Thursday, July 26, 2018

Real change is an inside job

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Nehemiah 12-13; Psalm 52

“Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.” Nehemiah 12:43

Nehemiah completed the task he got leave from his job to do. Nehemiah 12 describes the dedication of the finished wall. It was a great celebration with  music, instruments, choirs and  sacrifices. Then Nehemiah went back to Babylon to work for Artaxerxes.

Sometime later, when Nehemiah returned to visit Jerusalem, he found, to his great dismay, that a lot of people had slipped back into their old ways.
  • Some of Israel’s enemies and critics had infiltrated the temple and leadership (Nehemiah 13:7,8; 28).
  • Since offerings were no longer being collected and stored for the Levites, they had to go back to farming to make a living (Nehemiah 13:10).
  • People were working on the Sabbath day (Nehemiah 13:15).
  • Gentile merchants were allowed into the city to set up markets on the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:16).
  • The people were again intermarrying with their idol-worshiping neighbours and forgetting or not even learning the language of Israel (Israel 13:23,24).

And so Nehemiah had to clean up again (Nehemiah 13:30,31). His zeal for obedience and holiness is a testimony of how much he feared and respected God and cared for the well-being of the people.

This passage leaves us with some thoughts to apply to our lives.
1. The rebuilt wall that was meant to set Jerusalem apart from its pagan neighbours was ineffective because the people’s hearts, from the religious and political leaders down, had not changed. Real change is effective only when it starts from inside.

2. Nehemiah’s zeal in building the wall in the first place and then his coming back and putting things right shows a respect and fear of God that we seem to have lost in our after-the-cross church era. Though we don’t fear God’s judgment as Old Testament people of faith did, God hasn’t changed. I sometimes wonder whether our casual attitude toward sin might be putting us on a more dangerous path than we realize.

Dear Father, change me from the inside so that my heart is to do Your will, because I love You and regard You with a realistic respect and fear. Amen.
Psalm 52

  Change Me on the Inside

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

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