Week Five: Being Faithful to Finish
As Nehemiah watched the wall rise in stature, we too are watching this building rise before our very eyes. Will we remain committed to seeing it through that God may be glorified and people will come to Him? How does all this tie in with faithfully living into our Baptismal Vows?
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 11
Now that God’s people have heard his word afresh and been called into covenant in their own generation, they are also called to fully populate Jerusalem. This stems from their being called into God’s Holy Land to dwell with Him. The leaders of the people were already there in Jerusalem, and now the general population would be represented there as well. They were also now in close enough proximity to support the Temple with their tithes and offerings of their time, talent, and treasure. We see Jerusalem being revived as a city, not by way of the wall, but by way of the people living within its walls. The people are called to live as God’s Holy people. Prayerfully consider God’s call upon your life in all its facets. How do you live into Romans 12:1: ”So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” as a form of living into God’s call upon you? Close with prayer in Psalm 48.
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 12
Nehemiah calls the priests and Levites to lead the worshipping community of Jerusalem in dedicating the reconstructed wall. He also sets up a means by which the Temple, worship leaders, and needs of the inhabitants will be met by initiating standards of giving for the community, setting up a system of interdependence. There is jubilation and praise rising from the city as worship is becoming a regular part of their lives. New norms are setting upon the people, the best of which is that they dwell safely under God’s blessings as they keep the covenant he has provided. What does interdependence mean to you? How do you see it as an instrument of God’s provision? What are the ways you are living into it? In what ways can your life, and the lives of those around you be enhanced by living interdependently with others, under the sovereignty of God? Prayerfully close with Psalm 97.
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 13
Things threaten to fall apart as God’s people fail to live into His covenant. The people are disobedient and allow themselves to be corrupted. Their faith deteriorates as a result, and they fall into habitual idolatry. This effects both the citizens and those serving in the Temple as they allow Tobiah into the Temple and suffer his plundering and desecration of God’s provision which came by way of His people. They also disregard the Sabbath as a Holy day unto the Lord. In short, Jerusalem is going the way of the sinful surrounding culture, and in so doing, going to hell. Needless to say, Nehemiah returns to find all this going on and strives to turn the people back to God and to faithfulness to His covenant. We don’t know the outcome in this story, but we know from history it doesn’t work out for the Jewish people as they are conquered and reconquered. How can we be fortified to remain faithful to God? How does the Holy Spirit empower us to live into our baptismal vows and thereby remain faithful disciples of Jesus? Pray for God’s fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit to be upon you and this church. Close with Psalm 27.
Scripture Reading: Mark 12:28-34
“The greatest of these is love” – the Bible brings all the law into focus through the lens of love. Jesus exemplified this, and Nehemiah knew that the covenant promises of the people must be lived into in order for them to enjoy the loving gifts God so desired to lavish upon them. God’s covenant was rooted in love and his people showed them how much they loved him by keeping their part of the covenant. The Temple in the midst of Jerusalem made possible the communication of God’s loving purposes to his people. Today, we are the Temple of God. The place where he dwells is in His Church. Not the buildings or even the institution, but the Body of Christ, His people who know and love Jesus as their savior and lord and love other people. And yet, the Church gives us a framework for living as the Body of Christ, and its buildings, our building, help give us an identity in this community from which we can be the Body of Christ to one another, and those who do not know Jesus. How do you think having a building will change how we are the Body of Christ? How can we use it to empower the ministries God has called us to serve into? How can we best open it up to welcome those who do not know Jesus? Close by praying 1 Corinthians 12:25-13:13.