Read: 1 Chronicles 12:32, 38
In 1 Chronicles, God’s people are returning from exile in Babylon. They are facing an uphill battle of rebuilding everything they once had. Not only do they have to do physical rebuilding of the temple, but they need to spiritually rebuild themselves as God’s people. The situation is rather bleak. The people are experiencing discouragement, but the book of Chronicles proclaims hope.
In the verses you read for today, Saul is no longer king of Israel. His disastrous reign has come to an end, and David has just become king. Men are coming to David to pledge their loyalty to him. Verse 32 says that there were men who “understood the times.” These men were able to skillfully assess the situation and give insight on what to do.
Reflect: Are you able to discern our times? What do you think when you analyze America in 2020? What is wrong? What needs to be made right? What is wrong in the church? What needs to be made right? Spend some time carefully thinking about these questions. Write down your answers.
Pray: God, there is rebuilding work needed in our country, our city, my home, and my heart. Help me to become a person who understands the times. Give me wisdom and a spirit of discernment, God. Guide me as I dedicate myself to a summer of learning. Amen.
Read: Leviticus 18:1-5 and 19:1-2
These chapters in the book of Leviticus are known as the “holiness code” because of the repeated encouragement to “be holy for I am holy.” They outline how the people should live. They are a collection of ways to relate to God and others.
If you want to skim chapters 18 and 19, you will find that God gives a long list of specifics where they are to be different, holy, pure, have moral integrity, and have spiritual vitality. They are also to be light, salt, leaven, and live as a different people. It is what the New Testament describes as “blessed to be a blessing.” They are changed in order to show the way of transformation to the people around them.
What is the purpose of all of these rules? Why is God so concerned with the behavior of the people? He is busy creating a people to represent him in the world. Like the Israelites, we are also the people who represent God. As Carmen Imes writes, “God cannot tolerate immoral behavior. When he moves into the neighborhood, the Israelites need to live rightly.” We, too, need to live rightly before our holy God.
Reflect: What does it mean for you to be different from the people around you? What should set Christians apart?
Pray: God, reveal what needs to be changed in my life. Help me to be holy because you are holy. Help me to represent you well. Amen.
Read: Romans 12:1-2
When we come to Christ, he isn’t content to just leave us as we were. He is in the business of changing us more and more into his image. In the verses you read, Paul encourages his readers to make their very bodies a sacrifice to God.
Those two words, conformed and transformed, are present, passive imperatives. What that means is that they encourage the reader to go on resisting conformity and go on being transformed. It is not once and done, but requires constant, daily action.
Sacrificing can be painful. It can be uncomfortable to resist the word, to be transformed. It will change your relationships, your family, your work, and your way of life. When Jesus is the Lord of our whole life, everything changes.
Reflect: Think about your own life. What are the pressures and temptations to conform that are hardest for you to resist? Where are you in need of transformation?
Pray: God, help me to stay strong. Help me to resist conforming and be renewed by you. Amen.
Read: 1 John 2:15-17
Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (The Message)
It is incredibly difficult to resist the world’s ways. Greed, corruption, injustice, and all types of sin surround us. After a while it can be difficult to even recognize it. All of our organizations, systems, and relationships are marred by sin. We make the world what it is and then that world makes us what we are.
To resist this, to keep from loving it, to humble ourselves, these are all difficult. We will need the Holy Spirit’s help.
Reflect: What are the dominant values, priorities, morals of the fallen world system or the corrupt patterns in the world? What do you love in the world? When you read the verses above, is there anything that jumps out at you?
Pray: God, this process can be so uncomfortable. Sometimes I want to run away from that discomfort. Help me to sit with my discomfort and listen for what you would like to teach me about my need to change. Amen.
Read: Daniel 1
Daniel is a powerful story of what life for God’s people is like while in exile. God’s people were disruptively carried out of their homeland, taken into captivity, and immersed in the culture of Babylon. They had to engage and learn the culture, but NOT be transformed by that culture.
Daniel and his friends are actually being trained for leadership by the king himself! They are top of their class, even though they would have learned things contrary to their faith. In this chapter, we see that Daniel (while still being respectful of his Babylonian leaders) stands up by resisting a diet that would not have been good for him.
Even while in exile, God is working in Daniel’s life. God’s sovereignty doesn’t end just because his people are in exile. In verse 2, we see that God’s hand was at work when Judah fell to the Babylonians. Whether in the promised land or in captivity, God is at work.
Reflect: What similarities do you see between Daniel’s story and our story? What is life like in exile for you? What are the characteristics of our Babylon?
Pray: God, we are exiles in a strange land. But even here, you are directing my life. Help me to trust in your ways. Help me to see the ways that you want me to lead and flourish in my own Babylon. I love you, God. Amen.
- Songs We Sing
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