dailybiblereader2012

Putting God's Word into Practice…

Notes from Nehemiah (Chapter 12:27-43)

God loves a good celebration–joy, thanksgiving, singing and a band!  It was time for the Israelites to dedicate their wall built with the help and strength of the Lord.

And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and they purified the people and the gates and the wall. Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. (vs. 30-31)  After a day of intense manual labor, I would take a shower before going to a party.  If I didn’t, I might spend the whole time avoiding people, justifying my smell, feeling insecure, lonely and embarrassed.  I wouldn’t have fun and my host might be disappointed.  Similarly, before the celebration was the purification.  A clear conscience always paves the way for true joy.  The people needed to prepare themselves to be in God’s presence where fullness of joy is found (Psalm 16:11).

This party was not for the people’s gratification; it was solely for the Lord!  It was a party of thanks.  Great choirs stood on the wall surrounding the city.  Trumpets blasted!  Instruments bellowed!!  And people sang with all their hearts.  This week  we attended my middle son’s Christmas program at school. When I tried to picture this celebration in Nehemiah’s day, I pictured the kids in the program on the risers singing with all the volume their beaming faces could muster.  My son happened to be the one kid who was trying to out-sing everyone.  He was whole-heartedly celebrating.  Now picture that kind of rejoicing times thousands of people.  This is what it says in Nehemiah 12:43:  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.

God not only gave them supernatural strength to rebuild the wall, but He also transformed their hearts and lives with His amazing power.  This caused their joy to overflow.  And it didn’t just impact them, their joy was heard far away–impacting everyone around them.

God has given us cause for great joy too!  In Luke 2:10-11 an angel said, “I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  God has the power to transform our lives by this Savior–Jesus!  This Christmas let’s allow the good news of GREAT JOY to cause a celebration in our lives that rings out and impacts everyone around us!

Let it start this morning!  I hope our churches are filled with praises that shake the building and cause the neighbors to hear our joy!!

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Notes from Nehemiah (Chapter 12:44-47)

The role of priest was all-consuming.  They served and ministered day and night.  The people depended on them for so much.  In God’s perfect wisdom, He provided a way for their financial and physical needs to be met.  Out of the tithes and offerings of the people they ministered to, a portion was given to each who served.

The people did not give out of obligation, but out of joy.  This, I’m sure, encouraged the hearts of their ministers.

“For all the people of Judah took joy in the priests and Levites and their work!”

Think about your pastors.  Do you take joy in their work?  Do you find giving joyful, knowing a portion will meet your pastors’ families’ needs?  God is using your generosity to care for His servants!

Going a little deeper:  What was the work that the priests did that the people took joy in?  The “ministry of purification.”  Their job was to help the people maintain purity before their God.  We have ministers who serve in small ways in that capacity, but we have Someone even better.  We have a great High Priest named Jesus! Hebrews 7:24-25 says, “But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore, He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” In 9:13-14 it says, “Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. JUST THINK HOW MUCH MORE THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WILL PURIFY OUR CONSCIENCES FROM SINFUL DEEDS SO THAT WE CAN WORSHIP THE LIVING GOD.”  And finally, in Hebrews 10:21-22 it promises, “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”

Do you rejoice over the work of your great High Priest-Jesus?  Are you thankful that because He shed His own blood as a sacrifice for your sins and is ministering day and night on your behalf, that you are pure before the Father and can confidently worship in His presence?

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