Tag Archives: Chronicles

Pray for Knowledge of Christ’s Love

Earlier this week during my morning prayer time I read a wonderful passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This passage is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV).

At the time I thought about how this passage would be a great basis for a blog post reminding people how much God loves them, but the week got away from me and the post didn’t get written. Today, following the tragedies in Portland, Oregon (so close to my home) and in Connecticut, I realize that God’s timing is perfect because this passage holds the answer so many are looking for as to how someone could do such an evil thing as shoot strangers in a mall or kindergarteners in a school, not to mention their own mother.

Throughout scripture we are told that the heart of mankind is evil. The reason we are told God flooded the earth and saved only Noah and his family is because “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Of one of the kings of Israel it is said, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 12:14 (NIV). As Jesus explained to His disciples, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” Mark 7:22-23 (NIV).

But the heart that grasps the love of Christ is filled with the fullness of God. In such a heart evil thoughts are driven out by love and compassion. In this world we live in, and especially in the United States, people think they can live without God. Many don’t teach their children that God loves them, perhaps because they don’t know this wonderful truth themselves, and then we are surprised when children grow up to be murderers.

The problem that leads to such tragedies as we have seen this week is not that people have guns, it is that they do not have Christ. I realize that there are plenty of people who do not believe in or know God who do not go out and murder others, but I also know that those who commit such unspeakable acts cannot possibly know God’s love for them.

The love of Christ is kind of like a vaccine. We give vaccines to all our kids to prevent them from getting terrible diseases, even though not every kid would get the disease if the vaccine was not given. We need to vaccinate all our children against the evil that has the potential to take over their hearts, and that vaccine is the heart knowledge of the love of God that surpasses human knowledge.

As Christians, we need to pray not only for those who have suffered a great tragedy, but we need to pray every day—as Paul did for the Ephesians—for our children to have the power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

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Thank Offering – A Triolet

Yesterday I was trying to decide what to write for my Thankful Thursday poem and couldn’t seem to think of anything. It’s not that I’m not thankful – on the contrary, I’m feeling quite thankful about many things. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. Then I thought of just writing a triolet of praise to God.

Thank Offering

A thank offering of praise to our Lord
Rises from the lips of His beloved
I am His beloved, you are His love
A thank offering of praise to our Lord

Holy Spirit soaring high as a dove
Lifted up on praises offered above
A thank offering of praise to our Lord
Rises from the lips of His beloved

Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings. 2 Chronicles 29:31 (NIV).

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A Lesson from King Josiah: Older and Wiser

I’m getting back to my Bible-in-a-year schedule. The date on my schedule says it’s October, but I’m pretty sure it’s May. It is May, isn’t it? Anyway, I took a break from this schedule for Lent and followed the Wordstrong reading schedule my whole church was following. But I really have no excuse for being so far behind, except that I get busy and read other things, and well, the next section on the schedule was 2 Chronicles 34 – 35.

I’m not a huge fan of 1 and 2 Chronicles because it seems so repetitive. These two books basically “chronicle” (hence the name) the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah. Each chapter starts so-and-so, son of so-and-so, became king of Judah. He was x years old. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord or he did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord. There seem to be a lot more of the former, but I’ve never actually taken a tally to confirm that.

As I looked at my schedule last week, I thought to myself (and actually said out loud to my husband) “I don’t want to read 2 Chronicles.” And so I read the New Testament passages for that day, which were from Acts. But when I was done with the chapters from Acts I still wasn’t sleepy so I decided I would go ahead and get the 2 Chronicles chapters over with.

Of course, this is where God spoke to me and showed me that there is more to 2 Chronicles than meets the eye.

Chapters 34 and 35 are the story of King Josiah who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He became king at the age of eight and right from the beginning he followed in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. When he was older, the scroll of the law was found in the temple. As the scroll was read, Josiah realized the Israelites had not been following it, and “he tore his robes.” This means that he humbled himself before God because he was upset that the Israelites had not been following God’s law. He resolved to change that and to follow God in the way he now knew he should.

What struck me about this is that as he got older, Josiah became wiser. For many years he had done his best to follow God and was even credited with doing what was pleasing to God. But when he learned more about God from the scroll that was found, he used this new information to change his actions and his attitude towards God.

I have been a Christian for quite a few years and, since the time I was baptized and became a believer, I have tried my best to do what was right in God’s eyes. With the information and wisdom that I had at each stage of my life, I followed God. But I am older now and have read much more of His Word; that should mean I am wiser. What was pleasing to God when I was 25 would probably not be pleasing to Him now that I am in my 40’s. I must continually grow in my understanding of His Word and change my actions and attitude towards God when I learn new information that reveals that the actions of my youth were not in accordance with God’s will.

Conversely, when I see young Christians acting in a way or displaying an attitude that I know from God’s Word is not pleasing to Him, I need to be understanding. I need to realize that they are (hopefully) acting in accordance with the knowledge and wisdom that they now have. As they seek to know Him better, their actions and attitudes will change and they will become more like Christ. With gentleness, it is my duty to guide them when led by the Spirit to do so, and to point them to the Word of God and what He has to say on the issue before us. As one who has “heard the words of the Law” as King Josiah did, and grown in my understanding of Christ’s grace and mercy, it is my duty to pass that on to others who are less mature in their faith. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV).

King Josiah shared the words of the scroll that had been found with all of the people (see 2 Chronicles 34:29-31) so that they might be built up as a nation and recommit themselves to the Lord. He was a good king, and his story is worth reading and learning from. In the same way, those who know God’s Word should share it with others so that we might be built up as the body of Christ.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

As part of the Post-a-Day 2011 Challenge, The Daily Post at WordPress.com has been providing an optional writing prompt to get bloggers started. Although I won’t use their prompt on most days, I have already found one that I like. It was posted on Jan. 1 for use in Jan. 2 posts, but since I already had plans for Jan. 2 as part of Psalm Sunday, and then decided I wanted to do Music Monday, I decided to save it for a later day. Here is the prompt:

Name someone who deserves more credit than they get. And for bonus points, how to change things so they get more.

The first person I thought of when I read this was the Holy Spirit. Even in the Apostles’ Creed, all we say is “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” The Nicene Creed does have a bit more to say about the Holy Spirit:

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

The Bible, however, has much to say about the Holy Spirit. Beginning at the beginning, Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” The Holy Spirit of God has always existed and was instrumental in the creation of the earth.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is revealed as powerful and magnificent. Many times, God filled prophets and others with His Spirit, giving them wisdom, expertise, knowledge, and strength beyond their natural abilities.

“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze.” Exodus 31:2-4.

And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. Numbers 11:25.

At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him [Samson], and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. . . But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Judges 14:6; 15:14.

Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said,“We are yours, David!We are on your side, son of Jesse.Peace and prosperity be with you,and success to all who help you,for your God is the one who helps you.”So David let them join him, and he made them officers over his troops. 1 Chronicles 12:18.

His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. Job 26:13.

But as for me, I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and strength to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion. Micah 3:8.

The Old Testament also contains the promise, fulfilled in the New Testament, that God will give His Holy Spirit power to all who believe.

“Then, after doing all those things,
      I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
      Your old men will dream dreams,
      and your young men will see visions.
 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
      even on servants—men and women alike.” Joel 2:28-29.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit continues to be revealed as powerful, as well as beneficial to the believer. Jesus, the Messiah, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and thus is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life and the source of wisdom, counsel, and more.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18.

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35.

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11.

[Jesus said,] “You are witnesses of all these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” Luke 24:48-49.

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:6.

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor], who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:16-17.

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26.

That last verse is one of my favorites. I have personally experienced the Holy Spirit reminding me of something Jesus had taught me through my reading of the Word, of His teaching. When I need a verse to help me through a difficult situation, it is the Holy Spirit that brings just the right verse to mind. I may not always remember the Biblical “address” of the verse, or even what book of the Bible it is in, but I know where it comes from and Who has brought it to my attention.

I think that too often even Christians forget to give credit to the Holy Spirit when it is due. All of the charitable acts or service for our fellow man that we do are born out of the power and desire of the Holy Spirit. Even our faith itself is given to us by the Holy Spirit. I have quoted quite a few verses here, but I really haven’t even scratched the surface of the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit.

So that brings me to the second part of the prompt. What can I do to change things so that the Holy Spirit gets the credit He deserves? I will endeavor, with the help of the Holy Spirit Himself, to write about the wonderful things He deserves credit for in my life and as promised in scripture in the weeks and months to come. I’m going to be posting every day, so I’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity.

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Fully Committed

Last night I climbed into bed and picked up my Bible to read before going to sleep. I checked my Bible-in-a-year schedule and saw that I was still in the middle of 2 Chronicles. I said out loud, “I don’t want to read any more 2 Chronicles.” Part of my problem with reading this book is that just before 1 and 2 Chronicles, I had read 1 and 2 Kings. If you read these books you will know that they cover the same time periods, the same kings of Judah and Israel, and the same battles, victories, and defeats. Because of the way my mind retains information that I have read I keep feeling like I just read each account.

But even though I didn’t really feel like reading 2 Chronicles, I want to get to Isaiah, which is next on my schedule. I love Isaiah! So I read six chapters of 2 Chronicles.

As I was reading this verse made me stop and think: “During his reign, however, he failed to remove all the pagan shrines, and the people never fully committed themselves to follow the God of their ancestors.” 2 Chronicles 20:33. This verse follows the account of God giving King Jehoshaphat and Judah an easy victory over the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites by causing those armies to turn on each other and essentially defeating themselves before Judah even started to fight.

I thought to myself, how could the people of Judah not have fully committed themselves to follow God after seeing what He had done for them? But then I thought, have I fully committed myself to God? I’ve seen the wonderful victories He has won for me, and yet I’m not sure I can honestly say I have fully committed myself, my whole heart and mind, to Him. I want to, but I’m not sure I can really say I have. Or if I was at one point, I’m not sure I am now.

It happened to King Asa and King Jehoshaphat. Both were recorded as being fully committed to the Lord their God early in their reigns. Both were given amazing victories and peace by God and they knew God was the source of their blessings. Then both lost focus and ceased to trust completely in God.

How about you? Have you fully committed yourself to God? I ask not to be judgmental or critical, but because I think it is an important question every Christian must ask himself or herself. It’s a question I will be asking myself. And I will keep asking until I can unequivocally say YES! Then I should probably keep asking, to make sure I haven’t lost my focus on God.

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Genealogy Reveals Importance of Family

I’ve come to the point in my Bible-in-a-year schedule where I am reading 1 Chronicles, and after a brief break of a few Psalms, I will be reading 2 Chronicles. If I was reading the King James Version, this is where I would find all those “begats” everyone skims over. Since I am reading the New Living Translation, instead of “begat” is says “was the father of.” There is still the tendency to skim.

The thought crossed my mind today that I could get caught up in my reading schedule if I just skimmed both books of Chronicles instead of reading each name, most of which I cannot even pronounce. But I’m trying very hard not to do that. I am hoping that by reading it more carefully and thoughtfully I will get more out of it than I would be skimming.

As I’ve been reading, I’ve wondered what is the  purpose of all this genealogy in these two books. It’s not like anyone reading now knows who even a fraction of these people are. But it occurred to me that when they were first written, people did recognize the names and the family relationships. Chronicling the genealogy starting with descendants of Adam would have lent a great deal of credibility to the writing and to other works by the same author.

Genealogy can be very interesting if it is your own family. My sister has spent a lot of time researching our family genealogy, and I have had the benefit of that by her sending me our family tree with ancestors back to the 1500s coming from Finland. Starting with what she had done, I’ve added a few names by researching census and other historical records. When I was in New York recently, I did a little research at Ellis Island to see if any of our ancestors immigrated through there.

Several times in 1 Chronicles, the writer makes reference to the genealogical records, and says that “a search was made in the records.” 1 Chronicles 26:31. Just as my sister, and to a much lesser extent I, have searched various genealogical records to recreate our family tree, the writer of Chronicles made a search of contemporaneous records of family histories.

Maybe the most important thing about 1 and 2 Chronicles is the sense of family history that it imparts. Thinking like that makes it much easier to read each name rather than skim. After all, I wouldn’t skim in reading my own family history, so I shouldn’t skim in reading the family history of Israel either.

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Words to Live By

I have in my office a small deck of angel cards. Each card has a cartoon picture of an angel and a single word on it. Periodically (meaning at random intervals whenever I feel like it) I pick three new cards and place them face up on my desk by my computer monitor where I can easily see them.

I pick three for the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes I have a specific issue in mind when I pick them, other times I just want three new words. There really isn’t a bad word among the lot and all tend to be “words to live by.”

Today I picked three new words: Obedience, Release, and Strength. I am pondering how to live by those words today and what help they can be to me (and maybe to you).

Obedience: This was the first word I picked, and so corresponds to the Father in the Trinity. The word obedience appears 21 times in the Bible according to my www.Biblegateway.com search. The word obey or obeyed appears another 223 times. Obedience to the Lord makes one prosper. 2 Chronicles 31:21. One who scorns obedience to his or her parents comes to an unpleasant end. Proverbs 30:17. The verse I likes most regarding obedience was 2 John 1:4-6:

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Release: This was the second word I picked, and so corresponds to the Son in the Trinity. The word release appears 57 times in the Bible. One interesting section involves the release into the desert of the scapegoat upon which the sins of Israel were to be placed. Leviticus 16:22. This is an interesting forshadowing of what Christ would do for God’s people when He carried our sins to the cross. In Luke chapter 4, Jesus is in the synagogue and reads a scroll from the prophet Isaiah, which He says is fulfilled in Him. Being one of the “oppressed,” I really like this passage:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed, 
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Strength: This was the third word I picked, and so corresponds to the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. The word strength or strengthen appears 237 times in the Bible. Some of those references are to the strength of men, but more often it is God who gives strength. In Exodus is the song of Moses and the Israelites to the Lord: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Exodus 15:2. One of my favorite New Testament passages is from Paul’s letter to the church is Ephesus, where he refers to the Holy Spirit as being the source of our strength. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:16-17

Obedience. Release. Strength. These are words to live by. When I use them to reflect on scripture and God’s plan for me, they become part of the Word of Life that gets me through another day.

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