Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012 … They Had Church!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 272

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 8-10 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Psalm 126 [NLT] To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 11: 1-4 : [NLT] … {Nehemiah also had to play the roll of city manager and mayor in Jerusalem. And in this chapter the names of those moving to the city from outlying areas was documented.} 1 Now the leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city, at this time. A tenth of the people from the other towns of Judah and Benjamin were chosen by sacred lots to live there, too, while the rest stayed where they were. 2 And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem. … 3 Here is a list of the names of the provincial officials who came to Jerusalem. Most of the people, priests, Levites, Temple servants, and descendants of Solomon’s servants continued to live in their own homes in the various towns of Judah, 4 but some of the people from Judah and Benjamin resettled in Jerusalem. 
 Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 12: 1: 27; 30; 43 : [NLT] … {Celebration of the wall being completed was documented.} 1 Here is the list of the priests and Levites who had returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the high priest: [names of priests listed]. … 
27 During the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levites throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, lyres, and harps. … 
30 The priests and Levites first dedicated themselves, then the people, the gates, and the wall. …  
[At the time of the dedication of the walls surrounding the Temple and the Holy City.} 43 Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 13: 26-27; 30-31 : [NLT] … {After returning to Judah to fulfill his promise to Artaxerxes, Nehemiah, discovered that the people had fallen back into unGodly, sinful practices, which he took immediate proactive steps to deal with such practices in their culture.} 26 “Wasn’t this exactly what led King Solomon of Israel into sin?” I demanded. “There was no king from any nation who could compare to him, and God loved him and made him king over all Israel. But even he was led into sin by his foreign wives. 27 How could you even think of committing this sinful deed and acting unfaithfully toward God by marrying foreign women?” … 
 30 “So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and Levites, making certain that each knew his work. 31 I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar was brought at the proper times and that the first part of the harvest was collected for the priests. Remember this in my favor, O my God.” 

Cross Reference Passage: Hebrews 10: 25 : [NLT] And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. 

My Journal for Today: This morning I finish out the last three chapters in the Book of Nehemiah as well as Psalm 126, which expressed the joy that the third wave of Jews coming back to Jerusalem experienced. And in reading these chapters, I was struck by the joy expressed by Nehemiah (and likely Ezra, his priest/scribe) as they facilitated and witnessed the people back living their lives in Jerusalem and worshipping, individually and corporately, in the Temple.

As we southern Christians often say about a rousing worship experience, “They had church!” … and that means the people found the joy that comes when they obey God and do life His way as well as what it’s like when God’s people come together into a joy-filled and even a music-filled worship environment. And these people, especially the faithful and obedient Jews, had come back to their roots of worship, with music and songs being played … just like in the days of David, the musician king who reveled in personal and corporate worship. Yes, … THEY HAD CHURCH!

But then, Nehemiah, fulfilling his promise – after about a dozen years of being in Jerusalem – returned to Susa in Persia for a season, followed by a second return later to Jerusalem, with the Persian king’s permission, to live and be the Governor in Jerusalem again. And what did he find? He found the people falling back into their old patterns of inter-marriage and selfish/ungodly worship. UGH!!! Why can’t mankind get God’s message and faithfully stay involved, the way God desires for us, in Spirit-led living and worship?

And the answer to that can be found in Isaiah 53: 6 and Romans 3: 23. We’re all sinners – by nature – and when we leave ourselves open to our nature, we will default back to the flesh … almost every time. Hence, mankind needs to have self-established modes and mechanisms of accountability and corporate patterns of worship. And that’s why I’ve cited the cross-reference passage above from Hebrews 10: 24-25. Go back and read and meditate on that passage as well as today’s readings; and I think you’ll agree with me that we all – and I’m certainly one – need to have help from our fellow believers to live for God and worship Him with our lives.

And do I sense a pretty loud ”AMEN!” ?? 

My Prayer Today: … Amen, Lord, … AMEN!!

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