The first section of 1 Chronicles 11 tells us the story of David’s rise to power. There are some unique things that God calls out here. First scripture tells us that David was “the real leader of Israel”. Saul may have been king, but David was the real leader. Who decides what it means to be the real leader? There are a couple characteristics I think. First and really the main decision maker is God. Scripture says that “God told you – you will shepherd my people”. David was on a mission from God. He was appointed, anointed and selected to be “ruler of my people”. Secondly – a leader has to have people who follow. Leadership is all about how we are able to get folks to follow our vision and direction. David is able to do that. Have you considered your position of leadership and God’s anointing on you? If you are just trying to do it on your own power, you will struggle. If God is in control, he will help with the other key – getting people to follow. Guys – what God originates, God orchestrates. So often I feel inadequate and unable to understand how a little old farm boy from the cornfield can possibly lead anyone anywhere. And left to my own ability it would never happen. But if God calls me to lead, then my only task is to trust and obey – to step out in His power and do it leaving the details to Him. I am not responsible to make anything happen. God will take care of the details. I am responsible to follow His direction and be obedient. That is what leadership is about. Following God’s direction myself and bringing those who follow along that journey. David did a couple good things to get things started on the right foot. He “made a covenant” with the people “in the presence of God”. Sometimes leaders get the stupid idea that leadership is all about them. That is backwards. Leadership is about those you lead. It is not about me, it is about the followers. God entrusts people to a leader, not to see as people to use to get what the leader wants, but to build and encourage in their own growth and mission. Too often we lose focus of our responsibility. I love how verse 9 captures this beautiful leadership situation: “David’s stride became longer, his embrace larger…, GOD… was with him”! This is as good as it gets guys. If we are walking with God, if we are anointed by Him and on His path, our confidence is much stronger and His hand will be upon us. My prayer for all of us is that our strides will become longer and our embrace larger – that we will lead in confidence and that we will reach far outside what seems humanly possible so we can make a difference in the lives of many. God has entrusted us with followers. We have wives and kids, employees, and other groups whom are looking for their leader to lead. We can look over our shoulders and pretend it is not us – but God has put us in a place such as this to lead. Are you leading at home? Are you leading at work? How about at church? Don’t duck – this is one of the most important callings on your life. Let’s get after it and make a difference as we lead God’s way!
Archive for September, 2007
1 Chronicles 10 is a short chapter but what a powerful message. This chapter records the battle of Saul and his army with the Philistines. All three of Saul’s sons died that day, and Saul took his own life. The kingdom God had given him was taken away by the Philistines. Their bodies were cut up and displayed. But the final two verses in this short chapter are a chilling reminder of some key principles guys. We need to wake up and pay attention. Check out what it says: “Saul died in disobedience, disobedient to GOD. He didn’t obey GOD’s words. Instead of praying, he went to a witch to seek guidance. 14 Because he didn’t go to GOD for help, GOD took his life and turned the kingdom over to David”. Saul had it all. God had blessed him richly. But he lost it all because he did not stay on track. What did God expect from Saul? OBEDIENCE! What does he expect from you and me? Same thing. We are not talking about optional lifestyle here. God demands obedience. Saul died in his disobedience. Scripture tells us “he didn’t obey God’s words”. One of the compelling facts here is that none of us will be able to obey God’s word if we don’t know what it says. We have to be in His word to have a snowballs chance of obeying. Second problem was with prayer. Saul “went to a witch to seek guidance”. Where do you get your guidance? It needs to be the one place we can depend on – God Himself. Prayer is critical for us to have any hope of obedience. How else do we get God’s word? The one that really hits me is “because he didn’t go to God for help, God took his life…and the kingdom”. How often do I live without going to God for help. Hmmm – probably every day it happens a few dozen times. We want to be self sufficient as white American men. Bad plan boys. We need to never forget that God is in the business of leading His children, and we are one of them. He expects to be involved in our lives. We have to learn to be plugged into His plan. We have to keep the first things first. That means be in the word, be in prayer, and be in His will. Are you there? If not, time for a U turn. God is in control!
We have concluded the list of all the lineages and now have started to understand the activity of the time. People are starting to move back to Jerusalem. The first to return were those responsible to keep track of the temple and worship. Caught me a little off guard as I would have expected maybe a different focus for the first to return. But chapter 9 is all about the tasks that these folks were responsible for. One of the more interesting is those who are permanent responsibility for guarding the gates of God’s house. There are some pretty interesting facts about this. There were main security guards posted at the four entrances, east, west, north, and south; 25 their brothers in the villages were scheduled to give them relief weekly–the four main security guards were responsible for round-the-clock surveillance. At first read this seemed like a cushy job, but when I ponder it the responsibilities were pretty darn deep. 24X7 surveillance, responsible to keep count of all things used in the temple, security – actually quite a load to carry. My question is – how are you doing “guarding the gates of God’s house? Are you protecting God’s place of worship – maybe not physically – but from the attack of the enemy in terms of relationship issues, standing strong with your pastor, teaching the kids, diving in with all your energy? God’s house is protected when the men of God step up and do their job. Too often men are guilty (and my hand is going up here) of not leading and taking responsibility for what needs to happen in the church. I pray that we all will look in the mirror and see what God wants us to do in terms of guarding His house.
The eighth chapter of 1 Chronicles is pretty much just a list of Benamin’s family tree. Not much jumps out at me on this one. It is noted that Ulam’s sons “had lots of sons and grandsons – at least 150”. I guess that is a pretty notable factoid. One of the things that I think we need to ponder much more is not so much the physical number of sons and grandsons we have, although important and certainly a key area we need to invest in if God has blessed us with children, but equally as important the spiritual children we should be caring for. How many spiritual prodigies do you have? What does your spiritual family tree look like? Have you led some folks to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? If so are you investing in bringing them up to maturity? Scripture gives us the formula in Matthew 28:19-20. We are told to go and make disciples – to bring people to Jesus and then lead them to maturity. We become spiritual parents and then train up our new child in how to walk with God. Scripture is full of examples of this. God built his church on this model. Sometimes I lose focus on my responsibility in this area. It is hard work, both to lead someone to faith and then to grow them up. It requires a lot of persistence and effort. Yet the biggest blessing we can receive is when we invest in the lives of others. Sometimes we are called to be both a physical and spiritual parent to our own children – in fact I think that should be our first mission field. But God also wants us investing in others around us in our circle of influence. Who are you discipling? How many spiritual sons and grandsons will be listed in your spiritual legacy? I hope you are focused on finishing strong in that area. God desires that we build the body through discipling others.
Chapter seven continues to list the lineages. Few are called out but a couple jumped out at me as being a little different. Ezer and Elead were cattle rustlers who were killed on one of their raids. Their father Ephraim “grieved a long time….family gathered to give him comfort….slept with his wife again….conceived a son”. The lineage was going to hit the wall here with these two but God worked around it by giving an old man a new son. The other thing in the list is Asher’s sons. Scripture calls out four qualities about them: 1. Responsible 2. Excellent in character 3. Brave in battle 4. Good leaders. This is the kind of family tree I want to leave. I want my legacy to be characterized with words like these. How does that happen? By example and prayer guys. We have to lead them in that manner and they pray for God’s blessing to protect and build into them. I don’t want cattle rustlers – I want to have my legacy remembered for their character passed down from previous generations. How about you?
Chapter 6 continues the list of lineage. This is a little different in that the last half of the chapter is about those who were tasked with serving in the temple – leading worship, making music and ministering. Scripture says they “followed the instructions given to them”. Prior in this long list of people through the first five and a half chapters we have heard of warriors and workers good at their trade. Here we get the list of those tasked with things that many of us as men don’t seem to think that important. At least that is what I observe in many churches. Guys are not engaged in worship and music. We walk in with mind cluttered – mumble through the songs – watch the clock to see when we will escape. Where it really shows is when I watch the young boys and men standing by their fathers and never moving their lips. God tells us to “make a joyful noise”. Guys – we set the tone for how our kids will worship in their future by how we do it today. This is an area we need to focus and really set the tone. Going to church to meet God is something we need to be very focused on and totally engaged in. If we aren’t, we certainly can’t complain when our kids turn out just like us, and most likely they will. How will you worship tomorrow? God will show up – will you? With all your attention and energy? Set the example and greet Him!
The list of folks continues in chapter five but it is becoming more descriptive. We learn that Reuben screws up big time by sleeping with his father’s concubine to start with and “lost his firstborn place” which is actually a big deal in that day. Whether we like to admit it or not guys, one of the key battle grounds in our lives is around sex. I did say that out loud. As godly men, we must guard our heart and not allow the enemy an inch in this area. No temptations – when we give an inch the enemy will take a mile. Stay away from every situation that could even get close to sin in this area. The other thing that jumps out is the description of how the families of “Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had 44,760 fighting men” in top share. Scripture tells us:
1. God helped them as they fought
2. God handed over the enemy
3. God answered their prayers because they trusted Him
Then the key words – “the battle was God’s”. Don’t ever forget this. It is not our battle. We are the ones on the field of war – but it is God’s battle and we need to keep it that way. God gave them victory. The sad thing: “they were not faithful to God” and they lost it all. What a shame……
1 Chronicles 4 contains a couple of verses that changed my life. This is another yawner in many respects as it continues the lineage discussion of a number of families. 43 verses with hundreds of names I can’t pronounce. But again, right smack in the middle of it all, God pauses and writes verses 9 and 10. “Jabez was a better man than his brothers, a man of honor. …. Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection–don’t let evil hurt me.” God gave him what he asked.” This just jumps off the page at me. I so much want to have God say this very thing about me. I want to be “a better man…a man of honor”. Scripture tells us very little about Jabez. He was a pain (literally) to his mom at birth which is the origin of his name. The one defining fact we see about him is the fact that he “prayed to the God of Israel”. I had the fortune in 2000 of being challenged to read the book Bruce Wilkinson wrote on these verses. God convicted me of my need to be much more a man of prayer and specifically to pray this very prayer every day. I have to confess there have been days go by where I have not done so, but the majority of the time I pray these four things to God and I have to give God the glory – He has listened and been faithful to answer those prayers. While I will not go into the kind of depth and explanation the book does, I will encourage you very much to read it if you have not. Realize this is not a pray and claim kind of promise. I don’t believe in that. I do believe that as believers we miss way too much of what God wants to give us or have us involved in because we simply don’t connect with Him and obey. My personal interpretation of these verses is about me lining my life up with God and what He is about and then watching how HE works through me. Jabez covers four areas:
1. Blessing – God wants to bless us and He does – we need to wake up and recognize it
2. Expand my territory – God wants to continue to grow us and our area of influence – not always with more people – sometimes much more depth
3. Touch with the power of His hand – God alone is the source of our ability
4. Protect from evil – we are in a very spiritual battle and God is our source of protection and victory
I could write for days on these verses and the impact they have had on my life since I began to seek God around them. It isn’t the words that matter – it is the fact that I approach God knowing that He is listening and claiming the truth of His word. God is alive! God wants to bless us. Are you spending time with Him? Are you watching to see what He is doing in and through you? I would love to have you share that testimony. We aren’t put here to have a personal time with God. We are part of a body so we can SHARE life. (Did I say that outloud – men should share?) YES. Bless someone today by sharing what God is up to in your life. Be a blessing! And PRAY!
Chapter 3 of 1 Chronicles is another list of the lineage – this chapter starts with the sons of David. Ever wonder why God is so intent on these lists of people that no one knows? I sure do. There are lots of chapters or partial chapters in both the old and new testament that are lists of people – dead people – that really don’t seem to matter much to me. But I think it really is a testament to the character of God. EVERY person really matters to Him. Every detail in the lives of every person matters to Him. This shows us the heart of our God. It shows us the reality of the importance of our life. What will your list look like – what heritage are you leaving behind. David’s lineage opens in this chapter. 6 sons by six different women while he was in Hebron starts it. Holy cow – does glutton for punishment mean anything here. I can’t figure out the one woman God has blessed me with – I can’t imagine trying to manage six. But it doesn’t stop here. Four more sons with Bathsheba (I am sure you remember that proud part of David’s life), nine more with the mother not defined and then it says “there were other sons by his concubines”. This was one busy guy. Beside creating sons, there was at least one daughter mentions – Tamar – and I am sure many that did not make the list. He also was king 7 years in Hebron and 33 in Jerusalem in his spare time. Did a few battles and wars along the way too. This chapter is full of guys who fathered a lot of sons. Is that God’s plan for us? To make lots of babies? I don’t think that is the message here. The message is that we need to build into the lives of the people he entrusts to our care and make sure we recognize the sanctity and importance of their life and our mission in their life. As dads we have the opportunity to impact our sons and daughters for eternity. Are you doing that? Are you focused on “training up your child in the way they should go” as it says in Proverbs? Have you shown them Jesus in your life? We are each creating a list just like this list of David that will result from our life. What will your list look like in a few generations? Will it reveal a man who served God and walked in His ways? Will your future generations know Jesus because of the stories of your life? That is my prayer for the legacy I leave. Not that I made money or was on the cover or a magazine – but that I led them to a relationship with Jesus by the way I lived. Lord help it to be so in my life…….
Chapter 2 continues on with a long list of people. The writer ventures a little more here and talks about cities taken, property owned and bad boys and girls who brought shame and pain on their people. Overall it is a pretty dull read for me. I do not have enough historical perspective to really understand it at all. I did catch this: “Er…was so bad God killed him….Achar brought doom on the people”. How we live matters. I have said it many times before and will say it over and over again. Life counts!