In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
– John 1:1
We’ve read through the entire Bible several times in the past, and in the year of 2015 we did it again! One of the amazing things about the Bible is that no matter how many times you read it, it never gets old. If we read with open hearts, minds, eyes, and ears, God will always speak to us in new and relevant ways.
This time we blogged about our journey through God’s Word. From each passage that we read, we chose one verse to focus on. See below for the reading plan that we followed. And a big thanks to everyone who read with us and followed along.
Focus Verse: “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? (14)
From an unbiblical perspective it may seem pointless to serve God. There are many who faithfully obey God’s commands and do what is right in almost every situation, but they never increase in riches or climb the ladder of success. They die and only few people know their name. Since this is not our home, all followers of Christ may not gain much down here. But if we serve God with a willing, obedient heart, much treasure will await us in Heaven. Serving God may go unnoticed by people, but never by God.
Focus Verse: “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob. (2)
All throughout Scripture God tells us that He loves us. He showed His love by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Yet, like Israel, many of us still doubt God’s love. How can God love us? we ask. Why would God love us? God doesn’t require a reason to love me or you. He knows who we are, what we have done and loves us in spite of our imperfections.
Focus Verse: And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. (43)
The Israelites were happy that the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem had been completed and was now being dedicated to God. Doing God’s work is not always easy, but it does bring true and lasting joy.
Focus Verse: “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. (31)
Even though we are not under the same commands, regulations and decrees as the Israelites were, it is still important that we remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. God was the first to set aside a day of rest after He created the world. We ought not to be so busy or have so much to do that we cannot set aside one day of the week to rest, reflect and remember God.
Focus Verse: I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. (2)
Just as Nehemiah put Hanani and Hananiah in a position of leadership because of their integrity and fear of God, God is also looking for men and women of character who He can raise up to take charge for Him.
Focus Verse: After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (14)
Whenever we are apart of doing some work for the Lord, whether great or small, we can expect to face opposition. Satan, who is the father of lies and all things evil, is against any good work and he is certainly against those who are God’s people. However, instead of focusing on him, we should do as Nehemiah encouraged the wallbuilders to do and focus on the Lord. There is no need to be afraid of our enemies. Instead of focusing on Satan, we should focus on our Savior for He is great and awesome.
Focus Verse: Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. (11)
God hears all prayer, but He is especially attentive to the prayers of those who are obedient to Him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Focus Verse: I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” (22)
God’s gracious hand is for all those who acknowledge Him in all their ways. It is against those who refuse to look to Him. Because Ezra and those who were with him trusted in God for protection, they did not ask for the king’s soldiers. God honored their faith by hearing their prayer and by protecting them from enemies and bandits on their journey.