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 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 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

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

Psalm 144-145 B

“The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His world. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and Your godly ones shall bless You.” (145:9-10)

This made me think of nature shows like Planet Earth. It’s incredible to think about the LORD’s care for all living things. His mercy covers creation, from the sensitive grass blade to the rough and tumble mountain goat. His ability to sustain and flourish is wondrous.

In turn, creation sings back praises of thanks, and those who know Him, bless Him.

What does your worship life look like these days? How do you bless the LORD?

-Bethany

Psalm 136-139 B

Today’s chapters have much to do with identity; individual and corporate.

On an individual front, we’ve got the wonderful 139.

“You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” (139:3)

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mothers womb.” (139:13)

Knowing everything there is to know about a person’s internal organs, plus when and where and how they will lay down, is very intimate indeed. It’s both soothing and mind boggling how the LORD knows us, perhaps even cause for concern that He knows what we are thinking or what we will say before we say it. However, there’s something about this passage that is more comforting than anything else. A lovingness is woven throughout.

Perhaps it is a lingering feeling from 136’s “His lovingkindness is everlasting”

That passage reiterates Israel’s identity as belonging to the LORD, as it praises Him for all the times and ways He’s taken care of them.

While it’s less obvious when 136 was written, 137 seems to be a song from the days of Babylonian exile, when the people of Israel would be desperate for their identity. Being a captor in a foreign land threatens more than just your physical safety. A psychological aspect is in play, with the possible anecdote lying in the remembrance of who you were, informing who you can still be.

It’s important to remember individual, as well as corporate, identities.

It’s important to remember that every living person was fearfully and wonderfully crafted in their mother’s womb.

It’s important to remember that we are connected to larger bodies. I don’t know how far this goes, but I know there was a remnant if God fearing people who went into exile for the sins of the majority.

I’m currently quite bothered by the way both of my countries are treating immigrants and asylum seekers. Italy’s government is forcing sailors to let refugees drown in the Mediterranean. While America’s government is forcing boarder patrol agents to cage asylum applicants like animals. I don’t know what the retribution for these crimes against humanity will be, but I know that the LORD is very serious about the poor, oppressed and displaced.

We cry out for His mercy and praise Him for the times He slew mighty kings (136:18).

What does the LORD want to say to you concerning your personal and corporate identities today?

-Bethany

Psalm 128-131 B

A couple years ago, a friend handed me Psalm 131 during a worship service.

“O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child RESTS against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.”

I was in a major season of overthinking, anxiety and second guessing. I think this was her gentle way of saying, “you can, and should, calm the heck down.”

Imaging myself as a child on the lap of my mom, simultaneously mirrored as my soul leaning on the LORD, evoked a hearty SIGH.

HAAAAAAAAAHHHHI’m okay

Pride can often look like getting in way over my head and pretending like, “I’ve got this.” It can look like feeling obligated to have a fully formed opinion on a complex matter I don’t know much about.

Instead of all this, why don’t I just calm down and take the position of a child; leaning with all my weight on the ONE who can do the real sorting out?

What great matter have you wrongfully involved yourself in? What are you taking upon yourself that is too much and perhaps more for your pride than “for the Lord”?

-Bethany