Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 27

Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. 1 Chronicles 27:33b (MSG)

How cool for Hushai to be forever memorialized in God’s Message as “the king’s friend.” That’s not a bad way to be remembered.

I look back at my journey and am grateful for all those friends who have shared it with me. Some friends shared the path for a leg or two before striking out on their own way. Other friends have been present off and on through time. Then there are those who have been a constant presence in one way or another. I’m blessed.

Today, I’m grateful for my friends past and present. I’m thankful for the difference they’ve made in my life.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and joshmaz

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 26

 From the family of the Izharites, Kenaniah and sons were appointed as officials and judges responsible for affairs outside the work of worship and sanctuary. 1 Chronicles 26:29 (MSG)

For the past five years I’ve helped lead our little town’s community theater. It’s a great group of people and I enjoy doing shows. Audience members, however, have very little idea the sheer number of people and amount of time and energy required to put a show together for our audiences. Audience members see the actors, but they don’t see the people who did props, marketing, production, set, lights, sound, make-up, or any of a number of other tasks required.

As I read through these chapters laying out how the organization and workforce for the temple, I feel like an audience member getting a peek at the sheer breadth of work required to run the temple. As a casual reader, I think there was this big temple but you had a few priests who made the sacrifices. I didn’t think about security, upkeep, music, accounting, grounds, crowd control, and storage. Solomon’s temple was like a city unto itself. It was a major operation and required thousands of workers to keep it in operation.

Today, I’m thinking about the things I experience without ever considering all that is required to produce it. I’m thankful for all those who quietly go about their appointed tasks which ensure that I can enjoy my daily existence.

Surprise Visit from Captain Hall

Wendy and I had a pleasant surprise last night. Her brother, Josh, was on a whirlwind trip through Iowa on his way to be deployed in Germany. Captains Dr. Josh and Dr. Jesse finished officer’s training in San Antonio and will now be deployed as dentists for the army. Josh arrived in Iowa in the afternoon, dropped by their folks house in Boone, then was making a late drive towards St. Louis where he drops off his car to be shipped to Europe and flies to Germany.

Josh gave us a quick head’s up, dropped in about 9:30 and we enjoyed some great conversation and laughter with him until after midnight. He opted to catch a few hours sleep on our couch before leaving for St. Louis early this a.m.

It was great to see him, and we’re excited to hear about his experiences in Europe. He’s technically supposed to be stationed there for three years, so Wendy and I are hoping to get over to see him!

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 25

Next David and the worship leaders selected some from the family of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun for special service in preaching and music. 1 Chronicles 25:1 (MSG)

I’m currently reading a trilogy of non-fiction books. The first book was good, but there was a lot that I didn’t get. I felt like a lot was going over my head or that I wasn’t catching some things that might be important. As I got into the second book, a lot of things became clear. I began making connections with things that happened early in the story; things which had initially confused me.

One of the things I appreciate about journeying through God’s Message is the way you begin to connect the dots. The more you read it, the more things begin to connect. What casual observers and spotty readers often lament is that the Bible seems so disjointed and confusing. There is a storyline, and there are very complex connections from beginning to end, but you have to spend time journeying through the disparate parts to find the threads which connect.

In today’s chapter we learn that special worship assignments for God’s temple were given to three families. One of them, Asaph, rang a bell. Asaph was the composer of several songs in the book of Psalms. When reading Psalms you see “A Psalm of Asaph” and wonder who in the world Asaph was. You find out in the Chronicles.

Sometimes, you have to stick with a book for a while before it starts coming together for you.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ginnerobot

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 24

Roll to see who goes first.These were the Levites by their families. They also cast lots, the same as their kindred the sons of Aaron had done, in the presence of David the king, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the leaders of the priestly and Levitical families. The families of the oldest and youngest brothers were treated the same. 1 Chronicles 24:31 (MSG)

“Roll to see who goes first.”

How often have we said that when playing a game with family or friends? It’s a common practice to let fate decide the outcome, but the practice didn’t begin with Milton Bradley or Hasbro. The casting of lots took on different forms in different regions and cultures, but it was analagous to drawing straws, flipping a coin, or rolling a dice.

Journeying through God’s message, we find numerous times in which “lots” were cast to determine all sorts of things. Lots were cast on Jonah’s ship to determine who was responsible for the storm. Lots were cast by Jesus’ disciples to determine who would replace Judas Iscariot among the twelve. In today’s chapter we find lots being cast to determine the order of Levitical duties.

The main idea between casting lots was to take human judgement, favoritism, nepotism, or prejudice out of a decision. By casting lots, you were eliminating human influence on the outcome and giving the results up to God.

I wonder if we sometimes rely too heavily on human reason and judgement in certain decisions. Perhaps the casting of lots is, in some situations, a good practice.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and topher76

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 23

Also they were to be present for morning prayers, thanking and praising God, for evening prayers, and at the service of Whole-Burnt-Offerings to God on Sabbath, at New Moons, and at all festivals. 1 Chronicles 23:30-31 (MSG)

A year or so ago, I learned about a book called The Divine Hours, that sets out prayers to be said at different parts of the day: morning, mid-day, evening, and night. In the introduction, the author explains the historical and Biblical precedent for praying at different times of the day. Since then, I’ve noticed verses like this one from today’s chapter. I’ve begun to notice the prescription of morning and evening prayers mentioned in different passages.

Lately, I’ve attempted to be more mindful and intentional in praying throughout my day. I’ve discovered that I’m great at praying in the morning, a habit I developed when I was young. It takes conscious discipline for me to remember to set aside time in the rest of my day to pray. I’m not used to it, and in the heat of the daily battle I easily forget.

Today, I am mindful of my need to be in communication and relationship with God throughout my day.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and alancleaver

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 22

Bloody hands. David said to Solomon, “I wanted in the worst way to build a sanctuary to honor my God. But God prevented me, saying, ‘You’ve killed too many people, fought too many wars. You are not the one to honor me by building a sanctuary—you’ve been responsible for too much killing, too much bloodshed.” 1 Chronicles 22:7 (MSG)

I’ve got the gift of teaching and preaching. I don’t know why God gave it to me, and I don’t always understand His designs for it in my life, but I’ve got it. I’m not a gifted singer, even though I’m envious of those who are gifted singers. I’d love to open my mouth and have a voice eminate that stops people in their tracks, but that’s not me. I’m a decent singer, and I can belt out a decent tune, but I was never the first choice to sing the solo (or the second or third, for that matter).

Along the journey I’ve had the opportunity to speak and to preach along side some very gifted musicians and worship leaders. I’ve noticed a pattern. Many of them really wanted to be gifted teachers and preachers, but they weren’t. They were gifted singers. I really wanted to be a gifted singer, but I wasn’t.

I recall one weekend I was doing a series of messages. The worship leader, knowing that I secretly wanted to sing, let me try my hand at a solo. It wasn’t embarrassing, but it wasn’t great, either. Everybody knew it. During the worship set, the worship leader went off between songs into a long teaching introduction. There was nothing wrong with what he said, it just didn’t fit. I’ll never forget that evening, After the service I remember saying, “I won’t sing if you don’t preach. You stick with singing. I’ll stick with preaching. It’ll be better for everyone.”

As much as David wanted to build the temple, he wasn’t the right person person. He was a warrior. His job was to make way for the building of the temple, which would be done by his son, who was a man of peace, knowledge and wisdom.

We all have our gifts and our part to play in God’s kingdom. The key is to identify our gift and use it well.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and kypkanomin

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 21

Then David prayed, “I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin—I’ve been really stupid.” 1 Chronicles 21:8 (MSG)

Chapters like today’s are difficult to understand in our present day experience. Our time, our culture, and the spiritual realities we experience 2,000 years this side of the cross on history’s timeline make it hard to grasp the circumstances of David’s day. What was the big deal with taking a census? Why was God so ticked off?

That’s when I step back and look for the big picture. What is the spiritual lesson communicated through these events? What’s the moral of the story?

I found it in David’s confession and repentent statement. By taking a census, David was “substituting statistics for trust.” No matter the times we live in, that’s a lesson we can all take to heart. Where in our current lives are we seeking assurance from jobs, bank statements, medical science, human relationships, education, or investments instead of fully placing our trust in God?

Today, I’m thinking about the places I seek assurance, and how that dilutes my trust and reliance on God for providing my every need.

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 20

That spring, the time when kings usually go off to war, Joab led the army out and ravaged the Ammonites. He then set siege to Rabbah. David meanwhile was back in Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 20:1 (MSG)

Looking back over the journey, I’ve come to realize that some poor choices are possible because we’re in the wrong place. Instead of being where we should be, doing what we should be doing, we choose to be in a place where a poor choice is much more likely.

As David became King, history records that he increasingly let others go off to war while he hung back in his palace. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a correlation between his choice not to go to war and some increasingly poor – even tragic – choices.

Be in the right place. Do what I’m supposed to be doing. It makes it easier to make good choices.

Chapter-a-Day 1 Chronicles 19

Crowd. But when David’s servants arrived in Ammonite country and came to Hanun to bring condolences, the Ammonite leaders warned Hanun, “Do you for a minute suppose that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters? Don’t you know that he’s sent these men to snoop around the city and size it up so that he can capture it?” 1 Chronicles 19:2-3 (MSG)

When my daughters were entering their teen years, I told both of them that I would trust them until they did something to lose my trust. Then I warned them that they did NOT want to lose my trust. I found it interesting that both of my daughters came to appreciate and value my trust. While both girls were not without their teenager mistakes, I know that both of them came to value that trust, especially in contrast to the irrational mistrust they saw other parents placing on their friends.

Along the journey, I’ve tended to believe the best in people and their motives, and it’s served me well. I figure it’s best to treat people the way you want to be treated, and I always want people to believe the best in me. I can count precious few times in my life that a person took advantage of that trust. They were isolated cases that taught me a lot about the individual involved. They were exceptional situations and I don’t think a few exceptions justifies dismantling the golden rule.

How different Hanun’s outcome would have been if he’d simply taken David’s condolences as they were meant. Accepting David’s token of friendship could have meant abundant blessings and a meaningful alliance. Instead, Hanun found himself with a very powerful enemy.

Today, I’m choosing to believe the best in people.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and jp_42