Tag Archives: slavery

Nehemiah 8:9-11:21

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned away from God.

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Nehemiah 9:16-18, NIV, emphasis added)

When they were frustrated with their circumstances, the Israelites turned to God.

32 “Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us, on our kings and leaders, on our priests and prophets, on our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. 33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. 35 Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

36 But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. 37 Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:32-37, NIV, emphasis added)

I sit with these scenarios. Sin. Choice. Slavery. In the first, wanting to return to it. In the second, slaves again. I read these words, just now, and know that I will sit with them throughout the day.

Lord, help me to keep a kingdom focus. Help me to guard my heart–to remember your goodness and all that you’ve done; to not become hardened or unwilling to serve you. While (kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors) made decisions that affected me, I am still and only responsible for my obedience to you. Help me to live in the free indeed found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Deuteronomy 23-26; Mark 1

I’m reading through Deuteronomy and seeing what the Lord values, his warnings, and his reasons why. Twice, I’m caught by the word “remember.”

17 “True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. 18 Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command.

19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command (Deuteronomy 24:17-22, NLT, emphasis added).

Here, calls to justice, mercy, compassion. These are things the Lord values. He reminds the people to remember where they came from–for they were all once slaves who received justice, mercy, and compassion from the Lord. And more: they received what they needed, perhaps in abundance, so that there was leftover to spare. They didn’t need to hold tightly. The Lord provides.

New Testament readings, and my heart swells at this:

10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News! (Mark 1:10-15, emphasis added)”

In Mark, Jesus, Son of God, who brings the Father great joy–even the angels take care of him. This is the God I love and who loves me too (Father, provider, protector, teacher–and so much more). I read of the healing that takes place as Jesus moves from place to place. Demons released, health restored, lives changed. He teaches with authority and shows the way.

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came (Mark 1:35-38, NLT, emphasis added).”

Self: do not live deceived by comfort. I was saved by grace. I know where I came from, and I know who I should have become in a lineage void of Jesus. I can trust him to show mercy, justice, compassion, generosity. He calls me to do the same–to remember where I came from and how he saved me. Lord Jesus, everyone is looking for you, to fill a void and soothe a cry, to show the way to freedom. I am so grateful I know you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 1-3; Galatians 5

Moses is the walking definition of an outsider. To the Egyptians who took pity upon him as helpless baby, he is Hebrew pet. To the Hebrews, he is the indulged recipient of their master’s capricious favor and viewed with envy and suspicion. The pain of not belonging is palpable; he is a man without a home.

So he flees. He is a refugee attached to a family and people foreign to him. In the dark and lonely “far side of the desert,” Moses comes to the mountain where God speaks and reveals himself. How is it that in our loneliest places, God appears and the course of history changes?

God calls Moses and the people of Israel into a relationship with him:

“I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you:  When you brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12

For the first time in history, God reveals his Name:

I AM WHO I AM. Exodus 3:14.

And with that, the fate of the people of Israel is sealed. No longer will they be Egyptian slaves. They are a people freed by their God. They are a people “close to his heart.” Psalm 148:14.

Centuries later, Paul speaks of freedom once again,

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Because of God’s great love, because of Christ’s death on the cross, I am no longer a slave. I am no longer a refugee. I have a home. I have a place of belonging and it is near the very heart of God.

Lord,  thank you for the freedom you have bought for me at the cost of your Son. Holy Spirit, help me to walk in this freedom today.  May gratitude and joy rise up from the deepest parts of me.  Father, I ask that my thoughts, words and actions today, somehow make you smile.  Your goodness towards me is overflowing. Amen

klueh

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Isaiah 7-9; Galatians 4

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:8-9

It seems ridiculous that someone who has known the horrendous bondage of slavery would ever want to return to it. In actuality, it isn’t that uncommon. It seems to be human nature to want to turn to what we know versus the unknown, even if the known was an absolutely miserable existence. I think of the Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt and how they chose to fondly remember the leeks and cucumbers as opposed to the sadistic demands of their masters.

Am I really so different? Too easily, I relapse into diehard perfectionist, get-it-right ways. That master has left me wasted and empty. Why is it so difficult to let go and enjoy the benefits of serving the Master of grace? Too often, I am like Ahaz in thinking that God really isn’t that interested and I have to manage things entirely on my own. Through Isaiah, God tells Ahaz to expect something different, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel [God is with us].” Isaiah 7:14.

There is such beauty and freedom in the simplicity of what God is telling me through his Word. Jesus is here right now. He asks me to live with him as my master. It’s my choice. He doesn’t force himself upon me. Do I accept the fact that he bought my life with his and that my life is no longer my own? I live for his pleasure and his purposes.  God help me live that way way today.

Klueh

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Gen. 47; Lk. 1:1-38; Job 13; I Cor. 1

Belief and unbelief.

Joseph trusted in God. His brothers trusted in their own plans (their plot to be rid of a little brother–good thing for them that God had other plans!).

Job was grappling with faith in the midst of an unimaginable hardship. His friends were at work to find his human flaws to justify punishment.

Zechariah asked a question of the messenger–Mary did too!–but what was at work on a heart level differentiated them. One, who was perhaps doubtful. The other, seeking.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:1:38 NLT.

Paul talks about God using the least expected to confound the wise–and it’s splayed across chapters: a brother sold into slavery who becomes a leader … a wealthy man who loses everything in moments … a virgin girl and a barren, old woman to both conceive children who would change everything … and even Paul, hater turned lover of Christ.

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT.

Overall, a message of being chosen, and a reminder that nothing is impossible with God.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament