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.
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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.
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.
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.
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Thus David ruled over all of Israel. He ruled well, fair and evenhanded in all his duties and relationships. 1 Chronicles 18:14 (MSG)
This past weekend my dad and I were road tripping down to the lake with my wife. In the process of our conversation, my dad mentioned that he'd run into my Junior High school Principal who had asked about me. When I was younger, I had positions of student leadership in school. But, I wasn't the greatest leader in the world. I thought that being in a position of leadership meant lording it over others, getting what you want, and doing what was in your best interest. Even though it was part of the journey that led to my relationship with Christ, I look back on those years with a sense of shame for my motivations and actions.
"If you see him again," I told my dad, "Tell him I'm sorry for being such an obnoxious little twerp."
I thought about that when I read the description of David's leadership in today's chapter. What a great description to have recorded through history of your leadership. What a great benchmark to strive for in my leadership positions in family, church, community and business: "To rule well, fair and evenhanded in all my duties and relationships."
Today, I'm thinking about my current positions of leadership, and doing some evaluation.
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"And now I'm telling you this: God himself will build you a house! When your life is complete and you're buried with your ancestors, then I'll raise up your child to succeed you, a child from your own body, and I'll firmly establish his rule. He will build a house to honor me, and I will guarantee his kingdom's rule forever." 1 Chronicles 17:10b-12 (MSG)
I sat in the high school gym with my daughter's Geography teacher. It was parent-teacher conferences and I was there to get a snapshot of how my daughter was doing in class. Her teacher looked at me and chuckled.
"You daughter has seen more of the world than I have. In some ways, she know more about Geography than I do!" he said.
I got his point. My eldest daughter is barely 20, and both of my daughters have been around the world to share the love of Christ with others. Thailand, India, Romania, Costa Rica, Panama, Morocco, and Mexico to be exact. When I was their age, I could not have fathomed having the breadth of experiences and opportunities that they have had to make a difference in other people's lives.
As I have supported their journies, prayed for them, and watched them grow, my mind has often wandered back to this chapter in 1 Chronicles. I watch my children give themselves to the work and I'm proud of them. In many ways, they have already seen more and experienced more in their 20 years than I have in all of my 40 (plus a few). God willing, my road will take me many places before my journey is through. Nevertheless, I accept that they will experience things and accomplish things of which I never dreamed.
David was a warrior and his road led through wilderness and battle. His road paved the way for his son, Solomon, who would enjoy a road that led through peace and knowledge. David's road made the way for Solomon's. My parents road paved the way for me. My road paves the way for my children. There is a subtle and holy order in that.
My job is to walk the path I'm given, and to prepare and support my children for the path God has for them.
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That was the day that David inaugurated regular worship of praise to God, led by Asaph and his company. 1 Chronicles 16:7 (MSG)
There was a distinct point in time when, for me, "going to church" became "worship." I was raised going to church. We were there every Sunday. I was a regular attender at Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Choir, and Sunday mornnig service. It was what my family did. We were religious about going to church, but wasn't really worship for me.
It was while I was in high school that I entered into a relationship with Jesus. Suddenly, the stale mechanics of going to church took on a whole new dimension. I wasn't checking something off my to-do list of good intentions. I wasn't just doing what my parents demanded. I was going to meet with God. I was going to have a heart-to-heart with Jesus, to learn from his message, and to worship the one who gave up his life for me.
One of the things that David understood was the importance of worship. Reading Chronicles, I get the sense that David viewed worship as a way of honoring God who had protected him, anointed him, and saved him. It wasn't about some religious good-luck charm. David understood that regular worship was part of his relationship with God.
Going to church is a religious good deed. Worshiping God is a relational act of the heart.
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When the Chest of the Covenant of God entered the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter, was watching from a window. When she saw King David dancing ecstatically she was filled with contempt. 1 Chronicles 15:29 (MSG)
As I read this verse in today's chapter I was taken back in my memory to a congreational meeting I experienced many years ago. It was a hot summer evening, and it was heated in the air conditioned meeting as well. The source of contention: whether it's appropriate to clap in church. The divide was, in general, along generational lines. The anti-clappers were entrenched in their insistence that the worship service be reverant, holy and quiet. The pro-clappers had various verses about praising God with clapping picked out to prove their point.
Worship can be a funny deal for people. How we express our praise and worship can be a very personal thing. I have been through several of these heated congregational meetings in different churches in which people were debating whether it was appropriate to clap. I've had to endure similar debates on raising hands in worship. The crux of the issue in these silly debates tends to always boil down to what individuals feel is appropriate, which I usually interpret to mean what makes them feel comfortable and should therefore apply to everyone around them so that they don't feel uncomfortable in worship.
Worship is a personal thing, and I've always tried to personally be true to two things when I'm in worship. First, I try to worship in a way that is true to God's message and what God has prescribed. Second, I try not to worry about anyone else. I'm responsible for how I am expressing praisse, thanks, honor, and confession. If I'm busy worrying about what other people are doing, then I'm not really focused on the reason I'm there in the first place.
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God answered, "This time don't attack head-on; circle around and come at them out of the balsam grove. When you hear a sound like shuffling feet in the tops of the balsams, attack; God will be two steps ahead of you...." 1 Chronicles 14:14b-15a (MSG)
We just finished a(nother) weekend of construction on the lower level of our playhouse at the lake. We had a stellar crew helping us with doors, flooring, and electrical work. I am, admittedly, not a real do-it-yourself guy. I can do some basics with a hammer and screwdriver, but I'm pretty clueless when it comes to some of the intricacies of construction.
One of the blessings of this project has been having family and friends who know what they are doing helping out. As we've worked on this project, I have often come to a point in the project where I'm perplexed. Many times I've gone to my dad or one of my knowledgeable friends with a question and have heard in response, "Yeah, I noticed that and I've been thinking about it. I think what we need to do is...." It's been amazing to have people two steps ahead of me, looking out for my best interest and sharing their wisdom.
Daily taking time to seek God's guidance and wisdom in the perplexing steps my journey, there is something comforting in the knowledge that He is two steps ahead of me, looking out for my best interest, and willing to guide me.
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