God of Fire and Grace, You offer love that knows no bounds, and forgiveness that pardons my sins. You are worthy of praise.
Read NEHEMIAH 9:1–21
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Our God is not a distant deity, unaware of needs, hopes and dreams. Through Christ, he is approachable and reveals his compassion.
“To whom are these people praying?” I questioned various Buddhist and Shinto friends, as we wandered around temples in Japan and Taiwan. “The gods” was always the vague reply. Sadly, when I asked what the gods were like, my informants shrugged their shoulders. They didn’t know and it didn’t seem to matter, as long as they granted good luck. I grasped afresh the wonder of a personal God who has chosen to reveal himself to us.
Teamwork in construction under Nehemiah has led to a communal quest for recommitment to the God of their forebears. Acknowledging sorrowfully how far they have forgotten his ways, they hear the Torah read and pray out its words back to God. Surrounded as they are by nations who worship idols, including the stars, they lift their eyes to the everlasting God who made the constellations. It is this almighty Creator God, not the keenly felt rulers of Persia, to whom they owe ultimate allegiance. This righteous God picked their ancestor Abram, rescued his enslaved descendants, guided and fed their families in the wilderness and gave his decrees. With astonishing graciousness, God has revealed his character, his compassion and faithfulness in the unfolding history of their people. Even their disobedience has served to highlight his holiness and desire to forgive.
Idolatry is not an outdated memory today: there are real pressures to living in a society where pluralism jostles with secularism and agnosticism. We can be so grateful that our God is not an arbitrary force or an unfathomable philosophy. God has a face. Through the history of this particular people, culminating in Christ, he steps into the dusty, grimy world of fickle men and women. We can know him. We can experience his presence. We can trust his promises. In telling the story, his story, we praise him for his incomparable grace and power.
Recall times when you have known God’s guidance and provision. Thank him and be encouraged!
“Blessed be your glorious name, exalted above all blessing and praise! You’re the one; God, you alone…” (5,6, The Message).
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