Counted Faithful: Are You a Grain of Sand or a Star in the Sky?

 

(I Chronicles 27-29)

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Wednesday, November 23

“And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead–a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.” Hebrews 11:12

When I was around 8 years old I heard a pastor give a message titled “Are you a man or a mouse?” That title stuck with me because of the imaging that went on in my mind. Reading through I Chronicles 27-29 I kept wondering if I would be considered a star in the night sky or a grain of sand along the seashore.

King David had ordered a census of Israel, but in Chapter 27:23 we learn, “but David didn’t take the number of them from twenty years old and under, because Yahweh had said He would increase Israel like the stars of the sky.” They could have been counted to arrive at a number, but the faith of Abraham was still at work and was not to be discounted in the mind of David. He was looking expectantly toward the future and all who were to be added to that number.

We are a part of that number. And since I am beyond 20 years, I am wondering if my place is among the sands of the sea. I hope you all realize this is a bit tongue and cheek; but it does leave an image in my mind worth exploring. The idea of movement and brightness and dancing across the sky is a lot like children full of laughter chasing fireflies in the night.f

Lying on the ground as a grain of sand among the masses; with life washing over us and moving us along to different moments, circumstances and even settling among different groups of individuals does seem to fit my post 20 years a bit easier. Even the idea of being trampled upon by those unable to realize we are foundational to their days of relaxation seems to fit many of my days.

But the promise of God was not in counting the value of days, or the counting of the value in people. It was a counting of the faithfulness of God and what He is able to produce in the lives of those who trust in Him. It was a recounting of His giving life from what was impending death.

King David was not allowed to build the Temple for Yahweh, but that didn’t prevent him from gathering necessary provisions and having them ready for the project his son Solomon would oversee as King. Throughout Chapter 29 David acknowledges that all we have to offer back to God was given to us by God in the first place and still belongs to God. David’s reign was coming to an end, but he had faith in what God had promised and the life that was yet to come.

 

            “I know also, my God, that you try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things.”  King David                1 Chronicles 29:17

 

As we offer up ourselves and seek to build the Temple of God in our lives, keep in mind all we have to give is God’s already. We can count all our moments shining like a star in the heavens or count the days pressed along the edge of powerful events that truly are out of our control. We can even count our resources down to the penny. Or, we can live in faith, trusting God to supply our needs and fulfill His plans for our life as we give ourselves back to Him.

Keep shining the glory of God in purposeful ways throughout your day. And if you feel walked upon, know that God is looking at your heart and He wants to count you faithful.

Glennis Walters

Yahweh, God of Angel Armies, Knows My Name (I Chronicles 24-26)

Tuesday, November 22

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For the past year we have heard all about “fly over states”. I Chron. 24-26 could be called fly over passages in the Bible. You know what I mean. The lists and lists and lists of names that leave you wondering what inspiration of God those chapters hold. But just like all the people living in those fly over states want their voices to be heard, God lets us know he is watching and listening and involved with lives. This “memory-ing” that God walks us through gives a glimpse of the order that went into the tabernacle and how involved he was in the process, knitting it all together so it could bridge lives back to their roots. Back to an understanding that God was ever present and they were his children.

I diligently read through the list of names hoping to find a Jabez crying out to God in prayer to redeem his name and make him more than everyone believed him to be (I Chron. 4:10). And there in chapter 26, among the list of doorkeepers, I was rewarded with Obed-Edom. God makes a point to say that he had blessed him and his family of 62 doorkeepers. Doesn’t sound like the greatest position in the world, but these were men ready to serve and blessed of God to do so.

Through a set of unfortunate circumstances the Ark of the Covenant resided at the house of Obed-Edom for three months. David was attempting to move the Ark to Jerusalem and when the cattle carrying the Ark stumbled, Uzzah reached out to steady it and fell over dead.

Obed-Edom took a huge risk and must have had great faith in God along with confidence in his children to live alongside the Ark. When David decides months later it is time to take the Ark to Jerusalem, Obed-Edom could have stayed at home, but he decided to go and continue to serve. His love of God and desire for others to know that goodness had cast out all fear.

Another interesting thing about Obed-Edom is he wasn’t willing to rely on past efforts to be good enough. He had received blessing from God and wanted to stay in close relationship. By human standards leaving all you have to be a doorkeeper, that honestly wasn’t the flashiest of jobs, probably didn’t make sense to many. Obed-Edom must have agreed with what David said in Psalms 84:10, 12 – “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the tent of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness… Blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

Take time today to draw close to God and know he will bless you for the effort you put into spending time with Him. Never doubt that our God of Angel Armies knows you by name and desires to make you known to future generations for your deeds of service.

Someone is counting on you living like you know you are a child of the Most High.

Keep Spreading the Light,

Glennis Walters

(photo credit –  http://www.theversesproject.com/verses/204/Psalm-84.10-11)

Sacrifice that is Pleasing to God (I Chronicles 21-23)

Monday, November 21

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Chronicles 21-23 continue with various exploits of David and opportunities to see the need for a savior to stand between sinful man and Yahweh. David had earlier gotten into trouble numbering the “strong men” of Israel who were ready for battle. He doesn’t seem to learn the lesson to trust in God and follow His plan. At times David seems ready to be God’s servant and listen before acting, but he can’t let go of the idea that he needs to be in control.

David decides to order a census. On the surface there is no problem, but God required a tax to be paid to the tabernacle or be plagued each time they were counted in order to take time and count their blessings before God. (Ex. 30:12-15) Joab reasoned the people would not want to pay another tax and would be plagued. In chapter 20:3 Joab asks David, “my lord the king are not they all God’s servants? Why become the cause of guilt for Israel?”

Joab did his best to intercede on behalf of Israel, but David would not relent and Israel was plagued. God keeps His word even when it hurts. When David realized what was happening to the people he asked God to forgive him and if you have heard the story before you know God offered David three choices. Three years of famine. Three months under the control of enemies. Or he could choose three days under the sword of Yahweh.

David asks that he fall into the hands of God because he had witnessed that the mercies of God were great. As God’s angel was ready to strike Jerusalem, God relented after hearing all the cries for mercy and ordered David to build an alter at the spot the angel stood. The story that follows is one of my favorites. Ornan and his four sons have seen the angel and are hiding, like that would help. David approaches to ask to buy the land where the threshing floor stands to build an alter for God and Ornan tells David to take the land and oxen for an offering and suggests David use his tools for the wood to start the fire and to use the wheat he has milled for a meal offering. Ornan says, “I give it all.” Talk about being “All In”!

David could have done just that, but he has had an epiphany. He understands that the sin belongs on his shoulder and he wants to pay the price. He tells Ornan in v. 24, “No; but I will certainly buy it for full price. I will not take that which is yours for Yahweh, nor offer a burnt offering without cost.” Forgiveness comes with a cost. Ornan was willing to give it all to protect his sons. David asked that Israel’s sin be counted to him and his family. He trusted God to love and show mercy and always provide a covering for the sins of men. David was so messed up when he acted on his own impulses. When he came face to face with God, I believe he realized he was a type of Christ to come to mediate for all mankind.

God asks so little of us when you really stop and think about it. Basically God said; if you want to be counted in your own strength, pay a tax to the treasury of God so you are reminded that all you have is mine, all you are is mine and we are in this together.” A sacrifice has to have a cost, otherwise what is the purpose of going through the motions.

Just as David came to realize how he set Israel up for failure and the need for a sacrifice to cover the sins of Israel; let us examine our behavior in light of God’s word and determine each day to be a guide rather than a stumbling block as we interact with our friends and family. And thank the Good Lord above He didn’t hide His son from us, but offered HIM as the perfect sacrifice and the light to a darkened world.

Glennis Walters

God’s Home – My Heart (I Chronicles 17-20)

Sunday, November 20

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I am just going to be honest here. This is the fourth devotion I have written after reading through 1 Chronicles Chapters 17-20. David always intrigued me after hearing that he was a man after God’s own heart and there is so much in these chapters to learn.

Chapter 17 opens with the acknowledgement that David is no longer living in caves or sheep pens, yet is unable to be content because God is living in a tent. David wants to build God a home! Nathan, the prophet, gives the ok. God quickly sends Nathan back to tell David, “no thanks”; explaining He was content walking with his people tent to tent. In chap. 17:10 God says, “I tell you that Yahweh will build you a house” and proceeds to explain how salvation will come through David’s family and an eternal home established. That had to be David’s ultimate WOW moment. And he had plenty to choose from.

David had the opportunity to receive Gods blessing with humility or pride. He chose humility and poured out his heart before God in thankful praise. It is a beautiful moment captured in scripture of a true servant’s heart, broken in worship before his God.

After hearing God’s promise of a Messianic Kingdom, David was emboldened to conquer his own kingdom and began attacking and driving out all enemies from the Promised Land.  18:14 says that Yahweh gave victory to David wherever he went. The verse goes on to say that David “reigned over all Israel; and executed justice and righteousness to all his people.”

David was doing what he knew to do externally to display God’s power, but battles with perceived enemies do not conquer the inner enemies of the soul and do nothing to build a home for God in our heart.

Chapter 19 offers plenty of wisdom regarding the importance of choosing good friends and advisors; along with a good lesson why you should not expect the worse from perceived enemies when they come offering peace. David faces some undeserved bad treatment, no doubt, and seems to change his focus. He sets aside his covenant to honor God with his life and tries to mask over bad decisions through ill treatment of others. He began trusting in chariots and horses and leaving the fighting to others while he stayed home and lusted after another man’s wife.

In Chapter 20, when David received the spoils of war that others fought on his behalf he brutally destroys the people because they were related to the giants he fought in his youth.

So, what does all this mean for our lives? God isn’t needy. God is a provider. He loves to walk with us and will live with us in any situation. The home he desires is an inward one in our hearts.  When we try to cover up sin in our lives and believe we are able to hide our heart from God, our guilty conscience can be found on full display in our poor treatment of others.

If we are to win our personal battles and take ground for the kingdom of God within our own hearts, we have to stay committed and focused and willing to walk daily in God’s mercy and maintain a humble attitude for every victory that unfolds.

Glennis Walters

 

David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 14-16)

Saturday, November 19

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In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, we see a Psalm that David dedicated before the ark of the covenant after it was brought to Jerusalem.  Having the ark back where it belonged was a huge deal for Israel, and David wanted something to show Israel’s thanks to God for this.  Here is a small section, verses 8-10

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Now this is retold after returning from Exile.  Once again there is a great reason to give thanks to God, and to praise his name.

Skipping to the end of this Psalm we see the following in verses 34-36

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Cry out, “Save us, O God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
that we may glory in your praise.”

Praise be to the LORD our God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Again, this would have been very appropriate after returning from exile.  They were at risk of attacks from enemy nations, and this Psalm includes a request for deliverance from the nations.  They ask for deliverance so that they may praise God even more.

We also have many reasons to give things and praise the name of God.  We need deliverance from our spiritual enemies that attack us, so that we may continue to praise God.  What do you have to be thankful for today?  Let’s remember to praise God for all he has done, and the promises we know he will continue to keep.

-Andrew Hamilton

Faith of Our Fathers (1 Chronicles 11-13)

Friday, November 18

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As I mentioned in the devotion a few days ago for 1 Chronicles 1-2, tradition says that this book was probably written after the Israelites returned to Jerusalem following 70 years in exile.  This was probably during the time that Jerusalem was being rebuilt, a time with a lot of struggles and fear.   There were not walls around the city.  There were enemy nations around.  They had not had their own kingdom in the entire time most of the people had been alive.  This was all new for them.

These chapters start the retelling of the time when David was king, a prosperous time in their history.  In 1 Chronicles 11:4, it says:

David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus).  The Jebusites who lived there said to David, “You will not get in here.”  Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the city of David.

Then in verse 8, it says about King David:

He built up the city around it, from the supporting terraces to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city.

This must have been very encouraging at this time to see that David had to conquer and then build up Jerusalem, including the walls, during his reign.  The nation was greatly blessed while David reigned, so why couldn’t they rebuild and be prosperous and be blessed again.  David had trusted God, and they were now trusting God, so they could look forward to blessings and protection just as the people in the time of David.

We can all look back to the people in the church before us, and see how they trusted God, and how the church has been blessed through them.  This may be people in our family, in our local church, or others that we know of.  Their examples and the things that they have done through faith should teach us that with faith, we can also have protection, peace, and blessings as we serve the LORD.

-Andrew Hamilton

God First (I Chronicles 8-10)

Thursday, November 17

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We are coming to the end of the genealogy in 1 Chronicles.  It goes through chapter 9.  After 3 days full of genealogy, I was excited to have something to read and write about that wasn’t genealogy.  However, I was struck by the last chapter of this genealogy, and felt compelled to write one more devotion on it.

Chapter 9:1b-2 says, “The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.  Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.”  The chapter continues by telling us that there were 1760 priests who returned, along with 212 gatekeepers guarding the Tent of meeting.  Four principle gatekeepers were responsible for the rooms and treasuries in the house of God.  Others who returned were responsible for the articles used in temple services.  Others were in charge of the temple furnishings.

The thing that struck me about this was that the first to return, the ones listed here, were dealing with the temple and the worship of God.  It wasn’t the masons to build a wall, or the warriors who would build the army to defend the city.  The Israelites were returning their hearts to God, and had their priorities straight:  worship God first and then deal with everything else.

How does this compare to us?  Do we prepare to worship God first?  I know it is very easy for me to get things backwards, get caught up in the busyness of life, and fit God in when there is time.  However, when I take time for God first, the busyness doesn’t seem so rushed and frantic, even when the circumstances stay the same.  Let’s focus on putting God first and worship him today.

-Andrew Hamilton