Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 – Enjoy Life

Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

God wants us to enjoy life, not trudge through each day just going through the motions. We often set unrealistic expectations on ourselves for what we can accomplish in a day and end up feeling like we failed. Here we’re told that God has given us the work we are to do. What is that work for you?

If we’re focusing on what God wants, and we already know that his timing is perfect, then our day should go exactly like it should. If we are enjoying the life God has given us, living it to please him, then we have accomplished something very great. There are plenty of people who don’t have this connection to God and are not feeling fulfilled.

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Nehemiah 13:1-31 – Reforms Already?

Read Nehemiah 13:1-31

There are some timing issues in this final chapter that often confound the reader, wondering in what order things are happening. Our last reading so positively set the stage for how life would be in Jerusalem. Now Nehemiah swoops in to shake some sense into the Israelites who must have quickly forgotten their purpose.

It’s almost like “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Nehemiah had returned to Babylon like he had promised the king before he left for Jerusalem. Nehemiah must have gotten word that the people in Jerusalem were struggling. His faithful leadership was needed again!

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Nehemiah 12:1-26 – Worship

Read Nehemiah 12:1-26

Up to now, we have been seeing how Nehemiah is shaping up the returnees, so they don’t fall out of God’s good graces again. Here are more lists supporting the people in charge of renewing the people and keeping them properly focused.

Let’s focus on verse 24. It says, “These were the family leaders of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, and other associates, who stood opposite them during the ceremonies of praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as commanded by David, the man of God.” It appears Nehemiah is prescribing a worship format, fashioned after King David’s command.

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Ezra 8:24-36 – By God’s Gracious Hand

Read Ezra 8:24-36

Ezra likes lists. I like lists because they keep me organized. For Ezra to take on such a big mission, being organized would certainly be a good attribute to have. This reading lets us know who did what and more about their responsibilities during this transition or rebirth of a people. The hand of God played a huge role in the success of this mission back to Jerusalem!

God was giving his people a second chance to love him and live honorably following the laws given to Moses. This whole return had been orchestrated by God, even down to the last gold bowl and who was responsible to get it to Jerusalem. Was I the only one that still ponders how you move 24 tons of silver? Tons!

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Mark 12:38-40 – Beware!

Read Mark 12:38-40

Jesus felt it necessary to warn us about false teachers of religious law. He had certainly encountered plenty of religious leaders who were not focused on the right thing. Verses like these made my pastor husband uncomfortable with (and eventually led him to abandon) the robes that pastors of our denomination traditionally wear.

We need to remember that pastors, priests, and other religious leaders are people. People can be misguided and go astray. People can be power hungry. People sin. Too often we put our religious leaders on pedestals, thinking they have more of an “in” with God. How do I know this? Because I’ve had plenty of people over the years ask me to have my husband pray for something because he was “closer to God.” Yes, they said that!

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