devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete ... Yet … there will be no loss of life among you” (v21-22). Luke gives a dramatic, first-hand account of how Paul remained confident in the Lord during a storm and shipwreck. Paul had warned the captain not to sail (due to the season and weather), yet the captain had disregarded his advice. The ship was lost, but not the people, as God had promised (v24).
Paul said later that he had “learned to be content” in every situation, knowing that nothing – not storms, disaster, nor mistaken choices – can separate us from God’s love (Phil 4:11, Rom 8).
“We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long” (v9). This psalm was likely composed after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple (586 BC). Israel’s enemies had “set Your sanctuary on fire,” chopped the delicate carved wood to pieces, and burned “the meeting places of God.” The Temple that had been built with hope and joy was destroyed; God’s people were scattered.
“Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (v12). The psalmist's hope was not disappointed. Salvation has entered the world in Christ, and His kingdom is completely unshakeable (Hebrews 12:28).
I Chronicles 17-18
“He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever” (17:12). David wanted to build a “house” for God once he was established in Jerusalem. God told David that He didn’t really need a temple (v4-6), but He would allow David’s son Solomon to build one. The temple symbolized God’s original desire to dwell with His people forever. Ultimately, the King who made this fellowship with humans possible was the true Son, Jesus.
God initiated the relationship with Israel because of His love – not their righteousness. Even while we were sinners, He showed His “steadfast love” (v13) by coming to dwell among us.
I Chronicles 16
“Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (v23-24). The song that the Israelites sang that day (similar to Psalm 96, 98) urged the people to praise the Lord as Israel’s God and also as Creator of everything. Israel rejoiced because of their particular covenant (v18), yet this song urges them to also declare God’s praise “among the nations” (v24).
We praise God for what He has done for us, and we proclaim that He is God for all people everywhere: “The Lord reigns!” (v31).
I Chronicles 15
“So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres” (v28). The transfer of the ark was elaborate. David directed the Levites to organize the walking celebration: “Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it” (v22). Others played instruments, sang, carried the ark (with poles), or offered sacrifices.
The Israelites carried the ark “with rejoicing” (v25) because it symbolized God’s covenant with Israel. Worship gives us a chance to offer our gifts back to the God who has given us everything.
I Chronicles 14
“And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you …” (v15). For a time, King David led by total dependence on God. He knew from past experience with lions, bears, and giants that with God, all things were possible. He consulted God (v10,14), and he obeyed God’s instructions, fully confident that God would be with him.
Paul urged Timothy to “fight the good fight” against the spiritual forces of darkness (I Tim 6). Jesus has defeated sin and death, and through dependence on Him we are victorious, too.
“For this has not been done in a corner” (v26). Paul offered several points in his defense: he had done nothing deserving of death, he had not blasphemed Jewish orthodoxy, his own testimony was powerful, and the events concerning Jesus were publicly known. Basically, Paul included secular and religious, private and public arguments. Paul had personal faith in a public figure: Jesus, who lived, died, and was resurrected for all to see.
Faith in Jesus is not something “done in a corner” – secret or hidden. Following the resurrected Christ transforms us in visible ways, and we are called to make a visible difference in the world.
“But I found that he had done nothing deserving of death” (v25). At this time in the Roman Empire, there were laws which gave citizens the right to a reasonably fair trial (v16), and the secular state was reluctant to punish people for “certain points of dispute” about religion (v19). Governor Festus followed the law, and he didn’t send Paul back to Jerusalem (where his life was threatened). God used these laws and this government official to temporarily spare Paul’s life.
There are many places in the world today where Paul would be condemned by religious laws. Our religious freedoms are precious, and we are called to pray for those who live under oppression and fear.
“My flesh and my heart may fail …” (v26). The psalmist confessed that he was envious, frustrated, and bitter (v3, 21); “in vain” he had done everything right, and still his life was in disorder and he was unhappy (v13). He didn’t tell everyone how he felt, knowing that his words might hurt or confuse others (v15). Instead, he went into God’s presence (v17), and there his desires were satisfied (v25).
“… but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (v26). When we bring our frustrated desires and disappointed hopes to God, our hearts find peace.
I Chronicles 13
“How can I bring the ark of God home to me?" (v12). Poor Uzzah’s death was an important moment in Israel’s history. Unlike the idols of neighboring lands, the God of Abraham could not be controlled or pacified. He had the power of life and death, and He was holy, unapproachable, far above and beyond King David and the land of Israel. David and his people were reminded that only God’s great compassion and mercy gave them a way to worship Him.
Only through the Son can we worship the Father without fear. Jesus gives us the right to call the Father “Abba” and approach Him without fear (Rom 8:15).
I Chronicles 12
“They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand” (v2). There was great diversity among David’s followers. Along with the left-handed warriors, the text describes the fearsome Gadites, “mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions and who were swift as gazelles” (v8). More than physical strength was valued: the sons of Issachar “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (v32).
For David to reign well, the kingdom needed all the skills of God’s people. This multiplicity of gifts was not an accident, but God’s design and pleasure.
I Chronicles 11
“And David became greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts was with him” (v9). Immediately after this statement, the author describes the “mighty men” who were David’s fellow warriors and bodyguards; they gave him “strong support” (v10). There were the three who broke through the Philistines' camp to get David water from his favorite well (v18). There was Benaiah, who went down into a snowy pit and killed a lion (v22). And there was Abishai, and many others, who made David’s reign possible.
No one serves God alone. God was “with David” by giving him the company of others for support, protection, encouragement and friendship.
I Chronicles 9-10
“He did not seek guidance from the LORD. Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David” (10:14). After the genealogies (ch9), the author of Chronicles goes back in time to the beginning of Israel’s monarchy under Saul. While King Saul was honored (v12), the author clearly wants us to understand that he died due to his “breach of faith” (v13). Saul lost the kingdom because he didn’t trust the Lord (instead he asked a witch for guidance).
Israel was a unique kingdom; it could not be led by human wisdom or armies. “Righteous” leaders trusted God and depended on Him more than on themselves.
“Having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust …” (v15). While trying to prove his own innocence, Paul was faithful to the truth of God’s message. He spoke boldly of “righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (v25), both publicly and privately to the governor Felix. Paul was respectful of the Temple and had no desire to “stir up a crowd” (v12), but he wanted to preach the gospel.
Righteousness and the coming judgment are thorny, offensive topics; like Paul, we can only speak of them with hearts full of compassion and the power of the Spirit.
May 15: I Chronicles 14 (05/15/2013)
May 14: Acts 26 (05/14/2013)
May 13: Acts 25 (05/13/2013)
May 12: Psalm 73 (05/12/2013)
May 11: I Chronicles 13 (05/11/2013)
May 10: I Chronicles 12 (05/10/2013)
May 9: I Chronicles 11 (05/09/2013)
May 8: I Chronicles 9-10 (05/08/2013)
May 7: Acts 24 (05/07/2013)
May 6: Acts 23 (05/06/2013)
May 5: Psalm 72 (05/05/2013)
May 4: I Chronicles 7-8 (05/04/2013)
May 3: I Chronicles 6 (05/03/2013)
May 2: I Chronicles 5 (05/02/2013)
May 1: I Chronicles 4 (05/01/2013)
April 30: Acts 22:24-30 (04/30/2013)
April 29: Acts 22:1-23 (04/29/2013)
April 28: Psalm 71 (04/28/2013)
April 27: Acts 21 (04/27/2013)
April 26: Acts 20:33-38 (04/26/2013)