Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17

OT: I Chron. 24:1-26:11

Heaven help me--I just don't have the brainpower for all this priest and and Levites talk. So many lists, so many descriptions of duties. I just need someone to lay it all out in plain and simple language. But I will make my lazy brain spit out what I did understand:

The line of priests in David's time were descended directly from David's sons, Eleazar and Ithamar. With Zadok's help, David identified the "leaders" in the descendants of the two men. They found 24 such men, 16 from Eleazar's descendants, and eight from Ithamar's (24:4). Next, they drew lots to see which of these men would serve in the tabernacle as priests.

Next, David chose several men from among the rest of the Levites, and then those men....did something, too. Were they priests? I don't know.

Next, David "set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals" (25:1). I thought that was interesting; can you just choose who is going to be a prophet? What if God chooses not to speak through them? Anyway, the three fathers were under the king's supervision, and the sons were under the fathers' supervision. And yes, I still took pleasure in reading about Asaph. I just like background info on the artists I listen to/read.

We also read a list of gatekeepers.

NT: Romans 4:1-12

Today, Paul makes the point that Abraham was justified by God even before he had received the law. Thus, it was not the law that justified him, but faith. In that way, Abraham is not only the father of faithful Jews, but of the Gentiles who have faith, as well (11-12).

I found myself getting a little confused while reading verses 4-5: "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Actually, typing it out just now helped me. When I first read it, I was like, Is Paul advocating not working? What does he mean, "not work"? And does God justifies the wicked? Huh? And I don't get the contrast between crediting something as an obligation and crediting it as righteousness. Why did Paul use the word "credited" both times? I thought the contrast was between what was credited and what was freely given. I still don't understand my last question, but I see that Paul is saying that it is not our actions or our "work" that justifies us, but our reliance on God's love. That is pretty profound.

And for those who are wondering, yes, I have read Romans a million times. No, I have no idea why I still have to reorient myself to Paul's way of thinking every time. I guess I always know that salvation is a gift, but I forget the trail of bread crumbs down which Paul leads his readers in order to bring them to that understanding.

Psalm 13:1-6

Last time I read this psalm, I wrote about mental illness. Today, I acknowledge that it is not just the mentally ill who wrestle with their thoughts and emotions. I think we can all relate to that feeling of frustration. I have come to understand that you truly cannot help how you feel. You can only help how you act in response to your feelings. David provides a good example of how to do that. He cannot make himself happy, but he can choose to trust God, to rejoice in the blessings that God has given, and to sing to God in gratitude for what God has done. That sounds like a pretty good game plan to me.

Proverbs 19:15-16

Verse 15 says, "Laziness brings on deep sleep...." That is interesting. I guess lazy people do like to sleep more. I know that I like to sleep more when I'm being lazy.

I liked verse 16's admonition to follow instructions. I love following instructions; my main problem is when I feel that I don't understand the instructions. Just tell me what I'm supposed to do, and I'll do it!


  1. I've often wondered how this passage relates to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It seems like you could argue that one is saved by grace through faith, and THEN baptized (which is still necessary, in the same way that Abraham couldn't have opted out of the circumcision). I suppose that in the long run, the theory is less important than the practice--if you both trust and obey, how and when God chooses to act is entirely up to Him.

  2. The circumcision analogy is especially relevant, considering that Paul directly compares baptism to circumcision. (Um, doesn't he? Suddenly, I'm doubting myself.)

    To me, the relationship between faith and baptism poses the same conundrums as the relationship b/t faith and actions in general. It is our faith that saves us, not our actions...and yet our actions are essential. Being a Christian means wrapping your mind around that somewhat boggling paradox.