STRAIGHT TO THE HEART
Gracious Lord, I need Your gift of clarity to sort out truth from falsehood, fact from fluff, the sincere from spin.
Read NEHEMIAH 7:73—8:12
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.
“In the study of the teachings of God’s Word, it should not surprise us if we often find our hearts spontaneously breaking forth in expressions of praise and delight” (Wayne Grudem).
Dressing on a sore, paint on a rusty fence, jokes in an awkward situation, food in a beggar’s hand: they relieve an immediate need but do not deal with the source of the problem. Bricks positioned around a city offer protection and teamwork builds community, but the greater divine project is incomplete unless God’s people return to their founding principles. Recognizing this, they ask Ezra, teacher and priest, to read them God’s Law.
Imagine a large public gathering with women and young people as well as men standing shoulder to shoulder, then kneeling and prostrating as one in worship. On their feet for six hours out of reverence for God’s Word, they listen intently as the ancient Law speaks to their present community, possibly following translation from Hebrew into everyday Aramaic. They respond with tearful grief, acknowledging how far they have strayed from God’s perfect design. Vivid images of demolished walls, a desecrated city and scattered people depict a smashed covenant amid many broken promises to their God. How beautiful that at the moment of heartfelt repentance, forgiveness is theirs! Soul-searching must not be an indulgence. Joy and feasting, sharing their bounty with the poor, reflect God’s smile on a people who are putting his will at the center of their community.
In our efforts to mop up all kinds of messes—physical and social, moral and emotional—it is always wise to give attention to deeper spiritual causes as well. Those who painstakingly translate and interpret God’s Word are invaluable. Those who faithfully speak God’s challenge and pardon as friends and mentors, preachers and pastors, artists and songwriters do us a great service. They remind us who we are in Christ and how he wants us to celebrate his life together.
What helps you most in hearing God speak to You, and why? Preachers/teachers (7,8)? Personal study? Small group?
Loving Lord, I thank You for all the ways You speak to me. Alert me to opportunities to share with others the joy I receive.
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