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Devotions for Life

A Solemn Promise

Nehemiah 10:28-39

Read

Then the rest of the people—the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers,
Temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the pagan
people of the land in order to obey the Law of God, together with their
wives, sons, daughters, and all who were old enough to understand—joined
their leaders and bound themselves with an oath. They swore a curse on
themselves if they failed to obey the Law of God as issued by his servant
Moses. They solemnly promised to carefully follow all the commands,
regulations, and decrees of the LORD our Lord:

“We promise not to let our daughters marry the pagan people of the land,
and not to let our sons marry their daughters.”

“We also promise that if the people of the land should bring any
merchandise or grain to be sold on the Sabbath or on any other holy day,
we will refuse to buy it. Every seventh year we will let our land rest,
and we will cancel all debts owed to us.

“In addition, we promise to obey the command to pay the annual Temple tax
of one-eighth of an ounce of silver for the care of the Temple of our
God.” (Nehemiah 10:28-32)

Reflect

The wall was completed, and the agreement God made with his people in
the days of Moses was restored (Deuteronomy 8). If God’s chosen people
were going to witness for him in an unbelieving world, they needed
united, God-fearing families. They also needed to avoid any enticements
to worship the idols of the people who lived around them. This was why
God prohibited marriage between Israelites and the inhabitants of the
land (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). God also knew that the lure of money would
conflict with the need for a day of rest, so trade was forbidden
inside the city on the Sabbath. By deciding to honor God first,
the Israelites would be refusing to make money their god.

Respond

This covenant has principles that are important for us today. Our
relationship with God must go far beyond church attendance and regular
devotions. It should affect our relationships (Nehemiah 10:30), our
time (10:31), and our material resources (10:32-39). When you chose
to follow God, you promised to serve him in this way. Our culture
often makes us choose between convenience and profit on the one hand
, and putting God first on the other. Look at your work and worship
habits. Is God really first?



Joseph’s Troubles and Triumphs

Ponder: The Life of Joseph/His good example

Today’s Scripture: “He sent a man ahead of them – Joseph was sold as a servant. The shackles
hurt his feet; his neck was placed in an iron collar, until the time when his prediction
came true. The LORD’s word proved him right.” (Psa. 105.17-24).

Was Joseph, son of Jacob, not a faithful son of God? Was his life not important to the glorious
plan of humanity’s salvation that fourteen out of fifty chapters in Genesis mention his life?
Yes, Joseph was faithful to our Father in heaven, and He used him as an instrument for
righteousness. Giving him power to interpret dreams, God lifted Joseph to power when Pharaoh
noticed that the Living God was with Joseph.

You might wonder why Joseph had such a life of troubles before he was lifted to greatness by
our Father? God doesn’t promise that if we are faithful he will give us lives without troubles.
God uses our troubled lives to build our character and get us through. We see that theme time
and time again throughout the Scriptures.

Joseph’s longsuffering teaches us four life lessons.

Firstly, circumstances matter far less than how we respond to those circumstances.
Joseph could have sat around moping all day about how bad he was treated by his older
brothers when they sold him into slavery. But he didn’t. Instead, just like our Savior,
the rejected son was faithful to God and became the savior of many.

Secondly, with God’s help any situation can be used in God’s glory and eternal purpose.
Joseph, like Jesus and even the Apostle Paul, believed that whatever their sufferings as
long as God was being glorified were worth it.

Lastly, with God it will all work out for good. How many people give up when their plans
don’t work out? Set backs are opportunities. Consider the exponential growth of the Church
soon after the execution of Stephen and the persecution that began that day.

Joseph is a wonderful example for us. Let us be more like him in that he was faithful to God
despite the circumstance in his life. We can learn more from Joseph.

Prayer: Dear God of the living, your Word is my guide and my light. Help me learn more from
it every day. In Jesus’ most holy name.

Song: “Joseph’s Dreams”
Mario A Marin, Taft CA
marioantoniomarin1981@gmail.com



The Starfish Story (cont.)

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands
of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and
stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the
ocean. “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks. “Because the sun is up
and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.” “But,
old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it!
You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact,
even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.” The old man
listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into
the sea. “It made a difference to that one” (copied).

Again, “How can we minister to the whole world? The answer, “One soul at a time.”
We may not be able to change the entire world, but we can make a difference to a small
part of it.

Not all will respond in a positive, soul saving, way. This is made evident within the
context of Ezekiel chapter three. But there are two lessons to be learned from the
Ezekiel text, 1) We will have fulfilled our obligation, 2) We will have made a
difference to some, if not all. You, and I, can make a difference. Will we make a
difference? “Yet if thou warrn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor
from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul”
(Ezekiel 3:19).

Hymn: You Never Mentioned Him To Me

Prayer: Our heavenly Father we thank You for the loving concern that You have for Your
creation. We thank You for the physical blessings that You constantly bestow upon us.
Likewise we are thankful for the spiritual blessings, especially the hope of an eternal
home in heaven. I pray that we, too, would have a serious concern for both the physical
and the spiritual well being of our fellow man so that we will make a difference in their
lives.

Roy Allen Crutcher, Mount Carmel, IL
racrgc@aol.com
At least we can change