Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday, December 17th Nehemiah 8

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Micah 3-4, Revelation 13
Today's scripture focus is Nehemiah 8

Nehemiah 8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Ezra Reads the Law

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered,“Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

This Day Is Holy

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to theLord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Feast of Booths Celebrated

13 On the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

Accompanying Ray Stedman sermon: The Shining Light
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Rebuilding With Truth

Stedman and Chandler both point out that after reconstruction we need reinstruction, and that can only come from the Word of God.

The Word shows us who God is - not who we want Him to be, but who He says He is.  He is love according to the Bible's definition of love (not the world's definition).  Love includes discipline and correction.  He is holy and just.  He is merciful.

The Word shows us who we are, and generally that is much less than we think.  We can't compare ourselves to those around us, our measuring stick needs to be the Word of God.  And in comparison to perfection, we really very quickly that humility would be a better posture than pride.

The Word shows us how God has designed the universe to work.  We need to realize that all of God's commands and instructions are not to oppress us, but to enable us to be (as much as possible in this fallen world) all that God designed us to be.  We need to line our lives us with His design, not our own.

We need to have a grasp on these three things in order to worship God.  We were created to worship.

I like sports.  I'm a sports guy.  I love it, all right?  But you shouldn't be emotionally affected by what a 20-year-old does with a ball.  Do you know why you do that?  Because you were created to worship.  We were designed by God to extol, to make much of something, to make something bigger than us, to give ourselves some identity in some way, and that's why we're drawn to stuff like that. That's why you get that People magazine.  That's why you follow celebrities.  That's why we have this kind of culture that looks at the lives of others and makes more of it than we should, envies it in some sad, kind of pathetic way.Why?  Because we were created to make much of something, and in the absence of making much of the One who is worth that something, we replace it with sad, goofy, pathetic idols.Without knowing who God is and knowing who we are and seeing how he designed the universe to work, it becomes increasingly difficult to make much of the name of the Lord.
When we come face to face with these realities, it leads to weeping and brokenness.  But when that becomes repentance, God's grace and mercy leads us to rejoicing. And when we understand how much we've been given, it causes us to become generous and loving to those around us.

That is the power of His Word.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Nehemiah 9
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Micah 5-6, Revelation 14

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