Bible Reading Blog
“A Necessary Way of Life”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Nehemiah 1.1-4; 2.1-8; Daniel 9.1-3; Matthew 10.38-42; Luke 19.1-10; Acts 4.23-31
The common idea in this week’s reading is what it looks like to seek God first. As soon as Nehemiah heard about the trouble in Jerusalem, he “wept and mourned for days, and… continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1.4). When Daniel wanted clarity about what he was reading, he “turned [his] face to the LORD God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9.3). Following the release of Peter and John from prison, they met up with their friends and “lifted their voices together to God” (Acts 4.24).
Prayer is obviously a key element to seeking God first; but notice how quickly these people engaged God. They didn’t allow their thoughts or emotions an opportunity to take over without bringing God into the picture. Almost immediately, and without pretense, they made God prominent.
Notice the persistence of Nehemiah: he fasted and prayed for days. His efforts were not a single moment of last resort but an ongoing search for God’s favor. Seeking God first was a daily activity. Notice the humility of Daniel: he plead for mercy with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. He understood his limitations and the need for God’s wisdom. Notice the trust the NT believers had in God’s word. They quoted scripture with praise and hope. They understood this is what God had promised because his word was in the forefront of their minds.
These were not decisions made in the moment, but outflows of people invested in seeking God. When we make spiritual disciplines as a habit, seeking God first moves us to action and positions us to receive God’s blessings. In Luke 19, Zacchaeus was set on seeking Jesus, so he climbed a tree just to catch a glimpse of him. The crowds surrounded Jesus… what do you think Zacchaeus expected? Surely, he didn’t expect Jesus to invite himself over! His efforts were rewarded by the presence and salvation of Jesus (Luke 19.9).
The activities we read in these episodes shouldn’t surprise us, but how often is seeking God your top priority? Do you run to him for refuge and strength or is he a last resort? Seeking God first is an activity and not just a thought in our minds. It is a determination of the will founded in our belief that God is real and Jesus is our king. If we call ourselves Christians we must “not be sluggish but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promise” (Hebrews 6.12).
In Matthew 10, Jesus taught this priority as a necessary way of life for believers who want to be rewarded by God (Matthew 10.35-42). There is no greater relationship we can value. There is no greater activity we must desire. There is no greater life we can live than to die to ourselves and seek to follow Jesus. If we are not willing to put our natural responses to the side and seek Jesus first, we are not worthy of him (Matthew 10.38).