Friday, August 17, 2018

Community transformation—is it possible?

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 13-17; Psalm 74

TO CHEW ON: “… and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD God of their father.” 2 Chronicles 13:18

“O God, how long will the adversary reproach?
Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?” Psalm 74:10


Three things come together for me in today’s readings:

1. In the recitation of good and bad kings from 2 Chronicles, what stands out is that all the bad kings were guilty of occultism, idolatry, and seeking to do things on their own without God. God’s blessing flowed again when godly kings destroyed these things and returned to true worship.

2. In the psalms reading, psalmist Asaph’s pleading with God (to again make His name famous, to make His cause prevail, to restore sincere worship and purity to the land) resonates. It’s how I would pray for my own land and people in the 21st century.

3. I watched a video about community transformation last night. In it the filmmakers tell the story of several communities (one in Mexico, one in Guatemala, and one in California) that experienced community-wide spiritual revival in the 1990s. It happened when the church and concerned pastors became modern-day Asaphs and pleaded for their cities, with prayer and fasting.

When God revealed to them the occultic roots of their community’s enslavement to the drug cartels (Mexico), poverty, drunkenness, and abuse (Guatemala), and addiction (California) they confronted and took authority over dark forces with, again, prayer and fasting.

If we are burdened for our land and community like Asaph was, let’s follow the example of the Christians of the 1990s and contend (with prayer, fasting, church unity etc.) for another transformation!

PRAYER:
Dear Father, I believe the kind of turnaround You brought to Judah and Israel under godly kings, and the transformation witnessed in the 1990s is possible today. Help me to contend for it in my country and town. Amen.
PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 74

MORE: Transformations (the documentary film)





 *********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Leadership - how does yours rate?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 9-12; Psalm 73

TO CHEW ON: "Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God. Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness." 2 Chronicles 9:8


The fashion these days is to criticize leaders, not praise them. The Queen of Sheba's idea that God had blessed Israel by letting her be ruled by a king as wise as Solomon seems foreign to us — fed as we are by scandal-driven media features, negative news items and critical editorials about our leaders.

But maybe we should stop criticizing and complaining. Because our rulers are actually there by God's permission and authority as much as Israel's were (see Romans 13:1).

It helps, of course, to change our focus and instead of looking for mistakes, look for ways our rulers are a positive force in our nation, region and town. Political parties and preferences aside, there is much to appreciate and be thankful for in our democratic leaders.

Politicians aren't our only leaders. Churches, organizations, even families have leaders. If you are a parent, you are a leader.

What kind of leaders are we? Would someone exclaim about our church, club or family how fortunate they are because they are under our leadership?

PRAYER: Dear God, Solomon prayed for divine wisdom to lead Israel. I need similar wisdom to lead in my small way in my family and every other place where I have leadership responsibilities. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 73 

MORE: Advice for leaders

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing writes a lot about leadership on his blog Michael Hyatt - Intentional Leadership. Here are links to a few recent articles about leadership:

"Why Leaders Cannot Afford to be Easily Offended"

"Four Temptations Christian Leaders Face"

"A Tale of Two Leaders: Which Are You?" <— this is excellent!



****************
 Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Human temples

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 5-8; Psalm 72

TO CHEW ON: "But will God indeed dwell with men on earth? Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!" 2 Chronicles 6:18

Picture the scene: all of Israel is gathered in Jerusalem for the dedication of a magnificent structure - the temple David began with an idea, plan, materials, and Solomon built.

On this day of the temple's dedication Solomon stands before the assembled crowd, probably in the temple's outer courtyard, blesses them, then ascends a bronze platform, kneels, raises his hands toward heaven and prays the eloquent prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

Within it he asks the question of our today's focus verse: "Will God indeed dwell with men on earth?"

He answers: "Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!" Solomon grasped God's bigness and the impossibility of only one location ever holding Him.

He's right, of course. No place on earth can contain God, as in become a boundary or edge past which He cannot go, or contain His sum-total so that He is no where else. But God will dwell with men on earth — will and does.

1. In Israel's case, God responded to Solomon's prayer by sending fire which consumed the prepared sacrifices and glory so awesome, the priests couldn't enter the temple to complete their duties (2 Chronicles 7:14). From that time forward, God's presence dwelt in the temple's Holy of Holies room, as it had the ark.

2. Centuries later God sent Jesus to dwell with us in human flesh (John 1:1-5,14)

3. Now, since the day of Pentecost  and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), God dwells in us:

"Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God's temple (His sanctuary), and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 Amplified
"Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Message


PRAYER: Dear God, please teach me what it means to be Your dwelling in practical day-to-day ways. May Your glory shine through my life today more than it ever has before. Amen.


PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 72
It's interesting to note that today's psalm is one of the rare ones written by Solomon!




MORE: The Holy Spirit in us — insights from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest

"It is very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we are rebuked by Him....Never quench the Spirit..."  (August 14 reading).
"Never discard a conviction. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, it is that thing He is detecting." (September 24th reading)
"Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam." (October 10th reading)

****************
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What is your heart's desire?

Solomon's Dream - Artist unknown
Solomon's Dream - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 1-4; Psalm 71

TO CHEW ON:
" 'Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people ...'
God said to Solomon, 'Since this is your heart's desire ... therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given to you.' " 2 Chronicles 10-12


This story reminds me of the three wishes folk tales I loved as a kid. It also prompts me to examine myself and ask, what would I have said if I were Solomon?

In the dream God lists some common and desirable things Solomon could have asked for: material possessions, prestige, safety and security, and long life (which implies good health). Which of those things wouldn't we want?

I love the telling words that God answers Solomon with. "Since this is your heart's desire..."

How can we know what our heart's desire really is? I've heard Bible teachers describe one way to tell is note the thing(s) our thoughts flit to when there's nothing else vying for their attention.

Using this method I ask myself, what is my heart's desire? The spiritual well-being of my family? The beauty of my house? Great health and fitness? Where I'll spend my next vacation? How I can fulfill my role in God's kingdom?

What is yours?

Is it something that God would be pleased to answer? If not perhaps you and I need to work on changing so that our deepest desires do line up with God's values.

PRAYER:
Dear God, please help me be so in touch with You that my deepest heart desires will reflect what You value.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 71

********
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures quoted s in this meditation are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Monday, August 13, 2018

An ancient father's advice

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 25-29; Psalm 70

TO CHEW ON:
“‘As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.’” 1 Chronicles 28:9

David’s advice to his newly crowned son, Solomon, is good advice for us too.

David told Solomon:

“know the God of your father…”
Know (yada) is transliterated know, learn, perceive and see, know by experience, recognize, admit, acknowledge and confess.

“…and serve Him…”
Serve (abad) - work serve, labour, serve another by labour.

“…with a loyal (whole - NASB) heart…”
Whole (shalem) - complete, full, perfect.

“… and a willing mind.”

Willing (chaphets) - desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in.

Living out this advice is bound to impact life in practical ways. In Psalm 37, written perhaps around the same time David gave the advice to Solomon (Psalm 37:25), David declares:
“Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD
And He shall give you the desires of your heart” - Psalm 37:3,4.

Notice the word “delight” - an aspect of the willing mind.

David, in Psalm 37, argues against fretting (Psalm 37:7,8), and for keeping life’s big picture in mind (Psalm 37:9-22; 34-40), trusting God to direct the steps of everyday living (Psalm 37:23,24), and of treasuring God and His word in one’s heart (Psalm 37:31 cf. 1 Chronicles 28:9).

In this day of distraction and many shiny things to explore with the accompanying temptation to give one’s heart and mind to them, David’s simple advice to Solomon may be more difficult for us to follow than it would seem. Yet I believe it is the solution to many of the issues we deal with—stress, worry, decision-making, and being scorned, overlooked, and ignored by the world as people of faith, to name some.

PRAYER: Dear Father, I want to know You and serve You with a loyal (my whole) heart, and a willing mind. Please nudge me today when my heart wanders to lesser things.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 70

 *********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Your sin hurts more than just you

"Deliverance from the flood" - Psalm 69:15
Engraver Melchior Kussell
Artist SL
From the Pitts Theology Library.

Deliverance from the flood - Psalm 69:15 - Engraving by Melchior Kussel - Artist SL
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles  22-24 Psalm 69

TO CHEW ON:
"Let not those who wait for You,
O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek you be confounded because of me,
O God of Israel." Psalm 69:6


What a desperate cry for help David makes in this psalm! In picturesque language he describes the feeling of drowning in trouble and being sucked into the mire of problems (Psalm 69:1-2; 14-15). His enemies seem numberless and his treatment unfair (Psalm 69:4). The message that comes through is, 'None of this is my fault!'

And then we come to verse 5:

"O God you know my foolishness / And my sins are not hidden from you."
Maybe he isn't as blameless as he let on at the beginning.

I really appreciate his thoughts relating to the potential fallout of his actions in verse 6:

"Let not those who wait for You
O Lord of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek you be confounded because of me,
O God of Israel."
The sad truth is that we are often at least a little to blame for our own problems. And when we sin we hurt those who view us as examples and mentors—our children, young Christians, our friends and colleagues, those who look to us for instruction and inspiration etc. Our broken marriages, involvements in pornography, illegal money schemes, theft, child sexual abuse—whatever—especially if we are leaders, impact much more than just our own lives.

Let's keep that in mind before we yield to temptation. Let's let our love for the body of Christ be another reason not to sin in the first place.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to realize how my sin affects Your body (the church) and resist temptation. Help me, at the same time, to refrain from harsh judgment when my brothers and sisters sin. I want to be a restorer of the broken. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 69

MORE: Second most-quoted psalm
The NIV Study Bible's introduction to this psalm names it the second most-quoted psalm in the New Testament:

"The authors of the NT viewed this cry of a godly sufferer as foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ; no psalm except Psalm 22 is quoted more frequently in the NT" - NIV Study Bible, p. 855.

Those quotes:

  • Psalm 69:4 - John 15:25
  • Psalm 69:9 - John 2:17; Romans 15:3
  • Psalm 69:21 - Matthew 27:34
  • Psalm 69:25 - Acts 1:20
  • Psalm 69:33 - Luke 4:18 
**************
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sing, you kingdoms!

"Glory of the Lamb - Revelation 5:13" by David van der Plaats
"Glory of the Lamb - Revelation 5:13" by David van der Plaats (The Bible and Its Story Vol 10)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 18-21;  Psalm 68

 TO CHEW ON: "Sing to God you kingdoms of the earth;
O sing praise to the Lord.  - Psalm 68:32

It's interesting how our two readings complement each other. In Chronicles, we see David going to war, conquering even the giants, and read the author's observation: "And the Lord preserved David wherever he went" - 1 Chronicles 18:13. 

In the psalm David describes one of his battles.

There is blood (Psalm 68:21-23).

There is a procession (Psalm 68:24-27).

And there is the obeisance of earth's rulers (Psalm 68:28-31):

"Sing to God you kingdoms of the earth;
O sing praises to the Lord."

David's words suggest a voluntary—not a forced—praise. They bring to mind the wonderful scene from Revelation:
"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” - Revelation 7:9-10.

I see this psalm as a picture of life.
  • Life on earth is our battlefield.
  • We anticipate the final victory that we know is coming:
 "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
 'O Death, where is your sting?
 O Hades, where is your victory?'
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" - 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Then will come the time when all on earth will acknowledge God for who He is:
“As I live, says the Lord. 
Every knee shall bow to Me, 
And every tongue shall confess to God”- Romans 14:11 (quoting Isaiah 45:23).

PRAYER: Dear God, in a world that doesn't even acknowledge Your existence, the sight of the kingdoms of earth singing Your praises seems almost unimaginable. Help me to cling to this hope with unwavering faith. Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 68

**********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...