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Nehemiah 8:9-11:21

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned away from God.

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Nehemiah 9:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned to God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

36 But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:32-37, NIV, emphasis added)

I sit with these scenarios. Sin. Choice. Slavery. In the first, wanting to return to it. In the second, slaves again. I read these words, just now, and know that I will sit with them throughout the day.

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to guard my heart–to remember your goodness and all that you’ve done; to not become hardened or unwilling to serve you. While (kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors) made decisions that affected me, I am still and only responsible for my obedience to you. Help me to live in the free indeed found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 29-31

Hezekiah takes an honest look. But more than that, he takes action.

Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” (2 Chronicles 29:6-11, NIV, emphasis added)

And by his order and example, the people follow.

He extends an invitation to celebrate Passover to neighboring areas.

10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:10-12, NIV, emphasis added)

God’s hand, their feet.

What starts at home works outward. A parent’s heart and choices. The involvement in the faith community. The effects of action and attitude in a whole region.

I was not raised in a Christian home, but I thank God for people who were and all those who came to know the Lord later–who took their calling seriously to share the Gospel with me, to tell me his name. But this presses on me: home is a powerful influence. When my children are grown and gone, it still starts in my home. What I watch. What I read. What I say and do. Who am I when it is just me?

Do not be negligent now

This reading speaks of wholeheartedness, abundance, faith, joy, prosperity. It even speaks of scorn, ridicule, abandonment/negligence, and faithlessness. It shows me the fruitful, joyful life and relationship with God, and the difficulty and attitudes one will face in the journey. Oh, do not be negligent now

20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:20-21, NIV)

Lord, help me to take an honest look at my life. When I wonder where I can make changes, immediately I know: my heart. I’ll start there. And I know that’s exactly where you’ll meet me.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 29:20-30; 2 Chronicles 1:1-4:10

I think on the the things that belong to God. If he is their God, are they not his too?

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king. (1 Chronicles 29:20, NIV)

The Lord’s presence is felt and acknowledged.

21 The next day they made sacrifices to the Lord and presented burnt offerings to him: a thousand bulls, a thousand rams and a thousand male lambs, together with their drink offerings, and other sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. 22 They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day.

Then they acknowledged Solomon son of David as king a second time, anointing him before the Lord to be ruler and Zadok to be priest. (1 Chronicles 29:21-22, NIV, emphasis added)

I notice his presence.

Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great. (2 Chronicles 1:1, NIV, emphasis added)

Solomon goes to meet the Lord and offer sacrifices. And the Lord meets him.

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:7-12, NIV)

When I realize what is the Lord’s, it changes things. My time. My life. My body. My ability. My home. My family. These are things the Lord has given me to steward for a time. And when I face this reality, why would I lean on my own limited understanding? Why would I not seek the Lord for his infinite wisdom?

Lord, when I prepare to work today, may I remember you in all the things. When I clean, when I weed, when I run, when I eat, when I interact with others–may I care for what you’ve given me with respect, tenderness and love. When Israel’s sacrifices were of the best, why wouldn’t I bring my best to you too? I want you in all the parts of my life. Without you, I wither and shrink. With you, I grow and thrive, fruitful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover, Old Testament

1 Chronicles 6:31-8:28

A name. A legacy. A portion. A purpose. Chronicles tells me who, what, where and how.

Musicians used their talent to worship the Lord.

31 These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. 32 They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. (1 Chronicles 6:31-32, NIV)

Others served the Lord with their hearts.

48 Their fellow Levites were assigned to all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God. 49 But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense in connection with all that was done in the Most Holy Place, making atonement for Israel, in accordance with all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. (1 Chronicles 6:48-49, NIV)

And still others served Him with their strength.

40 All these were descendants of Asher—heads of families, choice men, brave warriors and outstanding leaders. The number of men ready for battle, as listed in their genealogy, was 26,000. (1 Chronicles 7:40, NIV)

In these lineages of people, I find it interesting the few phrases that highlight their actions–the whole of a life condensed into a sentence or two. What stands out as well: the service and the willingness to work for the Lord.

This past weekend, I ran a race. I stayed around for the awards ceremony. I watched people receive an award for firsts in their age group. I felt a sadness that certain things had not been valued in my family lineage, and I admit I envied the youngest athletes for their opportunity–that their families valued endurance and fitness. But it was pointless to let my thoughts land there. I give thanks to God for His intervention in my life–I may not have been raised to pursue (certain things, qualities, or even the Lord). But because of God, I can live out a portion of my life pursuing Him, loving Him, serving Him. Whenever I run (or write, or learn something new, or work towards something), I keep my eyes on the Lord. He is my Good Father who sings over me, guides me, teaches me, encourages me, loves me. He is my portion.

Father God, I may not have had the best start, but because of you, I can finish well. Thank you that you loved me enough to have a relationship with me, invest in me, and watch over me. Thank you for showing me what matters, for giving me opportunities to bring you glory, and for showing me you keep your promises. You have grown my faith, my trust, my hope, my love, and you have given me endurance. Please help me to keep a kingdom focus and to honor you with my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 10:25-14:10

27 They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.

28 So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29 However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. (2 Kings 10:27-29, NIV, emphasis added)

In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. (2 Kings 12:1-3, NIV, emphasis added)

In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son. (2 Kings 13:1-3, NIV, emphasis added)

When someone new steps up to lead, I think there’s a hope that things would change for the better. A new politician, a new boss … even as a kid, I remember thinking, “When I’m a grown-up, I’m not going to do (that)!”

The reading today reminds me of a pendulum swaying side to side–a move towards improvement, a move towards decline. One way an effort to clear out the bad, another way a means to usher it in. I notice, though, even in the better times, sin lingers waiting in the wings.

Lord, where are the places in my life that I’ve left a door open to let sin gain a foothold? When I’m following after you, show me any places I’ve neglected to take seriously that offend you. Help me to turn from it all. I don’t want my life or example to be marked like Jeroboam’s. Thank you for this caution.

Courtney (66books)

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