#DailyDevotion Our Father Is Going To Perfect His Love In You

#DailyDevotion Our Father Is Going To Perfect His Love In You

1Co 13:4-13  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  (5)  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  (6)  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  (7)  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (8)  Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  (9)  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  (10)  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  (11)  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  (12)  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  (13)  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I think we often just pass up what Paul is saying here and we get emotive because he mentions love here a fair amount in a short period of time. When applying these descriptions of love to ourselves we may find ourselves coming up short also and feel terribly guilty (as we probably should). Remember this, 1Jn 4:16” So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Our love, our living out this love starts with believing God is love and God loves us in Christ Jesus. If you do not believe God loves you, you will not be manifesting the love Paul here describes.

Yet if you do believe God loves you for Christ’s sake and you think you do not come close, fear not. Paul ends this section, “we know in part and prophecy in part,” “we see in a mirror dimly,” “I know in part, then I shall know fully…” You will not love fully as God loves you, yet. Love is part of the divine nature. Peter writes, 2Pe 1:4 “..,through them [great and precious promises] you may become partakers of the divine nature,…” The promises are the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. He promises us his righteousness and justification through faith in Jesus. He promises a resurrection to eternal life when we put our trust in Jesus. And as many are the promises of God, when the Holy Spirit forms faith in us to believe them, the promises make us partakers of the divine nature.

God our Father will perfect his love in us. Paul tells us here, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” The Father fully knows us and fully loves us. When Jesus is revealed on the last day then we will know fully and love fully even as we have been known and loved fully by God our Father. But as it is, as God has his way with us, we will begin to love as God loves because we are his children. We have his Holy Spirit. So Paul’s gracious words will begins to be fulfilled in us as we believe the Father’s love for us. We will be patient and kind, not envy or boast,  not be arrogant or rude, not insist on our own way, not be irritable or resentful, will not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth;  we will bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; we will have eternal life. We will do these things in part in this life. In the next life we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. (1Jn 3:2)

Heavenly Father, your great love for us in Christ Jesus transforms us from unbelievers to believers, from condemned to justified, from being children of the devil to your beloved children. May your great love for us transform us this day and every to love our fellows as you have loved us so we may be manifest to the world as your children in this world and more perfectly in the next. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Love With The Love Of God

#DailyDevotion Love With The Love Of God

1Co 12:31-13:3…And I will show you a still more excellent way.  (13:1)  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  (2)  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  (3)  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Paul has been in this letter talking about divisions. There were all sorts of divisions in the congregation. It seemed if you could be divided over something then well they were divided over it. In this last section the division stressed was divisions over gifts and which ones were better and the like. Paul had taken that to show Jesus is the Lord, the Spirit is the one in charge of gifts and we were to make they were using those gifts to serve and build up one another. Paul encourages them to seek the greater gifts and those were the ones which they served the most people.

Paul is now pointing us and them to a more excellent way. He picks up on the previous theme of gifts. The Corinthians were pitting one gift against another. If one had the gift of tongues that was best. If one had prophecy, that was the best. If one had the gift of knowledge, wisdom and insight, well that was the best. You get the idea.

Yet through all this, after each gift mentioned Paul says, “If I don’t have love, I am nothing. I gain nothing. I am a noisy gong.” Well that sets things in perspective doesn’t it? So if you have some amazing talents or gifts and you even used them to be of service to your fellowman and fellow church member, if love is lacking in the use of them, well it doesn’t matter a whole hill of beans.

But what sort of love is Paul talking about? I love pizza. I don’t think that is what he is talking about. I love football. Still not the same thing. I love my wife. Well that might be getting closer but even unbelieving pagans and atheists love their spouses as well. So what is this love that Paul is talking about?

It is the love God has for man. It is a love that sacrifices his own son for the salvation of those who hate him, for those who are his enemies, for those who do not trust in him. It is the love show us in Christ Jesus on the cross, who would suffer the agony and suffering so that we who do not fear, love and trust in him might be saved.

So what does this love look like in our lives as Christians? It forgives those who sin against us. It shows mercy to those who do not deserve it. It is seeking the good and betterment of those who hate you and want to harm you. This love seeks to honor others more than oneself. It treats others as if they are more deserving than oneself. It seeks to good of others for their sake and not for oneself.

This is the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus. It is the love he expects us to show to others. Will you add love to your using your gifts today?

Almighty, All-loving God and Father, you have shown us your great love for us in the sacrifice of your son Jesus Christ. Grant unto us your grace and faith that we too may show this love for other people we encounter today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Word Of Promise Will Sustain You

#DailyDevotion The Word Of Promise Will Sustain You

Jer 1:17-19  But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.  (18)  And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.  (19)  They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

Can you imagine going about your business as a priest and the Lord comes to you and gives you this message. With all the descriptions the Lord is giving Jeremiah, fortified city, iron pillar, bronze walls, you know the job he is calling you to will not be easy. You see what sort of shape Judah is in. Your job as priest is hanging on by a thread because the people, rulers, princes and king have already thrown away the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah and have turned to other gods. Now the Lord has called you to preach to them a message they will not want to hear. He has given you words which will call down their wrath and displeasure upon you. They will be fighting you every step of the way. Yet, if you get dismayed by all this the Lord says he will dismay you before them.

There are probably no shortage of pastors who have felt this way. Few are the persons who call themselves Christian who like to hear the word-repent! Everyone wants to follow their owns ways and do what is right in their eyes and they will find every justification for doing so.

Now these words to Jeremiah are not given to every Christian or every preacher to bear, well except for preach the word and do not fear what men will do to you. However, Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah. Jesus is called to dress himself for work in his baptism. He was given the Father’s word to speak to the Jews everything the Father commanded of him.

Jesus indeed must have been fortified with these words to Jeremiah the prophet as Jesus had spoken them to Jeremiah as the Word of God. So now the Lord in human flesh, as the prophet of the Lord takes these words to heart, “behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.” We can see this as Jesus interacts with the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. We see it as Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin, Herod and Pilate. He will not be moved.

For while they fought against Jesus, brought Jesus to the cross and the grave, the Lord was with Jesus to deliver Jesus. On the third day, the Lord indeed delivered Jesus from the dead and resurrected Jesus bodily. So now in similar fashion our Lord Jesus Christ encourages you as you face the world and all it has to throw at you, Mat 10:28-32 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell…  (30)  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered…So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,…” Again we are told, Heb 13:6 “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”’

Gracious God and Father, even as you upheld Jeremiah the prophet and our Lord Jesus Christ with your word of promise, give us your Holy Spirit that we too may be comforted and emboldened with your word of promise and persevere in faith unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Left Us With His Word

#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Left Us With His Word

Jer 1:4-10  Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  (5)  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  (6)  Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  (7)  But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  (8)  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”  (9)  Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.  (10)  See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

We don’t have a whole lot of instances which show a prophet’s call. Here we have Jeremiah’s call from God. Jeremiah was a young Levite priest. Most men’s calls into the ministry are mediate i.e. through a congregation, and not immediate as we see here. Now the Lord is preparing Jeremiah for a pretty difficult call. His call is indeed one of the hardest. For he will be one of the last prophets to call the nation of Judah to repentance before the Lord sends them into exile. No one generally likes to be called to repentance. Just look at the world today when we point out and call people to repent of their immorality. The response to it, “Don’t judge me!” Which is soon followed by lots of judging by those who say it and hatred.

So the Lord encourages Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  God most definitely had a plan for Jeremiah. We should be hesitant to make this applicable to all people in all situations. Perhaps this would be a better text for that: Pro 16:9  “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” No, this is a particular calling for Jeremiah. It establishes his word to Judah and to us. He is a prophet to the nations.

Now Jeremiah objects because he is but a youth. The Lord will have nothing of it. As he responded to a similar objection by Moses, it is the Lord who gives men speech and he will place his words on the prophets mouth. He comforts Jeremiah with the promise, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Indeed, while Jeremiah gets into a number of jams, people putting him in pits naked, people wanting and trying to kill him, the Lord preserved the life of the prophet all his days. Jeremiah is given the power, the authority over nations and kingdoms, “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” And this the Lord worked through him.

So what does this have to do with you? Just this, Jeremiah’s word proved true. His words concerning Judah and Babylon but also concerning Jesus, the Messiah are true. You can read them and have faith in those words. Also just as the Lord promised to be with Jeremiah, Jesus has made a promise to you, Heb 13:5 …“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And again, Mat 28:20 …”And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Heavenly Father, you called the prophet Jeremiah and give him your word. Give us eyes that read and ears that hear all he has told us that we may repent of our sins and trust in your Jesus Christ unto eternity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Rejoice In Jesus While You Still Can

#DailyDevotion Rejoice In Jesus While You Still Can

Luk 4:22-31  And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  (23)  And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”  (24)  And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.  (25)  But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land,  (26)  and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  (27)  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  (28)  When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.  (29)  And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.  (30)  But passing through their midst, he went away.  (31)  And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee.

Verse 22 is kind of strange here. On the surface it looks like they are happy to hear what Jesus has been preaching. They are marveling at his gracious words. And then this happens, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” Their familiarity with Jesus causes them to reject him and his message. Instead of rejoicing that one of their own, from their hometown was the Messiah and the Lord had sent him to them, their eyes and ears become closed to him.

Jesus sees this and lets them know that he understands their rejection. A prophet  is not accepted in his hometown. Now the next few verses are important because we are in Epiphany season. Epiphany starts off with Jesus being revealed to the gentiles. Jesus begins listing off all of the places and times different prophets had ministered to gentiles and not to Israel (and Israel at that time had fallen away in faith). The gentiles received the prophets and their words while Israel did not.

What is Jesus getting at? He is in effect letting the Jews there at Nazareth they are no better than their ancestors who rejected him in ancient Israel as they are now rejecting him in the flesh. Indeed not only Nazareth but the Jews in Jerusalem would end up following the path of their fathers in rejecting Jesus, the Lord, as their king and would crucify him. The Nazareens became outraged and intended to throw Jesus off the cliff. It wasn’t Jesus’ time. They would get their chance to kill him with the Jew in Judea at the appropriate time.

We should remember that majority of the early Church was Jewish. Even many of the priests who had rejected Jesus before the crucifixion become believers after the resurrection. But as Paul tells us in Romans, a hardening has come upon the Jews so God may have mercy on you. Branches have been cut off to make room for you wild olive branches in the olive tree of Israel. The Lord Jesus has sent out his people to the gentiles (non-Jews) to let them know salvation, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection from the dead in Jesus’ name, freedom from our guilt and shame is ours to be had through the free gift of Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the good news and be glad in it. Do not be like the unbelieving Jews who marveled at Jesus’ gracious words and then rejected him. Marvel, rejoice and give thanks for them lest Jesus pass on his way and goes somewhere else bringing his word with him.

Heavenly Father, grant us your grace that we not only marvel at the gracious words of Jesus but also trust and believe them so we too may receive and enter into the year of the Lord’s favor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion It’s The Year Of The Lord’s Favor

#DailyDevotion It’s The Year Of The Lord’s Favor

Luk 4:16-21  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  (17)  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,  (18)  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  (19)  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (20)  And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  (21)  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Well Jesus had fairly just earlier started his ministry. He was baptized by John and started preaching, teaching and gathering disciples. He had just turned water into wine at a wedding nearby. So now he had come to his hometown and as was his custom he went to synagogue on the Sabbath. Now I’m not totally informed on synagogue customs but it appears he is recognized as being a rabbit as they invite Jesus to read from the appointed lesson for the day and to speak on it.

On this day it happened to be the text from Isaiah. Jesus having read it tells them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Now this would be awesome if it were true. Israel was hoping for this day to come

In fact, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism. Starting at that point he began his ministry proclaiming the kingdom of God was at hand, to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and to believe the good news. We will see Jesus healing the blind, opening the ears of the death and the mouths of the mute. He heals the lame.  To those oppressed by demon possession and affliction he give them liberty. To those bound up by the guilt of their sins he gives remission of those sins. He is proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. Now under the law of Moses, every seven years debts were cancelled, slaves were given the opportunity to be free and on the fiftieth year that plus lands would be reverted back to the original owners. But this thing Jesus proclaims is even greater because it is on the spiritual realm.

For in Jesus and by his proclamation we who were slaves to sin and the fear of death are set free from that slavery. We who have been oppressed by the devil and his minions are relieved from that. Where we once did not understand the scriptures and were blind to their meaning he has given us his light. Where we were death to hearing his word he has opened our ears that we might believe and trust in it. The Spirit with which was anointed he anoints us with in his baptism. Finally, the world which has been under the dominion of Satan, it shall be given to us and place back under our dominion at his second advent.

Heavenly Father, grant us ears and eyes that believe Jesus is your promised anointed one and continually free us from our bondage of sin and death, to the praise and glory of your Son Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion We Are Each Important Members of Christ

#DailyDevotion We Are Each Important Members of Christ

Tiffany Melgi

1Co 12:12-20  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  (13)  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  (14)  For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  (15)  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  (16)  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  (17)  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  (18)  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  (19)  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  (20)  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

God is one and his followers are also one for they are one in the body of Christ. Each Christian who has been baptized and has faith in Jesus is part of his mystical body. The Corinthians were doing their best to be divided. There were those who thought they were superior because of their gifts. Some of the wealthy one did not treat the poorer ones with the kindness and love of Christ. Some apparently from this text thought they didn’t need anyone else.

Paul says no to all of that. Your body has many members, feet, eyes, ears, arms, legs and the like. In similar fashion the body of Christ has leaders, workers, workers of mercy, the poor, the disables, the rich, pew sitters, Easter and Christmas members and the like. Each of these have the same Spirit. All have been baptized into Christ. One member is not more baptized into Christ and one is not baptized less. Jewish Christians aren’t any more Christ’s body than non-Jewish ones. American Christians are not more of Christ’ body than European, Oriental or African ones. Republican Christians are not more part of Christ’ body than Democrat, Libertarian or non-affiliated Christians.

We all drink of the same Spirit. What does it mean to drink of the Spirit? It means to listen, learn, meditate on, inwardly digest and all around let the free gift of salvation for Jesus’ sake be the basis, foundation, walls, roof, yard, fence in other words it should be the whole of our life. None of us can say, because of this, we don’t belong or someone else doesn’t belong (not counting those who have gone into apostasy or mortal sin [not that they can’t repent]). It is Jesus who has called us and them through the Spirit, i.e. the message of salvation.

If Christ has placed a person in his body that person is important to the body. Not everybody can be an eye, or nose, or neck or hands, fingers toes etc.. Each person is chosen by Jesus to play a particular part. We shouldn’t look down on people who don’t have our part. You certainly can invite them to join in your part but maybe Jesus has a different purpose for them than you do. It is God who puts each Christian in his body as he chooses. Who are you to question God or make someone feel bad because of the part the Lord has chosen for them in his body? Let us give thanks they are part of the body and seek how we may edify them in their respective parts.

Gracious God, heavenly Father, we thank you that you through baptism have made us part of the body of Christ. Grant us unto the grace to rejoice in our place in the body, to do our part and grace to rejoice in others for their part of the body they serve and help us to build them up in their part. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Be Quiet And Do Not Grieve

#DailyDevotion Be Quiet And Do Not Grieve

Neh 8:8-11  They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.  (9)  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.  (10)  Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  (11)  So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.”

When the Jews heard and understood all that the Lord their God had done for them and what he required of them, they mourned over their sins. Their fathers had rejected the Lord as their God or as their exclusive God. They had broken the Sabbath. They trusted false gods. They oppressed the widow, the orphan, the poor and the foreigner at the gate. They had offered up their children to idols who cannot help. So they were broken of heart and spirit.

It’s hard not to feel that way when we listen to Jesus explain to us the meaning of the commandments in his sermon on the mount and on the plain. Who hasn’t lusted in their heart? Who has never been angry and called someone something unpleasant? Who has always extended their hand to the poor? Who hasn’t retaliated or wanted to retaliate? If you can meditate either sermon and not be convicted of heart you are either lying to yourself or you are self-righteous.

But Ezra and Nehemiah have good news for the Jews then and for us today. It was a great day for them for they had the Word of Lord back again. They were in Jerusalem. The temple was being repaired. The festivals would be restored. The Lord had mercy on them as they were preserved from destruction and had returned to Jerusalem. It was a holy day to the Lord.  No more mourning. It was time for rejoicing. They were to have festival. The Lord wanted them to eat the fat (which was normally forbidden to them; it belonged to the Lord) and drink sweet wine. He wanted to make sure those who had nothing ready were provided for. He didn’t want them to grieved because the joy of Lord is their strength.

Perhaps we should remember that, particularly on Sundays as we gather to hear God’s Word, receive the forgiveness of our sin in the absolution, the lessons, the sermon and the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps as we receive the blessing of the Lord at the end of the service we too should go forth remember the joy of Lord is our strength. We should invite someone over who has less than us and prepare a rich feast so we both can rejoice in the Lord and all his benefits to us. For what the Jews on that day received was just a shadow of the things to come. We have received the fullness of that gift in Christ Jesus. While we are like the Jews in Babylon in exile here in this age and we look forward to be gathered together in the New Jerusalem, the Zion from heaven above never the less we have seen and heard the fulfillment of all the Lord has promised us in Christ Jesus.

If we are distressed by the world, if our hearts and spirits have been broken, let the words of the Levites speak to you today, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” For the Lord has come down to us and taken our sins, our grief, our suffering and shame on the cross and has buried it in the tomb. For Jesus’ sake you are acceptable to our Father in heaven.

Heavenly Father, when our sins and iniquities weigh us down with guilt, speak your word of forgiveness for the sake of Christ. Always provide for us those who can understand and explain your Word to us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Let Us Bless The Lord And Hear His Word

#DailyDevotion Let Us Bless The Lord And Hear His Word

Neh 8:1-3  And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel.  (2)  So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month.  (3)  And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Neh 8:5-7  And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.  (6)  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.  (7)  Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places.

So Judah had just spent seventy years in Babylon. While some of the exiles gathered regularly to hear God’s Word especially the Torah (the first five books) many apparently did not. Having returned to Jerusalem the people were gathered and they wanted to hear the Book of the Law of Moses. Having done so, he brought it before the people and read it to them. It took at least 4 to 6 hours to read. Unlike some people today they were able to pay attention past ten to twenty minutes most people are able to pay attention (without all sorts of fanfare and the like). They were all very attentive.

We see the people stood when the book or rather scroll was opened. We do the same thing when the Gospel is read in our churches. After blessing the Lord the people bowed to the ground and worshipped the Lord with their faces (literally nostrils) to the ground. Now it is unfortunate today that many kneelers have been taken out of the Churches. I cannot tell you why. I know I have unfortunately heard a few voices over the years proudly say they will not bow. They are children of God and shouldn’t have to bow. Apparently the worship scenes in the book of Revelation have escaped them. Even our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God of God and Light of Light bowed down in prayer. They even lifted up their hands in prayer. Well I have to admit we don’t do a whole lot of that either. Maybe we should.

Now Ezra had some helpers among the Levites helped the people understand the Law while the people remained in their places. One could imagine as Ezra read, he often paused and the Levites distributed amongst the crowd would then helped the people understand what was read. As far as we can tell this is one of the earliest records of systematic preaching, not that it never happened before.

And so today, the Lord our God, Jesus Christ has given us Eph 4:11 “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,…” Our Lord Jesus Christ has given them to read to us the Holy Scriptures. He has given them to explain to us what those scriptures mean. Like the Israelites we should fix our attention on them that we may know what the Lord’s will is toward us and what he wants to believe and to do. Such reading and explanations (sermons) should bring us to at the very least kneel before the Lord in our hearts and raise our hearts with repentance, thanksgiving and praise for all he has done for us.

Heavenly Father, never let your word depart from us and give us ears that hear and hearts that believe all that you would tell us and give us your Spirit that we may live our lives according to your word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.