1 Chronicles 16: God is great — well worth praising!
It’s a world class worship service. A tent has been pitched for the purpose of housing the Ark of the Covenant and that Ark is being brought into Jerusalem for the first time. King David, himself, leads the procession, joyfully dancing before the Lord. The great worship leader, Asaph, leads the choir in singing praises to God. They sing a wonderful song of praise and worship in which they recount the wonders the Lord has performed and declaring “God is great — well worth praising!” They sing of God’s goodness and love and holiness. When the song has ended, the congregation responds with shouts of “Amen” and “Praise God.” What a holy event! Know what, I’m glad that such worship services aren’t just for the pages of the Old Testament. I’m glad that there are times when the people of God go all out in praising him and that at such times the Lord comes close, filling such holy moments with himself. This passage reminds me of awesome worship services I’ve been in. Even more, it creates in me a desire to occupy such holy ground again, real soon!
Take Away: The great worship events of the Bible, along with worship events we’ve experienced personally, provide the inspiration and desire to once again enter into the presence of the Lord.
Amos 8: They’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone, hoping to hear God’s Word.
God warns that a famine is coming to the nation of Israel. This time, it won’t be a famine of food or water, but a famine of God’s Word. Now, Amos isn’t talking about a lack of leather bound Bibles. He’s talking about a time when God, Himself, goes silent. When that happens, the prophet says, people will roam the land seeking a message from the Lord. Amos ties this to the Judgment, a time when the God who has been available to them, reaching out to them, calling them to return withdraws the invitation. Many have abused the prophets, even murdering them in an attempt to silence their voices. Now, one of those prophets warns that they’re going to get their wish and that they won’t like it when they do. I’m reminded today that there’s a measure of God-hunger in every human being. There are times when people long for the touch of God on their lives. In their ignorance, they’ll substitute something else but whatever it is will fail to satisfy. Realistically, why settle for a poor substitute when the Real Thing is available? Happily, we aren’t living in the day Amos describes. Right this moment God is speaking, reaching out to all who’ll come. This isn’t an invitation to join a church. Rather, it’s an invitation to respond to the call of God to fellowship with him.
Take Away: Right this moment the Lord is speaking, reaching out to all who’ll come.
Searching for answers to the big questions of life
Ecclesiastes 1: These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem.
The Greek word “Ecclesiastes” is generally translated “the Preacher” or “the Teacher.” The name of this book of the Bible is taken from the opening words in which the writer, Solomon, gives himself that title. The book is about Solomon’s quest for meaning, how he tries many of the things people still try today, and how he concludes that none of them live up to their promise. In The Message, Peterson picks up on the “quest” of Solomon and calls him, “the Quester” rather than “the Preacher.” In other words, the emphasis is on the search for meaning, happiness, and satisfaction rather than on the proclamation of the result of that search. Solomon wants more than power, wealth, fame, peace, and success. Having tried them all, he’s convinced that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Actually, Ecclesiastes doesn’t try very hard to give us “the answer” but it does a good job of asking “the question” concerning the search for answers to the big questions of life.
Take Away: Like the writer of Ecclesiastes people today still search for meaning.