We often assume God is not answering our prayers when we don’t get what we ask for. Often, God has a different, better plan. Maybe you didn’t get the job you were hoping for. Maybe God has something better in store for you and someone else is a better fit for that job you wanted. In today’s 1 Chronicles reading we are reminded that it was not David’s job to build God’s temple even though he wanted to. God had that plan for someone else and a different plan for David.
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17:
- 1-15 – Like we learned in 2 Samuel, God did not intend for David to build the temple. That would be Solomon, his son’s, job. God made promises to David, however, about building him up and establishing his kingdom long term.
- 16-27 – David humbly accepts the blessings God offers he and his family.
- 1-5 – We often misinterpret “judgement”. We think we’re not allowed to determine if something is good or bad, when in fact, we must decide this to function. When we are told not to judge others it is telling us that we should not and cannot condemn others. We too are sinners and do not have the authority to condemn.
- 12 – Those without the law are non-Jews. “The law” refers to the laws Moses handed down. Whether we sin against the law or against God himself, we are all sinners and are deserving of death.
- 13-16 – This passage can be more easily understood if it’s read like: 13(14-15)16. In short, this tells us that those who don’t even know the Mosaic law were able to fulfill parts of it. Doing what the law says and/or intends, whether you know what it says or not, is far more important than simply knowing it.
- 17-24 – Some Jews held their heritage as a reason why they were closer to God or more holy than gentiles. Paul calls them out recognizing that all, no matter their heritage, are only saved by faith in Jesus.
- 17 – There are a number of times when Scripture mentions God hearing the cries of the afflicted. Most notably, God hears the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, which starts the process of a mass exodus.
- Verses 8 and 9 stand in contrast with one another giving options for success and failure.
There are silly things we are tempted by like donuts and paying too much for a pair of jeans we don’t need. But today’s psalm deals with more serious temptations and, unfortunately, they’re ones we face just as often. These temptations entice us to trust them more than we trust God. These are things like, our own strength, money, success, etc. Though they’re sometimes hard to recognize, what tempts you to trust it in stead of God?
1 Chronicles 2:18-4:4:
- 18-20 – Though this just feels like a big list of names, it’s interesting to see names you recognize from stories. Bezalel, for instance, was one of the skilled workers who helped create the tabernacle.
- 1-9 – Yes, David had a lot of sons and a lot of wives. Notice that Solomon, who became the next king after David is way down on the list of sons.
- 22-27 – It seems as if Felix might come to faith based on Paul’s teachings, but it doesn’t seem that he does. Instead he leaves Paul in prison, which means he has now been in prison for 2 years.
- 5-8 – These verses hit hard the idea that we are tempted to trust in many other things but our true rest and comfort come only from God.
- 17 – This verse backs up the adage that there are always two sides to every story. Withhold judgment of decisions until you have heard from both parties.
Have you ever been scared to share your faith? You didn’t want to offend someone or thought they might not be open to it? In today’s Acts reading, Stephen gives us a great example of how evangelism should go. The Holy Spirit gives us an opportunity – we’re put in the right position or feel an urge to say something – and then we should just go for it. When we think about it as good news, which it is, it gets a whole lot easier.
1 Kings 9:1-10:29:
- 1-9 – God makes it clear what he requires of Solomon and his line and the consequences if they disobey.
- This section is intended to show the vast wealth and resources that Solomon had. Clearly this was a time of plenty for Israel. Solomon and his relationship with God were responsible for it.
- 14-17 – It seems odd that the Samaritans received Christ and chose to be baptized but weren’t able to have the Holy Spirit until the apostles came.
- 26-38 – Philip was led into a clear evangelism opportunity by listening to the Spirit. We often wonder if we are supposed to share our faith or not in certain situations, but if we trust the Spirit to guide us, it will become clear.
- 3-4 – Our sins make us unworthy of connection with God, but he does not count them against us because of his grace.
- Throughout Scripture there is a theme of birthright and status not guaranteeing that you receive that is due to you. God does not judge as we judge, he looks at the heart.
Temptations are all around us. They’re so sneaky that at times, we don’t even know we’re being tempted. And though sin can be avoided, temptation cannot always be, but it is incumbent upon those of us who are believers to not create or introduce temptations to others. Instead, it is our job to lead others closer to Christ.
- 14-15 – Note that the Israelites and Joshua did not ask God what they were supposed to do in this situation.
- 19 – This is the reason the gospels say to “let your yes be yes and your no be no” and not to swear by God or anything else. They’ve made a promise with the Hivites that was not sanctioned by God and could cause them to have to disobey God’s instructions later.
- 12-15 – Sometimes it is hard for us to believe in some of the miracles described in the Bible, but we are told that with God all things are possible and we know that he is not constrained by the same things we are.
- 19-31 – We are often consumed with our own comfort on earth, but this story clearly tells us that comfort on earth is fleeting. It is our job to help comfort the afflicted while on earth and then enjoy comfort in heaven.
- 1 – Temptations are inevitable in life, but far be it for us to provide those temptations for others, particularly those who are earlier in their faith journey.
- 3-4 – We are not to judge, but we are to lovingly call people out for their sins. We are also called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
January 7 – Psalm 7
Today’s Psalm is an example of the sort of Psalm we’ll see over and over again: a Psalm that cries out for justice. Over and over again, we’ll read the psalmist say: “God, vindicate me, and punish my persecutors.”
The desire to be avenged on one’s enemies can sometimes strike Christian readers as inappropriate. I find C.S. Lewis to be extremely helpful on the issue of judgment in the Psalms (as he is always helpful):
“The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God’s judgement in terms of an earthly court of justice. The difference is that the Christian pictures the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock; the Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff. The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages. Hence he prays ‘judge my quarrel’, or ‘avenge my cause’ (Psalm 35:23)….
“Behind this lies an age-old and almost world-wide experience which we have been spared. In most places and times it has been very difficult for the ‘small man’ to get his case heard. The judge (and, doubtless, one or two of his underlings) has to be bribed. If you can’t afford to ‘oil his palm’ your case will never reach court. Our judges do not receive bribes. (We probably take this blessing too much for granted; it will not remain with us automatically). We need not therefore be surprised if the Psalms, and the Prophets, are full of the longing for judgement, and regard the announcement that ‘judgement’ is coming as good news. Hundreds and thousands of people who have been stripped of all they possess and who have the right entirely on their side will at last be heard. Of course they are not afraid of judgement. They know their case is unanswerable—if only it could be heard. When God comes to judge, at last it will.”
–from Reflections on the Psalms, by C.S. Lewis (pp. 10-11)