TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- NEHEMIAH 9:22-10:39
We have seen seven periods of spiritual awakening in our Bible reading this year. Each one inspired repentance and reformation:
- Jacob’s Household– Genesis 35:1-15
- Asa– 2 Chron 15:1-15
- Jehoash– 2 Kings 11; 12; 2 Chron 23, 24
- Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:4-7; 2 Chron 29:31
- Josiah 2 Kings 22, 23; 2 Chron 34, 35)
- Ezra 5, 6
- Nehemiah 8- 9; 12:44-47
Today we continue to read the penitent prayer of the leaders in Nehemiah 9 and witness the people’s pledge to renewed faithfulness.
The leaders contrast their disobedience and the disobedience of their ancestors with the faithfulness of the Lord.
Notice the tendency of the people to turn away from the Lord in seasons of rest and prosperity (9:25-26; 28). Beware of complacency when we are blessed with seasons of peace and comfort!
The leaders recognize that the Lord’s chastening them with suffering was necessary for their spiritual benefit.
Nehemiah 9:33 33 “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
In this corporate prayer, they plead for mercy and relief from their distress. They put into writing an oath to follow the Law as given to Moses (10:29).
They agree to:
- Not marry non-Jewish neighbors (10:30)
2. Observe the Sabbath (10:31)
3. Observe every seventh year as a sabbath year (10:31)
4. Pay a temple tax (10:32-22)
5. Supply wood for the burnt offerings in the temple (10:34)
6. Give dues to the temple (10:35-38).
The people had been negligent to observe these practices in the past and were now making a commitment to keep the commands seriously.
Nehemiah 10:39b Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that, as New Testament believers, our personal bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the local churches (1 Corinthians 3:16) are the new temples, the dwelling places of God through the Spirit. We are not to neglect our stewardship of either. The person and work of Christ demands both personal consecration (Romans 12:1-2) and corporate consecration (Revelation 2-3).
Is there an area of neglect in your pursuit of personal holiness in your life? Is there an area in which you compromise with the faulty interpretations and values of the fallen world system?
James 4:4 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Is there an area of neglect in your commitment to the present temple of the church?
Hebrews 10:23-25 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 CORINTHIANS 9:19-10:13
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Paul speaks of being disqualified, which does not mean that he would lose his salvation, but that he would lose his privilege of being an effective minister. He would become a ‘cast away’. A bicycle with a flat tire may still be in your garage, but you will not ride it because of its current condition.
Paul admonishes us. We were not redeemed to be clutter in the Lord’s garage. We are to be useful vehicles, ready for Him to ride!
It is important for New Testament believers to be familiar with the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit has ordained that the recorded history in the Bible would be God’s means of speaking to us and instructing us today.
Notice that in 1 Corinthians 10:1, Paul writes the Corinthian believers, Jews AND Gentiles, that HE DOES NOT WANT ANY TO BE UNAWARE of the lessons in God’s history of redemption that focused on what was written in the Torah.
1 Corinthians 10:6 6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
1 Corinthians 10:7 refers to Exodus 32
1 Corinthians 10:8 refers to Numbers 25:1-9
1 Corinthians 10:9 refers to Numbers 21:5-6
1 Corinthians 10:10 refers to Numbers 14:2, 36
In 1 Corinthians 10:10 the destroyer refers to God’s agent in bringing judgment upon firstborn in Egypt in Exodus 12:23, upon Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 24:16 and is referred to in Hebrews 11:28.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 34:1-10
Notice the Psalmist’s continual resolve:
I WILL PRAISE
Psalm 34 begins with a decision. “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be on my lips.”
May that be your resolve each morning.
I WILL WORSHIP WITH OTHERS
Psalm 34:3 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
My wife and I had “Let us exalt His Name together” engraved on the insides of our wedding rings. This also expresses our resolve when we gather as a local body of believers!
I WILL PRAY. MY STORY IS ONE OF PROGRESSIVE DELIVERANCE FROM ANXIETY AND TROUBLES
How is your prayer life? Can you say:
“I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears” (34:4)?
Psalm 34:6 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
What are you worried about? Cast all your anxieties upon Him in prayer (1 Peter 5:7).
I WILL LOOK TO THE LORD. MY COUNTENANCE REFLECTS MY PREOCCUPATION
What does your face look like today?
“Those who look to HIM are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (34:5)
SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO TRUST HIM
The whole Psalm is a testimony that encourages us to trust the Lord.
It is not enough to have ‘head knowledge’. We need a personal experience of having cast the full weight of our trust to our Savior and His Saving works!
Psalm 34:8-10 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. 10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS; PROVERBS 21:13
Proverbs 21:13 13 He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.
If we truly understand how merciful God has been towards us, we will be merciful to others.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS -LIBYA (from “Operation World Prayer App”)
Large numbers of migrants come into Libya. Most come from Sub-Saharan Africa, but some come from North Africa and even parts of Asia. A few find work in Libya, but more cross the dangerous deserts and seas in search of a new life in Europe. The current chaos in Libya gives freedom for traffickers to exploit these vulnerable people. Pray that these tens or even hundreds of thousands would find salvation, and not just earthly gain. Some of these migrants are believers; many others find Jesus in the midst of their turbulent lives. Pray that they might have a powerful spiritual impact on Libyans and on fellow migrants.
PRAYER: O Gracious God, we long for a spiritual awakening in our land. We confess our sins of selfish preoccupations that have brought divisions, conflicts, fightings and quarrels to the fore. As a nation and as individuals, we have not been truly submissive to Your rule. We have been disobedient and rebellious and put Your law behind our backs. We have committed blasphemies in our speech and in our actions. Rescue us from the hands of our enemies. In all that has happened to us, You have been just, you have acted faithfully, when we have done wrong. Grant this generation the gift of repentance and faith in the Messiah, our Lord Jesus. We resolve to bless Your Name, both by our lips and our lives. We desire to see Your kingdom come and Your will being done on earth as it is in heaven. We ask this humbly subscribing to the merits of Your Son, and do so in His Name. Amen.