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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Reading of the Word — 14 Comments

  1. I find the lesson of this week has brought new sight to me as a christian of how God can lead his children back from ruins to rebuild his own life ready for the coming of the Lord.

  2. The end of the week has arrived and I have a big problem. I have to stand up in front of an audience in a real church and take the lesson study. It is easy for me to write comments on the blog, (Well not that easy - coming up with something every day by 3am sometimes means a bit of late night thinking) but standing up in from of a class in real time is going to be a challenge.

    What do you think is the big picture take away message for this week's study?

    I have an 11 year old grandson, who is best characterised as "thinking outside the box!" One of his teachers told us that when she sees him put up his hand to answer a question in class, she knows that he is going to give a totally unexpected answer but that it will be both right and challenging at the same time. I want that sort of answer to my question about the big picture for this weeks lesson.

    What do we learn from a fledgling nation who carry around their sacred writings in a box and have a public reading and explanation. And it is all too easy for us to answer: "We ought to study the Bible more and follow its teaching!" What is the sort of answer my grandson would give me on this one?

    You have 24 hours to help me! (grin)

    Something to reflect on:

    But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
    For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:22-25KJV

    Application! Application?

    • Maurice, firstly, thank you for your daily commitment to providing such inspirational insight. You touch many a silent reader across the globe daily.

      Allow me to stretch the application of this week’s lesson and apply it to urban ministry. I live in New York City and over the years we have continued to pray for and search for different forms of urban outreach.

      In some sense urban areas can be viewed as ‘exiled’ communities that are in need of a reconnection to the Lord. Ezra and Nehemiah used the pain of the exile experience and collective opposition of enemies to rally the Jerusalem urbanites and demonstrate God’s faithfulness.

      A lesson to draw from this week’s study is not to give up on our cities. There are people in our growing cities who need a touch, a conversation, a prayer, a reading. The Lord can impress as dramatic a change in condition as he did with the sinful, exiled Jerusalem urbanites in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day.

      • I resonate very much with the idea of "urban reconnection". That is a great application of the big idea for this week.

        • Maurice, I hope you'll be sitting and not "standing" when you read this, because I consider it an affront, and demand a prompt apology, that you don't consider your readership/audience here "a real church"!😉

          In all seriousness though, the "fledgling nation who carry around their sacred writings in a box and have a public reading and explanation" had an even bigger problem than yours! According to those same "sacred writings", the One who inspired them knew something about that "nation" that they failed to also know about themselves (Dt 31:26-27,21). Apparently, that "nation" whom God called to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:5-6) to the other inhabitants of Earth, now stood before that audience on a "platform", like Ezra the priest, except with nothing to say (Mal 2:7-8; 2 Cor 3:14-15)! Writer's block for an author is pretty frustrating, but can you imagine the personal embarrassment of "speaker's block"?!

          So, what might a 2019 human take away as a lesson from an ancient "kingdom of priests" (Rm 15:4)? I think the first and preeminent lesson is that they were no worse humans than we are! To think otherwise, I believe, becomes fertile grounds for the growth of a variety of "isms". The FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH of our humanity is that we don't see with our eyes, we see with our brains; we don't hear with our ears, we hear with our brains--every single human sense, thought, impulse and emotion is directly and inextricably linked to the brain! The same "sacred writings" that told them THE TRUTH about their brain (Dt 5:29; 9:6-7; 29:4), speaks THE SAME TRUTH of ours as well(Col 1:21; Rm 7:13-14; Jer 17:9-10).

          True, "We ought to study the Bible more and follow its teaching!". But who knows what twisted reality WILL RESULT when we bring that deeply flawed part of ALL ourselves into contact with the "sacred writings" (2 Pt 1:20-21), while knowingly or unconsciously denying its FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH (Jn 5:39-40; 7:47-49; 2 Cor 3:15-16)? Perhaps ("Application!") a "kingdom of priests" might give rise to one or many like Saul of Tarsus, who while "knowing" the "sacred writings" (Php 3:4-6), still live an alarmingly destructive life (Act 9:1,5; 26:9 compare Rev 12:4). Or perhaps ("Application?"), like the Branch Davidians who separated from the Seventh-Day Adventist church and gave rise to a David Koresh, who think of themselves as "purer than the rest". They physically and/or socially isolate themselves and appeal to others to join them, often using the "sacred writings". They then make shipwreck of theirs and the lives of their adherents by robbing the Creator of the benefit of employing their lives in His service as "priests" among their fellowmen.

          • Hehe! that will teach me to watch my language. I was lying down when I read your comment and sat bolt upright! 🙂

            I appreciate the ideas you have presented as well.

  3. In fifty-two days: At the beginning, when he saw the need, Nehemiah prayed for four months (the difference in time between Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1). But the work itself took less than two months. Nehemiah worked longer in prayer than they needed to work to do the job.
    Gathering - Men, women, and children; old, young, and those in between; rich, poor, learned, and lacking – they all got to come and bask in the Word of the LORD!
    Location - The people assembled in the square before the Water Gate. This was a public spot. Usually the reading of the Law was confined to the Temple and only the men could hear it. This location gave everyone – men, women, and children – the opportunity to hear the Word of the LORD. Nehemiah tells us that “all who could understand” came to hear.
    Morning until Midday - This must have been very dynamically interactive. When we have a very hot topic in our Sabbath School class it is so difficult to end on time. They were attentive because everyone was a stakeholder in the meeting.
    send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared; for the poor, who had no food at home provided for them; the widow, fatherless, and stranger, who at festivals were to partake of the entertainment, Deuteronomy 16:11
    Booths - Temporary to remind them they are pilgrims on a journey toward the promised land. Let us remember our pilgrimage is toward the heavens of heaven. Let us not be found with Lot's wife who looked back to the riches of this world.

    To properly apply the Bible, you must properly interpret it. To properly interpret it, you must understand what the author meant for the people to whom he was writing in the context of that day. Also, since the Bible fits together as a unified whole, you must get a grasp of everything that the Bible teaches about a subject by comparing Scripture with Scripture, interpreting the Bible by itself. Sometimes this requires historical research to discover the customs and/or historical events that relate to the biblical text. Sometimes it requires either knowing the original biblical languages or consulting scholars who do in order to understand words and/or grammatical constructions. Always it requires interpreting a particular verse or paragraph of Scripture in the larger context of the book in which it is written. If you take a text out of its context, you can make the Bible say just about anything you wish!

    We must have Spirit filled men leading and giving interpretations of scriptures.
    We must have Spirit filled congregation that is yielding.

  4. Guide me O thou great Jehovah.

    In times like these we need a Saviour. Reading the lesson for this week was great for me especially on Thursday, "the Joy of the Lord" which conts on today. I encourage all to read the book Ministry of Health, chapter 21 Rejoicing. We will see how our physical health is closely tied to our spiritual and psychological health. It is God desire that his people he blesses with good health. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. E.g when our child or grandchild is hurting and crying after receiving a fall, how does kissing her/his "bobo" stops her/him from crying and return to playing.
    Look at what is health's greatest safeguard? Not money or riches, not education and race. All can have these keynote in life. I was told many cancers are form from an unforgiving spirit. How many of our health problems are on us because of ingratitude, sadness, stress and unthankfulness??? Ponder on this my people.

  5. Maurice, the "big picture " take-away message I got from this week's lesson is to keep the Word of God in our hearts. To know it so thoroughly that we don't have to read scripture, because one day we may not have the written Word available, just as the exiled people didn't have it available time after time. The only way this is possible is through a close relationship with God. Interpretation is given to each one of us through the Holy Spirit if we ask.

    Just some thoughts that occurred to me. I pray your class goes well. Have a blessed Sabbath!

    • I like the idea of knowing scripture so well we don't have to read it. I find myself thinking of a verse while I am out photographing birds, and having to search for it to find the reference when I get back to the computer.

      I would like to add that it would be great that we know the scripture so well that we live by it. Our love of God should be reflected in our love for one another. That is the big theme of the Gospel

  6. Thank you folk for your "big picture" suggestions. They are all great ideas that I can include in my lesson study in a couple of hours time.

  7. Maurice, as an educator for a number of years it seems a bit unusual to stand in front of a number of young people. If I am incorrect, correct me. I suppose many of us have our weak spots. We should put on our sword and shield and tackle the problem. God bless and help us each one, with our challenges.

    • Thank you for your encouragement Paul. I am getting old and don't get up the front as much as I used to. I survived and made new friends.

  8. Maurice,

    Sorry I missed the timeframe of your challenge, but I will share my thoughts regardless.

    The reading of the Torah as Moses commanded was a time for Israel to remember God’s powerful acts of deliverance in the past, and on the basis of these facts to strengthen their faith in God’s work in the present and the hope in God’s future act of ultimate deliverance. Remember that Ezra and Nehemiah were actively working out the basis of the prophetic timeline given to Daniel that prepared the way for the coming Messiah.

    The obvious application to our situation and time is that God’s word to us today, through the prophetic work of his spirit, who guides us into all truth, will accomplish the same work. Our faith to act prophetically in the present must be strongly anchored in the finished work of the Messiah on the cross; otherwise, we can have no hope in his promised deliverance in our future.

    In the Bible, I see the children of Israel assembled before God after their deliverance out of Egypt at Mount Sinai for the purpose of confirming his covenant made with Abraham. I see the children of Israel assembled before God after their deliverance out of Babylon at the newly re-built temple in Jerusalem for the purpose of reconfirming the same covenant. And I see the children of God on the Sea of Glass assembled before God after their deliverance out of spiritual Babylon at the temple in not made with human hands for the ultimate reconfirmation of that same covenant. All of it the sure word of prophecy in process according to God’s amazing grace and love for each of us.



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