September 11

Nehemiah 13:9-11 (NIV) 9I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense. 10I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and singers responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. 11So I rebuked the officials and asked them, "Why is the house of God neglected?" Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.

Nehemiah had to return to Persia for an extended time. When he was given permission and returned to Jerusalem, he was shocked. Politics had already entered the Temple worship. One of the priests was related to Tobiah, an enemy of Jerusalem and a leader of opposition. This connection got Tobiah a room in the Temple itself. When Nehemiah returned, that priest had already been expelled but no one knew what to do about Tobiah's things. Nehemiah did! He threw them out into the street and commanded the room to be cleansed and the Temple treasures restored.

What a picture of our hearts! We sometimes have a little connection with the world. Before we know it, the world moves in and fills up one of the rooms. Just like in Jerusalem, worship begins to be neglected. The Jews had stopped supporting the singers and gatekeepers so they all went to work somewhere else. Once the world moves in, we start giving praise to other things. Our giving to the work of God begins to dwindle, and worship suffers. No one is guarding the gates and all kinds of other compromises begin to sneak in.

"Why is the house of God neglected?" That is to say, why have you allowed this backsliding of your spiritual condition? We occasionally need this kind of a rebuke to help us see how far we have fallen. When we hear it, we need to restore things as they were. Put things in their proper places.

Admonition: Return to worship as we know God would have it, in spirit and in truth.

September 11

2 Corinthians 5:15-17 (NIV) 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Paul declared that it was the love of Christ that motivated and directed him. He no longer lived for himself but for the One who died for him and was raised again. He declared that this should be the normal Christian life. We should all be living for the One who died for us, not for self.

Do you see others with eternal significance or temporary influence? I believe Paul is saying that, at first, the disciples did not understand that Jesus was their Creator. They thought of Him only as a potential Messiah that would set up an earthly kingdom. Are we looking at people in the same way? Do we see them as what potential they have to do something for us, how they can help us achieve temporal goals? Or do we see others as the sons and daughters of God that He has called them to be?

What a change this would make in the way we relate to one another! Instead of making decisions as to what is temporarily good for us, we should make them on what is good for the growth and development of the new creation that they are. That is living for Christ. That is making the decisions on the basis of what is good for the Kingdom of God. Our brothers and sisters are no longer pawns of the enemy, but have become royalty. We should treat one another that way.

Do our eyes of faith see what God is making of one another? If so, we can love one another with His love. We can be patient and bear with the passing weaknesses, knowing that they are patiently bearing with us. The work that God has begun will be completed. Look past the transitory and see the finished work. God does when He looks at you, and aren't you glad!

Remember: Do unto others as you would have them do to you.