Not gonna lie . . . it feels like forever since I sat at this keyboard trying to corral some thoughts from my morning readings. Last week was spent with church family on our annual camping trip. While the morning’s afforded time to open the Word and read, it was hard to find time to open the laptop and type as we gathered around the coffee pot early and didn’t really break ranks until it was time to go to bed. Not so good for journaling . . . great for recharging the batteries. There really is something to friends sharpening friends as iron (Prov. 27:17).
But this morning I’m back in the saddle and three portions of Scripture from my readings are rolling around in my head . . .
And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in Your great goodness. Nevertheless, they were disobedient . . . (Nehemiah 9:25-26a ESV)
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are His delight. (Proverbs 12:22b ESV)
One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26 ESV)
In Nehemiah there’s revival happening. The walls are built, the Word is being read and taught, and the people are turning their hearts back to the God of their calling. And in the midst of this time of refreshing, Nehemiah chronicles the history of Israel from Abraham through their captivity and return to the land. Nehemiah 9 is a great summary of the wonder and workings of God on their behalf. Also a no holds barred confession of the propensity for God’s people to receive God’s blessings and yet turn their face from pursuing God’s ways.
Because of promise, and through grace, they were in cities they did not build . . . had moved into houses already furnished with goods they did not purchase . . . were drinking water from wells they did not dig . . . and were enjoying fruit from fields, vineyards, and orchards they did not plant. And so they feasted on His abundant provision . . . delighted in His overflowing goodness . . . and became fat. So enamored with the good life God had provided that they over-indulged and became self-serving. Feasting on the goodness of God while forsaking faithfulness to God. Cue the Proverbs . . .
Someday I need to make a list of what delights God. That anything in all of creation should delight the Creator is, of itself, a little mind blowing. But this morning, Solomon declares that one of those things that brings pleasure to the eternal God of the universe are “those who act faithfully.” Those who are firm and steadfast. Those who receive the overflowing grace afforded them by a promise keeping, abundantly blessing God, as a stewardship to be managed rather than as windfall to be gorged upon. Those for whom the blessings of God, rather than being presumed upon and loosely exploited before a lost world, are counted as that which are to be enjoyed for God’s glory. Those for whom the freedom of living in a new land leads not to license and loose living, but who see the abundant possessions of being in Christ as something to be carefully enjoyed in a way that points others to the Giver of all good gifts. Cue the next Proverb . . .
Everyone is a “guide to his neighbor.” No one lives to themselves. All of life is a declaration of purpose and priority. And we either lead others toward righteousness and the things of the kingdom. . . or we lead them away from God’s purpose for those created in His image. And the righteous–those declared righteous through the finished work of the cross and the shed blood of the Savior . . . those being made righteous through the sanctifying work of the Spirit within them–are to be signposts always pointing others to a greater context for living life. Those leveraging the blessings in a way that directs others to the Blessor.
O that God’s people would beware of becoming fat on God’s blessings and carelessly turning their back on God’s ways. That we would, instead, be God’s delight as we live all of life as faithful stewards of the life, and the born-again life, that He has so graciously given. That we might, in all that we do, be a guide to our neighbors, our family, our friends, our co-workers . . . pointing the way to the Redeemer of all men and to the King for all eternity.
All because of grace . . . all for God’s glory . . .