September 9

Nehemiah 10:28-29 (NIV) 28"The rest of the people–priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand– 29all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord.

After the people had confessed their sins and repented, they took the difficult step of making things right with God. Then they went one step further. They took an oath. They realized how easily they slid back into the ways that destroyed the nation before, so they took an oath binding themselves with a curse if they broke it. The oath begins with the very things they had been most likely to compromise, marrying heathen wives, trade on the Sabbath, and not keeping the seventh year release of debts and rest for the land.

We know the areas in our lives where we are most likely to compromise. It is usually in the same areas that Israel had problems, sex and money. They got serious about their weaknesses. They pledged together that if any of them went down that road again they would be justly cursed. How serious are you about sin in your life? Is it enough to make it very costly to do so? They took the curse quite seriously. They had seen the pain and devastation sin caused and said, "If we go there, we deserve what we reap." Have you observed the price of sin in your life? Have you really tallied up the cost of rebellion against the Holy Spirit? I'm not suggesting you take an oath unless you are led to, but I am suggesting you deal with your flesh tendency to go back down that road of compromise.

Most of the rest of the oath had to do with financial obligations to the Temple and the commitment to keep the worship ministry alive and well. We have the same obligations in a spiritual sense. The temple is the family of God. Are we caring in love for the body of Christ, or ignoring one another's needs? Are our gatherings for worship as He commanded, "worship in spirit and in truth"?

Consider: Once you repent of sin and make restitution, go the next step. Ask the Lord to show you a deterrent to keep you from going down that road again.

September 9

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV) 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The Apostle is saying this because, through his team's ministry, more and more people were experiencing the grace of God. That in turn was showing off the wonderful attributes of God. Even though they died to their own self-life day after day, they knew that when they were raised from the dead, it would all be more than worth it. They had an eternal perspective. Knowing this caused them to not lose heart in the midst of physical adversity. The outward was wasting away, but inwardly there was daily renewal.

That sacrifice was earning them eternal reward. He calls the sacrifice "light and momentary". If being shipwrecked, overnight in the ocean, beaten and left for dead, scourged with whips, in stocks in jail and much more is "light and momentary", then what are the little things you and I go through?

How did Paul endure all that? He kept his vision on the unseen. He focused on the eternal glory that would far outweigh what he was presently experiencing. He knew that if you put these temporary troubles on one side and eternal reward on the other, the scale would tip so hard and fast that troubles would be launched into orbit! His focus was the unseen. That is faith, and faith pleases God.

The visible is temporary. The unseen is eternal. That alone should give us a point of reference, a reality check, for whatever we endure in this life. Whatever you are going through today, remember, it is temporary. Don't lose heart.

Consider: Are your eyes fixed on the unseen? Have you considered how immeasurably the unseen outweighs the visible?