students raising hands September 25-26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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 You Keep Your 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, to respond, and to volunteer. Over time, however, eagerness wanes. Spiritually speaking, perhaps in the beginning of your relationship with God you were eager, too. Your heart was challenged and changed; you mourned over your sins and repented. You felt clean. You felt excited. You wanted to pray, to witness, to read God’s Word, to do good works, to influence your world, and to honor God in any way you could. How do you renew and keep your zeal for God? That was exactly the concern of the Israelites. What they did may help us.

By the grace of the Almighty God, after seventy years of exile in Babylon, many Jews were allowed to return to their own land. The temple was rebuilt. Then, after a space of 150 years, Nehemiah received permission from Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 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 of Jerusalem were completed 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 the festival they requested that the Scriptures be read. When they heard the Word of God, however, they mourned over the past sins of their fathers. Nehemiah told them that God said this was not at time for mourning; this was a time for rejoicing! This they then did.

After the festival, the Israelites considered how to maintain the same fervor for serving God that they now felt. The Israelites made a binding agreement with him (more…). They agreed to separate themselves from the neighboring nations (to avoid idolatry and wickedness) and to follow the Law of Moses. They agreed not to inter-marry with other nations. They agreed not to break the Sabbath by allowing commerce on Sabbath days. They agreed to let a rotating portion of their fields go fallow every seven years and to cancel all debts. They agreed to take care of Solomon’s temple, God’s place of favor. They agreed to pay the temple tax and to not neglect the service of the LORD or his temple. The Jews made 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 zeal for the LORD.

Second, assignments were made on a rotation basis to make sure the house of God was not neglected. It would be kept in good repair. There would be priests to offer the sacrifices, light the lamps, replace the showbread, and keep things in good order. Gatekeepers would unlock and lock the gates of the temple. Levites would supervise the grain bins within the temple that would feed the serving Levites. Continual music in God’s house would be sung and / or played in testimony to God's glory. The temple was 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 provide 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 God want us involved? We need to be attentive to do our tasks well, deserving of the great God that we serve.

Last, the people of Israel were attentive 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

  • you 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 should 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 that are pleasing to him.
  • we need to be attentive to keep our zeal for the LORD.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Psalm 50:14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,” (NIV)

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