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Nehemiah 7:73-9:21 ~ 1 Corinthians 9:1-18
Psalm 33:12-22 ~ Proverbs 21:11-12
Old Testament - Powerful readings in Nehemiah today! Just to frame up for us the date of these readings, in chapter 8 verse 2 we are reading about October 8, 444 B.C. Verses 2 & 3 today tell us: "So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the scroll of the law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people paid close attention to the Book of the Law."
You'll note in verse 2 that we read about Ezra for the first time in the book of Nehemiah. And of course we just recently read the book of Ezra. Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries. Ezra was a priest and scribe - a religious leader - whereas Nehemiah was the governor - not a member of the religious establishment nor a prophet. However, it's important to note that Nehemiah was a layman who was very devoted to God! Nehemiah pursued God's will in a secular world. Do you suppose that you and I could learn something for our lives today from Nehemiah's devotion to God as a layperson? As a layperson, are you living your life fully devoted to God and pursuing God's will? Let us live like Nehemiah encourages us to live in chapter 8 verse 10 today! "Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!" What do you think Nehemiah meant here by saying the joy of the Lord is your strength? Today, in your life, is the joy of the Lord your strength? If not, will you pray to know the joy of the Lord as your strength?
New Testament - Wow. First Corinthians chapter 9 is an amazing look at Paul's passion for the Gospel! I think in this chapter Paul makes a very strong case for why we should support our local church. Verse 10 says - "Just as farm workers who plow fields and thresh the grain expect a share of the harvest, Christian workers should be paid by those they serve." Our pastors, priests, ministers deserve our support. Our local church deserves our support through our tithes. It is interesting in today's readings that Paul first lays out the case for "sharing our harvest" with Christian workers. But - Paul refuses this payment because he says in verse 12 - "Yet we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than put an obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ." That is powerful! Paul is not asking for nor expecting nor demanding payment or anything from those he serves, simply because he does not want to put up any obstacle in the way of the Gospel. Incredible. But again, remember this is the apostle Paul we are reading about here - your local church needs your tithe. How is your tithing to your church going these days? Are you consistently tithing to your church? Will you pray about what God would have you tithe to your church and other ministries and nonprofits?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "When a Right May Be Wrong" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 33 verse 12 today is awesome - "In him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in his holy name." Does your heart literally rejoice when you think about God? Do you trust in God's holy name?
Proverbs - Proverbs 21 verse 11 today is fascinating - "A simpleton can learn only by seeing mockers punished; a wise person learns from instruction." It makes me wonder how we learn things today? Do we learn by seeing others punished? Or, do we learn simply by instruction? I believe that by diving into the One Year Bible here, we are seeking to learn by instruction. Hopefully we are exhibiting some wisdom in doing this. :) And then I guess I think about folks that unfortunately end up in jail. Did they miss the boat on learning from instruction? Are they now only going to learn by seeing others punished? And even by seeing themselves punished? I don't know why I go toward people being in jail here. For some reason I occasionally wonder what is the difference between me and a person that ends up in jail? Or, what is the difference between me and a homeless person? Maybe this Proverb gives us some indication. Maybe - though I know it's more complex than just this Proverb. All this to say - I really don't think there is necessarily a huge difference between someone living a "normal" life versus someone who ends up in jail or homeless. I think there may be a finer line than we realize. And - in light of this - and more importantly in light of God's extravagant love for us, I believe we are called to love and serve those who are in jail or who are homeless. I know there are some great prison ministries out there. Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship comes to mind. And there are so many more. And of course there are some great shelters and programs to rehabilitate the homeless and help move them forward in their lives. Will you take the time to share your wisdom and blessings with someone in prison or on the streets? Will you teach them how they can learn from instruction instead of only learning from others (or themselves) being punished?
..."I was in prison and you came to me." Matthew 25:36
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!