Day 9

January 16

Allen O’Neal 

Nehemiah 9:5-6 NIV

5 The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said, “Arise, bless the Lord, your God, from eternity to eternity!” The Israelites answered with the blessing, “Blessed is your glorious name and exalted above all blessing and praise.”  6 Then Ezra said: “It is you, O Lord, you are the only one; you made the heavens, the highest heavens and all their host, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you gave life, and the heavenly hosts bow down before you.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have needed a “new beginning.” At least for me, my desire for a new beginning did not always arise when I was facing difficult times. On the contrary, more often than not, it was because I realized that something is “off” or missing. That something was God. I had stopped focusing on God and His will for my life. I let secular concerns and interest distract me from my daily devotions. I sought loopholes for why missing church was okay. You know the story.

That is exactly what Ezra and Nehemiah faced in 587 BC – the Jewish community had fallen away from the teachings of Moses to the extent that they routinely ignored the Sabbath and looked for “loopholes” in the law to justify their actions. Sound familiar? And just like today, it was easy to find like-minded followers to say these actions were justified.

Ezra and Nehemiah blessed us with the roadmap for how to create our new beginnings and Jesus is always there to welcome us. The roadmap begins with acknowledging our thirst for God and taking action to quench that thirst by reading the bible and praying. In Nehemiah 9:1-3 the faithful fasted and wore sackcloth and spent hours reading the scriptures and confessing their sins. In verses 5-6 the leaders praise God.  

Jesus told us to love God above all things. What I find incredible, humbling, and exciting is how God is so patient and each day is a “new beginning” – one where we can rededicate our lives to following Jesus and His teachings. A new day, where you let your love for God shine like a beacon for others.

Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for sending Your Son to redeem us. Please give us strength to overcome the temptations that await us each day and to focus our eyes on You. Help us to embrace each new day as a “new beginning” to faithfully bring the Gospel to our community. Amen. 

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