This has been a rather full week for me and yet I am thankful to have had time to continue my annual Bible read through. I am finishing up the book of Jeremiah and at the same time mid-way through a summer study of Nehemiah. It is so interesting to be reading about Nehemiah and the Jews rebuilding the walls and returning from exile at the same time I am reading about Jeremiah prophesying God’s word to King Zedekiah and the people. Interesting and extremely sad.
Time and again, Jeremiah tells the King to surrender and all will be well. He warns him to submit to God’s sending of the Chaldean’s as a measure of discipline for the waywardness of His people. But when the Babylonian army breaks through, the King and his closest people flee. The army captures them, kills his family in front of him, gouges out his eyes and then burns the city of Jerusalem to the ground.
Now I understand that surrendering to the invading powers would not have been a walk in the park. But God gave specific and clear instructions numerous times to submit to the discipline and things would end better. Obedience to God would mean a different outcome to Zedekiah personally and to his subjects. However; choices made brought consequences to an entire nation and devastating results to Zedekiah’s story.
I can’t help but think about the situations we are facing right now. It would seem that God has pulled back His hand of prosperity and protection from our nation. Will we seek His direction in how to live obediently through a time of great trial and testing as a nation? Or will we, like Zedekiah, refuse. I am not speaking to the powers that be in the world system here. I am speaking to those who call themselves God’s people through the redemption of Jesus Christ.
He has great advice for how to live in these times. Will we heed it, or flee because we think we know better?
Next week on the blog, I will be doing the annual VBS and we will look at some of the things God has spoken to guide us through times like this.
This week has provided some extra time to catch up on the Nehemiah study, so it seems my thoughts continue to center around sharing some nuggets mined from the depths of Kelly Minter’s summer offering thought Lifeway.
While the videos that are provided with this special series are current, the material in the guide is copywriter dated in 2012. I had to double check because I keep thinking she wrote it as this year of 2020 has been unfolding.
This morning she was talking about imagining what it was like for the Jews to be deported – leaving behind everything familiar to them. Their customs and traditions – all the things that made up their daily life and seasons.
As I read her words I couldn’t help penning in the margin, “We are kind of there.” Our daughter’s family, like the rest of the country, are making hard decisions about the coming school year. Teachers, administrators and staff are working out all kinds of possible ways to educate children online and in class.
While we would be registering and wondering who teachers are, perusing the school supplies and starting to adjust sleep schedules to accommodate the upcoming transition, all is in flux.
The buzz is about not judging choices made by others. Some parents are working around work and family members who need to be protected from exposure due to immunity issues. And all of this is happening knowing that in a heartbeat the well calculated plans may get shut down. Literally.
We just don’t know. And to be honest, we are not good with unknowns. We like to “know” and by “know” we mean, not only be well-informed but be omniscient. We want to have all the information and make everything work the way we want it to work.
But it is times like these that remind us – we never really knew…we aren’t meant to be omniscient…we are not in control.
Trust and obey…live in the times you are placed in. Build relationships, love well, give generously and do what you can do leave the rest in the hands of God <3
Much to do today so a quick thought gleaned from Nehemiah study yesterday. While it is quick and brief, it packs a punch that is hard to take and knocks the breath out of me a bit.
At the end of Chapter Six the repairs of the wall around Jerusalem has been completed in a mere 52 days. Nehemiah still has some fine details to wrap up; like installing the doors in the gates and rebuilding the houses so people can actually move back into the city.
His nemesis from the beginning of the project, a fellow named Tobiah was still working hard to discourage him even though it was clear that God had helped the Jews do a nearly impossible task in record time. But the shocker is, this man from Samaria has help and it is coming from the Jewish nobles.
It would seem Tobiah had married into the family and made some friends who were willing to team up with him to intimidate Nehemiah. They possibly liked what Tobiah could do for them economically. The nobles of the area were writing letters to Nehemiah telling about all the good things Tobiah had done and Tobiah was writing letters to intimidate Nehemiah from finishing.
In the study, Kelly Minter pointed out that these letters would be the equivalent of our texts, emails and social media posts. As I was studying this yesterday and taking it in, I noted in the margin of my Bible that I need to remember not everyone who is in the faith community is at odds with those who are opposed to God’s plan, will and the callings He places on leaders. Others who would seem to be on the same team as me have agendas that God’s plan may interfere with
Kelly puts it like this:
“Good deeds, whatever they may be, never trump a heart that deceives, mocks or uses intimidation.”
Kelly Minter, Nehemiah a Heart that can Break; Lifeway Press 2012, pg 83
I want to make sure my heart is aligned with my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to make sure I don’t get confused and assign “godliness” to the good works of someone and become deceived by a leader whose heart is not set on what God’s heart is set on. And I want to make sure my own heart is guarded against that which would compromise what I know to be true, nor to cower when intimidated by anyone or anything that distracts me from God’s clear calling.
I pray we will have discernment and focus as we walk out this journey <3