RENEW - Chronicles: Rediscovering Who We Are and Why We're Here - Sermon Study Guide #6 - Renewal of Worship

READ – 1 Chronicles 23:1-6; also refer to chapters 23-27

In 1 Chronicles Chapters 23-27, we read what is essentially King David’s organizational flow chart for the staff of the temple and the leadership over the nation of Israel. Our first reaction might be, “What could be more irrelevant to my life than an ancient organizational flow chart!?!” But consider this – take one look at an organizational chart and you will learn a lot about a community or an organization. The list of names and responsibilities shows you what everybody is doing and why they are doing it. What if you could make an organization flow chart of a person’s life? Imagine a chart that shows a person’s relationships and responsibilities and that illustrates where all their time, money, energy, dreams are spent. You would learn a lot about this person from what is and isn’t on the chart. What would be on your chart? What would it show you about what you are doing and why are you are doing it?  This is where 1 Chronicles 23-27 applies to us –it shows us what a life ordered and organized around worship looks like.

SUMMARY: Since worship is the central matter of life, we should pay attention to how our lives are ordered and organized around what we worship.


The 65 chapters of Chronicles cover almost 500 years of history, tell the stories of 22 kings and weave in many themes related to spiritual renewal, but if there is one thing that is central to the entire story - it is the temple at Jerusalem. The temple was David’s obsession, Solomon’s greatest accomplishment and every subsequent king in the book is evaluated on whether or not they ordered their priorities around the temple.  1 Chronicles 23-27 show us how David set up an organizational system to display the centrality of worship at the temple: Chapter 23 tells us about the priests in the inner/holy courts of the temple; Ch. 24 about the musicians in the main courts of the temple; Ch’s 25-26 about the gatekeepers and treasurers at the gates and the outer portions the temple and Ch. 27 about the leaders who were spread out in the rest of the land. The picture is this - Every aspect of life in Israel reverberated out from the temple. Worship was at the center.           

Chronicles 23-27 illustrates both how life should be and how life is. The Bible tells us that to be human is to be a worshipper. Everyone worships. Every person’s life is structured and shaped by what they most value, seek after and pursue. Every person is a temple to something. If all of us worship, then all of us have an order of worship (a personal liturgy), a way of organizing life around what is most central to us. To be renewed in our worship of the God of the bible requires that we pay attention to the order and organization of our lives. Looking at our personal liturgy will show us what we really worship and how our lives may need to be re-ordered around God.


Clearly, David paid great attention to every detail of how worship was ordered and organized in Israel. What we find in these chapters are four roles given to the tribe called by God to serve at the temple – the Levites. Each one of these roles was a key piece of how someone experienced a renewal of worship. Each was a part of how the worship experience re-oriented the worshipper to a world where God is the central reality. Each one teaches a lesson about who God is and who we are. Each role shows us something of the kind of embodied practices that re-orient and re-center us on the gospel.

 1. GIVING – First, God renews us in worship through the practice of giving. In 26:20, 22 we are told who is given responsibility to oversee the treasuries and dedicated gifts brought to the temple. Every worshipper who came to the temple was given an opportunity to give. In 1 Chronicles 29:5-9, David called Israel to given willingly and freely as an act of worship. The people responded with generous gifts and experiencing great joy (29:0) What’s the lesson? There is a reciprocal relationship between our joy and our giving. Our joy follows our giving and our giving follows our joy. Another way to say this is that what we worship we give toward; what we give toward we worship. Where our treasure is there our heart will be also (Matt 6:21).

2. GATEKEEPING – Second, God renews us in worship through the practice of gatekeeping (Ch 26). Gatekeepers were essentially the bouncers at the temple doors. Their job was to welcome in what did belong and keep out what did not belong in God’s holy presence. Every time you came to the temple, you met a gatekeeper and were forced to ask, “What am I bringing with me into the presence of God?” What’s the lesson? A part of our regular order of life should be to ask, “What am I welcoming into my life and what am I keeping out?” To be a Christian means letting Jesus be the gatekeeper of your life and soul.

3. SINGING - In Ch. 25, we see how David made singing & music a part of the organization of temple worship. In 25:3, musical worship is called prophecy. Singing was an essential part of hearing, remembering and receiving God’s word in a personal way. 25:7-8 tells us that singing was to be led by skillful, excellent and trained musicians.  GREAT care was taken to make singing a part of people’s worship. In Ephesians 5:18-20, we find that singing is just as essential in the New Testament – singing is how we are filled with the Spirit (the presence of God!). What’s the lesson? Music and singing should be a regular part of our daily and weekly order of life. We need to think about how we can make “melody of our hearts” (Eph 5:19) the song of the gospel.

4. CONFESSION -  Looking at David’s organizational chart for worship, we find that confession was the final, climactic step in worship; for being renewed in God’s presence. Three of the four duties listed for priests (in 23:13) have to do with dealing with the sinfulness of people who were coming to worship a holy God. The priests communicated the seriousness of sin (through sacrifice) and always sent the people away with the blessing of God’s forgiving and renewing grace. What’s the lesson? Regular confession is God’s counterintuitive gift for renewal – by confessing our sins we see the gravity of sin and the even greater magnitude of God’s grace for us in the gospel.


1.       What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.      Do you agree that “to be human is to be a worshipper?” Read the quote below from David Foster Wallace’s speech “This Is Water.” If “in the day to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism,” how should that impact the “organizational flow chart” of our lives?

.... [I]n the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship... is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things... then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough... Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you... Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. (David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water”)

3.      When you look at the order and organization of your life, what does it reveal about what you really worship?

4.      It was said in the sermon that the modern quests to find ourselves (identity) and to find our cause in life (purpose) are both determined by what we worship. In other words 1) both our identity and purpose are formed by what we worship 2) to rediscover our identity and purpose in Jesus, our worship of Jesus comes first. Where are you struggling with identity and/or purpose? What would it look like to begin your rediscovery with worship?

The Four Practices for Worship Renewal

5.      Giving – Have you found it to be true that your joy follows your giving and your giving follows your joy? How does your own practice of giving (money, time, talents) reflect (or need to better reflect) your desire to worship God above all else?

6.      Gatekeeping – “Every object of worship has gatekeepers. What we worship determines what we keep out and what we let into our lives.” Where are you most struggling with what Jesus calls you to bring in or keep out of your life?

7.      Singing – What place does music and singing have in your regular weekly or daily routine? Read Eph. 5:18-20. What does it look like to regularly “make melody in our hearts to the Lord?”

8.      Confession -The practice of confession as worship is what makes Christianity different from all other approaches to life. No matter what we worship, we will all come up against the question - what happens when I fail my god? When we fail or fall short, every other object of worship crushes us, punishes us and makes us pay. In Christianity, it’s confession that drives us to the gospel, again and again – that Jesus was crushed and punished for our sins in order that we might receive the blessing of God’s approval, delight and acceptance forever.

·        Have you experienced the crushing and punishing of failing something you worshipped?

·        How can confession become a regular part of your personal order of life?

·        How can we make sure that confession doesn’t drive us into guilt and shame but into the freedom and joy of the gospel?

RENEW - Chronicles: Rediscovering Who Whe Are and Why We're Here - Sermon Study Guide #5 - Renewal of Purpose

READ – 1 Chronicles 22:5-19

A part of our common human experience is that all of us from time to time ask, “What’s the purpose of it all?  What’s the purpose of school? What’s the purpose of my friendships, my marriage? Of having kids? Of work? Of church? Of my life? In the grind of everyday life when we feel like our lives are on repeat; in the losses and disappointments of life, we often find ourselves searching for answers to questions of purpose. Chronicles 22 is one of a few key passages in the Bible given to us as places to go when we need a renewal of purpose. Chapter 22 (and its parallel passage in Chapter 28) is a part of a specific biblical genre called a “Charge.” Scholars note that David’s charge to Solomon and the leaders of Israel is filled with connections to the other major biblical charges: Moses to Joshua (Deut. 31:1-8 and Joshua 1:1-9), Jesus to his disciples (John 14:25-31, Matthew 28:18-20) and Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy).  

SUMMARY: We need to be reminded of the things that keep us from and lead us toward discovering our purpose in life.


1. SELF-CENTERDNESS - David begins his charge (v5) by telling Solomon about his own journey from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. In Chapter 17, when David decided that building the temple would be his great purpose in life, God told David, “Right vision, wrong purpose.” David would not build the temple; instead, he would prepare for his son to build it. This was deeply humbling for David since all successful kings at this time considered temple-building their crowning achievement. Chronicles 22-29 are all about David embracing his God-given part in God’s greater purpose. Verse 5 shows us how he was able to do this - he learned that his purpose was about God’s glory and fame, not his; the house he would prepare was for God’s name, not his (v7-8, 10, 19). 

What we learn from this is God chooses our purpose, not us. We are meant to first discover God’s purpose for the world and then find our place in it. Our purpose is not something we create; it is something given to us by God. Here is where the temple comes in. It was a symbol and a reminder of the God-centered purpose of Israel. As the center of the nation’s life, it was a reminder that all life revolves around and centers on God. Rather than living a life centered on ourselves, the temple shows us our purpose is to: 1) Make God’s presence and glory central to all of our lives. 2) Take God’s presence and glory into all of my life and to all the earth.

2. FEAR - The second thing that keeps us from discovering God’s purpose for us is fear. In verse 13, David tells Solomon, “Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.” This language is repeated in almost every one of the charges in Scripture. Moses said these exact words to Joshua (twice), Paul to Timothy (ch 2), Jesus to his disciples. What does this tell us? If God’s charges to us repeatedly tell us to be courageous and fear not, it means: 1) God’s purpose for us is to lead us into situations where we will feel weak and afraid 2) Feeling weak and afraid is NOT a sign we are heading the wrong way, in fact it’s the reverse and 3) If we run from or try to avoid fear and weakness, we are likely running away from God’s purpose for us.  If God wants to teach us to be cured of self-centeredness, self-reliance and independence so that our lives are centered on love for Him and love for others, one of his main teaching tools is to call us to a purpose we can’t possibly do on our own.


1. DISCERNMENT - In verse 12, David tells Solomon “Only [or Above all] may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding… that you may keep the law and be careful to observe his commands.” To discover our purpose and to rediscover it when we’ve lost it, we need discretion and understanding above all. These two words taken together from a pair that could be translated “discernment.” This is an encouragement - if we struggle with the question of purpose, be encouraged - it doesn’t come easily, it’s the reward of careful discernment, reflection and care. This is also a warning, if we always have a quick reply, the perfect tweet, the post and the right answer to everything, we are likely not helping God’s purpose but hurting it.

2. COMMUNITY - The charge David gives is not just to Solomon alone but is given to all the leaders of Israel. This is a national purpose. This is a communal purpose. It cannot be accomplished by 1 person – even someone as powerful, wise, discerning, wealthy and resourced as Solomon. He needs help.  From this we learn that purpose requires community. Meaningful purpose + meaningful relationships = a meaningful and satisfying life. This is how God designed us. It’s how God designed the church - to be a community on mission together. Community leads us to, reminds us of and encourages us to stay on course in the purpose God has given us.

3. SACRIFICE - In verse 14, David tells Solomon “with great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord.” The amount of gold and silver listed are astronomical for this time. He tells Solomon, “To these you must add.” David’s sacrifice of his time and wealth was for his son and all of Israel a model for what will lead them into God’s purpose. Purpose is found not holding onto things, not by looking for what we can gain out of life but by giving, losing + sacrifice. It is in giving ourselves away that we find our purpose. Nothing reminds us of this purpose more than heroic sacrifice. Here David was the hero, but his sacrifice was but a faint shadow of the sacrifice of the greater David to come – Jesus. In laying down his life for us, Jesus shows us his great purpose for us – to sacrifice his life to cover our self-centeredness and bring us into the presence of God. No matter how far we have strayed from God’s purpose for us, because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, we can always rediscover God’s forgiving grace and his call to be carriers of this grace into the world.


1.       What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.      Do you struggle with giving God your purposes and dreams and asking him to bless them rather than first finding God’s purpose and asking him to show your part in it? How might this be keeping you from discovering purpose in your life or parts of your life?

3.      Where do you feel most afraid, inadequate and weak to make God’s presence and glory central to your life or to take God’s glory and presence to others? Think about your relationships - marriage, parenting, work or an area in need of change in your life. How might God be leading to admit your fear and weakness and pursue his purpose in this area of your life?

4.      Do you agree that Christians are not often regarded as bringing a voice of discernment to difficult cultural matters? How can we better demonstrate what discretion and careful thought look like? Where in your life do you most need discernment now? 

5.      How does heroic sacrifice remind us of our purpose in life? How does Jesus’ sacrificial love for us remind us of why we are here? How does this help us live sacrificially wherever God calls us? (For a story of heroic sacrifice, Read Jack Beaton’s story -

RENEW - Chronicles: Rediscovering Who We Are and Why We're Here - Sermon Study Guide #4- Success, Failure, and Renewal

READ – 1 Chronicles 21

Chapter 21 is a unique chapter in Chronicles because it tells the story of a major failure in the life of Israel’s model king – David. David is the most prominent character in Chronicles by a long shot. (21 of the 65 chapters are about him and all subsequent kings are measured against him.)  In a book that focuses almost exclusively on David’s positive example, we find that one of his greatest failures is highlighted as one of the most important lessons he left behind about how God brings renewal to our lives.

SUMMARY: Renewal comes when we are humbled in our successes and restored in our failures. 


1 Chronicles 18-20 recount success after success for David. Enemies that had plagued Israel for years were being defeated and driven away – the Philistines, the Ammonites, the Syrians even giant warriors (20). They all “fell by the hand of David and his servants.” (20:8) As we come to Ch 21, David seemed invincible. He was at the top of his game.

It was at this point that we read Satan (or an actual military opponent – the word “Satan” can be translated “adversary”) incited David to take a census of his army. What’s wrong with a census? It wasn’t David’s action that displeased God, but his motivation. Why would David take a census? Like many rulers of his time, David wanted to assess the power & strength of his military. The census was David’s way of measuring & proving his success, his security and his strength. His motive was pride. At his most successful, David was most vulnerable to pride, self-reliance, independence and self-absorption. The lesson - The most dangerous and potentially destructive moments in our lives are when we look at our success and accomplishments and there's that little voice inside of us that says, “Look what I've done.” One of the most important factors for our ongoing spiritual renewal is whether our success leads to becoming puffed up with pride or deeper into humility.


After David carried through with his census, God sent the prophet Gad to rebuke him and offer the choice of 3 different consequences for his failure - famine, defeat by enemies or pestilence in the land. David didn’t really choose; instead he asked to fall into the hand of the Lord “who has great mercy.” Verse 14 says God sent a plague that resulted in the loss of many lives.  This led David (together with his leaders) to put on sackcloth and publicly confess his sin and failure. “It is I who have sinned and done great evil… Please let you hand, O Lord my God be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people!”

How did David move from selfish pride to humble repentance and willingness to suffer so others might live? I think the answer is two-fold:

1) He didn’t minimize his failure. It is when he saw and felt the impact his actions had on others that was humbled and broken. This story teaches us that failure can either harden us or humble us. David could have tried hide his failure, blame others or blame God – instead he owned it. But he had to feel the impact his pride had on other people. There is always a cost to others when we act out of pride.

2) He didn’t miss what his failure was teaching him. God’s great gift in failure is the smashing of our pride. When our pride is smashed, grace can flood into our lives. For this reason, our failures will be our greatest opportunities to see if we really believe the gospel. David began to understand that our failure and sin are costly and can only be forgiven and covered at great cost. He offered his own life but God accepted a substitutionary sacrifice in his place. In David’s failure, he was taught the heart of the gospel - God pays the price to redeem our failure.


The conclusion to this story is extremely significant. 22:1 tells us David said, “This (piece of land he bought for the sacrifice) is the house of the Lord God.” In other words. “I have found the place where the temple will be built.” What’s going on here? The very center of worship for Israel and the most important place in the whole nation is the Temple. It was the center of spiritual renewal for the people. This is the backstory to the temple. It was built on a place where great failure was covered, where great sin was forgiven and redeemed. It was built on a place where the tables were turned on evil and Satan.

The temple served as a foreshadowing of the gospel – God will redeem our failures through substitutionary atonement. He doesn’t ignore the consequences and cost of our prideful sin; he fully bears the cost Himself on our behalf in Jesus. The temple was meant to serve as a constant reminder until Jesus came – He is a God who redeems our failure. In John 2:21, Jesus tells us how his story ultimately fulfills the backstory of the temple. He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” At the cross, we see that what seemed like the world’s greatest failure and tragedy (the cross) is the world’s greatest redemption.


1.       What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.      Have you seen how success can be an occasion for pride in your life? How has this looked for you? What has the impact been on the other people in your life? How might we handle success well?

3.      How would you say you usually handle failure? In what ways are you tempted to minimize your failure? How can we find ways to see and feel the impact our pride, sin and failures have on others?

4.      It was said in the sermon that “our failure whether we are living with a religious approach to life or a gospel approach to life.”  What is your reaction to the explanation of this below? What does your reaction to your own failures reveal about you?

·        Sin and failure are the great threats of religion to be avoided with all our energy. Religious people can’t learn from failure so they hide it, blame others or divert all their attention on other people’s failures and sin. Failure crushes the religious person. But sin and failure are not threats to the gospel. In fact, they are – no matter how great – our gateways into gospel renewal. Failure humbles but doesn’t crush the person whose life is built on the gospel.

5.      Do you agree that the greatest places of renewal and worship in our stories and lives will be the places where we have greatly sinned & failed and found a redeeming and forgiving God? Why or why not? How is this true in your life?

6.      How are you most struggling to believe that Renewal comes when we are humbled in our successes and restored in our failures? Share this with your group and close in prayer.

RENEW - Chronicles: Rediscovering Who We Are and Why We're Here - Sermon Study Guide #3 - The Promise of Renewal

READ – 1 Chronicles 17:1-15

Chronicles was written to bring about a renewal of heart and mission for people who struggle with disappointment, disenchantment and doubt. Israeli scholar Sara Japhet says the whole book is geared around addressing what she calls the “gap” - the gap between our lives and what we read in the bible, the gap between the life we want to live and the life we have. She writes, “[t]he book of Chronicles represents a powerful effort to bridge this gap.” Chapter 17 in Chronicles shows us how God meets us in these “gap moments” to renew us by his promise.


In 1 Chronicles 13-16, we read how, after uniting the people and organizing his military, David was laser focused on one thing - retrieving the ark of the covenant. Why? The ark was the most important and powerful symbol for Israel. It was meant to be in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle. The ark was the symbol of God’s rule and presence on earth. Inside were the most important reminders of the covenant relationship between God and his people - the tablets on which were written the 10 commandments. So, the ark was a reminder to the king and to the entire nation that their life revolved around and centered on God and the covenant relationship they had with Him. After retrieving the ark, David’s next goal was to build a temple to house it.

SUMMARY: When we are living in the gap of disappointment and disillusionment, renewal comes as we look to and trust in the promises of God.


Chronicles shows us David had a very clear plan - unite the people, gather the army, secure the capital (Jerusalem), get the ark, build the temple. When we read 17:1, the strategy seems sound and we think David is being very humble and spiritual when he says, “How can I live in a better house than God?” But there is more going on. In the Ancient Near East, temple building was very common. It was the expected final step for a real king to demonstrate legitimacy; to say, “I’ve arrived!” David is following the script of all the other nations, kings, gods of his day. He’s essentially saying, “God, in order for us to show the world we are for real, this is the next step. Let’s do this now!”

Through the prophet Nathan God responds to David’s plan and tells him, “Not now and not you. When it comes to the temple, you are called to the work of preparation not to the work of completion.” For the first time since he became king, David experienced a “no, not now” from God. God told David that He would build a house for him (not vice versa).  Both houses – the temple and his future dynasty – would be things David would not live to see completed. David’s prayer (17:16-27) shows he got it. He experienced a renewed sense of humility, gratitude and praise. All because God said, “not now.”

Much of our disappointment in life and disillusionment in faith is a failure to see the significance of the work of preparation versus the pull and tug of instant gratification. This text shows us that God renews us in times of preparation just as much as in seasons of completion. Renewal of heart and mission comes when we learn not to demand or expect immediate results from God. To do this requires hope and trust in his promises.


It wasn’t only David’s timeline that God had to address. In 17:5-6, God challenged David’s motivation for building the temple. At this time, a temple was the visible result people were looking for as proof of a king’s success and of a deity’s power and reality. Though God does approve of this project for David’s son (v12), he approves of the project with an important correction.  In 17:5-6, God says, “Why do you think I need a temple anyway?” God was issuing a warning to David and to the readers of Chronicles: The temple can be the most visibly impressive building in the world, but it can be empty and devoid of His presence. Far more important than the temple is what it represents - the promise of His presence to be with his people.

Just like David, we often measure our lives and faith using our culture’s narratives and metrics for success. But God’s presence cannot be contained in what we can see.  God’s work cannot be measured if we are only looking for visible results.  Much of our disillusionment comes from measuring God’s work in us and in the world using the dominant cultural scripts of success that are solely focused on looking at the visible results. This will either create a gap of unfulfillment – the visible results are never enough or discouragement – we are failing to achieve the visible results we think we are supposed to. In these moments, we need to look to the promise of God’s presence with us.


Judging by God’s response to David, it appears that David needed a fresh dose of humility. Maybe his success and prosperity had gone to his head. Underneath his desire to build the temple was a prideful attitude that said, “Look at all I have achieved and what I will achieve next!” God reminds him of where he came from and who got him there. The most obvious feature of verses 7-14 – is the overwhelming emphasis on God speaking in the 1st person: I took, I have, I declare, I will. (11X!!)

God reminded David - You did not achieve this. You received this. Though God’s future promises to David were unachievable for him, he experienced a renewal of hope, humility and faith when he heard them. What was unachievable to David seemed even more impossible for those to whom Chronicles was written (600yrs later). There were no descendants of David to be seen. Why write this to them? The answer is that Chronicles is saying to them and to us: Don’t give up hope! God will keep his promise even when it seems impossible.

All other approaches to life offer us a goal and tell us that it’s up to us to achieve this goal. Christianity is unique among all belief systems in that its main message is the life God calls us to and wants for us is unachievable for us. The gospel is that a descendent of David has come to achieve the unachievable, to fulfill the impossible. Jesus, David’s greater Son, is the fulfillment of the promises of 1 Chron. 17. His life, death and resurrection achieve a salvation for us that we could never achieve on our own. Because of how God has fulfilled his promises in Jesus, we can be confident that those promises yet unfulfilled will be accomplished in his timing.


1.       What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.      Is there an area of your life where you are experiencing disappointment or disillusionment because you are looking for immediate results or instant gratification? How does it change things to know God can renew us in times of preparation just as much as in times of completion? See Philippians 1:6 for an example of a promise that God can encourage us in times of preparation.

3.      In the sermon, it was said that there are two basic narrative scripts that can shape our lives and expectations (see below). What narrative is currently shaping you more? How can you tell?

·        Results-Oriented Narrative of Success. Driven by performance and visible results.

·        Relational-Oriented Narrative of Presence. Driven by promise/covenant.

4.      “Renewal comes when we realize that God’s goals for us are unachievable in our own wisdom, ability, strength and power. It is then we realize we are fully dependent on his promise.” How does this challenge you? How does it comfort you? How does it drive you toward a renewal of trust in what Jesus has done, is doing and will do for you?

RENEW - Chronicles: Rediscovering Who We Are and Why We're Here - Sermon Study Guide #2 - The Fight For Renewal

READ – 1 Chronicles 10:1-7; 11:1-3, 9-10; 12:38-40

After 9 long chapters of genealogy, the book of Chronicles begins its re-telling of the story of Israel’s kings in chapter 10. The first three chapters of the narrative (Chapters 10-12) recount for us in stark contrast the demise and fall of King Saul and the dramatic emergence and rise of King David. Saul’s story ends with him dying alone in defeat. David’s story begins with “all Israel” gathered with him ready to go to battle wherever he leads.


To understand these 3 chapters and their application to our present day, we need to remember that Chronicles was written during one of the hardest and most discouraging times in the story of Israel. They had just passed through the lowest point in their story as a people – the exile. They came out of this time with excitement, returned to their homeland and made some progress BUT… their lives were not turning out as they had hoped, their faith wasn’t as vibrant as they thought it would be. Many were disillusioned, almost everyone was dealing with some level of disappointment. They needed something that would enable and inspire them to endure. These 3 chapters are the opening “pep talk” in the book of Chronicles meant to inspire hope that God can and does bring renewal to people when it seems like all hope is lost.  They show us four things everyone needs to know about how God brings renewal to his people.

SUMMARY: 4 Things We Need to Know About Spiritual Renewal


The thing that all three of these chapters have in common is that they are all about fighting.  The very first words in the narrative after the long genealogical introduction to the book are not “Once up on a time…” but “Now the Philistines fought…” (10:1) It’s important that we make a simple observation here. The author of Chronicles knew the people to whom he was writing were struggling and disillusioned. They were fighting just to live a life above their daily circumstances. He must’ve thought, “I’m not going to start at the high point in Israel’s history, when things were great, and the land was at peace and rest. I’m going to start this story in the heat of the battle.” All spiritual renewal and growth comes as a result of a hard-fought struggle. Some of us get extremely discouraged because we have the wrong idea of what spiritual renewal looks like. Renewal is not about reaching a state of spiritual tranquility and serenity, it’s about staying engaged in “the good fight of faith.” (1 Tim, 6:12) As Ralph Erskine wrote, “Faith, without trouble or fighting, is a suspicious faith; for true faith is a fighting, wrestling faith.” 

The Chronicler highlights a few stories to show us what kind of fight we’re up against. It’s not just any fight, it’s a fight with impossible odds against us. The stories of the mighty men (see Eleazar 11:12-14 and Benaiah 11:22-25) are examples of how God wants to bring us renewal in places where we believe it’s most impossible. While it may not bring us a feeling of relief, knowing renewal is going to be a fight helps us to persevere in the process of change trusting that God is at work even in our struggles.


Not only does Chronicles show us that renewal is a fight, we also find wisdom here for what battles we are called to fight. One of the main things that prevents us from orienting our lives around God and his kingdom is that we tend to fight the wrong fights. Instead of pouring our energy into loving God and others, we use so much of our energy seeking our own self-advancement and desires.

Here the contrast between David and Saul is instructive. Saul lost his battles because he was fighting to prove himself to others. In his insecurity, he ended up fighting his best ally (David) instead of with him. David on the other hand fought to have the help of a community in his life. Saul tried to fight his battles alone. He didn’t admit his need for help or ask for help until it was too late (and even then, he looked for it in all the wrong places). David, from the very beginning knew he needed help. (Look at 11:10, 12:1, 12:18.) We need to fight to be people who are fighting with and for us in the pursuit of God and his kingdom.


There is one thing about these chapters filled with incredible triumphs and impossible victories that – if you take it away – none of it happens. None of it is possible. That thing is a person – David. If David isn’t in this chapter – none of these things would have happened. These warriors are not fighting for self-preservation or self advancement. They are fighting for David and his kingdom. It was their love for David and desire for his kingdom to come that motivated them. THAT is WHY they fought. (Read 11:15-19 for an example.)

Chronicles was written to awaken hope in a greater David to come. Someone who would inspire boldness and courage. Someone who would bring unconquerable renewal to the world.  The gospel is that the greater David has come. Jesus came fighting our true enemies with us. And ultimately, He fought and conquered them for us – taking on our sin, death, evil on the cross. In the greatest victory of all time, against all odds, it was One Man vs. the entirety of human sin, death itself and all evil and the One Man emerged victorious from the tomb. We fight our battles for spiritual renewal and growth out of love for the One who fought for us and his kingdom.


The great hope given to us in these chapters is that we don’t fight or achieve impossible victory in our strength. God fights for us. All other religions tell us to fight for our standing and approval before God. It’s up to us. The irreligious approach to life is to fight for our needs and rights. It’s up to us to fight for ourselves. The gospel tells us “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Ex. 14:14) Our great fight is the fight of faith – to trust that, in Jesus, God love us and is always fighting with us and for our renewal into the image of his Son.


1.       What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.      Do you struggle with having the wrong idea of what spiritual renewal looks like, expecting to achieve a state of tranquility and peace vs. the continued good fight of faith?

3.      Is there a place in your life/soul where you have given up hope? A place you think renewal of God’s work in your life is impossible? How might this passage give you hope that God can work in this part of your life? 

4.      It was said in the sermon that we should keep in mind the development of the bible’s teaching on the battles we are called to fight. The New Testament clarifies who the real enemies of the soul are – the world, the flesh and the devil. Do you find that you tend to spend your energy fighting the wrong battles (in family, marriage, parenting or work?) How can you redirect your energy into the right battles?

5.      How does the gospel give us the right motivation to fight - love for Jesus and his kingdom?

6.      What would it look like to be a community that is fighting with and for each other’s spiritual renewal? Spend time praying for each other. You may want to read aloud the following passages as a reminder that God fights for us.

        Jeremiah 1:19, Exodus 14:14, Deut. 1:30, 3:22, 2 Chon. 20:17