July 5 | Nehemiah 9:1-21
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by Mary Kate Hipp
Do you ever feel so entangled in your sin--ashamed of yourself as a believer? Like you are so incredibly unworthy of grace? I have a feeling this is not a personal problem of mine. Perhaps you may not think this is something you struggle with, but maybe your actions and thoughts say otherwise. Maybe you cannot stop thinking about that snide remark you said to Sally Sue the other day or you continually rehash old wounds with others and yourself. Maybe you simply keep calling yourself unqualified, unworthy, stupid, incapable, a failure. All of this falls under the category of shame.
To be vulnerable, I often feel this way. No matter how often we confess congregationally or I personally confess to the Lord, I feel as though I have outrun the forgiveness and grace of the Lord. I wake up and think every day about the sin that is to come. Why should I do this to myself? Friends, why should you do this to yourself? We are FREE in Christ Jesus. We (I) need not be bound to the slavery of sin and shame. Paul writes in Galatians 5:1 "For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery." (CSB)
In today's passage, we find the Israelites gathered for a national confession of sin. When I read about the Israelites I often sneer and make fun of their sin because it is blatantly rampant and habitual. Friends if the Lord can forgive the ENTIRE nation of Israel who sins, again and again, no matter how many times the Lord literally smites them, the Lord can certainly forgive you. In this prayer we read today, the Israelites remember BOTH the sins of Israel and their oppressor alongside the grace and miraculous mercy of the Lord. The Lord graciously forgives them under the Old
Covenant so imagine how much more you are forgiven and freed under the blood of the New Covenant! Praise God that He forgives and completely frees us from our shame and inevitable sin! Rest today in the fact that the Lord, through our confession, allows us to no longer feel stuck in our sin!
*Photo of lambs' blood and Scripture taken during a reenactment of an ancient sacrifice during my trip to Israel to remind everyone that the blood of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God is what forgives and frees us all.
Making the prayers of those who have run the race of faith before us our own is an ancient practice. It both helps us when we do not know what to pray for and bonds us with our ancestors! Read through the passage again and insert your name and perhaps your sins in place of the Israelites.