Book of Nehemiah, part two

Today I’m closing out my look at the book of Nehemiah.  I really enjoyed this old testament book.  I love how versatile the Bible is.  Even though for this Bible study I just randomly chose the book of Nehemiah with no knowledge of the history surrounding it or the events of the books directly before or after it, there’s still so much wisdom and good stuff contained inside that I got a lot out of it.

Verses that jumped

As Nehemiah started work on the wall, people in the surrounding regions conspired to kill him. He outsmarted them all, however, and the rebuilding of the wall was finished in an incredible 52 days. Jerusalem started to get fully repopulated at this point. They start bringing in tribes and people work to rededicate themselves to keeping God’s laws and living for Him. In Chapter 9, the book speaks about the ways in which God’s people have strayed from Him over the years but how God was with them through it all.

Nehemiah 9:33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.

That verse really hit me hard. There’s such a disconnect between how God acts towards us and how we act towards Him sometimes. He loves, we hate. He forgives, we sin. It’s sort of sad when you really think about how many of our behaviors are exactly opposite of God’s, isn’t it? The goal should be to close the gap, I think. To make the differences between my behaviors and His as few as possible. And it’s so easy to think that, and it’s so easy to write that, but to live that is something else entirely. To walk the way Jesus does, to react like Jesus does, to love and forgive and understand like Jesus does, to put others first and ourselves last like Jesus does.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve come so far on my walk with God, and other times I read verses like the one above and I realize that I’ve got so far to go. It’ll probably always feel that way, I suppose. I just wish I was better at it all, you know? I hope this isn’t coming off negative, because I don’t mean it that way. But I want to be holy all the time, not just some of the time. I want to be righteous all the time, not just some of the time. I know I’ll never be perfect, and I know I’ll never be sinless, but I don’t ever want to relent in my quest for it. I think I did that recently, just took my foot off the gas pedal a little bit, and it felt terrible. You hear that stuff, about how narrow the path is that we walk, and it’s so true. Look to the side, or look behind you for a single moment, and you can be lost out in the woods. I’m so thankful for a loving God, a forgiving God, who reaches through the branches and pulls us back onto the path. I’m thankful that the failures of yesterday don’t reflect on the potential successes of today. Just like Nehemiah says in the verse above, he deals faithfully with us. I love God. I love being His follower, and His son, and I love the drive He’s placed in me to grow and mature and get better every day at being a representation of Him here on this earth. I love that I can look back on yesterday and recognize my shortcomings without letting them define me, without letting them drag me down. They can be an anchor that drags me under, or they can be a jumping off place for me to rise above, to reach the next level. They can be the first step in lessening that gap between God’s behaviors and my own.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Over my studies of the Bible I’ve found that I’ve got a fascination with the way books of the Bible end. I actually think I might right a book about it some day. Nehemiah is no different, as I really loved the final line of the writer.

Nehemiah 13:31 …Remember me, O my God, for good.

What a lovely sentiment. I don’t know for sure, but the way I read this final sentence wasn’t the writer asking God to remember them forever. I more got the sense they were saying “remember me fondly, remember me in a good light”. Either way, I just felt like it was a beautiful thought. I take advantage of the fact that God’s a being of infinite power. I just know for a fact that he would never forget me. But I think there’s a certain beauty in asking Him to remember me. It reminds me of how David would cry out to him in the Psalms. God already knew David’s heart, he didn’t need David’s reminder to look and find David worthy, yet so often David would make that his cry. Search me, Lord. Remember me, God. Hear me, O Lord. The Bible gives me so many examples of righteous people doing this, so I shouldn’t feel weird about reaching out in a personal way to my wonderful God. It’s something I’ve struggled with, because it felt a little selfish or something, but through Psalms and now Nehemiah I see that if you come at it with the right heart then it can be a beautiful thing. As a matter of fact, I’m going to do it publicly right now on this blog, even though that’s slightly terrifying.

Take special note of me, Lord, as I try to serve you through this blog, through music, and through my words and actions in life. Lord, strengthen me, embolden me, launch me to new heights and stretch me to new places so that I may spread the good news of your glory to even more people in this world. I thank you Lord, for loving me, for being patient and forgiving with me, for teaching me through my failures, for encouraging me so much through fellow believers, and for using me in any way you see fit. There are billions of other people on this planet, and yet you find ways to use me, and you take time to love me and get to know me, and I’m so humbled by that and I’ll never ever need any blessing bigger than that. I love you God, and I thank you so much.

CLOSING AND PRAYER

For prayers today, I want to encourage you to do what I just did.  Cry out to God like David did in the Psalms, ask Him to take note of you.  Take time to ask for a special blessing in your life.

The blog is off tomorrow before we close out the week on Thursday with a return to one of the subjects I struggle most with, the second coming of Jesus and the end of the age.  I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough with all of that and I’m excited to share that with you guys.

I love all of you, and the coolest thing in the whole world is that God, the creator of the universe, loves you too.

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