God's Hand 

~~ MTS-4040
God’s Hand
“All this I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”      1 Ch 28:19

David’s entire life was defined by how he related to the Lord even though he had done many great things. Starting from the day he took on the giant and on to the time he assumed the kingship of Israel, the man accomplished numerous tasks of which ordinary people couldn’t have dreamt of doing even just one in their entire lives. Even so, when we consider his life and his illustrious career, inevitably the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” surfaces in our mind. Indeed, that was how the great man, the sweet singer of Israel, was defined and known to the following generations. The shepherd and the military man might have been occupied by many personal and national affairs, yet his main focus in life remained constant - he was a consummate seeker-servant of the Lord.
David’s life was centered on the Lord when he was a shepherd lad tending his father’s sheep, and his life continued to be anchored on God when he became Saul’s singer and arm bearer; and his focus in life remained the same when he was running and fighting for his survival. He changed very little when a golden crown was placed on his head; even when he life was about to end he was still thinking and envisioning what he could accomplish for God’s kingdom. He could have retired and enjoyed his old age, yet his mind seemed to be focused on the one single project that he wasn’t allowed to complete – the building of the holy temple of God. Even though the great enterprise was reserved for the following generation, it didn’t keep the elderly king from doing what was essential for the project, and by doing all the preparation for the impending construction, he was, in essence, taking part in the sacred construction. “All this I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” Indeed the project was the “brain child” of David and many of the details had been mapped out by him long before the foundation of the building was laid. The king went so far as to divide all the Levites into various sections and charged them with duties involved in the temple services. Surely David was a man of great vision who would continue to serve the Lord through various means even after he was no more. He was dead, yet his plan and blue print for the holy temple remained. The temple might have been built under Solomon’s watch, but one can still assume that David played a vital part in the great project, for he designed the building and all its details through the revelation of the Lord.     
How is my life going to be defined ultimately? We can’t help asking ourselves this probing question. People start to consider their legacy on earth when they get old, yet we should always keep it in mind all the days of our lives, for we are created both for time and eternity, and what we do in time does have eternal significance. If my life is ultimately going to be defined by my relationship with the Lord, how will I relate to him today, and what will my relationship with him bring forth tomorrow and beyond?    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, August 31, 2015 7:00:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Being Chosen 

~~MTS-4039
Being Chosen
“Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”            1 Ch 28:10

It was quite a magnificent project David was charging his son to launch as a newly crowned king, and the blueprint and necessary materials seemed to have been sufficiently prepared, and all Solomon needed to do was to gather all the workers and start the construction. How could he not get excited over this since it was the time for him to shine, to showcase his talent and leadership, causing people near and far to be amazed over his greatness.
Not only was he his father’s true son, Solomon was also a chosen vessel of God to achieve greatness. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, yet it was time for him to prove to the world that he was worthy of the calling both from below and above. The man was burdened with God’s calling and men’s expectations, yet for sure Solomon was up to the task. Had I been in his position, I would have exhausted every ounce of my energy to meet all the expectations and beyond. The mission was simply too sacred and lofty for him not to take it with the highest degree of seriousness.
What have we been called or chosen to do? Surely not anything so grand as to build the holy temple of God. We may be charged to build a little church in the woods with a congregation of only a handful of people. Even so, can we still “be strong and do the work?”
What if we are called to be homemakers whose daily chores are so minute and insignificant that we sometimes deem them not worth doing at all. How in the world can changing diapers and cooking meals bring us any sort of fulfillment or sense of accomplishment?
I consider my wife’s greatest achievement was the fifteen years she spent being a homemaker, raising our three boys and educating them entirely on her own until they were ready for high school. I can still remember vividly how she labored day and night doing countless things in order to keep our family of five afloat with a very small budget. For a long time while I was a graduate student earning only a TA stipend, she managed to shop at three different grocery stores just to get their best deals, armed with a thick wallet of coupons. To me that was a sure sign of greatness and, who was to say that wasn’t her special calling from above. She’s been teaching for over twenty years in a Christian school now and the days she spent educating our sons seemed to be a perfect preparation for what she’s been doing, for she treats and instructs each of her student as if they are her own children. That too to me is true greatness.
There is only one way for us to heed our heavenly calling, which is to fulfill it thankfully and faithfully. The calling may be great or small in human eyes, but there is very little difference in our Father’s perception. Bringing up a child to be a godly woman or man may be equally great in God’s eyes as building a magnificent temple, and the degree of difficulty of both may not be all that different.  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, August 28, 2015 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Seek the Lord 

~~MTS-4038
Seek the Lord
“If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”          1 Ch 28:9

There is no reason to seek the Lord, for he is everywhere. There is no place to hide from the omnipresent God and, of course, there is no need for him to hide. Those who don’t seek the Lord are the ones who try to hide from the Almighty. Surely he will be found if we truly want to find him.
The sign by the parking lot says that we can only park there for thirty minutes, yet we often park for more than an hour, and no parking ticket has ever been issued. Lucky us, right. Wrong. Even though we haven’t been caught parking illegally, it doesn’t mean that policemen don’t exist, and it doesn’t make it right for us to park there more than thirty minutes, even though we haven’t been caught.
Even though he pretty much leaves us alone and seems not to care, no matter what we do, that doesn’t mean that the Lord is not watching and taking careful record of what we do daily and will hold us accountable. He is out of sight from our vantage point, still he is present everywhere.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” wrote the Psalmist.
I may not be able to see my children physically at all times, but they never seem to depart from my thoughts, so in some ways I am able to see them everywhere.  Not so with our Heavenly Father who is able to keep our presence within his sight at all times and constantly watches over us, and his hope is that his children may be quickened to the fact and start to respond to his calling. To seek the Lord is to become aware of his presence and to heed his biddings and, more importantly, to be obedient to his heavenly vision till the end.
When will we children awaken and start to show appreciation for our parents’ love for us by doing something for them. I guess the least we can do for them is not to screen their calls. I guess this is akin to seeking our parents. 
I guess some atheists may find God troublesome and rather annoying, so they have decided to get rid of him by declaring once and for all that he doesn’t really exist. The presence of Christians is quite an annoyance to them, for they remind them of what they try so hard to forget, causing them to suspect that God might still be there. I think this explains why some atheists are so hostile toward Christians. 
Indeed he isn’t far from us, as Paul stated: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” If God does exist, there is nothing more important in this life than to seek to know and to please him. It appears to me that I live, move, and have my being all point to an undeniable truth that the Author of my life exists.      

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:22:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Inner Being 

~~MTS-4037
Inner Being
“…for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.”         1 Ch 28:9

What we appear to be isn’t what we truly are, yet that’s what others see in us and we are judged accordingly. Therefore we put a lot of effort into cultivating and nurturing our outward image, and neglecting the care of our inner being.
Can anyone invent a mirror that reflects our inner man?
People, particularly women, spend a fair amount of time putting makeup on their faces before they step out of the house and continue to do so during the day for fear that there might be some flaws creeping up in their outward appearance. We can hardly blame them, for it’s through their appearance they come in contact with the world and by which the world perceives them.
Do men fare better compared to their counterparts? Not quite.
Indeed, there are gyms springing up everywhere in the city and many of them are packed with men young and old pumping iron and doing all kinds of things, laboring to make themselves look good to the opposite sex. I don’t think we can find any other age in human history as fixated on the human body as this one. Surely this age can easily be coined as the age of bodies.
I guess Yeats was on target when he wrote: “… we must labour to be beautiful” in “Adam’s Curse.”
The Lord does not, however, look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, “but the Lord looks at the heart." Doesn’t this verse from the book of Samuel bring chills and terror to your heart? We exhaust all our energy trying to please the world, yet do nothing to impress the One whose opinion counts more than anyone else. In fact, the opinion of those whom we try to please will count for nothing at the end and the perception of the One to whom we have paid no attention will determine everything, including our eternal destiny.
How can we continue to neglect putting our inner being into shape by doing all the necessities, such as confessing our sins and removing our inner filth by reading and meditating on God’s words? How can anyone not come before the Lord every morning to apply the balm of Gilead to their hearts through prayer and meditation? Do we spend the same amount of time working on our inner selves as we do on our outer selves?
What does the Lord perceive in us if he truly “searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought?”  Is it going to be a pretty sight when he does the examining? Or rather what he sees within us is that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart is only evil all the time.” If this fact alone doesn’t frighten us, I don’t know what will.
Surely this is no time to discuss whether we still have a sinful nature remaining within our hearts after our conversion. What is abundantly clear to us is that we still sin unintentionally and continuously, and a daily cleansing through repentance is an absolute necessity so that we can become more presentable before the Lord whose holiness is a consuming fire.    

   

   

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, August 26, 2015 6:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Serve the Lord 

~~MTS-4036
Serve the Lord
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind…”    1 Ch 28:9

Realizing the enormous importance of the task, David wanted to make sure that his son was rightly motivated to take on the project he intended for him to launch. He knew unless his son became emotionally in tune with the Lord, he would have great difficulty putting his whole being into the task at hand, which was to build the temple of the Lord. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he took the impending building project quite seriously and personally; but it probably wasn’t really so with the son, for it might have been out of his love for his father that Solomon agreed to construct God’s house.
It took more than just affection for or obedience to his father for the young king to take on such a sacred project; what it needed was conviction and vision from above. Solomon had to take ownership of the project in order for the whole thing to become a successful one. Not only did he need to put his mind into the work, his heart would have to be there also. He had to turn his father’s vision and project into his own. In order for that to occur, Solomon’s heart and mind would have had to be transformed and renewed as well.
O, as fathers, how we long to pass our personal faith and love for the Lord down to our children and children’s children! We even dream that they will carry on the project that we are not able to finish on earth or to make our vision come true after we are no more. Yet deep inside we know full well this is out of our control and only through God’s grace and mercy can this ideal take place. Only the Lord can transfer what we possess spiritually to our offspring.
We may desire to make the task a little easier by imparting to them what we have experienced spiritually and giving to them what we have received from above, yet even if this can be done, whatever they receive from us will always be second-hand knowledge which may not be relevant or genuine to them at all. They will have to go through the struggle of searching for the truth and perhaps stumble and fall on the way in order to come to the conclusion of their own. We can only pray that they will eventually reach the same destination we have reached and embrace the same faith we have come to embrace and take ownership of their belief at the end of their journey. The faith that we hold so dear will never become our children’s until they exclaim like Job once did: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
There was, of course, nothing wrong if Solomon took up the building project out of his duty as a son to his father and a king over a nation, which likely could have been the case initially, yet when the temple was finally constructed, Solomon evidently took ownership of it, for his prayer of temple dedication makes it abundantly clear to us. Doing thing faithfully out of one’s duty isn’t anything to be slighted.      

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, August 25, 2015 6:25:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Disqualification 

~~MTS-4035
Disqualification
“You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.”       1 Ch 28:3

David wouldn’t have had the opportunity or the means to build the holy temple had he not done all the conquering and killing. It appears to us that he had earned the privilege and honor to do what he desired the most to do, it was taken away from him for what he had done out of duty and necessity. It does sound a bit unfair to David, doesn’t it?
The job was going to be handed to a man who seemed to have done nothing to earn the appointment. Solomon earned the right merely by virtue of being his father’s son; that was it. He was a man of peace since peace had been earned through his father’s shedding of blood and sweat on the battlefield. Being a man after God’s own heart, David might have had a slight difficulty reading God’s mind concerning this particular issue.
I guess the reason behind the Lord’s decision was clearly given and there is no ambiguity about it, yet could it be a possibility that the Lord was trying to spare the man of war from launching such a great project in his old age, for the construction would have taken the rest of his earthly years to finish. This is a pure speculation, obviously.
Come to think of it, what have I done to disqualify me from doing great things for the Lord? This I will never find out until the day I stand before the throne. Yet there is one thing of which I am mighty sure - I have done plenty to disqualify myself from doing it if there were actually something great reserved for me to do.
This statement by Paul always never failed to impress me when I was young Christian who aspired to accomplish big things in God’s kingdom, although nothing seems to have taken place thirty some years later. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Paul wrote this in his second letter to Timothy. I have often blamed myself for not sufficiently cleansing myself from “what is dishonorable;” therefore I have been kept from becoming “a vessel for honorable use.”
I have been cleansed, yet may have been polluting myself by doing something unclean along the way and, consequently, I have been set aside to do some ignoble tasks in God’s kingdom. Again, this is merely my idle speculation from a human point of view. There aren’t ignoble tasks in God’s kingdom, and I should never feel slighted by being a gatekeeper in God’s house. Didn’t the shepherd boy who turned into the king of Israel once declare: “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness?” David didn’t breathe a word of complaint about being slighted; why should I make apology on his behalf? On the other hand, why do I even grumble about being a gatekeeper in God’s house, as if I were just too good for it?

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, August 24, 2015 6:58:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Entitlement 

~~MTS-4034
Entitlement
“All these were the officials in charge of King David’s property.”
          1 Ch 27:31

How did the king acquire all that he possessed, I wonder. I guess it’s silly to ask this question, since the king could claim whatever he wanted in Israel by virtue of being a king. If there hadn’t been any benefits for being the head of a nation, no one would have risked their lives trying to be one.
Surely David wasn’t focusing on those things when he was fighting for his life against the Philistines and Saul’s army; he was fighting for his survival, really. Yet when he finally emerged victorious, he was more than pleased to accept whatever came with the kingship, including many beautiful women and a lot of land and cattle. I guess it was a high-risk and high-reward kind of thing trying to attain the goal, for one could easily lose his head before he had a chance to wear the crown.
Surely David had a chance to lead his life like a pauper even after he became a king. He could have kept the wives and the property he already had, yet that wasn’t something he chose to do; he instead embraced all the privileges that he had earned and pretty much followed the custom of the time - accepting all the perks of being a king without any reservation.
That was something most of us would have done had we been given the opportunity; therefore we are not entitled to judge.
It does take a godly man to turn down what he is entitled to get, whatever it is. Indeed it was perfectly legitimate for Paul to rely on support from the churches for his livelihood, yet he gave up the privilege and worked with his own hands to supply for himself and his co-workers’ daily needs. It would have been perfectly justifiable for him to receive financial support from the church in Corinth, but it might have been a better thing for the apostle to turn it down. We may have often faced the opportunity to choose between the good, the better, and the best, and made the choice according to our convictions. David could have chosen not to own all the property he was entitled to possess as a king over Israel. However, that wasn’t what he chose to do, and the Scriptures made no value judgment concerning such a choice. The Biblical narrative made no mention of David acquiring too many wives, but it wasn’t so with Solomon who did it so excessively by taking his supposed entitlement to new heights.
So much of our spirituality is measured by what we have given up, not by what we have acquired. Same way with our material possessions, I suppose, and the more we give away, or refrain from getting, the wealthier we will become before the Lord. Take fasting for an example. Since eating is a perfectly legitimate thing for us to do, and we are all entitled to eat two or three meals a day, to fast is to give up what we are entitled to for a higher purpose. So in this case, to eat is good, but not to eat is even better
     

   

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, August 21, 2015 6:57:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Dedication 

~~MTS-4033
Dedication
 “Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the LORD.”        1 Ch 26:27

Had the enemies of Israel kept all the plunder, they would have used them for their own benefit and pleasure; yet the things were put into good use simply because they had fallen into the hands of God’s people. The pagans considered what they possessed theirs, but God’s people perceived it entirely differently.  “Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the LORD.”
Only the ones who fear the Lord know how to properly use the possessions the Lord has bestowed on them; therefore they don’t become overly possessive even if they have great possessions. The ones whose concern is to build more storehouses to store up their grain for their retirement are deemed ignorant by the Lord.
It’s a daily battle within our hearts whether to dedicate our talent and possessions to serve the Lord or to devote them for our own enjoyment and pleasure. It’s not as easy as we think to make such a dedication, for we tend to consider we have earned what we possess with hard work and ingenuity; therefore we get to decide how to dispose it.
Two young physicians who came to visit our youth group while I was serving in LA shared with us that they were heading for Laos to become missionary doctors after they finished their residency training. This surprised our church youth greatly, for they deemed it such a waste of talent, considering how much money they would have made had they stayed in the States.
Has it ever been a waste if we dedicated our talent to the Lord’s service? Wasn’t it far better for the plunder the Israelites took from their enemies to be used in repairing the temple than to have it dedicated to pagan gods or squandered on creating carnal pleasure for their original owners? I think the answer to this is quite simple indeed. This is, however, not an attempt to justify the means by the end, since we are discussing two entirely things. Plundering and killing, in most cases, are not justifiable in God’s eyes.
We do need to plunder ourselves in order to serve the Lord. "When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people." This verse may be worth pondering in our discussion on this particular subject. By instinct we always consider whatever we possess, be it physical or spiritual, ours, and it may take a monumental effort for us to dedicate them all to God to be used solely unto his glory.
The one or two talents given to me by the Master must be invested wisely to earn interests or returns, and they should be handed back to the Master when he returns to settle accounts with us. Sounds rather reasonable, doesn’t it?      

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Sons 

~~MTS-4032
Sons
“Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiah also had sons, who were leaders in their father’s family because they were very capable men.”    1 Ch 26:6

“Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiiah had sons…” What was so great about this, we wonder. Don’t we all do the same thing, anyway? We grow up and get married, and then we die. This is our lot as humans and it doesn’t seem to be all that difficult. My father had five brothers and three sisters, which wasn’t all that out of the ordinary, for most people in our village seemed to do the same thing.
My wife and I sort of had a late start, yet we still managed to have three sons, and as I look at my experience of child-rearing, it didn’t seem to be all that difficult. “It’s just like laying eggs for women to have children,” I often said to people jokingly.
Some things become extremely difficult, impossible even, for the ones who are not able to do them. For a person with dyscalculia like me, doing a simple fraction presents a bit of a challenge; yet for most people it’s quite a rudimentary exercise.
Come to think of it, giving birth to babies may be one of the most difficult things in the world, for all things have to work perfectly for the delivery to happen, and things go awry if there is a small glitch in the process. Kathy’s labor lasted over eighteen hours with our first born and there were bruises on his face when he finally came out. Easy process? Ask any mother who has given birth and we might get quite a different answer.
How easy is it for men to merely say the magic word “push?” No wonder they consider it’s quite an easy procedure. I believe the world population would easily be sliced in half if we relied on men to give birth to babies.
“Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiah also had sons, who were leaders in their father’s family because they were very capable men.” We may just read this verse in passing and don’t think much about it at all, not realizing how extremely difficult it was for this to come through, and how merciful the Lord was to bring this to pass. It was nothing short of a miracle for a son to have sons, and this son’s sons grew to be brave and strong, capable of serving the Lord in the holy temple. How wonderful was that!
Will I last long enough to see their first little league baseball game, their first tennis match, their prom, and their college graduation? I often ponder when I see my grandsons lying in their cribs, looking so frail and small. Yet I often look at my sons and am greatly amazed how strong and tall they have become and ask the same question most parents ask: “How did they grow up to be so tall?”
Grace and mercy from the Lord were truly needed for Obed-Edom’s grandchildren to grow up to be strong men of God. It wouldn’t have happened had the Lord’s hand not rested upon them. Only the foolish would deem it otherwise.       

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, August 19, 2015 7:19:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Trained Musicians 

~~ MTS-4031
Trained Musicians
“Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD—they numbered 288.”         1 Ch 25:7

If the Lord deserves our best, which he surely does, we ought to give to him our best, be it the service we render to him or the gifts we offer to him. Of course, our best may not be good enough for him, yet the Lord knows what our best is, and will stoop down to receive it.
I merely tried to survive from day to day when I was receiving my theological training and didn’t think much about what I would be doing with my education. Instead of thinking about making a good grade in each subject, I should have focused my attention on my future ministry and how my study would relate to it. By doing so I might have worked even harder to master the material I was required to learn.
I am still having difficulty making a connection between what I was trained to do for three years in seminary and what I am doing now as a minister. Why? It was all because I wasn’t consciously thinking about my future career as a pastor then; I intended to become a college professor, therefore what I was learning didn’t seem to be all that relevant. Little did I know at the time that I was being groomed to be a pastor.
Indeed the Lord knew a lot more than I did and intended to carry on his plan in me no matter how I felt toward the whole thing. He intended to make me a minister of the gospel and provided the necessary training for it. I might not have been trained very well, but the diploma I received from the reputable institution did give me the qualifications to do what he called me to do.
It always put me to great shame when I consider how much time my late father-in-law, who was himself a minister, spent in preparing his sermons. He might have spent ten times more than I do in writing a single message, and the result he generated reflected his efforts. Being a faithful servant of the Lord, he appeared to have done his best in all he did for the Lord, starting from the day he started his seminary training at age forty-eight until the day he passed away at age ninety. Surely I have a lot to learn from the man whom I consider my hero and role model.
I am not a musician myself, but all those with whom I have come in contact are perfectionists. I guess there is no other way of making music but the correct way that a piece of music requires. Practice does make perfect, so for a few minutes of performance on stage, they may have to practice countless hours off stage. If they fail to do so, their performance will surely find them out and they will be exposed.
How many times have I been exposed in the pulpit? This is the topic I am extremely reluctant to visit, for I often feel self-conscious when I think about how much effort I have put into preparing a sermon. The Lord indeed is worthy to receive from me my best, yet I have been giving to him a lot less than that.        
 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, August 18, 2015 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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