Monthly Archives: November 2017

1 Chronicles 28; 2 Peter 2; Micah 5; Luke 14

David handed Solomon the plans–equipping him with information that would assist him in the task of building the temple. But it wasn’t just any task–it was a task singled out for Solomon.

God chose David to be a warrior and a leader. God chose Solomon to build the temple.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, NLT.

In a season of changes, I think on what God has called me to do–and what a true privilege to serve the Lord (oh, that I would keep my perspective clear). That he knows my heart, my desires, my every thought–and he makes the same promise: if I seek him, he will be found by me. He is always present. He is always faithful.

First Chronicles 28 speaks of being chosen, of inheritance, of purpose. It speaks of legacy, of equipment, of heart. Whether the task is one of a king leading a nation or another leading a historical building project for the Lord God (or perhaps the quiet and lasting influence of a mother–building a house as the sanctuary)–be strong and do the work.

I speak this to myself: Be wholehearted. Be willing. Be strong and do the work. Seek the Lord.

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. (1 Chronicles 28:20, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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I Chronicles 26, 27, 2 Peter 1, Micah 4, Luke 13

Do you sometimes look for the exceptions in Scripture? That is, does a phrase or description cause you to pause and wonder? I’m studying the Word for the nth time and still surprised by what I missed all those other times. I don’t always approach Scripture with an agenda. I’m not always looking for an answer to prayer or searching for my life’s purpose. When reading the Bible, my curiosity catches a word or phrase and I am bound to circle context and content until I find relevance. For relevance are what all Scripture offers.

Take the many lists of fathers and sons in Chronicles. What pops out to me is the phrase after introducing the eight sons of Obed-Edom – “…for God blessed him,” (I Chron. 26:4-5) What to make of that; are we not blessed who have few or no sons? Or is it that Obed-Edom was blessed because his sons would be tasked with heavy responsibility in the kingdom of God?

“Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shri the first (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him the first,” (I Chron. 26:10). This is yet another example in Scripture where a firstborn lost his heritage to a younger son. Depending on where you stand politically, you might herald this as a great triumph for the last being first. Another might decry, “Unfair!” as Lucy says on A Charlie Brown Christmas, “All I want is what I have coming to me; all I want is my fair share!”

“To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came out…watchman opposite watchman,” (I Chron. 26:16). Ominous, isn’t it? There is this perpetual need for watchmen; the eyes facing out, backs forming a barrier between the unknown dangers without and the trusting protected ones within. Who are our wathcmen?

“Also Jehonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a wise man, a scribe…” (I Chron. 27: 32). Keeping family who know you best in your inner circle can mean accountability and practicality; uncomfortable at times but grounding when needed.

And this much debated truth – God chose holy men to be His spokesmen. “…knowing this first that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” (II Peter 1:20). Thus, the source of all Scripture is God Himself. How reassuring! When I veer off, Scripture draws me back to God’s truth.

“Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…He shall teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’” (Micah 4:2)

Talk about getting grounded! I am reminded not to be fooled or led astray by the automatic negative thoughts that lead to disturbed emotions and unthinkable behaviors toward others.

Jesus debunked false ideas: “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

(Luke 13:4-5)

Lord Jesus, I do not mean to end my wonderings on a seemingly negative note. In fact, I am encouraged by picking out these exceptional verses of Scripture. They remind me of the intense focus you place on speaking to your children from creation to eternity. No matter that I am limited in understanding by my finite, mortal brain. Your Spirit calls to my spirit and I relish in listening, asking for clarification, responding to Your intimate knowing, and surprised repeatedly by Your mysteries. Love You, Lord! Looking forward to the next immersion in Your Word!

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. 24, 25; 1 Pet. 5; Micah 3; Luke 12

Do you really want to know me? Listen to my heart… not my words!

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” Luke 12:1-3.

Probably the hardest times I can remember while growing up were my teenage years… it’s was during those times when I learned that just because I thought I was an expert didn’t mean I was… it also didn’t mean that I could say anything I wanted to, or the way I wanted to. I learned that the hard way as I had a very strict father, dedicated to making sure we walked a rather straight and narrow path! It was during those hard years that I began to learn the meaning of consequences to decisions.

Over time, and through experience, hopefully, we begin to realize that in the real world, we need to monitor ourselves, lest we are destined to repeat the negative consequences of our words and actions. And part of that learning-through-experience process are the things we should and shouldn’t say in relationships, at our job, in school… part of the process of navigating through life. More practically, we develop a filter to prevent the ‘ugly’ from coming out and causing problems in our lives. But then, every once in a while, something goes wrong… we say or do something we didn’t mean to say or do, and wonder, “Where did that come from?” At one extreme, such behaviors may result in fractured relationships or the loss of a job, but at its root, we’re left wondering… what just happened?

Many will disregard the event as a random occurrence, but I believe that this confusing outburst is an indication of something much deeper than happenstance. That perhaps, what comes out through our words and our actions is an indicator of the real condition of our hearts… that the filter that we’ve spent our lives building and honing to monitor and screen the words and actions that pass through us is cloaking the dirtiness within our hearts, hiding those areas of our hearts that are corrupt. And why? Because we’ve failed in our efforts to follow the wisdom expressed by Solomon in Proverbs 4:23… “Above all else… guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Investing more energy and time in strengthening our filter is not the answer. Sure, patching the ‘hole’ in our complex filtering mechanism might buy us some additional “survival time” in life, but at some point, the ugly that is embedded in our hearts will find its way out… again, and again, and again. Luke 12:1-3 speaks directly to this… that “(n)othing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever we have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what we have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” The Message version of this passage, characterizing such behavior as hypocrisy, states “(y)ou can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day is coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

So what is the answer? I believe that in addition to Luke 12, Matthew 15:18-20 speaks to what we need to focus on… our hearts… “But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart… it is from the heart that evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immortality, theft, lying, and slander come.” If we do not focus on guarding our hearts and fight to keep corruption from invading this critical connector to a God-focused life, it is only a matter of time before our complex filtering system is pierced, and our real selves revealed. So, since what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is going on inside of our hearts, we need to be working less on our man-made filters, which are capable of masking what is real, and more on guarding what God is more focused on… our hearts, where all of life springs from.

Heavenly Father… Your son Paul spoke those powerful, yet relatable words “for what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Father, this filtering system that we seem to be so good at cultivating is anything but a gift. And, while our filter has its place, focusing on it, rather than You, and making sure our hearts are clean and guarded, reveals our skewed view of our priorities. So, we ask You, Father… how’s our heart? Help us to learn to monitor and to guard our hearts better, so we can grow in You, so we can have Your life flow through us. Amen!

Greg (gstefanelli)

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1 Chronicles 23; 1 Peter 4; Micah 2; Luke 11

How, how often my mindset reflects a mentality that focuses on pleasing others and finding approval from man. I read the verses in 1 Peter 4 and see myself, so easily entangled.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4 ESV

Instead of an outward focus, I need an upward focus. – to live for the rest of the time in the flesh for the will of God. And why am I shocked and surprised when I am maligned? Am I seeking the approval of man more or instead of the approval of God? My heart ponders.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4 ESV

God’s grace is varied and beautiful, like the people He has created. His reflection is found in the unique snowflake, the multitude of leaf color, the sun’s ever new reflection dancing on the water, the skyscape, the landscape. My heart treasures people- the work of His hands. Creation declares the glory of God. Living open-handed, in the freedom of His forgiveness; the blessedness of grace, enables me to love earnestly, serve as a reflection of God’s varied grace, recognize that the gift I have been given is not the gift of another. And that is good. And that is right. O, the wild freedom I have in Christ. The healing forgiveness. The blessed grace.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[c]

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4 ESV

This passage has been a friend to me in different times and seasons. I think a lot about doing good. Doing good, for me, can be a lot about trusting God in all circumstances and about the orientation of my heart. Just as a turning my heart to capture and offer gratitude changes me from the inside out, so a focus on doing good as unto the Lord works an inward to outward change.  To be insulted and misunderstood for the name of Christ is actually to be blessed (v 14).

I ponder, and my mind needs a realignment toward the values Scripture portrays.

Lord, thank You for Your Word, for Your kindness, for Your beauty, for Your grace. Thank You for Your unending love and infinite understanding. When others misunderstand, or make judgments, I am safe in Your unending goodness and understanding. Help me to be so full of Your love and life, that the natural overflow in each day is one that reflects a passionate, whole-hearted commitment to You.  I need You, Lord.

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

I am a 56 year old middle child and I still have an annoying tendency to whine that I don’t get enough attention. And my older sister continues to carry a mantel of authority as she was responsible for looking out for my younger sister and I while our parents were at work. Adult as we are, we still find ourselves slipping into certain roles unwittingly and then laugh about it, if not roll our eyes at one another.

Here’s the thing, God could have easily switched up the birth order, yet I know for a fact that God has used this to develop certain skills and traits. If this small scale pecking order is something that He has used, how does He use the authority structure of governments, marriages, employers, and the like to shape me for his purposes? The very structures put in place that I chafe against end up being tools in the redemptive hands of God.

Peter instructs, “For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution…” 1 Peter 2:13 and then fleshes out what this means in 1 Peter 3.  And yet these imperfect human institutions that may cause us suffering. Peter says that when we submit, we are actually submitting to Jesus (1 Peter 3:22) who is “at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.”  These are difficult words, yet the one who holds all things together is ultimately in control. Do I really believe this? And under what circumstances should I refuse to submit?

Jesus has given believers a different kind of authority that extends beyond human institutions to usher in the kingdom of God. Jesus declared, “I watched Satan fall from heaven, like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless less, do not rejoice at this that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18

And Peter encourages me to keep my eyes on the one who has everything under him, “Do not fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you and accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” 1Peter 3:13-15.

Do I live as one who believes these passages? Sometimes yes and sometimes, no, but I want to. It’s easy to get hung up on what I what is immediately before me and not see the big picture of God’s truth, but I know that this is where true freedom lies. Like the father of the epileptic, I pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” Mark 9:24 and then trust God to use the imperfect to mold and make me in his image.

Kathy

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1 Chronicles 21; 1 Peter 2; Jonah 4; Luke 9

So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21:2-3

1 Chronicles 21 begins with David sinning against the LORD by taking a census of Israel. This census stemmed from David’s pride and military ambitions and was not according to God’s command. Jesus dealt with His own disciples’ pride in Luke 9 when an argument arises among them over who is the greatest.

But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” Luke 9: 47-48

Jesus shows the disciples the opposite of pride: childlike humility and servitude.  Instead of being prideful, I should instead serve others with humility, thinking of others over myself.

David had to deal with the consequences of his sin, as God sent a terrible pestilence on Israel, killing many Israelites.

And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” 1 Chronicles 21: 15-15b

Even though the Lord punished David and his people, He stops His angel from destroying Jerusalem, mercifully sparing all the people of Jerusalem from His wrath.

God’s mercy shines through again in Jonah, as he sends the prophet to warn the Ninevites of their upcoming destruction if they continued their current path. The Ninevites repented and Jonah was furious at God for not destroying them. God responds, however,

And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:11

God asks Jonah why He should not pity Nineveh and offer mercy and a chance to repent. Jesus found Himself in a similar situation with His own disciples when He was not received in Samaria.

And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he [Jesus] turned and rebuked them. Luke 9: 54-55

Dear God, thank You for Your abundant mercy and grace upon me. Help me to have a heart of humility and servitude instead of pride and to thank You for Your grace. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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1 Chronicles 19, 20; 1 Peter 1; Jonah 3; Luke 8

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Pet 1:1, 2)

Years later, that would be us Peter is addressing—God’s elect. We are strangers in this world; our true home is with God.  We may reside in New York, Houston, Seattle or on any of the other 6 continents.  For now, we live among the saved and unsaved, the righteous and the unrighteous.  We are here for God’s purpose. We are here to share the good news of eternal life through belief in Jesus.  Our sins have been forgiven; we are righteous because of Jesus.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

When I was a little girl, I pictured God sitting in heaven with all these TV screens around him watching us and directing the actions of the world. I always thought of him having one plan and somehow, obviously miraculously, keeping the world in motion and the people interacting.  It never occurred to me he could change his mind.  Yet, in Jonah, we are shown he does.

9”Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:9, 10)

I read those words and they give me hope that God hears me when I cry out to him. Jonah is a book of the bible about a prophet of God going into a gentile nation and telling them God is going to destroy them in 40 days (“Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.”). The people of Nineveh are not Israelites that God has spoken to repeatedly about repenting.  He sent them countless prophets over the years and they did not listen.  Now Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, shows up in Nineveh, walks about the town saying what God told him to say, and the people believed him and repented! They heard and believed! Only by the work of the Spirit could that be possible.

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:11-15)

When we hear the word of God, we have choices of what to do with it. We can allow the devil to take it away from us, we can believe it and follow it for a while but give up when things get tough, we can believe the world over God, or we can hear it, believe it, let it take root in us, and allow it to change us.  The Ninevites believed and were changed.  They experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.

Lord, I thank you that we get second chances. You lavish your grace upon us when we seek forgiveness.  On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many times you have not given me what I deserve but, instead, have loved me—simply loved me.  Continue to work in my life creating good soil so your word can take root in my life.  I need really deep roots to withstand the trials of this life.  I need living water to help your seed produce a crop.  In Jesus name.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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