Tuesday, September 18, 2007

stunned by grace...again

The Bible still surprises me all the time. This week in Nehemiah 8 I am just bewildered by what happens.

let me catch you up quickly.

for over 140 years the temple has not been operational; Ezra [a priest] return to Israel to rebuild it...and fails. Then Nehemiah shows up and it is rebuilt. In the midst of all this Ezra gets up one day and they basically have a launch-service for the 1st church plant in Israel in 140 years. 50,000 people show up for the first service and listen to Ezra recite the first 5 books of the bible for 6hours! while standing...silently...pressed in like sardines.


the priests divide the people into smaller groups and explain it all. And people who have never heard God's word just start balling, and crying their eyes out. They realize for the 1st time all God has done for them and just how far off-base they are with God.


You'd have thought this was a good thing. I mean that's what religious people are looking for right? Conviction!!! I mean if I preached for 6 hours+ people would be crying but probably not out of conviction. But if they did I think I would be happy. I mean...that makes sense to me. People who don't know anything about God finding out and repenting.

but Nehemiah and the priests tell the people 3TIMES!!! to not grieve or cry. Instead they are to be filled with joy and have a 7 day party called the festival of booths.

[side note: God's providence...this takes place every year in mid-September...and NO I didn't plan this]


that has haunted me for a couple of days now...

I think this is the point. Just like the story of the Prodigal son coming home in the New Testament.

The prodigal and Israel want to repent...they have prepared confessional scripts all ready to go. But God doesn't want them impressed or focused on their sin; he wants them impressed and swept away with his love, forgiveness, grace, hope, second-chances, compassion, mercy....!!!!

and sometimes i forget to be stunned by this

I fall into a gray little routine of sin-confession-guilt-and a vague sense that I am forgiven

then I read this story, or the story of the prodigal son and I am just shocked again at how God handles us. He runs after us, gives us a signet ring, kills the fatted pig, and has a party every time we come home to him [old testament or new]

and I'm so busy trying to apologize...i miss the party...and the point

God isn't nearly as impressed with our 'sin' as we are


He is SO impressed with his 'son' and the grace he makes available to us

so who and what are we more impressed by?

or sin
or His son

our emotional well being stands in the balance of that choice. Life will either be a penitentiary of pain or a massive party caravan


choose wisely?

"for the joy of the lord is your strength"...



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