2 Chronicles 1-5 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He is our firm foundation

It’s always troubling to watch television news reporting on the California mudslides or similar places that seem to occur every year.  We see homes literally sliding down the hillside, sometimes into the coastal waters below.  As the furnishings and memories of a lifetime are swallowed up in mud and debris, I often wonder if the great ocean view their homes afforded them was worth the devastation.  There’s nothing like building on a firm foundation. 

@2 Chronicles 3
Whether building a home, a marriage, a church or a family, we want to build something that will last, something that will survive the storms of life.  David had chosen such a place for his son to build God’s temple. “So Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David, his father. The Temple was built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the site that David had selected.” (1)  Solomon’s Temple on Mount Moriah was built on a firm foundation, both in structure and in history, and the history is intriguing.

Mount Moriah was a place of faith:  Mount Moriah was first mentioned in Genesis 22:1-2,9-11, “Sometime later, God tested Abraham’s faith. ‘Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains’… Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar…Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’”  Is whatever we are building in our lives based on faith in God, is He the sure foundation?  As with Abraham, God may give us an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in our process of building to be certain that it will stand.

Mount Moriah was a place of sacrifice:  Because of David’s sin of taking a census, the hand of God was set to destroy Israel, but the angel from God halted its destruction at the threshing floor of Araunah when David repented.  This special place where God would spare His people was Mount Moriah.  David went to purchase the land, but the owner, Araunah, wanted to give it to him – David would have none of it. “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!’” (I Chronicles 21:2-4)  It will cost us something to build on a firm foundation.  Careful planning, diligence and countless hours are just a few of the sacrifices that go into building a marriage and home or anything that will last.

Mount Moriah was a place of worship:  Solomon completed the beautiful and ornate Temple for the Ark of the Covenant to dwell, the presence of God.  May all that we build be a place of worship to God, where His presence dwells.  Solomon’s Temple was built with careful planning and the very best quality of supplies and furnishings – it was built to last forever.  However, 400 years later it lay in ruins.

The Temple had a firm foundation – it was built on faith in God, it was a place of sacrifice to God and it was a place of worship to God.  Should it not have lasted forever?  Although the foundation was good, the structure lost its function when the Israelites left the Temple and put their faith in other gods, sacrificed to other gods and worshiped them in others places.  They abandoned the very principles the Temple was built on, and God allowed pagans from other countries to demolish it.

From this sad history we learn not only to build our lives on faith in the Lord, but also to hold fast to those principles that guided us from the very beginning.  The world will forever attempt to seduce us with many other areas to place our faith, to offer our sacrifices and to bow our knee to worship, but it never ends well for us. What we build will last when we build on the Lord, our sure foundation, and we stand firm. 

Moving Forward: On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!

Tomorrow@Psalms 111-113

Psalms 108-110 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: His goodness fills us with songs of praise

We’ve all heard the old joke, “Did you wake up grumpy this morning?”  “No, I just went ahead and let him sleep.”  So often God puts together a night owl and a morning person in marriage – challenges right from the start!  We all know that chipper morning person who jumps out of bed ready to take on the day, and then we know the night owl who considers morning totally unnecessary.  Some of us are both, and we burn the candle at both ends never getting enough sleep.  I love the morning, but I really don’t want to talk about it until I’ve had at least one stiff belt of coffee.  Regardless of our mindset about morning, we can open our eyes each day with a confidence in our hearts that only God can give just like David did.

@Psalm 108
“My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!  Wake up, lyre and harp!  I will wake the dawn with my song.” (1-2)  In Psalm 108, David repeated these verses from Psalm 57, and I think this passage bears repeating as well.  (See May 17@Psalms 57-59)  I must admit I’ve started some days with my joy being tested.  Negative thoughts and feelings have overwhelmed me and trying to kick-start the day is like biking uphill – it’s hard work.

David expressed the right way to start the day.  He woke up confident, not in himself but confident in the One who gave him the day, “This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)  We certainly had nothing to do with the making of this day, and if He found it valuable enough to give it to us, then we probably should be thankful for it.  David woke up thankful, “I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.  I will sing your praises among the nation.”(3)  And he woke up praising, “For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May your glory shine over all the earth.”(4-5)  There’s just no room for gloom or doom when we’re focused on Him.

It’s impossible to wake up grumpy when our first thoughts are on the Lord and His goodness to us, as well as taking care of our last thoughts before we fall asleep.  I often find myself singing a song I heard a few years ago, “I woke up this morning with my mind on Jesus…I saw the sun rise and I felt the gentle breeze blow.  I woke up this morning with my mind on Jesus.” (Jordan) The best part of waking up isn’t Folgers in my cup – it’s Jesus on my mind. 

Moving Forward:  Confident, thankful, praising and with my mind on Jesus – it’s going to be a great day! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 23-24

I Chronicles 25-29 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He created us to enjoy intimacy with Him 

@ I Chronicles 28
“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind.” (9)  David was rounding the final bend of his life when he gave these wonderful principles to help guide his son.  Even though his life had some rough moments, David was qualified to give this exhortation because we know from reading the Psalms of his intimacy with God.

When I read them, I think of my mom expressing these words to me, “And Phyllis, my daughter, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately…” because she, like David, enjoyed an intimate relationship with God.  As a young girl it took me quite a while to grasp what David was expressing to his son.

Many years ago I listened to a group of women discuss the challenges of keeping a fresh daily relationship going with the Lord while raising children, working and traveling, and I understood the struggle all too well.  There are days when it’s difficult to even get a brush through our hair, much less spend some devotional time with the Lord.  The consensus in that meeting was that God understands if we put our relationship with Him on hold for a few years until we have more time.  I don’t think so.

The truth is that God loves us no matter what, literally to the point of death, but I don’t think He understands being put on hold until we can make some time for Him.  Somehow in our busyness we have lost our purpose if we think He isn’t going to miss us, and just as David was reminding his son of life’s priorities, we need reminders on our journey as well.

The message is clear from Genesis to Revelation—God created mankind with much more in mind than providing a caretaker for His garden.  We were created for Him to lavish His abundant love on us through an intimate relationship.  Made in His image, our desire for loving relationships in our lives reflects His desire for loving relationships, and He has chosen us!  Our purpose for being is not the roles we enjoy as husband or wife, father or mother, etc.  No, God has given us breath today for intimacy with Him, and everything else, while worthy and fulfilling, is secondary.

I wish I could say that I’m the poster child for intimacy with God, but unfortunately that would not be true.  In recent years, however, I’ve changed my priorities each day.  Sleep is less important to me if I need to get up earlier to spend time with Him. In fact, I desire to put everything else on hold instead of Him.  I’ve learned that the day goes better when I first fulfill my purpose for breathing.

 I’ve learned that He isn’t requiring marathon devotions every day.  He just wants to touch me and be touched, to love me and be loved.  Just like every other relationship, this requires time and care that sometimes may last for only a few minutes or sometimes for much longer. I’ve learned that the more intimate we become with Him, the more there is to learn about Him, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. 

Moving Forward: I’m thankful for the reminder from David to continue to know my God intimately.  God is my first priority today. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 108-110

Psalms 105-107 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He will never abandon us and waits for our return when we are lost

I worked part time at a fine jewelry store in the mall while in high school.  I learned all about diamonds and precious gems, and my little teenage heart went pitter patter whenever a couple came in to select an engagement ring.  One Friday evening the store manager asked me to deliver an expensive wedding ring on my way home after work.  It seems a couple needed it for their Saturday morning wedding.  I was happy to do so but concerned because I was unfamiliar with the area of their home.

Sure enough, I got lost and found myself in the seedier part of town. Sixteen year-old girl, no cell phone back in the dark ages, $3,000 ring, nighttime and on the wrong side of the tracks – not a good scenario. I did what I only knew to do. I prayed for God to help me find my way, and He did.

Searching for landmarks I had passed, I retraced my path back to my store, the one place I knew with certainty had not moved.  I studied my directions, discovered the error of my ways and safely delivered the ring to the beaming bridegroom who was waiting for me at the door.  I was relieved and thankful that I hadn’t given up in my search, and most thankful for God’s help.  David knew something about searching with tenacity and never giving up. 

@ Psalm 105
Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.” (4)  If we find ourselves in the position of needing to search for the Lord, it could only be because we have become lost.  I mean, it’s not as though His address has changed over the last billion or so years. His address has never changed.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’” (Hebrews 13:5,NKJV) so obviously, we are the culprits.  Sometimes we think we know a better way to go or have someone or something else we would rather follow.  Not good.

David definitely understood walking away from the Lord in a moment of defeat, but he also knew the best recourse was to run back to the Lord in repentance.  We don’t need to stay lost!  David encouraged us in this Psalm to search for Him, find our way back to Him and receive His strength to remain there.  And we can do this with confidence because Jesus also promised, “Everyone who seeks, finds.” (Matthew 7:8)

When we’re traveling and realize we’re lost, we usually look for landmarks – something familiar to us to guide us back to where we belong, and David had that covered too.  “Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given.” (5)  When we remember where we have been with the Lord and where His presence has touched our lives, we will find Him once again.  Sometimes it requires going back to the very beginning where our journey started with Him to realize how faithfully He has led us throughout life.

God’s Word will draw us to Him as well as our communion with Him in prayer – definite landmarks for us.  And we will also find Him in the place where the impossible becomes possible and where the unknown becomes known because He loves to reveal Himself in this way.

When we are lost or in unfamiliar territory where God seems so very far away, we should “Continually seek Him,” (4) and not be discouraged.  He hasn’t moved, left the country or abandoned us.  He rewards our efforts to find Him because He loves us so, “Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)   Found! 

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful today for our faithful God who never leaves us and longs for us to return to Him when we are lost. 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 22

I Chronicles 20-24 (NLT) 

Discover His Heart:  He desires our complete trust in Him

“He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young man on the flying trapeze…” (G. Leybourne)  When I was a young child the Shrine Circus came to the Minneapolis auditorium every year, and it was a really big deal for me.  Clowns and jugglers, elephants and tigers filled our eyes with excitement and courageous acts, but none of these were as death-defying as those daring young men and women on the flying trapeze.  The flyers that impressed me the most were those few who worked without a net, soaring high above the crowd and trusting only in skill and precision.  I’m fairly certain that I held my breath throughout the performance.  What trust!  In our reading today, David learned a painful lesson about trusting God and flying without a net. 

@ 1 Chronicles 21
“Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. So David said to Joab…‘Take a census of all the people of Israel…and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.’ But Joab replied…‘Why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants?  Why must you cause Israel to sin?’ But the king insisted that they take the census.” (1-4)

What was so evil about taking a census?  After all, Moses numbered the people.  The census in Numbers 1 was not offensive to God because its purpose was to inform Moses of the size of his army, but the purpose for the census that David requested was for him to take pride and put trust in the size of his army.  It seems to be human nature to trust God when He is all we have; but when His goodness produces armies, wealth and fame or just about anything meaningful to us, they often become the object of our trust.  Obviously, this doesn’t please the Lord.  “God was very displeased with the census, and He punished Israel for it.” (7)

One of the many problems with trusting in our nets is that when the net is taken away – the job is lost, the relationship ends or the home is gone – where, then, do we place our trust?  The army was not David’s assurance of victory, God was His victory.  For someone who took down a giant with a stone and a slingshot, this was definitely a detour.  David was a great warrior, but he was human just like us, always looking for that safety net.  Fortunately, David knew how to respond to God’s displeasure.

“Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing…I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong!’” (8,17)  It was a repentant heart that took David from his numerous failures and sins to soar as the leader that God loved most.  So sincere he was in his remorse that he would not offer his sacrifice of repentance on an altar that did not cost him something.

David replied to a generous offer from Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” (24)  When we give to God something that belongs to someone else, it’s really not a gift from us.  It’s a gift from someone else. There was a cost involved because of David’s disobedience, but God stopped the punishment from the angel’s sword when David repented. I don’t want anyone to suffer because of my lack of trust in God, but if I fail, I know how to respond.

When Satan comes around and tempts us to place our trust and security in a paycheck or a relationship or anything temporal, our best response is to put our trust in the Source rather than in the provision. In our trusting, like the daring young man with the greatest of ease, keep flying without a net. 

Moving Forward:  Trusting the One who keeps me soaring today. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 105-107

I Chronicles 15-19 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: His response to our request is always what is best for us

No one likes being told “No, you can’t have that” or “No, you can’t do that,” etc.  I’ve been told that when I was really young, I wasn’t a child who whined or sobbed when told no.  I was a pouter.  Ugh.  That lower lip would fall to the floor, and, you know, it’s very difficult to smile when one’s lip is on the ground.  However, my mom had a way of putting a smile on my face even in my moments of disappointment.  She would look at me and say, “I’ll smile if you’ll smile,” and then she would give me a hopeful little smile.  Sometimes it took more than one smile on her part, but eventually I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.  In our reading today, David heard no from God but praised Him anyway. 

@ I Chronicles 17
David had a brilliant idea.  He wanted to build a beautiful temple for the Lord.  I’m sure his hopes of accomplishing this were high when the prophet Nathan said to go for it. (2)  However, Nathan returned to David after hearing from the Lord with a definite no to David’s idea.  We love it when God says yes to us or we submit to His wait, but when He says no, we are wise to accept His will as well.

Because God is so very gracious even when He answers with a negative response, He threw in His own version of I’ll smile if you smile to David. “I will raise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favor from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.” (11-14)  Now a proclamation like that would put a smile on any father’s face.  Even though many of David’s descendants failed in their love for God, a descendant was coming to redeem the world, Christ Jesus, and His throne will be secure forever.

Even in the face of disappointment, David was immediately humbled by God’s smile in the midst of a no.  “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, O God, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! You speak as though I were someone very great, O Lord God!…O Lord, there is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”(16-17,20)  David’s response to God is filled with praise and worship – a big smile for God!

Sometimes God’s answer to our prayer is no, and we may be tempted to whine, cry … or pout.  A much better response is to follow David’s example and believe that He knows what is best and has a better plan, whether He expresses that plan at the time or not.  The very thought that my God loves me and is concerned enough about my welfare to say no at times humbles me to my knees.  I cry, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  And that makes me smile!

Moving Forward: Throughout my prayers today, I will smile with confidence because I know He has my best interests at heart. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 102-104

I Chronicles 10-14 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  He welcomes us with outstretched arms when we seek Him first above all others

Aspirin is a good thing.  That little tablet of salicylic acid will take away a headache and soothe back pain; but, of course, it will also burn a hole right through a stomach if taken in excess.  I’m thankful for doctors and medicines, and God uses them so very often to bring healing, but when they are what I run to first when I experience sickness or pain, it’s not a good thing.  At the very mention of His name, I have an instant appointment with the Great Physician, something unheard of with any primary care physician to be sure.  The Great Physician knows my diagnosis even before I call Him and has the perfect solution to each and every problem with no troublesome side effects.  So I’m wondering, why would I not call on Him first? 

@ I Chronicles 10
“So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance. So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.” (13-14)  Help! Mercy, mercy, mercy – I’m so thankful for His mercy today through Jesus.  But because I want to bless Him and bring pleasure to Him, I take to heart the valuable lesson I can learn from the life of Saul.

King Saul lived by the motto, “When all else fails, pray!”  Obviously, God did not like it.  This wasn’t a one-time problem with Saul.  We learn through Scripture that it was a pattern he followed throughout most of his reign.  Occasionally, Saul would call on God to help him as in I Samuel 28, but it was always after he had tried doing things his own way.  It’s difficult to understand why an anointed King of Israel would seek out a witch for direction in his life with all of Heaven at his disposal, an army of angels at the very least.  This thought causes me to question who it is that I run to for help in all of life’s challenges.  Is God always my first response?

A while back I was looking for a very important document that I desperately needed.  I searched for one hour and nine minutes in all the places I thought it would be.  Of course, I realize this doesn’t speak well about my filing/secretarial skills.  Finally, at the end of my rope, I cried out, “God, please help me.”  And He did.  No, I didn’t find the document, which I’m certain is resting in some land fill in the area, but He instantly reminded me of where I could find a duplicate.  Problem solved!

“So there at Hebron, David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel, just as the Lord had promised through Samuel… And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was with him.” (11:3,9)  I don’t want to be like Saul who asked for God’s help when all else had failed. I want to be like David who made a covenant (Deuteronomy 17:18-20) to follow the Lord in obedience and who sought the Lord at most every turn as we have read throughout Psalms.

Moving Forward:  My motto today is “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  May He be my first stop in every challenge I face today. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 99-101