Devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God

5 01 2013

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN : 1 Chronicles 19 v. 1 – 22 v. 1; 1 Corinthians 1 v. 18 – 2 v. 5; Psalm 91 v. 1 – 8
1 Chronicles 22_19

1 CHRONICLES
Preparations for the Temple – David assembles the ‘aliens’ / foreigners now living in Israel and appoints some to be stonecutters, to build ‘the house of God’. Large quantities of iron, bronze and cedar were provided also.
David makes extensive preparations for the temple before his death, saying, ‘My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendour…’
David charges Solomon with the building of the temple: ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God….but the word of the Lord came to me : ‘you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest…his name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my name. He will be my son and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.’

Though we may have it in our heart to see something done, sometimes it is God’s will that another undertakes it….here God gives his reason to David, ‘because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight…’

David blesses his son, ‘the Lord be with you…may the Lord give you discretion and understanding….be strong and courageous…do not be afraid or discouraged.’
He outlines all he has done in preparation for the temple (gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone – stonecutters, masons, carpenters, craftsmen).
David orders all Israel’s leaders to help Solomon; after all the battles won, ‘now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.’ They are to do this by building the sanctuary of the Lord God, and then to bring the ark of the covenant to it.

The Levites – In his old age, David passes the kingdom on to his son, Solomon. He gathered all Israel’s leaders, priests and Levites. All the Levites over 30 years old were counted – there were 38,000. David appoints 24,000 to supervise the construction of the temple, 6,000 are to be judges and officials, 4,000 are to be gatekeepers, and 4,000 are to be musicians, praising the Lord (David provides all the instruments!!).
The Levites are then divided into groups, corresponding to Levi’s sons:

Gershonites – the names of the Gershonites are listed, from Ladan and Shimei (two of Shimei’s sons did not have large families of their own, ‘so they were counted as one family with one assignment – thoughtful!)

Kohathites – the names of the Kohathites are listed, from Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel (including Aaron and Moses; Aaron’s side being set apart ‘to consecrate the most holy things..‘)

Merarites – the names of the Merarites are listed, from Mahli and Mushi.

All the descendants of Levi, and the heads of the families are listed and registered – workers aged 20 and over. Now that Israel is at rest and God ‘has come to dwell in Jerusalem’, the priests are not needed to carry the tabernacle from place to place.
Now the duty of the Levites was to help serve in the temple of the Lord, in charge of courtyards, side rooms, purification rituals, performance of duties in God’s house; setting bread on the table, flour, unleavened wafers, baking, mixing, measuring; ‘they were to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord…and in the evening’, and at all the times of sacrifice – they were to serve ‘in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them’.
And so the Levites did everything as instructed, carrying out their responsibilities, under their brothers the descendants of Aaron.

1%20cor%202%209

1 CORINTHIANS
Wisdom from the Spirit – After all the contrasts of wisdom, folly, strength, weakness in chapter one, Paul says that we do have a message of wisdom for those maturing in Christ. This wisdom is not ‘of this age or of the rulers of the age’. This is God’s secret wisdom, hidden from so many for so long, but now revealed for the glory of those who receive it.
‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him – ‘ (Isaiah 64 v. 4)
It is by the Spirit of God, that these things are revealed.

The secret wisdom is God’s plan for salvation, revealed ‘freely’ and most perfectly in the cross – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is the Spirit of God who reveals this to our spirit.

It is the Spirit who searches deeply in us, and in God, too – ‘no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.’
We have received the Spirit of God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
We are able to speak, then, words taught by the Spirit, not by human wisdom – ‘expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words’.
Those who are without the Spirit find the words spoken just foolishness – ‘he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned’.
Those who are spiritual, have the mind of Christ – ‘for who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may intrust him?’

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour, live in me from day to day
By His love and power controlling all I do or say….AMEN.

PSALM 91
My Lord, my God, when we make You, the Most High Lord,
our refuge, our safe-place,
then nothing can touch us, no disaster defeat us.

My Lord, my God, You commission angels to guard us,
to lift us up,
to watch our step,
to save us from danger and harm
(even the deadly lion and cobra are no match for You)

My Lord, my God, You are motivated by love for me.
You rescue me.
You protect me.
You know that I seek to honour Your name, Your renown.





Wisdom and folly…the cross.

4 01 2013

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN : 1 Chronicles 19 v. 1 – 22 v. 1; 1 Corinthians 1 v. 18 – 2 v. 5; Psalm 91 v. 1 – 8
psalm 91

1 CHRONICLES
The Battle Against the Ammonites – Nahash, King of the Ammonites dies, and David sends a message to his son, the new King, Hanun, expressing his sympathy (Nahash had been kind to David); the king’s nobles, however, suspect David is sending them to spy, so Hanun has them seized, shaved and shamed (by exposing their bottoms, cutting their garments ‘in the middle at the buttocks’) before sending them away; David hears about this and sends messengers to meet them, telling them to stay in Jericho until their beards have grown back – ‘for they were greatly humiliated’.
It dawns on the Ammonites that they are in trouble with David now (‘they had become an offence to David’s nostrils’ – they stink !!), so they muster themselves for battle, hiring 32,000 chariots / charioteers, camping near Medeba.
David responds, sending Joab and the entire army out. They see that they have battle lines in front (Ammonites) and behind (kings in the open country), so Joab sends his best troops against the Arameans, and the rest (under the command of his brother, Abishai) against the Ammonites, pledging each will rescue the other if they cannot manage – ‘Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.
Both the Arameans and the Ammonites flee before the Israelites, and Joab returns to Jerusalem.
The Arameans muster more support (with Shophach, the commander of Hadadezer’s army), from beyond the river. David responds by taking the whole Israelite army across the Jordan, battling against them until they fled (the Arameans lost 7,000 charioteers, and 40,000 foot soldiers). The commanders of the Aramean army were also killed. The Arameans make peace with David, and do not side with the Ammonites again.
Another victory for David and his army.

The Capture of Rabbah – It’s springtime – ‘the time when kings go off to war’ – and Joab leads out the Israelite army. They destroy the Ammonite city of Rabbah, and David takes the crown from the king of Rabbah – it contains a talent of gold and many precious stones. David claims the crown for himself, and returns to Jerusalem, with the army. All the Ammonite towns are conquered in this way. The Ammonites are captured and put to work (with saws and axes and iron picks).

War with the Philistines –
At Gezer, war breaks out with the Philistines. Various battles are mentioned, and various people in those battles are named. The Philistines are ‘subjugated’, defeated and conquered. There is a Goliath mentioned (killed by Elhanan), and also a ‘huge man with six fingers and six toes on each hand/foot. David’s nephew, Jonathan, defeats him.
Surely a reminder of David’s great victory over the giant, Goliath.

David Numbers the Fighting Men –
Satan incites David to conduct a census, ‘rising up against Israel’.
In the same report in 2 Samuel 24, it is the Lord who incites David to number Israel. Although there may be many possible reasons why the later version here mentions Satan rather than the Lord, many commentators talk of God allowing Satan to test David (as He does over Job).
Joab and the troops are commissioned to count the Israelites ‘from Beersheba to Dan’.
Joab challenges David : ‘Why does my Lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?’
David overrules Joab and the census begins. Joab reports back to Jerusalem, telling David there are 1,100,000 fighting men (470,000 in Judah).
However Joab chose not to include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, because he disapproved of the task – ‘this command was also evil in the sight of God, so he punished Israel’.
David acknowledges his guilt before God, and seeks forgiveness. Through a seer, God gives David three options (three years of famine, or three months of enemy attack, or three days of plague), asking him to choose one. David is truly distressed by the choice, but chooses to be in the hands of God, not men; so the plague hits for three days and kills 70,000 men. The plague is inflicted by the angel of the Lord, who has to be stopped by God from completely destroying Jerusalem.
‘David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell face down.’
David pleads that he, who is guilty of the decision to conduct the census, should bear the brunt of the hand of God. David is instructed to build an altar at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite (where the angel of the Lord stopped his destruction of Jerusalem). Araunah sees both the angel and then David, who offers to buy his threshing-floor for the full price. Araunah offers to give David his threshing-floor, but also animals, wood and grain for offerings. David insists on buying it all…
‘I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’
David pays Araunah 600 shekels of gold, and builds the altar, sacrificing there. ‘He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.’
The angel of the Lord is instructed to put his sword away.
David has established a new altar, and proclaims, ‘The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel’, the tabernacle and altar already present at the high point of Gibeon.

When I think of angels, I tend to think of agents of protection, heralds of glad tidings; here there is an angel of death and destruction. For David and the Israelites, there is a dreadful consequence for his sinfulness. Praise God for Jesus, and for the ‘foolishness of the cross’ – the power of salvation.

1%20Corinthians%201-18%20-%20Before%20The%20Cross

1 CORINTHIANS
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God –
‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of
God…’
Of course it doesn’t make sense – it was never intended to.
Paul quotes from Isaiah 29 to indicate that the wise and the intelligent will be frustrated by this news.
No human wisdom, no scholarship, no philosophy can comprehend this.
God makes fools of this world’s wise ones. ‘God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe’.
Jews may demand signs, Greeks seek for wisdom, ‘but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’.
God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom; God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Lord, I seek Your wisdom; I yearn for Your strength.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that not many of them were wise, or influential, or noble, before they were called.
‘But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise
and the weak things of the world to shame the strong;
He chose the lowly…and despised things of this world…so that no-one may boast before
Him.’
Our boasting can only be in the Lord, our wisdom – our righteousness, our holiness, our redemption.

Paul reminds them that he himself came with no eloquence or superior wisdom, just a testimony of God’s goodness.
‘For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’.
Though Paul’s message may have been delivered weakly, fearfully, hardly persuasive, yet ‘the Spirit’s power’ was evident – the power of God leading others to faith.

All that is needed, Lord, is to KNOW You, as crucified, resurrected Saviour –
thank You that You are our righteousness;
Spirit, be our holiness, in every moment, for all time.
AMEN.

PSALM 91
My Lord, my God,
those who take shelter in You, most High God,
rest peacefully in the cool of Your Almighty shadow.
‘You are my sanctuary, my stronghold,
my Lord, my God, I put my trust wholeheartedly in You.’

You save me from deadly traps, and fatal diseases.
You protect me, cushion me, as a bird protects its young,
beneath its feathers.
Your faithfulness shields me.
No darkness of night can scare me.
No arrow by day can unsettle me.
No sickness at noon can bother me.
Though people may fall all around me, thousands upon thousands,
I will know God’s protection.
I will see with my own eyes the downfall of the wicked.





Gold, Silver, Bronze…all for the king.

1 01 2013

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN : 1 Chronicles 16 v. 37 – 18 v. 17; 1 Corinthians 1 v. 1 – 17; Proverbs 19 v. 3 – 12
gold silver bronze1 CHRONICLES
David leaves Asaph and his associates, and Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates as ministers before the ark of the covenant and gatekeepers.
Zadok and the priests are left to present offerings before the tabernacle in Gibeon (burnt offerings presented each morning and evening).
‘With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord ‘for His love endures forever’.’
Heman and Jeduthun were in charge of the trumpets, cymbals and other instruments.
Once everyone was assigned their tasks, ‘all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family’.

God’s Promise to David – Once David is back in his luxurious palace, he feels uneasy about the ark of the covenant being in a mere tent. He confesses this to Nathan, the prophet, who encourages him to do what he senses is right, ‘for God is with you’.
During the night, God speaks to Nathan, instructing him to tell David,
‘You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in’, that God has been satisfied to move from one tent site to another.
Rather, God is going to build a house for David.
‘I took you from the pasture…to be ruler over my people Israel…now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on the earth. And I will provide a place for my people.’
‘When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.’
It is David’s offspring who will build the house for God – ‘I will be his father, and he will be my son’.
‘I will set him over my house and my kingdom for ever; his throne will be established for ever.’

Nathan reports all of this to David.

Of course, for us, the promise of a Son who will establish God’s kingdom and throne forever, points to Jesus, the Only-Son, who comes proclaiming, ‘the kingdom of heaven / God is here’. One born in the line of King David. A kingdom not built around a palace, but a person, a king-of-all-kings.

David’s Prayer – ‘King David went in and sat before the Lord’
. His prayer :
~ who am I…that You have brought me this far?…You have looked upon me as though I were the most exalted of men
~ what more can I say…You have done this great thing and made known all these great promises
~ there is no-one like You, O Lord…and who is like Your people Israel…You made Your people Israel for Your very own…
~ let the promise You have made concerning Your servant and his house be established for ever. Do as You promised…
~ Your servant has found courage to pray to You…You have been pleased to bless the house of Your servant…it will be blessed forever.

this wonderful prayer acknowledges David’s humble dependence upon God – God’s supreme authority, power, and faithful promises – and thankfulness for the blessings he and his family have known

David’s Victories – 
David eventually defeats the Philistines and takes Gath. He also defeated the Moabites, ‘they became subject to him and brought tribute’.
In the battle against Hadadezer, Zobah’s king, David captured one thousand chariots, and thousands of charioteers and soldiers. ‘He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses’.
David struck down 20,000 Arameans (from Damascus), when they came to help Hadadezer. He took control of Damascus.
‘The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.’
David brought Hadadezer’s golden shields to Jerusalem. He took large quantities of bronze (which Solomon used to make the bronze Sea and other articles for the temple) from Tebah and Cun.
The king of Hamath, king Tou, sends his son, Hadoram, to congratulate David on his victory over Hadadezer (who had been fighting against Tou), and to bring gold, silver and bronze.
All the articles received and taken David dedicates to the Lord.
18,000 Edomites are struck down by Abishai, in the valley of Salt, and all the Edomites become subject to David.
‘The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.’

this is a VERY good season for David (not so good for his enemies) – God’s favour is very evident to him

David’s Officials – ‘David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people’.
Joab is appointed over the army; Jehoshaphat is recorder; Zadok and Ahimelech are priests; Shavsha is secretary; Benaiah is over the Kerethites and Pelethites; David’s sons are the chief officials at his side.

David keeps close to him those he can trust

1 CORINTHIANS
Paul is writing to the church he’d planted during his second missionary journey, whilst he is now in Ephesus. Paul had spent 18 months in Corinth, so knew the place and the people very well. Paul had been made aware of issues the church was facing, by letter and by a visit from church members.
GREAT-ADVENTURE-SERIES-1Corinthians-a

Opening – Paul identifies himself as an ‘apostle‘, sent by God, establishing the kingdom in new territories, including Corinth. He serves Christ Jesus, and is called by God. He also identifies Sosthenes as co-writer of the letter. Sosthenes was the name of the chief ruler of the synagogue in Corinth, who is beaten by a mob (Acts 18 v. 17), and becomes a follower of Jesus.
Paul reminds the church in Corinth that they are ‘those sanctified (made holy) in Christ Jesus and called to be holy’ as are all who call on Jesus as Lord.
Rather than laying into them for their faults and failings, he reminds them first and foremost who and whose they are.
His opening greeting is ‘grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’
GRACE is God’s free gift offering us salvation (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense), and our sense of PEACE is found through this gift in Jesus.

Thanksgiving – again, Paul doesn’t tackle the problems in the church until he has told them how much he thanks God for them. He particularly thanks God for
‘the grace given you in Christ Jesus’, for the way they have been ‘enriched’, empowered by God in speech and in understanding. All that Paul had preached about God’s saving grace had been experienced and lived out amongst the young Corinthian church. He reminds them that they ‘lack no spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed’.
Jesus will keep them strong, enable them to be presented blameless, and Paul reminds them of God’s faithfulness.

Divisions in the Church – Paul has been made aware of the ‘camps’ which have become established in the church – those who favour and attach themselves to Paul, those to Apollos, those to Cephas, and even one group which claims to follow Christ above and beyond the others. Paul appeals to the church to be united, to find agreement and live in agreement, ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
He urges a perfect unity in ‘mind and thought’. Surely this unity is only possible in the name of Christ.
(I bet Chloe’s household appreciated the mention that the news of the quarrels has reached Paul through them)
Paul asserts that there is no division in Christ – that the others (including himself) were not the ones crucified, nor in whose name people are baptised.
Paul’s emphasis throughout has been ‘to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.’


PROVERBS
the wisdom writer reminds us that
~ folly ruins lives, and creates hearts which rage against God
~ money attracts people, poverty repels people
~ lying will not go unpunished, liars will never walk free
~ leaders and rulers have many who say what they want to hear, and those who are generous with their giving have many friends
~ poor people are often shunned by family, and friends avoid them, no matter how persistent the appeals for help
~ ‘he who gets wisdom loves his soul; he who cherishes understanding
prospers’
~ fools ought never to be living luxuriously – that would be worse than slaves ruling over princes
~ ‘a man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offence’
~ when the king is angry, he is like a roaring lion, whilst his favour is like sweet dewfall on the grass.