In every period of time, God gives His people time to stop, worship, and celebrate. Nehemiah 8:1-12 shows one of those occasions. The nation of Israel was back from exile, rebuilding Jerusalem, and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. Scholars tell us the book of Ecclesiastes was usually read publicly at this festival. Nehemiah's admonition to the people to rejoice, not grieve, is a similar message to Solomon's. The best way to enjoy life is to enjoy it with God, by living according to His Word. Conviction should be a quick work, with grace then bringing joy.
This passage of Scripture embodies the very heart of Memorial Day. Nationally, we stand in the face of such love this weekend.
In combat, it is not necessarily the high ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that motivates a sailor or soldier to things he or she never thought personally possible. Rather, it is the love for the brother or sister in arms next to them in the conflict. Medal of honor recipient Lawrence Chamberlain tried to explain the willingness of men to face bullets in this way: "Simple manhood, force of discipline, pride, love, or the bond of comradeship." This longing for all to get home safely together motivates so powerfully in the heat of the battle! It is this special bond that creates a camaraderie so palatable that it lasts a lifetime and explains unbelievable acts of heroism.
Jesus Himself cites this axiom in John 15:13, and we do well to honor those who have fallen in the display of such love.
On days of remembrance, the reality is especially poignant that our freedom is never free. In the history of this country, God has not primarily used religious or political leaders to safeguard liberty; He uses the sacrifices of men and women in the armed forces to secure our freedom.
Spiritual liberty, too, was bought at a high price. Jesus Christ paid his life for our eternal freedom.
Our theme for the year is Living Worship-Filled Lives. Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to present our whole selves to God as a logical act of worship. This includes times of corporate worship and personal worship in prayer and reading God’s Word. But we also worship as we go about our lives, showing the fruit of what we’ve learned. The integrity of our lives should mirror how we worship on the Lord’s Day.
As we prepare to study the Pastoral Epistles, we’ll begin by learning about Timothy, to whom Paul wrote two letters. Understanding Timothy’s character helps us understand the content of the letters written to him.
There are no more happy people on earth than those who know and do the will of God! God’s will is found as we study His Word. We are responsible to what we know of the Scriptures.
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