Tag: 1 Chronicles

Can God Still Work Through Me If I Suck?

I’ll just say it, I find David’s orders to his son to kill Joab and Shimei to be deeply troubling. If Joab had done something worthy of death, then David should have killed him. But David did not, likely because Joab provided an incredible amount of utility to him. Then There’s Shimei, who had cursed David, but then changed his tune and came around to serve David. Combine that with the fact that David promised Shimei that he would not kill him, and the command to Solomon to do so comes off even worse! And these are part of the keys to the kingdom that David gives to his son! It’s no wonder then that Solomon also kills his own brother for a presumed coup (that is, asking to marry a girl who had “helped keep David warm”) and then dismisses the high priest — Abiathar — who had supported Adonaijah’s presumed ascent to the throne. This all seems much more like revenge and consolidation of power than it does one Godly king passing the throne to another.

It’s not until AFTER this that Solomon asks God for wisdom to lead well. Solomon’s actions in his personal life would lead him away from God, and his son would ultimately divide the kingdom of Israel. Solomon is a case study in the utter folly of human wisdom. And while David gets a lot of credit for being super awesome, that’s not what I see. I see a man who was deeply flawed, a poor father, a poor husband, a middling king, and a great military leader. The only thing David really had going for him was that — despite is glaring flaws — his heart was genuine and earnest in it’s longing for God.

What made David great in history? That God used him. What made Solomon great in history? That God used him. And if God can use these two exceptionally flawed men, He can use you! No matter how bad you THINK you are, God can use you! Do you really believe that God is so weak that He can only use perfect vessels?! His power is made perfect in weakness!

Think about this: God worked through Pharaoh! God worked through Balaam. God worked through Balaam’s donkey! The Bible is rife with examples of even people who HATED God being used by Him to accomplish His purposes. Now, salvation is a separate issue. I think we would all rather be a flawed-but-saved David than a used-but-damned Pharaoh. But the point remains…

You’re never too flawed to be used by God!

They Can’t Argue Your Testimony

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.

1 Peter 3:15, NET

This verse is as terrifying to some as it is inspiring to others. Do I have to give a whole Gospel presentation? What if I don’t have all the answers? What if it’s awkward? What if I’m seen as ‘pushy’? What if I don’t have a fully fleshed-out systematic theology and they ask about divine aseity!??!

Let’s remember that 1 Peter is about unjust suffering. That even as we suffer, we should still display the hope of Christ. So much so, in fact, that people will take notice and ask us why were are so hopeful given the circumstances. So live in a way that invites people to ask you questions! Be joyful, exuberant, and hopeful.

Then follow David’s lead. He writes:

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1, NIV

The thankfulness leads to joy. That is actually scientifically true, as argued by Dan Baker in his book “What Happy People Know”. Baker notes that our brain physically cannot experience gratitude and anxiety simultaneously. So exercising gratitude (I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart) will lead to that contagious, curious joy that will make folks take notice. And when they ask, you can tell them what God has done in your life (I will tell of all your wonderful deeds)!

People can argue whether Jesus is God, whether He rose from the grave, whether He even lived, but they can’t argue with what He has done in your life! And when you tell them the answer for your hope, joy, and gratitude is Jesus, then they will want to know more about Him.

Yes, sharing the Gospel is awesome, but sharing what the Lord has done in your life demonstrates the fruit of the Gospel, and opens doors for church events, service invitations, and even leading someone to Jesus!

So be joyful! And be willing to tell people why you are that way! God bless, my friends.

Are Our Prayers Results-Oriented?

While going through today’s reading, one verse hit me in the face with the force of a heavyweight boxer. David is praying for his son, Solomon, who will become king. David says,

Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.

1 Chronicles 29:19, NLT

Wow! Really let this sink in. Maybe you are not guilty of this, but I know I am; when I pray to God I want to see a result. I want to see a particle thing happen. Then I can check it off in my prayer journal and be satisfied that God has answered this prayer in the affirmative and move on to the next one. But David’s prayer, so simple and moving is that Solomon would not MERELY obey and accomplish, but that he would have the WHOLEHEARTED DESIRE to do so.

Is that how we pray? Do we want God to do the work/empower us to do the work, or do we want God to help us DESIRE to do the work?

God help me DESIRE more of You. Help me WANT to do what is right. Incline my heart toward Your will and Your way. Help me to long for unity with You, help me to persevere toward that Goal all of the days of my life. Help me to hunger and thirst after your heart. Help me to feel incomplete without your direction. God have Your way in me. Help me to love myself less so that I can leave more room for Your love to share with those who do not yet know You. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.

Thank you Jesus.

Sola Scriptura

This phrase was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation and comes from the Latin: sola meaning “alone” and the word scriptura meaning “writings” (the Scriptures, the Holy BIble). Sola scriptura declares that Scripture alone is authoritative in the life of the Christian as it pertains to matters of faith and truth. The Bible is complete, authoritative, and true.

Today I am applying it a little differently. Usually I would expound some kind of explainer or extrapolate some application from the day’s passage, but in this case, I think I will go with Scripture alone. And just allow the text to speak directly. Be encouraged, friends!

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you for forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20b

What is Casting Lots Anyway?

Just a brief explainer for today.

We see casting lots pop up 25 times in the Bible. The first is God giving directions to Aaron in Leviticus 16:7-9, the final one is the nomination of Mathias in Acts 1:26, and the most secular is the dividing of Jesus’ clothes in Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24-25, Luke 23:34, and John 19:23-24. I always sort of pictured is as drawing straws, but it was literally rolling dice, and that’s how the NET Bible translates it.

If this seems random to you, I can certainly understand why, but Solomon assures us:

The dice are thrown into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord. 

Proverbs 16:33, NET

1 Chronicles 23-25 | 123/365

(Not) Having All The Answers

I’ll just say it… 2 Samuel says that God told David to take a census (then punished him for it), whereas 1 Chronicles says that Satan led David to take a census and then God punished him for it. I find the theories online quite unsatisfying and I find it frustrating that I don’t have anything to put in the place of these theories. I was deep-diving into the Hebrew and looking at sentence structure and asking my wife what she thought of this or that observation. Then she said something wonderful in its simplicity. Sometimes we don’t have the answers. That’s not to say that the answer is un-findable (because I fully intend to find it and yeah, I will update you all when I do!), but rather that these secondary issues are not ones on which we need to get hung-up. The cross of Christ is primary and all these other items are grow, learn, discuss, and deepen our faith, but we don’t need to be afraid of not having a solution or a perfect understanding immediately.

If you ever find yourself unsure about something when reading the Bible… that’s okay. You don’t need to be afraid of it. God is still God. Jesus is still Jesus. And in time, with study and dedication these answers will come. At the very least we will be satisfied when we stand before the Lord with unveiled faces.

Be blessed tonight my friends.

2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21, 22 | 122/365

Fickle Friends

Absalom is dead and his coup with him. David returns to Jerusalem, his victory undercut by the death of his son. God’s promise that David’s sin would lead to his family living (and dying) by the sword is coming to pass. And during his return to Jerusalem several men from all the tribes of Israel help him return to the palace. But 10 of the tribes are angry that Judah is helping. They insist that David send them away because “where were they before!?”. David rebukes them, but then a man named Sheba tries to lead ANOTHER revolt against David and everyone EXCEPT Judah joins with him! This coup, too, would be shut down, but it shows the dangers of fickle friends. What if David had sent away Judah, and relied on the loyalty of people who would so quickly turn on him?

We cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by popular opinion. We cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage by the opinions of those who would hold their friends over our heads. Listen to the council of a faithful friend, but always weigh it against the truth of Scripture. Most friends come and go and shouldn’t have a place of high influence. But you should absolutely find a Ruth, Jonathan, or Barnabas and be that in return.

Faithful (in every sense of the word) friends > Fickle Friends

2 Samuel 19:30-21:22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8; Psalm 7

Polygamy & Misdirected Self-Loathing

It’s often pointed out that the Old Testament seems to turn a blind eye to polygamy, even appearing to endorse it in some cases. While this is essentially true outside of the first chapters of Genesis, what we do see consistently throughout the Old Testament is unflinching examination of the consequences of plural marriage. Such is the case with today’s reading.

David’s son Amnon (from David’s wife Ahinoam) develops an infatuation with his half-sister Tamar (from David’s wife Maacah) and devises a plan (with the help of his cousin) to get Tamar alone so he can rape her. This plot is successful, and so Tamar is raped by her half-brother WHILE SHE WAS TRYING TO CARE FOR HIM. How twisted is that? If you subscribe to the Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy that humans are inherently good, I submit that history has proved otherwise and Amnon is a prime example. Despite Tamar’s protestations, appeals, and even an offer of marriage, Amnon wanted what he wanted NOW.

But where the story takes a strange twist is after he has finished assaulting his sister, he suddenly hates her more than he ever loved1 her. She again begs him to at least care for her as the law calls for (Deut 22:28-29), but again he ignores her pleas and has his servants throw her into the street and lock the door. This begs the question; why did he hate her? He got what he wanted. Shouldn’t he be happy? Or at least indifferent? Why the anger? I contend that this is because of misdirected self-loathing.

See, sin is only appealing until you actually get it. Then it sears your conscience and it makes you hate yourself. This leads to all kinds of issues. In this case it became focused on Tamar. Somehow in Amnon’s mind it was HER fault that he had done this thing and he couldn’t stand the sight of her because she was a mirror that showed Amnon the sinful desire that permeated his heart. I’ve no doubt family gathering became awkward after that. Don’t forget that Jerusalem was essentially a government town like Washington, D.C., in the United States or Canberra, A.C.T in Australia. AND Jerusalem was only about 10 acres in size. For context, that’s a little smaller than Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York City. There’s no way these people didn’t see each other afterward.

We read that David was angry about this, but for two years no punishment came for Amnon. I mean, how could David punish Amnon for the very crime he had himself committed no so long ago? All the while Tamar’s only full sibling, Absalom, was seething with rage. This ongoing rage culminated in a successful plot to kill Amnon. This action sent David into mourning and Absalom into hiding, further tearing apart the family and this also began to bring to fruition the prophecy Nathan gave about how David’s sins with Bathsheba would cause his family to live and die by the sword.

So we can see how the polygamous lifestyle adopted by David lead to death, destruction, and heartache. When we deviate from God’s design bad things happen. We really shouldn’t act surprised. And what’s more… it may well be that God doesn’t condemn polygamy because history and experience have successfully done so over, and over, and over again.

2 Samuel 12:26-14:33; 1 Chronicles 20:2-3 | 117/365
  1. If such a word can even be applied. The Hebrew word here demonstrates little variation in its basic meaning. The intensity of the meaning ranges from God’s infinite affection for his people to the carnal appetites of a lazy glutton (Robert Alden, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). So it is deeply context-dependant. But given the craven nature of the desire and the act, I believe it’s clear that this veers well into the “carnal lust” interpretation and keeps quite clear of the “fatherly love” interpretation.

Expectations Are A Window Into Your Heart

There is a LOT to discuss in today’s passage and really, this episode could be a mini sermon series unto itself. But I won’t be talking about David’s “affair” with Bathsheba (I use the word “affair” extremely loosely because let’s face it, she was nobody, she wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to the king. This has every earmark of rape). Rather I want to briefly discuss David’s interactions with Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.

David gets Bathsheba pregnant while her husband is away at war, so he calls him back from the battle for some R&R and expects that Uriah will sleep with his wife and thus muddy the pregnancy timeline creating reasonable doubt that Uriah himself is the father. But, he doesn’t do that. In fact he doesn’t even go home. Not even after David tried to get him drunk. Not while the boys are still at the front, as was the custom at the time:

David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!”

1 Samuel 21:5, NIV

David’s weakness was women. Like I talked about before, the enemy uses whatever vector of attack is most promising. And — here is the key — David thinks Uriah will act in the same way he himself would in that circumstance. This is something we all do. We tend assume that people will act the same way we would, this is known in psychology as the False Consensus Effect. And so when we think someone will do something bad or attribute bad motives to people, we should take a beat and think about why. It could be that we are basing our thoughts and assumptions on previous behaviour (by the person in question, or some other individual from our past), but it could also be that we are getting a glimpse into our own hearts. It could be that our assumptions are causing our own worst tendencies, thoughts, and biases to bubble to the surface. Our suspicions and attributions may be exposing our own sin!

This is good news! Because once we know about a thing, we can address it. But it’s only good news if we take the time to actually consider WHY we feel any given way and ask the Lord for help in dealing with it. Otherwise we might end up heading down a dark trail that leads to terrible outcomes… which is exactly what happened to David.

2 Samuel 11:1-12:25, 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles 3:5-9, 14:3-7, 20:1; Psalm 51

Assuming Motives

David has what might today be described as a “peace treaty” with the Ammonites and their king Nahash, and when Nahash died, David sent some ambassadors to the new king of the Ammonites; his son Hanun. But Hanun listening to the nattering of his commanders who managed to convince him that David was not seeking to extend the peace treaty, but rather that these men were spies. As a result, the ambassadors were shamed and embarrassed and sent on their way. This resulted in a military response from Israel and the subjugation of the Ammonites to Israel as servants.

So then, rather than get the blessing of peace and whatever else might have arisen from the relationship with God’s chosen nation, the Ammonites got less than nothing. They got punishment. What are you missing out on because you have made assumptions about motives? How are you cheating yourself by listening to the idle chatter and gossip of the embarrassingly uninformed rather than seeking the Lord for His guidance and wisdom?

Don’t assume facts not in evidence. Trust the Lord and allow people to show you who they are. This isn’t a call to being foolish or reckless, but give people space to show you who they are before you make decisions. Just yesterday at a Calvary Global Network retreat one of the other pastors shared the following verse. And I’ll end with this today:

To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13, NIV
2 Samuel 8:15-10:19; 1 Chronicles 6:16-48, 50-53, 18:14-17, 19:1-19 | 115/365