf course as well as in church.  Of course you can!  God is everywhere!  But, which god are you actually worshipping?  Are you worshipping God or His creation?  Are you really serving God or yourself?  What offerings are you giving to God when you're out celebrating your life and not the life that was given for you on the cross?  Gathering as a community of saints, as children of God, to heard God's Word, receive His blessings, and yes, to give your offerings in praise and thanksgiving has been a part of the church on earth ever since the "Tent of the Meeting" was constructed.

I don't know what has happened to the church on earth over the preceding generations, but, somehow we've gotten to a place where a vast multitude of people who claim Christ as their head, do not have the time or inclination to gather with others who claim Christ as their Lord as well, and to remember, and give praise and give thanks to the God who created all things; who is greater than all things. 

Reminder:  " comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  (Romans 10:17 NIV)  Does your golf club or baseball bat speak that Word?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2 Chronicles 1 - Wisdom to Serve

It wasn't too long ago, that I was at a Bible study trying to recall what happened to the Tent of the Meeting that the Israelites had carried around for so many years.  I just could not remember what happened to it once the Israelites went to their apportioned lands.  My memory has never been too good and isn't getting any better as the days pass.  I just keep studying and praying that I will remember at least a good portion of what I read.

Well, here we find the original tabernacle.  Solomon has gone to the Tent of the Meeting at the high place at Gibeon.  He makes offerings to the LORD and God appears to him, asking Solomon what He should give him.  Solomon asks for wisdom and knowledge so that he might lead the numerous people that God has given him.  God grants Solomon's request and commends him for not being selfish.

This is just an outstanding transition from 1 Chronicles to 2 Chronicles.  In the last chapter of 1 Chronicles we have David bequeathing hundreds of thousands of pounds of gold and silver to the building of God's house and in this first chapter of 2 Chronicles, we have his son, Solomon, not requesting riches or anything else for himself.  Solomon asks only to lead God's people with wisdom and knowledge.  God grants this request; and in addition, blesses him with great wealth and honor.

This is really some good stuff for anyone who is struggling with what stewardship actually is.  Good stewards will understand that the gifts given to us, by God, are not to be for our own glory, but are to be used, by us, in service to both God and others (our neighbors). 

Neither, David or Solomon were without fault.  But, within their hearts ws the desire to serve and honor the LORD and God knew that.  He knows what is in each of our hearts.  May He create in each of us the desire to be willing servants and wise stewards of all that He has blessed us with.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1 Chronicles 29 - Free-will Offerings

Wow!  I know some stewardship/financial people in my congregation who would love this chapter!  David bequeaths 3000 talents of gold and 7000 thousand talents of silver to the building up of the temple.  And.. the leaders of fathers' houses, leaders of the tribe, the commanders of the troops, and officers of the king's work followed David's lead by giving very generous free-will offerings for the work, as well.  And... David and all the people were exceedingly happy because they had given willing, with whole hearts.  Therefore, David blessed the LORD and thanks Him that they are able to give so willingly.  How is it, he wonders, that they are able to give anything to the LORD? After all, isn't everything God's in the first place?  Isn't it He who gives us every good thing?

We have come to the end of 1 Chronicles.  Solomon, David's son, is made king and David dies with honor and dignity at a good age. 

David's life and his reign has had its ups and down.  Tomorrow we will begin to (maybe) understand the wisdom of Solomon and his leadership.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

1 Chronicles 28 - Faith of Our Fathers

One of our songs chosen for this Sunday is "Faith Of Our Fathers."  I am most grateful for all those who are continuing to build upon the groundwork that was prepared by the faithful people who have been here before us.

David prepared for the building of the temple.  His son, Solomon, was called to build it.  What is it that our forefathers prepared the ground for us for?  Was it to build the temple or tear it down?  I am always amazed at the faithful service of so many and, yet, I sometimes find myself dismayed by those who work to throw away or tear down what others have striven to build with the help of God.  Every generation has their own idea of what the "Church" is.  And, consequently every generation seems to goes off in a new direction, leaving behind what has already been started.  Jesus said there is only one way.  He is the way, and the truth and the life. 

So why so many different ways?  Why would some say that there are many ways?  There are indeed many callings; many different gifts needed to help grow the church.  But, there is only one way we are to be heading and that is the Kingdom of God, purchased by the blood of His Son, Jesus the Christ. 

This fall, I am hoping that one of our men will give a table talk, actually more like a testimony, regarding stewardship of God's gifts.  I am thinking that I will also give a table talk that month.  This one will be specifically on the stewardship of God's gifts of Word and Sacraments.  We cannot what God has called us to do; we cannot know the way without hearing and knowing the Word.  We cannot follow in the way; we cannot do our Father's will, without the abiding presence of God received in both Word and Sacrament of Holy Communion.  We cannot have the faith of our Fathers without receiving these gifts.

Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life.  Let us follow in His way!  Let us live life!

Monday, June 25, 2012

1 Chronicles 27 - Live Life! Answer that Call!

I woke up this morning wondering if God really intended for people to spend so much of their lives sitting in front of the television.  Television, computers, and all that other technology can be some really great tools for us to use; but, to veg out on the couch and mindlessly observe the same entertainment over and over again, I'm thinking this probably is not the will of God. 

Not sure why I woke up thinking this.  I have a full day planned and none of it includes the television.  But, it was kind of scary thinking about how much of our lives are wasted as we sit back and watch, rather than participate in life. 

In our reading today, David is still busy sorting people out according to calling - job descriptions.  There are the military leaders (and the 288,000 some men they will lead); treasurers, farmers, herders, counselors.  I know that technology has changed the world and our opportunities a whole lot and given us many new opportunities for various vocations.  But, from all the lists of various job opportunities that the Holy Scriptures provide, I've yet to see anything that resembles "sit on the couch and watch television." 

God has a plan and purpose for our lives and I really do think he wants us to:
Live life!  Answer that call! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1 Chronicles 26 - Faithful Servant Leaders

Duties of the gatekeepers, treasurers, and other officials...  I am often amazed when we elect new people to our council and other committees.  We attempt to make sure that everyone knows what the duties are before they agree to accept a nomination for various positions.  But, often we find out that they really didn't have a clue.  When we receive new members on the council we find out exactly how little they were aware of what the duties of the council members actually are.

The council does much more than meet once a month and approve or disapprove what the Pastor has done or plans to do.  They have many duties of oversight over almost every aspect of congregational life.  They are the gatekeepers.  The council has the final word on finances, evangelism, stewardship, education, when we should worship (Pastor has final say on how worship will be done), special events, building maintenance, and just about anything else that goes on in the congregation.

A position on the council is not just a title.  It is a service to God.  These men and women have been called by God to serve.  God has given them specific gifts to do this.  It sometimes saddens me that the congregation as a whole sometimes seems to be so unaware of all that our council and various committees actually do.  We have have had excellent councils at Zion.  There is no way that we can thank them enough for answering their call to serve and for the exceedingly faithful way they have fulfilled their duties as they serve God, the congregation, and the community.

May God bless all who serve within the church and continue to raise up faithful servant leaders to His glory.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1 Chronicles 25

Ok... I'm stuck... what exactly does "prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals?  It's probably something real obvious in the lesson I'm reading, but I'm not getting it.  I woke up late - forgot to wind the alarm clock last night - rushed to the church and now I'm reading from a very small print Bible.  Therefore, I am having more than usual lack of focus.

Chapter 25 is about setting more apart for service.  Our service this morning is working a rummage sale - raising money so our youth can go to the youth retreat at 3 Bears Lodge in Warrens, WI next winter.  This afternoon our service will take place at Witz' Marina as we celebrate the Eve of St. John the Baptist around a bon-fire, with much prayers and singing. 

Have to busy!  Have a blessed day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

1 Chronicles 24 - Divisions/Committees

Who and when shall they serve?  David is busy organizing the sons of Aaron for service.  He sets up the various divisions. 

We don't have divisions at Zion.  We have committees.  We have found that committees sometimes can actually hinder growth.  They can hinder service to God as they tend to be closed - that is - only a few people are contributing ideas - energy - etc.  So in an attempt to avail ourselves of more gifts of God, our committees, at Zion, have become intentionally open.  Everyone is welcome in service to God.  One does not even have to be a "voting member" to serve on a committee and if you have something you'd like to do that isn't covered by a committee, if you run the idea through me or the council, it usually doesn't take much to get approval, especially if you're going to volunteer to see it through.

 If one has a gift, we hope and pray that they will use that gift for the glory of God, to assist in our service to Him and to all His people.  We try to use every gift of every member of the "priesthood of believers" here in this place to aid in bringing the good news of the Kingdom to all people. 

Committees also come and go at Zion, according to the needs as well as the gifts of the people.  If someone has something to offer, we try very hard to find a way for them to use their gift.  For the summer months this year, I have been asking our children to help me with the prayers of the church.  For those who show up early enough to read through them and want to, they are given prayer petitions to pray during the prayers of the church.  They join me, kneeling at the altar, as we lead the congregation in confessing our faith with the Apostle's Creed, followed by the prayers of the church.  Some of them also offer to receive the offering.  Their request to serve is allowed.

All of God's children are encouraged to use their time, talents, gifts in service to God and to one another.  We're not real organized about it.  We just kind of follow the lead of the Spirit and allow and even encourage spontaneity and change.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

1 Chronicles 23 - 38000 Serving Levites

38,000 Levites; 24,000 of them working in the house of the LORD; 6,000 officers and judges; 4,000 gatekeepers; and 4,000 to offer praises to the LORD with instruments.  That's a lot of people serving in Jerusalem!  Imagine - someone always on duty - in service - to the LORD - at the LORD's temple.

Can you imagine if we took service to the LORD so seriously, today?  May our lessong today be a reminder to all of us that the LORD has entrusted His people (us) with His Word and Sacraments.  We are to care for them diligently, sharing them with all honor and respect with all whom He has called.  Faithful Worship should be the center of our lives, not an after thought or relegated to when we have nothing better to do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1 Chronicles 22-David Prepares Solomon To Serve

Although David is not allowed to build the temple for the LORD, because of all the blood that he has shed; David gathers together workers and supplies so that when he dies his son will be able to begin to build it.  He prepares Solomon to serve the LORD by reminding him that the LORD will be with him in this endeavor, granting him peace and quiet, as he does the will of the LORD.

God has a purpose for each of us.  He gives each of us gifts that His purpose might be completed through each of us.  One gets to clear the way, another gets to build in it, and; yet, another gets to add even more to the beginnings that were made by others.  Life is a journey and it's not just our journey.  The journey was begun by others before us and what was built or begun by them has been added to by others.  All, according to God's good purpose; all for His glory. 

Often, I hear that older people (especially Lutherans) don't like change.  I find that laughable!  We have members in our congregations who will read this blog on their computers this morning; who grew up in homes without computers or television.  They did not have telephones in the homes they grew up in.  Some did not have electricity or refrigeration (without ice cut from Lake Superior in the winter) in their childhood homes.  Not like change?  That's absurd!  They have seen many changes in their lives.  They know that those changes did not hinder their lives; rather they have welcomed them. 

It is seniors who give me some of the best advise when it comes to changes that we might want to consider in things relating to the church community - changes that will enhance our lives together in Christ - changes that will prepare our children to build on what has been started here in these decades. 

And... so as David prepared for his son, Solomon, to build the temple of the LORD, we prepare for our children and for their future service to the LORD.  We prepare them for building on what has been started here according to God's will; all for His glory.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1 Chronicles 21 - Counting People

David wants a census and there are some pretty dire consequences Israel is facing because of it.  Passages like this cause me a bit of concern.  The visible church counts people!  I'm not sure why we do.  There are a few possible reasons.  They have more to do with this kingdom; rather than the Kingdom of God.
    1.  Various denominations, that we might belong to, require us to turn in our numbers annually so that they can count their growth.
    2.  The states (countries) we reside in may require it as a part of our being registered as non-profit entitites.  Oh, you thought only churches in "other" countries had to be registered?  What would we call it then when we become non-profit entities in our respective states?  Are we not registering - asking permission to be the visible church?  How many building permits and health permits and other permits do we apply for in order to worship and fellowship together?
    3.  To adhere to our constitutions (required by states) we normally have set up guidelines to "count" our voting members.
    4.  And last of all, but not necessarily the least (or the worst excuse) is the fact that we count, we take a census, regularly (most churches every Sunday) in order to measure growth or loss.  If the growth is good - then we might begin to sit back a bit as we laud our "good work."  If instead of growth, we are seeing a loss, we gather together to try to figure out a way to make the census grow.  We come up with grand schemes to do "evangelism," which often isn't evangelism (proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom through Jesus the Christ); rather we plan gimmicks to help our numbers grow a bit so that our offerings will sustain the visibility of the Christian community (in other words the church building) wherever we are.

I like numbers.  I am a counter.  Often, I feel guilty about it; but, I keep right on doing it.  I try hard not to let the counting effect my ministry, what I do or how I do it.  At Zion, we've intentionally set up a system - sort of (I'm not sure God likes systems or trying to work around what He might not approve of).  We do not focus on making "members" of the congregation.  We focus on discipling.  We focus on sharing Jesus with others.  We focus on feeding God's sheep - whether they are a member of this congregation, another, or no congregation.  We minister to anyone and everyone - inside and/or outside of the church.  We have people who have worshipped with us and have been members of the "Body of Christ" for years, but they have never "legally" joined the church.  We don't care!   It is not about the census.  It is more about being family - children of a heavenly Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.  

No matter whether our numbers are up or down, all glory belongs to God.  I think that was a main point in this story with David.  Trust God.  Don't worry about the census.  God provides the growth.  And.. when David counts in spite of advise against it; David and all of Israel receives God's mercy.  Thanks be to God for His mercy is great. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

1 Chronicles 20 - More Bullies

Seems I get to talk about big bullies, again, today. 

There was man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.  He was descended from the giants.  Just a little intimidating!  David's brother, Jonathan, struck him down when he taunted Israel.

I am only 5'1" and shrinking... Years ago, I had this boss who was an ex-pro-football player.  He was quite intimidating to many, especially to many of the youth at the correctional facility we worked at.  I was told that his stature was quite large.  I always thought he was pretty average.  Others saw him as a larger than life football player.  I never saw him that way (for one thing - I'm not into football).  I always saw him as pretty average.  I remember talking to him about his over-use of assertiveness (he was my boss - but he was also a bully) when dealing with the teenage boys we were suppose to be helping.  He was sitting at his desk.  I was standing in front of it, looking down at him.  He didn't seem so large to me.  His bullishness didn't work for too much longer.  He lost his job not long after that, for excessive use of force with one of the teens.  Bullies really don't win.  They may appear to have the upperhand for awhile.  But, they are really smaller in stature than one would think and they normally lose in the end.

May God help us always to remember that it is not size that matters, but what is right in His eyes.  May God help those who resort to bullying live in peace with their neighbors.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

1 Chronicles 19 - Bullies Fall

Hmmm...  I hate to say, but I am human and can't help it.  "What goes around, comes around."

David extends his hand in friendship and his servants are humiliated. They are majorly bullied. In turn, the men who humilate David's servants and all their friends are defeated.  The Syrians learned from this, that they should choose their friends wisely.  Choose whether you will listen to and follow those who would lead you to destruction or those who will live with you in peace and help you to live in peace.

I have lived a good many years and to be honest, I am quite tired of so many trying to disrupt my peace and the peace of many whom I care deeply about.  It won't work.  They will not succeed.  But, there are some who still try.  There are those who want to humiliate (bully) others for no reason.  One word of advice - ok two - "steer clear" of them.  Do not support those who are wrong-headed and stir up trouble just to stir up trouble.  Follow in the way that you should go - a path that has been set before you.  Follow in the footsteps of Jesus, where there will be many who persecute you and try to change your heart and mind, but Jesus will be with you through all the travail, granting you His peace.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

1 Chronicles 18 - Administer Justice or Kill the Enemy?

Another whole chapter about defeating enemies!  Now, I have nothing against the military; afterall, my husband spent 21 years in the USMC, and yes I was married to him the whole time.  But reading about all this conquering people does weary me.  It's hard to keep track of all the people David conquered there were so many.

The main point of this chapter, I think, is found in verse 14, "So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people."  And, it was not just his people he protected, but verse 9 also points out that in doing so he also administered just for and protected the pepole of Hamath.  As awful as war is, sometimes war is necessary to protect and to administer justice to the people.  It is about protecting our neighbors and helping them wherever they may be. 

We pray for protection of our troops who are spread out around the world to protect not just the people of this country, but of countries around the globe.  We pray for the Commander in Chief, that he would make wise and just decisions that will not send out troops just to destroy the enemy, but to administer justice.

Ok... so I guess I need to admit a recent frustration, get it off my chest...  I am just a little upset (ok... maybe more than a little) over the recent news reports that the U.S. has been sending out drones (or whatever) to "hit" men - to kill our enemy.  (I try not to watch the news too regularly, if I can help it.)  If we know who they are and exactly where they are so that we can "bomb" them with precision; why aren't we putting a little more effort into capturing them?  Makes me a little nervous that our government thinks it is ok to concoct a list of people to "hit."  Where is the line between those we will kill and those we won't?  Who is next?  If this is acceptable, will there be a time when we begin thinking it is acceptable to start "precision bombing" (with low collateral damage) people in our own country rather than arresting them so they can be brought to trial and justice for all people served?  I think that maybe way back in our minds we've probably always known that this was being done.  But, for some reason I just didn't realize it was done on the scale it's allegedly is being done today.  If we have the capabilities of capturing "the enemy" then I just really have a hard time with seeing the justice in killing them in lieu of capturing them and questioning them, brining them to trial.  This is; afterall, not David's time and we do have capabilities, other options, that were not at his disposal.

Friday, June 15, 2012

1 Chronicles 17 - Thanks For The Journey!

"Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?" (17:16)  From shepherd to prince, what a journey!  And... to top it all off, God is making some pretty decent promises about what the future has in store for David's son, as well.  Now that would be comforting... to know that your children's future is secure and that they will live in covenant with the LORD.

Every now and then, often, but maybe not often enough, I, too, look back at my life and wonder, "Why me?  Who am I, LORD, that you would guide me to the place you have brought me to, today?"  It is amazing to look back and know that God was with you every step of the way, every single day.  David's life was not easy, nor was it perfect.  Most of ours has not been, either.  But, I can look back and say, "No matter where I have been, no matter what I have done, you, O LORD, have had a plan for me and you have guided me in the way that you would have me go.  Thanks be to God for His mercy is great and His love endures forever!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

1 Chronicles 16 - Worship Him

The ark is placed in a tent.  A tent, not thee tent, not the tabernacle.  Some of these chapters, I find, I have to actually study and not just read them or I miss stuff - lots of stuff. 

The ark of the covenant is in the city of David and the tabernacle for the burnt offering is still in the high place at Gibeon.  Now there are two places of worship.  The place of the ark of the covenant is for spiritual offerings - for praising God and giving Him thanks and worshipping Him.  The high place at Gibeon is for sacrifices of the tangible - for burnt offerings.  Not until Solomon builds the temple, will these two places of Worship become one place of Worship.

The point is they are both places of Worship.  They are both places where God is worshipped.  They are both places that, just by existing, are a reminder of who God is and what He has done for His people. 

May we always be reminded of what God has done for us and worship Him in all that we say and do; wherever, we may be. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1 Chronicles 15 - Dancing and Singing

Again, the story of David having finally bringing the ark to Jerusalem.  (2 Samuel 6)He confirms that the LORD had been against them the last time because they had sought to bring it in a manner that was against the rule.  This time it will be carried by the appropriate people, that is the Levites. 

It was a time of great celebration!  There was much singing and dancing as they celebrated the return of the ark.  Even King David was out dancing in the street.  His wife, Michal, saw him and dancing and despised him. 

I often sing and dance, not only during worship, but, also as we prepare to worship and sometimes after..  It's not the jumping around kind of dancing, more like gently swaying to the music.  When people are around, my granddaughter likes to appear greatly embarrassed when I do this.  I am not sure if she is really embarrassed or just likes to find something to complain to me about.  I do this less these days, as her embarrassment and comments have kind of curtailed some of my joy.  I don't sing intentionally..  The reality is that it is a natural reaction to the joy I feel within.  Joining together with others to worship God can be very contemplative, but it also brings to me a feeling of hope, of peace, and ultimately joy.  Thanks be to God that He has called us to worship and serve Him!

May God grant that we should all and always joyfully worship and serve Him! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1 Chronicles 14 - The Enemy Within

God has blessed David.  He has blessed him with more wives (David probably thought that was a blessing) and many sons and daughters.  God blessed David with the defeat of his enemies. 

David said, "God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood." (vs 13 ESV)  That verse reminds me of the Psalm (Psalm of David) 23:5  "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." God has broken David's enemies before him.  Often though, I think that our enemies are not so much before us, but within us.  We can be our own worst enemy.  It's easy to blame others for our misfortunes.  It might even be inborn in us to do that.  Adam did it when he blamed Eve.  Or... maybe Adam was blaming God because he gave that woman to him.  Regardless of what Adam did, how often, when we get in a tight spot, do we blame others?  When in reality the enemy who caused the problems dwells within us. 

God blesses us greatly.  He breaks our enemies.  He breaks the enemy within us, so that He might live and dwell in us more fully.  It's a tough lesson when we have to learn it.  May God help us to learn it quickly so that we might enjoy the blessings that He has given us.

Monday, June 11, 2012

1 Chronicles 13

David receives the fear of the LORD.  It's kind of unclear (at least to me) why a man who tries to keep the ark from falling and being damaged is destroyed by God for touching it.  Just seems to me that a little grace could have been applied here.  But, then I am not God and He did give them the rules.  It appears that David has taken a short-cut or two in transporting the ark in the first place.  There were rings in the ark and two poles.  The ark was suppose to be transported by priests carrying it upon their shoulders.  It was not acceptable to move the ark in a cart (even a new one) pulled by oxen.  Also, the reading does not say whether Uzzah was a priest.  He and his brother were simply driving the cart.  For a non-priest to touch the ark was a capital offense.  So his death probably could've been avoided if David had followed God's instructions for moving the ark.  David learns a hard lesson here.  He receives the fear of the LORD.  When he finally moves the ark to Jerusalem, in a couple of chapters, we'll see he has learned this lesson and moves it with poles and it is the priests and Levites who carry it.

This story, too, is a repeat.  You can find it in 2 Samuel 6.  As I started flipping back and forth for comparisons, I was wishing that I had a copy of Walt Wangerin's "Book of God."   It is an excellent novel and I would have loved to read the story of David moving the ark with Walt Wangerin's slant on it this morning.  But, it appears I gave my copy away, again! I keep purchasing them and then giving them away... It is an excellent read!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

1 Chronicles 12 - God's Purpose Finally Fulfilled

All this turning over kingdoms makes me a little sad.  There has been much treachery and death to get to the point where the might men of Israel, in fact it seems, all of Israel, joins David in support of him.  It reminds me that God works through people to achieve His good purposes.  When God told Abraham that he was going to make him a father of nations it took more than a few years for that to be accomplished.  When God appointed David as king, it took way more than a few years for that to be accomplished.  Multitudes of people were involved in David's life as he journeyed to the place where the people would receive him as their king.  It was rough.  But, in the end, the purpose of God is fulfilled. 

The road to the fulfillment is not an easy one.  It takes time.  It takes trial (trial by fire?).  It takes persistance.  But, God is with us every day, with every step of the way .

Saturday, June 9, 2012

1 Chronicles 11 - Sheperd

David, once a shepherd of sheep, is now the shepherd of the people, Israel.  Saul is dead and as God had ordained, David is now the prince over God's people, Israel.  Mighty men surround David in order to secure and make safe Zion (city of David).  They perform some pretty heroic feats in the face of the enemy.  God is with them as He promised.

God is with us.  There are times when maybe we're not so sure.  Things seem bad and we might begin to think that we are not following God's will, that He is not with us.  David is penned in at the garrison.  There is nothing to drink.  Would this not seem to many today that God is not with us?  But, just the opposite is true.  God gives the "three mighty men" the courage and skill to break through the Philistine camp, get to the camp, and bring David back a drink of water.  Which of course David refuses as a true shepherd would never eat or drink before the flock is safe and fed and at this point they are not.

God is with us and he sends shepherds among us to help guide us in His way. 

I was a bit wayward, myself, this morning.  I stopped to go shopping on my way home from camping.  Sorry, I am so late with the blog today.  But, keep on reading even when I am late!

Friday, June 8, 2012

1 Chronicles 10 - Saul`s Suicide

Brief today... In Bark River camping.  Howard has Marine Corps League stuff.  I`ve been working hours trying to get eeePad connected :(

Today`s reading is pretty much a repeat of 1 Samuel 30.  Saul is trapped and instead of being taken by the Philistines, he kills himself.  As we ead the Old Testament, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it is not one book, but many and everything is not in chronological order.  We will find that some of the stories are repeated not only in different books, but even in the same one as with the creation story in Genesis.

Got to go...  Heading for the zoo in Wallace.  God`s peace.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

1 Chronicles 9 - Faith

..."And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith."  (9:1)

The genealogy we read today lists those who first returned to Jerusalem so that they might be returned to the presence of God at/in the temple (tent).  A wonderful reminder that although we are faithless, God is faithful.  His intent is to restore us to a relationship with Him.  I pray often that the hearts and minds of people would be opened so that they would have a better understanding of God's will - His will for us to be restored in relationship to Him.  It is all about relationship.  It is no wonder that so many have such a hard time accepting Christ, when a huge segment of the church on earth, presents that Christianity is about not having to worry about where you're going after you die.  It is presented as an alternative for those who are afraid to die.  In reality, it's not about avoiding consequences or punishment.  It's about relationship.  It is about being restored to God's presence, about living in His presence and peace - now as well as for all eternity.  God was calling the exiles back to His presence which, at the time, was present in the tabernacle. 

I did run into a little bit of difficulty as I read verse 28.  So... the people are being returned to their land after they had been exiled because of their faithlessness.  Now... they have to have guards who count the untensils, apparently, to ensure that none had been stolen... from the tent of God!  Kind of amazes me, that there was the fear and probability that people would steal the untensils from the temple!  Exactly how much faith had been restored to these people?  Sounds to me like they are already on the downward slide to faithlessness. 

I remember as a young adult returning to my home town.  We had been living in California.  I went to the church in the very rural town (Paynesville, MI) I had grown up in, to pray.  It was locked!  I was aghast!  It still bothers me that there are no sanctuaries open 24 hours a day where someone can go just to sit (or kneel) and pray.  I was told the council had decided to lock the church up so no one would be tempted to steal anything.  No one had stolen anything that I heard about.  It was a "just in case" situation.  It's all a very sad reality.  But, I'm not sure which is sadder... the fact that someone might steal from a church or that congregations in small communities trust their neighbors so little that they lock their doors, keeping everyone from entering the sanctuary, except on Sunday mornings.  In many (my guess is most)congregations, it's only a select few who are allowed to have keys to the church and there even may be a designated "keeper of the keys."  :)

God's Peace and may He help us to be more faithful to Him and to all His children. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1 Chronicles 8 - A King from Humble Beginnings

Benjamin's genealogy is small in comparison to the others.  But, again, here is another example of the last being first.  From the last son (Benjamin); from this small tribe, comes the first king of Israel, Saul. (8:33)

It is just one more reminder to us that God calls whom He will call.  And... time and time again, He has and does call those whom the world would least expect to be called.   After a whole history of this calling the least and the last, one would expect that the "church" in Jesus' day would have understood why he ate with sinners and tax collectors; why he called fishermen to follow Him.  After a whole history of this calling the last and the last, one would expect that the "church" today would understand that still; the last shall be first and the first last.  The "church" should probably quit being surprised that He would call the least and the last:  even women and sinners and even fishermen!  Oh my!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that don't every think that you are so little that God cannot use you.  Those who humble themselves are often the first to be used, maybe because their egos don't get in the way of doing God's will. 

God's Peace - Judy 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1 Chronicles 7 - Warriors and Women

They're counting warriors again and it seems to be a goodly number.  But, what's really puzzling me this mornng is why the mention of all the women in these lists of descendants? 

I have not quite figured out the reason scripture would record the females from Manasseh's household and their female descenedants.  I do get the importance (maybe?) of mentioning Sheerah of Ephraim's family.  These were nomadic people.  They lived in tents.  Before she was born, Ephraim's first sons had been killed by the men of Gath who had come to raid their livestock.  In order to better protect her family, she built something a bit more durable, more protective for her family and their possessions.  I can only surmise; maybe, buildings that were more durable and not made of cloth, and walls to keep the livestock a bit safer.  Scripture does not exactly say what it was she built or how or who else was involved; but it does say she built both Lower and Upper Bethhoron and Uzzen-sheerah.

The old testament doesn't usually lift up women. There are exceptions, though.  The exception of Sheerah is a good reminder how each of us use our God-given gifts to the glory of God, but also for the community we live in.  It doesn't matter who you are, you can use those gifts and talents you have to build up the world around you, to make it a more comfortable and peaceful (safe) place for all people to live in. 

It is a bit difficult to read genealogies.  I am never sure whose son or daughter someone is or if we talking about grandchildren.  I found this particulary true for me in the listing of the descendants of Manasseh.  I hope you are fairing better with that than me.  God's Peace... Judy

Monday, June 4, 2012

1 Chronicles 6-The Priests

1 Chronicles 6 gives us the descendants of Levi and their alloted dwelling places including the cities of refuge.  These men, were a people unto themselves.  They were called specific to be separate from the rest of God's people to serve Him in His temple.  They were, one could say a holy nation, yet they lived within a larger nation. 

As those first Levitical priests were called and set aside to serve God, we too have been set aside to serve God.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

We have been called.  We have been chosen as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, to serve not just God in the heavens, whom we cannot see, but to serve all whom we can see, in this world, in the various nations of this world.  We are members of a nation within a nation.  We live in various nations, yet we are not of this world.  We belong to the kingdom of God.

But, always we must remember this call, this separation is from God.  We love and serve Him because He loves us.   Yet, we are holy, not because of the works that we might do, but because of the work that Jesus did for us.  We are holy because of the blood of Christ shed on that cross.  We are not members of this royal priesthood, a holy nation because of anything we or our fathers did.  It does not matter who our father's are or were.  It is not their blood-line that makes us worthy to be members of this royal priesthood, holy nation.  It is the blood of Christ shed for you. 

We are a royal priesthood, a royal nation.  We live and serve in this world, but we are not of this world...

God's Peace - Judy

Sunday, June 3, 2012

1 Chronicles 5 - Reuben: The First Who is Last

The genealogy of the tribes east of the Jordan: Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh is the subject for today's chapter. 

Of course, there is that nice little note that begins the chapter reminding us that Reuben who was the firstborn, became the last.  He lost his birthright to Joseph, who was the 11th out of 12 sons.  Still, Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, the wife whom Israel (Jacob) loved foremost. 

"Reuben lost his birthright because he defiled his father's couch..." (5:1)  That is... he committed incent by sleeping with his father, Jacob's, concubine, Bilhah.  (Gen 35:22, 49:4) Bilhah was the mother of Reuben's half-brother's Dan and Naphtali. 

Relationships seem to have been pretty messy back then.  But, probably no more messy than they are today.  Jealousy, greed, control issues, lust; we continue to run the whole gamut and let the whole gamut of vices run our lives and mess up our relationships. 

It is not God's will that we should live in broken relationships.  He sent His Son that through Him, we should be reconciled to God and one another eternally.  May God help us to live reconciled in peace to Him and one another.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

1 Chronicles 4 - Prayer of Jabez

Among the descendents of Judah, is one Jabez.  In the middle of the list of Judah's descendents is a description of this one obscure son.  He is born in pain.  He is a humble man who prays to the God of Israel, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might nt bring me pain!" (4:10) God answered his prayer.  It does not say how.  It just says he answered this prayer.

Now, I'm thinking the fact that he prayed for these things and God answered has to be pretty important; otherwise, wide would this man's prayer be placed in the middle of this genealogy?  I have heard many critiques of this prayer.  Yet, I pray it often for others, whom I love.  It is a simple prayer.  Jabez asked God to bless him, to keep him from harm and to enlarge his borders or territories.  The critique I've often heard is that the enlarging territories is about riches.  Some would turn Jabez' humble prayer into a selfish prayer. 

However, for the Christian our borders are on the mission field.  We do not look at this prayer with a magical means to fill our pockets, but a prayer that God would bless us with missions, with outreach to the whole world.  Here and why we would wish our borders to be expanded. 

Who would not want their loved ones to be blessed by the LORD, to be kept from harm and know no pain and to have ever expanding borders to proclaim the praises of God?  Oh, LORD, expand our territory so that we might reach out to even more, to the multitudes, with the Good News of your Kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Friday, June 1, 2012

1 Chronicles 3 - David's Large Family

As I read this list of the descendants of David, I was thinking, "Wow, all those wives and concubines!"  In order to take of all those kids, one would have to have lots of wives.  On the other hand, I've known women to bear close to 2 dozen children and they have done quite well raising them.  In fact, at least the ones I've known, have raised very well adjusted children.  When the family is so large they seem, at least to me, like the young people in the family are closer to each other than in many other families.  They take care of each other with older children looking after and helping to care for the younger. 

In this list of descendents we find one daughter listed.  That would be Tamar.  (see 2 Samuel 13) Remember Tamar's brother Amnon?  He tricked her by being ill into coming to wait on him.  Being his sister, she did and was repaid for her kindness by being raped by Amnon.  David knew about it and was was angry, but didn't do anything.  So after waiting two years, her other brother Absalom had their brother Amnon murdered. That did not turn out so well for this large and prestigious family. 

Today, most of us have much smaller families, but do we know what our sons and daughters are doing?  Do we have sufficient oversight of our children to lead them in the way that they should go.  Do we have sufficient oversight of our children to protect them from harm?  (more on that in chapter 4... )

God's Peace - Judy