I Chronicles 22

Vs. 6, “Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel.”  For the next eight chapters closing out I Chronicles, we are given much insight into the temple preparations.  While David was not able to build the temple, he would do everything he could to help prepare in helping his son Solomon.  All the conquering of the lands would help provide all the necessary items to build such a grand temple.  It would take an estimated 25-30 years to complete this project.  David’s charge to Solomon is a touching scene of a father and son (vs. 6-16).  After speaking directly with young Solomon, David speaks to all the Israelite leaders (vs. 17-19).  This endeavor could not be just relegated to David or Solomon; everyone needed to work together.

Regarding application…Obedience.  Vs. 19, “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”  Obedience seems to be a negative thought in our minds today.  Obedience has this feeling of weakness and dependence that is contrary to the independent spirit we embrace.  Question: What does obedience accomplish?  It is evident and natural response to our faith.   Holman’s Bible Dictionary defines faith…“Faith is the trustful human response to God’s self-revelation via His words and His actions.”  Obedience is that trust response.  As we are prayerfully in the midst of our Lenten season, let us continue to remain obedient and devoting our hearts!

I Samuel 1

Vs. 20, “So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”  Hannah’s vow and prayer would bring her a son in Samuel.  Samuel was Israel’s last judge, priest and prophet!  He is one of the pillars of faith mentioned in Hebrews (Hebrews 11:32).  Samuel was born from a Kohathite family of Levitical priests.  Though Elkanah had two wives, this was not an endorsement of polygamy.  While allowed, it was never something God intended (Genesis 2:24).  There is likelihood that Elkanah married Peninnah because Hannah had been barren many years (like Abraham, Hagar and Sarah).  Nevertheless, Elkanah faithfully (vs. 3) observed the annual feats at the tabernacle in Shiloh along with his family.  This was an important observation, for most of the people of the twelve tribes were spiritually astray.  Hannah wept often due to the shame of not bearing her husband a child (vs. 7-8).  In desperation, Hannah prays earnestly and makes a vow; if God gave her a son, she would dedicate him wholly to the Lord by making him a Nazirite (vs. 9-18).  Question: What is a Nazirite?  A member of a class of individuals especially devoted to God.  It could be for a temporary time or for life.  The birth of Samuel (vs. 19-20) is one of many important birth narratives and certainly shows us God’s providence!  The name Samuel means “his name is God” or “name of God”, suggesting that Samuel’s God is the one and only God.  And lastly, we read of Hannah fulfilling her vow (vs. 21-28).  Upon being weaned, Samuel was probably 2-3 years old.

Regarding application…Faithful Obedience.  Vs. 27-28, “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD…” Question: How would you respond if you were Hannah?  Hannah was a faithful servant of the LORD.  Yet, her husband decides to marry another woman and still expect you to stay with him.  In addition, that woman proceeds to mock and provoke you over the years because she knows you are still favored.  Yet, rather than rebel or try to leave, Hannah prays to the Lord.  Her prayer is not a selfish one for she desires to have this child serve the Lord.  Hannah’s faithful obedience is all the more surprising in light of the spiritual condition around her.  Because of Hannah’s faithfulness, God would raise her son to be a man of righteousness that would affect a whole nation.  Our faithful obedience doesn’t just affect us or just our family.  Question: How is/can God use you?

Hebrews 5

Vs. 5, “In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”  The high priest was a prominent figure in the sacrificial system.  The high priest was selected from among the people, they represented God’s people, they presented sacrifices for sins and were selected by God.  Jesus position as our Great High Priest was special because He was ordained in a different order, the order of Melchizedek (vs. 6).  Melchizedek was mentioned in Genesis 14, where Abram gave 10 percent to the priest and king Melchizedek, a priest forever.  There is a great comfort in knowing that our Lord Jesus experienced this world and its troubles with us (vs. 8-9).  In the latter part of our chapter, we see a concern about spiritual immaturity and falling away (vs. 11-14).

Regarding application…Hearing Problem.  Vs. 11, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.”  Question: Why were they in a state of spiritual immaturity?  Because they stopped making the effort to understand.  They took for granted the Word of God and its power in their life.  They heard it but chose to not do anything about it.  Question: Sound familiar today?  When I was younger, I thought that serving God and going to church faithfully was enough.  On the outside, I did what most would consider a good church member.  But, my spiritual growth was stunted because I chose not to understand the Bible.  I didn’t love that which God loving provided to me.  Let us stop closing our hearts and eyes to His word and solid food and grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Leviticus 26

Vs. 4, “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.”  Eight times in our chapter today, the LORD reminded the Israelites of his covenant (promises) to them.  The present Tabernacle and the hope of the Promised Land were incredible promises God made to His people.  However, there was a caveat to the goodness that the LORD extended (vs. 14-46).  There are eternal stakes at hand when it came to the blessings promised to Israel, for through Israel, God intends to bless all nations (Genesis12:3).  The list of punishments are shocking, but even more shocking is that God was gracious to Israel and to all nations despite our sins!  This chapter rounds out the purpose of the sacrifices and the priesthood to help remind all the people of God’s holiness.

Regarding application…Someone Must Pay.  As the future would unfold for the Israelites, they would have times of blessings and also times of rebellion.  Who is going to pay for all these sins?  Who is going to take on the punishment?  By God’s grace, it was Jesus who was the final sacrifice that would atone for our sins.  Certainly, we are recipients of such amazing grace.  I believe that while salvation is granted on the cross, blessings and punishments still exist in our day.  There is always going to be consequences for our sins.  When I look back at my own life, I realize the bad choices I made brought very difficult times in my life.  Yet, the blessings God has in store for us are abundant if we just turn our hearts back to Him!

Luke 18

Vs. 1,Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  We continue to see Jesus interacting with those around him and teaching in parables.  Yesterday, I talked about exercising our faith.  Question: Have you ever felt like you just wanted to give up? In the persistent widow, we see how important it is to keep our faith when we pray to God (vs. 1-8).  Continuing the prayer theme, Jesus gives us a contrasting scene of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector (vs. 9-14).  There are many lessons to prayer, but the one I see here is the importance of humility before God.  We can never stand before God with justifiable reasons; it’s only the grace of God.  We are once again reminded of how important children are to Jesus (vs. 15-17).  This morning, our church invited the Youth group to come to the adult early morning service.  We had an opportunity to really pray for the youth and remind ourselves that they are the future church!  In the rich young ruler, we are reminded from two chapters ago about the love of money (vs. 19-29).  How sad that the man realized the truth, yet chose riches.  Thankfully, another person in the blind beggar, would respond with joy (vs. 35-43).

Regarding application…Obedience in Trials.  Vs. 32, “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.”  May we never forget the obedience to death, even death on a cross that Jesus would do for us.  Jesus knew it beforehand, yet was obedient.  Christians with faith when life is good, they come a dime a dozen.  What separates the sheep from the goat is having faith even in the storms and trials of life.  Question: How do you respond?  Over the years of ministry, I’ve seen many respond in different ways.  Some use trials as a reason to blame God or the church.  Others use it to feel sorry for themselves.  Still others choose to not give up and are faithful.  Question: Which one are you?

 

Luke 6

Vs. 12,One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”  What an amazing picture of the importance in bringing prayer in all decisions of life.  Jesus prayed that night before he chose his twelve.  What an amazing opportunity the apostles had to learn at the very feet of Jesus.  Question: What is an apostle?  The original word is the Greek word, “apostolos” which means “to send”.  We don’t have apostles today (you had to physically see Jesus), but we are all called to be disciples (pupil).  We also see Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ beautiful exhortation on how to live this Christian life.  We are taught how to deal with blessings and react to it (vs. 20-26).  We are taught how to deal with relationships and people (vs. 27-45).  And we are also instructed how to build our lives on the rock (Jesus).

Regarding application…Obeying God.  Vs. 46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”  Listening and doing are two very different things.  Coming to church, hearing a message, reading your Bible…these are all examples of hearing God’s word.  But, it’s what we do with what we read and hear that counts.  Question: What are you doing to obey what Jesus says?  When I read in the Bible that Jesus says to pray and then don’t pray, I am building my life on the sand.  If Jesus is truly your Lord, you would do what he says.  When a parent tells their child to take the trash out, the child obeys because he/she knows that the parent not only loves them, but that they belong to that parent.  Question: Do you belong to Jesus?  If so, turn to the Lord, pray and love as He loved us!

Jeremiah 35

Vs. 1, “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah.”  This is interesting to note because the events in this chapter occurred 18 years earlier.  It was as if Jeremiah was reflecting upon the current state of God’s people and recalled this event to share it with others.  We are reminded of the people called the Recabites.  They were descandants of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro and for over 250 years, they lived in tents, did not farm and never drank wine.  God would command Jeremiah to invite them to have wine.  God did not do this to tempt them, rather to use them as a positive example for us.  The Recabites made a vow not to drink wine because of their forefather Jonadab son of Recab.  Here were people for over two hundred years they still followed the command of their descandant.  Yet, God’s people were getting direct commands and still were not obeying.

 

Regarding application…Obedience to God.  Vs. 16, “The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.”  SMH (Shaking my head)…learned that one from Facebook.  How sad that the Recabites put to shame those who have heard God’s commands.  Don’t we see this played out presently?  A successful coach commands his team not to drink, not to stay out late, to excercise, get good grades…and all of the players obey.  Yet, a Pastor/Youth Pastor encourages his students to read God’s word and pray and not even 33% of the students will turn to God that week.  Brothers & sisters this should not be.  We have other religions in our modern-time that put us to shame.  The Mormon church tithes what they are asked and they are financially well off, but our churches today barely tithe what we should.  The Isalmic faith is very diligent in their prayers daily, yet we think it’s a good week if we do half of our QT’s.  God used the Recabites as an indictment towards us.  It’s time to be obedient to God in all things.

Jeremiah 7

Vs. 2, “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message: ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD.”  Three times a year, the Jewish men were required to go up to the temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast.  Jeremiah would take this opportunity to preach the Word of the Lord.  God’s people were putting their trust in other God’s.  They assumed the Temple of God would never be able to be destroyed, so they took God for granted.  Instead of the Temple helping them to be holy, they were making the Temple an unholy place.  Jeremiah would try to remind them of God’s past judgments on His people (vs. 12-15), but they still would not listen.  God would go so far as to instruct Jeremiah not to pray for them anymore (vs. 16).  Their empty sacrifices show us that God does not just want the outward action…it starts with the heart & shows itself with action (fruit).

Regarding application…Obedience.  Vs. 23, “but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”  Obedience comes with a promise.  As children, we might have obeyed our parents because we got rewarded for it.  If we cleaned our room, we could have that toy we had been wanting for so long.  Yet, God’s promise comes with a far greater gift!  When we trust & obey the Lord; it brings glory to Him, reward to us both on earth & in Heaven, & encouragement for others!  It’s truly a win-win situation.  Obedience starts with the small things…we show God that we can be responsible with QT’s, prayer, service…and God will take that obedience and fling wide the doors of possibilities: Mission opportunities, Seminary opportunities, serving God’s church as a lay leader, bringing people to Christ @ work & your neighborhood!  But it all starts with doing the everyday obedience.  Don’t do it because you have to…do it because His love compels us to!