students raising hands September 25-26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Nehemiah 9:38–11:36; 1Chronicles 9:1b-34; Nehemiah 12. Note: Since this is a two day study it is suggested that the Bible reading be read the first day and the devotional be read on the second.

How Do We Keep Our Zeal for God?

On this date in September, students in the U.S. have spent about thirty days in school. When they began, many were eager to learn, respond, and volunteer. Over time, however, eagerness waned.

Spiritually speaking, in the beginning of our relationship with the LORD we were eager, too. Our hearts were challenged and changed; we mourned over our wrongs, sought forgiveness from God, and changed our ways. We felt clean! We were excited! We wanted to pray, witness, read God’s Word, do good works, influence our world, and honor the Lord in any way we could! How do we renew and keep our zeal for Him? That was exactly the concern of the Israelites. What they did may serve as an example to help us.

After seventy years of exile in Babylon, God worked in the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to their own land. The temple was rebuilt. This they did, despite the threats and legal actions against them to stop the work. More opposition stopped the work on the walls.

One-hundred and fifty years later, the walls of Jerusalem were still not rebuilt. Nehemiah received permission from King Artaxerxes of Persia to complete this task. Because the good hand of the LORD was upon them, protecting them, and because of the diligence and determination of Nehemiah and the people, the walls were re-built in only fifty-two days. This caused their hostile neighbor nations to fear the LORD, for the task would have been impossible without His help.

God gave Israel a great victory, and the Jewish people celebrated a festival to him. During this time, they requested the Scriptures be read. When they heard the Word of God, however, they mourned over the past sins of their fathers. Nehemiah told them this was not at time for grieving; this was a time for rejoicing, for they were seeking to obey God and were enjoying His favor! Their grief turned to joy.

In today's Bible reading, the Israelites consider how to maintain the same fervor for serving God which they now feel. The Israelites make a binding agreement with Him (more…).

  • They agree to separate themselves from the neighboring nations (to avoid idolatry and wickedness) and to follow the Law of Moses.
  • They agree not to inter-marry with other nations.
  • They agree not to break the Sabbath by allowing commerce on Sabbath days.
  • They agree to let a rotating portion of their fields go fallow every seven years so the land can experience a time of rest, and they agree to cancel all debts that year.
  • They agree to take care of Solomon’s rebuilt temple, God’s place of favor.
  • They agree to pay the temple tax and to not neglect the service of the LORD or His place of worship.
The Jews make themselves accountable to keep the covenant; they put their names on a written record.

Although we are not Jews and do not have a temple, we can do something similar to what the Israelites did to maintain our zeal for the LORD—we can make a commitment. Like the Jews, we can put our commitment in writing and bind ourselves to it. By affixing our signature to a plan that honors God, we are more likely to keep our commitments to the LORD.

Second, to keep their commitments to the LORD, the Jews are given assignments. On a rotation basis, the people are to make sure the house of the LORD is not neglected; they are to supply wood for the sacrifices. All of the Israelites are to bring the firstfruits of their harvest, herds, flocks, and dedicate their firstborn sons to the LORD. One-tenth of the money they receive from the sale of their goods and services are to be given to the LORD for the maintenance of the temple.

Priests are to offer the sacrifices, light the lamps, replace the showbread, and keep things in good order. Gatekeepers will unlock and lock the gates of the temple. Levites will supervise the grain bins within the temple that will feed the serving Levites. Continual music in God’s house is to be sung and/or played in testimony to His glory. The temple is a place of worship.

How much do we care about our house of worship? Are we keeping it clean and in good repair? Do we supply the needs for those who minister in our church? Do we provide an atmosphere of worship in the house of God? In what area of service does the LORD want us involved? We need to be attentive to do our tasks well, deserving of the great God we serve.

Last, the people of Israel are careful to follow the prescriptions of the Law of God for their service. We may serve God, but how should we serve Him? Do we serve God as He intends? We must read God’s Word and follow it to know how we should serve. Here are some instructions for Christians:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:1-11, NIV)

Lessons to Live By: To keep our zeal for the LORD

  • We must first know Him. He offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and a personal relationship with Him, our God and Savior (more...) .
  • Christians should make commitments and be accountable to keep them. We can find out what God wants us to do and then do it.
  • We should read God’s Word and find out how to serve the LORD in ways which are pleasing to Him.
  • We need to be attentive to keep our zeal for the LORD.

Focus Verse

Psalm 50:14 (NIV)“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High.”

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A Look Ahead: We need to Be Faithful, and not Fall from God's Favor by keeping our commitments. If we have failed and fallen, however, the Next Lesson will help us be restored once more. Join us!

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