You know, every time I finish one of these posts, I worry whether or not I made any sense or if my thoughts were too disjointed to connect with anyone. So, now that you've been warned that this might be one of "those" posts, I would encourage you to stop by Bev's and find some people that make sense...
Okay, let me say how excited I am to have reached the New Testament. Not that I haven't loved the Old because I have. (and now I feel guilty for even implying that I might prefer one over the other.) But my heart has been singing all week at the thought of entering the days of my Saviour.
Oh, and one other random thought...there is a new chronological study Bible that just came out. It looks really cool! I was glancing through it and was immediately caught up in the historical notes and time lines and so forth. I am thinking about using it if I do this again next year.
Now, back to the business at hand. I don't think that I've ever had as many notes as I have over this week. So I am going to try and pick and choose the best of the best so to speak. (although we all know that all of the Word is the best...)
One of the more beautiful passages to me was the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. I am a very visual person and I just have this wonderful picture in my head of the choirs gathering and the people rejoicing as songs of praise and thanksgiving are offered to God.
Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. Nehemiah 12:43
Of course, in the very next chapter, we find Nehemiah coming back to Jerusalem and finding Judah committing some of the very same sins that caused God to punish them in the first place. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted to smack them. Don't they ever learn? Um...couldn't God ask me that very question as well? Don't I ever learn? I just spent Friday morning in conversation with a friend, lamenting how we never seem to learn...we keep repeating the same behaviors over and over. So how am I any better than Judah?
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13
Oh, how this verse spoke to me. Too many times I make changes on the outside rather than seeking to change the inside. Which may very well explain why I continue to fall into the same patterns over and over again. The Message says it this way: Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. What a beautiful thought. May we choose to change our lives through Him rather than just the outward appearance.
Then, this final admonition from Malachi before four hundred years of silence: If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. (Malachi 2:2) But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (Malachi 4:2)
A warning and a promise. One that went unheeded. One that still does go unheeded today.
Four hundred years later, we find God's chosen people waiting, longing for their Messiah. I don't know about you, but I loved revisiting the "Christmas" story. We are beginning to prepare for Christmas at our store and it does my heart good to focus on what it is really all about rather than trying to figure out where to put one more box of Christmas cards.
One thing that caught my heart in this section in Luke was something that could have come from my lips...."for the Mighty One has done great things for me--(Luke 1:49)". For me. That kind of says it all, doesn't it? This story...this whole Book is for me. "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and redeemed His people. Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1: 68,78-79)