Nehemiah 7-9, Psalm 50
The religion of "good works" is the most popular religion out there today. If we are honest, before coming to Christ, most of us practiced that same religion. I was born and confirmed into the Episcopal religion and after marrying my wife at the age of 20, whenever we did go to church, we went to the Roman Catholic church. I was a good student, going to medical school, and married young. It was easy to look and compare and somehow consider myself good. This is the danger of the religion of good works because we compare ourselves with others rather than with God. Following this religion, one never comes to repentance because they never feel convicted enough to confess and repent. As we read through the circular history of the Jewish nation and find it hard to believe how blind they were to their own sinfulness, we should reflect more honestly at the world we find ourselves in and realize there is not much difference.
Once the walls were completed and the nation was living in relative safety, we read in Neh.8:1 that the people gathered together as one man and wanted Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses. As we move to verse 3 we see that the men and women stayed attentive for 6 hours straight as the Torah was read to them. The priests and Levites then moved on the scene in Neh 8:8-9 where they helped the people understand the Law and all that was read to them. They went on after this first day to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for 7 days and we read in Neh 8:18, "Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God." The response to hearing the Word of God continuously was one large confession. In Neh 9:1, they assembled with fasting, wearing sackcloth and with dust on their heads. In verses Neh 9:2-4, they confess their sins and cry out with a loud voice to the Lord their God.
When the One Year Bible Challenge began one of the initial complaints was that it would take too long before we arrived in the New Testament. Many Christians are prone to consider themselves New Testament Christians and say, "I thank God I'm not under the Law; I'm under grace." Paul says in Galatians 3:24, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." Reflecting on the entirety of Scripture and how "not good" we really are should bring us all to the second Beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4). This is a mourning over our own sins. When we keep God and His Word at a distance, our hearts also are kept at a distance. We read in Luke 5:8 the proper response when we see ourselves in comparison to God and His standards, "When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"." Most people never touch the Bible and therefore don't see themselves in the proper light. But even most Christians rather than reading through the entirety of God's Word, settle for trinkets. They settle for daily devotionals with a couple of verses along with commentary, to give them some inspiration for the day. God's entire Word has been given to us in order to be in a right relationship with Him and see ourselves as we should. I pray as we reach out to others that we will inspire others to devote themselves to His Word daily.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: