September 8

Nehemiah 9:3 (NIV) 3They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.

After celebrating the Feast of Booths, the people gathered again to hear the Word read to them and to finish confessing their sins. The prayer in Nehemiah 9 is a summary of the history of Israel. It begins with recognizing God for His greatness, that He is the Creator, and that all things come from Him. They continued with their own history of being called by God and delivered from Egypt, kept and fed in the wilderness, and given God's directions for living, for their own good. Yet they refused to listen. They recounted their forefathers' evil deeds of idolatry and turning their back on God. Still, God helped them conquer their enemies, yet with recognition of their ungrateful response to all that He had done.

In the midst of abundance and prosperity, they again turned from God, ignored the prophets' warnings, and rebelled against God. God allowed enemies to conquer them and hardship to overtake them. Finally they turned back to God. This cycle continued until they were taken into captivity. All through the prayer, they extolled the wonderful attributes of God's mercy, grace, love and justice.

We could pray a similar prayer. May I suggest to you that you write out a prayer acknowledging all that God has done in your life and how you have responded? Don't forget to fill it with the attributes of God's mercy, grace, love and justice. If you need ideas, read Nehemiah 9. It seems the heart of man never changes. When we have an abundance of blessing, we turn from God and go our own way until the hard times are allowed to return. Then we ask God, "Why?" Only when we surrender to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit will we break this cycle, so that the LORD can bless us and yet our hearts remain steadfast in true worship.

Consider: Take a moment to write out your own Nehemiah 9.

September 8

2 Corinthians 4:7,10-11 (NIV) 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

Gideon's men were told to put a torch inside a clay pot to hide the light until they had surrounded the enemy. Then, when the bugle sounded, they were to break their pots and the light would shine out. God has done something very similar in us. He has placed His Spirit in us. When we are broken vessels, the light shines forth. It isn't about the clay pot. It is about the light that is inside. The pot has no power of it's own; we are just a vessel for the light. Out greatest need is to remain broken. You might call us crackpots for Jesus.

Put in another metaphor, we are to be dead so that others can see the life of Jesus revealed in our body. If we remain in the death of Jesus, that is to keep our old nature on the cross, then the resurrected life of Jesus can be seen in our lives. We desire for others to see Jesus as we let His life reign in us. Broken pot or old self on the cross, we must get out of the way. Then our mortal bodies express the love and joy and peace and all the fruits of the Spirit. Those who are drawn to Christ will see Him in our life. What an amazing thing! The old hymn says, "Let others see Jesus in me. Let others see Jesus in me. In life and play and work each day, let others see Jesus in me."

Is the life of Jesus manifested in your mortal body? If you have Him as the treasure in your jar of clay, the only thing that can keep Him hidden is refusal to keep the old nature on the cross, refusal to be broken. Insisting on our own life will hide the light and life of Jesus. I sometimes imagine what it would be like if Jesus were to secretly return and walk among us. He does, in lives that are willing vessels, broken, and dead to their old nature.

Consider: Will the world see Jesus in you?