Thursday, February 15: 2Chronicles 11- The hand of God.

The opening of this chapter gives me pause…

When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered Judah and Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam. But this word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God: “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your fellow Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ ” So they obeyed the words of the LORD and turned back from marching against Jeroboam (1-4, bold underling mine).

So God is behind the splitting up of the kingdom?

When I read things like this I find myself holding tightly to Isaiah’s words about God’s ways and thoughts being higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8) because I don’t really understand. I don’t understand how breaking up His people pushes His will and agenda forward. But God is God and this is one of many instances where surrender and trust come in. I surrender and trust His Word and His will and way.

I know some people who believe that certain countries have the blessing of God upon them and that it is God’s will that they succeed. This might be so, however, when I read passages like the one above I also realize that our human way of seeing and understanding things does not necessarily align with God’s. For a few centuries God used Rome for the birth and great expansion of His New Covenant agenda. But then God brought Rome to an end and His will was still advanced. I don’t see God being tied to any one country or any one people. He lifts up and pulls down as He sees fit to best serve the advance of His kingdom and agenda.

These thoughts remind me that while I love my country, even with its faults and problems, God is not bound to keep us prospering. For my part, and our part, I (we) need to remain faithful to Him and by His grace He will watch over us.  Should God choose to reduce us as He did Israel or Rome, I still need to remain faithful. Remaining faithful is my calling as a Christ Follower in good times and in bad.

There are so many things about the Lord and His will and way I do not comprehend, but I cannot let this negatively affect my faithfulness to Him, who saved me by His grace.

Lord, I bow to You. You are Lord God, Almighty; I am not. I am a mere servant, part of Your creation. I will trust in You… Alleluia. Amen.

 

Wednesday, February 14: 2Chronicles 10- .

I have read about Rehaboam assentation to the throne of Israel many times and it seems each time I focus and ponder his choice of counselors. But this morning was different. I found myself contemplating a comment about his father, Solomon’s governance.

In verse 4 we read Jeroboam’s complaint about Solomon: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Having just read the chapters on Solomon there was no indication that he put a heavy yoke on this people. Certainly Solomon was a builder, but it seemed like he put the heavy burden of building on the shoulders of the foreigners (see chapter 8). However, this comment said that there was a huge burden put upon everyone. I don’t know how Solomon treated his people, but it was clear that the glories of this kingdom came at a price. David was beloved, Solomon was not.

As the account unfolds, the people actually revolt when they do not get word that Jeroboam  would ease their burden. Maybe it was taxes. Maybe he required manual service by the men. We don’t know but, whatever it was, people were willing to revolt over it!

I found myself wondering about the price the people paid for Solomon’s glory. It is sad that many people build their glory on the backs of average people. Solomon apparently did.

Jesus was not fan of this, saying that His disciples weren’t to lord it over others but rather serve them (Mark 10:xx)

Am I a server or a user of other people?

Are you? Think about it…

O, God, give me a servant’s heart, I pray. In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

Tuesday, February 13: 2Chronicles 9- .

As I was reading this chapter Solomon’s wealth, one might even call it opulence, struck me. The Queen of Sheba was impressed with his wisdom, the lavishness of his palace, and presentation of his food that won her over (3-4). It struck me that there was minimal mention of the temple. For all the beauty of the temple it was Solomon’s lifestyle that grabbed her.

I wondered about the lavish displays and the amount of gold pouring in. I wondered if the people lived in poverty or if he cared for them. Power and fame and money have a corruption influence on most humans and his story in Kings suggested that he did in fact succumb to these temptations.

As I was noodling on all this and continuing my read I came to verses 30&31: Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father…

It hit me, he rested with his ancestors. We all face death… the wealthy, the poor, the wise and foolish. Yes, we all face death and in death our wealth & wisdom count for nothing. Only faithfulness to the Lord matters.

We can’t buy our way into eternity. We can’t argue or talk our way into eternity. The only entrance door to eternity is faith in Jesus. And Jesus requires that we surrender all to Him. So we may be wealthy, but how does He want us to use our wealth? We may be wise, but how does he want us to use our wisdom? These are the kinds of thoughts that should drive us. How can we best serve the Lord who loves us…

And that is a thought worth chewing on today…

Lord, I am Yours, bought with the price of Jesus’ sacrifice. How might I best serve You today, and all of my todays? I pray in His name. Amen.

 

Monday, February 12: 2Chronicles 8- Small deviations can become large problems.

 

Recently I have been reading the story of the US Apollo Moon Project. It was an incredible story of human ingenuity, grit, determination and some fortuitous ‘luck.’ To reach the moon astronauts would have to perform routine mid-course corrections, small rocket firings at precise times to keep the spacecraft on the correct trajectory. Given the vast distance between the earth and the moon even a small degree off course meant that the spacecraft would miss its orbit by 10s of thousands of miles. Small deviations can become large problems.

Reading this chapter I noticed seemingly incidental small deviations from God’s stated will. Although they didn’t seem like much, I know that in the history of Israel they created significant problems.

In verse 11, Solomon brings his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, to the palace he built for her saying, “My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the LORD has entered are holy.” As I read this I wondered, “What about God’s injunction not to marry foreign women??? Didn’t this count for a king?” Of course it did.  And yet, matter of fact, the text announced what Solomon did.

No correction, no recognition that this was not God’s will and over time this small sin grew into a large problem for Solomon who was led astray by his many pagan wives.

Then in verses 7-8 we read how Solomon continued to force the foreign people who were never conquered in the land. There were still people left from the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these people were not Israelites). Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these people remaining in the land—whom the Israelites had not destroyed—to serve as slave labor, as it is to this day (7-8). What Solomon did with them seemed wise but I wondered why didn’t God command Israel to take the land way back in Joshua. Israel never completed that task… and these peoples were constantly a snare for Israel.

Another small deviation from God’s announced will that became a major problem.

Finally, I needed to turn to myself… “Am I allowing small deviations from God’s announced will to linger in my life?” If so, they can become snares for me creating larger problems in my life. The answer is mid-course corrections, which in my spiritual life means self-examination, repentance and confession. Never fun. Always spiritually worthwhile…

Think about it.

Open my eyes, Lord, and help me to see myself for who I am… to face my failings and to confess them to You. Help me to live, understanding that spiritual mid-course corrections are what will get me home safely. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

 

Saturday, February 10: 2Chronicles 7.

I was captivated by the immensity of the sacrifice. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God (5, underline mine). 144 thousand animals sacrificed. Even if that is describing the 7 days of worship that is over 20,000 animals sacrificed a day for 7 days!

On many levels I cannot fathom those numbers. I can’t imagine the amount of work necessary to butcher all those animals, the fires needed to sacrifice them, and the streams of blood (because all the blood needs to be drained before they are burned).

What a celebration… what an extravagant celebration of praise to the Lord!

I am trying to fathom a comparable worship event… honestly, I can’t.

Then again, this was a momentous event. God was establishing a permanent physical presence with the dedication of the temple. And so a level of worship unseen before is warranted.

As I was writing this, I thought, “Yes, there was a comparable momentous event. The incarnation of Jesus… the one and only son born in Bethlehem.”  And for that event, God arranged for a heavenly choir and chorus of angels to mark that event. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).

God is worthy of praise and worship… this thought washes over me like a wave pounding the beach shore…

Yes, God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit –is most worthy of praise.

What a wonderful devotion as I prepare to gather with God’s people tomorrow in worship!

Lord, may we raise the roof in adoration of You tomorrow when we gather to celebrate You tomorrow. Fill our gathering with Your presence and allow us to declare Your praise for all the world to hear. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Friday, February 9: 2Chronicles 6.

My time with the Lord was interesting this morning. As I sat down to read this amazingly faithful temple dedication prayer by Solomon, swimming in the back of my head was the thought, ‘How did such a faithful man stray so far from the Lord’?

I know the Solomon’s story well enough to know that his many wives led him astray. I kept wondering, how did that happen?  Deep down inside I was not as concerned about Solomon as I was about me…

If the man who prayed this prayer fell, then anyone could fall. Such was my reasoning.

My desire was to know what I could do to maintain faithfulness. The thought that kept rising to the top as I pondered this question, from one angle and another is spiritual vigilance…

Staying with the Lord day in and day out.

Regular examination of my life under the scrutiny of the Word and Spirit.

Confession and repentance.

Regular worship with the body of Christ.

Accountability with other brothers.

And the like…

Oh, yes, trusting in the perseverance of the saints, trusting that God will bring those He has called home to eternity with Him.

Romans 8vv

In all of this Lord, what I cling to most strongly is Your right arm. You will preserve my life and bring me to glory. I am not absolving myself from doing the spiritual disciplines needed to grow and mature, but my trust is not in me. It is in YOU! Alleluia to the God Most High! Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen

 

Note: my burdened heart lifted as I realized my fate is in God’s hands. Alleluia.

 

Thursday, February 8: 2Chronicles 5- .

This chapter closes with the placing of the ark in the holy of holies. At that point we read, The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.”

Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God (13-14).

The imagery of the cloud filling the temple reminded me of the cloud God filled as He led Israel through the desert… cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus xx).

I found myself contemplating the presence of God… here God’s presence is experienced in the cloud. In Theophanys it is through the Angel of the Lord. Moses also experienced the Lord in the still small voice (xx). Most perfectly, humankind has experienced the presence of the Lord in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh (John 1:1-14).

The presence of God has born His people through across the ages. Moses at one point refused to continue if the presence of God was not with him (Exodus bb).  So important is the presence of God.

How have I and how do I experience the presence of the Lord?

--In the stillness of my quiet time as God gives me a thought or understanding in the text.

--As I speak with Him in prayer and sense His answer or His nearness.

--In worship, particularly in those moments of community praise, when our hearts joined together seem to soar to the throne.

--In moments of hush in worship or in private when I feel enveloped by the Lord.

--When I am engaged is service and ministry for and with Him.

--When the Spirit releases a spiritual gift for ministry.

These are among the many ways I have and do experience the Lord’s presence. How about you?

Oh, Lord, praise be to You for Your presence. Thank You for allowing me to experience You and to do so in different ways… a reminder that You are beyond full understanding. Open my heart that I might seek You and long for You all the days of my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.