Pastor Marvin preached from Nehemiah 8 yesterday. This is the 17th of his 24-sermon series on the bible as a whole. He drew focus on the rebuilding of the people of God through His own word, and that it is always His word that God directs His people to.
One thing that struck me most from the sermon is when he said that we can be sure that whenever we open the bible and read it, God is at work in us. This is a reminder and encouragement to me to be fervent in the reading of His word everyday.
I am not very good in keeping schedules. Timetables don't work for me - I tried, setting the time and all - but it just doesn't work in the long term. So I am trying a checklist. I have a to-do list in my iPhone and the "Devotion" item is now permanently there everyday and I make sure I get to check it as done every morning. I hope this will last.
The other thing I have decided on is to use R. Kent Hughes series on Preaching the Word as my daily devotion reading. I have tried the day-to-day devotional materials like D.A. Carson's fabulous For the Love of God (Vol 1 & 2), but for someone who cannot keep schedules, having a must-read-everyday book became quite a stressor!
So I thought a "dateless"-a-message-a-chapter book would be ideal. There are many of such books available, but I have to find the right one with the right depth and breadth that I need. I have read the one on Ecclesiastes by Philip Graham Ryken in the Preaching the Word series back in 2011. I did not use it as devotion material then and have found it a more beneficial read if I were to go slowly chapter by chapter, but it defeated my purpose of my book challenge, i.e. to read as many books as I can in 2011/2012. So this time, with my interest in the book of Genesis, when I purchased the book in the series, I found that there are 75 chapters in the book! It will take me almost forever to finish it as a regular read. So I decided to use it as my devotional material, which is a perfect fit for me.
Genesis, Beginning and Blessing
by R. Kent Hughes (Crossway Books, 2004)
This morning, I read the passage on the creation of Eve as Adam's helper. Hughes has several insights that are new to me and they really make sense. One of them is this: I have always wondered why God would have Adam try to find a helper amongst the animals to be his companion. Hughes suggested God did that to create an awareness for Adam, that as he named the animals, he realised that not one is like him and that he needs someone just like him to be with him. And when Eve was presented to Adam, he broke out with an adulation of poetry, the first recorded human utterance in the bible:
This at last is bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.
And Hughes quoted a line from the Merchant of Venice, which I thought was so beautiful.
For she is wise, if I can judge her,
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
And true she is , as she hath prov'd herself,
And therefore, like herself, fair, wise, and true,
Shall she be placed in my constant soul.
God created man and woman to be devoted to each other, to be by each other's side. It is when we find ourselves especially in times of difficulty and conflict, we must remember that marriage is a covenant that is before God, before husband and wife, and before the community. It is not just a legal document between two people.