April 2012


Prayer Focus: Cook Islands

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18

Scripture

David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. (2 Samuel 8:15; 1 Chronicles 18:14)

Observation

These parallel passages summarize King David’s rule in Israel. He was a truly good king, benevolent and concerned more about “loving God and loving his neighbor” than selfishly taking advantage of his authority and power as had been done by his predecessor, Saul.

Application

Power corrupts, but David is an example of godliness in action. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but he was a “man after God’s own heart” and cared for the people he led, too. I have often been afraid of success, concerned that I might let pride overtake any godly inclinations I might possess. It is possible to be just and right when following the LORD.

Prayer

Great God and King, I long to be a man after your own heart. Though I have no kingdom to rule (except, perhaps, my home…if that is considered a kingdom!), I do have influence over others. I never want my leadership to negative influence others, and I certainly want You to always get the credit, honor, glory, praise, and recognition for anything good in or through my broken life. I want to always do what is just and right for sake of others and, most of all, for Your sake, LORD. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Prayer Focus:  Congo,

Bible Reading:  2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17 Psalms 1-2; 33; 127; 132

Scripture “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.   2 Sam 7:22

    “There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.  1 Chronicles 17:20

Observation – It is often said that when we read something one time in Bible, we should know that God put it there for a reason.  But when we see it twice, we should take note of it, for it is of the utmost importance.  In our readings today we have almost verbatim two accounts of David seeking to build a temple for the Lord, of Nathan’s vision from God, and David’s acknowledgement of God’s promise.   David, the all powerful King of Zion, seeks to provide a resting place for the Arc of the Covenant.  The Lord, through his profit, Nathan, gently reminds David that he doesn’t need David to provide for him, but thanks him just the same.  For the love David showed to the Lord, the Lord promises to establish his earthly Kingdom with David’s heirs.

Application –  Sometimes I’m guilty of thinking that unless I do something, then of course it won’t happen.  I sometimes forget that the Lord is quite capable of carrying out his plan without me.  The Lord wants us to come along with His plan, he wants us to play a significant part,  but he wants us to be in His Will, not our own.

Prayer –  Lord help us to remember that you are the author of all that is, all that was and all that will be.  Help us to play the part that you have set for us in ushering in your kingdom.  Thank you for all that you do for us and for all the blessings you bestow on us. Thank you Lord for being our Sovereign Lord…

 

Prayer Focus: Congo-DRC

Bible Reading: Psalms 89:96:100:101:107

Scripture

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96 1-3)

Observation

As I read the opening verses of all our selections today I couldn’t help but smile in response to the praises. Follow with me here: “With my mouth will I make known your faithfulness to all generations” in Psalm 89, “Shouting for Joy” in Psalm 100, “I will sing praise” in Psalm 101, “Give thanks to the Lord – his love endures forever” in Psalm 107

Application
What a wonderful way to start the morning, don’t you think? I want to draw your attention to the 96th Psalm though, this one tells us to “sing to the Lord a new song.” I wondered about that for a while. Why a new one? Why not an old one? Why not an old trusted and true song that doesn’t leave room for error? One that he could tell us the words to so that we’d get it right and not risk misinterpreting his actions or intent?

I think it goes back to the fact that God made us in his image. He is the Creator God who spoke the world into being with words. He made New Words, for new things. Words set to music because our spirits open up for praise when we sing, it’s a conditioned form of worship. New Songs for new generations who seek him. New Songs for new things he’s made of us, and as a way to tell of the new things he does in our lives.

Prayer

Lord, today I ask you to show me the NEW thing you are doing in my life. For fun, today I will set that new thing into a rhyme, a tune to help me remember this thing you’ve done. It will be a love song between you and me that I can hum and hold close to my heart. I thank you for being the Creator God, who made something new out of me! I rejoice with the pleasure of being your child.
Amen!

Prayer Focus: Comoro Islands

Bible Reading: Psalms 15; 23; 24-25; 47

Scripture

Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Psalm 24:7-8)

Observation

This psalm begins with the bold proclamation that, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters (1-2). Several verses later, the city of Jerusalem prepares for the arrival of the victorious King of glory. The gates, the doors, everything and everyone that the LORD has created worships and adores the Creator in a jubilant celebration.

Application

The psalms were largely song lyrics. Unfortunately, the original melodies cannot be found on iTunes, but that has not prevented composers both ancient and modern from adding their own music to these verses. One song that always comes to mind when I read Psalm 24 is an adaptation of George Frideric Handel’s song “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates” from The Messiah. A contemporary (though very dated; ignore the outfits!) rendition can be found here. Someday all of heaven will proclaim the power, authority, and victory of our King of Glory. What a day that will be!

Prayer

You are the victorious King, LORD! Welcome to our world. Welcome to our city. Welcome to my heart. May all that I am welcome you into my life, awesome God! There is none like You, strong, mighty, victorious. Hallelujah!!!

Prayer Focus: Colombia

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 5:11-6:23; 1 Chronicles 13-16

Scripture

David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed  me ruler  over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.  (2 Samuel 6:21-23)

Observation

It is easy to be misunderstood. Our motives are sometimes called into question. Nevertheless, in this incredible account, David is rebuked by his wife, Michal, for passionately worshiping God and dancing before the LORD. He was not trying to seduce slave girls. He was not seeking attention for himself. Instead, he cared nothing about what others—even his wife—thought of him. His audience was the LORD and he was willing to look undignified before men if it meant an authentic expression of praise to God.

Application

Last night at the Great Lakes District Conference, the song Undignified was sung. The lyrics are drawn from this passage. It is a lively expression of unbridled worship. Tambourines and other instruments were distributed to the gathering of people from dozens of different churches, some of which have probably never utilized such tools or even energy in their worship gatherings. The sight of children dancing, singers smiling, drums beating, and people praising was deeply inspiring to me…and undoubtedly a blessing to the LORD. Oh that we would all worship an audience of One without regard to how foolish we may look in the eyes of others.

Prayer

Dear God, please forgive me when I have concerned myself with what others think about me, even in worship gatherings. I want to be a man after Your own heart, as was said of David. Clearly you were blessed by David’s actions (and displeased with Michal, causing her to be barren after this incident). I want the freedom to dance, sing, serve, and do whatever it takes to express my love and adoration to You (though appropriately to distract others from engaging with You). You are worthy of ALL of my worship, praise, attention, dance, song, thought, attitude, and energy. I love You, LORD!!!

Prayer Focus: China, Taiwan

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-10, 1 Chronicles 11, 1 Chronicles 22, Psalm 133

Scripture

Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord.” 1 Chronicles 22:19 ESV

Observation

David, with his mighty men, and the armies of Israel had brought peace to the nation by fighting off all of their enemies.  Originally, David wanted to build the Temple, but God wouldn’t let him.  Instead, Solomon was going to build the Temple.

Application

I’m probably shifting tracks here and going way off on a tangent, but this struck me.  It’s tempting to equate the Temple to the Church.  After all, God is worshiped in both places and both are referred to as the House of the Lord.  But in the era of the Resurrected Lord the church building is just that; a building.  The Temple was where God lived, it’s where the holy artifacts were kept, it’s where the priest offered the national sacrifice to the Lord.  The priest, and only the priest, could go inside the Temple.

Today God doesn’t live in the church building; it’s not His house.  Sure, since we gather there to worship we give it more respect than some other places, but the incredible truth is that we, Christians, are the Temple of God.  God’s Spirit dwells in us when He save us.  There is no priest in between and no ceremony to follow to the letter.  God is always with us and we don’t have to wait for someone else to build it because God comes to us.

If we’re legalistic we’ll see that as a relief because we don’t have to worry about the rituals.  If we’re sincere in our faith we’ll realize how much greater the responsibility is to have the Holy Spirit within you.  It means that everything we say and do, the Lord is right there with us.  He shares in our joys, triumphs, weak moments, and failures. He laughs with us, he cries with us, and yes, he disciplines us.  Always for our good and His glory.

Knowing that you, Christian, are the Temple of the Living God – let that inspire you and make you bold to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, how amazing it is and what a privilege it is to be your child and for you to dwell in me.  You have promised to never leave me, or forsake me.  You have promised to provide me with all that I need.  Thank you, Lord.

Prayer Focus: China, Taiwan

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 7-9

Scripture

Those who were musicians,  heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night. (1 Chronicles 9:33)

Observation

Musicians and artists are often viewed as frivolous, unnecessary luxuries in our world of labor and production. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even centuries ago musicians were entrusted with a noble task to alert, inspire, lead, calm, and sometimes entertain.

Application

One of the greatest purposes of music, of course, is worship. Heaven is filled with music. One best-selling author who claimed to have spent 90 Minutes in Heaven said that what he misses most about heaven is the music. The sound was incredible. Music is one of God’s greatest gifts.

Prayer

Awesome Creator, thank You for the gift of music. I am especially grateful for blessing me with musical passion and talent. May I always use it for Your glory and never for my own. I bless You, my God and King. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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