Knysna Methodist Church

23 January 2022

Knysna Methodist Church – Lectionary Notes – 23.1.2022

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6; 8-10
The Israelites had been allowed to return to Jerusalem from Babylon in order to restore the temple (under Ezra’s leadership) and the walls of the city (under Nehemiah’s leadership). At the time in question, all the people gathered in the square and asked Ezra to read the Book of the Law of Moses. God’s Spirit was at work. He led the people to that place and gave them a hunger to hear God’s Word. Everyone who could understand what was written needed to be present.

The Book of the Law consists of the first five books of the Bible, and it gave people instructions on how to live in God’s way. Ezra was both a scribe – tasked with copying God’s Word – and a priest. He stood on the raised wooden platform that had been built in the open square for the occasion and read from daylight to midday – for six hours – as the people listened. They were keen to hear the Word of God, and the moment Ezra opened the Book, all the people stood up, honouring what they were about to hear. Ezra began by blessing the Lord, and the people agreed with him, thanking God, saying Amen, praising Him as they lifted their hands, and worshipping Him as they bowed before Him.
Men were appointed to help the people understand what they were hearing. The words needed spiritual discernment, translation, clarification and explanation. Those reading read clearly, not trying to impress but trying to help the listening people understand. The people wept as they listened because of the message of reproof and correction the words portrayed. But Ezra, Nehemiah and the other priests did not want them to be sad, for the love of God was greater than any sin they had committed. Rather the people were to celebrate the great work God was doing in their lives.

Psalm 19
CS Lewis said of this psalm: ‘I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.’ David could see the glory of the Lord as he looked up to the sky and saw its colours, size and beauty. Day and night witnesses the glory, wisdom and creative magnitude of God. The heavens will never stop declaring the majesty and glory of God and no matter what language a person speaks, the message of the heavens can be understood.
David describes the night sky as a tent where the sun rests until it emerges every morning. During the day it travels the path set for it by God with strength and joy, reaching every corner with its warmth.

David now turns his praise of the Creator to praise for God’s Word which tells us even more about God than creation does. The psalmist describes God’s Word as perfect and effective in drawing people to God. God’s Word is reliable, certain and morally, practically and universally true. This means that those who know this Word can find joy in God. It is also pure because God Himself is pure. It is clean and everlasting. There is nothing false in it.
As we read what David has written about the Word of God, we must remember he only had a portion of that Word – the first five books of the Law, Joshua, Judges, a few psalms and possibly Job and Ruth. The Word of God we know today is far more glorious than the Word David knew!

David said no amount of money could equal the value of God’s Word. It provides more pleasure than even the sweetest honey. It warns the reader against wrong-doing; and it offers a greater reward when it is followed than wealth or pleasures ever could.

David realised he had disobeyed God’s Word more times than he could recall, and he asked God to cleanse him from these hidden faults, and then to stop him from sinning knowingly. He prayed that no sin would become an addiction for only then, when God protected and cleansed him from all kinds of sin, would he be blameless.
David ended his psalm with a prayer of surrender. Only God could be the strength and redeemer David so desperately needed. The God of creation and revelation was also the personal God of relationship and redemption.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
In this passage Paul skilfully compares the variety within the Church with the parts of the body. All Christ-followers are, he says, united by the baptism of the Holy Spirit as they identify with the Spirit and Jesus Christ. Whatever role a Christ-follower may hold within the Body of Christ, they are linked to one another by Jesus Himself. It does not matter who they are or what role they play, and as he goes on to list various parts of the body he makes it clear that they are all essential to the smooth functioning of the family of God. No one within that family can say of another, ‘I don’t need you.’ Often it is the parts which are not seen which are essential to life than those which are visible. As a result of every person’s essential value to the Body of Christ, every member should care for every other member for if one hurts they will all hurt.

Paul now lists the various ministries within the body of Christ:
Apostles: God still has special ambassadors today whom He uses for the spread of His kingdom.
Prophets: God raises up prophets today who need to speak absolute truth in accordance with His Word.
Workers of miracles: perform miracles under the power of the Holy Spirit only.
Helps: God equips people to assist others to do His work however they can.
Tongues: not every believer has the gift of tongues any more than they have any other gift. This prayer language expresses prayer in ways only God can understand. Paul advises the Corinthians that they (and we) can ask for gifts from the Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s will.

Luke 4:14-21
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit back to Nazareth, where He had grown up. It was a crowded region and Jesus taught throughout the region. At this stage of His ministry, whilst many heard His message, there was no organised opposition to Him. When He went to the synagogue He had attended as a boy, He stood up to read and present His message to many who had known Him as He grew up.

He began by stating that the Spirit of God was upon Him. People were often anointed as an outward sign of God working within them. Jesus announced to His listeners that He came to heal the damage sin caused and so redeem them. He was using the words written by Isaiah (61:1-2).

His work would include:
Preaching the gospel to the poor – those whom sin had impoverished needed to hear the Good News.
Healing the broken-hearted – those whom sin had hurt needed healing.
Proclaiming freedom – those who had been enslaved by sin needed to be set free.
Restoring sight for the blind –those whom sin had morally and spiritually blinded.
Bringing liberty to the oppressed – setting any victims free.
Proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord – this was the year of Jubilee. (See Leviticus 25:9-15ff)

Points to Ponder
• How much time do you spend reading and meditating on the Word of God?
• Look at the Israelites’ reaction to what happened when Ezra opened the Book. How does it compare to the
way you handle and read your Bible?
• How would you describe what God’s Word means to you? (See David’s descriptions in the Psalm)
• Last week you considered the gifts you could identify within the group. How do you use your gifts to
benefit the Church? Where do you use them? What would be missing if you did not use them? How can you offer
them to the Body of Christ in a more loving, effective, encouraging way?
• Spend some time encouraging one another in the way each other’s gifts are used/could be used. How does
their encouragement make you feel? How will you take their encouragement forward and put it into action?
• Jesus had a list of action that He would take as He fulfilled His ministry. What practical action can you
take to fulfill yours in regard to the gifts God has given you?
• What difference would it make to Knysna Methodist Church if every member used their gifts fully?
• How do you feel about such change beginning with you?


Nehemiah Chapter 8

Psalm 19

1 Corinthians Chapter 12

Luke Chapter 4

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