KG Oct. 23-29

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October 23, Sunday

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Your Goodness … Our Guilt — Being a tailor in OT times must have been profitable—people were always intentionally tearing their garments. 🙂  The priest, Ezra, did it here, along with tearing out hunks of his hair, which was not just a symbolic gesture—he was genuinely appalled (v. 3).  How disturbed do we get about the sins of our nation?  How about our own sins?  Ezra had a high view of God’s holiness and the truth and authority of His Word.  By intermarrying with foreign women who served false gods, his fellow Jews were disobeying a direct command that God had given to Moses: “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods” (Deut. 7:3-4).  Disobedience to this law was part of the reason Judah had spent 70 years exiled in Babylon.  Nevertheless, God showed His goodness by bringing them back: “But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God” (Ezra 9:8).  How do we react to God’s goodness?  When He removes punishing discipline for our past sins, do we relax and slide back toward the same sins?  That is what Ezra saw, and he was appalled.  His prayer of confession included himself with the sinful people: “…we have forsaken your commandments” (v. 10), and “…our evil deeds and for our great guilt” (v. 13).  Collectively, they had great guilt in spite of God’s great goodness.

Goodness of God – YouTube

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October 24, Monday

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Knowing the Heart Mover — Nehemiah was one of the Jews who did not return to Judah with Ezra 13 years earlier.  Perhaps he was not allowed to return because of his high position as “cupbearer to the king” (v. 11).  This passage shows several things that Nehemiah realized about God.  First, he knew that God had not only made a covenant with His people through Moses, but that He also “keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (v. 5).  God keeps His promises.  Secondly, he knew that God punishes disobedience: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples” (v. 8).  It was for those sins that Nehemiah spent days weeping, fasting, and praying (v. 4) in confession of his own sins and those of his fellow Jews (vv. 6-7).  Nehemiah also knew that God was powerful enough to change the hearts of kings in order to benefit His people.  Nehemiah asked God for only two things: “give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man” (v. 11).  We will see later that God did answer that prayer and moved the heart of King Artaxerxes.  The Promise Keeper is also the Heart Mover.

Way Maker – YouTube

See it also performed by the Nigerian writer,
whose full name is Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu:
Sinach – Way Maker – YouTube

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October 25, Tuesday

I mistakenly repeated Sunday’s comment and YouTube link
in yesterday’s spot. I have corrected it now, if you want to
go back to read it. Sorry!

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Quick Prayers — We saw in yesterday’s reading that Nehemiah mourned and prayed for days about the condition of Jerusalem’s walls and the sins of God’s people that triggered its destruction.  Yet he had one more very short prayer when he faced King Artaxerxes.  I love this thin, sandwiched prayer: “’What are you requesting?’  So I prayed to the God of heaven.  And I said to the king…” (vv. 4-5).  Between the king’s question and Nehemiah’s answer was a quick, silent prayer to God.  What was it?  Perhaps it was just, “Help me, God!”  Sometimes in a crisis, a quick prayer is all that we need to get God’s attention and His action, but it must be preceded by a life of prayer and it must come from a cleansed heart.  In the prayer we read yesterday, Nehemiah confessed his own sins as well as those of his fellow Jews.  His quick prayer in the presence of the king came from a heart that was already humble and clean before God.

Hear My Prayer – YouTube

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October 26, Wednesday

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Who Works? — This story shows three good examples of the relationship between trust and toil.  The people trusted God to defend them, but they still worked with all their strength.  When the leaders of the surrounding peoples threatened them, Nehemiah recorded that “…we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection” (v. 9).  They asked God for safety, but still prepared to protect themselves.  Was that a lack of trust?  Secondly, Nehemiah challenged them not to be afraid, saying, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers…” (v. 14).  Trust God, but be ready to fight.  If they fought, would they be trusting God?  The third example came when they were spread out so far apart around the wall that Nehemiah planned to have a trumpet blown at the site of any attack, saying, “rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us” (v. 20).  Why rally together if God was going to do the fighting?  What Nehemiah understood in these situations was that sometimes God uses us to accomplish His purposes, and sometimes He does it Himself, perhaps by manipulating circumstances or changing the minds of the opposition.  God is sovereign, and we don’t know what means He will use.  We must do what we should do, knowing that God can use that for success or He can produce His own separate work for us.  So, we work while we trust that God will also work to accomplish His will.

God Will Work It Out – YouTube

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October 27, Thursday

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The 52-Day Wonder — Notice, again, the cooperation between the Hebrews and their God.  They did the work, but God provided the strength: “…this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (v. 16).  It was a phenomenal feat.  The people expended the effort, but God gave them strength and made them efficient.  It is like the lumberjack who takes time to sharpen his axe before attacking the tree; he is able to chop down his tree much faster than others working with the same effort, but with dull tools.  Do you pray before you begin an ambitious project?  It will sharpen your axe.  Finishing the wall in 52 days was not only unexpected, it was unheard of.  The opposing neighbors of the Jews recognized that and knew they were in trouble.  If Yahweh could accomplish that with people who worked with a weapon in one hand, what might He do next?  They knew they were facing a miraculous power, and they “were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem” (v. 16).  They were fearful and deflated.  What could God do through us if we sharpened our axe with prayer and asked God to do the impossible through us?

I Believe in Miracles – YouTube

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October 28, Friday

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The Strength of Joy — There are several expressions about emotions in this chapter, and they are centered around the Law of God.  First, was their respectful attitude of honoring God’s Word.  Their eagerness to participate in this public reading and teaching of Scripture is shown in that “both men and women” (v. 2) gathered together at an event that was required only for men.  The reading of the Law was honored by the elevated platform (v. 4), by the 13 leaders that stood there with Ezra, by the crowd standing as the book was opened (v. 5), and by their willingness to listen to its reading “from early morning until midday” (v. 2).  They were intensely interested in, focused on, and in awe of learning from this long-neglected Law of God.  Secondly, they had an emotional reaction to hearing the content of the Law.  They reacted by worshiping God with lifted hands and bowed heads (v. 6).  They reacted with tears (“…all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law”—v. 9), probably under conviction as their sinful history was revealed).  Having tears of repentance is good, but Ezra stressed the important subsequent emotion of the joy of restoration (“…the joy of the LORD is your strength”—v. 10).  They were also to “make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them” (v. 12).  How about you?  Has your daily reading and meditating on God’s Word caused you to rejoice?  I hope you have progressed past the idea of just completing a task every day, and have advanced to looking forward to what you are about to learn about God and His ways.  That is when the Word of God becomes a source of real joy for us.

Joy of the Lord – YouTube

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October 29 Saturday————————ACCOUNTABILITY TIME!

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Great Mercy — This is a great historical summary of the people of Israel, extending from the calling of Abraham to their return from exile in Babylon.  It reminds me of the historical sweep contained in Psalm 78 and in Stephen’s final speech in Acts 7.  This chapter in Nehemiah contains a great review of the wonderful attributes and actions of God in contrast to the weakness, sinfulness, and rebellion of His people.  Of the 23 attributes of God that I counted in this chapter, five of them mentioned God’s mercy, which emphasizes a core contrast between what is divine and what is human.  Judgment is the legitimate and natural response to human sinfulness, but God chose to have mercy on His people much more often than applying justice.  “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).  It would be good to ask this of ourselves: Am I more apt to be merciful toward others, or more judgmental?  Your honest answer would reveal much about your character and spiritual maturity.  Most of us need to grow in our merciful attitude, even toward those we love.  Ask God to make you more aware of how you think about and treat others in your biological family or church family.  Are you more critical than forgiving?  We all need to grow in becoming more merciful, like our great, merciful God.

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning – YouTube

ACCOUNTABILITY TIME!  If you are up to date in your reading as of October 29,
please click here or let me know today at accbibleread@gmail.com.

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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