Relevant Text: Neh. 9:17
Full Text: Neh. 9; Acts 19

Tragedy | The great tragedy of the Christian life is not our sin – for no matter what we have done, Jesus has dealt with it: “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” [1]. The great tragedy is that the Evil One uses our guilt to make us feel small and insignificant. Rather than recognizing the awesome call upon our lives – to know God and enjoy Him forever [2] – we have a persistent sense of unworthiness. In other words, our biggest problem is not that we sin (that is to be expected!). Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how to deal with our sin so that we’re not coasting into spiritual mediocrity.

Hope | When Ezra read the Law, the people mourned because they had failed to obey God for a long time. Yet, Ezra said: “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” [3]. Then they fasted and worshiped, as Ezra prayed for them. Yes, he confessed their sin: “Our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments … and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed” [4]. But he also acknowledged that their sin was not the final word; God’s grace was: You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf … and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them” [5]. They were great sinners; but the Lord their God was a great Savior.

Prayer | Lord, Your boundless grace is the basis of your covenantal love for us. Not only will you never forsake us because of our sin, you will forgive us with kindness and mercy again and again. Therefore, when the Evil One tries to exploit our sin through guilt, we can say to him: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise … I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication” [6]. Jesus is your vindication and, in him, we rejoice! Amen.



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[1] 1 Peter 3:18 ESV. See also 2 Cor. 5:21.  |  [2] Wikipedia, Westminster Shorter Catechism.  |  [3] Neh. 8:10 ESV  |  [4] Neh. 9:16-17 ESV  |  [5] Neh. 9:17-19 ESV  |  [6] Mic. 7:8-9 ESV