READ: Nehemiah 7-8
THINK: Things were coming together. It was time to celebrate. The missions of Nehemiah (the governor) and Ezra (the priest and teacher) converged at a key point in Jewish history. God had brought His people out of captivity and restored them to their homeland. He helped them rebuild the Jerusalem temple and city walls. Now, He wanted to complete His restoration in the people's lives. God laid the foundation for this spiritual reconstruction through His Word. God is in the business of renewal. He doesn't just refurbish or renovate; He transforms lives completely. He has a plan for every individual and is able to bring good things from situations that appear hopeless to us. He takes what's old, broken, and seemingly worthless, and He makes it new again. That's a reason for great joy.
RESPOND: Why did Nehemiah put Hananiah in leadership (7:2)? What is integrity and why is it important for leaders? (See 7:2 note.) Why are both work and financial contributions vital to a cause (7:70-71)? What was about to happen as "all the people assembled as one man"? (See 8:1 note.) With what attitude did the people listen to God's law, and why is this foundational for spiritual revival? (See 8:3 note.) How did the people respond to God's Word, and why? (See 8:6 note and article on Worship, p.608 in the FBSE.) Why is it important for people to clearly understand God's Word (8:8,12)? (See 8:7 note.) Why did people weep as they heard God's Word? (See 8:9 note.) Why did Nehemiah encourage rejoicing? (8:10)? Why did the people celebrate (8:12)? What's "the joy of the LORD" (8:10), how do you get it, and why is it vital? (See 8:10 note.) What reasons do God's followers have to be joyful? Why does a lack of joy lead to a lack of spiritual power? How and why does godly joy provide strength and inspire faith? (See 8:10 note, subpoints 1 & 2.) Why is it important that God's Word remains central in our worship and all we do?
PRAY: Pray that you'll be a person of integrity. Pray for a mind that is open, attentive and receptive to God's Word. Give thanks for the joy that is yours as a follower of Christ and for the spiritual strength that is inspired by that joy.
ACT: Continue to carry your Bible and read it during free times. Recite some Psalms of praise as a means of connecting personal Bible study and worship. Take time today to rejoice and worship in your own words. If you're facing a tough time, in addition to wise efforts, praise God for the opportunity to honor Him through the situation.
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