Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 11-12:26; 1 Chronicles 9:1-34
Today’s reading is a long list of people, roles and responsibilities. It is an administrative record of who came back to Jerusalem after the exile. It is a bureaucratic document and it can be rather boring. But once in a while a glimpse into some sort of history or a note of some character comes through. Take these two verses as an example:
Nehemiah 11:6, 14 (NIV)
6 There were 468 descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem—all outstanding men.
14 and 128 of his outstanding associates
For some reason, in the middle of a list, when the recorder came across these particular men, he did not simply say “and other men.” No, he took the time, due to the men’s fame, to make note that they were “outstanding men” . Side question is whether they were “outstanding men in their field” or “men standing out in their field” or “out standing men in their field.” I suppose that is a question for another day. 😉
The point is that there was something special about their character that rose to the top. Others noticed that whatever the men did, they did it with outstanding characteristics.
A bit further on we see another insight into who someone was…
Nehemiah 11:17 (NIV)
Also Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zabdi, a descendant of Asaph, who led in thanksgiving and prayer.
Most commentaries state that Mattaniah was a precentor – one who started congregants off to sing hymns and songs. Basically, he was the worship leader in the temple. He was obviously recognized for this role. His name is recorded for all history to see what he did to honor God.
As one leads others in worship it is important to lead with thanksgiving. Matthew Henry in his commentary on this passage came up with this statement that I liked:
Observe, Thanksgiving is necessary in prayer; they should go together; giving thanks for former mercies is a becoming way of begging further mercies. And care should be taken in public service that every thing be done in the best manner, decently and in good order- in prayer, that one speak and the rest join-in singing, that one begin and the rest follow.
Whether you are a worship leader at your church or a spiritual leader of your home it is important you set a thankful tone in your prayers and worship. A tone that sets forth the idea that without the past and present gifts of God there are no future gifts of God. It is because of his already existing love and sacrifice that we can even hope to have anything to be thankful for in the future. Our current thankfulness is a prerequisite for going back to God for more.
Psalm 107: 1, 8, 15, 21, 31 – Read the whole psalm which repeats the phrase
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.
Psalm 107: 42 – 43 (NIV)
42 The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the LORD.
Colossians 2:6 –7 (NIV)
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Hebrews 12:28 (NIV)
28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,