Better Check With God First

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 16 – 18; Proverbs 12

(Second Milers also read – John 15 – 16; Memorize James 3:5)

“Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,” – (1 Chronicles 17:1-3)

In our text this morning in chapter 17, we read about King David desiring to build a permanent temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. Up until this point the ark of the Lord, and the corporate worship of God by the nation of Israel took place in a tabernacle, which was basically a tent. The tabernacle was built during the time of the wilderness wanderings of Israel after God brought them out of Egypt. The tabernacle dwelt in Shiloh for a while, and then it was eventually moved to Jerusalem. David’s desire was to build the temple, and this was a good desire. His heart was right; he wanted to do something to please the Lord. He inquired with Nathan the prophet in order to find out if it was the will of God. Nathan thought that building the temple was a good idea too, so he told David to “Do all that is in thine heart”. However, we see that God had a different plan.

My thought this morning is that we ought to check with God first before we make big decisions. In our story Nathan gives David the green light for building without having asked God about it. Nathan never would have done this if what David was asking was a bad thing or even a questionable thing, but because it was a good thing, he didn’t feel the need to go to God. So what happens is: God has to go to him, and tell him to go back to David and tell him that he will not be building a temple for him. God did want a temple built eventually, but he didn’t want David to do it. Solomon, his son, would be the one to build the temple for the Lord.

The bottom line to my thought this morning is to challenge us to ask before we act. If you have decision to make, and the thing that you want to do is not against the revealed will of God (the Bible), check with Him before you do it, just to be sure it is His perfect will. If after you ask Him He doesn’t stop you, then you can go ahead with your plan; but be willing to let Him close the door whenever He wishes. It has been my experience here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, that I have gotten myself into more trouble because I have done “good” things that were God’s will.

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Obededom – A Doorkeeper for the Lord

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 13 – 15; Proverbs 11

(Second Milers also read – John 13 – 14; Memorize James 3:5)

“So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had.” – (1 Chronicles 13:13-14)

“And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obededom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark.” – (1 Chronicles 15:24)

“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – (Psalm 84:10)

My thought this morning comes from chapters 13 and 15 from 1 Chronicles. If you have read those chapter you may have noticed the name Obededom, who was a Levite that housed the ark of the Lord for three months. The background to the story is complicated, but basically what had happened was that the ark of God had been taken in previous years by the Philistines in a battle they fought with Israel. The Philistines received the judgment of God because of it, so they returned it to Israel. For years the ark remained in Kirjath-jearim, but when David became king he wanted to bring the ark to Jerusalem. His first attempt to bring the ark back resulted in tragedy. David put the ark on a cart, which was not according to the commandment of God, as the ark was to be transported solely by the Levites, and was to be carried with staves (poles) on their shoulders. On this first attempt trip to bring the ark back on the cart, one of the drivers touched the ark in order to steady it, and the man (Uzza) was immediately struck down by God. Nobody was to touch the ark of God. This is where Obededom comes in. Apparently his home was nearby, and since he was a Levite David brought the ark to his house for storage until he could figure out what went wrong. The ark stayed with Obededom for several months, and God blessed the house of Obededom. When the ark was later moved the right way to Jerusalem, Obededom went with it and became a doorkeeper in the house of God.

Odededom was a faithful servant of the Lord who was willing to do whatever was necessary in order to serve his Lord. His job as a doorkeeper was certainly not a high visibility position. He wasn’t asked to speak to large crowds of people, and he was not in the spotlight; yet, he faithfully served his Lord. We need more men like Obededom; more doorkeepers. We need men and women who will be willing to serve the Lord, and be content with not receiving the accolades of men, but knowing also that their labor was not in vain as far as God was concerned. I appreciate the en an women at our church that do the things that people tend not to notice, but are very important and necessary for the cause of Christ to move forward.

Note – for more information on the ark of the covenant see Exodus 25 and Numbers 3. For more information on the taking of the ark by the Philistines see 1 Samuel 4 and 5.

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God Saw Him First

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 11 – 12; Proverbs 10

(Second Milers also read – John 11 – 12; Memorize – James 3:5)

“Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel. Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.” – (1 Chronicles 11:1-3)

In this morning’s passage we see the people of Israel anointing David to be their king. You may remember that God had already anointed David to be king over Israel, through the prophet Samuel, back in 1 Samuel 16:13. When God had chosen David he was still a very young man. God knew what David would be, but it took a long time for the people to recognize the hand of God upon David. Don’t quote me on this, but I am pretty sure twenty years had transpired from the time that God anointed him until the time that people made him their king. During those years a lot of things took place. First, we will see that God became fed up with the first king of Israel, Saul. Saul was a great choice for the first king. He was head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd, but he was initially a very humble man. He trusted in the Lord, and he did what God told him to do. But as the years went on, he became very insecure, especially when it cane to David. For many years he spent all of his energy, and the resources of Israel, trying to put David to death. Somewhere along the way Saul stopped doing things God’s way, and started calling his own shots. However, even though God recognized that Saul was no longer the man for the job, it took the people many years to see it for themselves.

God may be calling you to do something for him as well, but don’t be surprised if it takes a while for other people to recognize God’s calling on you. I remember that shortly after I was saved I went forward at an invitation at Ocean County Baptist Church. The preacher that night was a visiting missionary. He asked us that night, “If God were to call you to do something, would you do it?” To me that was a “no brainer” I remember thinking to myself that if I knew for sure that God wanted me to do something I would obey the call. I went forward. I thought there would be a hundred people alongside of me, but to my surprise, when I got up, there was only one other man that was standing with me. I had no idea at that moment what God was going to do with my life, but I was willing to let Him use me. I knew at that moment that God was calling me, but it took many years for all of the people around me to see it for themselves.

I have concluded that God’s anointing is really a two-fold process. The first step is when God lets you know that He wants to do something with you, and the next step is when the people in your local church recognize the genuineness of that call, and put their stamp of approval on you as well.

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Nethinims – Faithfully Serving Behind The Scenes

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 9 – 10; Proverbs 9

(Second Milers also read – John 9 – 10; Memorize James 3:5)

As I was reading today’s passage, I was caught by the name used in verse 2 of chapter 9, “Nethinims”:

“Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims.” (1Chronicles 9:2)

I decided to do a little study on these people and I discovered that the Nethinims were a group of people that were actually slaves or servants to the Israelites.  The Gibeonites were such a people (see Joshua 9).  Apparently these folks were assigned to serve the Levites in the temple.  These folks are mentioned by name several times; but only in two other books of the Bible: Ezra, and Nehemiah.  It is apparent that the books of the Chronicles were actually written after the captivity years, and may have actually been written by Ezra.  Nevertheless, it appears that these Nethenims existed as bondservants  before the captivity, early in Israel’s history; and then chose to retain their position as servants in the temple when the Israelites returned to the land from Persia.

These Nethenims must have been a dedicated people to willingly be slaves to the God of Israel and servants to the Levites in His temple.  I would like to be that kind of a servant.  Not the guy with the robes on that is always in front of the people; but the guy who just loves and humbly serves the Lord; the Lord’s House; and the Lord’s people.  Would to God we had more Nethenims today in our churches who are willing to work behind the scenes; people who are willing to quietly serve the Lord without the applause and honor of men.

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Valiant Men

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 7 – 8; Proverbs 8

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8; Memorize James 3:5)

“And the sons of Tola; Uzzi, and Rephaiah, and Jeriel, and Jahmai, and Jibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their father’s house, to wit, of Tola: they were valiant men of might in their generations; whose number was in the days of David two and twenty thousand and six hundred.” – (1 Chronicles 7:2)

1 Chronicles 7 contains the genealogies of several of the tribes of Israel, and lists many of the heads of the families that were alive when the Israelites were moving into the Promised Land during and after the time of Joshua. As you will recall, this land was full of the enemies of God’s people, and they all had to be removed from the land. In addition to the above verse, four times in this passage of Scripture the phrase “men of valour” is used to describe these men. I looked up the word “valour” in the dictionary, and it defines it as great courage in the face of danger. Some of the synonyms listed in the thesaurus for the word “valour” are bravery, courage, pluck, nerve, and fearlessness. I admire men who rise to the challenge and are willing to risk their lives for a greater cause than their own personal safety. God raised up these “men of valour” in Israel at a time when the people of God were facing incredible obstacles while claiming the inheritance that God had given them.

As I write this blog, we are a week away from the daring assault by the US Navy Seals in Pakistan which resulted in the removal of Usama bin Laden. These Seals are incredibly brave men, who are often asked to put their lives in great danger for the cause of liberty. I am very thankful for men who will lay their own safety on the line so that my family is kept safe. In a few weeks we will be observing Memorial Day. For many years this holiday meant little to me. For the most part it was a day for hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad; and a time to have barbecues or picnics with friends and family. But as I get older, and I look at my children and the opportunities they have here in this great nation, my mind is forced to think about the brave men and women who made it all possible for us. I would like to thank all of you who might be reading this thought this morning, who may have served our nation in the armed forces. You are truly men and women of valour.

As I was reflecting on my admiration of the men from this passage, and my appreciation for the men and women in America who keep us free, I was also challenged to consider what my contributions have been to make our country a better place. What sacrifices have I been willing to make so that life could be better for my family and neighbors? I want my life to make a difference as well. I don’t think that I will ever be called upon to go into a physical battle against some opposing army, but perhaps I can do some spiritual battle with the forces of darkness. I can also sacrifice some of my time, talent, and treasures to help people in a tangible way. Maybe there is something that you can do as well.

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Pray Like Jabez

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 3 – 5; Proverbs 6

(Second Milers also read – John 3 – 4; Memorize Ephesians 4:29)

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested”. (1Chronicles 4:10)

I have got to admit that these first few chapters of 1 Chronicles are not my favorite portions of Scripture to read.  Oh, don’t misunderstand, these genealogical passages are very important, and God has good reason to include them in the Bible; but they don’t make for very interesting reading.  However, nestled in the midst of this rather dry recollection of families and names is a prayer request made by a man named Jabez.  Now we don’t know anything about this man except for this prayer which is recorded here; but we also know that God granted him that which he requested.  Let’s take a look at the prayer:

1  He prayed that God would prosper him.  He depended on God for that prosperity.  He recognized that God was the source of all blessing.  His prayer required a great deal of faith which we know is pleasing to God.

2  He prayed for protection.  Again, he knew that anything could happen to him; but he also knew that nothing could happen to him without God’s permission.  He asked God to put an hedge of protection about him.

3  He prayed for peace of mind (happiness).  Not every situation we face in life will be pleasant to us; but God’s people should be a very happy people.  We have a lot to be happy about.

I have often thought that this prayer was selfish.  He didn’t pray for others; he didn’t pray for the glory of God; he didn’t pray for the salvation of the world; he prayed for himself; yet God answered him.  Maybe God likes it when we come to him in childlike faith.  I guess God enjoys blessing us.  Don’t misunderstand, I don’t think that God appreciates a spoiled brat, always begging for things they want; and always griping about what they don’t get; but I bet He enjoys blessing us.  I know I enjoy doing things for my kids, just because I love them.  Maybe, we should try praying a prayer like Jabez.

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His Name Is Mud

Dr. Samuel Mudd

Today’s Passage – 1 Chronicles 1 – 2; Proverbs 5

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Memorize Ephesians 4:29)

“And the sons of Carmi; Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the thing accursed.” – (1 Chronicles 2:7)

I must be completely honest with you and tell you that it was a little bit challenging finding a thought to write about from today’s portion of Scripture. The first few chapters of 1 Chronicles contain some very necessary information regaeding the genealogical record of Israel. Though this information is important, it can also be very tedious to wade read through; but we must not skip over passages of Scripture such as these. If you are searching for a nugget of truth, God will always get one to you, even in passages like this. So hang in there. By the way, eventually 1 Chronicles will become a very exciting book to read.

My thought this morning comes from chapter 2 and verse 7. In the middle of the genealogical record, there is a comment made about one of the listed men, Achar. He is called here “the troubler of Israel”. The story behind this man can be found in Johsua 7. He is called Achan there; and we find that he is the man that stole some gold and silver and a “goodly Babylonish garment” from the city of Jericho during Israel’s invasion of that city. The problem was that God told the Israelites that they were not supposed to touch anything in that city, but Achan could not resist. As a result, God’s judgment fel upon the whole nation of Israel, and they lost the next military battle with many innocent men being killed in the battle. Later, when Achan’s sin was discovered, he and his family were all put to death. The bottom line to this whole story is that Achan was probably a good man who yielded to a temptation, and the result was death and sorrow for a lot of people, and a reputation that will follow him for all eternity. His name will forever be “Mud”.

I want to challenge all of us to consider for a moment our own reputation, and the affect that our reputation will have on our family members. I understand that none of us is without sin, and I am not trying to rub salt on old wounds; but I am trying to get us to carefully consider the affect that some future sin will have on our reputations. When people here your name in the future what will they say about you. Will they say that you were a moral, honest, hard-working individual; or will their be negative thoughts that surround your reputation. By the way, if your reputation is less than perfect today, you still have time to change it.

Interesting side note on the expression “his name is mud”. It seems to have become popular as a result of a doctor named Samuel Mudd (pictured above) who treated and helped John Wilkes Booth after he broke his leg jumping down from the balcony in the Ford’s Theater, after his assassination of President Lincoln. Mudd was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, though he was later parolled by President Andrew Johnson.

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