1 Chronicles 19-21; Psalm 77; 1 Corinthians 9
1 Chronicles 19-21
The Ammonites, who were once allies of Israel and David, have changed alliances after the death of King Nahash. The Ammonites harass some of David’s messengers and completely embarrass them. There is some back and forth between Israel and the Ammonites, which ultimately results in David’s army annihilating the Ammonites and the Aramaeans. Later, David falls victim to the influence of Satan, which brings a reprimand from God. David takes full responsibility for his mistake and pleas with God to spare the innocent Israelites from the plague sent by God. David makes a burnt offering to God, and God brings an end to the plague.
The psalmist is struggling in his faith. He is trying hard to focus his mind on God, but without much success. But then he shifts his focus from God in the present to all of the things that God done in the past. When he makes this shift, he rediscovers the power and might of God and how He led Moses and the Israelites to freedom.
1 Corinthians 9
Paul talks about the benefits he should be able to reap as an apostle, but he chooses to not take advantage of those benefits. He isn’t in the business of preaching the Gospel for the money and recognition. Paul preached to all sorts of different people. And depending on who he was preaching to, he changed his teaching style to meet the needs of the people to whom he was preaching. Like runners in a race have to work hard training, an apostle must work hard at his craft. But unlike a runner, whose reward doesn’t last long, the reward for being a hard-working apostle will last forever.
I think I relate well to the psalmist. He is talking about how the more he tries to meditate and focus on God, the further away God seems to be. It’s kind of like when you are trying to come up with an idea for an art project, or a DIY home project, or maybe an entry for a certain blog. So before winter, one of the casement windows (windows that crank out) at our house stopped closing correctly. But at the time, it was cold and dreary out, and I was focused on a new baby in the house. When spring came, I tried to refocus my attention on fixing the window. I was thinking it was a crank handle that needed to be replaced, but I was having trouble finding what I thought was the correct part. I spend hours online looking at pictures of window parts, and made phone calls to a window company. But nothing seemed to be working. I purchased a part at Menards thinking it was what I needed, but then when I got home, the more I looked at it, the more I doubted my purchase.
So just this past week, I went to Menards to return what I thought was the wrong part. I was at my wit’s end. On my way into the store, I said a quick prayer that THIS TIME, I would find the part I needed inside this massive store. But while standing in line waiting my turn at customer service, I pulled the part out of the bag one last time to look at it. And it was right then and there, standing in line, at a time when I least expected it, in that last look at the part, that I realized I actually had the correct part the whole time. But it was one of those things that the more I tried to think about it and research about it, the further away I got from the solution. I had too much doubt in my ability.
I think we probably do that with God too. It’s not that I am encouraging anyone to not focus on God. But sometimes when we work too hard to summon God to meet our needs, what we really end up doing is focusing on ourselves and not as much on God. And therefore, as hard as we think we are trying to find God, we are getting further and further away. But if we refocus our attention on just who God is and what He has done for us (by this I mean all of humanity, as well as us individually), we will be more successful at finding God. It takes the focus off of our demands of God and shifts the focus to God’s amazing love for us. And then, right there in the customer service line at Menards (or some other random location or time), you might hear God’s response to your request.