Nehemiah 9:22-10:39 ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13 ~ Psalm 34:1-10 ~ Proverbs 21:13
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Old Testament - Today in Nehemiah chapter 9 we wrap up the wonderful prayer of the Levites that began in yesterday's readings! This prayer is a fantastic overview of God's grace and discipline to the Israelites.
Today in Nehemiah chapter 10 we read the vows of the people, including these in verses 30 & 31: "We promise not to let our daughters marry the pagan people of the land, nor to let our sons marry their daughters. We further promise that if the people of the land should bring any merchandise or grain to be sold on the Sabbath or on any other holy day, we will refuse to buy it. And we promise not to do any work every seventh year and to cancel the debts owed to us by other Jews." Related to the concept of the Sabbath in our modern world today, I recently came across a nice review of Bruce Ray's book titled "Celebrating the Sabbath: Finding Rest in a Restless World" at this link. Has anyone read this book? Reviews? Anyone have any other good books about the Sabbath you can recommend in the Comments section below? Thanks.
New Testament - These are some of my favorite teachings of Paul's today in First Corinthians chapter 9 verses 24 through 27! "Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." The amazing thing about these words is that they are timeless. Paul wrote these words nearly 2,000 years ago and they still ring so true today. We still run races today. We still have athletes. We still win prizes. We still have boxers. I think so often in our world today we hear people in business or other fields use sports analogies. Well, here is Paul using a sports analogy for faith! :) I love it. Please take a moment to re-read these verses above again. Meditate for a few moments on the words. What do they say to you? Do you believe you are in a race for an eternal prize? Do you want the eternal prize? Are you disciplining your very life with purpose in your every step? How are you running the race today? Are you running to win?
First Corinthians 10 starts of with a few amazing verses that I haven't really caught before. Verses 2-4 - "As followers of Moses, they were all baptized in the cloud and the sea. And all of them ate the same miraculous food, and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ." I love it! The Israelites were baptized in the cloud and the Red Sea; ate the miraculous manna; and drank the water from the miraculous rock that Moses struck - and this rock that traveled with them was none other than Jesus! This is a beautiful testimony that Jesus Christ was, is, and forever shall be.
First Corinthians 10 today ends in verses 12 and 13 with some powerful words of warning and encouragement that each of us should always remember - particularly in our darkest hours - "If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it." Do you believe that you should always be careful to not fall into sin? Particularly if you feel you are "standing strong?" Do you realize that temptations will come into your life? But, most importantly, do you realize that God will show you a way out of the temptations, so you will not give into them? Will you pray fervently to God and Jesus to show you the way out when temptation comes your way?
Psalms - Psalm 34 verse 9 in the NIV reads: "Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing." What does fearing God mean to you? Do you think that fearing God is a good or bad thing? Why? Do you think it is possible to both love God and fear God at the same time? What do you think of when you hear the word "saints"? Do you believe that you are a saint? Do you want to be a saint? Are you acting like a saint? Do you believe that those who fear God lack nothing? Why would this be? Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 34 titled "The Fear of the Lord" at this link.
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 21 verse 13 we read – “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Do you believe this Proverb is true? Do you truly understand and realize that there are poor in the world today? Do you know in your heart and mind that there are over 1.2 billion people in our world today living in abject poverty (living on less than $1 / day). Do you believe they are crying out? Are you listening to their cry? And how are you responding? Are you responding to the poor today like you would want God to respond to you if you were crying out? I’ll leave you with this powerful quote from Mother Teresa – “Do we share with the poor, just like Jesus shared with us?" Do we? Do you?
YouTube: I'm having big time internet connection issues today at the beach, so I haven't been able to search YouTube for a Worship video. However, I did come across this video below about www.KIVA.org. This is a PBS/Frontline video about KIVA's work in Uganda. Just a quick personal testimony on KIVA - I've loaned money out to the working poor to start businesses using their website - always in $25 increments to play it safe - and I've already had several loans paid back in full! Being a microfinancier is a wonderful thing to dive into! I hope you'll join me. World Vision and many international relief orgs are using microfinance loans to great success.
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