TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 1 CHRONICLES 24:1-26:11
When reading the passage in I Chronicles today, you will notice the importance of both the ministries of the priests (the sons of Aaron) and the Levites (the descendants of Levi apart from the Aaronic line).
Levites were trained in the Word and in musical skill. Let us pray for a new generation who are gifted, mentored, and raised up to serve in these areas.
There is a sobering reminder that God’s work must be done God’s way. God desires worship that is true to His Word. The judgments of Nadab and Abihu in the Old Testament (Leviticus 10:1-2) and Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts 5:1-11) highlight this fact. The purpose was that God would show His holiness to those who are near Him, and His glory before all the people. These acts generated among God’s people, a reverential fear of the Lord and the terms of His gospel.
1 Chronicles 24:2 2 But Nadab and Abihu died before their father and had no sons. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests.
The Aaronic line of descendants was halved by the self-will of Nadab and Abihu, who insisted on worshiping the Lord in their own way (Leviticus 10:1, 16:1; Numbers 3:4; 26:61).
One of Eleazar’s descendants, Zadok, helped King David to organize the ministries of the kingdom’s priesthood.
The Apostle Peter reminds New Testament believers that we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). We are appointed to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Do you recognize your station? Where has God placed you to show forth His praises? In what ways are you stirring people’s hearts to give glory to God?
David divides the priests into 24 groups so that each group would serve for two weeks out of the year. Because of the way the Jewish year was divided, this arrangement would cause each priest to be ministering before the Lord at various times of the year. Their assigned weeks of their annual service would gradually shift to a later time in the calendar year. This arrangement was restored after the Babylonian exile and was still practiced in the New Testament when Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, received a word from the Lord during his allotted time of service.
Luke 1:5 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:8-9 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
This practice of choosing by lot from eligible family members was to ensure that no favoritism was being shown when it came to executing the privileges of various priestly service (1 Chronicles 24:31).
In Chapter 25, we are reminded that words put to music have a prophetic function of speaking to the hearts of God’s people. As we read through the Bible, we learn that prophesy does not always denote predicting the future. Prophesy is ‘speaking forth’ for encouragement, warning, and correction. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs were sometimes accompanied by stringed instruments and percussion. Prophets could be farmers (Amos 1:1), wives (2 Kings 22:14), sons and daughters (Joel 2:28), leaders (Deuteronomy 34:10) as well as musicians (1 Chronicle 25:3). Music, poetry, and prose can be used of God to bring people to put their trust in Him.
We need to hear from those who speak for God today in all sectors of society.
We were reminded earlier in 1 Kings 4:32 that Solomon wrote 1,005 psalms, but only two made it into the Bible’s songbook, the Book of Psalms (Psalm 72, Psalm 127). Writing psalms can be a good spiritual exercise, but not all musical compositions bear the test of time or are necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit. Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby each wrote thousands of hymns. (Charles wrote more than 6,000; Fanny Crosby more than 8,000). We are thankful that we sing some of them still today. Fanny Crosby, according to her own words, would be thankful that we do not sing them all today.
The sons of Jeduthun “prophesied using the harp giving thanks and praise to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 25:3).
The gatekeepers are listed in Chapter 26. 4,000 men served as the gatekeepers or temple guards, preventing unauthorized people from entering the holy place and profaning it (1 Chron 23:4-5). These Levites were also responsible for checking out the equipment and utensils used each day and other administrative responsibilities in managing the service of the temple.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 4:1-12
In Chapter 4, Paul expounds on the great doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone by first pointing to the example of Abraham, a prototype believer, the father of our faith.
Romans 4:3 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
This is because the believer’s right standing cannot possibly be on any ground of righteousness of his or her own. All have sinned. All stand condemned under the law. Jew and Gentile are equally silenced and have no righteousness of their own to boast in. A righteous standing before God is not possible based on our own performance. It is only possible based on the righteous performance of Christ. His righteous living on our behalf and His dying as our Substitute satisfying the demands of God’s holy justice acquits us of guilt and seats us enthroned in God’s mercy! (The throne of justice that condemned us now forgives us and declares us righteous in Christ!) The judgment seat is turned to a mercy seat!
Paul explains that our justification before God is a gift and not merited by our works. Abraham was credited as righteous in Genesis 15:6, before any of the works of obedience (Genesis 17, 22) that would follow.
Secondly, Paul cites the example of David (Romans 4:4-8). David knew firsthand that God justifies the wicked and testified to this fact in the Book of Psalms when he wrote:
Romans 4:7-8 7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
Have you grasped God’s mercy through trusting the Lord Jesus and the merits of His loving work to put away your sins?
There is no other way for a right standing before God. There is no other way to spending eternity in heaven than trusting the Sinless Substitute who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Paul then continues his argument that this gift of justification is not merited by any work of our own. He reminds his Jewish readers that Abraham was pronounced righteous when he believed God’s promise (Genesis 15:6), long before he was given the command to seal the covenant with the rite of circumcision that distinguished him as a believing Jewish male (Genesis 17:9-27). He was called by God when he was 75 years old and circumcised when he was 99. The ritual was a reminder of his faith in God, but not a work that merited an obligation of God’s favor.
We hear the complaint of the human soul to God as it reasons within the limits of its own understanding. How long will I not hear Your assurances? How long will I not see your face? How long will I be left to wrestle with my own thoughts and feelings? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
The Psalmist recognizes that his ultimate need is for God to act on his behalf. “Give light to my eyes!” (Psalm 13:3). Let me see clearly how You are using this trial for Your purposes, O God!
As he recollects the truth about Who God is, his soul is delivered from self-pity, and he exalts God with a song of faith:
Psalm 13:5-6 5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 19:15-16
Today we have another warning not to be lazy but to give ourselves to walking in Christ!
Proverbs 19:15-16 15 Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger. 16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.
The following is from the Prayercast.com website.
Iraq has a long and culturally rich history. Ancient sites such as the Ziggurat of Ur are thought to be 4,000 years old. Often known as the “cradle of civilization,” modern Iraq occupies what was once ancient Mesopotamia. The ancient Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires made their home here. And in the early Middle Ages, Iraq was the heart of the Islamic Empire. Yet today, the world knows Iraq less as a memorial to its vibrant history and more as a bloody battleground. All solutions have failed – giving only brief periods of respite followed by continued sectarian violence and terrorism.
Battered Iraqis bear the scars of decades of conflict involving violent dictators, international invasions, and attacks from divisive factions and insurgent groups. Divisions between religious and ethnic factions continue to fracture the nation. This is especially prevalent in the long-standing divisions between Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. Oppression from the Islamic State has terrorized the country, threatening genocide for certain religious and ethnic groups. Consequently, nearly three and a half million refugees displaced in Iraq or in neighboring countries live in refugee camps or in towns suffering economic hardship, inadequate medical care, psychological trauma, and uncertain futures. Violence and sabotage hinder the progress and growth of this shattered economy, leaving a quarter of Iraqis to suffer a life of poverty. Children and mistreated women are particularly vulnerable. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, and destabilizing terror attacks halt any hope of progress and development.
Over 95% of Iraqis are Muslim, and an alarming 98% remain unreached by the Gospel. Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities have faced a massive increase in persecution, terrorized by kidnappings, property destruction, rape, and murder. The Islamic State has furthered these atrocities in their attempt at “cleansing” the nation of all Christians, religious minorities, and even Shia Muslims. Most Christians have fled. In fact, many fear Christianity will be removed from Iraq permanently. Yet even amidst horrific terror and violence, a light is dawning. The redemptive power of God is again at work, bringing light from darkness and hope from despair. In the midst of, and even because of this conflict, unreached people groups are now experiencing the love of Christ, and Muslims are turning to Jesus in unprecedented numbers – even from extremist backgrounds. God’s love reaches into every corner of this broken nation, from the fertile plains of the Tigris and Euphrates to the deserts of the west and from the mountainous north to the southern marshlands. He alone is the answer. He alone is their Deliverer.
- Pray for evil and terror to be overcome by the power and love of Christ and His people.
- Pray for the Gospel message to break through hearts hardened by longstanding divisions and intense rivalries.
- Pray for believers to courageously stand firm in their faith despite persecution and terror.
PRAYER: We rejoice in Your lovingkindness and mercy, Father. It inspires our songs of thanksgiving and praise. You have turned the tables on our enemies, delivering us from the bondage of sin and death. You have launched a rescue that has brought us from death to life, calling us out of darkness into Your marvelous light. We sing of the merits of our Savior who has purchased us with His own blood. We rejoice in our salvation and ask that You fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we might boldly proclaim the gospel wherever You send us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.