“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8 [NIV]
I love this scene. They were gathered together reading God’s Word, and there were actually people there trying to make sure that the people understood what was being read to them. Some people cannot read. Some people cannot understand what they read. They may pronounce the words properly. They may be able to read everything on the page, but they might not understand what they just read. The comprehension is important. The NLT says “clearly explained the meaning” and “helping the people understand each passage.” Each passage. I just love this.
It is important for us to understand what we read, whether it is a letter from our insurance provider, our bank statements, an article in the newspaper, a work memo… and it is crucial that we understand what the Bible says. We can read it every day, but we need to be able to understand it to actually apply it.
If you notice in Nehemiah 8, first they read the Law, then they interpret the Law, and then they apply the Law. This is what Bible reading is all about. This is exactly how we are to read our Bibles. First we read His word, then we see what God has to say to us in the context of the passage, and then we then apply it to our lives—we do what He says. Read – Understand – Apply! That’s why it is important that we understand. If you don’t understand, don’t hide and pretend; seek out some godly assistance, purchase a reputable Bible commentary, and pray about it. Read – Understand – Apply!
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!
Walking the dog can lead me to some disgusting finds. Yesterday we found a dead squirrel, today a dead bird. I cringed both times, and had to remove myself from the area quickly. I felt ill from the sight. Yet I have to be honest and admit that when I have seen human beings dead, I have been fine. The reason, I believe, is because I worked ten years in Long Term Care, seeing hundreds of people when their pulse ceased. It became such a normal sight and I was trained to work through it. I am not saying I had no feelings or that their lives were meaningless to me. I prayed for them. I shed tears for them. They were family to me. I am saying that I became conditioned to be able to accept the death of human beings and to be around those who were dead.
In society I see so many people that are conditioned to accept the things of this world. We are all part of that group. The Bible tells us that we are not of this world and that we are not to accept the things of this world. The Bible holds that we are to love people, but not love the things people do that are against God’s intention, His purpose, His design, His commands. Yet we have seen that society is slowly accepting the unacceptable. Friends have blamed the television and have claimed that they will not allow their children to watch any television programming. I ask them, what do you do when your child exits the bubble of your household and is in contact with the world? We are met with many challenges everywhere, with the world and its views pressing in on us.
To take a biblical worldview, one must dive into the Word and cling to everything that is Truth. One must seek the Holy Spirit for illumination, for strength, for guidance. One must see God with every situation, think like Jesus, and make a choice by what the Bible says. It is very difficult. It’s not something that we always do correctly. Honestly, we are lucky when we can sometimes get it right. For it is so easy for us to accept what is around us and say that it will be okay. It is so much less work, less grief, less of a struggle to simply accept and embrace what the world accepts. We handle it as if we have been conditioned to accept it. We’ve seen it so much so it is not so bad. Not so bad. I love that phrase. To me, not so bad means that we have decided to give degrees to the depth of bad, to the levels of evil. Not so bad means there is some bad. Anything bad, is not good. Anything not good is not from God.
I pray that as you journey onward today, that you are able to focus on the good. I pray that when the world does its thing, that you stick with doing God’s thing, despite the problems that will arise when you go against the grain. We have a tough road ahead, but God has promised to be with us through it all, and we know we have victory through Christ. God has a perfect plan for each of our lives, and as we continue onward, allowing Him to direct our paths, we are blessed to see His perfect plan unfold in our lives.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2 [NLT]