Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday, December 21: Nehemiah 7-9; Luke 20:1-26 by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 7-9; Luke 20:1-26

A few things stood out for me from today's readings:

“Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
[i] “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

I picked the word "stand" as my word of the year of 2015 and when I read a verse with that word in it, it really focuses my attention to it. I love to think about standing up to thank the God for eternity. Especially at Christmas, it really boggles my mind to think about the Creator of everything becoming human to live among sinners with the purpose of paying our debt of sin. It seems like at Christmas time people become the recipients of random acts of kindness. People pay for another's coffee, Westjet employees performed 12000 mini miracles, schools collect food for hampers and/or Koats of Kids, and we hear of so many other instances where people are serving each other. While all of these things are good, they cannot even begin to compare to what Jesus did for us. All of these acts combined cannot equal what Jesus sacrificed for us and gave to us when He was born and He died...for us. He "made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them" He didn't just give a random act of kindness. He gave it purposely and timely and as part of a magnificent plan to overcome our sin. The verse tells us to "Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting...." instead, I think we tend to sit down and forget. Much like the acts of kindness at Christmas their impact lessens as time passes. The joy and excitements wanes as everyday life reality gets in the way. These acts of kindness become a cool story and little more. May we not let Jesus' gift become the same way.

Related to that were these verses:

28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

Even when God's "random acts of kindness" stories became distant memories, God did not give up on his people. When they repented, God heard them. No matter what we do or how far we fall away, God will never leave or forsake us. We can act like spoiled brats, we can ignore his warnings, we can forget what He has already done for us and yet God still forgives. Amazing.

From the NT, this passage stood out for me:

  So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them,“Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Jesus never set out to pick a fight....even though he had every right to because he was totally and completely in the right. Instead of proving who he was and where he got his power from he answered a question with a question. I think that when we are sharing our faith we need to be more like this. We do know have the answers to some hard questions but to just tell someone without allowing them to think will not cause them to think. It's kind of like with teaching.... Recently my class was working on mastering skip counting for their morning job. One of my little friends was struggling and her classmate decided to help her by just giving her the numbers to write in the blanks. Sure she got the "right" answers but her inability to understand where those answers came from left her at a disadvantage when she tried to complete the next day's work. However, to ask her what she thought or why she got the (wrong) answer that she did helped me to understand where she was going wrong to help her to understand how to do it correctly herself. We need to do this too. Ask questions to find out where we need to go in our answers to lead people to come to the answers on their own. 

And finally this one:

22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Sometimes we believe that the government is unfair. We pay too much tax. We should be able to get American Netflix. We shouldn't have to pay renew our driver's licenses or passports...and so on. One member of my family often voices the opinion that whatever you can do to outsmart the government then that it is ok. I think this verse clearly says that is not true. Yes, it is too bad that we have to pay for things through our taxes that we don't agree with (abortions, transgender surgeries, etc.) however, the reality is that in the long term these things are insignificant. What matters is our relationship with God and where we will spend eternity. All other things don't really matter.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Nehemiah 10-11; Luke 20:27-47


Conrad said...

When reading the OT passage, what stood out to me was how the Israelites forgot what God had done for them in the past. It made me think that on Remembrance Day we are all reminded of the fact that soldiers have laid down their lives for our freedom. I pray that as we near Christmas, that this season would remind us of what Jesus did for us and that somehow it would touch the lives of others who still do not know Jesus personally.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Those same verses all stood out to me.

There is such a vast gulf between who God is and who we are. Nothing reveals our need for Him more than really seeing that.