1 Chronicles 1-2 B

The purpose of the book of Chronicles is to create an identity document for the Hebrews post-exile. It is the last book of their Bible. You may notice, it’s not identical to Samuel and Kings, because different thinks are purposed to be emphasized. The flaws of the good kings will be glossed over, their strengths underlined.

When they’re coming home run down, and trying to be hopeful about a Messiah, the sins which led them into exile will be mentioned; but not with all the painful details previously mentioned.

What do I notice about them from the beginning? This line of people starts at the beginning with Adam. When we reach Eber, something happens: The Tower of Babel.

“Two sons were born to Eber, the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.” (1:19‬)

Why is their language Hebrew, different from their neighbors and former captors? Because their father Eber started his own family after Babel.

How are they related/not related to their neighbors?

“The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan… Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites and the Hamathites.” (‭1:8, 13-16‬)‬‬

This is a generalized jogging of the memory. To Chronicle their history.

In seasons of rebuilding, what are the parts of your story worth reviewing?

-Bethany

James 5 B

And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.  All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger.” 5:1-5 MSG

You thought you were piling up wealth; what you’ve piled up is judgment. 

God is unbelievably clear about how the rich should treat the poor.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:24

Maybe it’s not money for you. But what else are you trying to serve? What else do you pile up and worship instead of God? Who do you step over to preserve your own quality of life?

Tomorrow we start the book of Chronicles!

 

-Carly

 

 

 

 

James 4 B

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (3)

“Therefore it says, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God.” (6-7)

“You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you are to say, “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” (14-16)

As Carly and I have now mentioned a few times, we are currently working our way through an old Richard Rohr seminar. One of Rohr’s main points, that he speaks on in more places than just this seminar, is that the real fleshly fight is against our own ego. When we don’t deal with our ego, we just make Christian flavored versions of the same worldly drama. I love how the book of James addresses the ego.

Our egos get in the way of our prayers.

Our egos put us in opposition to God.

Our egos lead us in evil boasting about a future we have little to no control over.

It’s important to remind our egos of, not only it’s own powerlessness, but also it’s tendency to get in the way of true power.

Making “your faith” an opportunity for the ego is counter productive, and this is what I see gushing from the pages of James. Get out of your own way! He pleads. Don’t take yourself so seriously, vapor.

How can we begin catching ourselves when our egos are taking center stage? Is your ego the reason prayers are falling flat these days? Ask the Lord about it, humbly.

-Bethany

James 3 B

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” 3:13-16 NLT 

I like the phrasing of prove it. It reminds me that godly behavior isn’t something I need to do to earn God’s love, but simply a symptom of it in my life. It’s proof.

And that counter part? Jealousy and selfish ambition? That’s always proof that I’m acting on the desires of my ego and pride.

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” 3:17-18

Gentle, pure, peace-loving, self-sacrificing, merciful, and sincere. These are the marks of true wisdom from God. What a great checklist to reference!

 

-Carly

James 2 B

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that Faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, Faith was perfected.” (21-22)

I like using the word trust instead of faith, only because we’ve seemed to confuse ourselves about what faith is. Faith is a step–a trust fall if you will–toward the God you believe will catch you. Our greatest example of this is that crazy story of Abraham offering up his most cherished to the LORD who made a promise he believed.

There is no doubt about it, our actions scream what we trust. Our faith (or lack there of) is more obvious than we think.

This is very often tested against our devotion to money. Do we trust God or do we trust money? He did say we can’t serve both masters. Faith is most demonstrated in generosity, I believe.

Over the past few years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in countries where the lingering effects of communism can still be seen. This is the most obviously demonstrated in the sharing of snacks. I have found myself ashamed on more than one occasion, for being really excited about a snack and not sharing it as much as I should have. All while observing my friends share their snacks so much, they basically get the same one bite everyone else does. What is this? My American innards quake, damn commies! Can’t anyone just eat their own snacks? It truly uncovered something alarming inside me. On one occasion, I was sneaking snacks to my close friends, subsequently becoming annoyed by the fact that they were sharing their small portion with everyone else. Why can’t I just be generous to my favorites? (4)

I was reminded of this again today, which is probably why these verses are hitting me different this time around.

“if a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (15-16)

I don’t know what to do with all this, beside challenge myself to be more generous than I am. But let’s not forget… WHY.

Because I serve God, not money, and I have faith–trust–that He is who He says He is in all cases. He also said Scripture is fulfilled when we love others as ourselves.

What does this stir in you? How do you trust God about money? How is that evident in your generosity? After all, faith without works is dead.

-Bethany

James 1 B

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” 1:26-27

I’ve looked at this verse a lot in my life, but I feel like I’m just starting to gain some understanding. I’ve always read it like this: your relationship with God is worthless if you can’t watch your mouth. (Which I can’t, by the way. If I’m not gossiping, I’m losing my temper. It’s gotten better over the years but will always remain a struggle of mine.)

Today I read it like this: Religion has nothing to do with being on your best behavior, that isn’t going to happen. What God expects out of your ‘religion’ is caring for orphans and widows in their time of need and staying separate from the culture around me. Don’t act like them, act like me.

Bethany and I are listening to seminar sessions Richard Rohr put out in the early 90’s. The only thing that dates the material is when he mentions purchasing his first answering machine for his land line. Otherwise, it’s still perfectly relevant information.

In the session I listened to yesterday, he off-handedly mentioned that he’s never seen a church fight over who is caring for widows and orphans the best. No, instead, we are constantly at war over leadership, aesthetics, religious tendencies, etc. Or as he describes it, our egos. Talk to anyone in ministry and they will nod in agreement. In my experience, even the “godly” topics that get debated are still rooted in a power struggle.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” 1:22-25

This is always my prayer. Sometimes I worry that the pace in which I read and process the Bible is too rapid, and I’m not applying it enough. But then I think about how quickly and immediately I imitate what secular culture teaches me. What catch phrases people are saying, who’s dating who, what politician did what, and so on. Information is flowing in and out of my life at a very rapid pace, but I get to control what I retain and mimic.

How do you exercise being a doer of the word and not just a hearer? 

(James gives a pretty clear picture of this in the next chapter. I’m thankful Bethany is going to cover it! I love her wisdom on works vs. faith.)

 

-Carly

Psalm 148-150 B

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” (150:6‬)

This glorious collection of prayers, poems, laments and songs ends with a call to praise. Everything! 148 invites all life (including bugs v.10) to praise Him. 150 employs all instruments to praise Him.

Today, I had the sudden urge to break out into a loud, hearty rendition of “Crown Him with Many Crowns”. I restrained myself, since I was in a quiet room of people (what a shame), but when it came time to read today’s passage; I felt the call to praise Him at the surface of my soul.

We are His creation; the marvelous work of His hands. He is beyond comparison or comprehension and the very essence of His majesty begs to be praised.

Now might not be the time or place, but let’s find that time and place today and sing to Him!

Tomorrow we start the letter of James.

-Bethany