July 31, 2017 Ezra 9,10; Psalm 131; Philemon
These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.
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Set Things Straight | Kim Chipman
S~ Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action. Ezra 10:4 (NLT)
O~ Many Israelites – including some priests and Levites…LEADERS in the community! – had gone against God’s commands and were adopting pagan practices again. Ezra was deeply grieved by this and prayed humbly and was deeply repentant to the Lord. He was weeping and lying face down in front of the Temple of God when others in the community also became convicted and sorrowful about their sin. Then they looked to Ezra for help.
A~ 1. Ezra was deeply grieved by the sin of the people. I’m good at minimizing and justifying my own sin – he was grieved and repentant for someone else’s! I should be so grieved by my sin and return to You in humble repentance.
2. Ezra’s repentance brought others to repentance. He didn’t point out their sin to them or shame them into changing. He was humble and sad and focused on You and that spurred change in others.
3. They didn’t just grieve the sin – they didn’t stop there. They confessed their sin and asked direction for how to restore their relationship with You, to make it right, to actually repent and change not just confess and be sad. This is the power of applying Your Word to my real life. Not only to recognize my sin, but change my thoughts, attitudes and actions to restore my relationship with You…over and over again…be strong and take action to set things straightwhen I blow it (which is often).
P~ Lord, help me see the sin in my life and – like the Israelites here – choose to “proceed in setting things straight”, not justify, blame, or gloss over my sin. Help me to be strong and take action. I love You!
Every Good Thing | Kelley DeAses
S~ I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon v. 6 (NIV)
O~ Paul here is writing to a fellow believer, Philemon, whom he had brought to faith. Paul is encouraging Philemon to be a witness as well, which will not only benefit the recipients of his message but enhance his own spiritual life in immeasurably.
A~ This is VBS week! After days and weeks of planning, recruiting, advertising, constructing, decorating and preparing, children will walk through the church doors and see amazing sets, smiling faces and hear songs of praise. As I pour into the lives of these preschoolers this week (and my pre-teen helper and my fellow leaders), I am continually struck by how the blessings return to me tenfold. When I take the time to prepare my lessons and do my best to convey truth from the Bible in a way the kids can receive it, those truths are renewed in my own spirit. Just as Paul makes clear, my life in Christ is not complete or ultimately fulfilling unless I am about the business of sharing it with those around me.
P~ Father, I pray for each child, from the babies in the nursery on up through the 6th grade, who will come to VBS this week. Help us show them how much they are loved — by us and, most of all, by You. Thank You for the privilege it is that I can be used to share my faith and my gifts to hopefully sow some seeds and lead some children into relationship with You.
Faith in Action | Joni Tyner
S~ And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Philemon v.6 (NLT)
O~ Paul is in prison and is writing to Philemon about Onesimus, who was a runaway slave. Both Philemon and Onesimus are believers and Paul is asking Philemon to take Onesimus back by forgiving him and treating him like a brother Christ.
A~ There are many, many people who go to church and Bible studies and life groups and talk about caring for others and forgiving but don’t necessarily follow through with action. This scripture reminds me that this has always been a problem—more talking than action!! We see this with our kids, that say one thing, but then seem to do the opposite. It really is about our integrity—living a life that we talk about, when no one is watching.
P~ Dear Lord, help me to live a life on genuine faith. I desire to be known at the end of my life as someone who did what they said. I know you give me TONS of practice opportunities to get this. I pray for open eyes and a tender heart to respond appropriately to others.
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