Monday, September 30, 2013

10/1- Praying the Scriptures

This is a daily devotion written by Rev. Tracie Stewart and posted by Dr. Ben Sloan

Here is a link to the daily devotional blog

Here is a link to a video thought for the day by Dr. Sloan on Prayer 10/1

Here is a link to the Children's Prayer Song by Dr. Sloan
Here is a link to that same song used in worship with motions (after the baptism)

Below are three prayers using scripture that we invite you to pray today, 10/1. Below that is a brief commentary.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things,     and by your will they were created and have their being.      Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,     to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength     and honor and glory and praise! To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb     be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” For Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. We praise, Lord, that one day we will be before the throne of God     and serve you day and night in your temple. We thank you that you will shelter us with your presence. Never again will we hunger; never again we will thirst. The sun will not beat down nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be our shepherd. He will lead us to streams of living water.     And God, Himself, will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Selected Passages from Revelation 4-7

  SECOND PRAYER 10/1: Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power     and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,     for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;     you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you;     you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power     to exalt and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give you thanks,     and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:11-14

THIRD PRAYER 10/1: I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense, He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name… Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils  the waters piled up. The surging waters stood up like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea… Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble… By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone— until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by.  You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,  the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established. The Lord reigns for ever and ever. Based on Exodus “Song of Moses” after the Red Sea parted and closed

Here is the prayer guide for the day:
October 1 – Prayers of Adoration

Selected Passages from Revelation 4-7

These are choruses of praises to God. These doxologies (words of praise to God) are prayers of worship. There is included as well as a vision of God’s heavenly kingdom where all suffering and pain will cease.  The first and last prayers from Scripture in this study will both come from Revelation.  Compare this prayer with the final prayer from October 5.

9/30/13- An Introduction to Prayer

For the Next month or so, this devotional will be linked to another blogspot- where Rev. Tracie Stewart is writing a daily devotion on prayer.

We are encouraging you to consider joining us for daily devotions on prayer as a way to enhance your prayer life.

Here is the link to the daily devotional blog.  

The hope is to teach prayer skills and develop prayer habits as we work as a church as we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is Conversation/Communication with God.
We will cover different types of prayer
in five day sections –
1) Praying the Scriptures,
2) Praying the Psalms,
3) Praying the Hymns,
4) Praying the Prayers of the Church throughout the Ages,
5) Praying the Prayers of the Reformation and Reformers,
6) and Praying Our Prayers.
Each day features three prayers.
Since we are told in the Scriptures to “pray without ceasing”
it is recommended to pray one prayer in the morning, one during the day, and one in the evening.
Each week during October we are encouraged to gather in a small group to study prayer.  The youth and Disciples classes will be doing this in an abbreviated form.

If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.”  Jesus (Jn. 15:7)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

9/29/13- Praising God for a Reason

 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God,    to receive glory and honor and power,for you created all things,    and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:10,11)
Thoughts: The Bible gives us a glimpse of the content of praise in heaven, which also gives us an idea of how we should praise on earth (even as we pray on earth as it is in heaven).
First God is worthy- the word "worship" is a contraction of the word "worthy-ship" and really means giving God His worth.  In heaven worship will not be a task but a real joy (this seems so foreign to us).
What is He worthy of?  glory, honor and power.  All of these things come from God- and should go back (reflect back) to God.  We are created to glorify and honor God.  We are created to give our power- our energy- our life back to Him.
    He is worthy of our power because He created everything by His will- so life is returned back to the Creator and Redeemer.
Prayer: Help me to give you all of my honor, glory and power now, Lord, for you are worthy of my life now as well as in the life to come.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

9/29/13- A Month in Prayer Begins

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Thoughts: The inner most song- the four cherubim around the throne sing is a song of holiness, power, and a song of the Trinity.
    The Trinity- the three I ams in one I am is found in the triplicate- "Holy, holy, holy.  It is found in the three names of the the one God- Lord, God, and Almighty.  He is over all in terms of allegiance, created all, and rules over all. The three in oneness is found in terms of time- He was, is and is to come. Past present and future all point to the trinity.  
    It is a song of power, person, and punctuality.  
    God is a holy God- unpolluted, unpoisoned with sin, brilliantly clean, absolutely perfect in morals, in person, in love.  The word "holy" means "other" or "different."  God is different from us- and that is a good thing.  This difference points to Creation.  Whereas pantheists and panentheists have a hard time saying God is different or holy- or that there is such a thing as holy.  For them God is only tolerance and love. 
     There was never a time when God was not.  God always is- He is never not present.  He is always to be trusted to come.  He comes to us in our time of need; He comes when no one else does. 

Prayer: Let me trust in your holiness, power, and ever-present love. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

9/28/13- Nehemiah 8:13-18 Conforming to God not the World

13 On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the teacher to give attention to the words of the Law.14 They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month 15 and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written.
16 So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.
18 Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly. (Nehemiah 8:13-18)

Thoughts:  The first day people listened to the Bible for about six hours straight then went to get food and talk about it.   Apparently the people were celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36-40).  The people were excited to celebrate this festival in the way prescribed in Moses' Law (Torah).  When we are excited about our faith and listening and practicing the scriptures there is joy and a true sense of God's presence.  Even today, we should seek to go back and do what God has asked us to do.  Chapter 9 describes their confession of sin- in response to being close to God.  Chapter 10 describes their covenant to try to obey God.  This will be the end of my blog on Nehemiah.  The wall was built in answer to their prayers, sacrifices, and hard work.  Afterwards was a spiritual revival in which the people were really excited about God and sought to obey Him above all else.  They were less concerned with comfort or trying to make everyone happy- but more concerned about making God happy.. They were deeply aware that God is the One who blesses and who also rebukes us, and our ultimate welfare is in the hands of the One who made us.  They knew that God still works in the world today, and we would do well to remember that as well.  

Prayer:  Lord, give me listening ears to you.  Let me be more concerned about conforming to your standards than conforming to the world's standard.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

9/27/13- The Necessity of Stopping

11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. (Nehemiah 8:11,12)

Thoughts: When there is a sense of God's presence, there is a tendency to weep over our sins.  But when we are aware of God's presence it should cause us to be still- and admire in awe who God is.  In our culture, we have a hard time being still- we love distractions, and the question we might need to ask is why we love being distracted so much.  It is almost as if we can make our own lives with our distractions away from sin- but also away from thinking deeply.  We have lost our idea of the need to rest- to Sabbath.
     The people here paused to take care of their physical needs, but also to take in and digest what had just happened.  It is great to sometimes take a break from worship to take it in.  Meditating on the Word takes time to stop, be still, pray and meditate.  For the first time, they were able to understand what the Bible said, and they recognized its power and hope.  

Prayer:  Help me, O Lord, to not take listen to you for granted.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

9/26/13- The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9,10)

Thoughts: There was a revival going on after the wall was built in Nehemiah's day and everyone knew that God had helped them miraculously.  In the midst of such a deep awareness of God, the people were cut to the heart, recognizing their sins and being convicted that they had failed God and sinned against the Lord.  But, Nehemiah wanted them to be able to rejoice on this holy, festival day- but they could not.  Nehemiah, however gave them this great verse- "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
    When we are grieving, when our lives are sad, when things are falling apart- it is important to remember where our joy lies.  God makes us strong through His joy.  It is not the happiness of the Lord that makes us strong.  Happiness infers no rain or sadness at all.  Rather it is God's joy that transcends circumstances that makes us strong in the tough circumstances. God's joy gives us strength on our journey no matter if we are rich or poor, healthy or not, fruitful or unfruitful.  God's joy is our true strength- and we will see that clearly when we get to heaven.  

Prayer: Lord, may your joy strengthen me and grant me grace.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

9/25/13- Purpose in Preaching

The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. (Nehemiah 8:7,8)

Thoughts: Some scholars think that those listed above in verse 7 translated the Hebrew Ezra was reading into Aramaic, the language of the people.  Others would say these people preached or taught what was read extrapolating on the passages.   Verse eight clarifies this- they read, made it clear, and gave meaning.  Some say this is what preachers need to do- read, making it clear and applying it to our lives- making it meaningful.  So the purpose of preaching is to link the people to the scripture with understanding. 

Prayer: Help me to understand your word.  Give me grace to pass that understanding on to others.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

9/24/13- Listening and Responding 9/24/13

Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8:4-6)

Thoughts: Ezra had perhaps the first pulpit- high and lifted up so people could see and hear the messenger of the message from God.  When Ezra opened the scriptures- all stood out of respect.  Except for prayer exercises- laying prostrate- the people stood all morning.  When Ezra praised God, the people raised their hands toward heavens, and added their "Amen."  Amen means "May it be so" or "so be it."  It was participatory worship, yet it was focused on the Word of the Lord- not on their posture.  

Prayer: Lord, give me a heart to worship you and listen to you.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

9/23/13 Revival Nehemiah 8

all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel.
So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:1-3)

Thoughts: This is the beginning of a revival in the land after the exile.  It happened after the people opened themselves to working together for God, agreed to sacrifice for each other- with a unity ("coming together as one"), and then listened to the Bible with an eager heart.  He read the scriptures for five to six hours, with no air conditioning, little shade, and no speaker system.  Yet the people listened "attentively" to the Book of the Law.  They really believed and sought God and His blessing.  
     So oneness and attentiveness to God and His Word are the first steps in revival.  If we want to get close to God- we need to love God and each other. 

Prayer: Lord, do it again.  We have heard of how you have moved in the midst of your people, so do it again in our time. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

9/22- Credentials and Giving-n Neh 7:61-73

61 The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

62 the descendants ofDelaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda 642
63 And from among the priests: 

the descendants of
Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).
64 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 65 The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.

66 The whole company numbered 42,360, 67 besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 245 male and female singers. 68 There were 736 horses, 245 mules,69 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.

70 Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests. 71 Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver. 72 The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.
73 The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns.

Thoughts: Credentials are important to prove legitimacy.  The priests had a huge responsibility for worship, and their families got free food and shelter.  While they may have been legitimate priests, 42,000+ were excluded from this because of some doubts.  There was no rebellion about this, but it was an important decision.
     This also lists how much people gave to the work.  The governor gave 1%, the wealthy gave about half, and the regular people gave about half.  In our day professional fundraisers say that the top 20% will give 80% of the gifts in a capital campaign- and in this recession it could be closer to 90%.  What this means is that the wealthy didn't have a whole lot more than the regular people in Nehemiah's day, but it also means everyone was plugged into the project.  
    After the wall was completed, the people settled outside the wall.  They may still commute into Jerusalem to work (it probably was more sanitary for day to day living to live outside the gates).  But the wall was there in case of invading enemies and shelter for even people outside the gates.
   So what can we learn from this?  It is not wrong to have credentials for ministers- to make an effort that the best are doing the Lord's work.  We also can learn that leaders and the wealthy can give more than a per capita share to do the Lord's work, but it is important that everyone take part as much as possible.  It also is nice if people from outside the community take part and they should be allowed to do so.  

Prayer:  Lord, You make me legitimate more than any genealogy or education. Help me to have a heart to take part in the calling you put before me- whatever that may be- to build up your kingdom here.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

9/21- Levites Guarding the City

26 the men of Bethlehem and Netophah188
27 of Anathoth128
28 of Beth Azmaveth42
29 of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah and Beeroth743
30 of Ramah and Geba621
31 of Mikmash122
32 of Bethel and Ai123
33 of the other Nebo52
34 of the other Elam1,254
35 of Harim320
36 of Jericho345
37 of Lod, Hadid and Ono721
38 of Senaah3,930
39 The priests:
the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua)973
40 of Immer1,052
41 of Pashhur1,247
42 of Harim1,017
43 The Levites:
the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah)74
44 The musicians:
the descendants of Asaph148
45 The gatekeepers:
the descendants of
Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai138
46 The temple servants:
the descendants of
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
47 Keros, Sia, Padon,
48 Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,
49 Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,
50 Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,
51 Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,
52 Besai, Meunim, Nephusim,
53 Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
54 Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,
55 Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
56 Neziah and Hatipha
57 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:
the descendants of
Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,
58 Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,
59 Shephatiah, Hattil,
Pokereth-Hazzebaim and Amon
60 The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon

Thoughts: Gatekeepers, singers, and Levites- The porters (gatekeepers) and singers (musicians) were also Levites.  Levites were given the job of guarding the gates.  1 Chronicles 26 speaks of these three as guarding the Temple, and now these special people were called to guard the whole city.  Nearly half the population was from the family of the Levites (Nehemiah 11).  The religious families played a key role in the building and guarding of Jerusalem.  The religious leaders of our day do not need to simply make pronouncements and take credit.  But lead by example, piety, and effort. The people trusted their leadership, that they would keep them safe.  They were entrusted with guarding the most vulnerable points and people trusted them.  Religious leaders need to be faithful to God and trustworthy.

Prayer: Help me to be trustworthy, Lord, and true to your Word.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

9/20/13- Nehemiah and Genealogies

These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, in company with Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah):(Nehemiah 7:6-25)

The list of the men of Israel: 

the descendants of Parosh2,172
of Shephatiah372
10 of Arah652
11 of Pahath-Moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab)2,818
12 of Elam1,254
13 of Zattu845
14 of Zakkai760
15 of Binnui648
16 of Bebai628
17 of Azgad2,322
18 of Adonikam667
19 of Bigvai2,067
20 of Adin655
21 of Ater (through Hezekiah)98
22 of Hashum328
23 of Bezai324
24 of Hariph112
25 of Gibeon95
These are the men of various towns in Israel.  It is the same as the list in Ezra 2.  Genealogy is important in the time of the exile to establish the claim of the people of Judah to the land.  They were essentially saying, "My great-grandfather was here- and we are coming back to his land."  It was kind of like a title search claim (as my real estate friend Robby says).  In a similar way today- there are some who doubt the claim of the Jews to Palestine (so the former president of Iran doubts the Holocaust and the claims of the Jews to the land).  The writer of the Pastoral Epistles (Paul) says to avoid endless genealogies arguments about the law (1 Ti. 1:4; Titus 3:9). We are not saved by our grandparents' faith or our bloodline.  We are saved by grace through faith.

Prayer: Lord, help me to know my claim to you by faith.  Bless me as I seek to lay claim to my place in the City of God.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

9/19/13- Organizing the people

Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt. So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. (Nehemiah 7:4,5)

Thoughts: The city was too large with not enough people.  Nehemiah wanted to organize the people in some way so that the city would be covered and protected properly.  So he organized the people by families, using the same basic genealogy that Ezra had used.  Tribes and clans were important to the people of Israel in the past, and Nehemiah wanted them to continue to be important in his day.  One of the great sales philosophies today has as its motto that you are either a member of a tribe or an immigrant.  Nehemiah wanted to use the affiliation of people to fill the city and organize it.  To him it was as much a part of city planning as designing and labeling the streets.  

Prayer: Lord, let me use my mind to fulfill your purpose for me, whatever that may be.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9/18/13- Securing the Gates

After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the Levites were appointed. I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani,along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do. I said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.” (Nehemiah 7:1-3) 

Thoughts: The wall had been built, the gates were secured, but it meant nothing if it were not put to good use.  There were still threats and the possibility of war.  So Nehemiah set up the keepers of the gate, the musicians (especially those with trumpets for warning) and the Levites who were like the marines of the people of Jerusalem- the most trustworthy and loyal to the Temple and the people of God.  Nehemiah put his brother who had helped him, and to Hananiah who had proven his worth in integrity and in the fear of God.  He did not want someone who could be bought with a bribe as some of the other people and nobles had.  It is important to know who you can trust in life.  It is important to put in leadership those who will not turn on you, or ruin the work after it is done.  
The gates were not to be opened when it is dark, or when the gatekeepers could not see well.  He set a procedure in place for security- so that the gates were shut when there were enough people there to secure them.
He also knew he could trust the people to protect their own houses and families- so they helped guard at the watchtowers and on top of the wall near their own houses.  Nehemiah knew how to get people to put their own self interest to work.  There are great leadership lessons to learn here.  But one important one is that when someone has integrity and fears God that this is a great quality that is to be trusted no mistrusted.  

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to know who to trust.  Help me to be a person who has integrity and fears you.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

9/17/13- When God Blesses

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
17 Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them. 18 For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shekaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19 Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.

Thoughts: The wall was completed in record time, and this discouraged the enemies of God and His people.  When God obviously blesses us, it encourages His people and discourages those who do not have faith.  The wall was built in less than two months- without skilled labor, extra money or resources.  Tobiah (Tobiah means the Lord is good Tov= good and Yah= the Lord) was an Ammonite who did not care about the city or its people, but he wanted to continue control of the city.  Even after the wall was built, there were still some who objected to Nehemiah's leadership.  Though evil and Tobiah was defeated, they still found a way to infiltrate and discourage.  But years later it would not be Tobiah who would be remembered, but Nehemiah.  

Prayer: Lord, bless me that I may be a blessing.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/16/13- The Wall is Built with Strength and Wisdom

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
17 Also, in those days the nobles of Judah were sending many letters to Tobiah, and replies from Tobiah kept coming to them. 18 For many in Judah were under oath to him, since he was son-in-law to Shekaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19 Moreover, they kept reporting to me his good deeds and then telling him what I said. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me. (Nehemiah 6:15-19)

Thoughts: The wall around Jerusalem was completed in record time- only fifty two days.  it was done despite lack of skill, lack of material, and the frustrations and delays of their enemies.  Clearly it was the work of God.  A power was at work that was beyond their own- not just to motivate and inspire but to help and strengthen making the work go smoothly and well.  
    Tobiah means literally "the Lord is good" (Tov Yah).  He may have been brought up to be a worshiper of Yahweh.  But despite his wanting to control the nobles and politicians of Jerusalem, he had no real love for the people of God, not any desire that God be honored in Jerusalem.  Tobiah was related by marriage and had spies on the inside, but sought to make things hard for the people living in Jerusalem in order to elevate himself.  Nehemiah saw right through all this- and this is written to show Nehemiah's perception and lack of intimidation.  We too should see through to discern what is real and what is not.  God had enabled the people to build and enabled Nehemiah to see his threats.  

Prayer: Lord, grant me strength and wisdom as Nehemiah and his people had.  Protect me from those who wish to intimidate me, and guard my heart.