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« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2006, 02:51:28 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 1:1-3; 2:1-9

You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. - Psalm 61:5

TODAY IN THE WORD

According to tradition, Ezra the priest wrote Chronicles after arriving in Israel with a group of returning exiles in 458 b.c. Originally one book, Chronicles was later divided into two by translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament books originally written in Hebrew). Ezra definitely includes some of the stories found in Samuel and Kings, but he chose to focus on different details and in some cases included accounts not found in other books.

The original purpose of Chronicles was to encourage the Jews who were returning from exile in Babylon by reminding them of their identity and history as God's people. Assuming that most were already familiar with main events on the national-historical timeline, Ezra selected narratives that would fill this purpose. As we study this book this month, it's helpful for us to remember that Chronicles does not strive to relay every historical detail. Those details that were included have been carefully and consciously selected to encourage God's people.

Nine chapters of genealogy, the longest such passage in the Old Testament, open 1 Chronicles. One theme running through the book, present even here in the genealogy, is that of pleasing or displeasing God. Er's sin is left unspecified in Scripture (2:3; Gen. 38:7); Achar (also known as Achan) had stolen spoils of war at Jericho that were devoted to the Lord (2:7; Josh. 7:1).

In Hebrew culture, the construction of genealogies was fluid—for instance, generations might be skipped, or certain branches might be listed in greater detail. One of the purposes in 1 Chronicles was to trace the priestly line in order to resume proper national worship. Overall, the historical line began at Adam, an encouraging reminder that God's plan for His people dated back to Creation. This is true for us as well: a`s believers, we have an incredible heritage of people who have trusted, followed, and worshiped the Lord (Ps. 61:5). They are the “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us as we run our own races of faith (Heb. 12:1).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

One way to set a good tone for this month's study might be to set aside time to research your own family history, especially its spiritual dimensions. What are your roots? How has God been working in your extended family through the years? What spiritual heritage—a key part of our identity as believers—have you received and how can you best pass it on? Even if you are a first-generation Christian, genealogical digging might turn up a few surprises!
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« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2006, 02:52:09 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me. - 1 Chronicles 4:10

TODAY IN THE WORD

Five years ago, The Prayer of Jabez became a surprise best seller on both Christian and secular publishers' lists. The author, Bruce Wilkinson, exposited today's verses and said he has been praying them daily since 1972. His four main points are (1) that we should seek God's blessing; (2) that we should seek greater “territory” for ministry opportunities; (3) that we should depend on God's power, not our own strength, to accomplish ministry; and (4) that we should flee temptation. Christians worldwide have responded to the opening line: “This little book you're holding is about what happens when ordinary Christians decide to reach for an extraordinary life.”

One reviewer commented: “It is to Bruce Wilkinson's credit to have discerned something God-inspired in a couple of formerly obscure sentences in the first nine mind-numbing chapters of 1 Chronicles. His The Prayer of Jabez has turned out to be not only an exegetical coup but also a spiritual inspiration to millions.”

We know nothing of Jabez other than what is recorded here. But in these verses, we can unpack quite a bit about this man whose name means, “pain.” We see that he was a man of faith—his petition that God's hand be with him is an acknowledgment that he couldn't live victoriously in his own strength. Some scholars infer that he believed the Lord's blessing on him would be a witness to others. Since God granted his requests, it seems that he asked for all these things with an upright heart.

What are we to make of his request to be shielded from harm and pain? No one since the Fall has been able to escape these common features of human existence. Additionally, suffering is part of God's plan for sanctifying believers (1 Peter 2:19-21). Remember that Jabez means, “pain.” It may be that Jabez's request reflects his desire to be identified with something beyond his physical background and circumstances. We do know that our God is able to deliver anyone from a painful past into a bountiful future.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Mentioned at the start of today's devotion, The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson (Multnomah) has sold millions of copies around the world. Whether you agree with Wilkinson's interpretation or not, there are still great truths in this story in the Bible. First, we need to bring our requests to God, crying out to Him for strength. Second, our God hears our prayers, and He answers in powerful ways.
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« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2006, 02:52:47 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 5:23-26

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol. - Exodus 20:3-4

TODAY IN THE WORD

The Cheating Culture, by David Callahan, provides a stinging indictment of contemporary American values. Subtitled Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, the book discusses corporate scandals, tax cheating, academic and journalistic fraud, pirated music, and numerous other examples. Asserts the author: “These stories are not isolated instances. They are part of a pattern of widespread cheating throughout U.S. society . . . [A]vailable evidence strongly suggests that Americans are not only cheating more in many areas but are also feeling less guilty about it. When ”˜everybody does it,' or imagines that everybody does it, a cheating culture has emerged.”

In a similar tone, 1 Chronicles points out a story of ongoing covenant cheating or unfaithfulness by God's chosen people. As we go through this genealogical section of the book, our purpose is to highlight historical themes and background information that help us understand the main narrative of the kingship of David. Before reading or hearing that encouraging history, the original audience also needed to be reminded of the actions that had brought on the Exile in the first place.

The Exile was a judgment on Israelite idolatry: “[T]hey were unfaithful to the God of their fathers and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land” (v. 25). They abandoned the One who had given them victory and turned to the conquered idols instead—sin is often irrational in this way. In so doing, they broke two of the Ten Commandments (see today's verse). They violated their intimate relationship with God, as the metaphor of prostitution shows, though He intended them to be His pure bride (Isa. 61:10).

God sovereignly knows and rules all. He saw and judged righteously, and used a pagan king as the instrument of judgment. And so, despite their military prowess, they were defeated by their own sin and deported to foreign lands (cf. 2 Kings 17:7-20).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Do you find yourself swept up in the “cheating culture,” willing to sacrifice integrity and obedience for “success”? If success is defined apart from God, it's really a deceptive form of idolatry. These are serious sins that God does not take lightly, as our passage today demonstrates. Repent of anything that you hold above the favor of God, ask Him for forgiveness, and renew your loyalty to Him.
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« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2006, 02:53:23 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 9:22-33

I . . . delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. - Colossians 2:5

TODAY IN THE WORD

Church government in modern times can take many forms, depending on your denomination or tradition. Do you refer to your main leader as “pastor,” “reverend,” “teacher,” or simply call him by his first name? Is there a “church board” or a “council of elders”? Are leaders “appointed,” “elected,” or “called”? Is the authority structure hierarchical or cooperative? How is church discipline practiced (or not)? However churches structure themselves, some form of ecclesiastical organization is essential to the smooth running of all the things your church does.

When the Jewish exiles returned to their homeland, in many ways they needed to start over in reorganizing their national religious life. Here's the timeline: the return had begun under Cyrus about 538 b.c., with the temple rebuilt by about 516 b.c. This marked the end of the seventy years of captivity, which had begun about 586 b.c. Ezra arrived with the second wave of returnees under Artaxerxes, followed by Nehemiah in about 444 b.c. The system of priests, Levites, and sacrifices had been on hold through the Exile (cf. Ps. 137)—but as the genealogies show, people had been keeping track. These facts were, after all, at the core of their national identity. How appropriate on this Fourth of July, when we reflect on our identity as a nation, to be reading about how Israel rediscovered and reconstituted its own national identity. In this context, a description of religious duties is richly meaningful. The mention of activities such as mixing spices for incense, polishing the temple furnishings, or baking showbread told the original audience that the sacred dimensions of their national life were ready to begin again, that the covenant relationship with God could be renewed.

Today's verse reminds us that God loves order in worship because He Himself is a God of order. “Order” is not a cold quality but a warm virtue, something our Lord delights in, and part of His righteousness that works against sinfulness and disorder (James 3:16).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

On a smaller scale, we might imitate the organization of the Levites in our family or small group devotions or Bible study times. For example, in addition to a leader, other roles might include an artist, who makes a passage come alive through reading, drama, visual art, or music; an encourager, who makes sure all group members feel involved; an historian, who takes responsibility for historical and cultural background; and a connector, who offers ideas for contemporary applications of truths studied.
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« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2006, 02:54:01 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 10:1-14

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. - 1 Chronicles 10:13

TODAY IN THE WORD

In Shakespeare's famous play, King Lear, the king made the error of listening to the self-serving flattery of his two older daughters rather than the loving rebuke of his youngest. Most of the drama then relentlessly shows the cascading consequences of his choice—consequences that include betrayal, civil war, a kingdom in chaos, extreme suffering, and death. Too late, Lear saw the truth—not only who had genuinely loved him, but also the sinful pride that had governed his perceptions and decisions.

Like Lear, King Saul found himself a tragic victim of his own sinful choices, as summed up in today's verse. Chapter 10 begins the historical narrative of Chronicles and serves as both a prelude and a contrast to David's story that follows.

At the end of a losing battle against the Philistines, Saul chose to kill himself rather than face capture. He was right to fear the enemy's abuse, for when they found his body they hung his head in their god's temple as a trophy of victory. The brave men of Jabesh Gilead, however, demonstrated courage and respect by rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons and giving them proper burials (cf. 2 Sam. 2:4-7).

Saul's death had multiple causes. He fell on his sword—that's the physical cause. But although it appears that he was in control at the very end of his life, in reality his death also had a spiritual dimension. In the big picture, God, the sovereign King of the universe, had judged and punished Saul: “the Lord put him to death” (v. 14). We may not fully understand the relationship between our choices and God's sovereignty, but as Moses had warned the covenant people long before: “[Y]ou may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

Despite their troubled history, David didn't rejoice over Saul's death, even though he surely knew that he would now become king. Instead he recognized the tragedy and lamented, “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Sam. 1:19).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

The negative examples in Scripture, like Saul, are not usually as thrilling to study as the positive role models. If we believe that all Scripture is given for our benefit and instruction, then we have something to learn from the sad tale of Saul. His kingly career had so much promise at the beginning, but his continuous lack of obedience had devastating consequences for his career, his family, and his own life. Our calling, no matter what the ministry, does not allow us to behave any way we want. God continues to demand obedience.
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« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2006, 02:54:40 PM »

Read: Exodus 5:1-4

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? - Psalm 2:1

TODAY IN THE WORD

Every November 5 the people of Britain observe an unusual celebration. They make an effigy, called a “guy,” and set it on fire as they celebrate with fireworks. This strange custom commemorates the foiled attempt on the life of King James I in 1605, when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the English Parliament with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder. The assassination plot was thwarted and the conspiracy that surrounded it uncovered when one of the conspirators wrote a letter to a friend warning him not to attend Parliament that day.

In Psalm 2 the psalmist writes of a larger conspiracy against a greater sovereign using language that echoes the rebellion of Pharaoh, described in today's Scripture passage. Like those in the psalm, Pharaoh took a stand against Israel's God. His spirit of rebellion was epitomized by the question of Exodus 5:2: “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?”

This same question is repeated by all who refuse to acknowledge the authority of God's Word. According to Psalm 2:4, the Lord is not impressed with such bravado, nor does He tolerate it for long. Pharaoh learned from tragic experience that the Lord has ultimate authority over all mankind, even those who do not recognize His sovereignty. The fact that Pharaoh did not acknowledge the authority of God did not mean that he was free from the obligation of obedience. As creator, the God of Moses was Lord of the nations long before He was the Lord of Israel. His word is binding upon all mankind.

This truth is the foundation of all missionary effort. The church seeks to reach every tribe, tongue, and nation with the message of salvation because God's Word “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). The church's urgency in carrying this command to the nations is fueled by the knowledge that God has also “set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed” (Acts 17:31). Obedience to the truth is not optional, and God has consistently demonstrated that He will punish rebellion.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Spend some time today praying for the rulers of those nations that have not yet acknowledged the authority of Christ. A good resource for guiding your prayer is the book Operation World compiled by Patrick Johnstone and published by Gabriel Resources. This valuable tool will give you insight into the political and spiritual climate of the world's nations and can be a strategic guide when praying for unreached peoples. You may also visit the Operation World Web site at www.gmi.org/ow/ for a list of countries that need your prayer today.
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« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2006, 02:55:17 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 11:10-25

It is God who arms me with strength. . . . He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. - Psalm 18:32, 34

TODAY IN THE WORD

Late one night, bomb squad police officers Danny McGuire and Jerry Farrell were called to the scene of an explosion. A live pipe bomb was still on the floor next to a dead body in a badly damaged apartment. Under the circumstances, the two men couldn't wear their bulky, protective bomb suits or even move around freely. Nonetheless, they went in and successfully disarmed the bomb. McGuire's citation for the Superintendent's Award of Valor, the Chicago Police Department's highest honor, called it a “selfless act of bravery.”

Danny McGuire Jr., also a police officer, agreed: “He disregarded his own safety so he could help other people. The reason I'm a police officer is because I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps. My whole life, I have wanted to be like him. Other kids looked up to sports heroes. I looked up to my dad.”

The world needs more true heroes. David's “mighty men” qualify! They were the king's elite forces, military leaders, and personal bodyguards. That's why many were non-Israelites; in that day, it was common for rulers to employ foreigners as bodyguards so that they would be loyal to him alone and couldn't be used in political plots or coups. The exploits described in today's reading exemplify the fact that God was blessing David and giving him victory on every side. The nation's source of strength was ultimately not military but spiritual.

The best story is found in verses 15-19. “The Three” risked their lives to go on a daring raid against the Philistines. At one level, their actions appear foolhardy, for all they did was fetch water, but perhaps they genuinely wanted to honor the king. In any case, David honored both them and the Lord by pouring out the water as a drink offering. His action thanked God for preserving the men's lives, hailed their courage and devotion to the king . . . and probably warned them to choose their missions more wisely in the future!

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Speaking of heroes, who has been a model or mentor in your life? How has this person helped “arm” you for victory on the battlefield of life? Which qualities or biblical virtues do they possess that you most admire and want to grow in? How have they helped you develop and mature in your daily walk with the Lord? Reflect on these questions, then write a note of appreciation. If you can't think of anyone, ask God to put such a person in your life.
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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2006, 02:55:53 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 12:16-22

Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you. - 1 Chronicles 12:18

TODAY IN THE WORD

War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars is a collection of more than 200 letters written by soldiers of all ranks over the last 150 years. “Every day these letters are getting thrown away or lost,” said the editor. “This is a tragedy. They are the first unfiltered draft of history. To me this is the great unknown literature of the American people.” The director of a PBS documentary based on the book added, “There's a drama that happens in war that's like no other. The soldiers are so close to death that they talk about the things that are most important to them. In the letters, you're looking into people's souls.”

David's success in war testified to the fact that God's hand was with him—it was as if his army were “the army of God” (v. 22). The returned exiles, the original recipients of this book of Chronicles, needed the encouragement of remembering these “glory days,” while modern readers can learn from the principle that faithfulness and obedience are every believer's strength.

Not much is known about Amasai, except that he was later among David's “mighty men.” By the Holy Spirit, Amasai recognized that joining David meant joining God (v. 18). While the Spirit didn't indwell believers in Old Testament times, He did come upon selected people on specific occasions in order to send special messages or empower them for important deeds or acts of service. We also know, of course, that the Spirit inspired the prophets and other writers of Scripture (Heb. 1:1-2).

“The army of God” is probably a host of angels. God is often pictured in Scripture as a mighty warrior—for example, in Exodus 15, when Moses and the Israelites praised Him for the miraculous victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea. A common biblical title for God is better translated “Lord of hosts,” a phrase that the niv translates as “Lord Almighty.”

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Trusting in God's strength is the only way to true spiritual victory. If you wish, memorize one or more Bible verses to remind yourself of this fact. A good place to start is Philip- pians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Another helpful verse is 1 Corinthians 1:25: “The weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” Other good choices for Scripture memorization include Psalm 20:7-8; Psalm 44:1-8; and Psalm 118:14-16.
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« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2006, 02:56:31 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 13:1-8

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God. - 1 Chronicles 13:8

TODAY IN THE WORD

Did you know the Ark of the Covenant might be located in Ethiopia? No, this is no Hollywood movie script. Many Ethiopian Jews and Christians believe they are descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and that the Ark is now in a chapel in Aksum, guarded 24 hours a day. Scholars have not been permitted to study the relic and so have been unable to judge the claim. Even so, Ethiopians believe that when the temple is rebuilt during the end times, they will return the Ark as a gift (as described in Isa. 18).

David understood the importance of the Ark of the Covenant. Having made Israel militarily more secure, he turned his attention to putting the nation back on a sound spiritual foundation. His first priority was to recover the Ark and bring it to his new capital city of Jerusalem. At that time, the Ark had been in Kiriath Jearim for about a century. The Philistines had captured it in battle, but after plagues struck their cities they had returned it on a new oxcart to Kiriath Jearim, where it had remained (see 1 Sam. 4-6).

The Ark was important because it symbolized God's presence with His people (see Ex. 25:10-22). The “atonement cover” or “mercy seat” showed forgiveness, as blood was sprinkled there on the Day of Atonement. The cherubim represented God's holiness. The two tablets of the Ten Commandments had been placed inside, a reminder of the Mosaic Law and covenant.

Many things were right about David's desires and behavior with regard to the Ark. He consulted with other leaders. He acted in a spirit of respect and worship. This reflected a personal love for God, on display for all to see as he celebrated before the Lord (v. Cool, as well as a sense of kingly responsibility. Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem signaled to the nation that they were all under God's rule and would once again be seeking to live under His authority as His covenant people.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Though David's heart was in the right place, it appears he neglected to submit his decision in today's reading to the Lord. Let's not make the same mistake! If you're faced with a key choice in the coming week—and odds are you will be—be sure to pray over it with an open mind and heart. Don't assume you know what God wants or that He will “rubber stamp” apparently good desires and plans. And give thanks that His wisdom is ours for the asking (James 1:5).
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« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2006, 02:57:12 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 13:9-14

The Lord’s anger burned again Uzzah, and he struck him down. - 1 Chronicles 13:10

TODAY IN THE WORD

In the earliest days of the Mosaic Law, Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu brought unauthorized fire before the Lord in the tabernacle. Their disobedience dishonored the nation's worship and their own calling as priests, and God immediately struck them down as proof of His uncompromising holiness. To further emphasize that the service of the Lord took priority over earthly concerns and must be done on His terms, Aaron's family was not permitted to mourn their deaths (Lev. 10).

Down through Jewish history, this episode had been remembered as a warning. David had heard the story—he should have known better than to act carelessly with sacred things. He had also heard what had happened after the Philistines had returned the Ark: some men looked inside and were put to death by God for their irreverence (1 Sam. 6:19-20). David should have checked the Law for rules concerning the Ark: It should never have been put on a cart. It was to be carried with poles by priests and was never to be touched by anyone for any reason (Num. 4:15). So when Uzzah put his hand out to steady it during transport, he sinned. All of them, including him, should have known better. Ignorance, if it was that, was no excuse.

From a human perspective, David's anger is understandable. He may have been thinking: “God, you're unfair! I'm trying to lead Israel to worship you again. Why do you have to go and punish someone?!” God is God, however, and His ways are higher. He knew David's heart, but His holiness and clear commands demanded obedience. Good intentions did not excuse carelessness. In addition, David's anger reflected his pride (at the public humiliation for him as king) and guilt (he knew what he should have done). It may have been on this very day that he learned a lesson he later taught to Solomon: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10; see v. 12).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

David thought he was pleasing God with his plan for the Ark, but he failed to follow God's instructions when executing his plan. His anger showed pride . . . his big moment was spoiled by tragedy. Are you doing the same as David? Is there something you're doing for self that you've convinced yourself is really for the Lord? Apart from the duplicity of our own hearts, Satan loves to confuse and corrupt our spiritual understandings and motivations. The Lord cares about our intentions, but He also cares about our obedience.
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« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2006, 02:57:51 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 14:1-17

So David’s fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him. - 1 Chronicles 14:17

TODAY IN THE WORD

Thirteen students from Moody Bible Institute, led by professor Dr. Samuel Naaman, spent last summer serving God in Kabul, Afghanistan. By working to provide humanitarian assistance, they learned first-hand about the situation and people in that war-torn nation. The team helped feed the children of war widows and rebuild a hospital at which they also planted a rose garden, an act with special significance in Afghan culture. Christians are not allowed to carry out evangelistic activities in Afghanistan; nonetheless, by living out Christ's love to those in need the Moody team shone the light of Jesus brightly. As should we all, they glorified God's name among the nations.

In today's reading, we see God's name being glorified among the nations. David could have had a swelled head over his military successes, but the evidence shows that he acknowledged God as the true King of Israel. For instance, he interpreted Hiram of Tyre's gifts as proof of God's favor (v. 2). A second example is that he asked God for a battle plan against the Philistines, not just once but twice. God gave him two victories, including direct help from the “army of God” (v. 15; cf. 12:22).

When Hiram sent workmen and materials to help build a palace, it was more than a simple gift or gesture of goodwill. It was a recognition of the legitimacy of David's kingship, like sending an ambassador or granting diplomatic recognition in modern times. The consolidation of David's position is also shown in his accumulation of wives and children. Polygamy is never God's will (Gen. 2:24), and David's actions disobeyed the Law (Deut. 17:17), but it was a common Near Eastern custom and way to claim or pursue power. Though the writer of Chronicles didn't explicitly condemn it, his readers would have known that these marriages sowed the seeds of future trouble. At that time, however, David's rise in power spread the fear of the Lord among the nations (v. 17).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Today's passage brings to mind world missions, which is also focused on glorifying God among the nations. To become more involved with the missionaries your church supports, write to one and propose a “photo exchange.” That is, perhaps once per month you can mail or e-mail one another current personal or family photographs. This might help you keep up with children's growth, for example, or give more opportunities to learn meaningful details of one another's lives. Such personal involvement is sure to encourage you both!
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« Reply #41 on: July 15, 2006, 02:58:26 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 15:1-16

For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. - Psalm 25:11

TODAY IN THE WORD

On the night when Christ was betrayed, despite being specifically warned, Peter denied his Lord three times. He must have felt as though all was lost. How could Jesus forgive that? Yet on the Day of Pentecost, Peter received the Holy Spirit along with the others and preached a powerful sermon that led about three thousand people to trust Christ as Savior that very day (Luke 22:54-62; Acts 2). Despite all, Christ forgave Peter and had big plans for the role that the apostle would play in the life of the early church.

In today's reading, David probably felt the same as Peter. With the best of intentions, he had blown the Ark recovery in a big way. During the three months it stayed at Obed-Edom's house, he had plenty of time to relive his sin and its tragic consequences. We can also infer that he spent those months praying, confessing, inquiring of the Lord, and searching the Scriptures (v. 13). Finally, he was ready to try again. David had clearly learned from his mistakes, and much was done differently this second time around. The Ark was carried properly, on poles. Priests and Levites were used more correctly and formally. A period of consecration preceded the move.

Only one thing seems to have stayed the same—the spirit of worship, especially as expressed in music (v. 16). In Jerusalem, the king had prepared a place for the Ark, a “tent” similar to the previous tabernacle. He had likely found the detailed instructions in the Law. From a human perspective, David took a huge risk by trying again. What if something else went wrong? But he moved ahead in faith and humility, believing that God's will done in God's way brings God's blessing, and even more important, that God forgives sin. This was a key lesson to learn, for this wouldn't be the last time David would need second chances and extra grace. Peter would have understood.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Are you feeling like a failure? Have you “flamed out” or “hit rock bottom”? Take heart from David's story. Though his sin and disgrace were painfully public (and this isn't the only time that would be true), God extended grace to His child. God is the God of second (and third, fourth, etc.) chances. So if you're stuck in self-pity, anger, or confusion, or you think there's no way God could forgive what you've done this time, think again! His grace never runs out.
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« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2006, 02:59:01 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 15:25-16:6

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. - Psalm 100:2

TODAY IN THE WORD

The Christian band Third Day recently issued two albums of worship music. Immensely popular and the winners of many awards, Offerings and Offerings II featured such memorable tracks as “King of Glory,” “You Are Beautiful,” and “Sing a Song.” Lead singer Mac Powell explained: “If we're musicians and we want to play music and yet we have a message to share, the first thing to do is know what we believe and why, but as far as the music side, make quality music that is going to open up people's ears to hear that message. I'm not saying the music is more important, but you better make some quality music or people are not going to want to hear you, period.”

In other words, the content and spirit of worship matters, and it should be offered to God to the best of our ability. David understood this, and his right attitude is found from several angles in today's reading. First, respect and honor are part of genuine worship. David made sure that a full complement of leaders accompanied the Ark, including the king's counselors (political), army commanders (military), and priests and Levites (spiritual). Their presence acknowledged God as the Source of their ability to govern and lead, showing the nation that they trusted not in themselves but in the Lord. Second, rejoicing permeates worship. Given what had happened the first time around, the atmosphere here could easily have been one of fear or caution, but instead we read of singing, dancing, and shouts of joy. Third, we understand that worship includes prayer and sacrifice (cf. Rom. 12:1-2).

As David danced and celebrated before the Lord, his wife Michal saw what was going on and “despised him in her heart” (15:29). She thought he had lost his royal dignity cavorting about in such a manner, but she failed to understand the heart of true worship, the self-abandoning joy David felt in God's presence. For her pride and incomprehension, she remained childless the rest of her life (2 Sam. 6:20-23).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

A heart of worship should be every believer's goal. One book that might help you gain a heart like David's is Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas (Zondervan). Reflecting on both Scripture and church history, the author suggests nine ways to love, worship, and commune with God. You can find this book and others mentioned in “Today Along the Way” at your local Christian bookstore or from online retailers like or
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« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2006, 02:59:41 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. - 1 Chronicles 16:8

TODAY IN THE WORD

Historian Albert J. Raboteau wrote about the worship of African Americans in the days of slavery: “The presence of God became manifest in the words, the gestures, and the bodily movements of the believers. . . . The emotional ecstasy of the slaves' worship services conveyed their belief that the whole person—body as well as spirit—made God present and so the human person became an image of God. By encouraging them to believe the biblical doctrine that everyone was created in the image of God, worship helped Christian slaves to fight off slavery's terrible power to depersonalize its victims.”

David, with a similarly whole-person approach to praising the Lord, would have felt right at home. His psalm commemorating the safe arrival of the Ark is an all-out celebration of who God is and how He loves His people. What we have here is a kind of medley: Verses 8-22 match up with Psalm 105:1-15; verses 23-33 with Psalm 96; and verses 34-36 with Psalm 106:1, 47-48. Those psalms don't list an author, but it's reasonable to conclude either that David had already written them and drew from them on this occasion, or that he later borrowed from this composition when writing more psalms later.

The psalm opens with a call to worship (vv. 8-13). Those who remember the wonders God has done will seek His face and sing His praises. He is a covenant-keeping God, always faithful to His people (vv. 14-22). Like the returned exiles hearing or reading Chronicles, the Patriarchs too had been homeless, but God had protected and blessed them.

Furthermore, He is glorious among the nations (vv. 23-33). He is not some local idol, but the Eternal Sovereign, Creator and Lord of all nations and nature. The concluding verses remind us again of all these themes (vv. 34-36). “Amen,” which we also say today, is related to the Hebrew verb “believe” and indicates an affirmation of something firm and true.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Though we may not all possess David's musical gifts and abilities, we can still imitate his spirit of praise by writing our own “psalm.” First, recall a recent blessing for which you're thankful. Then compose a prayer or poem of gratitude and rejoicing. If you're not feeling particularly creative, you might “cut and paste” favorite verses from biblical psalms. Finally, offer your prayer or poem to the Lord as an expression of thanksgiving and worship (Col. 3:16-17).
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« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2006, 03:00:21 PM »

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:37-43

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. - Psalm 108:1

TODAY IN THE WORD

For about thirty years, Lawrence Dutton has played the viola in the Emerson Quartet, one of the best chamber ensembles of modern times. When the group released a recording of Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, originally composed for a Good Friday service, he commented, “Haydn was a believer. To realize I'm playing his musical interpretation of some of the most important Scripture is inspiring.” A committed Christian, Dutton wants to honor God through making music: “[T]here are wonderful moments where, as I'm approaching something difficult or leading the music, I offer it up to God as a gift in honor of Him.”

By this point in 1 Chronicles, David's love of music in worship is obvious. Musical instruments and choirs were front and center in the procession accompanying the Ark. The priests' and Levites' duties with regard to music and praise are listed carefully, showing how close these issues were to Israel's heart. In those days, trumpets were longer than the modern version and didn't have keys. The word was also used for shorter rams' horns. Cymbals, perhaps made of copper, were similar to those today. A lyre was a 10-stringed, harp-like instrument, while the harp itself has a proud pedigree stretching from Genesis (4:21) to Revelation (15:2-4). David himself played the harp (1 Sam. 16:23) as well as writing many of the psalms.

We're not sure why the Ark was placed in Gibeon, though we know it remained there until Solomon built the temple. Since David had prepared a special tent in Jerusalem as well, two main worship sites existed and a high priest was needed at each location—Zadok in Gibeon and Abiathar in Jerusalem.

“For his love endures forever” (v. 41) was a kind of short prayer or chorus that signaled the truth of God's covenant lovingkindness. The Hebrew term is hesed (used about 250 times in the Old Testament) indicates both love and faithfulness.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Singing “new songs” to the Lord is a good thing (Rev. 5:9). Today, we encourage you to seek out some new music to add to your favorites. You might ask a friend or a family member to introduce you to an album, artist, or style of music you haven't heard before. Or you could visit a Christian bookstore (local or online) and listen to sample songs beyond your usual choices. It's not new for new's sake—the goal is to be challenged in a fresh way to praise the Lord.
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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