Civilian Pursuits

Daily Scripture readings for January, set #11:

Nehemiah, chapters 4-5
Proverbs 10:17-32
Luke 16:19-31
2 Timothy 1

“Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders” (Neh 4:5). This is the prayer from Nehemiah regarding Sanballat/Tobiah and those who resisted the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. Pretty scathing. Is this a righteous prayer? Was Nehemiah right to pray this way?

Proverbs 10:19 is another text that I hold my Facebook and other social networking activity accountable to: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Lk 16:31). This bold statement from Jesus would seem to suggest that the “being convinced” was not the fault of or to the credit of the convincingness of the message/messenger. I made the word “convincingness” up just now, but I’m sure you still get the point.

“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2Tim 1:14). Timothy is to guard what he has, and this implies action on his part. But that action is “by the Holy Spirit.” Not acting is not an option, but neither is acting in our own strength.

Daily Scripture readings for January, set #12:

Nehemiah 6
Proverbs 11:1-15
Luke 17:1-10
2 Timothy 2:1-13

Nehemiah’s steadfastness in the face of the opposition and temptation in Nehemiah 6 is so inspiring. Notice also his discernment in dealing with the false prophet, apparent in verse 12: “And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.” What a valuable asset God-given discernment is.

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness” (Prov 11:10). A sentiment that I have often had is pity and compassion toward the wicked as they perish, as if their perishing were unjust. This sentiment, however, always causes me to question God’s goodness and plan in punishing the wicked. Perhaps Proverbs 11:10 is a good response to my heart’s sinfulness in questioning God and instead favoring the wicked.

Do I receive grace and mercy because of merit in myself? Do I receive God’s love because I have earned it with my great works done in his name? Jesus’ answer: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty'” (Lk 17:10).

“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2Tim 2:4). Take a minute and think about which aspects of your life are, with regard to the Kingdom, merely “civilian pursuits.”

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