Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 2

Tuesday: Come Apart

Text: 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. (Neh. 1:2)

Neh 9 1 Ptr 2-9

Teach: Separated. Chosen. Picked. That’s what God’s people are. Peter declares it this way: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). In the original language, to be holy is to be set apart for special use.

Take: Jesus in one of his final recorded prayers (see John 17) speaks to how his followers will be in this world, but not of it. Paul expounds on this when he urges the Roman believers: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2a). We’re in this world, but the way are needs to reflect whose we are. Separate doesn’t always mean far away. We need to be sure the world can see the difference in us.

Neh 9 conformed or transformed

Task: Inventory time. As you pray today, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the ways you are different, and perhaps where you have compromised. Are you ready to separate yourself?

Keeping the Sabbath Holy–Part One

I am working on a lesson/chapter for a Bible study I’m writing. The working title of the study is “Some Assembly Required.” The lessons examine the biblical passages that instruct us to “make every effort.” Each instance directs the believer to add something to his or her life.

The first lesson examined making every effort to add peace. And by comparison it was a piece of cake to this idea of adding rest.

I’m using Hebrews 4:11 as the central verse for the lesson, but it is best understood in context:

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”[c] 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”[d]
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11, NIV)

The problem I’m having is that I’m coming away with more questions than answers.

I found this quote today and it started me on a google trail that left me in tears:

Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily. This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional. The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as well as by social sanction. (Judith Shulevitz)

When I read this I thought of my husband. I can’t tell you how many times over the years he has sat in church and written lists. Lists about bills, to do lists, or work. It’s like he’s not able to shut it off. He isn’t at work, but he’s still working.

I get that…and I don’t want to.

I fret about not working. I feel guilty when I’m not busy.

Or at least I used to. I don’t as much any more…and I feel guilty about that. How bizarre? I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

Am I just not wired to rest?

And if I can’t will I ever truly be able to honor God?

I don’t want to miss His rest.

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