Sunday, July 13, 2014

"For I was the king's cupbearer."

"the joy of the Lord is your strength"
Nehemiah 8:10

I made an interesting discovering a few weeks ago.  About myself.  Which is surprising, because I thought I knew me pretty well.

The topic was this:  What's your favorite book of the Bible?  It's a hard question to answer, because each book offers something different.  So anytime in my life that someone asked me that question, my mind immediately went to a couple of places:

The Book of Isaiah ~ I've never actually studied Isaiah, only read it, but the verse that I've long thought of as my favorite verse comes from Isaiah:

"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
(Isaiah 40:31)

And then over the years, I discovered other verses in Isaiah that found a place in my heart, too.  So I don't think I know that book terrifically well, but still it inspires me. 

The Book of Psalms ~ Who doesn't love the psalms?  There's something for every person, something for every situation; every emotion.  But in a way it feels like cheating to call it your favorite book.  It's like calling the dictionary your favorite, cuz it's got all the other books in it.

Paul's letter to the Philippians ~ This book has such a joyful, triumphant tone to it, despite the fact that Paul was writing from prison.

So those were my "standby's" for a long time.  And then I read Ruth, which I think is so wonderful.  It's like a romance novel, but biblical, and neatly and concisely packed into just four chapters.  Plus there's that whole "Jesus as Redeemer" message.  Good stuff, that.

And the Book of Joshua.  I love Joshua.  And I love Caleb.  And the Book of Joshua is where we get to see the most of Caleb.

And of course I love the gospels.  History and spiritual edification all at once. 

But a few weeks ago, I was in a quandary.  I had a decision to make, and while it wasn't a bad thing, I wanted peace in the decision, too.  So I prayed about what book I should read, and soon thereafter, I found myself in the Book of Nehemiah. 

I studied Nehemiah about six years ago, with a small group of friends.  Very sweet, very close friends.  So my study of Nehemiah holds very fond memories for me.  Plus I've read it a few more times over the years, and I just love it.  I love that it tells a story, like Ruth or Esther, and I love the perseverance and triumph of rebuilding the wall of the city, despite those who tried to stop it.  It's inspiring and challenging, all at once.

And a few days after reading Nehemiah, and getting the inspiration I was looking for, someone asked me what my favorite book of the Bible is.  And I found myself saying, "Nehemiah."  It surprised me, somehow.  It was almost instinctual.  But I knew it was true.

I don't think it's necessarily spiritual growth on my part.  It's just change.  And I love that.  I love that as I've gotten to know the Bible better, I've not just learned, I've developed new appreciation.  And of course, I don't love Isaiah or Philippians or Psalms any less; I've just added a new book to the list of books I love.  And every book that I love, I love for a different reason.

I'm a complex person.  I'm guessing you are, too.  Maybe that's why He gave us so much in His word, to appeal all the different aspects of each of us.  Our Creator knows us that well.

So... what's your favorite book?

~ "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people,
for he was standing above all the people;
and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.
Then all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' 
while lifting up their hands.
And they bowed their heads
and worshiped the Lord
with their faces to the ground."
Nehemiah 8:5-6

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