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

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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

Finding Your Place (I Chronicles 6-7)

Wednesday, November 16

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Chapter 6 starts with listing the descendants of Levi.  The tribe of Levi is set aside to be the priests, workers in the tabernacle and temple, and things like that.  In verse 11, it says “These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the LORD after the ark came to rest there.”  This is the list of men who had a specific job because of their genealogy.

In verses 48 and 49, it says “Their fellow Levites were assigned to all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God.  But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense…”  Again, these other Levites had specific jobs or duties because of their genealogy.

As we move into chapter 7, we see lists of other groups of people, and for each one, it lists their number of fighting men or warriors.  Each of these also had a duty as warriors, both in defense and offense.

As I was reading this, I thought about how this could relate to us.  We each have special roles in the church.  If we look at the genealogy of the church, where do each of us fit in it?  Would you be listed as having “priestly duties”, the spiritual leaders in the church?  This could be as a pastor, elder, or a scholar possibly.  Would you be listed as a musician, giving praise to the LORD?  Would you be listed as a warrior, standing up for your faith on the defense and/or evangelizing and spreading the word on offense?

We are not cast into a certain position based on the tribe we belong to, but there is a place where each of us fit.   I encourage you to examine what roles God is leading you to, and follow God’s plans for you.

-Andrew Hamilton

Your Spiritual Genealogy (I Chronicles 3-5)

Tuesday November 15

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These chapters continue the genealogy starting with the sons of David.  We see some great people listed.  David ruled as king, and is considered one of the greatest kings of Israel, although he was definitely not without fault.  Solomon, who was granted great wisdom, and used that wisdom to judge the people of Israel.  He also had his faults and downfalls.   In this list are also people who turned against God’s plans and did evil.

 

Yesterday, I wrote about the genealogy of the country, and the families.  Something I read about this genealogy mentioned the spiritual genealogy that is in this list also.  These leaders listed sometimes helped improve the people’s relationship with God, and helped increase their faith.  Others tore down their faith.  This goes across family and ancestral lines.

We have a genealogy of our faith too, and will be part of others genealogy.  There are people who have affected the faith of each of us.  Some people have built it up and others have torn it down.  The people who affected us were affected by others.  The people who founded your church have affected you, because they brought the church family together and passed their knowledge and experience down through generations.  Those that founded the Church of God, and the Bible College have affected your faith through training of pastors, among other ways.

 

All of us are influencing others, and not just those we encounter personally.  A Sunday school teacher can plant the seed that develops into a passion to be a pastor, a missionary, a teacher, or something else.  A friend can be the seed that brings a new person to church, and causes their family to know God.  On the other hand, someone can lead those around them into sin, cause them to doubt God, or something else negative.  This could stop them from being an influence for God.  Our actions can spread much further than we ever expected.

 

As a shepherd boy, how could David have ever expected to be king of Israel, or to be an example listed in the Bible that generation after generation of children learn.  Please consider the question, “What will my part be in the spiritual genealogy of those around me, and those that I don’t even know?”

 

I encourage everyone to pray that we will each see how we can build up the faith of those around us, so that they can build the faith of those around them, etc.  Our spiritual genealogy is much more important than our family genealogy.

– Andrew Hamilton