Hebrews 13:7-21

            I once rode a horse named “Old Glue” because he stuck to the ground like glue.  It took a furious amount of kicking to get that old horse to move at all.  I think about Old Glue every time I look at the final chapter of Hebrews.  It feels like the author is firing off exhortation after exhortation trying to kick some life into a group of people who have lost their enthusiasm for Jesus. 
            Don’t forget about your spiritual leaders; don’t be fooled by any strange teachings; share in the disgrace of Christ; keep offering praise to God in the name of Jesus; don’t forget to help others and be benevolent; and, obey your leaders and do what they say.  All these exhortations come kicking one after the other in a short amount of space.  The reason why we ought to pay attention to them is that we were bought at the price of Christ’s blood.  God has redeemed us with the ultimate price.
            We need to work at becoming holy and serving in genuine Christian love as if this was the last day of our lives.  We are to run like wild stallions for Jesus, instead of being stuck to the ground like Old Glue.  There is no advantage to only moving when there is something in it for “me.”  There is no benefit in just griping and complaining instead of trotting along for the Savior. 


            As the author says:  “May Jesus help you do what pleases God.  To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever!  Amen.”

2 Samuel 2:1-11

            Power is never a neutral thing.  Power is either used to further a personal or special interest group agenda by using its considerable weight, or power is employed for the benefit of others in order to ensure the common good of all.  Ancient kings held nearly absolute power, and many were corrupted by its addictive allure to hold onto it at any cost.  So, when David became the king of Judah he immediately demonstrated why he was going to be a king that applied power differently than most earthly kings.
            The previous king, Saul, had been seduced by power and sought to hold that power by any means possible.  This meant David was a rival and had to go.  A large chunk of chapters in the book of 1 Samuel are given to a cat and mouse act of Saul chasing David, never quite getting ahold of him.  Now Saul is dead, killed in battle.  Any run-of-the-mill new king would act quickly and decisively to consolidate power and snuff out any potential faction to the throne.  But, instead, David’s initial response after Saul’s death was to inquire of the Lord and determine specifically what he should do according to God’s will.
            We should not pass over this detail too quickly because this was an unprecedented disposition for a king to adopt.  King David did not simply make presumptions about what to do.  Not only did David allow the men loyal to the deceased King Saul to live, he blessed them and actively sought to do them good.  This is precisely why David was a man after God’s own heart:  he acted in a manner that reflected the character of God.  God shows steadfast love and faithfulness to people; David showed the same grace and commitment toward others.  God woos people to himself through kindness instead of throwing his weight around and shoving people into the kingdom; David acted deftly and wisely toward others who did not readily acknowledge him as king through blessing instead of misusing his power.
            If we want to be people of influence; if we desire to see the kingdom of God expand; if we seek to have the church grow; then, we must exercise our given power in ways consistent with how King David used his power.  Prayer, discernment, and listening to the Spirit of God are the means of the right use of the resurrection power provided for us.
            Mighty God, you have demonstrated your power in many ways in creating life and giving new life.  I look to you in all things so that my words and actions will reflect your grace and kindness toward everyone I encounter, whether they are for me or against me.  Through the strong name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-12

            Under the leadership of Nehemiah, many of the Israelite exiles returned to Jerusalem from captivity.  Nehemiah did an incredible work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem so that the people were safe once again.  But that was only the physical dimension of the massive rebuilding effort; the people needed to be spiritually restored, as well.  The priest and scribe, Ezra, was at the forefront of a great revival.  At the center of the Jewish renewal was the Law of God.  The people gathered in order to hear Ezra read God’s Word to them from early morning to midday.  While Ezra read the Book of the Law, other priests were among the throng of people and helped them to understand it while they listened.  As the ESV puts it, these priests “gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”
            The people clearly needed help in making sense of God’s Word.  And as they understood the meaning of what was read, they wept and repented and dedicated themselves afresh to faithful living before their God. The need for all of God’s people to make sense of the Bible is no less true today.  The path to living intelligent and informed Christian lives will come by having clear insight into God’s Word so that we may walk with clarity and confidence, knowing the will of God in all things.
            A craving to know the revealed words of God is at the heart of any church revitalization.  An ardent desire to understand the Bible will be at the center of spiritual revival in our own time and place.  A longing for knowledge of the Scriptures is imperative to contemporary renewal.  Committing ourselves to a daily regimen of Scripture-reading is most necessary to a healthy spiritual life.  Teachers who help bring God’s Word to light are a great gift to the Body of Christ.
            O God, raise an entire generation of people who seek to know you and your Word.  Set apart gifted men and women for your service so that there will be teachers who help others make sense of what you want us to do.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.