1 Chronicles 14 – Telling Stories

Some storytellers are not good at telling a story. Maybe they ramble or get sidetracked easily. Or maybe they put in too many details and give too much backstory. Whatever it is, when they’re done telling the story the listener wonders, “What was the point? Why are they telling me this story?”

Then, there are other storytellers who make the point crystal clear. They are concise and they use just the right amount of detail. Consequently, the point of the story hits you like a freight train.

1 Chronicles chapter 14 fits the latter description. It’s a short and concise chapter, but after you’ve read it you have no doubt about the point the storyteller is making.

And what is the point of 1 Chronicles chapter 14? Simply that David’s success was fostered by three key actions: acknowledging God, asking God, and aligning with God.

David consistently acknowledged that God (not David) had made him king, won the battles, and caused all the nations to fear him. (1 Chron. 14:2,11,17.) And David consistently asked God for direction before making a major move or decision. (1 Chron. 14:10,14) And finally, not only did David ask God for direction, he aligned himself with God by following those directions.

Could it be that the story of our life seems confusing and pointless because we’re not acknowledging God, asking for His direction, and aligning ourselves with Him? Incorporating these three actions into your life will help you live out a clear and powerful story for others to read.

1 Chronicles 13 – Good Intentions vs Obedience

Picture this…a father and son are having a great time playing ball in the front yard. Then, the ball rolls past the boy and into the street. Without thinking, the boy runs into the street after the ball. Suddenly the mood changes. The father sternly raises his voice and commands the boy to stop. Then, the father disciplines the boy for going into the street; something he had repeatedly been told not to. The game is suddenly over and the boy doesn’t feel like playing ball anymore.

Though overly simplified, this is what happens in 1 Chronicles chapter 13. David and the people want the presence of God to be in the center of their nation, so they decide to move the Ark of the Covenant to the capital city of Jerusalem.

There’s great rejoicing until the oxen pulling the cart carrying the Ark stumbles and the Ark begins to topple. Without thinking, Uzzah put his hand on the Ark to steady it. Suddenly, the atmosphere changes. God becomes angry with Uzzah and strikes him dead. Then David – hurt and angry with God’s reaction – decides not to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. The game’s over.

David and the people had good intentions in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. Uzzah had good intentions in trying to keep the Ark from falling over. So why was God so harsh?

God had given clear instructions on how the Ark was to be moved. It was only to be carried by priests, using golden poles placed through the rings on the Ark. And not even the priests were to touch the Ark with their hands.

But, despite clear instructions, they were carrying the Ark on a cart pulled by oxen. And Uzzah had touched that which God had commanded them not to touch.

When we rest on good intentions more than obedience, we take God for granted and make ourselves the authority. When we rely more on our good intentions than our obedience, we will be sorely disappointed in the outcome.

Remember…good intentions do not make up for disobedience!

1 Chronicles 12 – How to be Influential

Ever know someone who naturally attracted a following? The kind of person others just want to be around. Maybe they’re inviting, or commanding, or confident, or assuring. But whatever it is, they draw people like a magnet.

This was David. In 1 Chronicles chapter 12 we learn of some of the people who were drawn to David. These people were not nobodies. They were mighty warriors, renown for who they were and what they could do.

  • They were excellent marksmen with both their right and their left hand. (1 Chron. 12:2)
  • They were experts in both offense (spear) and defense (shield.) (1 Chron. 12:8)
  • They were fierce and quick. (1 Chron. 12:8)
  • They were powerful in that the weakest of them could take on 100 troops. (1 Chron. 12:14)

And more of these competent and qualified people were drawn to David daily.

Why?

A look at David’s life gives us some clues.

But most importantly, David was passionately focused on God. He wanted to serve God and submit to God’s desire. (1 Samuel 17:26,37,45-47) (1 Chron. 12:17) This quality made David both successful (1 Chron. 11:9) and magnetic. (1 Chron. 12:22, 38-40)

Most of us would like to be influential, but are we willing to passionately focus on God? If you want to be influential, start there.

1 Chronicles 11 – How to Determine the Course of Your Life

It’s interesting to me that two people can come from the same family, or have the same opportunities and advantages, and still turn out so differently. Two people can have the same starting point and the same paths before them, yet they wind up in two very different places.

Such is the case with Saul and David. In 1 Chronicles chapter 10, you read the very sad story of King Saul. He was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Yet Saul’s story ends with Saul’s sons being killed, Saul committing suicide, and his body being dismembered and mockingly put on display.

Then, in 1 chronicles chapter 11, you pick up the story of David. He’s another man who was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Unlike Saul, David prospers, seizes his opportunities, and reaches his potential.

What did David have that Saul didn’t? David had God’s sovereignty behind him (1 Chron. 11:2), but so did Saul. (1 Sam. 12:14) David had the people’s and soldiers’ loyalty (1 Chron. 11:1-3,10-15), but so did Saul. (1 Chron. 10:11-12)

So what was the difference between these two men?

The difference is that David had integrity. (1 Chron. 11:18-19) David’s integrity was demonstrated in his humility before God and others, as well as his service to God and others. This integrity, humility, and service endeared him to his men (1 Chron. 11:10-25) and his God. (Acts 13:22) This is what differentiated David from Saul. In the end, Saul did not have integrity, humility, or service.

Is your life characterized by integrity, humility, and service? Your answer to this question could very well determine the course of your life!

1 Chronicles 10 – A Sad Story

Some stories are just sad…

  • A family’s house burns down on Christmas Eve.
  • A child is killed by a drunk driver.
  • A marriage that seemed so solid ends in divorce.
  • A man works hard all his life, only to find he has cancer 3 weeks after retirement.

1 Chronicles chapter 10 is a sad story. It’s a story that goes downhill quickly; getting darker and more discouraging with every sentence.

  • The Philistines attack and the Israelites are forced to flee.
  • The Philistines close in, and King Saul’s sons are killed.
  • The Philistines wound King Saul, and he commits suicide.
  • The Philistines move in to occupy the Israelite towns, and they put King Saul’s dismembered body on display.
  • Loyal Israelites recover the remains of King Saul and bury him and his sons…burying Saul’s dynasty forever.

Some stories are just sad.

But the last two verses of 1 Chronicles chapter 10 tell the reason for such a sad story. In these verses, we’re told that Saul was unfaithful to God. Saul was disobedient by not following the commands God had given him, and he was dishonoring by turning to something other than God for guidance. And so God brought his reign to an end and handed over the opportunity to someone else…David.

It could be tempting to read 1 Chronicles chapter 10 and come to the conclusion that God is vindictive and overly punitive. But in fact, it was Saul, not God, who determined the nature and end of his story. God had told Saul (and all the people) what would lead to a good story and what would lead to a sad story. (See 1 Samuel 12:14-15) The choice was Saul’s, and his choices with relationship to God determined the story.

The same is true for you and me. The choices we make, with relationship to seeking God, listening to God, and obeying God will determine the nature and outcome of our story. (Deuteronomy 11:26ff)

Some stories are just sad. Will yours be the same?

1 Chronicles 5-9 – Where’s Your Focus?

There’s a term in photography called “depth of field.” It’s the range in which things are kept in focus. It’s how you keep your subject in focus and everything else out of focus.

1 Chronicles chapter 9 stands out in sharp focus against the blurred information proceeding it.

This chapter begins with this statement; “The people of Judah were exiled to Babylon because they were unfaithful to the Lord.” (NLT) Then, after a short generalized list of those who returned from exile, the chapter focuses on the priests and the Levites, because they were charged with:

  • Dealing with sin.
  • Guarding the entrance of the temple.
  • Worship.
  • Caring for the temple.

Because 1 Chronicles 9:1 plainly says that God’s people were exiled because they were unfaithful, the rest of the chapter focuses sharply on the temple, the priests, and the priests’ faithful representation of God’s presence and ways.

What’s that got to do with you and me?

It’s very easy to allow your depth of field to become so broad that everything seems important. But this leads to unfaithfulness…which leads to our own relational exile from God.

We need to keep our focus sharply on God…to the point that everything else goes out of focus. We need to stay focused on God by:

  • Dealing with our sin (as priests.)
  • Guarding the gates of our hearts and minds (as the gatekeepers.)
  • Being constantly ready to worship (as the musicians.)
  • Taking care of our bodies (as the temple of God.) (1 Cor. 6:19)

Keep your depth of field narrow, by keeping your highest focus and attention on God and His presence in your life.

1 Chronicles 3-4 – A Glimmer of Hope

Watching the news, with all its stories of tragedy and corruption, can challenge your optimism.

But once in a while, you get a tidbit of good news breaking through the negative drone. A human interest story that catches your attention and gives you hope in the midst of all the negative.

This occurs in 1 Chronicles chapters 3-4. 1 Chronicles chapter 3 begins by listing the sons King David had by his many wives and concubines. There, you find the son of a woman with whom David committed adultery…later murdering her husband and lying about it. Also included in the list is the son of the daughter of a foreign king. This son would later rebel against his father David.

Then, 1 Chronicles chapter 4 outlines the greedy and murderous accumulation of land, property, and towns by the descendants of Simeon.

But, in the midst of this darkness, there’s a two-verse ray of hope about a man named Jabez. (1 Chron. 4:9-10) Out of distress and pain, he grew to become one of the most distinguished men of his time. He lived a life of blessing and accumulation, all because of his loyalty and dependence on the God of Israel. This little human interest story catches our attention and gives us hope that we too can be something different in the midst of droning bad news.

But be careful. It’s easy to corrupt this story and turn its focus from one of total dependence on God to one of finding the formula to get more stuff. The first approach will improve the bad news, while the second will just add to it.

1 Chronicles 1-2 – Everyone Matters!

Ever face a job and thought, “I really don’t want to wade into this!” Whether it was cleaning the garage, painting the house, or cleaning out a closet, you just weren’t looking forward to it.

That’s how I felt when I opened 1 Chronicles and saw 9 chapters of genealogy. I wasn’t excited about wading through a list of names I couldn’t pronounce and people I knew nothing about.

Perhaps God knew this would be an issue for readers because scattered throughout the genealogy are nuggets of information that catch your attention and make you think.

When I came to the descendants of Judah, in 1 Chronicles chapters 1-2, I read that Judah had twin sons by his daughter-in-law, Tamar! (1 Chron. 2:4) According to Genesis chapter 38, when Tamar’s husband died, Judah (her father-in-law) failed to provide another husband for her, as was the custom of the time. She took matters into her own hands, dressed as a prostitute, and seduced her father-in-law into sleeping with her. Out of this, she gave birth to twin sons.

This sordid story is noteworthy because Tamar and her sons are mentioned in another genealogy… Matthew chapter 1…the genealogy of Jesus!

Most of us try to hide the sordid parts of our family tree, but God makes sure to mention a shady pregnancy and two illegitimate children in the genealogy of the Son of God! Why? Because everyone matters! Everyone counts! Every person whose name I so quickly glance over played a critical part in the progression of events that brought us to now.

If it’s true of a morally questionable father-in-law, a deceiving daughter-in-law, and her two illegitimate sons…then it’s true of us. We matter! We count!

Someday, a generation far removed from us will be skimming through some genealogy and glance over our name. Our name will mean nothing to them. It won’t even cause them to slow down. But, like the generations before us, we will have had an impact on their present and future.

2 Kings 24-25 – You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

“You can run, but you can’t hide!” This statement refers to the idea that eventually justice will be served and payment will be required for wrongs done.

We’re taught this, but we act as if it’s not true. There’s something that tempts us to do what we want now and act as if there will be no consequences in the future. Then, when the consequences finally come, we are left with sorrowful regrets and “if only’s.”

This is the flavor of the final two chapters of 2 Kings. After His people repeatedly disregard His warnings and do what they wanted to do, God can no longer patiently and mercifully hold back the consequences of their actions. Those consequences finally catch up with them. And it’s heartbreaking.

  • The temple is ransacked and looted.
  • All but the poor are taken prisoner and deported.
  • The king runs in fear but is captured and forced to watch his sons be killed.
  • Then, the king’s eyes are gouged out and he is carried away as a prisoner.

The book of 2 Kings ends in dismal despair and hopelessness.

But, what’s the point?! Why end a book this way?

Here’s the point. God’s people wrongly assume their relationship with Him will lead Him to overlook their disobedience and rebellion. They think His love will lessen His discipline. But it doesn’t. God’s love may postpone His discipline, but it doesn’t prevent His discipline. (Hebrews 12:6)

Numbers 32:23 says that we can be sure our sin will find us and reveal us. Galatians 6:7 says that we can’t ignore God and get away with it.

So when you choose your present actions, keep the long-term consequences in mind. Be faithful in the present so you won’t have to be fearful in the future. Because…we can run, but we can’t hide.

2 Kings 22-23 – The Heart of a Musician

When I was 9 years old, my parents got me and my brother guitars. We both took lessons, learned how to hold them, strum them, and even play some beginner-type songs.

But for my brother, it always seemed stiff, forced, and a little awkward. While for me, I just got it! I internalized it. I became devoted to spending more time learning and practicing. It became a part of me.

It’s the same with God. Some people connect with Him, while others just learn about Him. Some spend time with Him; practicing His principles until they become an internalized way of life. Others learn the routines and procedures, but God never becomes a natural part of their life. Consequently, they drop God, or they pull Him out occasionally…like the one song they know how to play in front of others.

In 2 Kings chapters 22-23, Josiah passionately desires to follow God and puts his whole self into doing it. He didn’t want to tinker with “music.” He had the heart of a “musician.”

Any musician knows that for the music to come “alive,’ you must completely commit to it. This is Josiah.

  • His heart breaks when he realizes Judah is not what they should be. (2 Kings 22:11, 13)
  • He commits to Judah becoming what God has called them to be. (2 Kings 23:3)
  • He diligently changes things and practices life as God intended. (2 Kings 23:4-20)
  • He turned to God with his heart, soul, and strength. (2 Kings 23:25)

Are you playing at knowing God? Are you satisfied knowing and doing just enough to technically say you have a connection with Him? Or are you yearning for and committed to the Living God, so that He becomes a part of you…like the music that wells up from within the musician?