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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

19 May 2012

Week 20 Review

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
1 Chronicles 29:14 (ESV)

May 13 Psalms 97-99
May 14 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30
May 15 Psalms 108-109
May 16 1 Chronicles 23-26
May 17 Psalms 131; 138-139; 143-145
May 18 1 Chronicles 27-29; Psalm 68

We see more of David’s exploits this week. Once again we see Israel in sin. Satan coaxed David into taking a census.  There was plenty of census taking before, so why is it so bad now? This time, it was David who required the census and not God. Was David prideful of his kingdom? Was he militarily ambitious, needing to know how many men could be sent into battle? Did he forget God’s promise to make his people as numerous as the stars? Any of these reasons would have been enough to anger God. Even Joab, the one who was tasked with the census, found the undertaking abhorrent and refused to count the tribes of Levi and Benjamin.

When God confronts David, he sees the error of his ways and begs for mercy. God forgives, of course, but He cannot let the deed go unpunished. He offers David three choices: three years of famine, 3 months of devastation in battle, or three days of devastation by God. David chooses the devastation of God because “His mercy is very great”. God allows a pestilence to kill 70,000 of David’s people, and David falls before God, confessing his sin and asking that God not place any more burden on the innocent people of his kingdom.

God commanded David to purchase the threshing floor of Ornan (Araunah) the Jebusite. David purchased it for the full price, saying “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). This particular site seems to be a strange place to build an altar, but it’s historic. In 1 Chronicles 22, we see that this is the future site of the temple which Solomon would build.

Looking at 2 Samuel 24:24, I think of all the times when my offerings and worship were rote. I came to church and did my time, standing, bowing, sitting and listening at the appropriate times. I gave my money or my time without thought. As I read this passage I was reminded that everything I offer to God – my music, my money, my time, my talent, this blog – have to be offered with the right heart and spirit. God doesn’t CARE about my “stuff”. He cares about my attitude when I offer my “stuff”. Can you look back to a time where you offered something to God that cost you nothing? How will this verse impact your life?

On the 16th, we read through a very boring headcount. Do you sometimes wish those headcounts weren’t in the Bible? They are pretty boring. But God’s Word is completely inspired by God, so they have to make some kind of point. David was reorganizing the work of each tribe, particularly the Levites and the Aaronic priests. Israel was preparing to build the temple, and the duties of the priests and Levites would change. David made these changes on his royal authority. While the divisions were appointed, the specific duties were allocated by the casting of lots. For us, the long list of names and duties can be quite dull. For Israel, the names and duties were crucial as they went into the permanent Temple structure.

We finished the week with David’s final speech. He tells his people that he wanted to build the temple but God told him no, not because he was incapable, but because God had called him to another task – he was a warrior.  This reminds me that although I might be capable of doing a task, it might not be the right task for me to do in the furtherance of God’s kingdom. Have you asked God what task He would have you do? Have you asked God if what you are doing for Him pleases Him, or whether you need to do something else instead?

David passes on the temple plans to his son, Solomon. He says that these plans were “in writing from the hand of the Lord” (28:19). Imagine that! David held God’s writing!

Solomon is anointed king a second time. The first time was a quick affair in response to Adonijah’s attempted takeover (1 Kings 1:28-40). This ceremony took place after his kingship was widely acknowledged. We see that Solomon’s reign was great, with majesty that had never been seen.

I look at David’s final prayer and see another prayer which we can use as a model for ourselves. Obviously, we have Jesus’ model prayer to look at, but David has something to say to help us as well.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.  1 Chron 29:10-18 (ESV)

What a magnificent prayer! It starts with praise and acknowledges that God is God over all. It reminds us that what we have comes from God, and what we give to God is His anyway. It gives us a model of worship (who am I…) and reminds us that no matter our race, nationality, or denomination, as Christians we are all foreigners in the land, sojourning with God. It reminds us that God’s pleasure comes not from what we give, but from the heart in which we give it. Use this to help you jump start your prayer time!

Psalm 30              This Psalm was sung at the dedication of the temple. I exalt You, God! You have healed and protected me. I will sing praises to You and give You thanks. In particular, I praise You because Your anger is brief and Your favor is forever. Sadness is for a short time – just for a night – and joy comes in the morning (remember, this is not a promise to make everything better if we simply go to sleep. “Morning” means the time God chooses to give relief (90:14). It may not come tomorrow, and it may come only at the last day (49:14), but it WILL come!). God, You are unshakeable. It’s easy to remember how good you are in times of prosperity, but I need to remember that it’s all because of Your favor, which is solid as a mountain. You have turned my sadness into gladness, for which I will be forever grateful.

Psalm 68              Although this Psalm was written to celebrate the way God protected Israel, we know that it’s for us as well. It celebrates what happens when God scatters the “kings” on behalf of His people (11-16), and we are God’s people if we’ve accepted the free gift of salvation through Christ. God promises to drive away His enemies. At the end of the Psalm we see a call for all kingdoms to praise God and recognize His majesty (and the power and strength He gives) over Israel. Praise God Who protects, fathers, and leads. God is our salvation and protection.

Psalm 97              God reigns! His rule over His creation assures us of His final victory over Satan. His majestic heavens proclaim Him righteous. Even the “gods” must ultimately worship Him. Because God gives us light and joy, we should rejoice.

Psalm 98              God has done marvelous things. His right hand (Jesus – Luke 1:51) has worked salvation.  These deeds were not just for Israel, but for all the earth! All the earth has seen God’s salvation, so make a joyful noise, sing, play instruments: do this for your King! Even nature joins in jubilant praise in God’s just rule. God is King!

Psalm 99              Let the people tremble and the earth quake in God’s holiness. He is exalted over all the people and He loves justice and equity. His is “true might and true right”. His justice is perfect and His holiness unattainable. Worship His holiness. He calls men to lead and they have obeyed. He forgives and avenges (v.8) the wrongdoings of His people. He chastises, trains and loves us even though we are imperfect. God is holy! Can you imagine what it would be like to actually hear the voice of the Lord like Moses, Aaron and Samuel?

Psalm 108            This Psalm is a combination of Psalm 57 (57:7-11 and 108:1-5) and 60 (60:5-12 and 108:6-13).  In the midst of danger, we can be confident in God! I will sing and give thanks. You are exalted. You will deliver those You love!

Psalm 109            People are against me, Lord. I am under unjustified attack. I choose to pray (v. 4). Vindicate me and give my enemies what they deserve. (Be careful how you pray. Your actions may cause someon  else to pray that same prayer!) You, God, are good. Deliver me! I am poor and needy, weak and scorned. Save me. You are steadfast. They curse – You bless. I will praise and thank You, for You stand to help the needy!

Verse 8, combined with Psalm 69:25, was used to explain why they needed to select another apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1:20-26).

May his days be few; may another take his office!  Psalms 109:8 (ESV)

May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. Psalms 69:25 (ESV)

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and  “ ‘Let another take his office.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22  beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:20-26 (ESV)

Psalm 131            I know who I am – a weaned child with its mother. My soul is calm and quiet. I am content in Your presence, Lord. A psalm of confidence.

Psalm 138            I thank You with my whole heart. I bow down before You. I call and You answer: what a personal God! You Who are exalted above all things listens to ME. You preserve my life and protect me from my enemies. You will preserve me and fulfill Your purpose in my life.

Psalm 139            Lord, You know me intimately. You know everything – what I will say, think, when I sleep or when I work. You encircle me and put Your comforting hand on me. I stand in awe – how can I be so loved?  There is no where I can go to hide from You or Your spirit. You are in heaven, hell, the earth, the wind, the sea. Even when I choose to run from you, You protect me. Even dark isn’t too much for You. Your glory makes darkness turn into light. You formed me in my mother’s womb. When I look at myself and see all my flaws, I need to remember that You, the One Who knows me and guides me, made me this way for a purpose, and You will fulfill Your purpose in me). You put my molecules together exactly as You wanted them. I need to be content in what You gave me and not look to the world’s version of beauty, or riches, or fame. Even before my mother knew I was there, You saw me and knew what paths I would take and how long I would live. Because of this, Your thoughts, immeasurable as they are, are precious to me. Lord, those who speak evil of You, those I loathe because they rise against You – slay them! I want nothing to do with evil. Search me, Lord. I want to know if there is anything in me that grieves You. Take my hand and lead me in the everlasting way.

Can you honestly ask God to show you everything you do that grieves Him? I’m thinking of a couple things that I wouldn’t want to “give up”, and I am certain you can as well. How would your life differ if you allowed God to show you every action, every word, every thought that grieved Him? Could you handle it?

Psalm 143            God, listen to me as I plead for mercy. No one is righteous except You, so please don’t judge me harshly. Although I am a sinner, I reach out in trust to You. Please answer me, show me what to do. Deliver me from my enemies. Show me how to do Your will. Show me the path. Preserve my life for Your Name’s sake. Help me out of the mess I’ve created. I am Your servant and I trust You to help me, body and soul.

Psalm 144            This Psalm asks God to give victory to the reigning heir of David. When we recognize that Jesus is the final heir of David, we can see that God’s promise to protect His people stretches through the centuries, and that we are included in all His promises if we’ve accepted Christ as our personal savior. Blessed is the One who trains me for life’s battles. He is my fortress and shield. I am but a breath, a shadow to You Lord, yet You love me and think of me! Rescue me, Lord, and I will sing a new song of praise to You. May You give abundant blessing to Your people.

Stop and think for a minute: the One Who created dirt, and mosquitoes, and the ocean, and the plants… He has time to train you and to think of you. I am frequently “too busy” to think of my friends, yet God, Who has billions of people to think of, angels to command, a timeline to watch … God thinks of me as if I were the only person on the planet. The magnificence of God sometimes overwhelms me.

Psalm 145            Need a jump start on your praise and worship? Don’t know how to go about praising God? This Psalm will help you because it is all about praise in its many forms. We are told to extol (1) and tell how Great God is; bless (1, 2, 10, 21) and tell of God’s generosity; praise (2, 3, 21) and glorify God for His magnificence; commend and declare (4, 6) and speak highly of Him; meditate (5) and think of Him; speak (6) and tell of Him; pour forth (7) can’t stop speaking of Him; sing aloud (7) and give thanks (10). That’s a pretty exhaustive list of the ways we can praise God. Can you think of others?

Every day I will find new ways to bless You, God. Tales of Your glory will pass from generation to generation. I will think of the glory and majesty that is You, oh God. You are gracious, merciful and loving. Your actions bless You, proving Your generosity to Your people. I will speak of Your glorious power and everlasting kingdom. You hold me up and satisfy my desires. You are there when I call on you, and You preserve those who love You. You destroy the wicked. I will praise You forever.

I always look forward to hearing from you, whether by email or in a comment at the end of each post. We are here to learn together, and I would love to hear your insights. Which parts of our readings spoke most to you? Which parts did you find troubling, exciting, dull, thrilling, convicting? Do you have prayer requests? I would love to pray with you!

Do you know Christ as your personal Savior? If you have read about God and are now ready to have a relationship with God, please email me or talk to the Pastor. The gift of eternal life is free.  If you don’t accept the free gift of eternal life, you will die and go to hell!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 (ESV)

You can’t be perfect enough to go to heaven. You are a sinner. So am I.

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… to be received by faith.  Romans 3:22-25 (ESV)

You can’t get to heaven on your own. You can’t do enough “good” to earn a ticket to heaven. You can only accept Christ’s free gift. He came to earth, lead a sinless life, voluntarily  went to the cross to die a horrific death, rose three days later, and is now with God preparing a place for those who believe.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9 (ESV)

If you are ready to start your life in Christ, you don’t need anyone’s help. Only you can get yourself into heaven by accepting that free gift. There are no special words you need to say – all you have to do is pray. Prayer can sound intimidating (doesn’t the pastor and  your Gracegroup leader do it well? Sounds like they’ve talked to God all their lives), but it’s just talking to God in your own words. You can say anything you want. Any prayer which tells Jesus that you’ve sinned, know that He is the Savior, that He lived a blameless life and died just for YOU and asking Him to lead your life.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13 (ESV)

“Everyone” includes you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. God knows and He accepts you just as you are. If you have confessed and believed, tell someone! With your new life comes new responsibilities and the pastor, your Gracegroup leader, or I can help you understand. If you’ve asked Jesus into your heart, welcome to the family!

I’ll see you next week. Enjoy your Memorial Day celebrations, but please take time to give thanks for those who gave their lives for our freedoms and security – military, police, fire fighters, etc.

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