Category Archives for Daily Meditation

Family, Community & God

Handwritten page from the first book of Chronicles chapter 2 verse 50 through chapter 3 verse 12
1Chron 2:50-3:12

Synopsis     1Chron 2:50-3:12     11/14/2019 

The chronicler finished describing other clans from the tribe of Judah. And then, he focused his attention on identifying King David’s sons.  

Israel and Relationship with God 

The chronicler focused his attention on family relationships.  

Family, Community, and God 

There is a lot of emphasis in modern Christian understanding on the individual. As a result, evangelism has emphasized solving my concern for my salvation through accepting a personal relationship with God. And the basis for this relationship is the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, there is nothing wrong – and everything right – about this.  

But it’s interesting because the historical and practical challenge of relationship with God doesn’t really seem to be with the individual. For example, an individual person is either in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, or they aren’t. I’m either in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, or not. Walking out the relationship might be challenging, but the relationship is certain.

But the individual condition of my personal soul doesn’t seem to be the absolute end of God’s focus. Instead, what God seems to really want is a relationship with a community. Of course, a community is more than a collection of individuals. In fact, it starts with families. And, the ultimate Christian community is the Communion of Saints.  

So, in the end, perhaps the intended outcome of creation really is community. And if this is the case, it follows that the true goal of creation isn’t to produce a collection of holy individuals. But instead the true goal is a Holy Community. 

“You were “no people” but now you are God’s people; you “had not received mercy” but now you have received mercy.” 1Peter 2:10 

November 14, 2019

Detail and Insignificance

Handwritten page from the first book of Chronicles chapter 2 verses 30 through 49.
1Chron 2:30-49

Synopsis     1Chron 2:30-49     11/12/2019 

The chronicler documented the sons of Judah with special care. In this case, the author described the lineage of specific family lines from peoples of southern Judah. 

Detail and Insignificance 

It always strikes me a little strange to recount the names of people memorialized in scripture whose specific stories will never be known.  

The Silent Contribution 

I left the Catholic church when I joined military service. The two occurrences weren’t specifically related. I was seventeen and confused.  

I didn’t return to the faith until I was thirty-seven years old. 

Before I made the decision to return, I began attending the morning mass. I didn’t participate in the Eucharist. Instead, I just sat in the back and observed.  

This was the parish of my birth. Remarkably, the mass hadn’t appreciable changed since I was a middle school altar server. And perhaps more remarkably, neither had the people. Those attending the daily morning mass were mostly people I recognized. Years before, they had been my teachers and the parents of my friends.  

Retired from their labors, they continued to quietly and joyfully live out their faith. They were known only to their friends and families. And that was more than enough. 

So, I’ve come to understand that I, like they, will likely live out my life below the surface of history. For the most part, in a generation or two, they will not be specifically remembered. And in a generation or two, neither will I.  

And yet, their faithfulness created the unmistakable effect of leading me home.  

“But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1Peter 2:9 

November 12, 2019

Israel’s Life and Story

Handwritten page from the first book of Chronicles chapter 2 verses 11 through 29.
1Chron 2:11-29

Synopsis    1Chron 2:11-29     11/8/2019 

The chronicler continued to describe the genealogical line through Boaz, Obed and Jesse. And, of course, Jesse was the father of David.  

After this, the author carefully documented the family of Jesse, including David’s brothers and sisters. But the account also detailed Jesse’s extended family relations including his cousins. And many of these were to become prominent members in David’s court – especially his first cousin Joab. 

Israel’s Life and Story 

We can’t know Israel without knowing Israel’s story.  

Life and Story 

I am – God created. So, I am.  

I have essence. And therefore, I have value. 

And I am known – by others.

In fact, other people know me by the things that I have done. What’s more, my interactions with them have actually revealed aspects of who I am. And that’s important. 

But my value is not the same thing as my story. My value transcends my relationships. My value transcends even the moral and immoral things that I have done.  

And thankfully, this is how God sees me. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16 

November 11, 2019

Lifting Up Judah

1 Chron 1:45-2:10

Synopsis     1Chron 1:45-2:10     11/7/2019

The chronicler described the succession of kings in Canaan And after this, he described the genealogy of Esau, Israel’s older brother. Finally, after this, he listed the twelve sons of Israel.

Now, Jacob had two wives who were sisters and two concubines. And all four women produced children from him. The wives were Rachel and Leah. The concubines were Bilhah and Zilpah.

The chronicler recorded the six sons who came from Leah first, and in their correct birth order. But he listed all of the other sons who came from Rachel and the concubines in no special order. And, although Judah was the fourth born to Jacob and Leah, the chronicler described the descendants of Jacob beginning with Judah.

Lifting Up Judah

Judah was the son of Jacob. And Jacob conferred a special blessing on the sons of Joseph. But as his death approached, Jacob also pronounced a prophetic blessing upon each of his sons. And when he blessed Judah, his blessing anticipated that the “scepter” of rulership would always be with the tribe of Judah.

So, the chronicler seems to have interpreted the genealogical record from the perspective of this prophetic anticipation. For this reason, King David’s ascension to the throne governing Israel was a validation of Jacob’s prophetic blessing.

Lift Up Your Head

My life is so different than I ever imagined. In my case, I can honestly say that it’s better than I ever imagined. But still, I could never have guessed how things have turned out based on how my life began.

And yet, in another way, I think not everyone in my family is totally surprised by my life. And some of my family might even say they could have anticipated the way things have worked out.

But, even if every human person I knew is surprised, God is not surprised. He made me with gifts and talents that are unique to me. And He placed in a space and time where I could use those gifts to create value intended to bless others. He spoke this word over me from the beginning.

And He did the same for you. So, lift up your head!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”Jer 1:5

November 7, 2019

Winding Genealogical Road

Handwritten page from the first book of Chronicles chapter 1 verses 21 through 44.
1Chron 1:21-44

Synopsis      1Chron 1:21-44     11/1/2019 

The genealogical record extending from Adam to the Israelite kings meandered through the kingdoms of Canaan. So, it served as a record of the kingdoms that preceded Israel’s entering into the Promised Land.  

Winding Genealogical Road 

The chronicler skillfully used selective details of the genealogical record. In this way, he conveyed the sense that God was systematically working toward the placement of the children of Israel in the Promised Land.  

Predestination Not Determinism 

It is mysterious. God can work all things together for good without violating my free will.  

So, my free will really matters in the universe of moral decision making.

And yet, God is somehow responsive enough to interweave my moral conquests, along with my moral failures, and those of all the human inhabitants who have every graced this world, and make something good.  

 
“For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Rom 8:29 

November 6, 2019

Beginning and Kingdom

Handwritten page from the second book of Kings chapter 25 verse 27 through the first book of Chronicles chapter 1 verse 20.
2Kings 25:27-1Chron 1:20

Synopsis     2Kings 25:27-1Chron 1:20     10/31/2019 

King Nebuchadnezzar kept Jehoiachin imprisoned until his death. In all, he spent thirty-seven years before being released by Nebuchadnezzar’s successor. After his imprisonment, Jehoiachin remained in Babylon but was treated well for the rest of his life.  

The book of Chronicles begins with a genealogy. The genealogy is designed to connect the kingdom of Israel with the creation of man.  

The Beginning and The Kingdom 

“Israelite” means “descended from Israel”. The Israelites understood themselves to be descended from the line of Adam, Seth, and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This was essential to their self-understanding. 

Who Am I? 

So, am I a nobody if I’m not from the line of Abraham?  

Not so. For a child of God is one inwardly. And the line does not end until it is complete. 

“God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.” Heb 11:40 

November 5, 2019

Israel Tasteless Salt

Handwritten page from the second book of Kings chapter 25 verses 9 through 26
2Kings 25:19-26

Synopsis     2Kings 25:19-26      10/30/2019 

Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon. He had defeated King Zedekiah of Judah and destroyed Jerusalem. After the destruction, his chief general discovered a few survivors from Zedekiah’s court. And so, he brought them to Nebuchadnezzar who was staying in the nearby town of Riblah. Nebuchadnezzar condemned these men to death. 

The Babylonians appointed an Israelite named Gedaliah as the governor of the province. The Judahite officials who lived in the nearby country provinces initially agreed to serve Gedaliah. However, after seven months, one of the provincial leaders led a conspiracy of ten men. The lead conspirator was Ishmael. So, Ishmael led this group and went to Gedaliah. And they killed him.  

After the assassination, most of the remaining Israelites from Judah fled to Egypt because they feared that Nebuchadnezzar might return and seek vengeance for the murder. 

Israel Tasteless Salt 

And so, the Israelite dynastic period ended with political intrigue and assassination. There was no reference to justice under the Law of Moses. And there was no obvious concern for the God who had brought them out of Egypt and delivered them into the promised land.

Instead, the children of Israel had become like any other people.   

Tasteless Salt 

This morning I remember Mother Teresa. It is reported that she once said, “Do not fear to be a contradiction.”  

And I am coming to the realization that this admonition is more than just a suggestion. It is a part of my Christian identity. 

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matt 5:13 

November 4, 2019

Jerusalem’s Destruction

Handwritten page from the second book of Kings chapter 25 verses 8 through 18.
2Kings 25:8-18

Synopsis     2Kings 25:8-18      10/29/2019 

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem. So, in an effort to escape, King Zedekiah attempted fled the city. However, Chaldean soldiers apprehended him. And Nebuchadnezzar tortured and imprisoned him.  

After this, Nebuchadnezzar sent his forces to utterly destroy the city. So, the Babylonians burned the temple and the king’s palace along with other major buildings. They took everything of value from the city, especially the precious metals that had been used to build and equip Solomon’s temple. 

And then they deported the rest of the people, including the high priest and other temple ministers.  

Jerusalem’s Complete Destruction 

Jerusalem was completely destroyed. The Babylonians had torn down the protective walls of the city. And, they burned and looted the temple and palace. Additionally, they led the remaining officials away to exile in Babylon.  

All seemed lost.  

Ashes Before “Beauty From Ashes” 

There has to be ashes before there can be “beauty from ashes”. And everyone who follows in the Way of Christ will eventually have to give up their own way of self-service.   

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.” Isa 61:1-3 

 

October 30, 2019

The Crunch of Empires

A handwritten text of 2 kings 24:6-15
2 Kings 24:6-15

Synopsis     2Kings 24:6-15     10/24/2019

King Jehoiakim died. After this, Jehoiachin became king. Jehoiachin was Jehoiakim’s son. And he was only eighteen years old when he became king.

At the time of his Jehoiachin’s coronation, King Nebuchadnezzar’s power was increasing. So much so that the Babylonian empire had completely eclipsed Egypt’s empire.

So, almost immediately after Jehoiachin became king, Babylon again attacked Jerusalem. After they besieged the city, Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. As a result, he and his family were deported to Babylon, along with his high officials and most of the wealth of the city. This was the first deportation.

The Crunch of Empires

By the time of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, the kingdom of Israel was limited to the territory associated with the tribe of Judah. So, it was a small kingdom. But, it was strategically positioned between three empires. In the past, the region was dominated by either Egypt or the Assyrian Empire. Assyria was northeast of Israel and Egypt’s empire was situated to the south.

Because of this, the kings of Judah historically attempted to use its strategic geographic location to remain independent of either empire. However, as the Babylonian empire began its dramatic rise, it subsumed the Assyrian empire and pressed right up to the boundary of Egypt. And this included the territory of Israel.

So, the Israelite effort to remain an important political territory and also maintain their independence proved to be impossible. Their efforts to remain independent in the context of Babylon’s raw military conquest and Egypt’s political intrigue had failed. But the greatest calamity was that their special relationship as God’s chosen people was ultimately threatened and all but lost as the people were deported to Babylon.

The preeminence of this relationship would only be restored when the surviving children of Israel were stripped of everything else.

The Crunch of Culture

Though I’m not a nation, it doesn’t feel very different for me. I call myself a child of God. But I so often find myself drawn into the stuff of earth. I gorge on the news of the day. I feel the need to have an opinion about everything and anything. And somehow my engagement with the world becomes less about creating value for others and more about my pride –  and protecting my place in this world.

It is the faithfulness of God that strips away the worthless and the nonsensical. But being stripped is being stripped. Anything I cling to makes the process more painful. Everything I cling to makes the process more painful.

Better to lay this down.

…”At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Matt 22:21

October 25, 2019

Jerusalem Beyond Redemption

Handwritten page from the second book of Kings chapter 23 verses 23 through 31.
2Kings 23:23-31

Synopsis     2Kings 23:23-31     10/22/2019 

King Josiah of Judah was unlike any king who had come before him. Upon hearing the Law of Moses read, he repented entirely. And then, he thoroughly purged the land from the abuses of wrong worship, idolatry and witchcraft.  

Even so, God’s wrath was reportedly unabated. The scripture notes that the Lord still intended to reject Jerusalem.  

In time, Josiah died in battle at Megiddo. Afterward, his servants took his body to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors.  

Jehoahaz was Josiah’s son. So, the people named him the next king over Judah. However, he reigned for only three months.  

Jerusalem Beyond Redemption 

Despite all of Josiah’s efforts to purge the land of inequity, God had determined Jerusalem’s fate. The city itself had become a stumbling block to God’s plan. And so, the city had to be destroyed.  

Circumstances Beyond Redemption 

When I do what I know is wrong AND I know there is no possibility that it could not be wrong, that behavior is beyond redemption.  

For example, the act of premeditated murder is beyond redemption. And while even this doesn’t mean that someone who commits premeditated murder is beyond redemption, the act remains irredeemable. This act can never be really good under any circumstances. It can only bring death. 

So, knowing this, it’s curious to me how often I still struggle to let go of things that I know are essentially wrong. Though I am clearly overweight, I always eat the plate clean wanting to believe that it is a “sin to waste food”. But no amount of justification can redeem my bad habits. And, in this sense, my habit of overeating cannot be redeemed. 

So I’m slowly learning that it’s time for me to be more decisive and leave unworthy things behind.  

If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.” 1John 5:16 

October 23, 2019
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