Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10

1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14; Acts 27:21-44; Psalm 8:1-9; Proverbs 18:23-24

When our third child arrived in our family (nine years ago tomorrow), Eric and I began to realize that we needed to be more deliberate about the choices we were making in our family.  Once we were outnumbered, we could no longer count on having the time and space to respond regularly in a manner designed to move our family forward - we were just trying to survive!  If we wanted to thrive and grow and become the Marshes we wanted to be, we knew we'd need a game plan, something that would provide a framework for our decision-making and goal-setting.  Thus was born the Marsh Family Planning, and, several years ago, my husband and I further developed a family mission statement that states who we are and what we're about.  It's specific to the seven of us, but reaches out past ourselves to the greater world.  It encapsulates our identity as a group and our corresponding purpose.

There's just such a theme in our reading today.  The clearest statement of identity and purpose is found in Acts 27:23-24: "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar....'" In this encounter, the angel speaks to Paul of his ownership by Christ and of his end purpose.  Paul belongs to God and has both a general purpose (to serve God) and a specific task (to stand trial before Caesar).  In the midst of the chaos of this terrible sea-storm, what a comfort these reminders must have been.

We see the concept of purpose developed, too, in the work of the Levites.  Their general purpose was the same as Paul's - to serve the Lord - but their specific tasks were more broadly described.  They were the gatekeepers, guarding the house of God (1 Ch. 9:22-27). They were the "butlers" of the temple, counting the dishes and serving utensils (vs. 28). They were the housekeepers and pantry-keepers (vs. 29).  They mixed the incense-offerings (vs. 30) and baked the bread (vs. 31-32) and prepared the musical portions of the nation's worship (vs. 33).  Their purposes were clearly spelled out, given to them as a special reward for their unique identity as Levites.  They knew who they were and what they were to do.

Even our psalm today touches on identity and purpose.  Notice the psalmist's wonder at God's selection of humanity.  He is in awe that God has chosen man to be "a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned...with glory and honor" (Ps. 8:5).  He recognizes his identity as a creature made by the unfathomable God, and out of that position, he sees his role.  "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise" (vs. 2).  First, man is created to praise and then to "[be] ruler over the works of [God's] hands" (vs. 6 and following).  

Today, we have the opportunity to be reminded of our identity: created by God, chosen specifically by him, part of his personal belongings.  We are his.  Out of that security, this knowing who we are, we can all then move forward in our general purpose of praise and service, waiting for specific roles as he reveals them to us.

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.

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