My news feed this morning is full of battles. A military offensive to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS. Ads full of political rancor on both sides. Cultural battles for the hearts of our children. Arguments and protests and violence. The weight of consequences hangs in the air. I am grateful this morning for the message of 2 Chronicles.
Just like it's predecessor, 2 Chronicles serves as a historicial overview calling people to see what the Lord had done on behalf of Israel. It also calls them and us to review the sad results of ignoring God's warnings. However, it holds glorious promise that God is able and willing to fight and win for His people. Including you. Including me.
The book begins with the building of the beautiful temple and Solomon's magnificant reign. It then runs through the history of the generations of kings; some followed God, others ignored the prophets calls and led the people astray and eventually into captivity. The book's ending is an open invitation for faithful people to return. Always an invitation to return. Most of the stories involve battlefields. The difference between the times the battle is won or lost revolves around the people's relationship with God.
I have a confession. Sometimes when I'm reading along in a book or blog and I see a scripture, I will speed past it. My internal thought is "Oh, I know that one already. I'm so busy. I'll skip ahead to see what else the author has to say." And I read on to the words of a flawed human and skip the words of life. Today can I encourage you to take a minute. Slow down. Skip my words and focus on these words. These promises encourage me. Let them sink into your heart today. Let them call you back to the One who fights for you.
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
"Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, "Lord there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You." 2 Chronicles 14:11
"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work." 2 Chronicles 15:7
"For the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
"We don't know what to do but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12b
"and he said, 'Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat; thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.'" 2 Chronicles 20:15
"For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him." 2 Chronicles 30:9
"Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." 2 Chronicles 32:7
"Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!'" 2 Chronicles 36:23
If you are facing a battle this week the best thing to do is be still. Seek God. Pray. Ask for help. He fights for us all. He is the best at redemption, at restoration, at resurrection. When you don't know what to do, put your eyes on Him.
New Spring Chruch has some fabulous devotionals on 2nd Chronicles. I especially like the one on leadership.Check them out here. The infographic below is another great resource they provide.
This is an old Michael W. Smith song. Seems fitting this morning.
Oh! I found some more favorites. Happy Day! If you have things you think the rest of us should check out, make sure to post in the comments. I'd love to hear what you are listening to, what you are reading, see what great photos you captured or what treats you're serving up this season.
Read on....I've got a giveaway in one of the sections.
Best New Art
I love art. Truly and madly - with my whole heart. I'm also a sucker for a good non-profit. So I think I have found heaven! Elo Wobig is a great emerging local artist and she has got an amazing deal going. If you donate to one of her favorite non-profits she'll give you a painting! Check it out. If you are interested send me a message on Facebook or on the contact page and I can hook you up. You can check out her other work athere.
Favorite New Music
The new Tenth Avenue West album released today. I listened to the whole thing on my way home and decided my favorite is the new song Sparrow. Any time you can give new life to an old hymn that's a win. One person on twitter pointed out that she found a great Narnia reference in the lyrics. I'll send a link for a free download of this song to the first person to find the C.S. Lewis quotation and post it in the comments.
Favorite new photo
I love the wonder and watchfulness of my four-year-old. May we all have hearts to see the beauty all around.
I want to tell you about the time I was baptized. My family and I were going camping and we went to a baptism ceremony.
I had not planned to be part of it.
After everyone got baptized my pastor said if anyone wanted to get baptized they should come into the water.
I got this feeling in my heart that God was calling me.
I looked up at my dad and asked him if it was okay and he nodded.
I stepped out of the crowd and the first thing my pastor said was "Do your parents know you're doing this?"
And I said "Yes".
So my pastor baptized me.
Afterwards I was so happy I listened to God's calling.
I received a text yesterday in the middle of church. I love when people spread good news.
Some people will tell you that the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles are just repeats of 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings. I won't.
I believe these books function like mid sermon texts that say "Hey look there. Look what your heavenly father did! God is so great!"
The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are geneologies. My kiddo would call them boring. The nerd in me thinks it's interesting to track out how many of the names and stories I recognize. A who's who in the family tree that I can trace to my redemption.
Tucked into the big long list of what God has done is a side note which shows how a single prayer can change a life. I would never recommend you base your life on one out-of- context verse. However, I will tell you that in my life, when I pray big bold prayers I've learned to then watch and see what happens because it's never boring.
"Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me?" And God granted him what he requested." I Chronicles 4:10
After the geneologies, much of 1 Chronicles revisits the life of David. The goal is to display his story as foreshadowing for the type of leader who was promised to restore all of humanity. David was not a perfect person - but he reflects the type that is coming. The key is in verse 11:9 and it's not about David. It's about whom he trusts.
David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him. 1 Chronicles 11:9
Chapter 16 is my favorite. David and the people bring the ark of God to Jerusalem and celebrate that the presence of God will again dwell in their midst. And David assigns people a job. A big job. The job is to give thanks to the Lord. It makes me want to assign people to give thanks. Hey you over there - new job. Make a a list. Give thanks! I'm serious. If you are reading this I'd love it if you'd post a comment, a photo or a story about what you have seen God do. Share it on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook. Text a friend. Send me a Wall of Faith entry. Ascribe to the Lord praise.
"Oh Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name, Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad." 1 Chronicles 16:8
When I pause and look through my photos I see the glory of the Lord displayed in creation. Behind each of these photos is a story of how I was restored, renewed and encouraged by a gift from God. Take a peek in your photos. Look for times He spoke.
"Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods." 1 Chronicles 16:23
You tired of bad news? Of stories of shame and loss and violence? Check out a few of these stories. See what God is doing among the nations.
"Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the Lord in holy array." I Chronicles 16:28
Just this last week I have seen God help people. I heard of cancelled hearings, reduced bills, clear medical tests, a rescue in the wilderness, resolved conflict, peace in the midst of a storm. I saw a husband go out of his way to love his wife. I saw children grow. I saw God.
"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said "Amen," and praised the Lord. 1 Chronicles 16:36
Such a fun song straight from 1 Chronicles 16:36. Turn it up, dance and sing.
"Now therefore, our God, we thank you and praise Your glorious name." I Chronicles 29:13
You see, the goal of Chronicles is to inspire you to do the same. Raise your voice. Praise God today. Someone is watching and I know we could all use the encouragement.
Read Scripture: 1st Chronicles. The Bible Project explains nicely how the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles are not just repeats of the preceeding books in the Old Testament. In the Jewish scriptures, Chronicles is the last book. Therefore, the book functions to summarize the entire history and point forward to the coming Messiah. These videos help me see the big picture. Watch them all.
This book is a fun and challenging look at how applying a story from the Bible to your life can have reaching impact.
Thank goodness for the delete button. You missed the bits where I slipped climbing up on the gardening table to peer over my fence and also when I dropped my book and my husband's microphone in the mud. SHHHHHH. Don't tell. You should post a comment to enter to win your own new and clean copy of Chase the Lion. Sheesh. I need help.
You can buy your own copy of Chase the Lion by clicking on the book below.
Yuck. Disgusting. Seriously? For. the. love. Sigh.
This election is garbage. I spent entirely too much time last night reading and ranting. This was my favorite. The rest was despressing.
I was subjecting my sweet spouse to a tirade about leaked videos and leaked emails when I stopped short.
Truth is I've sent emails I hope don't surface. I've had mean conversations I hope weren't recorded. Judgmental, angry, selfish, nasty.
I'm not excusing anyone's bad behavior. Not in the least. How we talk does matter. What we post and send and mail and think affects people and displays the character of our heart. All of us.
If our worst days were made public we'd all stand condemned . Dark and scary.
So last night I turned off Twitter and quit scrolling through political commentary. I pulled my youngest over and we went through her preschool bag. My kid likes to paint. I love her bright colors and cheery lines. Her stop sign made me think.
The function of a stop sign is not to make cars immobile. You don't stop permanently. The purpose of a stop sign is so that you can proceed safely.
Consider this your stop sign. Pause here Saturday morning and consider the view.
We all stand condemned. But for Grace.
This stop and then go pattern happens all throughout the stories of Jesus. Women were treated like trash until Jesus stood at their side. People's pasts defined their futures until God held out his hand. Lepors came to his side and then left clean. Bullies met Jesus and went away different. Come. Be Changed. Go.
It happened in my life.
I'm not going to tell you how to vote. I am going to recommend a way to live.
Pause. Take stock. Don't like the view? Accept the reset. Choose Grace. The rest is garbage.
"Look to the helpers"- Mr Rodgers popped into my head and I promptly followed his advice. It was reassuring to know I have a decent fight or flight instinct in a moment of chaos. My head was about me and I calmly and quickly derived a plan of action. I scooped up my screaming son, pulled the tiny grocery cart to the side and made eye contact with the grocer who very politely asked if I needed a larger cart. Fear not, my son was not hurt in any way-- he was having a full blown two year old tantrum right in the middle of the produce department. He decided to throw himself down between the avocado stand and the banana display and kick and scream. Little did I know God wanted to use this produce section exhibit to produce in me a new attitude. I experienced a picture of grace at the grocery store.
You see, my kid is a TK- a Teacher's Kid. Before the little man ever made his grand entrance into the world I already had a decade of experience teaching little people how to read, write and function in the school environment. I firmly hold that little people are capable of rising to the highest standards. It is our responsibility to model, teach, and expect great things from our kids. That being said...yes, I'm THAT Mom. My two year old has chores and a chart to document when those chores are completed. I make him pick up the toys at home and at Grandma's house too. I expect him to use a real glass cup, sit at the dinner table and try new foods. He knows what the words "properly", "consequence" and "persevere" mean and can accurately use them in a sentence. And I may or may not have sung three different versions the alphabet song to him on the day he was born and...every day since. To say I have lofty expectations for my little guy is an understatement.
It was a Friday afternoon. The two year old's dad had been working out of town for some time and the resident little man was well past his nap time. The plan was to grab one of the cool "car" grocery carts (which the kid loves), dash through the store and grab milk, salad and bread and make it home in time for a good long siesta. To quote Anamaria from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, "It WAS a good plan."
All good teachers know that things rarely go as planned and are willing to roll with a plan B. We got inside the store and all the car carts were in use. I thought, "No problem, we'll just take a regular cart." Except, my darling, exhausted shopping partner sighted the mini "shopper in training" carts. "Oh, boy" was what I thought. But clear expectations and consequences is what I said. The kid agreed to the plan. As long as he stayed close to me and listened he could maneuver the cart. If he didn't listen it was into the regular boring old cart he went. No exceptions. Clear expectations. Consistent consequences. Lessons learned.
We were making good progress. We had all but two more items to go. And then he sighted the apples and ran full speed to them (what's up with apples and their lure of temptation?). He disappeared behind a display of cabbages and I went into full Love and Logic, quick consequences teacher mode. A firm "stop, come here" and "I love you too much to argue" came out of my mouth and the preschooler hit the ground in a full throttle tantrum.
Enter mental images of Mr Rogers with good advice and a kind grocer. He asked if I needed a cart and a florist from the next department delivered it with a smile. The little guy wiped his eyes, apologized to the store employees and onlooking shoppers and accepted his consequence. He would sit in the regular cart for the remainder of the excursion. Story over. Or so I thought.
I was giving myself an imaginary pat on the back for following through on my promised consequence. I was having an internal dialogue about how important it is to set firm boundaries and I was congratulating myself for surviving the embarrassing moment and using it as a teaching opportunity. I started talking to my little guy about how I loved him and it was my job to keep him safe and because I loved him I WOULD discipline him etc, etc, etc. But it turns out the lesson was for me. As I was lecturing the little guy, the florist came up with a bright green balloon and placed the string in my two year old's chubby little hand.
I slightly panicked. Inwardly I thought, "No! No! No! Don't you dare reward his naughty behavior! I was teaching him an important lesson!" But outwardly I whispered "thank you" and instructed my son to do the same. My son did not deserve the balloon. He did not earn it. But he was gleefully happy. The florist gently said, "This is a gift from me. It will make the rest of your trip easier." That's when it hit me. Grace. Grace lived out in the grocery store.
I do not deserve God's grace. I did nothing to earn it. But it is given freely as a gift. Generally, Grace is not the absence of consequence. My son still sat in the cart he did not like. King David still faced great heartache because of his sins, but God still blessed and loved him in the days that followed. We all walk hard roads and face difficult repercussions because of our actions and the actions of others...but God promises that we will never walk alone. His Grace is sufficient and brings great joy along the road. Thank you grocery store florist. Thank you for teaching me to give and receive grace wherever we go.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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