September 20, 2018 · 5:59 AM
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
When we were in Nazareth, Israel, a tour guide reminded us, “It was here that Jesus began His ministry. It was in the synagogue of Nazareth that Jesus stood up and read the first several verses of Isaiah 61.” It says, “The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow” (GNT).
What Jesus said next angered them, but will prove to be powerful to you and me. In Luke 4:21, Jesus said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (NLT) What should have been an exciting moment in history ended with them trying to throw Jesus off a cliff. He wasn’t just telling them He was the Messiah, He was telling them He was bringing healing and restoration. Think about what Jesus was saying would be fulfilled. He would be bringing good news to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, freeing us from our prisons, saving us from sin and enemies, comforting those who mourn and bringing joy to those who grieve.
Jesus said that starting that day He began fulfilling that Scripture. He wasn’t just going to do those things for a short while. He came to do it long term. That’s great news for you and me. When we find ourselves in need of healing or restoration, there’s no need to wait for a future date. He’s willing and able today! We don’t have to stay in the prisons of our own devices. He’s here to liberate us. We don’t have to live a life of grief. He gave us the Comforter and plants joy deep in our heart. I believe today is the day you can enjoy that promise and experience all that God has for you.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash
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September 20, 2016 · 5:58 AM
I remember as a kid trying to sell my parents on letting me get a puppy. I told them, “I will feed him, play with him, and care for him. You won’t have to do anything.” I brought Spike home and put him in our back yard. I did everything I told my parents I would do… for a while. As Spike got bigger, he got harder to care for. My parents had to pick up the slack. Before too long, I didn’t even look out the back window. Then one day when I did, he was gone. I neglected my responsibilities and as a result, my parents gave away my dog.
That was a hard lesson to learn as a kid. I did love that dog, but I didn’t comprehend the long term commitment to him I’d made. It’s like in the Old Testament when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. Soon afterwards, people moved back into the city for protection. Nehemiah called for a meeting at the Temple to read the law written by Moses. In Nehemiah 10, they promised to obey the law. When it came to the portion of the law regarding the temple in verse 39, they said, “We promise together not to neglect the Temple of our God” (NLT)
In Nehemiah 13, It was about 20 years later, and they fell into the same trap I did. They began to neglect the Temple. Nehemiah had gone back to his job in Babylon, but had now returned to Jerusalem. In verse 11 it says, “I immediately confronted the leaders and demanded, ‘Why has the Temple of God been neglected?’ Then I called all the Levites back again and restored them to their proper duties.” Instead of getting rid of it (like my parents did to Spike), he restored order and reset expectations.
I’ve found that his method is useful to all of us in the parts of our lives that we are neglecting. When we neglect our prayer time, our Bible reading, our service to others, our going to church, or any other area of our life, we need to confront the situation, reset expectations, and restore the things in our lives that helped us to do those things before. Over time we can slip away from the positive things we were once doing, but we will have consequences just like the Israelites did. Having a Nehemiah in your life who can point out the areas you’re neglecting and help you to reset and to restore things is a must.
Today’s a good day to look in the mirror of your life and ask, “What have I been neglecting? What do I need to do to reset and restore?”
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