Friday, February 8, 2008

Church Service, Anyone? (Part Two)

As I read in Nehemiah 9 about the Israelites confessing their sins during their lengthy worship service, I was struck with the historical depth they went into.

And it posed a bit of a dilemma.

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul sets an example of "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

It is important for us to claim God's forgiveness, release our sins, and move on, not to continually wallow in them.

And yet, as evidenced in Nehemiah (and elsewhere in Scripture), in the process of confession and especially in praise to God for His faithfulness to us, sometimes it is appropriate to remember a little historical perspective.

Not because we haven't been freed from those sins, but to remind us not to return to that area of sin and bondage.

Some highlights from the Levites' prayer:

  • "You chose Abram...You made a covenant..You have kept Your promise because You are righteous" (9:7-8)
  • "You divided the sea...You led them with a pillar of cloud [and] fire...You gave them laws (9:11-13)
  • "In their hunger You gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst You brought them water from the rock" (9:15)
  • "But our forefathers did not obey...refused to listen...became stiff-necked" (9:16-17)
  • "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate....abounding in love...You did not desert them even when they image of a calf... (9:17-18)
  • "You gave...You sustained...You gave...You made...You subdued" (9:20-25)
  • "But they were disobetient and rebelled..." (9:26)
  • "When they were oppressed they cried out to You...In Your great compassion You...rescued them" (9:27)
  • "They again did what was evil...and You abandoned them to their enemies." (9:28)
  • "And when they cried out....You delivered them time after time." (9:28)
  • "You warned them....but they became arrogant and disobeyed..." (9:29)
  • "For many years You were patient with them." (9:30)
  • "Yet they paid no attention so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples..." (9:30)
  • "But in Your great mercy You did not put an end to them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and merciful God....In all that has happened to us, You have been just; You have acted faithfully, while we did wrong." (9:31-33)

I think about how flippantly we pray "Lord forgive us our sins".

I wonder if we prayed through our history if it might change our tune and cause us to treat more reverently His gifts of grace and mercy.

And what do our children know of God's faithfulness through our lives, even in the times when we were unfaithful?

Just some things to think about as we go about our days and head to church on Sunday. . . .

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Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen!! We become complacent, and it takes a bold woman of God (YOU) to take us back and remove our shoes for we are on HOLY ground! And in His presence it is HOLY!! Thanks Linda:)

Lisa writes... said...

I've heard it said...and I believe it to be true...that one of Satan's most effective tools against believers is FORGETFULNESS. When we forget the faithfulness and mercy He demonstrated to us yesterday, we doubt Him today. Conversely, if we remember He was faithful yesterday, we know He is faithful today and will be faithful tomorrow.

Good thoughts!

Natalie said...

Thank you for your post.

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Wow! I can't wait to dig into those Scriptures tomorrow afternoon and do a little soul searching.

Thanks for this wonderful post.

Praise and Coffee said...

OH Linda, I am going through some things that make my heart leap at those verses. Thank you for putting them together!

Amy L Brooke said...

Great post.

I did a word study once when I was reading through the Bible in a year. I started underlining every time God told the Israelites or us to remember. So, I think you are on to something here. Things may not be held against us anymore, but we are called to remember God's faithfulness.

I forget who said it, but someone famous once said that those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. (Something like that . . . .)

Hope you are having a great Sunday.

Natalie said...

That is a great thing to do! It really would bring my heart to a more grateful attitude if I took the time to remember all the Lord has done.

The Preacher's Wife said... i have to? pray through my history that is?

cause i really don't want to..


this was great, linda...


Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen!