Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nehemiah 1

   It may seem a little strange to begin the Bible Study blog with Nehemiah, but hey- that's where I'm reading in the Bible right now, so thats where we start. haha

   To start off with Nehemiah, it takes place in the same city as Esther, the Citadel of Susa.  Which means that Nehemiah was probably a small child during the events of Esther OR at the very least heard about the events that happened from the very people that experienced it.

Verse 4: It strikes me how concerned Nehemiah is for Judah and its people.  He had (more than likely) never been there because it was a 4 months walk from Babylonia to Judah- Susa was even farther.  Also, he was well established and high ranking in the Persian society so there were no physical discomforts or emotional trails that would naturally lead him to care or long for the city of Jerusalem.
   Most of us may have been concerned enough to ask about the people in Judah- how they are doing, what their struggles were, how we could pray for them, etc- but not only was Nehemiah concerned about them- he mourned, wept, fasted and prayed for FOUR months!  He prayed and fasted for four months before he approached the king in chapter 2.
     > the month of Kislev was mid-November to mid-December, the month of Nisan began mid-March

Verse 5: I'm always humbled by prayers in the Bible.  They are usually so forthcoming and blunt, telling or asking God to remember what He said or remember what He promised.  I'm not like that when I pray- I forget that I can approach His throne confidently as His child.  I forget that He wants me to remember His truths and promises even in my prayers to Him.

Verses 6-7: At first glance, it seems strange that Nehemiah confesses the sins of other people.  But then I think about how Moses interceding for His people and even Jesus's prayer- "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."(Luke 23:34) And then I'm humbled.  I don't think I have ever prayed for The Lord to have mercy and forgive someone else's sin.  Sure, I've prayed for people.  I've prayed for our country and the rampant sin, other countries and the rampant sin, my family and friends- but always asking for the sin to be taken away, for Him to bless us and get us back on the right path, that He would change our hearts and we would follow him diligently.  But I can't recall ever asking for forgiveness of the people.  I'm thankful He showed this to me.  I pray my heart changes and I become more concerned over the corporate sins against our Lord.
   Nehemiah also starts off his prayer by worshipping God.  Much like the way Jesus told us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.  This is important to note, because I know 90% of the time my prayers do not start off like this.

Verses 8-9: The words of the Lord Nehemiah is referencing can be found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30.
     >Leviticus 26:18- "If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over."
     >Leviticus 26:33- "I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins."
     >Deuteronomy 30:2-4- "And when you and your children return to The Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you.  Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the Heavens, from there The Lord your God will gather you and bring you back."
If you have anything to add or any questions about Nehemiah 1 then please feel free to leave a comment.  I'll get back with any questions as soon as I ask someone wiser than me;) Have a wonderful day! Love, Devon

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bible Study Blog

   It has been on my heart to do something a little different with my blog this year.  I guess you could call it an experiment, but optimistically it will be a good one.  I am going to try out doing a Bible Study Blog.  My idea is this:
   I will be going through the Bible like normal during my quiet times and then will blog about what I am learning, what I am struggling with, what words captured me and what words I just really don't understand.  The blog will be somewhat a journal entry from that passage.  My prayer is that in my doing this, someone (maybe even many someones) will read scripture along with me and find encouragement, truth and strengthened faith from doing so.  It will be a "Bible Study"blog in that anyone can follow along with me, share their input and knowledge and ask questions just like that of an in-home Bible study.  My promise is to be real and honest with my readers and to be open to what the Lord will teach me.
   Now hear me out- I do not in any way consider myself a teacher. I also do not consider myself an expert in the Bible.  I am simply a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ who longs to study His words and learn His truths.  I will probably make misinterpretations, say the wrong things or change my perspective after writing some things and I want to apologize in advance for any of those offenses.  However,  I believe that when the Lord teaches us something we should share it for His glory.  When the Lord does something in our lives, whether it be a miracle or a kindness or a mercy we are to spread those blessings for the glory of our Father.  I am too quick to hoard His blessings.  I am too quick to take take take from Bible studies and friends and mentors without giving back.  A lot of this sin comes from fear, but most of it comes from selfishness.  He teaches me something new in His word that lights me up and encourages me and strengthens my faith and what do I do with it?  At best I may thank Him many times in my prayers, maybe tell my husband/close family members and maybe even write it down in a journal.  But that excitement and fire soon passes, maybe to be forgotten or at the very most to be remembered fondly but then what?  The Lord has done loving beautiful things for me and I have kept them to myself.  I have kept HIM all to myself.  When that is not at all what He has called me to do.  He has called His children to be fishers of men.  To make disciples of all nations.  To study His words and use them for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.  Frankly, I have not been doing that.  Also, in all honesty I'm not sure if me doing this blog is going to do that either.  I hope it does.  I hope this blog is used for His glory and the spreading of His truths and encouragement of the study of His scripture.  But it is very likely that the only people that will read this blog are a few of my close family and friends whom I'm sure are far beyond my years of studying the scriptures.  BUT, I have to try.  I have to do something.  At the very least, I will be motivated to stay in the Word and held somewhat accountable if I don't. (And thats not a bad "very least" if I do say so.)
   So, here goes it.  Here's to taking a chance and seeing what the Lord does with it.  I pray you will dig into scripture with me and be encouraged.  I pray the joy of our Savior will grasp you as you get to know Him more.  I pray your faith is strengthened and your lives are changed as you learn of the Lord's unending love for you.  So, "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:19-25)