Legacy of Heart and Hand

“Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the Lord God…’ David… set stonecutters to prepare dressed stones for building the house of God. David also provided great quantities of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps, as well as bronze.., and cedar timbers… David said, ‘Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands. I will therefore make preparation for it.’

“Then he called Solomon his son and charged him to build a house for the Lord. David said, ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood… Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest… He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.”

“‘Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God. May the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep [his] law… Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. I have provided… gold, silver, bronze, iron… timber, stone. To these you must add.  You have stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The Lord be with you!

“‘Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary… for the name of the Lord.’” 1 Chronicles 22:1-16,19

David was a man of many talents, and burning holy desire. The Lord had honed and implemented his skills for the good of Israel, and near the end of his reign, led him to prepare his son Solomon to carry on His kingdom work. David’s priorities as a parent, in this case, are admirable: he pointed Solomon first to the Lord, encouraged his fidelity to God’s word, then supplied much- but not all- of what he would need. He knew that being given everything could emasculate Solomon and steal his opportunity to develop as a leader, to grow in faith and dependence on God, to work hard at his distinct assignment.

When desires are held out to the Lord, He will direct our paths forward with them. David could have bemoaned God’s “not you”, yet he willingly accepted it and proceed accordingly. ‘If that’s not what You want, then lead me to what you do want.’ Shouldn’t this be our submitted position with every passion, no matter how ‘right’ it is? (Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:1-3)

How indicative is our behavior of the fact that our relationship with the Lord is completely integrated with our work? With those for whom we are responsible, do we balance spiritual instruction with practical advice, godly wisdom with material supplies? Are we committed to teaching and emulating the intertwining of truth and talent, heart and hand, that our lives are from God and to be lived for Him? (Isaiah 49:3; Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:16)

Father, order my efforts to reflect Your pattern, so the instruction and legacy I leave reflects Your priorities and supremacy.

The Asterisk on Good Intentions*

“David consulted with the commanders, [and] said to all the assembly, ‘If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God,.. let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.’  All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people...

“So David assembled all Israel ..,[and] went up to Kiriath-jearim to bring from there the ark of God… And they carried the ark on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.

“And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.  And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And David was afraid of God that day… So David did not take the ark home into the city of David...

“Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark… And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark to its place, which he had prepared for it... He said to them,.. ‘Consecrate yourselves, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.’ The Levites consecrated themselves… and carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord... God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant.” 1 Chronicles 13:1-13; 15:2-3,12-15,26

*They must be done God’s way.

The best intentions fall flat and can even be destructive when not carried out according to God‘s commands. David learned the hard way that eager zeal to do for God resulted in death, shock, sorrow, and fear because of his impulsive, thoughtless action. Means are important when it comes to our (and God’s) ends. Direction and provision for follow-through will always accompany Spirit-prompted action. (2 Corinthians 8:11; Titus 2:11-14)

When the Lord plants an idea, our flesh can grab the baton and run without considering His best way to go about the action. While the Lord is pleased at our honorable intentions and desires to please Him and others, He also cares that we submit our desires to Him for His approval. He may say ‘wait,’ or use us to do the preparation work for another. (1 Chronicles 17:1-15; Psalm 37:4)

What good intentions have we left undone because we resist the Lord’s pace or method? Are there desires we let grow into impulses that drive us ahead of the Lord? Would we pause to seek God’s call and direction? In what specific commands are we tempted to evade God’s way to charge ahead in ours?

Lord, inspire, clarify, and define my every good intention, and lead me to accomplish them in Your best way and for Your glory.

Appointed Thanksgiving

“And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.  And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord  and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.

Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel… Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!..
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered…

He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
Remember his covenant forever…

Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.
 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

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 the splendor of holiness…
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”
1 Chronicles 16:1-4,7-10,12,14-15,23-29,36

David has been established as king, and sets many priorities in his kingdom aright, especially that of worshiping God and giving the ark of His presence a revered place. He sees to proper sacrifices, and blesses God’s people from the bounty their generous, faithful Lord has supplied. Then he appoints a distinct day, a time set apart, to give thanks, as well as individuals whose regular job this would be. His kingdom would continually thrum with a rhythm of gratitude, keeping sights high and heavenward, and pride at bay.

When we are humbled by His greatness and all His spiritual gifts, the Lord is in His rightful place in our esteem, our hearts, and our offerings. We live within a framework of thanksgiving that affects all we perceive, think, and express.

Are we anxious, uncertain, lonely? Thank God for His omnipresence! Are we angry at injustice? Thank God for His pure and certain judgments. Is truthful information difficult to discern? Thank God for His immutable word.

What would change in our atmosphere if we thanked God for His cross and manifold good deeds instead of complaining and recounting difficulties? How might our attitude toward family and neighbors change if we intentionally thanked God for their good qualities, and what they teach us?

Good Father, keep me consumed with Your splendor and singing thanksgiving all the day, for You are uniquely, majestically worthy.

Lessons from Celestial Lights

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1,3-9

A perfect circle is faintly stamped in the black pre-dawn sky, with white paint thick only on its lower edge, like a fingernail just above the horizon. So many stars twinkle across the black canopy I cannot count or decipher all the constellations. I am agape. A shooting star, now another, streaks its white trail that quickly disappears. This moon, and a bright planet, hold my gaze. What is man, Lord… Who am I, that You would care for me? That You would place these celestial lights before me to make me wonder?

Yet, You have made me, immeasurably smaller, but intricate and in Your image. You know my name, and have set Your limitless affection upon me. You created the heavens to declare Your glory and teach me to exult in all You are. (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 19:1; 139:1-6; Isaiah 49:1)

I learn from Your celestial lights…

… of Your power to create and uphold all things with precision and might, maintaining their balance with gravity, in orbit; suspended, yet held. You are infinitely mighty and strong. (Amos 5:8; 9:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3)

… of Your order, Your perfect design and plan that reflect the precision and beauty and serenity of Your character. All is well with You. You have fashioned creation to teach about life, renewal, fidelity, eternity. You designed the stars to be signs of time and seasons. You are an exquisite and remarkable Architect. (Genesis 1:14-18)

… of Your creativity, Your divine tracing of light and shape, twinkle and shine, and the curve of spheres. The skies reveal whimsy and humor and the delight You take in the act of Your craft of making. You are marvelous, and the Purveyor of inexplicable wonder.

… of Your love, the benevolence You hold for Your own. You spread this vast array for the pleasure of our senses, for intellectual marvel, exploration, and discovery. Your faithfulness in spinning our earth, and setting stars for pictures and in place that return again and again, teaches of your steadfastness, Your unconditional love, Your finished work on our behalf, Your fresh and dependable sameness, Your glory. You are a consistent Lover that knows no bounds, and You keep secure and in perfect peace Your beloved children. (Psalm 36:5; 103:11; Isaiah 26:3; Hebrews 13:8)

Lord my Lord, keep me marveling at the heavens, above and immeasurably beyond which You reside and rule. Cause them to continually remind me how tiny I am, and how great You are and always will be.

The Word Reaches Even Kings

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying,‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city… And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, ‘Let… man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.’1When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.Jonah 1:1-3; 3:1-10

“I must preach the good news..; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

God’s word is a fire, powerful and transformative, yet the soil on which it falls determines the effect it has on us. When it first came to Jonah, his stubborn sense of justice held it at bay, and he ran. But in the belly of the fish, Jonah came to his senses, and the next time it was issued, it prevailed, compelling him to obey; now it was the Ninevites’ turn. (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23)

Marvelously, in Ninevah it was irresistible, penetrating the vilest and hardest of hearts. The people of this wicked city, and even their godless king, were humbled and forever changed by its formidable truth and conviction. There is no place, and no person, God’s word cannot reach.

Am I willing to confront the ‘kings’ of pride, sloth, and resentment in my own life with the gospel of change and freedom? What personal attitudes or habits do I shelter from the Bible’s influence? Where have I deemed myself “fixed,” “the way I am and always will be,” un-amendable, or beyond sanctification? Where do I need the word’s refinement? What will it take to expose my hidden places to its holy light, and let it burn and have its way?

Do I write off particular individuals, judging that there is no way they would turn from their idols to believe in Jesus? Do I relegate, even subconsciously, the worst, the most famous and important ‘kings of this world,’ beyond redemption, irreversibly beyond the word’s reach and effect? Would I consider earnest prayer for them, then expectantly commit time and attention to it?

Lord, pierce my heart with Your word that never returns void. Accomplish all You intend in and through me, daily, by Your living and active word. May I proclaim it clearly so it has its effect in all my interactions and reach, for Your redemptive sake. (Isaiah 55:10-11; Hebrews 4:12)

Sober Judgment and a High View

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:1,3-4

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant. For your servant’s sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears... And now, O Lord, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O Lord, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:16-20,26-27

“By the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

There is so much about David that is admirable and attractive and worthy of emulation. Certainly he made some gross errors in judgment and let emotions dictate choices to grave sin, but from early on, when God had him in the sheep fields, he learned a high view of his God. It captured his heart, saturated his thinking, and colored his view of everything, including his understanding of himself and where he fit in God’s plan. (1 Samuel 17:32-37, 43-50)

He was a man, like us, who never lost sight of his Master, the only true Lord. He was ruddy, handsome, and brave, yet delighted in the beauty and strength of God. He was a brilliant and successful king, yet regularly acknowledged his dependence on Almighty God who had called him. (1 Samuel 16:12; Psalm 25:1-5; 27:4; 31:14

Understanding who we are by soberly assessing ourselves is a good way to begin plumb the depths of God who made and redeemed us. And contemplating Him in His infinite splendor helps us to see ourselves soberly. The seesaw of this regular meditation is healthy and instructive for our outlook on others, the ideas that bombard us through media, and world events.

Where are we caught up in the tangle of comparisons with other people- strengths, looks, achievements- and so blur our sight to a realistic view of self and the true authority of our King of kings? What have we allowed to cloud our vision? Taking a long look at the clear night or deep blue sky will sober and realign us.

Lord, I want my Father’s eyes. I want to see as You see, both myself, and Your royal splendor. Grant me honest, holy vision for Your kingdom and Your kingdom’s sake.

The Gift of Tears

“And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” 2 Samuel 18:33

“You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”
Psalm 56:8

“Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’” John 11:33-36

Surprise news of a longed-for pregnancy. A wake-up message with a picture of a newborn first grandchild. A retirement announcement after 12 years of outstanding leadership. Wedding vows of God’s redeemed. An overwhelming gratitude for a godly legacy. Tears blur our vision as a lump chokes our throat.

A rainbow. Tears glisten.

Diagnosed dementia. Returned cancer. Crackled booms of warfare, sirens, shouts of temper and violence. The heinous death of a rebel child. Long days of isolated loneliness. The peaceful death of an over-sixty-year marriage partner. Tears flow with gasps, throbs, sobs.

A soldier’s reunion with his family. Tears roll down quivering cheeks.

These episodes each bring tears, unbidden, welling up from that secret place designed by our loving Creator. Every squeeze of the heart, every salty drop, is a gift of His unimaginable goodness and grace.

Tears dampen many a page in Scripture: tears of emotion at the inerrant truth and exquisite beauty of what we read; tears at tracing the scarlet thread of Jesus’s blood and love from beginning to end; tears of agony, desperation, rejoicing, conviction, longing. (Matthew 26:75; Luke 19:41-42; Acts 2:37-38)

The tears elicited from God’s words are ours to let fill our eyes and flow in intimate communion with our Savior. He not only knows and understands them, but counts them as He shares in our sorrows and joys and delights in our dependence and expression. We are practicing what He has made us to be, life in His image that is being sanctified in every aspect, body, soul, spirit. As Jesus bore the imprint of God’s nature, so we bear His imprint on ours. (Genesis 1:26-27; Hebrews 1:2-3)

Lord, thank You for the gift of tears. Make me more like You, in every way, as I share in Your life. May I weep as You wept. May my tears bring glory to the intricate beauties of Your creation of man.

Low Tide’s Undoing

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
‘I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.’” Jeremiah 17:9-10

“The Lord comes, [and] will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5

“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

An abnormally low tide uncovered ugliness and wear usually hidden by the gloss and gleam of Bay water. Crusted oyster shells and barnacles, decaying wood posts worn by years of shifting salt water, even a stench- all are laid bare. Erosion and buildup are easy to ignore when water levels are “fine,” but impossible to ignore when exposed.

When we least expect it, strange winds sweep into our lives and can become our undoing also. We glide along relatively smoothly, weathering normal ups and downs just “fine” on the surface, when insidiously, a blow of change, or draining suck of circumstances, uncovers otherwise undisclosed ugliness in us. A life-altering diagnosis, a devastating loss, an unsettling move, might pull back the calm we present and unearth sickening fear and doubt of God’s goodness. Grave disappointment or strong disagreement can bring to light willful stubbornness, an unwillingness to forgive, or an ugly attitude. We may live lightly along, relishing our present pretty-adorned identity, until social media exposes a poor decision or shameful past, and we panic for fig leaves to hide resurfaced shame. (Genesis 3:7-13)

Over time, a low tide of spirit, a failure to be filled regularly, weakens foundations and impossibly hardens barnacles of unchecked bitterness and prejudice. We get into rote rhythms that no longer have meaning or produce tasty fruit. We hum along in habits that numb us to sin’s danger and dull our sensitivity to God’s nudges of conviction or correction. Our reasoning gets imperceptibly caught up into our culture’s current, and grows indistinguishable from the world’s. We lose biblical footing because we’ve lost the will to shore up the piers of our faith in God’s immutable word, so they decay. (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 5:18)

The enemy would have us never consider our accountability before God, but the Bible is clear: there will be a reckoning. How have we grown lax in seeking out His searchlight to show where we are slipping, and what will we do about it? Is there a slow seep of living water draining the vitality from our spiritual lives, almost imperceptibly, that we need urgently repair? (John 7:37-39)

When we look to God, He will be our glorious undoing, and then apply His grace. (Isaiah 6:1-7)

Holy Lord, may I never fear low tides. When they come, by Your grace, chip away the sin barnacles I’ve allowed to harden, and fill me anew with You.

Gatekeepers and the Duty of Watching

“All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. And they lodged around the house of God, for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning.” 1 Chronicles 9:22-27

David knew the heart of man, that even the most devoted could fall. So when he planned for the temple, he planned also for gatekeepers as vital to its upkeep and integrity. They were able men, commissioned with this ministry of the Lord’s holy house, stationed at its entrances where anything entered or exited, and tasked with vigilance. (2 Samuel 11:2-12:13; 1 Chronicles 26:1-19)

We, too, are assigned the careful work of keeping guard over all that, and whom, the Lord has entrusted to us- in our families, in His church, and in ourselves. It is an office of trust: ours in the Lord who is the true Defender, and ours in the upholding as those trustworthy of the task. It is also a privilege, as God’s children, to be given the trust of keeping watch(Psalm 18:1-2; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 8:31-34; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2-3)

How well are we tending the gates of our families or communities of friends? How thoughtful are we in the ideas and activities we initiate or participate in? What are we actively doing together to ward off wickedness, to protect against dissension and exasperation, and to pursue diligence and discipline, yielding to the Lord’s parameters to develop holiness? (Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 12:5-11)

What are we doing to watch the gate of our churches? How firmly do we stand on and communicate the inerrant scriptures, build up and pray for our ministers, encourage our fellow members? How are we serving to align and support the worship and teaching with the Bible, to disciple and develop fruitfulness, to deflect gossip and guard against unclean and destructive pests to purity, to keep the Lord’s glory foremost? (Psalm 84:10; Ephesians 4:15-16; 25-32)

What am I doing to guard the gate of my heart, the door of my lips, my body the Spirit’s temple, in my intake- physical, spiritual, intellectual, reading and entertainment, ideas and philosophies? How well do I guard myself in the company I keep, the invitations I accept, the intimate treasures I share? How deliberately do I cleanse of the old and put on the new, renewing my mind so I can walk in the Lord’s pleasing and perfect will? (Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Colossians 3:1-10)

Father, insofar as You’ve assigned me as a gatekeeper, I rely on You to gate-keep my heart, mind, and soul. May I stay vigilant as steward of Your heavenly riches, on guard against the enemy, trusting You as Lord, Master, Keeper, and King. Keep my life a holy temple where You reside and are magnified. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Warriors of Their Generations

“The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their fathers’ houses, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being 22,600. The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Isshiah, all five of them were chief men. Along with them, by their generations, according to their fathers’ houses, were units of the army for war, 36,000, for they had many wives and sons. Their kinsmen belonging to all the clans of Issachar were in all 87,000 mighty warriors, enrolled by genealogy. The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, and Jediael, three. The sons of Bela: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri, five, heads of fathers’ houses, mighty warriors. And their enrollment by genealogies was 22,034…”

“And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah… His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. Rephah was his son, Resheph his son, Telah his son, Tahan his son, Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, Joshua his son.” 1 Chronicles 7:1-7,23-27

God, Author of history and providential in the affairs of men and nations, raises up His people for His times to do His will. Moses was called to lead Israel out of Egypt, Joshua to conquer the promised land, Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Esther to influence King Ahasueras “for such a time as this.” Peter and Paul were pioneers and pillars in the early church. God determines our times and boundaries and the number of our days, and assigns each of us a work to do that is part of His kingdom plan. (Exodus 3:7-10; Deuteronomy 31:23; Nehemiah 1:4-2:18; Esther 4:13-14; Ephesians 2:10)

We would not be where we are today, in our world history, our nations, our careers, communities, and churches, if not for those who have gone before us. Planets spin in their orbits, kings and kingdoms rise and fall, and the Lord God in exquisite sovereignty rules them all. He does not exist to serve us, but we to serve Him and His purposes in the time allotted to us. (Acts 17:24-28)

Are we familiar enough with the scriptures to trace God’s providential hand through history, and to recognize how He equips His soldiers? The mighty warriors God raised up did not act in isolation. They needed parents to raise them, trainers to equip and instruct them, colleagues to develop and implement strategy, skilled craftsmen to make armaments and weapons for war. Each had his vital role and place.

How are we training ourselves in spiritual vision and an eternal perspective? Does entanglement in our own narrow or provincial living prevent us from seeing God’s bigger kingdom plan? How willing are we to expend ourselves for a movement broader than our own world of personal business, friends, and home? What are we doing to strengthen our needed skills for our generation?

Father, direct my mind and feet into the work You’ve prepared for me. Give me a whole and brave heart to do Your will for my generation, to run Your intended course with vigor, determination, and joy, to the furthering of Your purposes and the praise of Your glory. (Acts 13:22,36; 20:24)