Today’s Reading – Malachi
But the sun of righteousness will rise on those revering my name;
healing will be in its wings so that you will go forth
and jump about like calves in the stall. Malachi 4:2
Sound familiar? It should there is a famous Christmas song by Charles Wesley:
Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
This passage in Malachi is the only place in the Bible that mentions ‘a sun of righteousness’. Christians believe that this is a description of Jesus Christ.
‘Hail’ is another word for ‘praise’.
‘Heaven-born’ means ‘born with help from God in heaven’.
‘Healing’ means health.
Jesus is the ‘heaven-born Prince of peace’ who is the Sun of Righteousness.
Malachi says that people will become very excited at the coming of this person. SO excited that they will jump about like animals that have been set free!
Have you been set free?
Do you know Jesus the ‘heaven-born Prince of peace’ – the Sun of Righteousness?
If you don’t know Him, get ready to turn the page because we are about to embark on the greatest story ever told.
Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 11-13 and Psalm 126
When it was time for the dedication of Jerusalem’s wall, they sought out the Levites in all the places where they lived in order to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with joy, with thanks and singing, and with cymbals, harps, and lyres. Nehemiah 11:27
When it was time . . .
Traditionally you do not dedicate something until it is paid for … otherwise you consecrate it for God’s work.
What a celebration to dedicate the restored wall of the city.
What a celebration to be debt free.
Most of us do not know what it means to not have a house payment, a car payment, a credit card payment, a you name it payment.
We all wait with anticipation of that time when we don’t have a payment.
We are working towards that time.
This coming year you can help by giving to reduce the debt.
We could be debt free in a few years with the combined generosity of all.
And then it will be time to pay off the mortgage and celebrate.
Until that day …
Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 8-10
On the twenty-fourth day of this month,
the people of Israel were assembled.
They fasted, wore funeral clothing,
and had dirt on their heads.
Nehemiah 9:1 CEB
Nehemiah had read the Book of the Law read to the people and they were saddened. They were instructed to not be sad, but to be happy and to feast because of all that God had done for them.
Later, they gathered together again. They were sad. They did not eat any food. The people wore rough clothes and they put dirt on their heads. This was to show that they were sad and sorry for their sins. They were ready to pray and to confess their sins to God.
The people wanted to serve and to obey the real God. They said that they were sorry for their sins. They even confessed the sins that their ancestors had done. They listened to the book of the law of God for another three hours. Then they worshiped God and they confessed their sins for another three hours.
It leaves me to wonder what the world would look like if we had dirt heaped on our heads for the sins in our lives.
Remember no shower will remove this dirt, but we are given the right to confess our sins and have them removed.
Carrying any dirt with you today?
Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 6-7
My God then prompted me to assemble the officials, the officers, and the people so that they could be registered by families. I found the record of the families who were the first to return, and I found the following written in it:
Nehemiah 7:5 CEB
This is one of those tough chapters to read: Nehemiah 7. Even if you can get all the names pronounced correctly . . . why are they even there? Why waste the time and paper to record all these things in the Bible?
Then one day I knew the answer and was encouraged.
Consider that in that day all the way until now those names mattered enough that someone wrote them down. As a result, they will never be forgotten!
Isn’t that what we all want? To be remembered at some time in the future. To have some record that states that are living mattered.
As great as the Bible is there is a Book that is even greater . . . God says that those who follow Him have their name written in the Book of Life.
Names represent people.
I want my name remembered.
I want God to know my name.
Does God know your name?
Today’s Reading – Ezra 7-10
Get up, for it is your duty to deal with this matter;
we will support you. Be strong and act. Ezra 10:4
The people had a problem.
Ezra was their leader.
Notice that the people knew what needed to be done and offered their support.
Too often, we know what needs to be done. We even appoint leaders to get the job done.
Our problem is that . . .
1) we don’t hold our leaders accountable to the task
2) we don’t support the leaders in the task
When is the last time you offered your support to the leader of your congregation or your community?
When is the last time you offered your support with the words “Whatever you need me to do.”?
It is one thing to support with words and completely other thing to support with actions.
What kind of supporter are you?
Today’s Reading – Haggai
Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses while this house lies in ruins?
Haggai 1:4 CEB
The people of Israel had returned from exile and immediately began to rebuild the temple, but in time the desire to build the temple became secondary to their own needs.
Haggai came with a message to get back to work.
Perhaps the message of Haggai is a message about our need to financially support the church, but for a moment set aside all the messages you have heard about giving and consider this:
Maybe the message of Haggai for us today is that we have forgotten the priority of the church in our lives . . . We have become so busy in our homes, in our schools, in our jobs, with our hobbies that the life and activities of the church have become secondary to everything else.
The state of the church is a direct reflection of the people that make up the church.
Consider that statement the next time you complain about the church.
As Haggai would say, “Wake up! It’s time to make the church a priority in your life!”
A few years back a friend complained that he wanted to be more involved with church, but just didn’t have time. I replied, “If you make the time, I promise within 6 months you won’t know why you didn’t do it earlier.”
He gave it a try and it only took a few weeks for the light bulb to go on.
Faith grows when we tend to it.
Where are your priorities?