Encounter: Read Nehemiah 8:1–18 and if you have time chapters 8-10. What word or phrase seems to make an impression on you? Underline those words and begin to imagine the setting of these chapters. There are around 40-50,000 people involved, can you imagine the crowd. Now, can you imagine this happening in our day?
Ten years ago, Jason Gray’s song, Remind Me Who I Am, hit the contemporary Christian charts. Like the recent song, You Say, by Lauren Daigle, there is something that happens in our soul when someone reminds us who God says we are. Gray’s lyrics describe a very human problem,
When my heart is like a stone, And I'm running far from home Remind me who I am When I can't receive Your love Afraid I'll never be enough Remind me who I am
If I'm Your beloved Can You help me believe it
It’s almost like we’re suffering from amnesia and then whether its spoken in worship on Sunday, studied in a small group or listened to on your Bible app, the Word of God begins to rebuild our lives. We just need help to believe it.
In Chapter 8 of Nehemiah, we find the wall has been rebuilt and exiles are slowly returning, but they wanted more. They had been gone too long, they asked Ezra to bring out the Book of the Law, God’s Word to them, because they hungered for more than making sure the gaps were filled. The work was hard, they were still recovering from so much, their hearts were still heavy. And the spiritual leaders could see this, God could see this.
So as they wept because of so much brokenness, Nehemiah and Ezra and the other leaders said to them, “Do not grieve, because your strength comes from rejoicing in the Lord” (Nehemiah 8:10). Yes, Sunday’s are essential.
When we are reminded about our true identity and a way of life intended by our Creator, we begin to understand there is so much more to this life than we could imagine. We experience spiritual renewal by living in the joy and delight of God, knowing our identity as God’s people and releasing the dark that doesn’t belong in us.
Next time someone says we don’t really need to go to church. Take a moment and share that it is through our worship gatherings, big and small, that we come to give God the glory but it is also the place where we can say to one another, “Would you remind me who I am?” “And with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” You belong to God!
Reminding you who you are:)
Reflect: How does the ability we have to take refuge and protection in God’s joy over us impact your life? Read Zephaniah 3:17. Is this the way you view God? If no, why not? Why do we doubt that God takes great delight in and rejoices over us?
Encourage: In your small group or triad, share your thoughts concerning this statement: “The proclaiming and hearing of the Word of God is a form of corporate worship.” Is there someone you know that would be encouraged by an invitation to worship?
Gather: Share in your small group or triad. How does knowing your spiritual identity affect you? In what ways do you struggle with your identity? Spend some time reflecting and writing down your journey with God up till now – What are some things you think the Lord would have you celebrate and what are those things you need to grieve? Spend time praying for one another.