1 Chronicles 13, 14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

Obedience and consequences of disobedience. Two New Testament passages telling us how to follow God, how to obey his commands, how to live as He intends us. Two Old Testament passages telling us of ruin that resulted from not following Gods commands, from not doing as God said.

James gives us instruction on obedience. He tells us how important it is to do what God tells us to do.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks life. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)

John the Baptist, in Luke 3, instructs the people on how to turn to the Lord and follow Him once more.

“’What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’” Luke 3:10-11

An account of consequence is given in 1 Chronicles 3. Uzzah would have known the rules for moving the ark and he knew the consequence for disobeying the rules.

“When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen had stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

In Amos 8, a statement of consequence is provided. The Israelites have disobeyed the Lord’s commands and He announces the consequences.

Obedience and disobedience. Following and turning away. As I contemplate the relationships between these, I am reminded that obedience to the Lord does not guarantee a perfect life and bad things happen to even those who are most obedient. It’s a fallen world. Yet I strive to obey God to please Him, to experience a strong relationship with Him and to love Him.

Thank you Lord, for providing the Bible, a written reminder, a constant source to help me follow You. I fall so short of Your intentions for me by not fully obeying your instructions. Thank You for Your infinite Grace and never-ending Mercy. Help me to obey Your words so that I can live fully in Your blessing. Amen

Diona

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1 Chronicles 11, 12; Hebrews 13; Amos 7; Luke 2

In 1 Chronicles 11, David becomes king over Israel.

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord through Samuel.” (1 Chron. 11”3)

Amos 7 is about visions seen by the minor prophet.

Hebrews 13 contains a commonly heard verse:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

(Hebrews 13:8)

But it’s the Christmas account found in Luke 2 that is the most meaningful to me as we approach the season of Advent.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give

    birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped

    Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no

    Room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

    “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the

    Heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the

    Highest, and on Earth peace among men with whom His is

    Pleased.’” (Luke 2: 13-14)

    “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told

    them by the shepherds, But Mary treasured all these things,

    pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:18-19)

Lord, help us to be like Mary and treasure how You came to be with us over 2,000 years ago.  When the busyness of the holidays hits with full force, help us to reflect on the true meaning of it all and give You all the glory.

Amen,

Kellie

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1 Chronicles 9, 10; Hebrews 12; Amos 6; Luke 1: 39-80

Today’s piece I’m going to keep short and sweet. It doesn’t happen often, but I am so blessed to visit with my family in South Africa for a few weeks. This allows me the opportunity to discuss the readings with my Dad face to face. His insights are invaluable. Our discussion on today’s readings led me to a theme of complete opposites. I’m talking about the contrast between the demise of mighty Saul and the rise of humble Mary. This is what I’d like to share today.

1 Chronicles 10: 13-14

 13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Luke 1: 46-55

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

A great and wonderful example of how we should behave as Christians isn’t it? Humbling ourselves to the Lord and the world because as we see in these passages above how the mighty are humbled and the humble made mighty. Let us be humble and follow the Almighty and He will lift us up and we will be mighty!

God bless

Neil

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1 Chronicles 7, 8; Hebrews 11; Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38

Two chapters chronicling fathers and sons (and some daughters). Some names carried a distinction of accomplishment, and other names just that–full lives lived and breathed, a lifetime reduced to the very essence of a name.

Hebrews and a faith legacy. I slow here–familiar names and stories. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses. The many others, unnamed:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:35b-40, NLT.

Unnamed, but remembered–not by glitz or glamor, but by grit, perseverance, sacrifice and faith.

Considering the Advent season, and holding tight to word and promise.

37 For no word from God will ever fail. Hebrews 11:37, NLT.

Hope. Promise. Truth.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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I Chronicles 5, 6; Hebrews 10; Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Sometimes I am conflicted about the will of God in my life. “Should I move or should I stay” is a line in a Third Day song that mimics my own questions. When nothing seems to be working out as I would like or had expected, I doubt my heart and look for sin or some other barrier deafening me to God’s will. I feel like the rejected firstborn or one of a whole lineage of people that God judged as unfaithful. When I search my heart I see the after effects of trauma, unresolved grief, periods of isolation from God’s community of believers, and the constant dripping of remorse. Still, I hold tenaciously to Jesus Christ, the One who knows me intimately – my Creator. Amos 4:13 says,

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, who declares to man what his heart is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth…the Lord God of hosts is His name.”He is the One who declares what my heart is – no matter that I am unaware of this heart’s condition.

Even when convicted of sin, my Lord Jesus does not leave me. He could have. He could have saved only Israel through the Levitical practice of offering sacrifices and left me in the dust. I Chronicles 6:49 describes the importance of the high priest’s function:

“But Aaron and his sons offered sacrifices on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel…” However, Jesus Christ, said to God,

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices of sin You had no pleasure. Then I [Christ] said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God,’”(Hebrews 10:5-7).

That once and for all sacrifice, that unwavering willingness of Christ to die for me, that love and understanding of my human frailty, is my inspiration to hold fast to what I know: God is faithful even when I cannot readily see His will for me. He encourages me through Scripture, through friends, through study, and through prayer.

“And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

For example, I was reminded yesterday by one of my ‘golden’ friends to praise God in all things – in my sorrow, in my joy, in my confusion, in the most difficult and dark times. And today, God punctuated His reminder to praise Him as I read the last three chapters in the Book of Psalms which exhort Creation from “the heavens to the human heart,” (commentary) to praise God for His mighty works, for the assembly (the church), to praise God for His salvation and judgments, and finally for all things to praise Him:

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 148-150).

So, my Lord God, with the breath You have graciously given me to know Your heart and to breathe in Your love for me, I praise You today – in word, in deed, in song, in quietness, and in loud “Halleluiahs!” You have a way of cutting through the fog and clearing the path to see that You are before me, always with me, and upholding me through all that has been and is to come. Most wonderful of all, I praise You for Your very Presence even now! Thank You Jesus, Lord and Savior!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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1 Chron. 3, 4; Heb. 9; Amos 3; Ps. 146, 147

I don’t want you to prove you are powerful… I want you to show, through your actions, that you are mine…

His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Psalm 147:10-11

Recently, I received an e-mail from a former student asking if I would take a survey she had created for a theology class. When I inquired as to “why me?”, she replied, “because you’re a very religious man.” I believe I understood what she meant, but it caused me to reflect more deeply on her choice of words. Through my student’s eyes, am I religious because she doesn’t see an alignment between my words and my actions? Or was it simple case of using a word to mean something deeper. For those who know me, I don’t want to be remembered as a “religious man”, but rather a man who lived his life devoted to his Savior, living, through action, the model of a man that Jesus demonstrated.  I want to be known as a child of God… that my life now should be a demonstration of words, aligned with action, through understanding of scripture and an intimate relationship with Jesus.

So… this reflection offers the question… if you could make sure the world remembered one thing about you, what would that one thing be? Would it be for the kindness you expressed to others? How about having worked hard to get that great job? Or perhaps for becoming financially secure?

While these are noteworthy achievements, it is important that we remain mindful that we were created for higher purpose… that when it comes down to it, it feels wonderful knowing that the energy we used was spent on worthwhile endeavors. No one enjoys feeling useless. Yet, if we get too caught up in our own agendas, or maintaining a “me” mentality, we have the potential of losing focus on God’s plan and His desires for our lives. More than anything else, He wants us to be His… particularly, our hearts.

He cares more about the condition of our soul, and us belonging to Him, than any credential we could earn on Earth. He desires that our lives plant spiritual seeds, and that our successes to point others, not to ourselves, but to Him!

Now… back to the original question… more than anything else… will we be seen and remembered as being a child of God first, above all things?

Father… I am overwhelmed knowing that I belong to You… It is an amazing gift, but one that can easily be neglected. I never want to be known as religious, but as Your child who seeks relationship with His Savior through actions. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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1 Chronicles 1; 1 Chronicles 2; Amos 2; Psalm 145; Hebrews 8

1 Chronicles 1,2-

The genealogies. Each name represents a life; a living, human body who loved and fought. A person who felt heat and hunger; love and loss. The list of names rolls down the page and I study it… with inadequate eyes. The little epitaphs attached after some. What power in few words to live forever in God’s Holy Word?

Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty man. (1:10 ESV)

OR

The son[a] of Carmi: Achan, the troubler of Israel, who broke faith in the matter of the devoted thing; (2:7 ESV)

The names are more than just a list. But- their puzzle (the full picture of it all) is inexplicable to me.

Psalm 145

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. ESV

The season of Thanksgiving and the sacred days of Advent are upon me… or so soon to be. My heart quickens… these days offer special opportunity to commend my God to my children. The festivities, traditions, and rituals provide a framework to imbue living faith and a spiritual heritage. I want these days to be… I want my life to be… pouring forth the fame of God’s abundant goodness; singing aloud the glory of His righteousness. In Amos 2, I see the Lord’s anger at His people’s disregard of His holiness and righteousness. O, that I may prize Your holiness, my God- and treasure the purity of Your righteousness. May I never turn away to be given over to the baseness of a flesh that finds its life away from You.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your[b] mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations. ESV

It is a special, slowing time to pause and reflect- this November/December season-but I pray that I will always have a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving. May my heart always lift to speak the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your real power in my daily every day life.

Hebrews 8

But as it is, Christ[b] has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

 

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.” ESV emphasis mine

The realization of the much more excellent Way I have in Christ is astonishing.  The Old Testament readings show again, again – a people whose heart was far from the Lord. He is relentless in His love and faithfulness. He makes a way for hearts to be for Him. Near Him. The unrelenting mercy is like a cleansing flow. It is clean water wash for my needy soul. To stand in the healing waters, and be mended, whole, restored, …white as snow. How precious to be in the Beloved of God.

Lord, I lift my heart to You. Quicken my heart to Your more excellent Way. Help me live for You each day and may I commend Your works to the next generation with power and faithfulness. Help me draw near to You, that You will draw near to me. Thank You for Your mercy.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Psalm 145:8,9 ESV

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

 

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