2 Chronicles 7-8

“When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.” (7:11-12)

After a massive 3 week dedication celebration in front of the entire nation, Solomon goes home and God meets him, one on one. I cherish this about the LORD. Not only is He powerfully in our corporate midst, but He is also incredibly personal. He meets with Solomon, even though he’s not a priest. 

He gives Solomon insight into what to do when things go wrong, when they’re not relishing in a magic moment, happily headed home:

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (7:14)

Healing follows humility; being honest with ourselves, and God, about the rabbit hole we’ve fallen down, the things we get carried away with, the good things that become idols. Sometimes it’s hard to see, and often times it’s even harder to admit. 

As an American, I feel I always need to watch myself with the idols of safety, security and comfort. These are good things, but if they become the bosses of my life, making decisions for me, they’ve got to be recognized and thrown out for what they are: idols. 

Idolatry doesn’t have to be outright. Behind every god in Canaan was the “promise” of something every human desires: food (rainfall in the right times for a good harvest), family (stability, sex and fertility), and favor (success and victory over enemies). Of course God promised to provide those things, if they remained faithful to Him, but doing things the way “everyone else does” starts to make the most sense after awhile. 

So God, knowing the tendency of man, tells Solomon what to do when people start wondering why it’s not raining: Humble yourselves, be prepared to be wrong. Look at me, admit you’ve been looking elsewhere, and give it up. Pretty simple. He does all the heavy lifting after that.

I am thankful for the closeness of God, even after everyone goes home and I’m alone. I’m thankful for the grace of God, who lets me start over after I’ve made a mistake. I’m thankful for the power of God, who is able and ready to heal an entire nation. He’s amazing, right? 

-Bethany 

2 Chronicles 5-6

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.” (5:14a)

Amen to that. I love how Solomon gives praise to God after His holy presence fills the Temple. 

“But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you. May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.” (7:18-21)

It is unimaginable when you think about it, God dwelling here on earth with us. It’s an easy thing to take for granted. Notice how Solomon asks for God hear him, to watch over the Temple and to answer his people. I read this and think, duh! It’s the Temple. Of course his presence will be there and he’ll watch over it. Luckily, Solomon takes a more humble approach.

My dad has always prayed over things. When our family got a new car, he prayed over it for safety. Before we left on a trip, we prayed. Recently he visited my new home and nervously eyeing our steep staircase, he asked if we had prayed over it yet. He invites God into things and petitions for his presence. It was always an example to me not to take for granted that God is with us, but to thank him and petition for it. 

Do you have a big project on your hands?  A new ministry emerging? A new job? A member of the family being added? Remember to dedicate it to the Lord. Invite him to watch over it and to hear from you. “Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.” 

Let’s be people like Solomon, eager for God to be involved in our work with him. 

-Carly 

2 Chronicles 3-4

“Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.” (3:1)

The same place the Lord halted His wrath and made the angel sheath his weapon is the place the temple would be built. The Holy of Holies, separated from mankind by a curtain which would be torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death. The wrath of God turned away from His people again, at the cost of a descendent of David.

The Word of God is beautiful. He became human and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory. The grace and mercy of God is marvelous. 

On all accounts, we deserve destruction. The world is a beautiful place, but mankind has done some horrendous things. Watching the news is very disheartening. Many times over it would have been reasonable for God to wipe us all out, but He doesn’t. He lures us to Himself and transforms us, slowly but surely. He builds His church among us. It may not be overlaid with gold anymore, but it is still precious. Paul tells us to use our gifts to build up His church. 

Where did you meet the grace and mercy of God? How can you build up His church today? 

-Bethany 

2 Chronicles 1-2

Solomon is off to a great start. Here’s a great outline on how to respond when you step into leadership or a position of godly authority: 

1. Drop everything and worship God. Solomon gathers up all the leaders of Israel and sets the tone: we will worship. 

2. Consult Him. (1:6) 

3. Ask for wisdom. Can you imagine this? Solomon has the ultimate Magic Genie situation and the only thing he asks for is to lead his people well. He is taking his role seriously, humbling himself and reaching out for help to the ultimate Helper. 

God love, love, loves humility and despises pride. It is easy to get carried away with yourself when you’ve been put in a special or powerful position. Let’s not forget that it is God who puts people into authority (Romans 13:1), and no one is wiser or more powerful than him. 

Has God given you authority somewhere? How are you leading? We have the ultimate mentor! Consult with him. 
-Carly 

1 Chronicles 28-29

“Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” (‬‭28:10)

On this scouting trip, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my weaknesses and struggles with trust and control. 

I have the most legit supporter base and crowd of encouraging prayer warriors. God has been moving mountains every day, yet somehow I am still in desperate need of a massage for all these knots in my back from stress (and changing mattresses so often). How was I just in Paris for a week and stressed out? Wasn’t there supposed to be magic vacation love dust in the air or something?!

In one of my more dramatic moments, I was texting my woes to a friend and they said, “you are a strong person, BE STRONG!” 

Sometimes it’s waiting for strength from the Lord, and sometimes it’s buckling down and doing work, because God has already shown Himself. 

I want to glean everything I can from this season, I want to keep moving forward, I want to see the magic love dust, I want to take some of this weight off my shoulders, I want to trust and be strong. 

Europe is a dark place. So many people are sad and lonely. If I am to bring light and the life of Jesus into these situations I need to be wrapped up in Him. I repent, Lord! I need You! I get in my own way and I don’t want anything between us.

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.” (29:11)

-Bethany 

1 Chronicles 26-27

“Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of the camels.” 27:30

Sometimes, at the end of the day, I wonder if my life matters. I compare my time spent to the friends I see on social media, or the characters I read about in books. I recount my day: I washed the same dishes as yesterday. I repeated the same requests to my preschooler. I worried about the same things, I spoke to similar people. I watched the same sunset. My life is wonderful. I have food to eat, a family to serve, easy access to God’s word, clothes to wear and a gigantic comfortable bed to climb in to. But is the work I’m doing really that valuable? Some of my friends are on the front lines of ministry. Watching people come to Christ for the first time. Pouring themselves out for the expansion of the gospel. And meanwhile, I feel like Obil; allotted to watching camels, while other men are tasked Important Work. 

But it is important work! Someone has to watch the livestock. And camels (I think?), were used for transportation and were needed. Protecting them and caring for them was an important job, nevermind how glamorous. They probably spit. Definitely smelled. Were not grateful. 

I am in a season of camel-watching work. Raising my son and tending to housework is not glamorous and children are notoriously ungrateful (and tend to smell). I can still pour myself out; this is still gospel work. Serving my family pleases God. And I am my son’s biggest and most consistent example, good or bad, of God’s love. Yikes! Burn the Netflix account! 

I’ve been in more center-stage life work before. Maybe I will be again. But if my role was being recorded like the list in today’s chapters, it would read: 

Carly, of Portland, Oregon, is a child rearer and laundry folder. 

And I want to take great pride in that. 

What would your role read? Are you pouring yourself out for your work, as if it was the most important role? Because it is. Our lives are to be poured out to God, whatever he has assigned us to. 

Does your life feel meaningless? Ask God what you could be doing. Scout out opportunities to serve him. Let’s go! 
-Carly 

1 Chronicles 24-25

I was thinking how it would feel to be born into the tribe of Levi and have your occupation previously decided for you. And not just any occupation, priest! How were they all feeling, standing there before David, the commanders of the army and the sons of Asaph receiving their specific instructions? Some of their work wouldn’t even be possible until this structure was built a decade or two later. 

Imagine the excitement and intimidation of that moment. You are being assigned a Holy job. Some of the details determined by gifting (leadership or musical skills) and some by a roll of the dice. 

This is also a government job, in that your salary will be paid by tax payers. You will depend on everything going right for them, and they will depend on everything going right for you. 

Sometimes I think my generation is burdened by unlimited life choices. It’s good and bad. Sometimes it’s dreams becoming realities, and sometimes it’s paralyzing.

So how does it change us to know we are called, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)?

I think it becomes a filter through which everything else happens. Reguardless of the details, it’s my holy job to praise Him in the hearing of others; testifying of what He’s done. We’ve all become Levites, because there’s no structure in which God currently dwells besides our bodies. Who else is responsible for the temple that is your body!? How exciting and intimidating!

Declare His praises to someone today, like it’s your job.

-Bethany 

1 Chronicles 22-23

There’s a lot to be said about the building of the Temple. It’s a pretty epic event biblically and so much that comes out of it.

In today’s reading, I was struck by the amount of materials David gathered for Solomon to use to begin building it: 

“I have worked hard to provide materials for building the Temple of the Lord—nearly 4,000 tons of gold, 40,000 tons of silver, and so much iron and bronze that it cannot be weighed. I have also gathered timber and stone for the walls, though you may need to add more.” 22:14

This is an important, holy structure. So Israel hauled in the most important materials and resources it could. The best of the best. Thousands of tons of gold. The most skilled craftsmen and goldsmiths. 

If you had to gather the most (culturally) valuable things in your life to offer God, what would it be? I would have a small pile of Apple products, some handed down jewelry and a bright white pearl resting on a diamond ring. That’s it. Gadgets manufactured in China and some tarnished jewelry. 

This is not what Jesus asks of us. He does not as for things. 

What does he want from us? What is worthy of his presence? Who can host his Spirit? 

These chapters put into perspective for me what an incredible relationship I’m in with the Lord. David wasn’t even fit to lead the building of the Temple. And me? I’m marked as a friend of God and his Holy Spirit dwells inside me. We talk. He’s with me. All because of Jesus! 

Thank you, God, for providing a way for me to be with you. I know I am unworthy and have nothing to offer you, except a humble heart and my repentance. Because of your son Jesus, I am in an interpersonal relationship with you. Amen! 
-Carly 

1 Chronicles 20-21

“David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’ So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” (‭21:13-15‬)

This passage is beautiful. The Love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. This urgent cry: “Enough!” is the same heart of the Father who sent Christ for us. David knew this heart, and counted on it.

“King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.'” (21:24‬)

When the time came to set things right, David went all out. This sacrifice, and it’s cost, was a response of both fear and gratitude. The LORD had relented, for His mercy is very great.

What is my relationship with God? What fuels my sacrifices to Him? Do I trust in His mercy? Do I humbly accept His discipline? Do I believe He loves me? Do I trust Him more than I trust people? 

Chronicles points to the mercy of the LORD for the endurance of Israel and Jerusalem. He remembers His covenant promises.

Here, we also catch a glimpse into David’s heart being after God’s:

“David said to God, ‘Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? LORD my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.’” (21:17)

He recognizes himself as a shepherd, as he was all those years ago, and his sheep are suffering. Most ancient kings would not care, but David shouts, “take me instead!” Just as the LORD, when He sent Jesus.

Consider His mercy and love. What will be your response today?

-Bethany 

1 Chronicles 18-19

King David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, along with the silver and gold he had taken from the other nations—from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek.”

God makes David and his army successful in battle, and he is lavished in gifts because of it. David turns around and dedicates these gives to the Lord. 

I imagine maybe a prayer was said? Maybe he displayed them in the temple? I’m not sure. Either way, it got me thinking about what it looks like for me to dedicate the gifts in my life to the Lord. 

My husband and I are remodeling our kitchen. We bought a very affordable house and reserved money to completely gut and rebuild the kitchen. We both love food. My husband’s an excellent cook and a master at fancy meals, and I like to bake treats and eat previously mentioned fancy meals. We both love to host and get to know people over hot food. Is there anything better? (I recommend the book A Jesus Meal for more on this topic.) Neither of us have ever remodeled anything before, or really had a say in what our kitchen looks like. It’s so fun. Picking out our ideal appliances, colors and countertops, we feel spoiled and indulgent. Having the resources to do such a thing is a gift. It’s humbling to invest in the appearance of your home when you’re living in the south. We are regularly reminded that a storm could level your house completely. (The locals maybe don’t worry about this as much as me.) 

I want to dedicate this gift back to the Lord. I imagine this means not finding contentment in a brand new kitchen, as God despises idols in our life. It means giving this space back to the Lord: using it to serve my family, washing dishes, cleaning up messes, preparing food. It means being hospitable. Which doesn’t mean dinner parties with friends. It means being ready to sacrifice my space and extend generosity always. When the house is messy. When I’m tired. When I don’t like, or know, the people in my house. When the grocery budget is tight. My prayer for this beautiful gift is that I would constantly keep it in perspective. It’s just a house, and our space belongs to the Lord. 

What’s a gift in your life he’s given you? How can you dedicate it back to him? 


-Carly