The Reading of the Word…

What a beautiful day it is when words come to life! In my daily reading plan this week I was directed to the book of Nehemiah. Having studied it this summer, the reading was fresh and alive!

It was particularly poignant as I listened to the Daily Audio Bible podcast present the Nehemiah passage.

Ezra, a high priest and scribe, read the words of the law to the Jews after the demolished walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt under Nehemiah’s leadership. The people gathered and listened attentively for hours after the repair of the walls was complete. (I guess that was quite a podcast!)

In those days the literacy rate is thought to have been less than 10% throughout the world. Hearing was the only way that most would know God’s teachings and their history.

I appreciate our access to the scriptures and so many other writings. It wasn’t long ago when few people could read. Even today it is estimated that 18% of the world’s population over age 15 are illiterate. That is almost 1 out of every 5 people!

To think that I have dozens of versions of the Bible available at my fingertips! What a treasure….but even having the it at my fingertips and with me virtually all the time doesn’t make me immune from being like the Jews who intently listened to the word, repented and made serious commitments to God – then after life became comfortable and they were settled and satisfied many lost their ferver and devotion…May that not be you and me.

Oh Lord, forgive us for our apathy and forgive us where we don’t shine your light and live for your glory. Let us be your hands and feet in the world and help us rebuild where you call us to rebuild as Nehemiah did. Let us honor your word and your ways. Let us feed those who are physically and spiritually hungry. Let us look after orphans and widows in distress. Let us be a people who are devoted to you. Keep us from distractions that pull us away from your plan and direction. Give us strength. 

Below are two often quoted powerful Nehemiah verses. (If you are on this scripture memorization journey with me you may want to consider them for memory verses).

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10 NIV

I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Neh. 6:3 NAS

Prayers that we do the great work we are called to do this day and every day. -Madge

New Seasons, Real Life, and Plans Revisited

July is a great month! I hate to see it end!

In North America Everyone is in the depths of their summer.

I love July.
I love summer.
I love  family and fireworks.
I love warm weather.

Enjoying the warm outdoors, warms my soul!
This summer I hosted a neighborhood Kelly Minter bible study on the book of Nehemiah (highly recommend it and will write a review soon). As I prepared for the last meeting I was struggling, and it seemed like there was nothing that could lift my heavy heart.

Oddly, the homework for the last chapters of Nehemiah included a discussion on how life tends to make full circles and often brings us back to similar places and different circumstances. We are given second chances, and boy do we need them.

As August begins, I continue to have a slight funk about me and need a second chance. I want to make the rest of this year count. I want to treat August like it is January. A fresh start.  Why not review my goals and consider new goals to add or old ones to change?  As I complete one season and prepare for another, my heart is committed to make this fall and winter special. It is all too easy to lack focus and exuberance as I approach the end of the year.

Scripture memorization is one of my 2012 goals.  My memorization goal through the month of July is complete. Hooray! Let’s celebrate!  Uh… Not so fast….The problem is that I don’t have another plan. Sure, one can just take a favorite scripture here or there and work on it, but I want a new focused plan. Since my 2012 one word is ‘decide‘, I am on the verge of making a decision. Remember the old Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

I’d love to hear how you handle this time of year as school starts, seasons change and holidays rapidly approach. Do you lose sight of goals you made back in January? Do you renew and review?

Here’s my suggestion for a great verse to memorize.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers victory it’s sure. Prov. 15.22

Love to you… and success with your plans…