As you can tell by the frequency of my “Bible Check-up” posts, I have not been all too consistent with reading the last couple weeks. But I believe I am finally caught up and ready to share my latest observations. I would love to hear some feedback from anyone else who is attempting the reading program as well.
Nehemiah–Nehemiah’s love for God and love for the people overflowed into his passionate prayers and his desire to jump into action. He led the people strongly to love the scripture and he did not give up under opposition. This is another book that I often overlook, yet found great inspiration in. If we would all express just a portion of the enthusiasm that Nehemiah had for prayer, people and scripture our community, our church, and our families would be drastically different. We might see the progress that the Israelite’s saw. We might see a new and brilliant city dedicated to God. We might hear the voice of God. We might experience the joy of coming back to Him.
Esther–Esther is such an inspiring book to so many women…but many walk away with the concept that is a little too feminist for me. And I think many men are missing out because this book is often presented as a book for women. After reading Esther several times in the last couple years I have come to the conclusion that part of its purpose is to show our disposability when it comes to the plans of God . One thing that has been on my mind lately and was reiterated as I read the book of Esther is the idea that we are simply instruments in Gods big plan. In chapter 4 verse 14, we read “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The people would have been delivered no matter what…that was God’s plan. Esther’s choice did not change that. But God chose to use Esther and her willingness to step up and take on the task he had given her brought blessings to her and her family….but someone else could have had those blessings if she had turned them down. God does not need us, but he does choose to use us if we are willing and He will bless us in our obedience.
Acts–The book of Acts begins with Jesus returning to heaven and presenting the disciples with the charge to share what they have learned with all the world. And as I read, I was reminded anew of the boldness that Jesus required of them…and requires of us. In Chapter 4 Peter and John were arrested for doing what Jesus had told them to and as they stood before the council they spoke confidently the name of Christ. And the council’s response is given in verse 13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Because of Peter and John’s willingness to stand firm and proclaim Jesus’ name…those watching were able to see Jesus in them. But something else that stood out to me is found in the verses that come immediately after this in the succession of Acts. The believers prayed…they cried passionately for all to have the boldness to speak and the firmness to stand on Jesus. The Spirit came upon them and they were able to do as they had asked. Yes, the boldness of Peter and John requires great faith but they could not have gotten to that place without consistent and passionate prayer which brings the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom and strength. We have that power and privilege as well.