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SUNDAY December 17, 2017

Birth of John the Baptist

Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:57-58

Mary had stayed with her cousin for three months; then came the time for Elizabeth to deliver her baby. The Lord in His mercy had taken away her shame of not being able to have a child. Elizabeth had a time of seclusion, but now her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had blessed her. He had given her a son––everyone rejoiced (Luke 1:56-58).

The miracle of Elizabeth giving birth in her old age was not the only wonder to happen. On the eighth day, those present expected the baby to be named after his father Zacharias, but Elizabeth had said no, his name would be John. Confused by an unfamiliar name not found in their family lineage, they looked to Zacharias for further confirmation (Luke 1:59-62).

Zacharias motioned for a tablet, and in their amazement, he wrote the name––John. Immediately, his tongue was loosed and he could speak, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:20). The very first words to come out of his mouth were pure praise to his God (Luke 1:59-64).

When Zacharias first heard the angel Gabriel’s message, he had spoken words of unbelief. He could not even imagine the possibility of a child being born to him in his old age. But now, when what was spoken had taken place, and he had obediently called the child John, he praised God, fully and completely.

It is very important that we examine what comes out of our mouths. Do we question God’s Word in unbelief? Or do we believe His Word and have nothing but praise on our lips?

I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. ~Psalm 34:1(NIV)~

SATURDAY December 16, 2017

Rejoice in God my Savior

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”

Luke 1:46-49

Mary responded to all that had been spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth her cousin. She spontaneously began to magnify the Lord in her sweet song of praise. Mary had indeed been made to rejoice; God, who is mighty beyond measure, had done great things. Mary was blessed and she praised His magnificent holy name.

Imagine, Mary, in humility, recognized that she was a lowly maid servant to be used in God’s hands. Her life’s story, as the mother of Jesus, would be remembered for all generations. It is important to understand that this holy Child she carried would not only be Savior of the world, but He would be her own Savior. Mary, although pure, needed salvation herself; although blessed among women, she was not sinless like her Savior.

Mary saw herself in the correct light; she understood the profound truth of her insignificance, compared to the greatness of God. But do we? Imagine, we are but a speck of dust in this vast universe, but God in His love and affection is mindful of us, and gave us dominion over His creation:

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…(Psalm 8:4-6).

When was the last time you worshipped the Lord for His magnificence, His Salvation, and all the great things he has done in your life?

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.
~Psalm 126:3~

FRIDAY December 15, 2017

Mary, Blessed Believer

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:42-45

Mary hastened to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who spoke, by the Spirit, as the baby leaped in her womb to give a confirmation of what the angel had already told Mary. She was chosen by God to be the mother of her Lord. She was blessed among women. Elizabeth assured Mary that those things spoken to her would be fulfilled. Notice how Elizabeth said, my Lord; this Child would become her personal Lord and Savior. She was so humbled by Mary’s visit and commended her for her great faith.

Imagine, Mary stayed with someone within her own family who completely understood her situation. Mary may have felt alone as a young, unmarried, pregnant teenager, but she found solace with her cousin Elizabeth, an older woman who embraced her. Mary was encouraged by Elizabeth’s friendship; she was a woman in tune with God’s purposes.

Are you in tune with God’s plans and purposes? Jesus left heaven and came to earth as a baby. He came to accomplish His mission––our salvation. Jesus made that clear when He said: I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Mark 2:17). Have you embraced the truth of the Gospel message? Who is Christ to you personally? Have you repented of your sins and asked Him to become your personal Lord?

If you do this day, the Christmas story will take on a whole, new, blessed meaning. Imagine, you will join the family of blessed believers in Christ!

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people.”
~Luke 1:68~

THURSDAY December 14, 2017

According to Your Word

“Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:36-38

The angel Gabriel greatly encouraged Mary; the Lord had already been at work in the life of her cousin Elizabeth. She had been barren, and yet God, through His power, had miraculously given her life––a child was conceived in her lifeless womb. God did something far greater, Mary, as a virgin, would carry the Son of God in her womb. Mary, moved by faith, willingly agreed to be used by the Lord and voiced her full submission to God’s Word.

Mary’s reaction to the angel’s words revealed her heart of faith, which was very different from Zacharias the priest. When he was told by Gabriel that Elizabeth was to have a child, he questioned the possibility; they were too old to have children. Zacharias was rebuked by the angel for his unbelief, but Mary, by faith, delighted to do the will of God.

In Psalm 40:8, David expressed his attitude towards doing the will of God. He wrote: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” This Psalm was also prophetical; it spoke of Christ and His willingness to do His Father’s will. Jesus said to the people who followed Him: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

What was the Father’s perfect will in the life of Christ? He was to die: “…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:17-18).

Do you delight to do the will of God, no matter how impossible it seems?

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin…
~Isaiah 53:10~

WEDNESDAY December 13, 2017

Holy One––the Son of God

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:34-35

In awe and wonder, Mary inquired how this miracle of Christ’s conception would happen. She questioned, but never doubted God’s Word in unbelief. The angel answered her finite mind’s curiosity. The Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Trinity, would come upon Mary, and the power of God would overshadow her. She would carry the precious Seed within her womb. Jesus, the Son of God, would be born of Mary.

Throughout the Bible, the Trinity is seen; one God in three persons, all having the same divine attributes. God the Father is holy (Exodus 15:11); Jesus, God’s Son, is holy (Acts 3:14); and the Spirit is called the Holy Spirit. On one occasion an unclean spirit–demon––recognized Jesus as the Holy One and said: “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34).

Only a holy sacrifice could suffice for the sacrifice of our sins. The Apostle John confirms in 1 John 3:5, that Jesus had no sin: And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Jesus met the requirements to be a holy sacrifice for our sins:

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19).

If the demons know the authoritative names of Jesus, how much more should you?

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…
~Philippians 2:9~

TUESDAY December 12, 2017

Son of the Highest

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Luke 1:32-33

Notice, the angel proclaimed that the birth of Jesus would eventually fulfill the prophetic promise given to King David during his life. God, the Father, will give to His Son the throne of David to secure His kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Jesus, the Son of the Highest, God coming in flesh (John 1:14), was born into the earthly bloodline of King David:

…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:3-4).

Jesus has two natures, earthly and divine. Immanuel––God with us, showing He is divine. Jesus wept, for He is also human. He is both human and divine. A troubled demon knew of Jesus’ divinity. He used Jesus’ title, “Son of the Most High God” as he addressed Him:

And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me (Mark 5:7).

Jesus, Son of the Highest, came for one purpose––to die on the cross, so we could be forgiven of our sins and so we could spend eternity with Him (John 14:1-3). Hebrews 2:9 plainly tells us the reason He took on mortal flesh:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Christ was God, not because he was virgin born.
He was virgin born because he was God.
~Robert Clarke~

MONDAY December 11, 2017

His Name is Jesus

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

Luke 1:29-31

Mary was troubled––unsettled in her thoughts––but the angel reassured the trembling woman. Mary had found favor with God. Then the angel told her the most amazing message: Mary would conceive in her womb, a Son; she would name him––JESUS. This miracle would be a fulfillment of Scripture found in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel––God with us.

Imagine, Mary, a young teenager, had been chosen to carry Jesus in her womb. The Jewish people knew the Scriptures and understood by them, the Messiah would be born. They fully expected Him to be their Savior and to save them from their oppressive enemies. This was the great hope of the Jews, suffering under a Roman occupation––that the Messiah would deliver them and set up His kingdom on earth.

Mary’s child was to be called JESUS. In Hebrew this name was, Yehoshua, shortened to Joshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” What was the purpose of His birth? The name JESUS relates to us His mission––for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But Jesus is not only Savior to the Jewish nation. God has shown His love by giving His greatest gift––His Son––for the salvation of the whole world!

This Christmas season, are you mindful of God’s plan to bring about your own salvation? The birth of Christ shows God’s great love towards you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
~John 3:16~

SUNDAY December 10, 2017

An Angelic Announcement

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Luke 1:26-28

The angel Gabriel, during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, was sent by God to give another incredible message. This time, the angel went into a city in Galilee––Nazareth––to a young virgin, Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph and must have been surprised, even shocked, to be approached by an angel with such an amazing salutation!

The angel reassured her that in God’s sight she was highly favored; His holy presence was with her. Mary was blessed among women. But how would she be blessed? God had a plan for her life––more than she could ever imagine. The good news soon to be told to her by Gabriel would make her rejoice.

Even though, at this time, Mary did not fully understand the reason for the angel’s visit, the message of the angel was in accordance with the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. She was a human vessel, chosen, among all the women on earth, to perfectly fit into God’s plan. Everything was about to fall into place; she would soon understand.

Most Christians do not have encounters with angels; our life changing experiences are usually based on God’s Word. He transforms our lives (2 Corinthians 5:17) and then begins to use us to do His will on earth. God, in His wisdom, often does not show us His entire plan for our lives––He takes us on a journey of faith, one step at a time. Even if we do not understand the path God is leading us on, we must simply trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

SATURDAY December 9, 2017

God’s Word Comes to Pass

Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Luke 1:24-25

Zacharias performed his duty, burning incense in the temple while the people worshiped and prayed outside (Luke 1:9-10). They began to marvel that he took so long. When he came out, he could not speak. The people supposed he had seen a vision in the temple as he gestured to them, but he remained speechless (Luke 1:21-23).

Then, in God’s time, what the angel Gabriel had told Zacharias came to pass––Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept herself hidden for five months, with the wonderful knowledge in her heart that God had answered her prayer for a child. In biblical days, it was a shame not to have children. Others may have looked down on her, but not anymore; that reproach was completely taken away. She could rejoice in the miraculous things God was doing in her life.

Imagine, as Elizabeth and Zacharias continued to serve God faithfully, obediently walking in all the Lord’s commandments, God’s plans and purposes were being fulfilled in their lives. Not only were they chosen to become the parents of John, they would hold a special part in the story of the Savior’s birth. John was Jesus’ cousin, and he would herald, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

It is important to know that God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. As we walk with God in obedience to His Word, His plans will naturally unfold in our lives. We each have an important part in the proclamation of the Gospel. Are you open to the unlimited possibilities of God working the impossible in your life?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

Friday December 8, 2017

Son of the Highest

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1:31-33

The wondrous birth of Christ was announced to Mary, a virgin, by the angel Gabriel. Cradled within her womb would be the long awaited Messiah. Declared in the angel’s special greeting was the Baby’s name, JESUS.

Later, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph. He was reminded of his earthly lineage: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Prophecy tells us that JESUS was connected with King David’s royal throne. Joseph, as a son of David, was in Christ’s royal lineage.

Joseph was also told by the angel, the purpose of the name of JESUS: “And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

JESUS, pure, sinless and divine, was named the Son of the Highest; greatness preceded Him. He is the King of Kings and will reign forever and ever… Christmas is a perfect time to reflect on God’s amazing plan of salvation. God sent His Son incarnate to earth for our sinful sakes. Why not accept JESUS as your Savior this Christmas? Then one day, you, too, will enjoy His everlasting, kingdom.

The sum and substance of the preparation needed for a coming eternity is that you believe what the Bible tells you and
do what the Bible bids you.
~Thomas Chalmers~

THURSDAY December 7, 2017

Unbelief in Glad Tidings

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Luke 1:18-20

Zacharias, even though he served God as a priest, questioned the possibility of having a child; because both he and his wife were elderly. He thought it very unlikely that it would happen as the angel had told him. Gabriel had a rebuke for the priest. He was an archangel who stood before the presence of God and had come from the presence of His holy throne room, as His messenger, to give Zacharias glad tidings.

As Zacharias’ heart of unbelief was revealed by the angel, he was told he would remain mute until the time that the things told to him would come to pass. The Bible is God’s infallible Word. There are many prophecies given in the Old Testament concerning the certain events surrounding Christ’s birth and the actual birth of Jesus Christ, that were fulfilled in the New Testament.

The odds of God’s Word coming to pass are impossible by human terms, but 2 Peter 1:20-21 assures us of the Scriptures infallibility:

…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Despite all the evidence, how many people choose not to believe God’s Word and the glad tidings of the Gospel message He brings to us?

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…
~2 Peter 1:19~

WEDNESDAY December 6, 2017

Make Ready a People

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

John, even from within the womb of his mother, was filled with God’s Spirit. When Mary, pregnant with the Messiah, visited Elizabeth, we read of his incredible reaction: And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). John was likened to Elijah, a bold and powerful prophet, yet Jesus told His disciples: For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).

As a man, he would take upon himself the vow of a Nazarite; he would drink no wine or strong drink––he was set apart to God (Numbers 6:1-21). He preached in the wilderness of Judea and baptized many in Bethabara, beyond the Jordan. He was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; John 1:28). What was John’s compelling message?

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight’” (Matthew 3:2-3).

Imagine, over the years, this same message has been preached to the multitudes. Have you responded to the message and repented of your sins? Are you ready to meet the Lord––the One who sits on the throne of David?

Never will Christ enter into that soul where the herald of repentance
hath not been before him.
~Joseph Hall~

TUESDAY December 5, 2017

The Silence is Broken

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”

Luke 1:13-14

In the days of Herod––the most vile and wicked king, Zacharias the priest served God in the temple. His wife Elizabeth was barren, and there was little hope of a child being born to the aged couple. They were both described as being righteous and blameless before God, walking in all the commandments (Luke 1:5-7).

Four hundred years of silence spanned between the pages of Malachi and Matthew. Although the Lord had not spoken through any prophet for some time, the stage was being set for the entrance of a King, but not just any king. Before His royal birth, a forerunner would prepare His way. Earlier, the Prophet Isaiah prophesized about John:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

In God’s perfect timing, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple. Zacharias became afraid, but the angel told him he had come in answer to his prayer. Elizabeth would have a son, and he was instructed to call the name of the child, John (Luke 1:8-14). Never doubt God’s times of silence; He is at work behind the scenes of your life, fulfilling His plans.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
~1 Corinthians 2:9~

MONDAY December 4, 2017

Peace without End

…Of the increase of His government and peacethere will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:7

Solomon’s reign was peaceful, but after his death, his kingdom became divided. Rehoboam, his son, ruled over the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah, while Jeroboam ruled the other ten tribes (1 Kings 12:16-17). Sadly, later in history, Solomon’s temple and the walls of Jerusalem would be destroyed. The people of Israel, along with Solomon’s riches, would be carried away into a long Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24-25).

With this unthinkable devastation, how would God accomplish His promise to King David? Who would sit on the throne? Would there ever be a lasting, peaceful reign in the future? It is important to understand that throughout the history of Israel’s kings, the royal bloodline of King David continued. In fact, the scarlet cord wove its way gracefully through the lives of five women. Tamar, who acted as a prostitute, Rahab a prostitute by trade, cursed Moabitess Ruth, the wife of Uriah, and then a young, virgin maid named Mary (Matthew 1:1-5,16).

Mary, poor and humble, lived in the insignificant town of Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph, a lowly carpenter. Both Mary’s and Joseph’s families were linked directly to the lineage of King David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would be born of Mary. He is God, the King of Kings who will establish the throne of David forever.

Imagine, there are still so many wars troubling our world today. But, let us not be distressed; at the end of the age, Jesus Christ will reign, and there will be peace without end (Isaiah 2:4).

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
~Luke 1:32~

SUNDAY December 3, 2017

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Christmas time is when we reflect on Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Christ: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given… A Baby was born in a humble shelter and placed in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem. He came to us as an innocent Child, and yet, upon His shoulder would rest the government––He would be a great and just Ruler.

God’s Son is given the names: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. What incredible titles given to this Baby! What an amazing prophecy about the coming Savior. He came for one solitary purpose––the salvation of men.

Imagine what Mary thought when she held her baby for the first time in her arms. She knew who He was. She not only knew God’s Word and His prophecies, but the angel Gabriel had revealed God’s plan to her. Gabriel told her she was favored by God, and chosen to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit: He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32).

When she was holding her baby––Jesus, I think she must have pondered on everything the angel Gabriel revealed to her. She must have been amazed. How could this defenseless child hold so much responsibility? Although human, He was God. Through His willingness to be obedient to the Father’s plan, salvation for all men came to the earth in the form of an innocent babe.

The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable.
~Ralph W. Sockman~

SATURDAY December 2, 2017

The One Ruler in Israel

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

Micah 5:2

As Christmas draws near each year, I cannot help but go back through the Old Testament and read the incredible prophecies of the coming Messiah. I am amazed by the words written by the prophets, declaring His birth. God is so good, because He provided every clue, every opportunity for people to recognize Christ––the coming King.

The Prophet Micah told the people of Israel, the Messiah would come from the small town of Bethlehem. He would be the One to be Ruler in Israel. He was from everlasting. He was God, yet, He would come to earth as a small child. He would leave His heavenly home, the throne of God, His Father’s side, and come down to live among mortal men.

From this one book of the Old Testament, and in this one verse, we clearly see how God was telling His people He was sending His Son to them. There is no way they could not have recognized Him when He came to them, born in this very small town of Bethlehem––but many failed and missed the miracle of His birth.

Just as God used the prophets of the Old Testament to foretell the people of the coming Messiah, He used John the Baptist to point people to Christ when He came (Matthew 3). Today, we have the entire Bible and the full counsel of God. The Bible points us right to our Savior from Genesis to Revelation. At Christmas time we celebrate His birth. Do you recognize Christ as your Savior? Receive the eternal gift He brings—salvation!

Rejoice that the immortal God is born that mortal men
may live in eternity.
~Jan Hus~

FRIDAY December 1, 2017

Keep No Immoral Company

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people…

1 Corinthians 5:9

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in God’s perfect timing. There were those in the Corinthian church who thought, “Well Paul is not here, so we can do whatever we want.” But Paul, through the Holy Spirit, was in prayer for them, and the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. Then, when he received reports about their sexual immorality, he most probably confirmed the whole situation. Paul, at that point, already knew what should happen in the Corinthian Church, and he basically told them, “Even though I am not there, in my spirit I am there with you––praying.”

If you look at our nation, and even in the Church, you can see that there is a problem with sexual impurity––it is huge. There are night clubs and strip clubs to go to. Readily available to anyone are pornographic magazines and videos. When I am teaching at any service, I can look out into the congregation or at thousands of people attending a conference, and I see many of them nodding their heads in agreement with me. But are some of those very people listening in sexual sin? Is there genuine conviction when they hear the message, or have their hearts have become calloused?

If a person agrees with the message, but in their heart there is sin, then something is wrong with their conscience. The Word of God should bring conviction to their hearts and minds. They should immediately repent. It is as if the Church has gone into slumber like never before. I think we are living in a time when God has spoken, but it could be very possible that He will stop speaking to a lot of people until they repent. Seriously, do you really want reap the consequences of your sexual sin?

Each man's sin is the instrument of his punishment, and his iniquity is turned into his torment.
~Augustine~

THURSDAY November 30, 2017

Sincerity and Truth

…but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to get rid of sin and to serve God in sincerity and truth. We too should fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth. These are two good characteristics in the Christian’s life. Joshua, before he died, challenged the people of Israel: Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth… (Joshua 24:14).

We need godly leaders who will stand and challenged us to examine our hearts and lives according to the principles of God’s Word. In our Christian walk, there will always be battles and temptations. Why? Satan wants to sift us. But God allows temptation in our lives as a spiritual test:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

If we fail the test, we shall have to retake the test until we pass it––remember that. Many people have to retake the test over and over. But when you pass the test, you will get to experience and see what God has prepared for you on the other side––it is incredible.

As you overcome the battles and temptations in your life, you will become a greater witness of the Gospel. When you remain steady and on course in your Christian walk, people will see your discipline and consistency. They will open up to share their lives with you because they have begun to trust you.

Are you serving God in sincerity and truth? Is your life a good testimony?

Though the power for godly character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours.
~Jerry Bridges~

WEDNESDAY November 29, 2017

Purging of Sin

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness…

1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul had asked for a purging of sin––leaven. The Corinthians needed to get rid of all the leaven in the camp. Remember, leaven in Scripture is always a type of sin. Paul had also given to the Corinthian believers some deep insights into the symbolic meaning of Christ as their Passover (Exodus 12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

Seriously, think of all the sin in the church today, and how one little sin can affect a whole church! It is no wonder that the Holy Spirit cannot do an effective work! Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God is still moving, but not in the way he used to move.

I remember going to afterglow services at Calvary Costa Mesa and watching God work. People were healed and were baptized in the Holy Spirit and were speaking in other languages––the power was amazing! If you came to any service, you would see cars parked on MacArthur Blvd., all the way from the 405 freeway. When you got off the freeway, parked and walked up to Calvary Chapel, you felt the Holy Spirit––you felt the presence of God––I remember that clearly!

Everywhere you went, you felt the power of the Holy Spirit. I would see Hippies witnessing to other people in the streets and in the parks about the Lord. But this generation has become silent. Why? Because of sin; they really have nothing to say––there is no power. The only way to witness is through God’s Holy Spirit. He is the One who can empower us.

How we need to return to the holiness of God!

There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit.
~D. L. Moody~

TUESDAY November 28, 2017

A Godly Rebuke

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7

What is leaven? It is the yeast in the bread––a symbol of impurity––sin. Paul was saying, “You have to cleanse the camp.” He then brought in Christ, as he took the Corinthians back to the Passover in Exodus 12.

God was bringing upon Egypt a tenth plague––the death of the firstborn. God commanded His people to kill a lamb at twilight, and its blood was to be sprinkled on the doorposts. The Lord would see the blood, and He would pass over the homes of those who believed. In Scripture, the Passover is symbolic of the Cross of Jesus Christ, His death, His redemption and His atonement for our sins.

In remembrance of the people’s deliverance from Egypt, God commanded a memorial be kept––the Feast of Unleavened Bread:

‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations… Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel’ (Exodus 12:14-15).

In the Book of Joshua, Achan brought sin into the camp and caused Israel’s defeat in battle. He sinned against the Lord when he took clothing, silver and gold from the spoils of war and hid them under his tent (Joshua 7:20-21, 25). In the Book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira both lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). What did God do? In judgment, He killed them!

We need to remove the leaven––sin from our lives. God might not kill us, but He will chasten us––big time!

By chastening, the Lord separates the sin that he hates from the sinner whom he loves.
~Anonymous~

MONDAY November 27, 2017

Delivered to Satan

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Wow! What did Paul mean deliver such a one to Satan? The person who had fallen into sin in the Corinthian Church was a Christian––right? Yes! Paul spoke with boldness and called for this person to be excommunicated. He told the Corinthians to let Satan have him. Let him break him! Why? In doing so, God would allow the Devil to chasten him in such a way that he would either run back to the Lord, broken over his sin, or he would go back into the world and serve the Devil.

Not everybody in the church is walking in the Spirit. Excommunication is biblical; it is what we must do to discipline people who sin in the church. Do we have a right to do that? Yes! Paul tells us what to do. We ask them not to fellowship here anymore––to leave––until they get right with God, or they will infect others in the church.

We are much more interested in the spiritual man, hoping he will repent and be restored. They cannot come back until they get right with God. Why? If you leave them in the church, and they continue to sin, as a carnal person, they will cause tremendous damage in the church.

What was the root problem of the man in sexual sin with his step-mother? His flesh! This man had yielded to his fleshly desires. Paul has given to us the book of Romans, and in Chapter 5-8, he dealt with the subject of reckoning the old man to be dead––death to self. Read it!

What a blessing it is to have spiritual people in the church!

Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.
~Frances Schaeffer~

SUNDAY November 26, 2017

A Problem with Pride

And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.

1 Corinthians 5:2-3

Paul started out 1 Corinthians 5 by rebuking the Corinthians; they had become arrogant––they had a problem with pride. Paul was also upset because here was a growing church that God wanted to use, but there was sin in the camp. So how could God move through the leadership, the pastors and the congregation?

Paul let the Corinthians know he knew things were definitely wrong, and, although absent, he had already judged the person sleeping with his step- mother. Why? Paul knew God’s Word and what needed to be done; he was there with them in spirit––as if in person.

Notice how Paul was a man that was led by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who leads, guides and empowers our lives––not the flesh. Do you realize what sin will do? The Bible is very clear. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30), so He cannot do His effective work.

Understand, people do not respect Christians who go see dirty movies, watch pornography, or listen to worldly music. You cannot be two people. You must be the same person wherever you go. That is what the Bible teaches. Do not bring sin into the church; there needs to be holiness in the camp. God does not mess around. He will judge you if you are being prideful or acting like a hypocrite in the church. You cannot hide from God. The Lord will not be mocked.

There is nothing that human pride resents so much as to be rebuked.
~G. B. Duncan~

SATURDAY November 25, 2017

No Shame of Face

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

1 Corinthians 5:1

The Corinthian church was operating and blossoming; it was a church full of people. But the pastors, leaders and the people were allowing sin to run rampant in the church. Paul had heard the report that was circulating of sexual immorality in the church. Remember, the word report means “common knowledge.” So, although the sin was well known, they had not confronted or rebuked the person for sleeping with his step-mother; they just let it go.

This church had a problem. The leadership was sick, and the people had become like the leadership. It was just as the Scripture Hosea 4:9, taught: like people, like priest––remember that. The Corinthians had become so carnal, and Paul corrected them. He told the Corinthian believers that they had no shame. How could they allow sin in the church when it was God’s holy place?

The Church is a place for people to come to learn God’s Word. Christians are taught, and, as they mature, they are commissioned to go out and reach the world for Jesus Christ. Think about it; the Church is on a mission! My mission has never changed. When I was called by the Lord and put into the ministry, I knew exactly where I was heading. I knew that God had anointed my life, and I aligned myself with His purposes.

Yet, think of how many people have been disqualified because of sexual sin. Christian leaders in the Church drink, lie, steal, fornicate and commit adultery. They try to stay in ministry, pretending as if nothing is wrong. They have no shame of face––no shame!

We can certainly bring shame to the name of Christ by our bad witness.
~D.L. Moody~

FRIDAY November 24, 2017

Do Not Be Hypocritical

Your glorying is not good…

1 Corinthians 5:6

Paul had called for a separation from those in the church who were living in sin. The Corinthian believers should not fellowship with those who were in sin. They needed to cut fellowship with them until they repented.

Think of all the people who manipulate and excuse themselves of their sin while acting spiritual––that is hypocritical. No wonder there is no power in the church today. The Holy Spirit cannot do His effective work, and I am convinced that nothing is going to happen in the lives of people unless the church repents.

True repentance happens when the Holy Spirit convicts you. Then you repent before God (1 John 1:9), and, if need be for accountability, you come forward privately and tell someone you trust, that you have messed up your life (James 5:16). If you sincerely confess your sin and what you have been doing, without hiding your sin, then that is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in your life.

But when somebody is caught in sin they have hidden, and they say they are sorry, often that is not true repentance. How can you trust that person? Especially when you find out they have been doing that particular sin for many years? That is not repentance––my friend. If that person had not been caught in sin and held accountable, would they have continued doing the same sinful behavior?

Prayerfully, may today be a day of true change and true repentance where God’s people heed the warnings in the Word of God. Understand, the Holy Spirit can help each of us to live godly and holy lives.

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
~Galatians 5:16~

THURSDAY November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving

…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:20

Today is Thanksgiving, a time when families gather together to eat, fellowship and thank God for His faithfulness, blessings and provisions. Christians should always give thanks to God for all things, in the good times, and even in the bad (Job 1:21). We should especially thank Him for our salvation: In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

When the Pilgrims left England in 1620, in search of a new land where they could freely worship God, it was not an easy journey. When they arrived, it took time to establish a village at Plymouth. During the first winter, only half of the Mayflower’s passengers and crew survived.

However, in God’s providence, an Indian named Squanto from the Pawtuxet tribe came to meet them. Years earlier, he had been kidnapped by an English Captain and sold into slavery. Squanto had returned to his land, and because he had learned English, he was able to communicate with the Pilgrims. He showed them how to plant corn, extract sap from maple trees, and catch fish in the rivers.

The Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving feast in November 1621. Governor William Bradford invited Native Americans, including Chief Massasoit from the Wampanoag tribe. It was not until 1863, during the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving:

…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

What will you thank God for this Thanksgiving?

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
~Psalm 100:4~

WEDNESDAY November 22, 2017

Destroy the Flesh, Save the Spirit

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Paul instructed the church that this erring brother, who was sleeping with his step-mother, needed to be excommunicated until he repented. Just as parents must discipline their children in love, so the local church needs to be able to discipline a brother or sister in sin––fully and completely.

We are living in the gutter today––living lives of sin. The thoughts and imaginations of men are so corrupt. Sexual immorality happens both in the church and outside the church. I am shocked over the things I have seen and heard in the church. It is causing problems everywhere we go!

However, church discipline is not a group of pious policemen out to catch a criminal. Rather, it is a group of broken-hearted brothers and sisters seeking to restore an erring member in the family of God. When there is true repentance, we want to restore that person and bring them back into the fold––not throw them out.

Men and women can fall spiritually when tempted with sex, but they can also fall into sin with money or pride. Seriously, there are so many things in this world to entrap them. I understand there is not one perfect person in the church, but human imperfection should never be an excuse for sin.

You can tell when a person is sincere when they repent, because they are mournful over what they have done. You can see their hearts––they come to church broken. Do you need to come before the Lord broken and mournful over your sin?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise.
~Psalm 51:17~

TUESDAY November 21, 2017

Judge the Matter

….that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.

1 Corinthians 5:3

It was while Paul was away that he had heard about the sexual immorality in the Corinthian church. He knew about a man sleeping with his step-mother, and it had become common knowledge among the Corinthian believers; yet, nobody was doing anything about it. Paul needed to address the issue, as the leadership was not standing for righteousness; there was no true holiness in the church.

If a man is called to be in the ministry, they need to have integrity and walk in holiness. They should not counsel women alone or continually, and it should be in public, when other people are there––never alone. For accountability, men should not go out to lunch with other women. It is important to have accountability and integrity in our lives.

I personally do not go to movies; I have made that decision in my life. Why? If I was buying popcorn and there was a bad movie playing, even though I was not going to see that movie, people might see me, not knowing which movie I was going to––then there goes my witness. I am a shepherd––a pastor. I need to count the cost if I want the power of the Holy Spirit to preach. As a pastor, I need to be an example and live what I preach. I have to watch what I do and where I go. Remember, “to much is given, much more is required.” You need to live the Christian life too.

Be careful, because once people see you compromising, they will mark you for the rest of your life as an ungodly person who walks in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Understand that whatever you are doing it is in front of God. He is the one who sees; He is the one who hears; He is omnipresent. God keeps the records––not me.

What kind of movies do you watch? What kind of music do you listen to?

Abstain from every form of evil.
~1 Thessalonians 5:22~

MONDAY November 20, 2017

Take the Right Action

And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned…

1 Corinthians 5:2

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, told them they had become puffed up––arrogant. They needed to take the right action and mourn over the sin in the church. Paul was also concerned because the Corinthian believers were falling into sexual sin with the temple prostitutes who would come out at night to seduce the men. They were not only able to persuade the non- believer, but believers to engage in sexual immorality.

I have seen too many men, young and old, fall into sexual sin. While living in a sinful world, we are still susceptible to our sinful nature. Falling into sexual sin can happen when you fall out of love with your wife, and a young girl comes up to talk to you, and you fall for her.

Men are often enticed with prostitutes because of lust. These women appeal to a man’s flesh because they might do things that other women might not do. Men are often tempted to watch pornography because it is so easy to access. Anyone can fall into this danger because of cell phones, computers, internet and movies. Men, and even women, can get caught going to these different websites––it is a big problem.

Seriously, if you are watching pornography, you will eventually mark yourself. It will stain your character and bring you into perversion. Did you know those images will always remain in your computer or cell phone? That is why a crime detective can seize a computer in your home or take your cell phone for evidence.

Some people can become prideful and hypocritical in hiding their sexual sin. But the key to repentance is to be sincerely mournful. Be honest––do you have a problem with pornography? Has it taken over your life? Satan knows your weaknesses, and he will use your sexual addiction to destroy you. Realize the dangers; take the right action and repent.

The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal,
and to kill, and to destroy…
~John 10:10~

SUNDAY November 19, 2017

Shocking Immorality!

…and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

1 Corinthians 5:1

Notice how Paul made the distinction between the Gentiles and the Christians in his letter. He was shocked that nothing had been done about the ongoing immorality in the church. It was so bad that the unthinkable had happened; a man was having a sexual relationship with his step- mother! Think about that. It was shocking! In the world, it is to be expected; but the Corinthian church had accepted the same worldly attitude; they thought nothing of it, and they just let it go.

In the book of Proverbs, Chapters 5-7, 9, the Scripture speak about the whorish woman. She did not know God, and her life was empty. Whether married or single, she went about to fulfill her own agenda––to seduce men. She knew exactly how to draw away young, naive men to herself, or she looked for a husband who had problems at home with his wife. The whorish woman knew exactly what to say to entice them.

Men are very vulnerable and become easy prey. They fall into sin with women because they yield to the lust of their flesh. In fact, women do not have to be beautiful for them to fall into sin. Men are even willing to sell themselves out of their spiritual inheritance for lust. The Scriptures tell us: …by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life (Proverbs 6:26).

It grieves and breaks my heart that so many men have fallen into sin with immoral women, and they keep on falling! This continues to be a real problem both inside and outside the church. Seriously, the best way not to fall prey to a seductive woman is to be in the Word of God––period.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
~Psalm 119:11~

SATURDAY November 18, 2017

Sexual Misconduct

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you…

1 Corinthians 5:1

Notice, there was no fear of God in the Corinthian church. The Corinthian believers had also lost their influence; they were no longer salt and light in their community. They had become utterly disgraceful. Did they not believe in the judgment of God?

In Christ, we are supposed to be salt and light to the world. The Bible warns us not to flirt with sin. But even in our churches today, there are so many problems with sexual misconduct. There are opportunities to fall into sexual sin, all the time.

Prostitutes stand on corners and wait for an opportunity to seduce men.

I knew a man who thought he would never get picked up for paying to be with a prostitute. But the woman he chose to solicit was an undercover police woman. He got caught and put in jail. Yet, there are men who think, “It will never happen to me.” But if you do not have a guard, it is easy to sin. I guarantee it will happen in your weakest moment as you take your eyes off the Lord, or when you are not in the Word of God, you will fall.

Falling into sexual sin can be as easy as meeting a woman in a grocery store, or when a waitress becomes friendly with you. If you decide to keep going back to that same restaurant, before you know it, you have begun a relationship; and, in the end, you will be sleeping with her! When you fall, it will affect your family, friends, and those whom you work with. They will not trust you anymore. They will think, “He might do it again.” Then you are marked. If only men would stop to think of the consequences.

Therefore, it is good to be with other godly men, so that you have accountability and integrity in your Christian walk.

Nowhere does the Bible teach that sex in itself is sin. But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex.
~Billy Graham~

FRIDAY November 17, 2017

The Heart of a Shepherd

Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

1 Corinthians 4:18-21

Paul finished 1 Corinthians 4 with a final exhortation, as there were still issues of pride among the believers––so much so that there remained those who thought Paul would not come to them. Sometimes Paul needed to use the rod of correction––the Word of God. Depending on their response to his letter to them, he may not have needed to rebuke them, but he could come in love and gentleness.

Notice how Paul lived by the will of God. He was so genuine because he was always directed by the Holy Spirit. If Paul came to them, it would be in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power and might of this world.

Paul posed a good question: “Should I come and discipline you or shall I come in love and in a spirit of gentleness?

Paul had a heart of a shepherd when he cared for the flock of God. Why? Because he loved the people––just as I love the people of God today.

Paul, before he left for Rome to face his death, exhorted the Ephesian elders as shepherds––those who were called to be pastors over the flock of God:

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:28-29).

Seriously, we need to be thankful for the faithful men of God who fulfill their call to shepherd God’s people.

…I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
~Jeremiah 3:15~

THURSDAY November 16, 2017

Imitate Me

Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

1 Corinthians 4:16-17

Paul urged the Corinthian believers to imitate him. Why? Paul had imitated Christ. Timothy was a great help to Paul; he was like a son to him. Paul had trained him in the ministry. As a loving father, Paul exhorted and corrected Timothy to get him back on track:

Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Timothy 4:14-16).

Paul sent Timothy to the Corinthians. When he arrived, he would be able to personally share with them about Paul, and he would tell them of Paul’s integrity in ministry.

As a Christian, it is important to be a man or woman of integrity. We are to imitate Christ in all that we say and do:

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:1).

It should be our aim in life to always be pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:6).

By this I know that You are well pleased with me, because my enemy does not triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
and set me before Your face forever.
~Psalm 41:11-12~

WEDNESDAY November 15, 2017

A Father’s Tenderness

I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:14-15

Paul was like a father, he was not putting the Corinthians down or shaming them; he was telling them the reality of living the Christian life. He spoke to them with the tender mercies of a father. Paul saw them as his children; he had begotten them through the good news of the Gospel.

Notice God’s love in Paul’s heart, as if he said to them, “How many teachers care for you like I care for you?” He warned them about their carnality and that there was no security for tomorrow. Paul knew that if they did not listen to him, he at least had warned them. He sincerely cared for the believers’ walk in Christ. Observe how Paul greeted Timothy: …a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Timothy 1:2).

It is important to understand that God’s character is that of a loving Father. As Christians, we are set apart from the world. The Lord treats us as His sons and daughters:

“Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

We have been adopted by God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). We are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). Yet, God, as our Father, will lovingly correct us (Hebrews 12:6-11). As a Father, He has shown us His mercy.

As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
~Psalm 103:13~

TUESDAY November 14, 2017

The Filth of the World

Being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

1 Corinthians 4:13

Paul spoke to the Corinthian believers with great humility, much like Peter who taught us to be clothed with humility: …be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The ministry was a call of God; it was not an occupation. Again, Paul taught them that ministers of the Gospel were not to seek popularity or seek to have their names in lights.

He explained that the Christian life is often just the opposite. Paul and the other apostles were defamed and mistreated, as the filth of this world. Hebrews 11:36-38 describes the scenes of how Christians were being treated:

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Are any of these things happening to you? Underline the word filth in your Bible (1 Corinthians 4:13). Understand that, at times, Christians are treated like rubbish. You have to count the cost of the Christian life; it is not always easy. When things get difficult, you need to be able to trust God. As those who believed in Christ before us, we need to understand that we are not of this world; God has provided something better for us (Hebrews 11:10).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

MONDAY November 13, 2017

Christian Endurance

To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure.

1 Corinthians 4:11-12

The Apostle Paul gave a perilous view of Christianity. He told the Corinthians what real ministry resembled. Paul was a good steward. He worked with his own hands as a tentmaker, for hours. He provided for his own needs, and then he preached the Gospel. Often he experienced hardship, hunger and thirst. He endured many trials and persecution. You see, Paul lived in very depressing times, when Rome ruled and Christians were horrifically persecuted.

It is important to understand the lessons about the Christian life as seen in the Bible, especially if you are going to be a leader. People need strong leaders; they do not respect weak leaders. In times of great trial and temptation, a leader must be strong so others can see the Lord’s strength and grace working in their lives.

Paul had an affliction and prayed to the Lord for it to be taken away, but the Lord told him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul declared to others:

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

We live in difficult times; many Christians are still being persecuted throughout the world today. Even in your weakness, those around you will come to know that you trust in Christ.

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…
~Hebrews 12:1-2~

SUNDAY November 12, 2017

Fools for Christ

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, But we are dishonored!

1 Corinthians 4:10

Paul needed to reeducate the believers in Corinth, as if to say, “As ministers of the Gospel, I am going to tell you who we really are.” The ministry is not about popularity; it is about suffering and even death. They had lifted themselves up, thinking they were wise, strong and distinguished. But Paul reminded them that they were nothing. In reality, they had never tasted the sufferings of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul knew the cost of ministry. It was not a place of comfort or a place for anyone to enrich themselves. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul gave to them the true perspective of following Christ:

…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness…

During the time of the Roman Empire, Christians refused to profess Caesar as Lord, and, as a result, many Christians were put to death. It is believed that when Paul faced death in Rome before the Roman Emperor Nero, he had said, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Then, Paul was beheaded.

A crown is not given to you until you have been to the cross.
~Raul Ries~

SATURDAY November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

“How the mighty have fallen,and the weapons of war perished!”

2 Samuel 1:27

Today is Veterans Day, and, once again, Americans will remember those who have bravely served our country. At first, this day was called Armistice Day, and on November 11, 1919, it marked the anniversary of the end of World War 1. A resolution was passed in Congress, and beginning November 11, 1926, it became an annual observance. Later, in 1938, it became a national holiday. In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

During the final days of the Civil War, President Lincoln gave a stirring speech to help turn the tide of bitterness and disunity in the country. He hoped to bring about lasting unity and reconciliation among the people:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

In 1959, two metal plaques were placed by the entrance to the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Inscribed were the words: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” These words have become the VA motto. The government was obligated to care for those who had been injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who had died in battle.

To care for him who shall have borne the battle.
~Abraham Lincoln~

FRIDAY November 10, 2017

A Spectacle for Christ

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.

1 Corinthians 4:9

Paul once again gave to the Corinthian believers the correct perspective of ministry. The ministry is a place of suffering. As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was willing to be a spectacle. This is where we get our English word “theater.” Paul was willing to die for Christ, as if put on display in the eyes of earthly men and heavenly angels. If the apostles were put to death, men and angels would see it and hear about it.

Notice what Paul says: the apostles were last––not first––last, as men condemned to death. They were nothing; the apostles were appointed to death! Paul knew that the world hated and despised him and the apostles of Christ. If they were killed, Paul said in confidence: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21). When Paul died, he would be alive before the Lord. You see, Paul and the apostles already knew who they believed in, and they knew their Savior, and they knew what they had been called to do.

Paul and the other apostles were not going to give in to the world. They would not compromise with carnal Christians in the church. It was as if he told the believer in Corinth, “We are not going to dance to your tune or play your game.”

Seriously, the ministry is not what people think it is. It is not a place of promotion––it is a place of suffering. Who do we minister to? We minister to suffering people who need the Lord.

No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar, but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness
and spiritual sterility.
~A. W. Tozer~

THURSDAY November 9, 2017

Pride and Popularity

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!

1 Corinthians 4:8

Paul has taught me so much in these epistles. He was burning with passion, as he wrote to the Corinthians with all of his heart. He told them they were already full and rich, but he was being sarcastic. Paul wanted nothing to do with those who had popular sections in the church. The people were not appreciative of Paul or the other apostles. However, Paul did not care; he knew God and what the Lord had done through the apostles.

To their shame, he addressed them as if they were ruling as kings! Paul was literally saying, “So you think you have got it all!” Yet, Paul did not even think of himself that way, neither did Peter. Should Paul reign with them? Never! Paul wanted nothing to do with their pride––he would always be a part of Christ.

Humility is the key to usefulness; if you really want to be used by God, you have to be humble. You cannot have a haughty attitude. It is important to know the heartbeat of Jesus Christ, the One who has called you, anointed you and is sending you to do the work of God. It is not your work; it is not your foundation; Jesus is our foundation––He is the Rock!

Time changes, but the teaching the Word of God is the most important thing. I do not trust anything experience oriented; I do not want any of that. The Word of God brings me to a place of stability––a balanced life in the Lord. Jesus is the Word––the logos––it is incredible.

Are you drawn away to be a part of the prideful and popular crowds? Stay uncompromised and remain with those who love the simplicity of the Word of God.

Be attractive and winsome, but do not compromise your convictions for the sake of popularity.
~ Billy Graham~

WEDNESDAY November 8, 2017

Why Boast?

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

1 Corinthians 4:7

One of the things Paul noticed in the Corinthian church, and as he traveled through Galatia and the other cities, was that many people were full of pride. He knew one of the missing ingredients in so many of the leaders’ lives was––humility. Paul the Apostle began 1 Corinthians 4:7, with three important questions that needed to be answered by the believers.

We need to recognize that it is God who has anointed us for the work of the ministry. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. He opens the doors and shuts the doors. It is not about us, it is about Him––Jesus Christ. We must live in the present, teaching, leading and discipling people with the same common vision that was given to us. But we cannot take the credit.

In the book of Philippians, Paul poured out his heart to the believers. He taught in Philippians 2:5-8, that Christ is the greatest example of humility:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Men love to take the credit––that is pride. We cannot boast. Again, we are nothing; it is God who gives us the knowledge, the passion and the spiritual insights. If we are going to serve the Lord, we need humility in our hearts, otherwise, we cannot serve him––there is no possible way.

True humility is a kind of self-annihilation;
and this is the centre of all virtues.
~John Wesley~

TUESDAY November 7, 2017

Learn Not to Be Puffed Up

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

1 Corinthians 4:6

It seems that in the ministry, and in other different work places, people want to climb the ladder of success. Yet, God created and knew each one of us before we came out of our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). The Lord was watching over you and already knew who you were going to become. He is God. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior have been given gifts and talents; God has a work for them to do.

Paul was chosen to become an apostle, one born out of due season,

so there would be a balance in the apostleship (I Corinthians 15:8). He gave us balance in doctrine––fourteen letters to teach and disciple us. God prepared Paul. God told Ananias that He had a purpose for Paul’s life. He became obedient to the call of God and entered into the ministry.

When you realize that we are nothing, and it is God who has done the work, there is no reason to get puffed up. We should not think we are better than another person. We always need to be attached to the Lord, not man. We do our best and let God do the rest. Then God brings us peace of mind. We are at peace with ourselves and with everybody else.

We need to have an attitude of humility and not be puffed up with pride.

Pride can be so subtle. If you have stopped receiving from other people, and you are no longer teachable, then you have a problem with pride. We should never demean others. We need to be content and not be in competition with others.

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition
is gone, pride is gone.
~C.S. Lewis~

MONDAY November 6, 2017

Making Good Judgments

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

As you read and study Paul’s letters, you can see he was quite a person. He sat under one of the greatest Jewish teachers, Gamaliel; a professor of that time, concerning the Law and the Scriptures. Paul was a great intellect; he soaked in the Word of God and became a zealous Jew, persecuting the church. Yet, you can see, when he became a Christian, how God transformed his life and gave him a real heart to take the Gospel to the lost.

In writing his letters, Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, he really exposed the sin in the Church. We know that Corinth was a party city with a thousand prostitutes, who would come down and seduce both those in the church and the non-believers. When you go to Corinth, the Bema Seat is still there today; this is where Corinthians would go for judgment. Though there was much judgment given in the city, the Corinthian believers were not judging themselves by examining their own behavior.

Paul wanted to be direct and straightforward as he wrote to the church in Corinth. He did exactly what God had called him to do. He informed and exhorted them concerning their carnality. He addressed the sharp divisions over choosing different teachers, such as Apollos and Cephas. Paul gave to them the right perspective; these teachers had roles in God’s plan to plant and water. It was the Lord who gave the increase. God should get all the glory (1 Corinthians 3:4-8).

God does not want us to be divided in the church; He wants us to be centralized in the Gospel of Jesus Christ––in Christ Himself.

Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ, whom we have to preach; and if we leave Him out, we leave out the very soul of the Gospel.
~C H Spurgeon~

SUNDAY November 5, 2017

Learn to Be Faithful

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Stewards of God have to be faithful. Paul first defined what a servant means. What is incredible is this word servant means “an under rower.” Paul, as a servant of Christ, made the clarification that he had submitted himself to become an under rower of Jesus Christ. Paul is also saying a believer in Christ is not the captain of the ship. I like that!

In the Roman times, the under rower was a slave on the lower deck of a ship. He would be chained with other slaves. It was the worst place to be, as it was hot and humid, and they were often beaten. These men had to work really hard to get to shore.

Then, as Paul continued to speak about faithfulness and stewardship, he wanted the believers to understand the unity of everyone working together as servants and stewards of the mysteries of God––the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Chuck would place men in janitorial work. Romaine was the main person who would oversee these young men as janitors, doing church maintenance. As servants of Christ, they had to learn to serve without murmuring and complaining. These men learned first to be servants, as they sat and learned under Chuck Smith, and today, many have become pastors in different places all over the country.

When it comes to faithfulness, if you are faithful in the little things, God will make you greater in the bigger things. He is in charge; we have to get that into our minds. If you never learn to be a servant––an under rower–– you will never become a steward. You will never take care of God’s things. God only trusts faithful people. You have to be faithful to God, because you are dealing with the eternal––not the temporal.

Faithful in little = Faithful in much.
~D. L. Moody~

SATURDAY November 4, 2017

The Nature of True Servanthood

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-6, Paul directed his letter more to the pastors. Paul spoke about the false view of superiority in the church. The believers needed a clear picture of what a true pastor should be like. Paul put a stop to the division caused by choosing favorite leaders. He wanted people to become lovers of God––not man.

Paul the Apostle was never in a box, and for that reason, he was criticized and put down. People did not like him. He had suffered so much in his ministry as he preached the Gospel. Yet, Paul had such great friends like Luke the physician, Apollos, Cephas and Peter, whom Paul had to rebuke (Galatians 2:11).

Paul was never a man-pleaser even until the day he died. He truly believed in God. He never bowed his knees to anyone or compromised. Paul did not want to be like Peter or Apollos; he wanted to be like Christ––that was always his main emphasis.

Yet, some pastors believe they are better than the sheep––God’s people. It is a strange concept that some pastors can have; they live to enrich themselves. The sheep serve the pastor, rather than the pastor serving the sheep. Yet, the pastor is no better than the sheep.

There are those people who will worship the pastor and do everything for him. They really do not have an opportunity to serve the Lord in the way God intended for them. A pastor should never Lord it over the people. They are called to serve the people. It is about people’s souls. People die every single day; they are going to hell––by the multitudes––so sad.

The preaching that this world needs most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Jesus Christ.
~D. L. Moody~

FRIDAY November 3, 2017

God Is My Judge

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4

Paul now addressed his enemies, those Jews who had come against him. He did not judge himself; he believed there was nothing in his life to which they can point a finger. Paul knew that eventually he would be judged by the Lord. One day God would open up the books and judge. Paul had such a heart for God that he poured out love to them. He was more concerned about eternity, because once his enemies died, then they would face eternity––they would be lost forever.

We may judge each other, but, in the end, God is the one who judges us. If you are a Christian, you should never feel condemned. But if you are living a life of sin, know that what you are feeling is not condemnation, but conviction. When you are doing something wrong, in your conscience and mind, you know!

The Holy Spirit will convict you! Conviction should lead you to repentance; it will get you back on the right road! The Devil likes to condemn people; God does not do that. Condemnation makes you get sorrowful and melancholy, and you will not have God’s peace in your life. Paul the Apostle tells us: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1).

If we are believers in Jesus Christ we have already come through the storm of judgement. It happened at the cross.
~Billy Graham~

THURSDAY November 2, 2017

Be Faithful

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to understand that, as a servant––an under rower, and a steward––a house manager, they would need to be obedient to God in the oversight of the small things He had given to them. Then, God could make them a steward over greater things.

Faithfulness is found all the way through the Scriptures. Underline this one word in 1 Corinthians 4:2––faithful. In the Old King James it means trustworthy. Can you be trusted with whatever God gives to you? As stewards in the kingdom of God, if you are married, think of the responsibility as a husband you have to your wife and your children. If you are a grandfather, you have the responsibility to be an example to your grandchildren.

A servant of God has such a big responsibility to lead other people by their example––to much is given, much more is required. You can only lead people as far as God has taken you––bottom line. Remember that one day we are going to have to give an account for our wives, children, bank accounts, and for all God has given to us. So it is really important, in the sight of the Lord, to manage all He has given us the best way we can, because we shall have to give an answer to God.

As a servant of God, memorize this important principle: if you are faithful in the small things, God will make you a steward over bigger things. It is really important as a servant to learn how to lead faithfully. Remember, God calls us, and He opens and closes the doors. He is the one who promotes, and He is the one who takes down. Galatians 5:22 tells us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… So be faithful in what He has called you do.

Fruit that is never out of season: faithfulness
~John Maxwell~

WEDNESDAY November 1, 2017

Servants of Christ

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewardsof the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1

Paul taught the Corinthian believers that they were servants. They were likened to those men who were under rowers on large ships, or like stewards––house managers. A steward was a person who was in charge of a household. Everything in the house that belonged to the owner was entrusted to them to oversee. The Corinthian believers were servants of God, who had revealed to them the Lord’s mysteries––they were entrusted with Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are also His servants, entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Can you believe the responsibility we have? God has basically said to us,

“Now, here you are; manage the things I have given to you.” Think of how many people mismanage what God has given to them. How can He move us on to the next level if we are not faithful stewards? How can he take us to the next place in doing the will of God?

Imagine, God did not entrust to us a million dollars, as we might miss manage or misspend it; he gave us more than a million dollars. He gave us the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is far better than money. The Gospel is the most valuable thing in the world. It is the greatest thing––there is nothing more valuable than that.

God has also revealed to us His mysteries by His Spirit: But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). Christians, through the Holy Spirit, understand the mystery of the Gospel––the message of the cross.

The blindness of unbelievers in no way detracts from the clarity of the gospel; the sun is no less bright because blind men
do not perceive its light.
~John Calvin~

TUESDAY October 31, 2017

Camp Jubilee

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

Leviticus 25:10

Today, at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, we celebrate Camp Jubilee!

Interestingly, the word Jubilee is a biblical word stemming from Jewish culture. There is some debate whether the celebration happened every forty nine years, or fifty years. The year of Jubilee followed the last year of seven Sabbatical cycles and was announced by a blast from a shofar; (an instrument made from a ram’s horn), on the Day of Atonement.

Men who had become poor or in debt could sell their land or become slaves themselves; their land or freedom would be returned, and any debt would be cancelled in the year of Jubilee. It became a time of great emancipation in Israel. Then God would be remembered as a God of mercy (Leviticus 25:8-13; 47, 55).

This is the wonderful, biblical backdrop for the vison of Camp Jubilee. It which was established when God commissioned Sharon, Pastor Raul’s wife, as a young mother, to protect her children and the children of the church from the evil events taking place on the LORD’S day, October 31. God instructed her to take back His day and celebrate the victories of the LORD of Hosts.

Now think about your sin. It took the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, to bring about your great emancipation. In God’s mercy, your sins are forgiven; Jesus Christ paid a debt you could not pay.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses . . . God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
~Colossians 2:13-14 ESV~

MONDAY October 30, 2017

We Are Christ’s

…For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23

In this chapter, Paul left the Corinthian believers on a good note. They are were to be comforted because they were in Christ, and He is in God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the cross. Without the cross there would be no preaching, and we would be hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

God can give a person such a passion to preach and share the Gospel it becomes a fire burning within them which cannot be quenched. This passion can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter preached the cross with boldness and authority when giving a defense for a man that was healed in Jesus’ name. The Holy Spirit empowered him:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:8-10).

If every person in our three Sunday services would be on fire for the Lord and share the message of the cross, do you think our church would be just standard? No way! On Sunday and Wednesday nights there would be three thousand people; every night the church would jam-packed. Why? People would be zealous; they would have the fire of God in their hearts. They would desire to be in church to learn the Word of God, and then they would go out into their communities to win people for Christ.

We are Christ’s; it is by the grace of God we are saved. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we, too, can share the message of the cross with others.

You do not understand Christ until you understand his cross.
~P. T. Forsyth~

SUNDAY October 29, 2017

Man’s Futile Wisdom

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” and again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men…

1 Corinthians 3:19-21

The Apostle Paul quoted from Isaiah 44:25, which tells us how God makes the worldly wise, utterly foolish: …Who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness. Paul cuts through the deception of worldly wisdom with the truth of God’s character. God is all wise, and, in comparison, man’s wisdom is not only foolish, but futile––empty.

Paul described the Lord’s character in a letter to Timothy: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise… (1Timothy 1:17). God is Creator. He used infinite wisdom when He created the earth: The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens (Proverbs 3:19). It would be wise to fear God, which means to stand in awe of who He is: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

God, in His wisdom, chose to have the simple message of the cross preached throughout the world as the way of salvation: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is foolish to reject the Gospel! Yet, today, if a person stood and started to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ on a college campus, there would be many complaints. People hate the message of the cross; it offends them.

What is sad is that the professors who teach Bibliology classes in the colleges have become liberal; they do not believe in the inspiration of the Word of God. Many professors in the colleges think they are really smart, but, really they are very foolish. They only have limited knowledge, God has eternal knowledge, and He has always existed.

To God our Savior, who alone is wise,be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
~Jude 25~

SATURDAY October 28, 2017

Self-Deception

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

1 Corinthians 3:18

Paul the Apostle was pouring out his heart to a carnal church. He had built on a solid foundation––Jesus Christ. Paul made clear in his letter to the Corinthians that the foundation for them to continue to build on was Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Then, Paul warned the believers about losing their eternal rewards. They were going to have to stand before the Lord to see if their works would endure the fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The Corinthians needed to seriously consider their motives in serving Christ, and how they were using their gifts and talents. Would they be able to rule and reign with Christ in the future? Or would they just make it into heaven because salvation is a free gift of God? How would the way they lived their lives for Christ affect their rewards in eternity? If they truly had the right motives, the Lord would reward them in eternity!

As Paul continued his letter, he gave another warning about self-deception. Paul spoke to the congregation and exhorted them not to use worldly wisdom, but to rather become fools in the eyes of the world. In reality, they had become wise. Why? The cross of Christ to those who believe is the power of God to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Yet, people can still be deceived. Some person believe they can take drugs, cuss, drink alcohol and do all the things of the world, and still be able go to heaven because they are going to church and reading the Bible, but that is not true; it is only for those walking in holiness

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 6:9-10). This is the reality of life and eternity––it is not a game. It is important not to take advantage of the grace of God. Are you walking in holiness?

Without holiness there is no wholeness, no spiritual happiness —
and no heaven.
~John Blanchard~

The Temple of God

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Even though Paul was absent from the believers in Corinth, he still heard the rumors that circulated about them. They lived in the most sensual city in the whole world, and Paul knew they struggled with carnality, even to the point where they had allowed a man to be in sexual sin with his own step mother (1 Corinthians 5:1). Can you imagine their poor testimony?

As Paul instructed these immature believers, he told them that they were the temple of God. What did he mean? The word temple, was in reference to the Holy of Holies, covered by a veil, where the nation of Israel kept the Ark of the Covenant. The high priest would go into the Holy of Holies once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer the blood of a sacrifice and the incense on the mercy seat for the sins of the people (Exodus 26:31-35).

The priest would have to be consecrated. Why? Man was approaching God, and the Lord is a holy God. If there was any sin in his life, he would be killed by God instantly––think about that! Paul was saying to the Corinthians that God dwelt in them, and their bodies were no longer theirs, they belonged to God! They were to live holy lives––set apart for God.

Christians are those who have repented of their sins, accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and became born again of the Holy Spirit––God now dwells in them. We must take care of our temples––our bodies, physically, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually. We too must live holy lives.

A holy God calls his people to holy living. It is inconceivable
that it should be otherwise.
~John Blanchard~

A Christian’s Enduring Works

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:14-15

Paul continued to speak about the Bema Seat of Christ, where God will evaluate a Christian’s life. What will be tested by the fire? A Christian’s motives in serving the Lord, witnessing, and in their giving to God. If you have just played the Christian role in life, then all of your works were done in vain. At the Bema Seat of Christ, you will have nothing to show.

Then you will stand in the presence of God, totally naked, with nothing.

But you will still be in heaven. Why? Salvation is the free gift of God. We are not saved by works, but true faith brings true works that are lasting.

Seriously, there are Christians who have not served the Lord, or witnessed for Christ. They have not built spiritually in their lives. Instead, they spent their time building their lives physically and materially, when in reality, all those things are going to burn! Jesus taught His disciples:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

There will be those who will just make it into heaven. But there is a standard in heaven where you will be able to rule and reign with Jesus Christ. I want God to use my life in eternity, as much as he used it on earth, so I can bring glory and honor to his name.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
~Revelation 20:6~

Tested by Fire

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

Paul spoke in reference to the Bema Seat of Christ, a time of judgment when every believer who has placed their faith and trust in God, will one day be judged for what they were entrusted to accomplish on earth. As children of the light, our works will be placed into the fire to test the value. We will either be rewarded, or we shall suffer the loss of our reward.

Interestingly, Paul started out, with the most valuable commodity––gold, and not the least valued material––straw. Everybody loves gold; it is very shiny and valuable. Today, it has become one of the most invested, precious metals. Yet, in the last days, gold will become worthless (James 5:1-6). Proverbs 11:4 tells us: Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

We know for sure that everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior has already had their sin taken care of at the cross. Christians will never stand before God to be judged for their sins:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

Each and every one of us will die one day. Not one person will escape death, and after death, comes judgment: And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). No wonder God has placed such urgency and care for people in my heart.

We will go past the judgment seat of Christ in single file.
~John Blanchard~

Our Foundation is Jesus Christ

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11

I have circled this verse in my Bible. I do not ever want to forget that the foundation is Jesus Christ––not Calvary Chapel, not Chuck Smith, not anybody else. Jesus Christ is the foundation––the Rock.

The Rock of our salvation is Jesus Christ; He is our foundation––amazing! Everything has to be centered in Christ. My testimony, life, giving, and teaching all have to be centered on Christ. The more of Christ, the better the ministry will be. When there is a solid foundation––built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ––there will be lasting fruit.

We need a solid foundation to build our lives on––which is Jesus Christ. Do not build on sand; you need solid ground if you are to stand against the storms that will come. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus taught us an important parable:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I [Jesus] will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Be careful how you build. Examine the foundation; is it rock or sand?

“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw
me up against the Rock of Ages.”
~C. H. Spurgeon~

A Wise Master Builder

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

1 Corinthians 3:10

Paul gave us the key to why he was called to be in ministry––the grace of God! God’s free grace was given to him. Now he could build, using the Lord’s wisdom. Paul knew God used a whole team, not just one person. We are all a part of God’s building team––a part of the ministry. Paul finished this verse with a warning. We are responsible to God for the work we are given to do for Him. So, we need to be careful how we build.

Paul was an incredible person who stood as a great motivator, leader, teacher of theology, and a great defender of the faith. He could have gotten puffed up and gone on his own way. He was a Pharisee who sat at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), but he never boasted in himself. When Paul got saved, the first thing he did was to go to Arabia for three years to spend time with God (Galatians 1:18).

In my first four years of ministry, we had 25 people who met in our home, and then in our Kung Fu studio, for a Bible study. We never grew in size, but then, we were not looking for people to come to our study. We were content where God had us––happily teaching God’s Word. I never thought that Joe Salaiz, Dale Goddard, Ron Wilkins and I would become pastors! We were all friends who grew up together from Baldwin Park.

It was the Lord; He receives all the glory and all the honor. Who are we? We are nothing but dirt. But God has chosen to use us because He loves us, and He wants to use us as instruments of His righteousness.

So, if a person is used by the Lord to build further upon the foundation He has already laid, then they must give the glory to God.

A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living.
~Anonymous~

SUNDAY October 22, 2017

Fulfilling God’s Ministry

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:9

Paul used two metaphors––a field and a building. What does a farmer do with a field? He has to cultivate it in order for something to grow. Our lives need to be cultivated, spiritually. As we begin to cultivate our lives, we will grow and become mature. Imagine, I have been cultivating my life for over 40 years––amazing!

When Paul spoke about us being God’s building, he explained that as a Christian, even though you and I have an imperfect body, in that body, God lives; it has now become God’s temple. Paul develops these truths later in the chapter as he addressed the Corinthians about their sexual sin. They were giving God a black eye by the way they were living. Paul did not want the Corinthian believers to be destroyed by their carnality, so he took them under his wing as a spiritual father.

As a young pastor, Chuck Smith took me under his wing and watched over me like a spiritual father. He taught me and others within Calvary Chapel, by example. He shared that when he started ministry, he had nothing. He never had a salary, and he struggled for seventeen years. When he got out of seminary; he thought he was so cool. God humbled him. For a living, Chuck went and picked up dead bodies, so he could provide for his family.

Then he had an unexpected call from a member of a church of 25 people in Costa Mesa that was going to close. God not only called him there, but the Lord revealed to him that he would become a shepherd of many flocks. Through Chuck’s ministry, there are many Calvary Chapels. The Lord did the work; it was not Chuck Smith. Chuck fulfilled his ministry.

“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,
that you may fulfill it.”
~Colossians 4:17~

SATURDAY October 21, 2017

God Gives the Increase

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

1 Corinthians 3:6-8

Paul wanted the church in Corinth to understand that, whether he planted or Apollos watered, they worked together as one. God uses human vessels––servants––to do the work in the ministry. The men God used were not gods to be worshiped, celebrities or anyone special. Paul reminded the believers that he and Apollos were nothing! God was the one who brought the increase.

It is God’s Church––His people. God adds people to a church, and sometimes He will subtract others. He does whatever He wants with people’s lives. Why? The success of any ministry is not dependent on any one person. Pastors and leaders are just like everybody else. They get up in the morning to take a shower and comb their hair. Leaders have the same problems we have.

So, why then do people place these men on platforms? That becomes idolatry––we cannot do that! Idolatry is the worship of something above God––be careful! If God uses a man to plant the seed of God’s Word or to water it, the glory must be given to the Lord.

Then, Paul introduced another important subject. He warned the Church about a day of judgment. We already know that the non- believer is going to the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). But Paul developed the subject of the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10), when Christians will either gain or lose their reward. What we receive in heaven will depend on our attitudes and motives here on earth. Was it to build the kingdom of God?

The only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom
that is not of this world.
~Anonymous~

FRIDAY October 20, 2017

God’s Ministers

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

1 Corinthians 3:5

Paul must have been grieved with the Corinthians. He wrote

1 Corinthians, an Epistle which had 16 chapters, to deal with their spiritual problems. Even though Paul was not in Corinth physically, he was pouring out his heart to these believers. He must have been very hurt over their lack of spiritual maturity.

The reason for their carnality was because they were immature; they had not matured spiritually. Therefore, Paul could not go very far with them.

The marks of carnality––strife, envy and divisions––were the things that divided the church. Paul reasoned with the Corinthians that they should not be divided over different teachers. Paul and Apollos were one––unified. They were just men––ministers, servants of the Lord––whom he used for His glory. In fact, God can use a donkey to speak to people!

Chuck Smith was approached by a pastor from another church who had taken his CDs and preached his sermons to his congregation. He asked Chuck if that was alright. He responded to him and explained that there was no problem. Why? Chuck told him whatever ministered to him through the study was God speaking to him––it was not Chuck. So there was nothing wrong with him using Chuck’s sermons, because it is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction to the heart of a person––it is not man’s doing.

God uses a man and through His Holy Spirit that man preaches a message to the hearts of people. The Holy Spirit speaks to the people. Pastors are just God’s instruments to get the Word of God out to them.

The minister is a servant.
~Chuck Smith~

THURSDAY October 19, 2017

The Cure for Carnality

…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

1 Corinthians 3:3-4

Paul watched what was going on inside the church of Corinth. He came to the conclusion that almost everyone was carnal. The majority of the church was sick, and they needed doctoring. It was as if he had to give them the right medicine––the Word of God––but the church was rejecting it. Yet, the Word of God was the only thing that could heal them. They needed to return back to the Lord and stop the carnal things they had been doing.

I am stunned when I see what is happening inside the church and not so much outside the church––it really can shock you! People can sit in church every Sunday and Wednesday, as they listen to the Bible study, and still they commit gross sin––think about that!

Pastors are actually speaking to sinful people and giving them their medicine––the Word of God––but often they refuse to take it; they do not obey the Scriptures. You cannot force people to take their medicine, even though you know it is the only way to heal them. Christians need to allow God to work in their lives so they can become instruments of His righteousness. Jesus told the Pharisees: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

We are all born into sin––we have a sin nature. We are born spiritually dead (Romans 3:23). We are all in need of the Great Physician. Only Jesus can forgive our sins and give us life eternal (John 17:3). Will you repent of your sin and ask Jesus to make you well?

God never forgives sin without at the same time changing
the nature of the sinner.
~lain H. Murray~

WEDNESDAY October 18, 2017

Immaturity

I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able…

1 Corinthians 3:2

The Apostle Paul wrote about three different types of people: The non-believer, the Spirit filled believer, and the carnal Christian. A carnal Christian straddles the fence; they are influenced by their fleshly desires. They want to be a spiritual person, but at the same time, they lean more towards being a natural man––more carnal than spiritual.

Paul wanted to reach the world for Christ, but as he looked at the church in Corinth, he saw so many carnal people. They had their own agendas in life, created law suits against each other, were tolerating sexual immorality and caused confusion over spiritual gifts. Paul really exhorted the church about their carnality, because they were keeping other people from coming to Christ, instead of bringing them to Christ! What happened to their maturity?

Carnality is a reality in the church today––big time. When people have problems, I let them talk freely; and after about five minutes, I know exactly where they are at spiritually––just by listening to them. They are usually immature. The Church lacks maturity. A mature Christian creates unity in the body of Christ.

Like Paul, I want to reach the world for Jesus Christ. I thank God that I get opportunities to see and speak to people in the world every day. I do not want to lose contact with the outside world. I want to know what is going on in the world so I can minister to non-believers. I desire to see people’s hearts. I want to see what they think about the Church and about everything else that is currently going on in the world.

Are you keeping others away from Christ because of your carnality?

I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the Church.
~C.H Spurgeon~

TUESDAY October 17, 2017

Babes in Christ

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:1

Paul could not speak to those in Corinth as mature Christians. He described them as babes in Christ. What if you gave milk to a baby until they were ten years old? Think about how many Christians are like that! They have remained in an infant state, and they have not developed to the next level of their spiritual growth.

Many Christians are not where God wants them to be. They cannot even witness about their Christian faith. Yet, the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses study what they believe. When they come to your door, they can defend what they believe. But if you talk to Christians, it will sadden you. If you ask them to sit down and tell you what they believe about Jesus Christ or their faith, they do not know.

What if their neighbor came to ask them a question about the Bible? If they have not studied, they cannot answer. They would have to go ask their pastor. Yet, Christians need to read and study for themselves––bottom line. Why? If we do not study, pray and spend time with God, how are we going to be ready for God to use us? We will not be ready to witness to others when the opportunities come. God uses people who have the knowledge of Him. Besides, we are supposed to be ready to give anyone an answer to their questions about Christ:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

What kind of God do you serve? Do you know the attributes of God? That is theology! He is righteous, omnipotent, holy––eternal.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
~Psalm 90:2~

MONDAY October 16, 2017

Having the Mind of Christ

For “Who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ. Only those who have been born again of the Holy Spirit have the mind of Christ. We have His knowledge, wisdom and discernment. God will use people whose lives are full of the Holy Spirit! Understand, we are accountable and responsible to the Lord for the knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

The Apostle John spoke a lot about the Holy Spirit, especially in John 13-16. He also introduced the truth about sin, righteousness and the Devil (1John 3:4-10). As Christians, we have become empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the world, the flesh and the Devil (1 John 5:4). We are set apart and have become holy to the Lord. People around us will see a genuine transformation of our lives. They should not be stumbled by our carnality––our fleshly behavior––but as they see the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, they will be drawn to Christ and even convicted of their own sin.

Years ago, when I got saved, the Lord reminded me that I cannot convert anybody; it is the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the first thing He does? The Holy Spirit is “with” that person; He will not leave them alone. He convicts them of their sin. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells “in” them. Then the Holy Spirit comes “upon” them and gives them the power to overcome sin and live the Christian life.

Eventually, everyone will come to a place where they will have to make a decision about Christ. They will either accept Jesus or reject Him. They will repent and become born again of the Holy Spirit, or they will continue to walk in their old, sinful life.

The mind of the unregenerate man can easily hear and mentally comprehend the facts set forth in the gospel, but only the Spirit of God can make the inward man experience the spiritual power of those truths.
~John G. Reisinger~

SUNDAY October 15, 2017

The Natural and Spiritual Man

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15

Paul gave to us doctrines that are very important. He spoke about the natural man––a person ruled by their body appetites, who does not understand the things of God. Man was created by God––spirit, soul and body––the spirit being dominant. When man sinned the body became dominant, so the order changed to––body, soul, then spirit. When a person is born again (John 3:5), the original order is restored back to––spirit, soul and body.

Christians have become regenerated, transformed and redeemed. They are justified by faith. A person having the Holy Spirit within them can now understand the things of God (John 14:17). We are so rich in Christ, not with money or material things, but with the spiritual things that God has given to us–––His love, grace and mercy. We are super rich––billionaires in the kingdom of God.

When we share the Gospel with other people, it is by the power of God’s Spirit working in our lives. They see the power of God in our speech and the way we act and come to Christ. Yet, some non-believers may get mad at us when we share with them about God. They may say, “Do not talk to me; I do not want to hear it!” But honestly, they do not understand––they are lost souls. We must continue to faithfully pray for them. If only they knew who they were rejecting. It is not us, they are rejecting Christ.

So, if a person will not accept what you are saying, do not get offended. Everything has to do with Christ, not you. Do not get hurt. Know that you are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ––period.

I could not bear to be an ‘ignoramus’ or an ‘agnostic’ about God! I must have a God! I cannot do without him.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY October 14, 2017

Comparing Spiritual Things

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

Imagine if the Jewish leaders would have understood the Scriptures; they would never have put Jesus Christ to death on the cross. They crucified the Messiah, Christ, because they were ignorant and foolish. The Pharisees and Scribes were the religious leaders, but they did not understand the Scriptures or the supernatural things of God.

Yet, Paul, Peter and James had an incredible factor in their lives––the wisdom of God. Paul spoke about the interaction between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, all believers can now compare spiritual things with spiritual. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Holy Spirit educates us. When we share the Gospel with other people, the Holy Spirit is able to bring back into our minds the Scriptures. It is as if we have become walking encyclopedias.

In some churches, the pastor will teach topically. He chooses his favorite topics in the Bible to teach, but then you only have a part of the Gospel. When you read the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, you will go through every subject, as you cover the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This is a balanced teaching of the Bible, because believers receive the full counsel of God.

Christians can open up their Bibles and compare prophetical Scriptures concerning Christ in the Old Testament with the fulfillment of Scripture in the New Testament.

Can you believe how simple that is? Simple!

Proper understanding of the Scriptures comes
only through the Holy Spirit.
~Martin Luther~

FRIDAY October 13, 2017

The Spirit of God

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:12

Through the Spirit of God, we can understand God’s Word. When we study and read the Bible, we are not left ignorant. Why? God has revealed the meaning to us. Then we are able to give His Word to other people. How marvelous!

Understand, theology is the study of God. How many of us have studied in-depth the basic doctrines of the Bible? In order for us to be good students of God’s Word, we need to know what we believe theologically.

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. We really need to know and understand what we are sharing with others.

Christians should know that God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so we can be redeemed through His atonement. As believers, we need to understand that we are justified by faith. Then, when we die and stand in the presence of God, we will be glorified, with a new body, having a new heart and mind.

When you are born again, you become a new creature by the power of God’s Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is really important that people see the change in your attitude and character. They should see the difference in the way you speak. Then, over a period of time, others in your family, friends and co-workers will believe the Gospel, because they will see the change.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
~2 Corinthians 3:18~

THURSDAY October 12, 2017

The Deep Things of God

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11

Paul spoke about the revelation, inspiration and illumination of the Scriptures, as we read the Word of God. Paul knew he had divine power behind his preaching. When he opened his mouth, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him. It was supernatural and divine, whereas men’s wisdom in this world is natural; it is not of God. We know the deep things of God such as redemption and atonement.

If you attend a literature class with a non-believing professor who is not Spirit filled, you will read the Bible as if you are studying Plato or Socrates. There will be absolutely no effect in your life. Yet, when Ryan opened the Bible and read for six hours in Panama, the Word of God was beginning to take effect in his heart and mind, in order to get him to where he is today.

I really believe the Word of God was so effective in his life that it was better than rehab! As Ryan made his confession of Christ, immediately there began a transformation. God did not work in a spectacular way––there was no lightening––but in the Lord’s own way, a silent way, He was working in Ryan’s heart.

God still moves in our hearts that way; even when we sleep He works. He is working out all the issues in our lives that He wants to change. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord has revealed to those who love Him, the deep things of God. After the Lord has spoken to you, He will continue to mold and shape your life. Then you will speak with authority and boldness in the name of Christ. As you do that, the Word of God will never come back void.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
~Isaiah 55:11~

WEDNESDAY October 11, 2017

God’s Revelations

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Paul quoted from Isaiah 64:4; which initially referred to the captivity of Israel and God’s deliverance of His people. The prophet Isaiah spoke of these events through the Lord’s divine revelation to him. Since Christians are born again of the Holy Spirit, in a similar way, we can now know the things of God. We have the ability to discern what God is saying through His Holy Spirit.

God has amazing plans for our lives! Ryan, my son, was a drug addict, but when He came to Christ, his life was transformed. In three years, Ryan went through all of Chuck Smith’s 2000 Series, 3000 Series, and all his in-depth and topical studies. He has gone through seminary by listening to Chuck. Ryan loved Chuck Smith, and he continues to listen to him and learn.

God has used Ryan in ways you could never imagine. God even gave him an opportunity in Australia. They placed him on national radio. At first he thought he would be on for about ten minutes, but he was given the main conference time. Ryan has been empowered; the ministry the Lord has given to him is by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has become an effective instrument to be used wherever God has called Him, and God has received all the glory.

Now, my son, Raul Jr. is going through Chuck’s teachings as well. Many people have gotten hooked by Chuck! Why? He has taught us the pure teaching of God’s Word, which has caused us to grow and develop.

Honestly, where would we all be without the Lord? We would be nothing. We were lost, and yet God found us, cleansed us and washed us. Then God has given you and me an opportunity to serve Him. What we do with that opportunity will determine how our future will turn out to be.

…for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
~Luke 15:24~

TUESDAY October 10, 2017

Hidden Wisdom

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The Jews believe that Isaiah 53, in the Old Testament, refers to the nation of Israel, when in reality it is speaking about the Messiah–– the Anointed One of God––Jesus Christ. In the past, and even to the present day, Israel has not understood the cross. But it has now been revealed to us as believers; we understand what the cross means.

God’s Word is like a hidden treasure. There is so much to discover in the Bible. The message of the cross, Jesus Christ crucified, was always there in the prophetical books of the Old Testament. As you study prophecy, you will find many Scriptures about Christ and His death on the cross. Psalm 22:14-15 describes for us His suffering:

I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

As a brand new Christian, I can remember I had a strong desire to get a Bible. “Who placed that desire in my heart?” The Spirit of God placed a hunger and thirst for the Word of God. When I went to Calvary Chapel, I went there for the teaching of God’s Word.

I notice people reading all kind of novels, but those books are not going to help them spiritually. Read the Bible and buy books by authors who have spent time with God. These writers are the ones who will really challenge you to go deeper with the Lord.

I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
~Isaiah 45:3~

MONDAY October 9, 2017

Be Mature

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

1 Corinthians 2:6

Paul spoke about God’s wisdom and how it unites believers. A baby Christian will need the milk of God’s Word, but a mature person is able to eat meat––learning more in-depth Scriptures (Hebrews 5:13-14). Paul was a mature Christian, having a good understanding of the Scriptures. He had an assurance of what he believed. He knew the power of God’s Word and was not ashamed to proclaim the Gospel boldly:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans I:16).

Mature Christians need to keep growing and developing. There are people who are mature in Christ, who have been in ministry a long time, but there is no more elevation in their growth. They have basically flat-lined––leveled out in their spiritual growth. No matter how mature you are in Christ, you have to keep growing and reaching your goals. It is not a time to become comfortable.

I can remember Dr. VanCleave at ninety-five years old, walking down the hallway, teaching the book of Romans. His son died before him, but he was still teaching the Word of God. It was the same in the lives of Alan Redpath and Dr. Duffield. Dr. Orr was a genius! He reached the heights of Fuller Theological School in missions. He taught at West Covina for me so many times. Dr. Orr taught the Word simply to the people in the congregation, so their hearts could be touched.

Are you continually growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ, or have you grown comfortable? Are you still boldly sharing your faith?

Happy is he who makes daily progress and who considers not what he did yesterday but what advance he can make today.
~Jerome~

SUNDAY October 8, 2017

Faith in God’s Power

…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5

Underline this verse in your Bible to remind yourself that Paul did not receive his faith from books or professors––his faith stood in the power of the Lord. If a person has the wisdom of man, they do not have the power of God––right? They are a natural man, because they do not have the Holy Spirit and they are not connected to the Lord. People who are not born again (John 3), do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He did not say to them, “Give me the definition of eschatology.” Jesus simply asked them, “Who do men say that I am?” His disciples answered Him and said, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28).

Then Jesus directed this question to them personally: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” In Mathew 16:17, Jesus explained to Peter that his confession did not come from man; it came from God: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Peter did not have to go to school to discover this truth; what he had spoken was a revelation from God.

The Apostle Paul wanted to know the same thing: “Who is Jesus Christ?” Each of us will need to answer Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?” Prayerfully read the Bible and ask God to reveal to you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, who Christ is. Consider carefully your answer as accepting or rejecting Christ will determine your eternal destination.

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord
except by the Holy Spirit.
~1 Corinthians 12:3~

SATURDAY October 7, 2017

Spirit Empowered Words

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

1 Corinthians 2:4

Paul always sought to glorify God in everything he did through the power of the Holy Spirit. He came to preach and testify of the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul taught the Word of God to the Corinthian church simply, he did not come to them as an intellectual or a professor. He preached and taught in such a way that they could understand. He came as a humble servant of God––as a shepherd over the flock.

Paul was qualified to be a professor, but he taught so simply. He taught believers to become all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). He preached the simplicity of the cross, using words that were in demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. The word demonstration means “legal proof” or “presentable to the courts,” as when you are bringing the evidence before a judge. What is the powerful evidence of Paul’s preaching? He received his words from the Lord; his teaching was given to us by the power of the Spirit of God.

People who have gone to seminary learn a lot of theological terms, such as numerology and eschatology. These words should not be used to impress people. Theology is good for anyone to learn in seminary, but the common people going to church will not know what you are talking about.

Our words must be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If you are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, you have nothing to say; all you have are notes and facts copied from somebody else. Our message should center on the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the most important part of the Gospel message. But we also need to learn to mimic Christ because we are crucified with Him. Why? So we can be spiritual men and women.

The Christian's birthright is the power of the Holy Ghost.
~Lionel Fletcher~

FRIDAY October 6, 2017

Tremble at God’s Word

I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

2 Corinthians 2:3

Paul was a Roman citizen, a Rabbi taught under Gamaliel, knowing the Old Testament Scriptures. He was one of the best teachers among the Hebrews, an intellectual, and such a masterful man. He was a persecutor of Christians, but the Lord spoke to him. In complete surrender he became God’s chosen vessel to give the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9). After three years in the desert, waiting on the Lord, he wrote fourteen letters of doctrine. He became a theologian, but taught the Bible simply––as simple as the ABC’s of the alphabet––Christianity is simple!

When you read Paul’s letters, you do not get confused. He taught theology in a way that was simple to understand. Paul explained justification by faith so simply. I have been in theological classes where I have questioned, “What are they teaching?” Yet, God speaks to us through His Word in such a simple way.

When we share God’s Word we should not go over people’s heads. We should aim to make disciples of Christ––not intellectual Christians––otherwise they will get puffed up with knowledge. If a person desires more profound things from God’s Word, then it is good to go to Bible school or seminaries. Understand the common folk just want to know what God has to say to them.

Paul was qualified to be a professor, but in giving God’s Word he was humble. Within his personal demeanor, he felt like he could not teach those in the church of Corinth. Paul takes you back to 1 Corinthians 1:18. What is the most important thing? Christ and the message of the cross.

…on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.
~Isaiah 66:2~

THURSDAY October 5, 2017

Keep it Simple

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

2 Corinthians 2:1-2

Notice how Paul is so clear in his teaching; the central theme is the message of the cross. It is a message that must be passionate in our hearts. Do you not see around you a world full of problems? Yet, there are so many Christians who do not have the real message or any real passion in their heart for the hurting, and for the spiritually lost people in the world.

There is an important lesson to learn from 2 Corinthians 2:1-2. It is directed to those who have wisdom. Be careful not to become an intellectual. Let me tell you why. You can get a biblical degree, but when you talk to regular people you cannot always use your education. If you try to pass on knowledge from theological books you have read, or the Greek and Latin you have learned, you will not connect with sinners or the common people––simply. Often times what you try to share is too theological, when the message needs to be simple. Paul was a genius, but he wrote theology simply. We must realize many people are just learning how to read and comprehend the Bible.

Understand, the common people come to church empty. They are having a tough time just being who they are and dealing with life. People have their problems at home, with their children, and at work with their employers or whatever else it might be. They should not leave the church spiritually empty.

I remember when I started learning from Chuck Smith, at first, I did not learn Greek and Hebrew, I learned the simplicity of God’s Word––Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Simply teach the Word of God simply.
~Chuck Smith~

WEDNESDAY October 4, 2017

Glory in the LORD

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God––and righteousness and sanctification and redemption––that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Notice the four great things Paul lists concerning our relationship with Jesus Christ. Christ became for us wisdom from God, our righteousness by faith in Him, He has sanctified us, and we are separated to Him. Christ paid the price for our redemption. We are redeemed by His precious blood.

So, why do people take the glory for themselves? That is what people in the world do. They are always glorifying themselves. They want to be called by a title they have earned, a title hanging on their wall. People can become puffed up. Yet, that is not the way of the cross. God should receive all the glory for all that we have become and all that we do.

God is not impressed with anyone’s looks, or with our social position in society, our heritage or financial status. He does not use a person according to their education, MA, BA, or doctorate. It is according to the grace of God. He will use the most unlikely people, if they are willing to submit themselves to Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of God’s grace leaves no room for anyone to boast about anything. If salvation was the work of men surely we would have some great boasting sessions. Understand we are just God’s servants. He raises one up and places another person down (Psalm 75:7).

The ultimate goal is not about us; it is about the Lord! You do not have to impress anybody, you only have to impress the Lord. Be sincere and straight with people about what God has done in your life. Always give the glory to God for what He has done––seriously––it is our chief end.

I will not glory because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed; not because I am clear of sin, but because my sins are forgiven.
~Ambrose~

TUESDAY October 3, 2017

Used for God’s Glory

…and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are that no man should glory in His presence.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, they had some men in the city who were very key people. God used Paul to lead them to salvation. They were used to enhance the ministry, and to help Paul advance the kingdom of God.

In the New Testament times, Jesus chose Peter a fisherman, Matthew a tax collector and Simeon a zealot as His disciples, and to accomplish His will. If I had to make a team I would only want to choose people who are winners; but not so with God. He chooses whomever He wants to choose. It is not my choosing. He just wants those He has chosen to bring glory and honor to His name.

It is important to study 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, so each of us can see how God might want to use you and me. God has chosen each one of us! I hope that you want God to use you! God is on the throne, He has used so many young men and women. He has used older men and women. God uses us by the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory and by His grace. It is the work of God and not men.

We just need to be ready for God to use us––I am ready for God to use my life to whatever capacity He wants to use me. What about you? Are you available to Him? Are you open to the Holy Spirit?

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…
~1 Peter 2:9~

MONDAY October 2, 2017

The Person God Chooses

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…

1 Corinthians 1:27-28

Notice what Paul is saying in this Scripture, it is not the smartest, or the most beautiful people that God uses. It is people who say, “Here I am Lord, use my life.” God uses whoever wants to be used by Him.

I do not know if you have ever stopped to think about the kind of person God chooses to accomplish His work. Perhaps you think God has to use someone who is very talented, wise, and very righteous, but when you look around, you will be surprised! 1 Corinthians 1:27 is Chuck Smith’s favorite verse, and it is basic Calvary Chapel’s philosophy––right there––incredible.

God has used ordinary men to be Calvary Chapel pastors. Men like Chuck Smith who ministered to hippies in the Jesus Movement. Greg Laurie, a hippie on drugs, who came from a broken home as his mother divorced many men. Mike McIntosh, because of drugs, thought someone had blown a huge whole in his head. The Lord healed him. Steve Mays was shot and left to bleed to death. He was found by an old lady, who cleaned and bandaged his wounds. She shared the Lord with him and he accepted Christ. God has used Jeff Johnson, Jon Courson and so many others. God saved all these men and has used them for His glory.

When people look at men like these, they sometimes place them on a pedestal. They think, “If I can only be like them.” God is not a respecter of persons. He gives any person the opportunity to be used. No matter how young or how old they are, it is never too late to be used by God in His kingdom!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
~Colossians 3:12~

SUNDAY October 1, 2017

Know Your Calling

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

1 Corinthians 1:26

Paul spoke concerning the call of God on the believer’s life. God’s call is His enhancement in our lives. It is important to know the calling and anointing of God on your life. It is also necessary to know the purpose of His call, and that Jesus is your sufficiency. It will make all the difference in everything you do. Remember, you never have to copy other people, but be the person God has called you to become. Then you will be genuine in your call and content wherever He has placed you. The Lord will mold you into the person He wants you to be––remember that!

Our whole heart must belong to the Lord. Why? So we can sense within us God’s heartbeat. When I read the Scriptures, I feel the heartbeat of Paul and Peter. I know the heartbeat of Christ, and that makes me keep my eyes on the Lord. I continuously feel passionate about teaching and spreading the message of the Gospel.

Think about what God has called you to do? Have you allowed the Lord to use your gifts and talents in the ministry? Remember, God will use the humble and weak to proclaim the Gospel. Why? So He will get the glory.

As you spend time with God on your face before Him, be open to the Holy Spirit and God will reveal what He has called you to do. Then do the ministry God has given to you with all your heart. Seriously, the Lord has the best plan for your life, one that you cannot even image:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1Corinthians 2:9).

God knows what He is going to make of us.
~James Montgomery Boice~

SATURDAY September 30, 2017

Yom Kippur

For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

Leviticus 16:30

The Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur––the Day of Atonement began the evening of September 29 and will finish at sundown this evening. Do you know the significance of this day? It is one of the Jews' most holy days of the year. The Jews observe this day with giving gifts, prayers and repentance for their sins committed during the past year. During this time the Jews usually fast, and read from the book of Jonah.

The Hebrew word for atonement is “kaphar” meaning “to cover” and “to make expiation for an offender––to free him from charge.” In the Old Testament the people’s sins were transferred to a goat that was released into the wilderness, it became a literal scapegoat (Leviticus 16:10). In the New Testament, Christ would die to take away our sins once and for all:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit… (1 Peter 3:18).

Paul, in Romans 6:10 expounds on this amazing truth: For the death that He [Jesus] died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Christ’s atonement in the New Testament brought us into God’s favor and a restored relationship. Any sinner that repents and puts their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross has forgiveness of sin and salvation.

There is no penitence, gift or any other thing that man can do to erase his sin. Forgiveness of sins can only be removed by the death of Jesus Christ who shed His blood on the cross for the sins of the world.

Release! Signed in tears, sealed in blood, written on heavenly parchment, recorded in eternal archives. The black ink of the indictment is written all over with the red ink of the cross: “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”
~T. De Witt Talmage~

FRIDAY September, 29 2017

God in Comparison to Man

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:25

Paul brought to light the power of the Gospel versus the weakness of man. Man always believes he is smarter than God because he has learned so much in universities, taking philosophy, or sociology classes. Yet, it is God who is the one to give us His wisdom and knowledge:

…attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3).

Understand, God is the Creator of heaven and earth; He created us in His own image: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:1; 27).

Many times professors in universities will put down Christianity. They still have that same wisdom and philosophy as the Greeks. Yet, everything they know is from reading and memorizing a book––it is worthless against the truth of the Gospel. They believe in the philosophy that somebody else has written. Many times they can become intimidated by Christians because they do not know about God. They will even try to brain wash students and discredit the Bible.

Think of what God has done in your life and heart today. Wow––look how the Lord has changed your life! It is the greatest evidence of Christ and the cross working in your life.

There are some sciences that may be learned by the head, but the science of Christ crucified can only be learned by the heart.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

THURSDAY September 28, 2017

Christ, the Power and Wisdom of God

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Christ is the power and wisdom of God. Yet there were Greeks and Jews who did not believe that Christ was incarnate in the flesh. They did not believe that Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). The message of Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. But to those who are being saved, today, the cross of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes in Him.

The cross is important because it speaks of Christianity. If you have come to Jesus Christ, accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, and trusted in the message of the cross––you have salvation. The cross changes your attitude and your heart. Then, one day we are going to have to give an account to God for our lives. As a Christian our names are written in the Book of Life. We will not have to stand in judgment for our sins in time to come (Revelation 3:5; 21:27).

However for those who are perishing, they will face a future judgment. and they will have to give an answer as God for everything they have done. God keeps a record (Revelation 20:11-15). The only way that our sins can be erased is through the cross of Jesus Christ––through His death. Otherwise you will be held accountable and found guilty in the presence of God.

The cross changes people's lives, from sinners it makes them saints. The cross determines a person’s eternal destiny.

The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment.
~A. W. Tozer~

WEDNESDAY September 27, 2017

The Foolish and the Wise

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:20-21

Paul takes up the subject of Christ and the cross. The cross was invented by the Persians and adopted by the Romans who copied them. There are three types of crosses: the T type, the ordinary cross or the cross in the shape of an X. The cross was used to crucify criminals. Usually the cruel punishment was reserved for thieves and murderers. It was a shameful thing to be crucified.

It was illegal to crucify any Roman citizen, and the punishment of crucifixion was never mentioned in polite society. It would be comparable to speaking about the gas chamber or the electric chair. It would not be a common conversation among people because it was so terrible.

Paul explains that there are only two groups of people in this world. There are those who are perishing––people that are spiritually lost, and those who are being saved. You are either a Christian or non-believer. There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus Christ. You are either for Christ or against Christ.

Jesus was crucified with one thief on His right hand, and one on His left for the sins of the world: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The cross of Christ is so absurd to some people; they just do not believe its powerful message. Yet, it is amazing what the message of the cross has to offer––salvation. It is so important that we grasp the message of cross. If you trust in the cross of Christ, you have salvation.

Our salvation consists in the doctrine of the cross.
~John Calvin~

TUESDAY September 26, 2017

The Message of the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

Notice how Paul reproved the philosophers, astrologers and those educated in his day. Why? They thought they were so intelligent, but they did not know about the Gospel. It is the same when you go to college to get an education. Teachers in colleges teach psychology and philosophy classes to give you knowledge. Often young adults are taught big syllable words that can impress people. But consider this; Paul was a very educated man:

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (Philippians 3:4-6).

Yet, Paul told the brethren how his education meant nothing to him:

…I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8).

What was the message Paul gave? The message was simple––the cross. Paul gave the message of the cross simply; he did not use big words, just two little words––the cross. Think about that! People should get impressed when they see Christ in us and working through us, without saying one word. That is a sinner’s greater testimony.

The righteous One upon the cross is the sinner's only point of contact with the saving power of God.
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

MONDAY September 25, 2017

Preach the Gospel

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul, after his letter’s introduction and then addressing the issues of division, closes 1 Corinthians 1, by bringing to the believer’s attention the powerful message of the Gospel. Why? In the Gospel message is the central theme of the cross, it was the instrument of death––and the Christian life is a life of death to self. The cross is where our flesh is nailed. Jesus told His disciples they must live a life of self-denial: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

A Christian should also grow to know Christ and associate with His sufferings:

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).

We not only have the power in Christ’s resurrection, we have power because of the Holy Spirit:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My [Jesus’] witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The word for power here is the Greek word dunamis. God’s dunamis power will give the believer the strength and ability to achieve His will. His power enables us to live the Christian life.

Are you living your Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit?

To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended him to do when he placed him there.
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

SUNDAY September 24, 2017

Do Nothing in Your Name

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.

1 Corinthians 1:14-16

Paul had written to the Corinthians about the problems of division, but he pointed them back to the unity of Christ, through one Savior––Jesus Christ. They should not be divided. Then Paul reminded them of their spiritual baptism into Jesus Christ–– they were to be one body––the Church of Jesus Christ. In comparison, the heathens, at the time, were being baptized for the dead.

When we accept Christ by faith we are baptized. It is a picture of the old man being put to death. As believers we are baptized into a newness of life:

…do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

Our life has been completely changed by Jesus Christ. How then should we conduct our Christian walk? As Christians we need to walk in the Spirit: …Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We should walk circumspectly: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16). We also should walk worthily: that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
~Galatians 5:25~

SATURDAY September 23, 2017

Dealing with Division

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:12-13

The subject of division can turn out to be a blessing or a cursing. It can be hurtful and damaging. It really depends on the intention of the people causing the problem. Usually self-seekers try to build their own kingdom and exalt their own name. They have their own agenda and can cause a lot of damage to a ministry.

Paul the apostle, being wise in ministry, gave this sound advice:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).

But God can actually use division for His purposes. Such was the case of Paul and Barnabas, when both of them disagreed about taking John Mark on another missionary journey. John had turned back and left them in Pamphylia. Paul thought John to be too immature to bring him along again. The issue caused Paul and Barnabas to be divided:

Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God (Acts 15:39-40).

God actually used the disagreement to enhance the ministry. Now there were two missionary teams. Barnabas was used in Cyprus to begin a brand new work. While Paul was used to spread the Gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16:10). We should endeavor to serve the Lord for the glory of His name, never our own.

Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name…
~Psalm 29:2~

FRIDAY September 22, 2017

Is Christ Divided?

For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:11-13

Paul had begun to hear about the contention among the believers in the church of Corinth. Among themselves they had chosen their favorite leader. Notice Paul’s common sense questions to them, and then think about this one important question he said: “Is Christ divided?” We really do not need an explanation for any of Paul’s questions. He is simply pointing them back to Christian unity.

When people begin to choose and follow their own favored leaders, division begins. If we begin to name and identify with only certain teachers, then we become no different than the Corinthian believers.

Pastors and teachers are not to make a name for themselves. Neither are they to make disciples for themselves––bottom line. So many people want to be something when they are not. We should always be little––humble before Christ. If the Lord becomes the main person in your life; then you will remain small in comparison with Christ. That is important because the more humble you are before God; the more He can use you.

Seriously, if people have to constantly mention your name and talk about you all the time, then something is wrong. We have to remember we are just His vessels––His servants. God can do whatever He wants to do with our lives. He is the One who gives to us the knowledge and wisdom in everything we do and say. He is the One who has called us and anointed us. We should always be speaking about Christ.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
~Colossians 3:17~

THURSDAY September 21, 2017

Please, No Divisions, Among Us

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10

As Paul was writing this letter to the Corinthians, he started out on the subject of peace; but before he could continue, he had to change course to address the problems of division in the body of Christ. Paul is speaking to believers in the church; not non-believers. These Christians needed to be united, not divided.

Why was there division among the believers in Corinth? Many believers in the church had become carnal Christians––under the control of their fleshly appetites. It was not just being in a sexual sin that made these Corinthian believers carnal. Carnality is immaturity. Those who were carnal had become division makers, and they caused considerable strife.

You can always recognize a carnal Christian because their words cause division. When people become jealous or angry, instead of building up the body of Christ, they begin to tear others down. Be careful not to get infected by carnal people’s gossip. Be careful with your own mouth! Gossip can create a big mess. Others can grab hold of what has been said and gossip begins to spread. Remember, what we say can affect anyone around us, including our kids.

Those who truly walk by the power of the Holy Spirit bring peace and not problems. That is a sign of maturity. Chuck Smith always used to say, “Let’s disagree agreeably.” Why cause division? Why not work together in harmony with the Holy Spirit? We need to examine what comes out of our mouths. Seriously, are your words bringing peace or division?

Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in… Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY September 20, 2017

Fellowship with Christ

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9

Paul spoke about the close fellowship the Corinthian believers were to have with Christ and among each other. The Greek word for fellowship is koinónia, it means “participation, and communion.”

The Apostle John explained to the believers in Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).

I love that we have fellowship with one another, and we have the same fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. But there is another important truth given to us in 1 John 1:6-7:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

These verses become a good gauge to examine ourselves. In the light and truth of what is declared in 1John 1:6-7; we should be able to see whether we really do have fellowship with God. We do not want to be self-deceived. Discern for yourself, are you walking in darkness or in the light?

The power to live a new life depends upon daily communion
with the living Lord.
~John Eadie~

TUESDAY September 19, 2017

Eagerly Waiting For Christ’s Return

… waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:7-8

Paul used the word waiting in this verse because it means to “wait with eagerness.” What are we to eagerly wait for? We need to eagerly wait for the coming of Lord Jesus Christ. The problem with some Christians is they have lost sight of the coming of the Lord. What eventually happens to them? These people will lose hope.

What has kept me during these last forty years in ministry? It is what Chuck Smith always taught me, Jesus is coming soon. In Matthew 24, Jesus taught His disciples about the end times. He exhorted them: Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42). We need to watch for the signs of the end times and our Lord’s return.

I have read the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the Minor Prophets and the Epistles. All these books speak so much about the coming of Christ. There are almost 500 prophecies concerning Christ. Over 300 of them were fulfilled in His first coming, and the rest will be fulfilled in His second coming. It is important to understand that the day of the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture is speaking of the rapture of the Church––the body of believers and the Day of the Lord is speaking of the tribulation period (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:2).

Paul also wanted to remind us that we are lacking nothing as Christians. If God started a work in our lives; He will finish it. When the Lord comes, He wants to find each of us blameless. We should be found living holy lives, and blameless in everything we do.

LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart…
~Psalm 15:1-3~

MONDAY September 18, 2017

Confirmed in Christ

…even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift…

1 Corinthians 1:6-7

Paul mentioned the word testimony which in the Greek is marturias meaning “a witness, evidence.” The work of Christ in our lives is evident to others. It is a miraculous work He has done in us, through Christ, “the Anointed One.” Jesus has given to us a solid guarantee of our salvation. How are we confirmed in Christ? We are confirmed by the Holy Spirit:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [salvation]

(2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

It is important to notice the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the church of Corinth, as we go through the entire book of 1 Corinthians. Yet, what was the problem concerning the Holy Spirit in the church? The believers in Corinth were misusing the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These spiritual gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Paul made known that all these gifts were given by God, through the working of His Spirit:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

Are you using the gifts of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory, or for your own purposes?

What the Spirit does is exactly what the Lord does; the Spirit's work is not an additional or special work beyond the Lord's;
the Spirit is the Lord at work.
~F. D. Bruner~

SUNDAY September 17, 2017

Enriched in Christ

…that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge…

1 Corinthians 1:5

Paul told the Corinthian believers how they had become so rich in Jesus Christ. What did Paul mean when he said “in all utterance?” He was referring to the biblical truth they had learned from studying God’s Word. It is the same with us. If we study God’s Word and learn His truth, we shall be enriched “in all utterance.” We shall be able to speak God’s truth to others. God’s Word is so powerful.

When Paul spoke about “all knowledge” he meant that we must continue to study and learn the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Our study of the Bible should not be once in a while––from time to time. We must go through the Bible every day. Often when we read a passage of Scripture for the first time, we may not understand, but later, reading from the same passage the Lord showed us something new. He will give to us the complete understanding.

God’s Word should never become old to us. It should be new to our hearts every single day! As we increase in knowledge, wisdom and spiritual understanding, the Lord can use our lives tremendously:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10).

We can speak the truth of Jesus Christ through the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Since becoming a Christian how many times have you read through the entire Bible?

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through
His poverty might become rich.
~2 Corinthians 8:9~

SATURDAY September 16, 2017

Times of Seclusion

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Galatians 1:15-17

When Paul became saved, the first thing he did was to spend three years in the Arabian desert, waiting on the Lord to train him and get him ready for what God intended to do in his life: Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days (Galatians 1:18). Paul was enriched with the knowledge of God before setting out to do his ministry. He spent time in seclusion as He studied God’s Word.

Think about how quick people want to enter ministry but they are not fully prepared. If we have not taken the time to enrich our lives with the knowledge of God’s Word, how can we effectively share His truth with others? We should be able to give to others the full counsel of God; not just only our testimony, the amazing things God has done in our lives.

I can remember when I first was saved; it took me four and half years to really get rooted and grounded in God’s Word. I attended Calvary Chapel and listen to Chuck Smith. I needed to know God and His Word intimately. Then I could understand the call God had for my life. I have learned in ministry that it takes a lot of labor and discipline to study God’s Word. As we learn the Word of God our knowledge of Him expands. Daily being in God’s Word causes us to be built up and we grow spiritually.

Remember, the perfect will of God is for you to know God intimately. You will know Christ and then understand what He wants you to do. Once you know Him intimately, then it is natural to serve Him.

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
~Ephesians 3:19~

FRIDAY September 15, 2017

God’s Grace Given

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:4

Paul, here, continued with the theme of grace. He thanked God for His grace, seen in the lives of the people in the Corinthian church. Notice how Paul was so personal; he was genuinely concerned for the body of Christ––the church. He was aware of their needs, and he prayed for the people.

A shepherd––a pastor of a church, should be genuine in his concern for the people. If a pastor is not concerned about people, he will not mention them at all. Paul made very clear the call of a shepherd:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

The Apostle Peter shared with the elders of the Church the importance of taking care of God’s people:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock… (1 Peter 5:2-3)

It is wonderful for a pastor to see the grace of God working in the lives of the people in the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember, grace only comes through being born again of the Holy Spirit. Grace is free; grace is a gift, and it is not given by any human merit.

Grace is what all need, what none can merit and what
God alone can give.
~George Barlow~

THURSDAY September 14, 2017

God’s Grace and Peace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:3

The greeting given to the church of Corinth began with an important word––grace. Why? We are saved by grace: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Grace was a salutation given by the Greeks, whereas the word Shalom––meaning “peace,” was a common greeting given by the Hebrews. The title in the greeting, the Lord Jesus Christ can be broken down to mean: Lord, which speaks of His title and indicates relationship. Jesus is His name, which represents Him to be our Savior. The word Christ, means “Messiah, He is the anointed one of God.”

Now we can receive a full picture of who Christ is––God: For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, the more we shall understand the grace and peace of God.

Paul, in this greeting, also invites us to come into this wonderful grace. We are saved by grace, not by works. When we experience the true grace of God, then we shall experience the true peace of God.

We cannot understand the peace of God, until we understand the grace of God. I hope that all Christians will come to know more about God’s grace and experience a greater peace of God in their lives. Remember, the Lord is ever-present. He is always in the presence of our lives.

We will never properly understand the work of God which takes place in the Christian life unless we first of all have some kind of grasp of why
we need the grace of God.
~Sinclair Ferguson~

WEDNESDAY September 13, 2017

Sanctified Saints

…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours…

1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul used the word sanctified because it is in reference to our position “in Christ.” In the book of Ephesians this phrase “in Christ” and its various forms are used more than 40 times. The word sanctified means “set apart.” We need to get that into our minds. We are set apart, not to be exclusive, but God sets us apart so He can use our lives.

When are we set apart? The moment we are born again by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6).

We are also called to be saints. What does that mean? God is calling us to be holy or “holy ones.” This is the practical side of sanctification––living out your calling. Paul talked about the Church––the body of Christ–– those who are positionally sanctified in Christ Jesus are called to be saints. Paul has explained to us the benefits of being a recipient of what God has done for us.

Christians have so much to thank God for in their lives! It would be good to spend time in prayer to thank God for all He has done in your life.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
~2 Thessalonians 2:13~

TUESDAY September 12, 2017

Minister to the Immature

…and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:1-2

The Apostle Paul, in writing his letter to the Corinthians, spoke about relationships and how important they are. Sosthenes was called a brother in Christ. In the Greek Sosthenes means “safe strength.” He was one of the Jewish synagogue leaders who gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Immediately, Paul began to minister to this man. He invested time into his life, so that Sosthenes could win other Jews to the Lord.

Like Paul, we are to minister to God’s people; we should never take from them. Mature Christians need to help new, immature Christians grow spiritually into maturity. We need to help them in their faith.

Paul loved the Corinthian church––the believers. He had tried to feed them spiritually, but they were caught up with becoming part of the Corinthian’s sinful society. They were partakers of the sin and carnality happening in Corinth. Paul could not speak to them as spiritual people:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal… (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

I think Paul has given to us one of the greatest signs of maturity in a person’s life. It is when a man or woman feeds daily on God’s Word. The Word of God has become their source of spiritual food and, as a result, they will become mature in Christ. Is there any carnality that you need to lay aside, so that you can grow to full maturity in Christ?

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
~1 Peter 2:1-2~

MONDAY September 11, 2017

9/11Terror Attacks Remembered

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Today marks 16 years since the 9/11 attacks that shocked our nation and the entire world. Terrorists linked to the Islamic group al-Qaeda used calculated, callous and criminal plans to do the unthinkable––fly planes into buildings! America has promised to “Never forget.”

On September 11, 2001, four airliners headed for California were hijacked by 19 Islamic extremists. They carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Horrifically, two planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City. The devastation took the lives of over 3,000 people; among them were more than 400 firefighters and police officers. Another plane also hit its target, the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C., while yet another plane, after a heroic struggle between the passengers and the terrorists onboard, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

When such turmoil and tribulation happens, where should we turn to for comfort? The God of all comfort––He is able to give us the mercy and strength we need in the difficult days ahead. Those who have experienced God’s comfort for themselves can share His comfort with others who have suffered the loss of loved ones or experienced distress.

Since 9/11, how many other countries have suffered the brutal attacks of terrorism? Recently, terrorists targeted Barcelona, London, Manchester and Paris. We live in a sinful, fallen world, filled with much evil. What comfort does the Gospel of Jesus Christ bring to us? Peace.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.”
~John 16:33~

SUNDAY September 10, 2017

Sending a Letter

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul stated his name at the very beginning of his letter and then continued with a greeting. This is the Greek way of writing letters. We sign our names at the end of our written letters today. When Paul wrote his letter to the church of Corinth, he wanted them to know the author right from the beginning. Paul, as an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, wanted those in the church, to know his authority. He was called of God; this was His identification. When the people in the church of Corinth read Paul’s letter, they were not to take it lightly.

When somebody writes a letter to you about something you said, did or perhaps, something they can see in your life, do you disregard the letter as being critical? You really have to ask the question, “Why are they saying that to me?” Is it critical? Have you spent time in prayer reading their letter to find out if you actually did do something wrong?

If it is a person of godly character who wrote the letter, and not some strange person, it is good to examine yourself. It is like taking a magnifying glass and looking deeply into your heart and mind. I like to critique myself, as I take what was written, to the Lord. I never take it lightly. Perhaps this person has seen something in me that even my family has not seen. You have to really listen to the Lord.

We are not perfect; anyone of us can make great mistakes. Often we can come to the conclusion, they were right!

Few men truly know themselves as they are… to study one’s self in the light of God’s Word, and carefully to go over one’s condition…and using all the tests which are given us in Scripture, would be a very healthy exercise; but how very few care to go through it!
~C. H. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY September 9, 2017

Called by God’s Will

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…

1 Corinthians 1:1

Notice how Paul, in his introduction, told us how he was “called” to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. His apostleship was through the will of God. An apostle means an “ambassador”––one who is going to be sent. Paul was sent to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

It is important to know God’s will for your life. The day I got saved, I never doubted that I was in God’s will. At that time, I decided to submissively place myself under Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel, to sit, listen and learn from his teaching. I never promoted myself but waited on the Lord.

Then one day, Chuck wanted to speak with me in his office. I shared with him my testimony––how I had started a small Bible study in my home in Baldwin Park. I had invited all my friends who had just become saved. Chuck just smiled. Then he asked some of the men at the church to come into the office. They all laid hands on me and prayed. A couple of months later, I was ordained through Calvary Chapel––I never asked. Then I attended their first Shepherd’s School. That is how I became the pastor of Calvary Chapel West Covina––amazing!

Many men have left our church and started other Calvary Chapels. It is the Lord who does the work through them. The Lord chooses the man and places an anointing on him. God sees the desire and passion of these different men, and He sends them out. God already knows the people who need to go to that church.

Do you know God’s will in your life? You have to have the anointing and the call of God in your life. It is the anointing on your forehead––the work of God’s Holy Spirit in your life.

It is God who anoints us, sets His seal on us and puts His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit. No church hierarchy or committee can do that. Only God. Our life and ministry reflect God's anointing or lack of it.
~A.W. Tozer~

FRIDAY September 8, 2017

Exhortations and Rebukes

…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:3

The church in Corinth had a big congregation. Paul wrote not just one letter but two letters to the Corinthians because the problems were so bad there. Paul spent time in Corinth, thinking and developing a strategy on how to reach these carnal people who called themselves Christians. Some of the major problems were division, immorality, and the abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, Paul really, really exhorted the church. It is believed that there was a third letter to the Corinthians than was lost.

After writing his first letter, Paul received some bad news from Corinth. Over a period of time false apostles came in to undermine Paul. So, he decided to write back a second letter to the Corinthians to inform, exhort, and rebuke them; it was a sharp letter.

Paul was not a person who was afraid to rebuke or exhort people. Paul named those people who were heretics or false teachers. One time he even rebuked the Apostle Peter to his face as he had compromised with the Jews:

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-21).

Paul stood on the truth and on the righteousness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does your life stand on? Truth or falsehood?

God and his truth cannot be changed; the gospel is not negotiable.
~John Marshall~

THURSDAY September 7, 2017

A Chosen Instrument

But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”

Acts 9:15

God chose Paul to be His instrument and told Ananias to pray for him. Although a theologian, he was a very simple hearted person. Paul worked as a tent maker to make money for his journeys (Acts 18:3). The Scriptures imply that Paul had a family. When he was in jail, his nephew came to visit him: So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul (Acts 23:16).

Paul, on his second missionary journey, had come to Corinth in the fall of 50 A.D., and founded the Corinthian church. It is a pretty amazing place. As you are coming from Athens, going around to the base, you come to Corinth. Then as you stand there looking up at this big hill, right in front of Corinth, that has been excavated, there is a huge altar called the Bema Seat, where the leaders of the city would make judgment.

There is also the temple of Aphrodite where a thousand prostitutes were living and at night would come down to the city and seduce the men of Corinth. If you stand there looking up, you can really get the picture in your mind of that scene. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah; they were drinking, partying, and having sex.

God will send a pastor, and place him in the community where He wants to reach the people living there. He is God’s instrument. Understand it is God who does the work. Any church that is founded is not my church or another pastor’s church. I will ask pastors, “How much did you pay for your church?” I remind them, “It is the Lord’s Church; He paid for the Church by His own blood.”

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood
~Acts 20:28~

WEDNESDAY September 6, 2017

Balanced Teaching

…to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

1 Corinthians 1:2

The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus. He was a Roman citizen of high stature. Tarsus was located on the south east coast of Asia Minor. Today it is known as modern Turkey. Being born in Tarsus Paul had a great advantage. He was certainly fluent in the Greek language; which at that time was the best known language of the day. Paul also spoke in Aramaic. It is no surprise that God inspired Paul to write all of his 14 letters in Greek, to reach throughout the whole Roman Empire.

Paul had also gone to Jerusalem where he sat under the teachings of Gamaliel. He knew Hebrew, the language used by the prophets, to write the Old Testament. In whatever place he went, Paul, with his unique background had the perfect balance to be able to teach both the Jew and the Gentile.

The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Think of all the different translations we now have; NIV, NLT, NET, but within them, there are changes that have been made from the original language. Some Bibles have deletions, so we do not understand what was said in the original language. These versions are watering down God’s Word so that we do not get the full meaning. We cannot water down God’s Word. We have to speak God’s Word exactly how it was written.

This is why we have to study, pray and use the Strong’s and Young’s concordances to look up words and examine the passages in their original language. We want to be correct in teaching the truth. Otherwise we are changing what was given to us. If we deviated from the truth we are teaching false doctrine. Paul never changed what was given to him.

Well knowing that the Scriptures are perfect as dictated (or spoken) by the Word of God, and his Spirit, a heavy punishment awaits those who add to, or take from, the Scriptures.
~Irenaeus~

TUESDAY September 5, 2017

Called Out Ones

To the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:2

The Greek word for church is ekklésia meaning “called out ones” that is those who are called out of the world to serve the Lord. I often think of those men who have served the Lord faithfully. They have been such an influence in my life: Dr. Van Cleave, Dr. Duffield, Alan Redpath, Chuck Smith, Romaine, and even my Kung Fu Instructor, Jimmy H. Woo.

Over the years I have continued to dwell on what my teachers have taught me. I quietly listen to that still small voice of their instruction. When they spoke, I disciplined myself to write down whatever they taught me on a piece of paper, or I wrote it down in my Bible. Then I have the lesson right there in-front of me, to always remind me in the future. I believe that keeping notes to reflect back on what was taught to me was real wisdom.

Christians are called out of the world to serve the Lord. It is wisdom to surround yourself with godly men and women, those who know the Word of God and have walked with the Lord faithfully. If you place yourself under good teachers, and learn from their wisdom and experience in ministry you will do well.

Remember, no man is an island. Who are the teachers that you have placed yourself under? Are you writing down valuable notes from what they are teaching you, to reflect on later in your life? Learning lessons from men who have started well and finished well is a good practice. Many have left behind a wealth of books to glean from. Those teachers are the ones who will be the greatest influence in your life.

Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. It is getting to be what he is.
~Juan Carlos Ortiz~

MONDAY September 4, 2017

Labor Day

When you eat the labor of your hands,You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Psalm 128:2

Today is Labor Day. In the late 19th century the trade union and labor movements grew. It was proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. They created a labor movement that set aside a “workingmen’s holiday.” The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor.

It is believed that either Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday. Congress passed an act to make Labor Day a legal holiday. By 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated the official holiday. What is interesting is that the Sunday before the Labor Day holiday was called Labor Sunday and attention was given to the spiritual and education features of the labor movement.

In the United States this public holiday honors the American worker for all the contributions that workers have made to strengthen, and prosper our great country. The American work force is recognized for their efforts in a yearly tribute on the first Monday in September. Many people have street parades, festivals and even speeches are given to celebrate the occasion.

Being on a Monday, the holiday has become known as, Labor Day Weekend. It is considered to be the unofficial end of summer. It also marks the time when many children go back to school, and when many sports activities begin. We work and enjoy the temporal benefits of our earthly, hard labor. How much more should we labor to serve the Lord for His eternal benefits given to us?

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord.
~1 Corinthians 15:58~

SUNDAY September 3, 2017

Called an Apostle

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

1 Corinthians 1:1

The Apostle Paul was such an incredible person. After Jesus elected the twelve disciples, one, Judas betrayed Him. Later, it is believed, that Paul was the one chosen to replace him, when the Lord called him into the ministry (Acts 9). Paul wrote that he saw the Lord after the resurrection:

After that He [Christ] was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep [they died]. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:6-8).

Now, we have 14 letters of doctrine that we would have never had. In the book of Corinthians, Paul will address the problems of getting along with one another, jealously, and covetousness among believers.

Paul was a Jew, but born a Roman citizen. He was taught by the well- known Rabbi Gamaliel. In Acts 22:3 he said of himself:

I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

God intercepted his life and called him to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ:

“…he [Paul] is a chosen vessel of Mine [Christ] to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16)

Out of all the people in the world, God chose Paul––a theologian. Think about how God has chosen you to spread the Gospel.

... [God] called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…
~2 Timothy 1:9~

SATURDAY September 2, 2017

A Unified Church

To the church of God which is at Corinth…

1 Corinthians 1:2

The city of Corinth, at this particular time, was the most important city in Greece, especially for trade, it was the center of commerce. Corinth was the capital of the Roman providence of Achaia. It was ideally located on the empire’s most important travel route that went from east to west.

When Paul arrived he was amazed at what he saw, there were at least 400,000 people who lived in the city, including Greeks, Italians, Jews, and some from different places such as Africa and Europe. Corinth was fourth in size among the great cities of the Roman Empire and was noted for its culture and corruption. In this time period, people had a saying “to live like a Corinthian” which meant to live like the worst of all sinners.

The Apostle Paul was a person that loved God with all his heart. He had a heart for the Gospel and for people. The Lord used him to bring this tremendous letter of 1 Corinthians to the people who needed it the most––the people in the city of Corinth. Paul wrote to a church that had a lot of carnal Christians; those who were serving with the wrong motives. Paul spent about a year and a half in Corinth (Acts 18:1-11).

We can learn so much from what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, because their problems are the same problems in our churches today. His letter deals with one of the greatest dilemmas in the Church, the issue of not getting along with other people. We are supposed to be united, but so often we are divided.

Unity is of the essence of the body of Christ.
~R. B. Kuiper~

FRIDAY September 1, 2017

Get Back On Track

Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times.Remember me, O my God, for good!

Nehemiah 13:30-31

Nehemiah was able to get God’s people back on track. What a leader! Can you imagine? He got rid of all the leaven––a type of sin. Nehemiah was a good organizer and administrator. Nehemiah made sure everything ran smoothly. Nehemiah finished the book of Nehemiah by writing: Remember me, O my God, for good! He was a man of God whose heart was so big for God.

King David’s life got off track when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband by placing him in the heat of the battle (2 Samuel 11). God used the prophet Nathan to help David get his life back on track. After telling him a parable about a rich man who took a poor man’s only ewe lamb for a feast (2 Samuel 12:1-4), David made a judgment and said: “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:5-7).

Convicted by his sin, David sincerely repented and prayed to the Lord:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

Does your spiritual life need to get back on track? Take an examination of your life before the Lord and see if you have allowed sin to creep back into your life. How far has that sin taken you away from the Lord? If you are backslidden, like King David, ask the Lord to cleanse you from your sin. God will have mercy on you.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by
Your generous Spirit.
~ Psalm 51:12~

THURSDAY August 31, 2017

Undefiled Lives

And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was a son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; therefore I drove him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.

Nehemiah 13:28-29

The priest, Eliashib, had given his son Joiada, in marriage to the daughter of Sanballat––an enemy of God and Nehemiah. Eliashib, by allowing this union between his son and the daughter of Sanballat, had defiled the priesthood.

Nehemiah cast Joiada out of his presence, as he was disobedient to the Law. It was written that the priests: …shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God (Leviticus 21:7). In Malachi 2:11, God had said to Judah: For Judah has profaned The LORD’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.

Daniel is a good example of someone who refused to defile himself. As a captive in Babylon …Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank… (Daniel 1:8). The Lord honored Daniel and would use his life tremendously: Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs (Daniel 1:9).

In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus taught defilement comes from within a man:

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Have you purposed in your heart not to defile yourself with any of these sins?

It is not the nature of sin to remain in a fixed state. Like decaying fruit, it grows more rotten. The man who is bad today will be worse tomorrow.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

WEDNESDAY August 30, 2017

The Sin of Solomon

“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?”

Nehemiah 13:26-27

Nehemiah reasoned with God’s people. He used Solomon’s downfall as an example. Solomon was blessed with wisdom, wealth and honor, such as no other kings before or after him (2 Chronicles 1:8-12). His success as king was dependent on his obedience; he needed to follow after the Lord (1 Kings 2:3-4). The Lord had previously commanded His people:

Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

However, in Solomon’s reign, there was a big problem. He had married all these pagan women:

But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-2).

What was the result of Solomon’s disobedience? …when Solomon was old …his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon went as far as to worship these foreign gods.

Are you planning a marriage to a non-believer? Do not do it! Consider the concluding thoughts of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes 12.

Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.
~Ecclesiastes 12:13~

TUESDAY August 29, 2017

Contending with Compromise

So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves.”

Nehemiah 13:25

Making a stand is not a popular thing to do, but Nehemiah forcefully did just that! He even went as far as to strike some of the Jews and pull out their hair! Can you see this picture? He gave some of them a beating so they would get the point! Nehemiah, from then on, made them promise to keep God’s Word. They would no longer make arranged marriages between their children and the pagan men and women.

The Apostle Paul is a good example of someone who contended with himself: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul kept his body under subjection. Literally, the word discipline, in the Greek, gives to us the picture of a boxer who buffets his opponent. Paul disciplined his flesh––his body appetites, as if to beat his flesh black and blue.

Christians need to deal with their flesh––their fleshly desires, every single day. How is the victory won over their flesh? They need to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh to gain the victory. Paul explains:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:16-17).

The key to walking in the Spirit is to remember that our flesh has been crucified: And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Remember, the cross is the instrument of death.

“Whoever desires to come after Me [Christ], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
~Mark 8:34~

MONDAY August 28, 2017

Unequally Yoked

In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people.

Nehemiah 13:23-24

Nehemiah saw the situation among God’s people; they had continued to intermarry with the pagan women. As a result, their children could no longer speak or understand the Hebrew language; they spoke in other dialects. What would be the outcome? These children would not be able to understand the teaching of God’s Word. Instead, they would learn the idolatrous practices of these pagan women. They would grow up not knowing the Lord.

As Christians, we are instructed not to be unequally yoked:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

In marriage, and even in business, we should not have an intimate union with a non-believer. Why? Non-believers may not want to go to church, and your home will become divided. What will happen to your children? Will they grow up not knowing the Lord? Just as darkness and light do not mix together nor should a marriage union between a believer and a non-believer. In business, a non-believer may cheat on their taxes. They may want to operate the business unlawfully and dishonestly.

God does not place unfair restrictions on our lives. He foresees the future dangers and tries to help us to avoid the unhappy results of our disobedience.

Never be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.
~Anonymous~

SUNDAY August 27, 2017

Taking Good Steps

Then I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of Your mercy!

Nehemiah 13:21-22

The merchants and sellers had spent the night lodging outside the city of Jerusalem. They were determined to see if they could gain entrance into the city to sell their goods on the Sabbath. Nehemiah warned them not to return or he would lay hands on them–– I like Nehemiah. He was ready to strike them if necessary! He commanded the Levites to cleanse themselves, guard the gates, and sanctify the Sabbath. Nehemiah took good steps to ensure the Sabbath was kept.

Notice how Nehemiah prayed the second time to the Lord: “Remember me, O my God….” Nehemiah was a great leader; he only cared about what God thought of his actions. He wanted the Lord to remember what he had done. He had set everything back in order according to God’s Word. Everything he had done was for God’s glory. He did not care for the opinions or even the actions of men against him. He prayed for God’s protection and mercy over His life.

Fathers, as the spiritual leaders, and the heads of their homes, should make sure sin does not creep into their homes. What is your family watching on television or social media, on their computers or phones? Are any drugs or drinking being tolerated in your home? If so, take steps to cleanse your home of anything that is a compromise to God’s Word. Fathers should guard their homes from any worldly influences. They should be the ones to make sure their whole family is attending church.

An avoidable absence from church is infallible evidence
of spiritual decay.
~Frances Ridley Havergal~

SATURDAY August 26, 2017

Taking Firm Action Against Sin

So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice.

Nehemiah 13:19-20

Nehemiah took immediate action to stop the Sabbath from being profaned. He commanded the gates to be shut and stopped the pagans from coming in to sell their wares. The servants could not open the gates until the Sabbath was over, from six o’clock Friday evening, until six o’clock the next day. Nehemiah let them know that they were no longer welcome to sell anything on the Sabbath. Pretty soon, the pagan merchants and sellers would get the message.

Joseph had to take a firm stand against sin when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He continuously refused her attempts. In Genesis 39:9, Joseph told this brazen woman:

“There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Day after day, Potiphar’s wife continued in her attempts to seduce Joseph. Then one day, she grabbed hold of Joseph’s garment and asked him to lie with her. What action did Joseph decide to take? He ran! Genesis 39:12 gives to us the details: But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Do you cave in to temptation or do you resist temptation? You must take a firm action against sin.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~James 4:7~

FRIDAY August 25, 2017

Disobedience Brings Disaster

Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.”

Nehemiah 13:17-18

Nehemiah had to rebuke the nobles of Judah. What were they thinking! Did they not learn from their history? Did they forget the reason why they spent 70 years in Babylonian captivity? God’s people did not keep the Sabbath year for 490. The 70 years they took from the Lord, they had to repay. God had told His people in Exodus 19:5:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

Then in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, God told them how they would be blessed in the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 28:8 the Lord promised:

The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

God had warned His people that if they disobeyed, they would become servants to the people of another nation:

A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually (Deuteronomy 28:33).

How we also need to learn from our past mistakes! Do we really want to suffer the consequences of our disobedience? Quickly learn the lesson that disobedience brings disaster in our lives. Why should any of us miss out on all the blessing He has for our lives?

To pay the price of obedience is to escape the cost of disobedience.
~John Blanchard~

THURSDAY August 24, 2017

Observances

In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 13:15-16

Remember what God’s people signed? They signed a covenant and agreed that they were not going to work on the Sabbath day; they were going to obey God’s Word. They needed to keep the requirement of not working on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah had warned them do not do it!

Yet, here were God’s people going right back to what God had said not to do. In just a small amount of time, they had reverted back to disobedience. On the Sabbath day, when everything was supposed to be closed, they allowed the heathens to set up shop. They could sell provisions, doing exactly what God had said should not happen.

Even today, on Friday at six o’clock sundown, Jerusalem and all of Israel closes down; a few things remain open. The Shabbat––the Jewish Sabbath–– remains until the six o’clock the next day. The Jews have three elevators, during the Shabbat, they have a Shabbat elevator that will stop at every floor. Why? They consider that pushing a button as work! When they eat at the hotel, they will not use cash; it is considered work. Instead, they will use a credit card. The Jews eat, pray together and go to the synagogue to pray to God. It is amazing to see their religiosity.

Our Sabbath can be any day of the week, but are we working so much that we are failing in the priority to attend church at least once a week?

And they [believers] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
~ Acts 2:42~

WEDNESDAY August 23, 2017

Doing a Service for God

Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for its services!

Nehemiah 13:14

Nehemiah was a man used by God for a specific purpose; the Lord had a plan for his life. Through seeking God’s will in prayer, Nehemiah discovered what the Lord had called him to accomplish. He was called to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and bring a revival among God’s people. Nehemiah brought reform in the lives of God’s people. He prayed to God as if to ask Him, “Do not forget what I have done.”

Christians have an eternal purpose in life. It is to serve the God who saved them. As they begin to grow in Christ and develop in their relationship with Him, they will discover their spiritual gifts and talents to be used for His glory. God has a plan for their lives: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Imagine, God not only remembers what we do for Him, but He even remembers what we say! The Lord has a Book of Remembrance:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).

When we go home to be with the Lord, we want to hear the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord”

What have you done for Christ? What will you do for Christ today, tomorrow and in the future?

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
~C T Studd~

TUESDAY August 22, 2017

Appointing Faithful Men

Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

Nehemiah 13:12-13

Nehemiah appointed faithful men over different areas, those who would not be neglectful in their ministry, but faithfully carry out their duties. We can learn a similar lesson from Moses’ situation in the wilderness. He led multitudes of people and was judging them himself, from morning to evening. Moses’ father-in-law advised him to appoint men to help with the work, otherwise he would wear himself out (Exodus 18:13-18). Jethro told Moses to teach the people and bring the difficult situations to God (verses 19-20), but select men to help him with smaller matters:

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens (Exodus 18:21).

In Acts 6 a complaint arose. The twelve Apostles’ priority was to study the Word of God (verse 2, 4). So they decided to appoint qualified leaders to serve the people. They would choose godly men who would be faithful in their service to God:

“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3-4).

Stephen was chosen. He became the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:59).

“Be faithful until death, and I [Jesus] will give you the crown of life.”
~Revelation 2:10~

MONDAY August 21, 2017

Putting People in their Place

I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to his field. So I contended with the rulers, and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their place.

Nehemiah 13:10-11

Once again, Nehemiah began to set things back in order. He threw out Tobiah the Ammonite from the house of God, cleansed the rooms, and brought back into the storerooms the articles, grain and frankincense (Nehemiah 13:8-9). Then Nehemiah had to rebuke the leaders and officials for their neglect in their duties––how sad. But this is exactly what a good leader does.

Nehemiah, as the leader, had left men in leadership positions to oversee the house of God. Obviously, these men were not strong enough with the people; they let them do whatever! The rulers had neglected to take care of the Levites who were supposed to be supported by the ministry.

God has placed me as the pastor over this whole church, and I feel responsible for the oversight. The Lord has given me men to come alongside me and to help me with the work of the ministry. There is no way one person can do it all. God has given them all gifts and talents to help me with everything that needs to be done in the ministry.

What kind of leader do you want to be like? Nehemiah who accomplished God’s will or the officials who neglected their duties? Ask yourself if you have this unfaithful attitude, “When the boss is away the mice will play?” Or in the absence of your overseer can you fulfill the task given to you?

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
~1 Corinthians 4:2~

SUNDAY August 20, 2017

Getting Our Lives Back in Order

So it was, when they had heard the Law, that they separated all the mixed multitude from Israel… And it grieved me [Nehemiah] bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

Nehemiah 13:3, 8-9

In response to hearing the Law, God’s people began to separate themselves from the other nations. Nehemiah, after returning from Persia, had found out that Eliashib the priest had allowed Tobiah to live in the house of God (Nehemiah 13:4-7). The people had compromised and allowed a little leaven––a type of sin, to enter the camp.

Imagine, Nehemiah had gone away for a short while (we do not know how long exactly), but the people had already returned back to their old ways. Nehemiah became a little upset and threw everything that belonged to Tobiah outside he cleansed the house of the Lord. Can you believe that? I like Nehemiah; he did not mess around!

Moses had a similar situation with the children of Israel in the wilderness. He went up to Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-15) to receive the Ten Commandments. He was gone for 40 days and 40 nights (verse 18). In Moses’ absence the people convinced Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make a golden calf and worship it (Exodus 32:1-5). God’s people had committed great acts of sexual perversion. God’s judgment had to come upon them.

Why do God’s people not learn their lesson? Believers can make a great commitment to God and promise to obey His Word. He blessed them, but then they begin to disobey. Do you not understand our bodies are the temple of God? We need to live holy lives (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Those who are backslidden need to come back to the Lord, as He is the One who cleanses our lives.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
~Psalm 51:10 KJV~

SATURDAY August 19, 2017

Amazing Grace

On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God, because they had not met the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.

Nehemiah 13:1-2

We have come to the last chapter of the book of Nehemiah. God’s people heard the Scriptures as the Book of Moses was being read to them. They came to an understanding that they were to be separate from the other nations. God’s Word made it clear that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God.

The Moabite and the Ammonite nations came through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot had chosen to live near Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 13:10-12). Later, Lot lived in the city of Sodom (Genesis 14:12). When God’s judgment was about to come on Sodom and Gomorrah, some of Lot’s family, being influenced by the life in the city, would not leave. Besides, they thought Lot was only joking (Genesis 19:14). The angels delivered Lot, his wife and his two daughters (Genesis 19:15-23). Then God utterly destroyed these cities. However, Lot’s wife turned back, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

Lot’s daughters may have believed they were the only people left living in the world. So, they decided to get their father drunk and lay with him (Genesis 19:30-35). Through incest, Lot’s daughters had children; and their descendants were the Ammonites and the Moabites (Genesis 19:36-38). These nations refused to give Israel assistance; instead they hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. God cursed these nations and forbade them from the assembly of God (Deuteronomy 23:3-4).

Yet, in God’s mercy, love and grace, Ruth, a Moabite, married Boaz and became a part of the bloodline of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17). How amazing is God’s mercy, love and grace towards us!

God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family
likeness to Jesus Christ…
~Oswald Chambers~

FRIDAY August 18, 2017

Consecration

For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.

Nehemiah 12:46

Notice how the holy things were consecrated to the Lord for their use for the children of Aaron. At this time, Nehemiah left to go back to Persia. He was accountable to the king to return after twelve years. He then came back again to Jerusalem as the governor of Judah (Nehemiah 13: 6-7).

Imagine, after the people of God had studied God’s Word, prayed, worshiped, and signed the covenant, Nehemiah now saw that the people had already begun to backslide––how sad. It had become chaotic! What had happened? When Nehemiah left, Eliashib the priest had compromised by allowing Tobiah the Ammorite to have a room in the house of God (verses 4-5). The Scriptures forbade it! (Deuteronomy 23:3-6) Nehemiah was grieved; his well-known enemy was in the camp! Also, the Jews had intermarried with women of Ashod, Ammon and Moab (verse 23). The priesthood and the people should have remained consecrated to God.

How we need to live consecrated lives before the Lord! We should never compromise with the things of the world. God has set us apart from this world: …He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love… (Ephesians 1:4).

Nehemiah was a man who consecrated himself to the Lord. God heard his prayers and used his life to bring about a great revival. As governor of Judah, God would again use him to put things back in order. May we learn from the life of Nehemiah. If we consecrate our lives to God, He will hear our prayers and do a great work through us.

But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him.
~Psalm 4:3~

THURSDAY August 17, 2017

Walking in Obedience

And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their God and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son.

Nehemiah 12:44-45

In the past, the nation of Israel had sinned against God. The Scriptures record for us their constant decline and apostasy. Their disobedience had been an ongoing problem. They would say, but they would not do! God’s people never obeyed Deuteronomy 6 and Deuteronomy 28-30. Neither did they listen to Joshua’s exhortation he gave towards the end of his life (Joshua 22-24).

All the way through the book of Judges, Israel fell into a terrible cycle of sin. In 1 and 2 Samuel, Israel rebelled. They did not want to be governed by God; they wanted a king to rule over them like the other nations. Even during the history of 1 and 2 Chronicles, God’s people would not listen to His Word; neither would they keep their covenant with God.

In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people had taken new steps of dedication; they began to walk in obedience with their God. After being out of fellowship with the Lord, God’s people had returned. Remember, they had not heard the Word of the Lord for so long, and publicly there had been no prayer within the congregation. Now, all of a sudden, by the Holy Spirit, they had come to a place of great conviction.

In what condition is your relationship with the Lord? Do you find yourself in a place of disobedience? If you are not reading God’s Word or praying, it is time to take the necessary steps to return to church. As you hear God’s Word once more, the Holy Spirit will convict you and do a new work in your life. Then you can begin again to walk in obedience with your God.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth;
shall you not know it?
~Isaiah 43:19~

WEDNESDAY August 16, 2017

Celebration and Dedication

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

Nehemiah 12:27

Incredibly, the time had come for the wall of Jerusalem to be dedicated. After all the teaching of the Scriptures, listening to God’s Word, meditation on it, praying and worshiping the Lord, God brought about a revival among His people. As they had spoken to the Lord, they had waited on Him to speak. They were allowing God to fill them. In this beautiful chapter the Lord is honored among them; He is lifted up.

As we read the Scriptures, pray and worship the Lord, may He bring us into a place of a real consciousness of the majesty of Christ. When we come before Him, there should be a true reverence, humiliation and a separation of our lives to the Lord. Philippians 2:10-11 reveals the supremacy of Christ:

…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Knowing that Christ is Lord should cause us to serve Him with all of our hearts. We not only need to love Him, but we need to learn all about Him. Our obedience to Christ should be a response to His love, as He has freely given to us all that we need in life: His [Christ] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). Does your life bring honor and glory to Christ?

Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
~1 Chronicles 16:29~

TUESDAY August 15, 2017

Are You Ready to Follow the Lord?

Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, and Jedaiah.

Nehemiah 12:1-7

Going back to Nehemiah 8, we saw the revival that had come because the people were reading and studying God Word. It had been such a long time since the people had read the Word of God. In Nehemiah 9, the people of God continued in the Word and prayer. When they began to read the Scriptures, it caused great conviction, repentance and renewal of a covenant––an agreement with God.

In Nehemiah 10, they signed the document as they were ready to follow the Lord. The list of names continued through Nehemiah 10-12; it included the family names of priests and Levites who had returned from Babylon (Nehemiah 12:1-26).

During the year churches will take young adults to youth retreats and children to summer camps. While they are there, the youth and children spend uninterrupted time studying God’s Word and praying. As they listen to the studies, they often become convicted by the Word of God. At some youth retreats, while sitting around a bonfire, the leaders have those attending write on a piece of paper whatever they want to get rid of in their lives. It is as if they, too, have made a covenant with God. Then they will take that piece of paper and cast it into the fire.

However, understand it is one thing to offer God a passionate prayer of confession, and quite something else to live an obedient life after we say, “Amen.” Do we really mean what we pray? Are we truly ready to follow the Lord?

“Whoever desires to come after Me [Jesus], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
~Mark 8:34~

MONDAY August 14, 2017

Repentance is the Fruit of Revival

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:1-2

In the book of Nehemiah, we have seen a big turnaround in the lives of the children of Israel. They had placed their individual names on a document in a covenant to obey God’s Word (Nehemiah 10). But what did it take to get there? Repentance!

If you read books written in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, there are many written about revival. But when does revival really come? When John the Baptist preached his message, it was simple: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Jesus’ message was the same:

Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15-16).

You may ask “What is the Gospel?” Paul declared the Gospel simply:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Do you believe the message of the Gospel? On an individual basis repentance is the fruit of revival.

“Therefore bear fruitsfruits worthy of repentance…”
~Luke 3:8~

SUNDAY August 13, 2017

Consider Your Residence

These are the heads of the province who dwelt in Jerusalem. (But in the cities of Judah everyone dwelt in his own possession in their cities—Israelites, priests, Levites, Nethinim, and descendants of Solomon’s servants.) Also in Jerusalem dwelt some of the children of Judah and of the children of Benjamin…

Nehemiah 11:3-4

Nehemiah 11 records a long list of names of people who dwelt in the city of Jerusalem, and those from among Israel, who dwelt within other cities and villages. Nehemiah listed the names of the urban population and leaders of the providences who lived in Jerusalem (verses 3-24). Included were the Nethinim, descendants of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). People from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin had also settled in Jerusalem.

Also listed are the names of the priests (verses 10-14), and all the Levites who took care of the business outside of God’s House (verses 15-18). Then the gatekeepers and temple servants were recorded (verse 19-21). Nehemiah wrote down the names of the overseers of the Levites at Jerusalem and the singers (verse 22). The sons of Asaph led the worship in the house of the Lord. They did not entertain the people, but prepared the people’s hearts to receive the Word of God. Pethahiah, the Persian king’s deputy, was also entered on the list of names (verse 24). Then verses 25-36 listed all the names of the rural community.

No matter where you reside, God has placed you there. He has a plan and purpose for your life. He has given you gifts and talents to be used for His glory in the kingdom of God. You might be a gifted worship leader, pastor, administrative assistant, or a maintenance worker in the church. Other people have secular jobs. In whatever area you live and work, you are to be servants of the Lord and a light to all those around you.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
cannot be hidden.”
~Matthew 5:14~

SATURDAY August 12, 2017

Wisdom from God

Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 11:1-2

Nehemiah was not just a wise builder, but he was a wise captain. He had placed his trust in the Lord. Nehemiah knew the city of Jerusalem needed to be repopulated in order to defend the city from attack. There were about 50,000 who had returned home from Babylon. So, from out of the 50,000 who had returned, 5,000––ten out of every 100 of them would need to remain in the city.

Many people did not want to live within Jerusalem. They had purposely chosen to dwell in the outskirts of the city because Jerusalem was not rebuilt––it lay in ruins. The people were vulnerable to their enemies’ attacks. They needed to make sure they were no longer susceptible to their constant assaults. However, living in Jerusalem was not forced upon the people; they willingly volunteered to live in the city.

Wisdom for making good decisions is something we all need for our daily lives, especially when it affects others. The Bible teaches us in James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

It is vital to come before the Lord and, in prayer, ask Him for His wisdom for the problems and situations in our lives. He will answer the righteous––those who are in Jesus Christ, whom He has made in right standing with God through His shed blood. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— (1Corinthians 1:30).

For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man
who is good in His sight….
~Ecclesiastes 2:26~

FRIDAY August 11, 2017

A Willing Sacrifice of Yourself

Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered them to dwell at Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 11:1

Now that the children of Israel had given to God what was due, their tithes and offerings, they willingly gave themselves to God. Notice that they began to choose those who would stay in Jerusalem and those who would go to other cities. This whole scenario was set up so those who dwelt in Jerusalem could serve the Lord.

The Bible is full of examples of those who willingly sacrificed their lives in God’s call to serve the Lord. In the song of Deborah, the only woman judge of Israel, she mentioned the people of Israel and their leaders who sacrificed their lives in times of war. They faced the enemy together with God on their side:

“When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the LORD! …My heart is with the rulers of Israel who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the LORD! (Judges 5:2, 9).

Jesus is the ultimate example of a willing sacrifice. Before going to the cross, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Hebrews 9:28 gives us the reason for Christ’s sacrifice: …so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Are you willing to go and serve the Lord in whatever place He may call you? Is your life an offering and a willing sacrifice? (Romans 12:1-2)

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.
~Jim Elliot~

re be serious
and watchful in your prayers.
~1 Peter 4:7~

THURSDAY August 10, 2017

Never Neglect God’s House

For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:39

We have now come to the final conclusion statement of Nehemiah 10:39 …we will not neglect the house of our God. This last important phrase stands out, because God’s people had been guilty of neglecting the house of God in the past. They had their priorities all wrong. Remember, instead of taking care of God’s house, they were more concerned about building their own houses:

“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:4).

In today’s society, people are neglecting to come to church. Instead, they want to stay in the comfort of their own homes watching the service from televisions or other devices; but what about serving the Lord and fellowshipping with other believers? Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us not to be isolated in our worship of God:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Listen, I want you to remember one thing; you are the temple of the living God––the house of God. I beg you, by the mercies of the living God, to take to heart what God has said in His Word concerning giving and you will be blessed. We are living in the last days before the Lord returns. Seriously, we should be in church and be prayerful while we still can!

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious
and watchful in your prayers.
~1 Peter 4:7~

WEDNESDAY August 9, 2017

Receiving Tithes

And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.

Nehemiah 10:38

The priests were descendants from Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, who would receive the tithes from the people. In the Old Testament, God’s people would willingly give a tenth of everything, whether financial or from their lands’ produce, to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-28).

Tithing to the Lord goes even further back to the time of Abraham. He tithed to the Lord: …blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all (Genesis 14:20). In Genesis 28:20-22 Jacob made a vow to God concerning tithing:

“If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

You may ask, “What is the principle of giving in the New Testament?” In the beginning of each week, we should give to the Lord, with a cheerful attitude from the work we do: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper… (1 Corinthians 16:2). So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

There is another interesting principle taught concerning tithing from these Scriptures. We do not take from people; we receive from them the tithes they are giving to the Lord, in obedience to His Word. Do you honor God by your obedience in tithing?

“I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings
that cost me nothing.”
~2 Samuel 24:24~

TUESDAY August 8, 2017

Offerings Filling Storerooms

…to bring the first fruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oils, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

Nehemiah 10:37

As the people obediently brought into storerooms the best of their breads, fruits, wines and oils the necessities of the priests were provided. The Levites were able to live from all these tithes and offerings.

The Apostle Paul often collected offerings to help with the churches’ necessities in Jerusalem: And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:3). Then Paul became the recipient of financial support from the churches of Macedonia:

…that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints (2 Corinthians 8:2-4).

Paul was a man of great financial integrity. He was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:2-3). In Acts 20:33-35, Paul told the elders of the Church:

“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak…”

It is important that the tithes be brought into the house of God so that the ministry can be provided for, and the Church can continue to spread the truth of the Gospel to other communities.

“…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
~Acts 20:35~

MONDAY August 7, 2017

Bring God Your First Fruits

And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God….

Nehemiah 10:35-36

Through this revival, God brought about true change among His people. They had separated themselves from the other nations and became submissive to His Word. They also parted themselves from mixed marriages. As they kept the Sabbath observances, they willingly gave to God from their first fruits. None of the people stole from God what belonged to Him (Malachi 3:10).

Paul the Apostle instructed the churches in Galatia and Corinth, and this applies to all of us, that we should give tithes on the first day of the week:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper… (1Corinthians 16:1-2).

Imagine, if God’s people were obedient in their giving to the Lord, then many churches, television programs and radio stations would not have to become beggars for support. You have to give to God what belongs to Him. We should give God our best, not our cast-offs––things we no longer want or anything that does not have real value.

Remember, the more your take for yourself, the less you will have. No wonder we are in debt and lacking in provisions! Our offerings to God should be from our best––we should give to God first.

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with
the firstfruits of all your increase…
~Proverbs 3:9~

SUNDAY August 6, 2017

The Altar of Our God

We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers’ houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law.

Nehemiah 10:34

Among the priests and the people, were chosen those who would bring wood into the house of God. They made an altar for the burnt sacrifices, according to what was written in their Law (Exodus 38:1-7). In the Old Testament, God required an animal sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:22 explains: And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Interestingly, God tested Abraham and told him:

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).

Abraham obeyed the Lord:

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together (Genesis 22:6).

Isaac questioned the absence of the sacrifice in verse 7:

“My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

Abraham answered: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” God did not allow Isaac to be killed as He had provided a ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:8-14). On that very same place; 2000 years later, Jesus died on the cross. The Lord had provided an offering, Jesus became a living sacrifice. Our heavenly Father gave to us His only Son for the sins of the world (John 3:16).

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
~John 1:29~

SATURDAY August 5, 2017

The House of God

Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:32-33

The people of Israel respected God and His Word. In making a covenant with Him, they resumed their tithing. God’s people made the choice to serve the Lord and began to set everything back in order, according to what was written in their Law. In their history, Joshua had challenged God’s people to make a choice: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

As Christians, we need to set godly priorities for our lives. At times, we fail to put God first. Are you obeying God’s Word and putting into practice the things you have read? How is your prayer life? Are you still tithing to the Lord, or have you stopped giving? God challenges us in Malachi 3:10:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Be honest with yourself. Have you neglected the house of God by not contributing to the work of the Lord? Every day we make life choices. We can choose to make God our number one priority or focus on ourselves and what we want to do in life. We must keep accountable before the Lord, as He has made atonement for our sins through Christ (1 John 1:9). Then, like the children of Israel, we can set our lives back in order.

The last thing one knows is what to put first.
~Blaise Pascal~

WEDNESDAY August 2, 2017

Walking with God

“… these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes.”

Nehemiah 10:29

The people had joined together to walk in obedience to God’s Law. These dramatic changes happened in their lives because they had heard the Word of God and responded. The Scriptures took a dramatic effect in their lives. It had caused them to stand true to what was written, and they decided to live by what was required of them. All this happened as a result of the people standing outside for six hours, listening to the Word of God (Nehemiah 8).

We need to walk closely with God. In our personal relationship with the Lord, the Scriptures tell us how to walk with Him. Like Israel––God’s chosen people––we need to …keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him (Deuteronomy 8:6). Understand, we are no longer under the law, but grace (Romans 6:14), but in the New Testament, Jesus said:

“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

We are living in the last days before Christ’s return. Ephesians 5:15-16 exhorts us: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Romans 13:13 also exhorts us: Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

If I walk with the world, I can’t walk with God
~Dwight L. Moody~

TUESDAY August 1, 2017

Adding Your Name to the List

Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding––

Nehemiah 10:28-29

Nehemiah had the people agree to the covenant and they placed their own seal on the document––amazing! They all understood that by adding their seal, they had agreed to enter into an oath of obedience to God. If God’s Word was not obeyed, then His chastening would come instead of His blessings. This is exactly what Moses had told them in Deuteronomy 28:1-2:

“… if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:”

Moses continued to elaborate on all the blessings of obedience (Deuteronomy 28:3-14). Then the children of Israel were warned of the consequences of not obeying the Lord:

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15).

Moses, from Deuteronomy 28:16-68, described to the people the awful results of their willful disobedience. Sadly, God’s Word had come to pass; God’s people had experienced captivity. Other nations now despised them, as they had to serve these foreign people. Interestingly, we all have to serve somebody. Do you want to serve the Lord or serve your flesh?

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
~Romans 6:16~

MONDAY 31 July, 2017

He Knows My Name

The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, Hodijah, Hashum, Bezai, Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, Ahijah, Hanan, Anan, Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

Nehemiah 10:14-27

Within Nehemiah 10, there are lists of names to be read which can become very laborious and monotonous. However, I believe the Holy Spirit wanted to put each person’s name in the Scriptures to remind us how God knows each one of us by name. We are not just a number to God; we are important to Him and He thinks about us all the time.

Think about this incredible passage of Scripture for a moment, Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.

Consider this! Before Jesus met a person, He already foreknew them. In John 1:17, Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Jesus already knew the Samaritan woman. When He had asked her about her husband, she answered: “I have no husband.” Jesus responded by revealing her sinful life: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly” (John 4:17-18).

Jesus also saw a chief tax collector who had gone up into a tree to see Him. Jesus knew Him by name and said: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5).

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”
~Isaiah 43:1~

FRIDAY July 28, 2017

Heads or Tails?

“Here we are, servants today! And the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, Here we are, servants in it! And it yields much increase to the kings You have set over us, because of our sins; also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle at their pleasure; and we are in great distress. And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.”

Nehemiah 9:36-38

God’s people became servants in their own land! Think about that for a moment, they were no longer free! King Artaxerxes and the other Persian kings took the increase of the land all away––everything the Lord had given them. This happened because of their sins. Now they were in great distress! God had warned them that they would not be a head nation, but they would become the tail:

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44).

The people made a covenant with God because of all the turmoil they were enduring. They hoped revival would come. If only they would have listened and observed the commandments, they would have prospered:

“…the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them” (Deuteronomy 28:13).

Does that sound like America today? We should be a God-fearing nation, one that serves the Lord and prospers. Seriously, our land is becoming a foreign land––a place full of heathen gods. We need to pray for America, the Land of the Free (2 Chronicles 7:14). Those who come to America should hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ; we need to be a light to them.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill
cannot be hidden.”
~Matthew 5:14~

THURSDAY July 27, 2017

Failure to Serve the Lord!

“For they have not served You in their kingdom, or in the many good things that You gave them, or in the large and rich land which You set before them; nor did they turn from their wicked works.”

Nehemiah 9:35

God’s people openly repented before God. They had not served the Lord in the Promised Land. He had blessed them with a fruitful and productive land. Moses had warned them of what God had said beforehand:

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess…Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him….” (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 13).

Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, and towards the end of his life, he carefully instructed the people:

“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).

Yet, God’s people failed to serve the Lord or turn away from their wickedness. What about us? Have we failed to serve the Lord? God has given us good things and wealth. We should not throw away the years of our lives in wickedness or waste our wealth on ourselves. Do you not realize that God wants to use our lives to make a difference in His kingdom?

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
~Psalm 2:11~

WEDNESDAY July 26, 2017

The Just Judge

“However You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly. Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your law, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against them.”

Nehemiah 9:33-34

Within the long and sincere prayer of God’s people was the acknowledgement of their sins. Everything that had happened to them as a nation was a direct result of their wickedness. They knew the Lord was just in His judgments. Israel had not obeyed and kept God’s law. No one, from the kingly positions in the land to their fathers, had kept the Lord’s commandments or testimonies.

As Christians, think about our own lives. God is just and we were once wicked. Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us the truth about our hearts and minds:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Although God has done a transformation in our hearts and lives, if we neglect to listen and obey God’s Word, after a given period of grace, the Lord will turn us over to be chastened: “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). God is a just judge. He can use someone else or a difficult circumstance to accomplish His justice. He has ways of getting our attention.

Although painful, chastening has its benefits; it is for our own good. Hebrews 12:10-11 confirms that chastening is …for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness… afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The Bible insists that God is entirely just, and that therefore ultimately justice will be done, and will be seen to be done.
~D. A. Carson~

TUESDAY July 25, 2017

Our Awesome God

“Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God,who keeps covenant and mercy: do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.”

Nehemiah 9:32

Historically, in this lengthy prayer, the people mentioned the days of the kings of Assyria as the reign of King Sennacherib. God’s people are up to their current time period. Before their great, mighty and awesome God, they acknowledged their sin. God is holy. Their sins were no small matter, nor were their consequences. What God had allowed to happen to them was not to be taken lightly––it was serious. Israel now knew the terrible effect their sins had on their nation. From the greatest to the least, sin had affected their kings, princes, priests, prophets, leaders and the people.

Lessons from history can be applied to our present time. We often do not take our sin seriously. Many people take their sin lightly. They do not understand, according to God’s Word, that they are sinning against a holy God. It is a big deal! If you think your sins are a small matter before God, you are wrong. Look around you; who is being affected by your sinful ways?

Other people will reap with you the consequences of your sins. This is exactly the reason why we are in the mess we are in these days. Yet, if we yield ourselves to the Lord and ask for mercy, God will give us His grace. We will be able to enjoy the grace of God and what He wants to do in our lives. Then, as a result, we shall recognize our God’s greatness and His might. Our God is awesome––I love that.

God is good! Every day I am so happy and excited to see what God wants to do in my life. Every morning I make myself available to Him. I want to know God’s goodness and mercy––I want to know the Lord!

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. ~Psalm 47:2~

MONDAY July 24, 2017

Great Mercy

“Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful.”

Nehemiah 9:31

Once again the people reflected on God’s great mercy. When placed in the hands of their enemies, even though they suffered, they still recognized that in the midst of their troubles, God had mercy on their lives.

There were times in Israel’s history that God could have wiped them out entirely. In Deuteronomy 9:13-14, God spoke to Moses and said:

“…‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ ”

Then in Exodus 32:10, God once again spoke to Moses: “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”

Moses stood in the gap for the children of Israel and became an intercessor for them. He knew God’s character was merciful and pleaded on their behalf (Exodus 32:11-13).

Imagine, the Lord in His great mercy has not consumed us because of our sins! Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…

Seriously, in your life would you rather have God’s mercy or God’s judgment?

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23~

SUNDAY July 23, 2017

God’s Patience with People

“Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.”

Nehemiah 9:30

God is so patient with His people. He had sent them His prophets to speak His messages to them. Yet, they would not listen, and they suffered the consequences. Israel became captives of people from other lands.

God has sent us His Son to be our Savior, but so many people do not listen to the Gospel message. Scientists can calculate complicated mathematics and create satellites to place in space. America has even landed a spaceship on the moon! Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin were the first two human beings to walk on the surface of the moon. Yet, men do not believe in God, even though they are searching for Him.

Scientists throughout the world also study biology and physics. They understand cell structure––atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons but many of these brilliant minds cannot fathom the simplicity of believing in God. They cannot conceive it! They are blind to the truth, yet it is right there in front of them. God created everything and He is in command.

NASA spends so much time, money and effort in trying to reach different planets such as Mars. But instead of trying to reach planets in our solar system, imagine if all that time, energy and money was used to seek and convert the spiritually lost in our world for Christ. The earth would be more like the kingdom age––seriously (Isaiah 11:1-10). But men are selfish, greedy and usually have their own agendas––think about that.

God is so patient with us. The God who created the universe has sent us His Son so we can know Him. He has communicated with us. Read the Bible; He is nearer than you think (Acts 17:27).

Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain
who sets the planets in motion.
~Isaac Newton~

SATURDAY July 22, 2017

A Failure to Hear

“And testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law.Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ and they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks,and would not hear.”

Nehemiah 9:29

Even though God had mercy and delivered His people, their deeds and consequences stood as a testimony against them. The Lord directed them back to the His law, but once again they rebelled. What was the problem? The priests were not to blame. It was the failure of the parents to pass on to their children from generation to generation God’s commandments and the great things He had done. Sadly, there came a generation that did not know the Lord or His works (Judges 2:10).

Psalm 78:5-7 explains what the parents should have done to keep the knowledge of God in the minds and hearts of the next generation:

He [God]…appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments….

From Israel’s past history to the present time, not much has changed. Go back to the work God did through Moody; it is not the same today––it is dead. It is the same with Finney, Spurgeon and even with Chuck Smith, including those after him. It seems that after God does a work in the first generation, it is not often seen in the next generation. How parents need to pass on to their children the wonderful knowledge of God!

We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful
works that He has done.
~Psalm 78:4~

FRIDAY July 21, 2017

Merciful Deliverances

“But after they had rest, they again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them;yet when they returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies….”

Nehemiah 9:28

The people’s prayer recited the sinful cycle of Israel’s behavior. You would think they would have learned from their mistakes, but they continued to sin. However, when Israel was chastened by the Lord, as He allowed their enemies to rule over them, the people returned to God. At last they remembered their God’s greatness and cried out to Him. The Lord heard from heaven, and in His mercy, He delivered them.

I have often noticed that people will come to church during a great difficulty or tragedy. God, it seems, has finally gotten their full attention. But after the Lord answers their cries for help, they frequently fall back into their old sinful ways. You must come to God just as you are and open your heart to Him. Then you can get rid of the garbage––the sins in your life.

Do you want to get close to the heart of God? Then wait in the presence of the Lord, and He will move in your life. The only way God can move unhindered in your life, and show you His mercy, is for you to continually come before Him and ask forgiveness of your sins (1 John 1:9). You need to abide in Christ (John 15).

Once a month on a Sunday night, we encourage the people to stand up before the Lord to worship Him. We have seen great results. Some people are healed, while others have drawn closer to God. As His people wait on the Lord, they receive from Him. They get to know who the Lord is––that is important. As people finally come to a realization that without God they can do nothing, many have surrendered their lives to Him.

Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation.
~Psalm 85:7~

THURSDAY July 20, 2017

God’s Chosen Deliverers

“Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them; and in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You,You heard from heaven; and according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Nehemiah 9:27

As God’s people are praying, they continue to go through their entire history. In the book of Judges, we learn that because of their disobedience, they constantly fell into the hands of their enemies. God chose different men and one woman, Deborah, to be judges––leaders that would be used of the Lord to help deliver His people.

When God goes to war, He chooses the most unlikely soldiers. He hands over to them the most unusual weapons to accomplish His will. God took care of every problem; His ways confounded their enemies. Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad, and he also delivered Israel (Judges 3:31).

The Lord used Jael, a woman, to kill Sisera, the captain of King Jabin’s army. She killed Israel’s enemy with a tent peg. She placed it right through his temple while he was asleep (Judges 4:17-21). Gideon was used by God to fight the Midianites, who were as numerous as locusts. He went with 300 men who were not armed with swords or spears. They used simple pitchers with torches, as they blew the trumpets (Judges 6:11-16; Judges 7). Samson, by the Spirit of the Lord, singlehandedly killed 1,000 men with a jaw bone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-17).

When we come to Christ, we often forget that God wants us to learn how to fight our battles against the enemy with Him (Ephesians 6:10-18). Christians have to recognize their weapons are not of this world.

…For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God
for pulling down strongholds….
~2 Corinthians 10:3-4~

WEDNESDAY July 19, 2017

A Rebellious State

“Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; and they worked great provocations.”

Nehemiah 9:26

Wow! Once again the past generation was fully described. Even though God kept His Word to them and brought them into the Promised Land, they rebelled against Him. They did not even respect the anointing of God’s prophets. They refused to listen to them, and, instead killed them! They willfully rejected God, and their behavior caused God’s judgment to come upon them.

It is amazing to me how many times in the past, in the present and looking into the future, there will be people who will be just like the children of Israel. They will begin to forget God’s power, goodness and everything He has done in their lives. They come to the point of rebelling against him and have to suffer the consequences of their bad choices.

In the hippie movement, we saw the love and the power of God. The people enjoyed the simplicity of a life of God’s love––love––love! Christians really loved one another and trusted one another. Now churches have become a place of backbiting, fighting and even hatred. The people murmur and complain. When there is no harmony or unity, Satan causes confusion and division. Yet, we are the Church of Jesus Christ! It is incredible how far down we have gone.

Paul warned believers that people will become apostates (2 Timothy 4:1-4). They will try to destroy the work of God, as they do not truly fear Him. There will be people who become coldhearted betrayers, who will even come against those of their own families (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Yet, God is on the throne.

“ ‘A man’s enemies will be those of is own household.’ ”
~Matthew 10:36~

TUESDAY July 18, 2017

Delight in God’s Goodness

“And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness.”

Nehemiah 9:25

Uninterrupted in prayer, the people remembered the beautiful land the Lord had given them. It was full of produce and well watered. They could just enjoy everything God had provided for them. Israel delighted in God’s goodness.

As we venture out in our own personal lives, we must recognize everything that we have gained has been given to us by God. We were born naked and began with nothing. Do you remember when you were single? If the Lord has blessed you with a wife, children, a home and everything you have accumulated then you, too, can delight in His goodness. All God has done in our lives is because of His greatness, His goodness, His grace and His mercy. We do not deserve anything; it is the Lord who has blessed us. It is all God––He did it all!

As Christians come into a greater consciousness of their Creator, they need to be thankful and worship God for His goodness, love and mercy. He has given them everything good in this life. Believers must worship Him for the rest of their lives. God deserves all the glory and honor due to His name.

God did not save us so we could have a successful career as a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer in this life. In fact, whatever your career may be, you are to bring glory and honor to His name. Remember we are nothing apart from Him. Eventually we are going to spend eternity with God, and worship is what a relationship with God is all about.

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
~Psalm 37:4~

MONDAY July 17, 2017

Possessed Inheritance

“So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land,that they might do with them as they wished.”

Nehemiah 9:24

God’s people continued to recount their long history. Through Abraham, the Lord built His nation. He used Moses to lead and deliver His people from their bondage in Egypt. Through God’s goodness, the people had divine guidance and provision in the wilderness. He gave His people the Promised Land that they may enjoy their inheritance.

However, Moses misrepresented the Lord to the people as an angry God. It cost Moses––big time. He could not enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-13). God would use His servant Joshua to lead them into the land (Numbers 27:15-19). He established the work and fulfilled His promises to His people. God had chosen men who would accomplish His work. God worked with humble men, anointed them and used them. God began the work, blessed the work, supplied for the work and, in the end, the Lord got the glory.

All God wants us to learn is to be a man or a woman of faith. We need to be obedient and respond to what He has told us to do. How are we going to do it? We need to seek the mind of the Lord and go through the doors He opens––doors that no man can shut (Revelation 3:8). Any doors that are shut, we dare not open, unless God opens those doors to us. Seriously, we do not want to set out to do any work for God that is from our own will. It has to be all of God and His perfect will.

Then just like God’s leaders in history, we have to trust God for His guidance, direction and provision. Then we will learn firsthand where God guides, God provides.

Where God guides, God provides.
~Chuck Smith~

SUNDAY July 16, 2017

The LORD Our Creator

“You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven,the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all….”

Nehemiah 9:6

God’s people declare a great truth in their prayers and praise of the Lord. The LORD is Creator. He made the heavens and the earth. Psalm 19:1 confirms this truth: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 147:4 proclaims: He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.

God had said to Abraham in Genesis 15:5: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” God had promised to David: “ ‘As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant…’ ” (Jeremiah 33:22).

Galileo was wrong about his count of the stars. When he looked at them through his homemade telescope, he increased the count of visible stars from about 3,000 with the naked eye, in one hemisphere, to 30,000. But the stars are innumerable! If only scientists would have read the Bible, they would have found out these evidences in the Scriptures.

Scientists should have also read Nehemiah 9:6, because God not only created the heaven––the sky and space of our galaxy––but the heaven of heavens, all the other galaxies in the universe. Recently, through today’s technology, such as the Hubble space telescope, astronomers have discovered many more spiral galaxies. Incredibly, even a new solar system has been found. It has seven earth-like planets orbiting a nearby star––amazing!

Incredibly, the Gospel was written in the stars. The Star of Bethlehem was a sign in the heavens that the Messiah was going to be born.

“For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
~Matthew 2:2~

SATURDAY July 15, 2017

True Worship

…“Stand up and bless the LORD your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!...The host of heaven worships You.”

Nehemiah 9:5-6

In review of Nehemiah 9, the greatness of God stands out. The people came to know that God was the only One to be exalted. Imagine the hosts of heaven––the angels who forever come before the Lord. There were myriads––millions upon millions––surrounding His throne. It must be an incredible sight in heaven as the host of heaven worships God! John, who wrote the book of Revelation, described what he saw:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels . . . and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12)

Do we really worship our great God? The angels do! The host of heaven worships the Lamb of God––Jesus Christ who was slain on the cross. Worship of God is important. Lately, I have observed that most of the worship has become entertainment. The worship leader is coaching the people, rather than leading the people into the presence of God.

When we are worshiping in God’s presence, there should be nothing that distracts us. The Lord should have your complete attention. Our worship needs to come naturally as an expression of our love for God. As we stand in His presence, true worship comes from our hearts. Just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, God has to become real in our lives if we are to worship Him sincerely.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship
in spirit and truth.”
~John 4:24~

FRIDAY July 14, 2017

Enjoying God’s Promises

“Moreover You gave them kingdoms and nations, and divided them into districts. So they took possession of the land of Sihon, the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess.”

Nehemiah 9:22-23

Remember when the children of Israel were commanded to go into the Promised Land and take full possession? God had a short plan; it was only about an eleven day journey. But because of their unbelief, the children of Israel had to take the long way and it took them forty years!

Those who entered the Promised Land under Joshua’s Leadership were indeed blessed. The people’s prayer in Nehemiah 9 reflected on the fulfillment of God’s promises. God had told Abraham:

Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

“…I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17).

There are estimated to be 5467 promises in the Bible. As you read through the Bible, underline the promises that speak to your heart personally. Stand on God’s promises––He is true to His Word.

For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him amen,
to the glory of God through us.
~2 Corinthians 1:20~

THURSDAY July 13, 2017

Abundantly Sustained

“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.”

Nehemiah 9:20-21

As the children of Israel accurately and prayerfully uttered their history together, they recalled the goodness of God in the wilderness. The Lord had given them His Spirit to instruct them. He abundantly sustained them. He met all their needs physically, emotionally and spiritually.

There is no better way to remain steadfast with the Lord than to think on His greatness and goodness. He takes good care of us. Jesus reassures us of His faithful provision:

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:27-31).

Jesus also spoke of the Holy Spirit; He will instruct and guide us:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand
or whenever you turn to the left.
~Isaiah 30:21~

WEDNESDAY July 12, 2017

Manifold Mercies

“Even when they made a molded calf for themselves,And said, ‘This is your god That brought you up out of Egypt,’ And worked great provocations, Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go.”

Nehemiah 9:18-19

Notice that even though the children of Israel were stiff-necked and rebellious, God still directed their steps. He was a light to them. Numbers 14:2-4 tells us exactly what God’s people were like:

And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! …Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt” (Numbers 14:2-4).

The children of Israel were guilty of complaining against the Lord. They acted rebelliously and wanted to choose another leader. Instead of fully following the Lord to the Promised Land, they wanted to turn back to Egypt. Psalm 78:8 records their sinfulness: And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. Psalm 78:17 reveals their hearts: …a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.

Do you find yourself complaining against God? Are you rebelling against His Word? No matter how difficult this earthly journey may be, your heart must be set to steadfastly follow the Lord. God will not forsake us; He will give us His manifold mercies as He guides us through this life.

God never promises us an easy time, only a safe arrival.
~Anonymous~

TUESDAY July 11, 2017

Stiff-Necked People

“But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful,Slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.”

Nehemiah 9:16-17

The people of God not only reflected on God’s grace, mercy, kindness, longsuffering, and forgiveness, but they remembered how the prior generation of Israel and their leaders’ rebellion in the wilderness.

God had blessed His people tremendously. He had delivered them from Egypt and given them a promise of a new land. The children of Israel had seen God’s great miracles, yet they rebelled. When Moses was on top of the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, and spoke with the Lord (Exodus 24:12-13), the children of Israel made a god––a golden calf. This is where Israel’s rebellion started:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1-2).

The Lord punished His people for their sins and sent a plague among them (Exodus 32:35). God told Moses to tell His people:

“Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you’ ” (Exodus 33:5).

Seriously, sometimes God has to humble us and strip us of our pride. Our self-will needs to be broken before the Lord can lead us into the promises and blessings He has planned for our lives.

If we learned humility it might spare us humiliation.
~Vance Havner~

MONDAY July 10, 2017

Possess the Promise

“You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger,and brought them water out of the rock for their thirst, and told them to go in to possess the land which You had sworn to give them.”

Nehemiah 9:15

God’s people continued their prayers and thought on God’s miraculous provision in the wilderness. There were estimated to be between 2.5 million to 3 million people who had left Egypt: Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children (Exodus 12:37). In the wilderness God provided His people with bread: “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you (Exodus 16:4). Psalm 78:24 gives us another description of God’s provision:

…He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, [God] had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven (Psalm 78:23-24).

God also preserved His people by giving them water out of a rock! Moses was commanded to strike a rock: Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:5-6). Psalm 78:15-16 gives to us another account: He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

God had led and provided for His people as they neared the Promised Land. The Lord kept His promise. Now by faith, they should have entered and possessed the land. Instead, the Lord had to chasten them. He had to lead them on a longer journey in the wilderness than He intended. Those older than twenty, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness because of their unbelief (Numbers 14:29; Numbers 26:65). They never made it into the Promised Land or enjoyed His promises to the fullest.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
~2 Timothy 2:13~

SUNDAY July 9, 2017

Joy of Obedience

“You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath,and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws,by the hand of Moses Your servant.”

Nehemiah 9:13-14

God’s people remembered when God descended on Mount Sinai. They witnessed the thundering and the flashes of lightening (Exodus 20:18). Moses was called by God to come up to the mountain. He would be given the tablets of stone, the law and the commandments (Exodus 24:12). God’s people needed to obey Him because He had a good plan for their future.

Understand that obedience does not just come by hearing God’s Word, but by doing His Word. Unless God’s people actually apply the Word of God to their lives, they are not really being obedient to the Scriptures. When we are living in disobedience, God will give us a period of grace. He will continue to sustain us and still show us His love and mercy. But within that space of time, God expects us to correct the areas of disobedience in our lives––always.

If we, as God’s children, do not obey Him, then He will get our attention by using affliction. Understand affliction is God’s rod of correction. It is God’s way––never our way. God always wins. Why? He is in control. He will never force you to do His will, however He cannot contradict His Word.

What do you really want out of life? You see, it all depends on your submission to God as to what the outcome will be. The end results can be good or bad. That is why you need to seek the will of God. When you submit to God, you will have joy, peace and contentment in your life.

Joy is the natural out-come of the Christian's obedience
to the revealed will of God.
~John Blanchard~

SATURDAY July 8, 2017

Red Sea Reflections

“And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give them light on the road which they should travel.”

Nehemiah 9:11-12

God’s people continued to reflect on their long history, as they prayed and gave praise to their God. They reflected back on the mighty miracles of the Red Sea crossing. God divided the sea so they could walk through on dry ground. As the Egyptian army pursued them, the children of Israel began to be fearful. They thought they were going to die (Exodus 14:10-12), but God protected His people, He destroyed the Egyptian army:

So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained (Exodus 14:27-28).

It is good to reflect on God’s goodness and praise Him for His faithfulness in our lives. Otherwise, like God’s people, we are prone to forget what God has done for us in the past. When we get our eyes off the Lord and place them on our problems, unbelief and doubt creep into our lives. We may even think we are going to die!

So often, we think God is not in control, but He is in control. When we feel God is not helping us, we get tempted to take situations into our own hands. We even have the tendency to criticize or falsely accuse God––that is our nature. But as you look back over your life, God brought you through the trial––right? Never criticize or falsely accuse God. Instead, remember His goodness.

High in the heavens, eternal God, thy goodness in full glory shines; thy truth shall break through every cloud that veils and darkens thy designs.
~Isaac Watts~

FRIDAY July 7, 2017

Remember Gods Mighty Acts

“You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea. You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,Against all his servants, and against all the people of his land.For You knew that they acted proudly against them.So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.”

Nehemiah 9:9-10

As the prayer of the people continued, they acknowledged that God is a God who sees. He had heard the cry of His people in Egypt. In response the Lord did miraculous acts and delivered them from bondage. Egypt was full of pride and the Lord humbled them. Through Israel’s great deliverance, the Egyptians would come to know God: …the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:5).

God became known among His own people: …that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 10:1-2).

The fame of God’s name would reach to other heathen nations. Rahab, a prostitute in the city of Jericho, told the spies from Israel:

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt… (Joshua 2:9).

The next time you see yourself in a difficult situation or problem, remember the Lord’s mighty acts in your own life. How did God rescue you? In what ways did God fulfill a specific need in your life?

I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
~Psalm 77:11~

THURSDAY July 6, 2017

Prayers of Revival

“You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites—to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.”

Nehemiah 9:7-8

Nehemiah listened to Israel’s entire history in a prayer of revival. In this prayer, we are going to hear about the greatness of God, the goodness of God and the grace of God. It reveals the majesty of the Lord and the depravity of man. Nehemiah 9 shows us God’s holiness and just how sinful we are––it is incredible.

The prayer revealed how Israel reacted to God’s great kindness, mercy, and goodness. They responded with great provocation, and because of their sins, they suffered and had great distress.

Even when we fall short and act terrible, God is kind, merciful and good.

Do you know what God desires for your life? You need to separate yourself from any sin, deny yourself, and make sure you remain hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. It is good to keep focused on the Lord.

Nehemiah 9 is one of three great national prayers that are recorded in the Bible. Ezra 9 and Daniel 9 are also incredible prayers. I can see the main reason behind these prayers; it is 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

America, as a nation, needs to be revived. Those who read God’s Word can prayerfully seek Him in humble intercession. Our great nation needs to turn to God and be forgiven. Only then can revival come.

When God is about to do a great work,
he pours out a spirit of supplication.
~Jonathan Edwards~

WEDNESDAY July 5, 2017

Words of Worship

“You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.”

Nehemiah 9:6

The Levites led the people into words of praise and adoration: “Stand up and bless the LORD your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! They worshiped their God––the Creator––and acknowledged that He alone is the Lord. They knew that angels––the host of heaven––worshiped His glorious majesty.

Psalm 148 is another wonderful psalm that invites us to praise the Lord. Praise must resonate in heaven and rise from the depths of the sea:

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! …Praise the LORD from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths… (Psalm 148:1-4, 7).

All people who inhabit the earth, both great and small, should praise the Lord:…Kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children (Psalm 148:11-12). In our busy lives, it is easy to forget that we need to praise the Lord. There are so many reasons in our lives to praise God. Why not stand up and bless the Lord by praising Him each day of your life?

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; to His feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, evermore His praises sing.
~Henry Francis Lyte~

TUESDAY July 4, 2017

Independence Day

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

Matthew 12:25

British tyranny marked the rule of King George III over thirteen American colonies. High taxation and a long list of other grievances spurred the American rebellion. Thirteen colonies united in their cause––there was no division among them. A five man committee was assigned to draft a declaration. Thomas Jefferson was largely attributed with the work. On July 2, 1776, the vote was approved for the separation from Britain. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence was written by godly men who recognized the Supreme Judge of the world. These men united together to address the suffering and injustices of the British. Within the Declaration of Independence are these important statements:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and Independent States… all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.

The war for America’s independence lasted from 1775–1783. On September 3, 1783, a treaty was signed in Paris, whereby Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States, and formally ended the war. Every year, July 4, is the day we celebrate the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. As Americans, we must continue to be united. Divided we shall never stand against our enemies.

As a leader, unity begins with you…
~John Maxwell~

MONDAY July 3, 2017

Stand in Exaltation

Then Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, andChenani stood on the stairs of the Levites and cried out with a loud voice to the LORD their God. And the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: “Stand up and bless the LORD your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!”

Nehemiah 9:4-5

Nehemiah 9 is a long chapter that magnifies God’s greatness, faithfulness and grace. It is all about God. He is the main subject. The chapter covers who God is, what He does for His people, and what His people must do for Him. Remember, as Ezra read from the Book of the Law, the people stood for six hours and listened. They placed a great significance in the worship of God and the reading of God’s Word.

The people had a true hunger for God’s Word. As they began to understand the Scriptures, joy filled their hearts. As the Word convicted the people, in humility before the Lord, they confessed their sins. In obedience, they had separated themselves to their God. Now they stood to their feet in worship. They exalted God’s greatness. God’s Word had an incredible effect on their lives. It is amazing to see how they reacted.

Today, many people’s relationship with God is very shallow––there is no depth. People will say they know God, but there is no true evidence that God’s Word has taken any effect. Who is this God we serve? Men like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew God. But what about us? I believe there has to be a recognition of God’s attributes. If we do not understand the character and attributes of God, then how can we become like Him?

When you hear the teaching of the Word, what kind of response do you have? Your reaction should be the same as God’s people in the book of Nehemiah. Otherwise, God’s Word is not having an effect in your life.

“Everything about God is great, vast, and incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word.”
~Arthur W. Pink~

SUNDAY July 2, 2017

Our Daily Priorities

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one–fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.

Nehemiah 9:3

Nehemiah comprehended the greatness of God in his life. He stood in awe with the people. Psalms 33:8 tells us: Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Nehemiah knew the right way to come before the Lord’s presence. It was through fasting, prayer and confession of their sins.

On this particular day, the people continued to read the Book of the Law. They had prioritized their time; one fourth of their day way given to prayer, as they confessed their sins. Another fourth of the day was given over to worship. The whole congregation stood before the Lord singing, as if they were having their own worship conference––amazing!

In comparison, today’s church services will only have about 30 minutes of worship before the teaching of God’s Word––think about that! During that time, we should bring ourselves before the Lord to worship and confess our sins to Him. 1 John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In my personal life, I take the time to fast and daily pray. Why? I desire to sit before God to make sure the closet of my life is clean before the Lord.

What about your daily priorities? How much time do you spend on yourself? I often give people this interesting challenge: write down on a sheet of paper, every half hour, what you are spending your time doing. Then, as you look over what you have written, you will know what your greatest priorities are in life.

A man's heart has only enough life in it to pursue one object fully.
~C. S. Spurgeon~

SATURDAY July 1, 2017

Unequally Yoked

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:2

In obedience to God’s Word, the people separated themselves from the foreign people among them. God’s people were commanded not to intermarry, as those people from other nations would influence them to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The Lord wanted His people to be set apart. They were to be His special people:

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).

What happens when you are unequally unyoked together with a non-believer? If you are in a relationship with a person who is not a Christian, you will eventually become influenced by them. There is no middle ground; either you are being an influence to others, or others are influencing you.

Christians in Corinth lived in a city full of idolatry and temple prostitution. The Apostle Paul reasoned this important truth with them:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

It is God’s perfect will that you marry a Christian. If you are dating a non-believer, ask the Lord to help you obey His Word and separate from them. Why? God has called us to be separate.

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
~2 Corinthians 6:17-18~

FRIDAY June 30, 2017

Be Separate

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Nehemiah 9:2

Notice how God’s people began to separate themselves from all the foreign people––those among them who were not Jewish. God’s people were commanded to not intermarry with foreigners. Why? Those from other nations were full of idolatry; they worshiped idols and even sacrificed their children to them. God had called them to be separate:

Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

God warned His people that if they intermarried with these idolatrous people, their hearts would be turned away from Him. Then they would have to face His judgment as a consequence. The Prophet Jeremiah records the iniquity of their fathers. They had turned their back on God and did the unthinkable:

But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (Jeremiah 32:35)

In judgment of His people’s sins God allowed the Babylonians to take them captive (Jeremiah 32:36). In His mercy, God had allowed His people to return.

“…For I will cause the captives of the land to return
as at the first,’ says the LORD.”
~Jeremiah 33:11~

THURSDAY June 29, 2017

Fasting, Sackcloth and Ashes

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.

Nehemiah 9:1

God’s people had a time of celebration; they were glad and rejoiced. After they had read and studied the Word of God, the people were stirred up to fast, confess their sins and pray. Why? Surely they wanted to deny themselves in the presence of God. Revival and reform would happen among the people. But first, there was a true mourning over their sins. The people fasted and wore sackcloth––an irritant to the skin––like sand paper. They also placed dust on their heads and humbled themselves before their God.

It is important to know that whenever we fast; we are to abstain from the things our body craves. Have you considered the purpose behind fasting? Isaiah 58:6-7 tells us what God considers to be a true fast:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

If you want to learn how to pray, read the prayers in the Bible. Herbert Lockyer has an excellent book called all the prayers of the Bible––it is incredible. As you learn to pray, ask the Lord to mold and shape your life. He has given you the power of the Holy Spirit, who will bring about a revival in your life––one that you have never seen before.

Revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God . . . a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God with deep humility, and a forsaking of sin.
~Charles G. Finney~

WEDNESDAY June 28, 2017

New Beginnings

Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Nehemiah 8:18

Every day during the Feast of Tabernacles, Ezra read from the Book of the Law. On the eighth day they gathered for a sacred assembly. Interestingly, in numerology, the number eight is the day of new beginnings. God had begun to do a new work among His people.

Once we accepted the Lord and became Christians the Bible tells us we have become new creations in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has done a new work in our lives. In Christ, we have a brand new life ahead of us. Our old life and the sins we had committed are erased––fully and completely.

Now, day by day we must read God’s Word to grow in our Christian walk. Second Peter 3:18 tells us: …but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must become rooted and grounded in God’s Word but also in His love. As we do, we shall be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19). Then as trials come to test our faith we will be able to endure:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

If you are experiencing trials, always keep an eternal perspective.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
~2 Corinthians 4:16~

TUESDAY June 27, 2017

A Time of Celebration

So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.

Nehemiah 8:17

The Feast of Tabernacles had not been celebrated since the time of Joshua, or throughout their time of captivity in Babylon. It was not until Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and Ezra read the Word of God to the people, that this important feast was once again held. As the leaders reestablished the Feast of Tabernacles, it became a time of celebration, and it caused the people to become full of joy and gladness.

Understand obedience to God’s Word will bring joy and gladness into our lives. Instead of resisting God’s Word and suffering the consequences, learn to delight to do God’s will. David, during his trials, wrote: I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 119:4). This prophetical Psalm spoke of Jesus Christ. He delighted to do God’s will by going to the cross for our salvation:

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:5-7).

Doing God’s will take great sacrifice. Mary submitted her will to become the mother of Jesus. She said to the angel: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Despite the difficulties she would face, she also rejoiced in praise: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Joy is the natural out-come of the Christian's obedience
to the revealed will of God.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY June 26, 2017

Obedience

Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim

Nehemiah 8:16

In obedience, the people had gathered all kinds of tree branches to make for themselves booths––temporary homes. God’s people obediently followed what God had said in His Word. During the Feast of Tabernacles, they would live in these booths seven days. Understand that pretending to be in these outside booths, became a perfect opportunity for the parents to teach their children about the Lord.

God wanted the parents to pass on to their children the knowledge of the Lord, how He had led them out of Egypt. As they traveled through the wilderness, God had provided for them before they went into the Promised Land. The parents would have spoken to their children and said, “Let me tell you the story concerning Egypt, Moses and our journey through the wilderness.”

In any family, one of the most important things to do is to pass on the wonderful stories of the Bible to their children, and grandchildren. Psalm 78:4 is a reminder of how we should teach our children about the Lord:

We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Do you make it a daily practice to retell the stories of the Bible to your children? What about sharing with them the wonderful works God has done in your own families’ lives?

Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
~Joel 1-3~

SUNDAY June 25, 2017

Remembrance

And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”

Nehemiah 8:14-15

The leaders of Israel had made an important discovery in the Word of God. The Lord had commanded them, through His servant Moses, to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. They had read:

“ ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD... It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.’ ” (Leviticus 23: 34).

The leaders restored the feast and made sure the Word of God was obeyed. God’s people were to make booths––makeshift houses to live in for a week. They sent the people away to gather and bring back the needed materials to make the booths as written in Leviticus 23, 40-43.

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days… All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’”

Notice the main reason God established this feast. The Lord desired they would always remember how He took them out of Egypt, cared for them in the great wilderness until they entered the Promise Land. It was a feast of remembrance to be kept every year, from generation to generation.

The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
~Jeremiah 31:2~

SATURDAY June 24, 2017

Head of the Home

Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.

Nehemiah 8:13

The leaders of the Israel had gathered together with Ezra to understand the Word of God. They desired to be obedient to God and His commands. It was necessary to learn the Law, so they could lead God’s people.

It is very essential for a husband to be the spiritual leader of his home. As the head of his home he should take care of his wife (Ephesians 5:21-24). A husband should read and study God’s Word, to be equipped to lead his family. The Bible is also very clear about the role of a father. A father can find in the Word of God the instructions he needs to raise his children:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 AMP).

Remember your children are a blessing from the Lord:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them… (Psalm 27:3-5).

A father must be a good role model for his children. By his godly example he will greatly influence the lives of his children. Is your character in the home, and at church, a good reflection of Christ to your children?

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
his children are blessed after him.
~Proverbs 20:7~

FRIDAY June 23, 2017

Understanding the Scriptures

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

Nehemiah 8:12

Notice, once the people dispersed after hearing God’s Word, they went away greatly rejoicing. Why? Because they were helped by the priests to understand the Scriptures Ezra had read to them.

When people leave the church service after hearing God’s Word they should go out rejoicing––not sad. The pastor should expound the meaning of the Scriptures to the people. When they have gained a good understanding of God’s Word, they will leave rejoicing.

Jesus, in Galilee, had explained to His disciples about his death and crucifixion. He told them He would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21). But His disciples did not fully understand. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, in unbelief, two of Jesus’ disciples travelled on the road to Emmaus, discouraged (Luke 24:13-14).

Unrecognized, Christ joined the disciples on their journey. He asked them the reason for their sadness. Cleopas, surprised that the traveler had no clue to what had transpired over the past few days, explained about Jesus’ death. They thought Jesus would have redeemed Israel. Although told by the women of His resurrection, the Lord had not been seen by any of the other disciples (Luke 24:15-24). Then Jesus said to them:

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27).

If you are discouraged by a difficult circumstance, ask the Lord to open your understanding of the Scriptures and by His Spirit He will!

And He opened their understanding,
that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
~Luke 24:45~

THURSDAY June 22, 2017

Be Still My Soul

So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”

Nehemiah 8:11

Interestingly, as the Levities quieted the people, we see there was complete order in the entire service. It remained in control because the Levites were leading. Their words caused the people to be still and there was a time of silence.

When God’s people are in distress, it benefits them to be still before God so He can speak to their hearts. When I want to be alone with God, I get on my Harley and go up to the mountains. I want to be away from people; otherwise I am always talking with them. I try to take every opportunity to be still before God. Then He can speak to me and quiet my soul.

David is a perfect example of how to be still before God. In times of distress He described how he quieted himself: Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131:2). Then David wrote in Psalm 23:1-3:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…

Knowing who God is makes a great difference in how we handle difficult situations. The widow of Nain wailed in grief. She was bereaved of her only son. The Lord saw her sorrow and had compassion on her. He told her: “Do not weep.” Those who carried the coffin “stood still.” Then Jesus brought her son back to life. God was glorified (Luke 7:11-16).

Remember everything happens for a purpose. Often our trials are allowed so that God’s glory can shine out in our darkest moments.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
~Psalm 46:10~

WEDNESDAY June 21, 2017

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah and the leaders had encouraged the people to enjoy what God was doing among them. This day was holy, a time of celebration and rejoicing; not a time for the people to be sorrowful. They should rejoice and delight in their restored relationship with God.

When our church service is completed, I encouraged people to fellowship. Why? The people begin to open their hearts as they share with each other how God spoke to them through the message. In their time of fellowship, they begin to rejoice––I love that.

God does not want us to be sad when we face hard trials in life. Knowing that our God will help us to overcome our circumstances, we should rejoice! Jesus was to be crucified on the cross; but He still had joy. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Him as our example:

…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus had the joy of knowing He would be reunited with the Father after His death on the cross (John 17: 5). Even though we must endure trials; remember God is still on the throne! James 1:2-3 encourages believers: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Joy is delight at God's grace which enables us to endure our trials.
~George Seevers~

TUESDAY June 20, 2017

Mourning and Weeping

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Nehemiah 8:9

Notice how the people expressed tremendous amounts of emotion. God’s Spirit was working in their hearts. Among those who gathered in the open square, were the older Jews. These elders began to reflect on their past disobedience. For years, the Jews had suffered in captivity. What had happened to them was a direct result of disobeying what God had told them in Deuteronomy 28-30.

In Babylon the Jews could not worship the Lord. Now that, Nehemiah had secured the city by rebuilding the wall, they could safely worship the Lord together without concern of their enemies attacking. As they heard God’s Word and worshiped Him; they knew, in their hearts, God’s grace was extended to them. This older generation understood how they had failed. Then they were overcome with emotion, which caused them to break down, and they mourned and wept.

People will suffer the consequences of their sins. Many realize they have sinned against God, and in repentance they weep and mourn over their sinful mistakes. Understand that all those who are broken in heart over their sins, will be comforted by the Lord. The Bible tells us: The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18). As a sinner comes back to God, He extends His mercy and grace to them (1 John 1:9). The Lord will restore their lives. Then they will not mourn anymore, but worship the Lord freely.

If find yourself far away from the Lord, and still captive by your sins. Then sincerely repent and come back to God (James 4:7-10). He loves you!

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
~Matthew 5:4~

MONDAY June 19, 2017

Making Sense of Scripture

Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:7-8

The Levities interpreted the Word of God to the people. They were helped to fully understand what was being read––the Scriptures made sense. Notice, in these verses, the references to the word “understand.”

It was given twice for emphasis. It was not only necessary to have Ezra read from the Scriptures to God’s people, but it was just as important for the Levities to help the people understand what was being read to them.

It is the pastor’s responsibility to teach the Word of God, simply, to the people, so they can understand the Scriptures. Christians have been given the Spirit of God to help them understand God’s Word: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things… (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit helps us understand the things of God. First Corinthians 2:12 explains to us:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

You must be born again to understand the Scriptures (John 3).

However a person, who does not have the Holy Spirit within them, cannot understand spiritual things:

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The Spirit of God knows the things of God because He is one with God.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY June 18, 2017

Bow Down and Worship

…Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:6

Notice how the people showed their devotion to God as they worshiped Him. They openly lifted up their hands in worship and waited upon the Lord to speak to them––incredible! Can you imagine all these people as they bowed their heads and worshiped with their faces to the ground? God was in their mist––this must have been such an awesome sight!

During the church service attention is given to worship. Why? Worship prepares the heart for the Word of God. We become in tune with how the Lord desires to speak to us. Interestingly, God has placed more emphasis on His Word than on worship. David, who worshiped the Lord from a youth reveals to us this truth in Psalm 138:2:

I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

As a teaching ministry we give great attention to the Word of God. However, once a month we have our night of prayer and worship. It is a time when we can openly lift our hands to the Lord in complete surrender, uninhibited, as we worship Him. We should never sit in a worship service with our arms folded and not sing. Understand that as we enter into a time of sincere worship; our hands are open to receive from God.

When was the last time you came to church and worshipped the Lord in complete abandon?

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand…
~Psalm 95:6-7~

SATURDAY June 17, 2017

Our Great God

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.

Nehemiah 8:5

The people stood up in reverence to hear God’s Word. Can you imagine standing for six hours to hear the Word of God? Interestingly, by the time of Christ, the rabbi’s actually sat down while the people remained standing. In our churches today, we have the people sit, and the teacher is the one who usually stands to teach God’s Word.

Then, notice how Ezra blessed the Lord––the great God. He magnified Him to the people as a great God. The Bible declares: For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods (Psalm 95:3). In many countries over the entire world, there are still many earthly deities that are worshiped. But, our God is above them all. He is the only true God: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me…” (Isaiah 45:5). His incredible character is described in Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

Christians serve a great God! What great things has He done for each one of us? By God’s mercy and grace; He has saved us. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins but God has made us spiritually alive with Christ. Heaven is our eternal destination. It is an inheritance that cannot fade away. Our salvation is a gift of God. We only need to exercise faith to believe in Christ’s finished work on the cross (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-10).

If you do not know our great God, prayerfully and reverently read the Scriptures. The Lord wants you to know Him (John 17:3). Then you too can serve the King of gods and worship Him for His greatness.

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD
You are great, and Your name is great in might.
~Jeremiah 10:6~

FRIDAY June 16, 2017

A Word to the Privileged

So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

Nehemiah 8:4

Ezra, on a platform of wood, stood and shared the Scriptures. (This is the first time in the Bible that a platform was mentioned). On his right hand were six priests and on his left hand were another seven priests, thirteen men in total. The men and women were so blessed to be taught the Scriptures.

Imagine those who are privileged to work in a church or other Christian establishments all day long. How God has blessed them! They are can freely talk about the Lord with their co-workers. There may be pictures with Scriptures placed on the walls and worship music playing in the background. Those who work in a Christian environment, even though they have their personal struggles, are protected from the evil things of this world.

Remember this is not something everyone gets to experience. There are many people in our congregation who have to work daily in a secular environment. They do not have the same privileges or blessings. Although God is with them, they cannot talk openly about the Lord. They may be subjected to listen to foul language, worldly music and maybe surrounded by uncaring people.

Often, these poor people come into the church, weeping and crying, asking for counsel and prayer. The Word of God ministers and comforts people who are so broken. The Lord gives to them His precious promises found in His Word to give them hope.

Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.
~Psalm 119:49-50~

WEDNESDAY June 14, 2017

Hearing with Understanding

So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.

Nehemiah 8:2

The Children of Israel had assembled. Ezra began to read and teach all those who were able to understand. This Scripture is used to teach parents why we do not have babies or young children among those sitting in the sanctuary. Only adults who understand the teaching of the Word of God should be in the sanctuary. Why? First, this is the only time when the parents can be fed the Word of God without distraction. As they come to listen, God will speak to them individually. Second, parents will not be concerned about the needs of their children while in service. Third, children can be disruptive to other people who have come to listen to God’s Word.

Our Sunday school teachers diligently study to teach Bible lessons to the children at their level of understanding. However, it is important for the parents to take the responsibility to read God’s Word to their children at home every day. Parents should teach their children to memorize the Scriptures. Children are greatly influenced in the home, as they may only spend about six hours a week in church. Biblically, it is not a church’s responsibility to train up children in the ways of the Lord––it is the parent’s duty (Proverbs 22:6).

Among the orthodox Jews, believe it or not, they teach their children to memorize the Law of God––Genesis through Deuteronomy. When we see them doing their prayers by the wall in Jerusalem, they are often repeating the words from the Torah.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, and when you rise up.
~Deuteronomy 6:6-7~

TUESDAY June 13, 2017

The Value of God’s Word

…When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities. Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.

Nehemiah 7:73; 8:1

In Nehemiah 7, you will find a list of names. These were the Jewish captives who returned to their cities in Jerusalem and Judah (Nehemiah 7:6). The last sentence of Nehemiah 7:73, goes with Nehemiah 8:1. The children of Israel came into the cities around the period of 444 B.C., at the time when they celebrated the Feast of Trumpets––Rosh Hashanah––the Jewish New Year. It began a ten day period of consecration and repentance before the Lord.

Nehemiah began to gather all the people together, in the open square, by the Water Gate. In this place Ezra was called upon to read the Book of the Law of Moses––Genesis though Deuteronomy. The people came in unity to be taught the Word of God.

There are some important principles that we need to understand from what was about to happen. When Ezra stood up to teach the Word of God, everyone stood and listened to the Word of God. Ezra read for six long hours––that amazes me! Why? It shows to us their dedication and reverence for God’s Word.

In comparison, most people only spend about six hours a week to study God’s Word in church. They usually attend Sunday morning and evening services, and then, Wednesday evening. As we come and sit down in the sanctuary, to hear God’s Word, do we listen reverently? God desires to speak to us so we can apply His Word to our own personal lives. Ask yourself these questions, “How important is God’s Word to me? Do I really value the Bible?”

It is a miracle how God has so long preserved His book! How great and glorious it is to have the Word of God!
~Martin Luther~

MONDAY June 12, 2017

Disloyalty and Division

Also they reported his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to frighten me.

Nehemiah 6:19

The enemies’ next attack was to bring about disloyalty and division. There were people from the inside of the city who had compromised. They wanted to remain friends with Tobiah and keep in communication with him. He even received an invitation to the dedication of the walls! Eliashib the priest also collaborated with Tobiah; to the point of giving him a room in the house of God––the holy temple (Nehemiah 13:4-8). Nehemiah knew his enemy was poisoning these people from within the city.

Did they not understand that he had tried to kill the Nehemiah––the man chosen to do the work of God? He was an enemy who came against them. These Jewish leaders had absolutely no discernment to what was really going on. They even tried to persuade Nehemiah that Tobiah was doing good. Tragically, as they embraced Tobiah as their friend, he was still writing intimidating letters to Nehemiah that contained false accusations against him.

Yet, Tobiah could not put any fear in Nehemiah’s heart. In the end, Nehemiah was shown to be a man of vison and integrity. The wall was built. Nehemiah’s prayer worked! God received all the glory and honor.

In the body of Christ there exist such people as Tobiah, who purposely bring about disunity and division. Yet, there are those people in the body who will still fellowship with such a person. They know they have caused problems in the congregation, but they do not realize that as they keep these relationships, they are being poisoned against the ministry. As they listen to slander and false reports they will begin to mistrust the leadership of the church. It is the same with people who listen to those who teach doctrine contrary to what is being taught from the pulpit.

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
~Romans 16:17~

SUNDAY June 11, 2017

Family Connections

Also in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them. For many in Judah were pledged to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shechaniah the son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

Nehemiah 6:17-18

Nehemiah’s enemies had failed to manipulate him to come outside the city. However, Tobiah continued to form friendships from within the city. He was determined not lose touch with the people. He also married the daughter of Shechaniah, which gave him political ties with this Jewish leader. Through these compromising family connections, and other friendships, Tobiah persisted in bringing disorder within Jerusalem.

Parents in the church often compromise their position with their children. When their children become teenagers, they enter into a period of rebellion. Why? Our children have a little evil heart––like everybody else. Some may get into drinking, drugs, or fornication. At that time you will need to make a persistent stand for godliness and holiness––if not, they will run your home and bring disorder into your families lives!

In our home, we taught our kids that if they lived at home they were expected to attend church twice a week. If they refused they had to leave and get their own job. Why? Then they could find out what real life is about. Even though they may think we are square and old fashioned, that is alright, because I would rather see them in heaven.

Seriously, teenagers are so naïve and gullible. They may choose to look at worldly magazines, enjoy the Hollywood scene, and watch adult shows on MTV, which can totally destroy their minds. As parents and grandparents we have to fight against worldliness in the home. If we do not want to see them perish; we had better draw the lines––no compromise. I am not talking about legalism, or being harsh, because we need to love them. Use godly authority as you teach them God’s Word.

Children need to he trained, not just in the facts of life,
but in the ways of life.
~Anonymous~

SATURDAY June 10, 2017

A Finished Work

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Nehemiah 6:15-16

When the other nations saw the rebuilding of the wall was accomplished, they had to come to one obvious conclusion. The God of Israel had accomplished the work––I love that. God was with Nehemiah and His people as they worked together––it was undeniable. The nations watched Nehemiah’s life as he relied on God. He never moved to the right or the left, he just stayed steady on course. There was no compromise in his life.

I have known a barber that has a shop in old town San Dimas since 1965. Over time, he has built up customers, and through his integrity they have come to trust him. He does not even have to advertise for new clients. People keep coming back to him because they know they will get their money’s worth––he does a great job. A ministry must build integrity and gain the people’s trust, and that takes time. As a church remains in one city, over the years, people will see its steadfastness and consistency in ministry. They will observe a church’s integrity and be influenced to stay.

Like Nehemiah, determine in your heart that you will not compromise. Do not do something that will cause you to sin against God. If you compromise in the beginning of your walk with God, then you will compromise the rest of your life. Seriously, you will build a bad pattern of yielding to sin. Instead, obediently submit to God: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

As you make a stand against sin, it may seem that you are like the Lone Ranger. But when you stand for holiness and righteousness, the heavens will open up and God will bless you, I guarantee it.

A holy God calls his people to holy living. It is inconceivable that it
should be otherwise.
~John Blanchard~

FRIDAY June 9, 2017

Divine Retribution

My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

Nehemiah 6:14

Nehemiah is a prime example of allowing God to hand out His divine retribution, on all those who came against him. He lifted up the situation in prayer. The Lord would exercise His justice and repay Tobiah and Sanballat, for their evil works. He would also repay the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who gave false prophecies in an attempt to make Nehemiah afraid.

When God dealt with His people’s enemies, He often allowed their plans to simply fall back on themselves. Remember Haman? He wanted to annihilate the Jews; especially Mordecai, the older cousin of Queen Esther (Esther 2:7). Haman made a gallows to hang Mordecai because he was unafraid of him (Esther 5:14). God used Esther to deliver her people. In God’s divine retribution, Haman was hung on the very gallows he had made of Mordecai (Esther 7:9-10).

Chuck Smith was a good example of leaving situations in God’s hands. Even though he had been stabbed in the back so many times, he would turn around and say––I love you. Even if they had slandered him and said they were sorry, he would take them back and hire them. That was just the way Chuck was––he had peace.

However Chuck Smith was a man of wisdom. When someone was not right with the Lord, figuratively he would hand them a rope. Then he would let the rope go as long as it could. You know what Chuck taught us? What usually happens is that person will end up hanging themselves. In other words, as Chuck watched them, their motives would become obvious. He was smart. Chuck did not have to do anything because these people would entrap themselves.

He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.
~Psalm 54:5~

THURSDAY June 8, 2017

Character Assassination

For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

Nehemiah 6:13

Sanballat, and Tobiah had instigated a smear campaign to damage and destroy the character of Nehemiah. He was the leader among the Jewish people he had come to help. For him, to run into the temple for safety would show he was a coward. He would be guilty of unbelief. His lack of trust in the Lord would affect all those people under him.

Jealousy was the major sin behind these enemies trying to assassinate Nehemiah’s character. They hated the fact that he had come into the city to make it safe. Nehemiah was making sure there was a strong defense by rebuilding the walls and gates. Sanballat and Tobiah were unable to come into the city whenever they pleased. That meant they could not harass, threaten, or wipe out the people anymore.

Who is our greatest slanderer? Satan. He is the one who loves to defame and damage your character. He attacks your integrity as a believer. Have you ever gone to the store and the person checking out your items at the register says “Excuse me, there is not enough funds”? It is so embarrassing. Those standing in line behind you might say, “Another person who does not pay their bills.” They immediately start thinking evil about your character. Seriously, you know that you always pay your bills, there is money in the bank, but you cannot prove it––it happens all the time.

Yet, Satan would love to bring these kinds of false accusation against you. Why? He would use anything that he can to slander your character, and destroy your ministry. The best way to protect your character is to have no appearance of evil. Keep up your guard!

Abstain from all appearance of evil.
~1 Thessalonians 5:22~

WEDNESDAY June 7, 2017

Showing No Cowardice

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.

Nehemiah 6:11-12

Nehemiah was not bothered by what Shemaiah had told him. Notice, how he responded, as if to say, “You think I am going to run?” Nehemiah counted his life as nothing; besides he was not doing this work for himself––it was for the Lord and His people. Nehemiah answered the false prophet with righteousness––I love that. In other words Nehemiah told him, “I do not have time for you!” Why should he flee and stop doing the work of God for pettiness? Nehemiah had a great attitude. He was not even upset, and he just kept focused.

Notice once more, Nehemiah’s discernment. He saw straight through Shemaiah’s false prophecy. As Nehemiah spent time in prayer, most likely the Lord gave him a word of knowledge. God gave him discernment and he recognized that Shemaiah was a hireling. Nehemiah’s enemies had hired him. This prophet was not sent by God––he had been paid off. Nehemiah was in tune with the Lord; he heard God’s voice and peacefully left the situation in the Lord’s hands.

Think about people who have lost sleep for days, months, and even years, over someone telling them something that was not true. They become so worried and waste valuable time over nothing. That kind of stress will kill you! It is better to leave them and what was said alone; in the hands of God. Then you can get yourself focused on what God wants to do.

Seriously, remain focused––let God do the work He has called you to do in your life.

Cowards run the greatest danger of any men in a battle.
~Anonymous~

TUESDAY June 6, 2017

Espionage

Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed,at night they will come to kill you.”

Nehemiah 6:10

Shemaiah, was a false prophet, and he became yet another tool used by the enemy. Satan had set another trap for Nehemiah through Tobiah’s and Sanballat’s plan to hire Shemaiah. Nehemiah would disregard Shemaiah false words; he continued to have great discernment.

Remember not every person who comes to you is from the Lord. These days, there is a lot of deceit among people, even in the church. When someone comes to you with a message from the Lord, ask yourself, “Is this a plot to hurt me, or to destroy me spiritually?” Then write down what was told you and wait on the Lord. If what was said does not come to pass, it was a false message––it was not from God.

Every Christian needs to have godly discernment; which is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). We can know whether somebody is being truthful or not, as we come into God’s presence, in prayer. The Lord will give us discernment through His Word, or give you a word of knowledge and let the situation be known to you (1 Corinthians 12:8).

Remember, Satan turns himself into an angel of light. Paul warned the Corinthian church of this truth, because they were listening to false apostles who were causing them to stray from the simplicity of the Gospel message. Paul told them in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

If Satan dared to use Scripture for the temptation of our Lord he will not scruple to use it for the delusion of men.
~Donald MacLeod~

MONDAY June 5, 2017

Strengthen Our Hands

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Nehemiah 6:9

Whenever Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem insisted that Nehemiah meet with them, he refused. Nehemiah did not depend on his own strength to fight his enemies. He turned to the Lord in prayer and he was able to deal with their constant attacks through God’s strength. If Nehemiah would have left his position in Jerusalem, and compromised, he would have gone into eternity early. Nehemiah through the Lord’s strength and wisdom protected himself. He did not place himself in a vulnerable situation. Instead he was smart enough to send messengers with his reply.

Seriously, there are times to go into difficult situations boldly. When you know the Lord is with you and He has gone before you. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, refused to bow down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They were bold. As a result they were cast into the midst of a burning, fiery furnace (Daniel 3:5-6), but God was with them. The king was astonished. He saw four men, unharmed by the flames. One of them was described in appearance as the Son of God (Daniel 3:25).

Yet, there are other times when we cannot go into a bad situation. King Saul wanted to kill David. It would have been unwise for David to stand before the king and try to reason with him. Saul, in rage, even cast a spear at his own son, Jonathan. (1 Samuel 20:33). After that happened Jonathan knew that his father was determined to kill David. As friends, Jonathan and David had devised a plan. David would escape Saul (1 Samuel 20).

Over the last forty five years of ministry, there have been difficult situations in my life. Unless the Lord had strengthened me, I could not have dealt with them. Spiritual attacks from Satan cannot be endured without the Lord.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
~Psalm 27:1~

SUNDAY June 4, 2017

Engaged in a Deadly Battle

But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner. Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

Nehemiah 6:4-6

Nehemiah’s enemies were very persistent in their attempts to force him to meet with them. Four times they persisted to see if he would give in and compromise. However, Nehemiah regularly checked in with the Lord and waited on Him for discernment. God revealed to him that behind their scheme and their plots, they wanted to kill him.

Nehemiah was in a deadly battle but he never compromised. So, the fifth time his enemies tried a different tactic. They published a false letter that spread slander about the Jewish people, saying they planned to rebel. Then, they slandered Nehemiah’s character. They said the only reason Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the wall was to set himself up as king! Yet, Nehemiah never stopped God’s work because of their petty lies and threats.

Think of how many churches are destroyed by slander. Maybe a person does not like the pastor, or the tremendous work God is doing through him? They then become filled with jealousy and begin to spread a bunch of lies about him and the ministry. How can they think of such things? Understand the human heart is very deceitful.

Think about the different areas of your life where the enemy tries to get you to compromise. The enemy is so persistent my friends. Then, you must strengthen that area of your life. But any time you raise a defense against the enemy, believe me, you are going to have a fight on your hands. Compromise is a deadly force. You must fight the enemy or slowly you will be defeated, and he will wound your life.

We can tell when we have been influenced by the world. It is when we find ourselves neither hot nor cold, just compromised.
~Malcolm Watts~

SATURDAY June 3, 2017

Fully Committed

…Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

Nehemiah 6:2-3

Up to now in Nehemiah 6, we have studied about compromise, slander, threats and intrigue. Satan had used these three men, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab to target Nehemiah, and to stop God’s work. But Nehemiah was fully committed to the Lord, and from that point, he had entered into a greater spiritual warfare.

Nehemiah was a thinker. He not only had the knowledge of God, but he also had godly discernment. When Nehemiah received the invitation from Sanballat and Geshem, he fought back with what God had called him to do. Nehemiah knew the only reason they wanted to meet with him was to kill him. He knew they were not telling the truth, and saw straight through their deception. Nehemiah was a prayer warrior, and kept in tune with God. Through his prayers the Lord would save him from his enemies’ constant plots to kill him.

It is important to understand that when we are fully committed to the Lord, and His work, this is when we enter into a greater spiritual battle. Often we are not aware of the spiritual warfare surrounding us, but it is a battle that we must face constantly in our lives. Satan has adversaries, people that he will use to try to destroy you. His wants to put an end to the work of God in your life.

Christians who desire to be used of God must be prepared to enter spiritual warfare. They should be knowledgeable of God’s Word, and be in constant prayer. Understand you will need to be in tune with God and use discernment. We often get ourselves into trouble when we have not stopped to hear God’s counsel and we end up getting hurt.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
~Ephesians 6:11~

FRIDAY June 2, 2017

The Snare of Fear

For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”

Nehemiah 6:9

Notice the attacks of the enemy against Nehemiah had come when he had closed the gaps in the wall, and needed to hang the doors in the gates. He had almost fulfilled the work of God (Nehemiah 6:1). Nehemiah had remained focused and undeterred by his enemies.

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, threatened to tell the King of Persia that Nehemiah intended to make himself a king in Jerusalem, thinking they would make Nehemiah and the people afraid. But Nehemiah rightly discerned that their threats were yet another attempt to weaken the work, so it could not be fully completed. However, Nehemiah did not fear man; he feared God, and placed his trust and confidence in the Lord.

King David was another man who placed his confidence and trust in God. He was hunted by King Saul––a jealous king who sought to kill him. David spent a great amount of time on the run, constantly being pursued by Saul. Yet, David had confidence in God’s deliverance, he wrote:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies (Psalm 18:2-3).

When people come against us we have a tendency to become fearful. If we become terrified of our enemies, and the plans they have schemed against us, then we shall become weak and find ourselves in deep trouble. Proverbs 29:25 tells us: The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me,
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
~Psalm 17:8-9~

THURSDAY June 1, 2017

Inventors of Evil

Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.”

Nehemiah 6:8

Nehemiah stood on the truth. He simply refuted Sanballat’s, Tobiah’s and Geshem’s lies. He simply told them, their false accusations were not true. The Jews were not rebelling and Nehemiah was not setting himself up as their king. Nehemiah knew these things were a fabrication; his enemies, from within their own hearts, had invented evil lies.

Seriously, as Christians if we were not walking in the Spirit, or remaining in God’s Word, we can begin to invent evil things in our minds against another person. Perhaps a person did not smile at you in church on Sunday. It irritated you to the point of talking about that person. Before you know it, you have invented a whole story behind the reason of them not smiling. But maybe they did not feel like smiling because someone in their family had died. Imagine you just slandered them! At times we can act so ungodly.

The Apostle Paul told of God’s anger against ungodly men who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Paul, in Romans 1:28-32 gave a detailed description of the ungodly:

… being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Notice within this long list, Paul mentioned, inventors of evil things. We can be guilty of fabricating untrue scenarios in our hearts and minds. Ask the Lord to help you to be a man or a woman of truth.

Truth exists; only falsehood has to be invented.
~George Braque~

WEDNESDAY May 31, 2017

Combating Intimidating Threats

And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, “There is a king in Judah!” Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together.

Nehemiah 6:7

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem could not get their own way. They wanted to meet with Nehemiah but he had always refused them. So in an attempt to corner Nehemiah into submitting to their request, they now used intimidating threats. Using their plan of intrigue, they tried to force him into a meeting. Nehemiah’s enemies would not let up on their pressure. They even hired a false prophet so the people would believe the lies he spoke.

It is so sad when people stoop so low as to start threatening others because they cannot get their way. If a person, who has been threatened, still refuses to yield to them, then it could be that they may face an even worse type of hostility and pressure from them. Many try to intimidate people by using brute force, having a determination to cause them harm.

But who fights our battles? The Lord will fight the battle. We do not have to worry about it––our enemies can say whatever they want. God can turn the tables on our adversaries’ tactics, and they will be the ones who end up getting hurt. As Christians, we are taught in the Scriptures how to deal with our enemies. The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:18-21, taught:

… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God is not always a God of immediate justice,
but He is a God of ultimate justice.
~John Blanchard~

TUESDAY May 30, 2017

False Rumors

Then Sanballat sent his servant to me as before, the fifth time, with an open letter in his hand. In it was written: It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says, that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king.

Nehemiah 6:5-6

So far, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, had failed in their attempts to destroy Nehemiah. As enemies of the Lord, they continued their relentless attack. Geshem had spread damaging reports and circulated false rumors. He had said the Jews were going to rebel, and Nehemiah’s only intent of rebuilding the wall, was to set himself up as their king. A servant presented a letter to Nehemiah, which stated these lies.

People, who are enemies of the Lord, can circulate false rumors about you. They misjudge and criticize everything you are trying to accomplish for the Lord. These people are often bitter and jealous of what God is doing in your life. Given the opportunity, they will tear you down and seek to destroy your character.

Then there are other people, even in the church, who feel they are always right in their perception of individuals. They come across as if they never sin, and tend to think they are better than anyone else. These types of people are like the Pharisees––the Jewish religious leaders who were self-important and hypocritical (Matthew 23:1-35). These types of people have a critical spirit.

Be careful when you are invited to someone’s house to fellowship with a group of people. Out of the blue a person with a critical spirit may begin to judge others, or spread rumors about someone in the church. They speak evil about a person when they usually do not even know the full facts. We should not listen or be influence by such people. Otherwise we can become the ones to spread slander and false rumors.

An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
~Proverbs 17:4~

MONDAY May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Philippians 1:3

Today we commemorate Memorial Day. In 1868, Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day. It was a day to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. In the Arlington National Cemetery, at least 5,000 people gathered at the grave site of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. They respectfully decorated each grave. Later the day was changed and called Memorial Day. It became a day to honor all of our men and women who died in any war.

Memorial Day became an official holiday in 1971. It was traditionally observed on May 30, but now it is on the last Monday in May, making the observance a three day weekend. Most people enjoy an extra day off work and cherish the quality time with family. Many families gather together to barbeque, picnic and watch the parades or sports.

However, it is our duty on this Memorial Day to keep these fallen heroes in our minds and hearts. We need to pray for their families who still miss them each and every day.

We live in unstable times, as there are many nations of the world still at war. Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to kill. They try to cause fear and chaos in whatever country they strike. ISIS recently targeted and killed, twenty two innocent people, many of them children, attending a concert in Manchester, England.

In these difficult days we need to continue to pray for all our armed forces. We should be thankful for our brave men and women who are ready and willing, if necessary, to lay down their lives to keep America free.

We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit and God receives the glory.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY May 28, 2017

The Enemies’ Persistence

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” But they sent me this message four times, and I answered them in the same manner.

Nehemiah 6:3-4

Notice how Sanballat and his company persisted in their attempts to coax Nehemiah away from Jerusalem. It was a constant attempt to get Nehemiah to leave his duties––overseeing the finishing touches of rebuilding the wall of the city. They wanted him to compromise his leadership position while he took time off to meet with them. It was a hidden ploy. One Nehemiah easily recognized and continually refused.

There are so many people who fall prey to Satan’s persistent and divisive tactics. In a time of temptation they compromise their position in Jesus Christ. If we are to win the battle, we must be alert to even our thoughts of compromise. We need to be mindful of the very moment, when we begin to contemplate evil. Then we can guard our personal lives from compromise at home, in church or in our place of business. In every area of our lives we must not consciously cross those fine lines of compromise.

When Christians are tempted to compromise, the Holy Spirit will convict them. As the Holy Spirit warns us, it is as if an alarm immediately goes off. The Holy Spirit is a person. When we give into temptation and sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved (Ephesians 4:30). If we do not repent God cannot use us as an effective instrument of His righteousness.

On one occasion I went to the store to purchase an item and the person who took my money gave me back too much change. I could have taken advantage of the situation and kept the extra money. But the Holy Spirit placed a conviction in my heart. I had to return the money and not compromise. You see, we have to always be honest and speak truth.

Keep the truth and the truth will keep you.
~William Bridge~

SATURDAY May 27, 2017

Snares and Slander

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

Nehemiah 6:1-2

Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab, were Satan’s instruments of unrighteousness. They hated the work that God was doing through Nehemiah’s life. At first they had slandered Nehemiah. He turned to God in prayer and never bothered to listen to their insulting words. Now they wanted to draw Nehemiah away from the city to one of the surrounding villages. But Nehemiah was wise and discerned their intent. He knew it was a snare so they could kill him. The only reason Nehemiah did not become discouraged was because he always kept his eyes on the Lord.

Satan uses ungodly people as his instruments to slander godly people. The ungodly speak against people of integrity, without any truth, to stain their character. They will try to defame them by using lies. Slander can cause so much damage to a person’s life. Then Satan tries to entrap the godly with snares, to draw them away from Gods work. Using these methods he tries to discourage and destroy them.

It is important to understand and take notice of Satan’s tactics. We often experience the same attacks that Nehemiah endured. It seems whenever we are doing a great work for the Lord, and He is using our lives tremendously, Satan attacks. He comes against us because we are a tool that God is using. Satan would love to damage that tool. How? He tries to slander us or bring a snare into our personal lives.

Lies and false reports are among Satan's choicest weapons.
~J. C. Ryle~

FRIDAY May 26, 2017

Target the Leader

Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

Nehemiah 6:1-2

Sanballet, Tobiah and Gesham wanted to destroy Nehemiah––the leader. They knew that if they could get to the leader they could destroy the whole work of God. Nehemiah became their ultimate target. They wanted to kill him. But Nehemiah, as a leader, was a visionary and discerned their intent. It was very hard for these enemies to try and defeat him.

When a leader begins to build a church in their communities, the devil is not pleased. So what does Satan do? He attacks the leadership. If he can create disunity between them, the church cannot continue, and Satan has achieved his task. People cannot follow a divided leadership. Satan tries to discourage the leaders. If he can discourage them and get them not to trust in God, he has once again accomplished his work.

This is exactly what happened to Elijah. Discouragement and fear caused him to flee two hundred miles to the south. In 1 Kings 19:4, despair had caused him to lie down and pray to the Lord: …that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” The Lord basically asks him, “What are you doing here? I have a task for you; quit feeling sorry for yourself, get up! (1 Kings 19:9-18).

As a pastor, I face the enemy––Satan every day of my life. He works within different situations in my life, to try and destroy the work of God. But how can we do anything else but serve God? Peter was a fisherman, he had a regular ordinary job but when Jesus called him to be a disciple he was to become a fisher of men. Jesus had many of His disciples leave Him as He taught them. But Peter knew he could not go anywhere else.

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
~John 6:68~

THURSDAY May 25, 2017

Remember the Good

Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Nehemiah 5:19

Nehemiah asked the Lord to remember him, like a reminder, of all he had done for God’s people. He wanted the Lord God not forget but to keep a record.

Remember we all have a work to do for the Lord and we must see it through to completion. It is important to understand that God keeps a record of all the labor we do for His kingdom. We are to work for eternity and not for the temporal. Our purpose for serving God is His glory alone. God will weigh our actions and motives and one day we shall stand at the Bema Seat of Christ ––a place of judgment and rewards:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We are co-labors with Christ. Jesus has built a solid foundation for the Church and we continue to build His kingdom. Our work for the Lord is as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. All our works shall go into the fire to see if they are worthy of a reward:

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

If we keep all these things in perspective, we shall do fine.

A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living.
~Anonymous~

WEDNESDAY May 24, 2017

Heavy Burdens

And at my table were one hundred and fifty Jews and rulers, besides those who came to us from the nations around us. Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on this people.

Nehemiah 5:17-18

Notice how Nehemiah constantly gave of himself to the people from his own wealth. The people and even their leaders were his whole focus. He was especially sensitive to the people because he knew of their heavy burdens. He was selfless. He cared about the people and not himself––he was a true leader.

Jesus invited burdened people to come to Him. He wanted to give rest to those who were heavy laden. Those without Christ are found in bondage to the heavy burden of sin. Jesus invited them to come to Him:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Often we have made a mess of our lives but we can rest in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has secured our salvation and our sins have been erased (Isaiah 43:25). As we get to know Christ and understand His will and plan for our lives we shall become less burdened. We can rest in Him and find peace with God––fully and completely.

What are you weighted down with? Do you feel you have the weight of sin and the pressures of the world on your shoulders? Perhaps you have the burden of a guilty conscience? Whatever your burdens may be come to Jesus and He will take care of the problem.

“I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.”
~John 10:10~

TUESDAY May 23, 2017

Continue God’s Work

Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall, and we did not buy any land. All my servants were gathered there for the work.

Nehemiah 5:16

Nehemiah feared the Lord and did not live off the people, he used his own resources. Instead of taking from the people he gave of himself to the people. His focus was on the needs of the people, on their welfare and not himself. As their leader, he set a good example and continued to work alongside them.

Jesus is always interested in the people needs. When Jesus came to Capernaum, He looked out among the multitudes and was moved with compassion. He saw people who were, weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). When Jesus came from heaven to earth; He came to serve mankind. He came to give and not take. The Lord was among the people, teaching, preaching and healing the sick.

Later, James and John asked the Lord if they could to sit next to Him in His glory––in heaven, Mark 10:37, which displeased the other disciples. Jesus called the disciples to Himself and explained about servanthood:

“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:420-45).

Jesus taught his disciples contrary to their thinking and showed them through His example how they were to continue the work of the ministry. They needed to place the people’s needs above their own. They were not to become great for their own benefit, but to serve the people in humility.

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
~Acts 20:35~

MONDAY May 22, 2017

Having the Fear of God

Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.

Nehemiah 5:14-15

Notice the key to Nehemiah’s successful leadership; he feared the Lord. Under the service of the King Artaxerxes, he was an appointed governor over the people in Judah. During his twelve years of being in power, he never took advantage of the people. Nehemiah trusted the Lord for his provision. He never looked to the people to meet his needs.

Yet, the previous governors had selfishly taken provisions away from the people and used their money to make their lives more comfortable. They had even given their servants authority over the people. The governors were corrupt. Nehemiah, as a leader, did not do what everyone else was doing. He did not act corruptly or compromise his integrity. Why? Nehemiah knew that eventually he would have to stand before God. Then he would have to give an account of his life for everything God had given to him. The fear of the Lord in his life made him a righteous leader.

The fear of the Lord is a key factor in our lives as Christians; we must not be like everyone else. Just because everyone else is acting corruptly does not mean that we should follow along. We must have the fear of the Lord in our lives and resist compromising our integrity. Understand that one day we must give an account for our actions and words. As a leader we should not make ourselves comfortable by living off God’s people. We are called to serve God’s people and minister to them.

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.
~Psalm 62:10~

SUNDAY May 21, 2017

Shaken Out

Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:13

Nehemiah was very expressive in the way he addressed the leaders and priests. Through his action of shaking out his garment, he basically told them, “If you do not keep your word, may God judge you, and shake you out like this garment!” He wanted them to understand that God would empty them––they would lose everything. The Lord touched the leaders hearts and they agreed with Nehemiah. They saw Nehemiah was for real––he meant what he said.

When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to the spiritually lost people of Israel, He told them to tell the people, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Jesus’ name they would heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and even raise the dead (Matthew 10:5-7). Jesus Christ was the people’s Messiah. He could either be accepted or rejected. The disciples were instructed to act in accordance to the people’s response:

If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:13-14).

Those who foolishly reject the Gospel message will remain empty and lost, without God’s salvation. If they stay unrepentant they will face eternal judgment, even worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15).

When offered God’s free gifts of salvation do you reject it or accept it?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23~

SATURDAY May 20, 2017

Keeping Your Promises

So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.” Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

Nehemiah 5:12

Notice how the leaders came under full submission to Nehemiah. They did not resist him, but promised to restore to the people what was taken. These men respected Nehemiah’s word because he gave them godly counsel. The leaders saw the undeniable anointing of God in his life––I like that. Nehemiah also addressed the priests for their injustices. They were also at fault because they had ripped off God’s people.

Nehemiah had called the priests and required an oath from them. In the Old Testament, if a person gave a promise––a vow it was taken very seriously, especially a vow given to God. He would hold them accountable and expected the vow to be kept. In Deuteronomy 23:21, Moses instructed God’s people concerning vows to God:

When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.

However, in the New Testament, Jesus did away with vows and simplified how we should agree with each other:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool… But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

It is important to be a man or a woman of your word. Be true to what you say. Ask yourself, “Do I make good on the words I give to people?”

Men many times eat their words, but God will never eat His.
~Thomas Brooks~

FRIDAY May 19, 2017

Required Restoration

“I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”

Nehemiah 5:10-11

Notice how Nehemiah took from his own resources to help those without food. He wanted to remain blameless and not be a part of the leaders’ plots to take advantage of the poor people. Instead Nehemiah became such a good example to them of how God’s people should have been treated––fairly. As a leader he took care of the situation.

Nehemiah knew these problems had divided the people but they needed to be united to build the wall. So, a full restoration should be made for all wrong they had done. Nehemiah commanded the leaders to stop charging high interest. Then they needed to restore the people’s lands and property, and give back anything else they had overcharged them. Only then would peace and unity come back to the people.

If we have acted unjustly in any way towards a person in the body of Christ then the only way we can have peace is to restore what we have taken and make things right. God’s ways are not our ways. He is always restorative, and as His people, we should always seek restoration between each other.

Zacchaeus was a rich, unjust, tax collector who made a profit from the people. Jesus came to stay at this sinful man’s house. After a time with Jesus, Zacchaeus had a change of heart, he repented for what he had done and said to the Lord: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Zacchaeus wanted to make things right. More importantly he wanted to be in a right standing with God.

“Today salvation has come to this house, because
he also is a son of Abraham…”
~Luke: 19:9~

THURSDAY May 18, 2017

Walking in the Fear of God

Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?”

Nehemiah 5:9

Nehemiah reminded the leaders in his strong rebuke to walk in the fear of God. Why? They were already suffering because of their enemies. They were making matters worse! Had they forgotten God’s Law?

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).

David, at times, failed to walk in the fear of the Lord. When this happened he committed adultery with Bathsheba. She then became pregnant with his child and David had her husband killed in battle. The Prophet Nathan confronted David, and told him the consequences of his sin: However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die” (1Samuel 12:14).

Joseph’s story helps us to understand how to walk in the fear of God. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. He had the opportunity to sin but he said to this brazen woman: “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he [Potiphar] kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Walking in the fear of the Lord means we should stand in awe of who God is and to seek to please God in everything we do. At times we fail, but He is gracious towards us. King David knew God’s character and penned: The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. Oh how we need to fear the Lord!

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants
of the world stand in awe of Him.
~Psalm 33:8~

WEDNESDAY May 17, 2017

An Authoritative Rebuke

And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?” Then they were silenced and found nothing to say.

Nehemiah 5:8

Nehemiah’s questions to the leaders would remind them of their bondage endured under the Persians. Yet, here they were placing their own people back under bondage themselves––think about that! Nehemiah tried to get them to really think, “Are you going to sell your own brethren?” He rebuked the leaders because they were the ones in command. Even the priests were guilty of taking advantage of the people (Nehemiah 5:12).

In response, they had no defense and could not answer Nehemiah a word. Why? These leaders knew what they had done was wrong according to the authority of the Law of God (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

Nehemiah had questioned their wisdom and understanding as if to say, “Why have you not learned your lesson yet? Where is the wisdom in your decisions?” The Lord spoke clearly through Nehemiah. The leaders were convicted before the Lord for their wrongdoing.

Here is a key lesson for us to learn from this whole situation. Because the parents did not obey the Lord in building God’s house when they returned to the land, they did not prosper (Haggai 1:3). So, as a result of their disobedience, their children became slaves––how sad. Understand that parents who do not place God first, compromise and choose to live for themselves, will cause their children to suffer tremendously. Remember sin affects not just us but those we love around us––our children.

As Christians we need to be wise men and women. We should be able to handle and judge matters of sin in the church, or between each other. (Matthew 18:15-17). The Bible tells us, we shall judge angels! How much more then, should we be able to resolve problems that arise.

Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more,
things that pertain to this life?
~1 Corinthians 6:3~

TUESDAY May 16, 2017

Charging Unfair Interest

After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them.

Nehemiah 5:7

Nehemiah did not speak or act irrationally; he was a leader who was not ruled by his emotions. He wanted to make sure he had time to think over the whole situation before he took action. Then, he decided it was necessary to rebuke the nobles and the rulers for their injustice of exacting usury––the people were forced to pay high interest on the amounts they had borrowed. Nehemiah, in an attempt to get his point firmly across to them, gathered a great assembly of witnesses against these leaders. What they were doing was not right––it was unlawful:

You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

As the wealthy Jews took advantage of the poor they had brought oppression among the people. Instead of helping each other they created an internal problem. They had caused disunity as the brethren were against each other. Think about it––they placed their own brethren under bondage. There is a well know phrase: the richer get richer and the poor get poorer––that should never happen. But it had happened in Israel.

What about us? In our lives are we ruled by our own greed for money and desire to accumulate wealth? Where is our heart of compassion towards brothers and sisters in the church who are less fortunate than ourselves?

God gave us wealth, not that we should be hoarders but dispensers.
~Thomas Manton~

MONDAY May 15, 2017

Great Injustices

And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words.

Nehemiah 5:6

The way the wealthy Jews unjustly acted towards their poor brethren made Nehemiah very angry. He was upset because of all the issues and abuse that had carried on among the people. Nehemiah knew the leaders were guilty of great injustices against the people and it created within him a godly anger. He had a righteous anger, just like Jesus’ anger against the unjust, religious leaders in Jerusalem. They had taken advantage of people buying sacrifices in the temple by raising the prices to make for themselves a nice profit. (Matthew 21:12-13).

Throughout the Scriptures we are given insight into God’s character and how He acts justly. God’s character is just. Deuteronomy 10:18 tells us: He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 32:4 also acknowledges God is just: He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.

Job knew God’s just character and declared: Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice (Job 34:12). Psalm 140:12 shows that King David had a deep understanding of God’s justice: I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.

What about us? As Christians we should reflect God’s character in our actions––they should be just. Leaders are called to take care of the people who come to church. So many people come with personal problems and burdens. They have major physical, spiritual and financial situations in their lives. As they ask counsel of us we should be able to give them godly answers according to the Word of God.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
~Micah 6:8

SUNDAY May 14, 2017

Mother’s Day

What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.

Proverbs 31:2-3

Proverbs 31 begins with a mother’s wise advice to her son King Lemuel. Many theologians believe this to be Bathsheba who spoke with her son Solomon, the next king of Israel, after the death of his father, King David. However, we do not know for sure. She told her son about the dangers of wayward women and wine. She taught the young king not to spend his strength on sensual lusts or to waste his time drinking and getting drunk. As a monarch he would become a bad witness to his people.

Lemuel’s mother also reminded him of his responsibilities to rightly oversee the people. The king was exalted to this privileged position by God. Therefore, he must champion the cause of justice and have a good moral witness. What a great mother. She gave her son wise counsel.

What about the mothers God has given to us? A mother will spend a great deal of their time and effort giving their children godly advice. But do their children listen? Think about the endless hours mothers have spent before the Lord in prayer, tears, and fasting for each of their children. All mothers want their children to succeed in life. They desire blessings to be given to them from the Lord as they chose to live a holy life before Him.

Proverbs 31 continues to describe an industrious wife and mother, one who is not idle, but busy, tending to the needs of her husband, children and even reaching out to the poor and needy. May we honor our mothers today, and in some special way, thank them for all they do.

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
~George Washington~

SATURDAY May 13, 2017

Power to Redeem

“It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

Nehemiah 5:5

Nehemiah continued to hear the complaints of God’s people. They had to mortgage their properties, to buy food. They even sold their children into slavery. There were laws of redemption in place in Israel and they should have the right to redeem them back. The law stated:

If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; [Leviticus 25:9-17] and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession (Leviticus 25:28).

Boaz was willing to become a kinsman redeemer to Naomi and Ruth. He would purchase back the land of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband and her sons who had all died in Moab. Boaz would take Ruth as his wife but he first gave a closer relative the opportunity. He decided not do the act of redemption (Ruth 4:6). Why? Ruth was Moabite; from a nation God had a cursed (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). So Boaz became Naomi’s and Ruth’s redeemer. In Ruth 4:9-10, Boaz addressed the elders and all the people:

“I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife…

Incredibly Jesus Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer; He is the only One who has the power to purchase our souls from sin (Galatians 4:4-7).

Jesus came not only to teach but to save, not only to reveal God to mankind, but also to redeem mankind for God.
~John R. W. Stott~

FRIDAY May 12, 2017

The Rich and Poor Alike

There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery…”

Nehemiah 5:4-5

Nehemiah heard the complaints and cries of God’s people and he knew the wealthier Jews were oppressing the poor. The Lord is no respecter of persons. There is no difference between the rich and the poor with Him. God always listened to the cries of the poor when they were oppressed.

In America class distinction between the rich and the poor are not so pronounced. However in other places, especially in the third world countries, you will find it is very different. One thing I have learned about is the oppression of the lower class people by the upper class.

I have traveled to South America and seen how the upper classes act towards the lower classes. Even between the middle class and the upper class you still find that they will not mingle together. The upper class can be very snobbish. They have big homes, luxury cars, and expensive clothing. They always look down on the middle and lower classes––that is just the way it is. They use the lower classes to serve them, and they do not see anything wrong with it.

In Chile, the people do not cross the lines of social classes. It is very hard to break the barriers between them. Even within the churches, the upper classes will not fellowship with other classes. Why? They feel the lower classes of people are beneath them. When you become a Christian there is no difference between the rich and the poor. All Christians are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

The rich and the poor have this in common,
The LORD is the maker of them all.
~Proverbs 22:2~

THURSDAY May 11, 2017

The Debt Difficulty

There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”

Nehemiah 5:3

Nehemiah listened to the different problems and situations the people had in their lives. The rich were guilty of exploiting the poor, even to the point of placing their own people under bondage. This injustice was against the law of God (Leviticus 19:10,15).

This internal crisis impacted the people in different ways. Everyone needed food (Nehemiah 5:2). Some of the people owned land, vineyards and houses but they had to mortgage their assets, again their priority was to buy food (Nehemiah 5:3). Then other individuals had complained because their taxes were so high and they were forced to borrow money to pay those taxes (Nehemiah 5:4). All of these people were in a no win situation. The rich had no compassion or conscience they were greedy for money––it was every man for himself. Nehemiah was going to deal with all these difficult problems and situations (Nehemiah 5:5).

Many people today are well acquainted with the problem of debt. Most families have a house and a car, but they have no extra money flow, everything is tied up. It becomes a very difficult situation because there is no money to buy necessities––food. You may have material things but when the economy is not flowing, it really means nothing, because you are not able to afford the basics. What do you do? Sometimes it is a question of living within your means and getting out of credit card debt because of the high interest. But often there are loan sharks just waiting to take advantage of these situations among the poor.

As a believer we must never take advantage of the poor. It is important to consider others and be sensitive to their needs. Remember God is the one who is going to judge each of us so we need to fear the Lord.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
~Proverbs 14:31~

WEDNESDAY May 10, 2017

The Art of Solving Problems

And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

Nehemiah 5:1-2

Nehemiah, at this point, had to solve the problems of oppression between his own people, among the rich and the poor. In Nehemiah 1:1 we hear the great outcry of the people. What had happened? The rich were taking advantage of the poor––which was usually the case.

Nehemiah 5 describes different types of people that had problems, mainly those who did not have anything and those who had a lot, but wanted more. The poor among the people could not pay their taxes, or even supply for their own needs. So the rich took advantage of them and took possession of their lands. The rich even went as far as to place their own people under bondage.

Nehemiah would counsel with the people of God and address this problem. What they had done was against the law of God. He would rebuke those who had a lot of money and were into materialism. They should have never taken advantage of the poor but they should have feared the Lord because He would judge them.

James, a servant of God, who was considered to be the half-brother of Jesus, gave wise council to help solve problems in the early church among the Gentile believers (Acts 15:13-29). In James 1:5 he gave advice on how to help solve the problems we may have, he said: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

As a leader in any capacity, in your home, workplace or your church, are you prayerfully asking for God's wisdom to help you?

Wisdom must be from God, because it can be found
only in relation to him.
~Edmund P. Clowney~

TUESDAY May 9, 2017

The Bare Necessities

So neither I, my brethren, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me took off our clothes, except that everyone took them off for washing.

Nehemiah 4:23

Notice that Nehemiah, as a leader, led the people––the people did not lead him. He was their example and they followed their leader. Nehemiah and the people were so dedicated to do the work of God, that they did not even change their clothing! While working day and night, they made it through using just the bare necessities. God’s work was so important to them that nothing else mattered.

Nehemiah’s life leaves to us another good lesson for leadership. A leader must be led by the Lord. A leader has to make sure that the people he is called to lead do not end up leading him. As a leader receives instructions from the Lord he must first be obedient to Him. Then they can take those commands to the people and, in turn, the people will follow him.

God must be first––the top priority. A servant of God must accomplish the work of Lord. Why? Because the Lord expects you to finish the work He has given to you. This can only happen as you make yourself available, submissive and accountable to the Lord. The Christian life is a walk of obedience to His will, in whatever way He wants to move in your life.

We can take this important principle with us from Nehemiah 4, we must have a mind to work, a heart to pray and eyes to watch. God will take care of everything else. Remember, He is the One who started a work in you and He will complete it––not you.

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ
~Philippians 1:5-6~

MONDAY May 8, 2017

Laboring in the Work Together

So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared. At the same time I also said to the people, “Let each man and his servant stay at night in Jerusalem, that they may be our guard by night and a working party by day.”

Nehemiah 4:21-22

Nehemiah knew exactly what he was doing; he made sure everyone was laboring in the work together. He unified the work and brought oneness between the people. They all had a mind to work with each other from daybreak into the night, they even worked around the clock, they never ceased––imagine that!

Nehemiah also arranged for the people to sleep inside the city walls so there was no longer any danger in the fields. These men could also be stationed as guards at night, their defenses would never be let down. God’s people did not give any opportunity for the enemy to attack them.

The Apostle Paul explained how we labor together with God in the work of the Gospel. He used terms that were understood by the people:

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9-10).

It is important to know that we are God’s fellow workers and that Christ is the foundation of the Church. Knowing that Christ has won the victory on the cross means that we can labor for the Lord from the stance of victory.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord.
~1 Corinthians 15:58~

SUNDAY May 7, 2017

Rally the People

Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

Nehemiah 4:19-20

Nehemiah was a good captain; he was a godly man who followed the Lord. He was able to see the gaps in the wall that had made them vulnerable to the enemy. So, he gathered the people closer and tightened the ranks to make sure all the openings were filled. God continued to instruct Nehemiah in the work. He encouraged and impressed upon the people not to look to him, but to look to God. The Lord was the One who would fight their battles. He leads, guides, protects, provides and keeps their souls––it was all God––God––God!

A spiritual leader can always see the gaps where people are separated in the work of God. The leader must know how to strategize to fill those holes in the ministry, that way God’s work can be completed. It is always the leader’s responsibility to gather the team and keep them together.

When the people heard the sound of the trumpet in the city it could declare to them a feast, a time of praise, to gather them together or warn them of their enemies approaching. So when the watchman on the wall sounded the trumpet, it would rally the people to rush over to where they needed to be. Then they were able to be in a position of readiness because they had the time to prepare and get ready for battle.

As a leader it is good to be in the trenches with the people as you work alongside them fighting the battle. How are your leadership skills?

A leader has been defined as one who knows the way,
goes the way and shows the way.
~Anonymous~

SATURDAY May 6, 2017

Excellent Management

Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

Nehemiah 4:17-18

Nehemiah was an excellent manager and closely supervised the work. He made sure of His strategy; everyone was armed but half of the people watched and protected the city against attack, while the other half worked. This way they were aware of everything that was going on around them in case the enemy attacked. They did not all go to sleep at the same time, they took turns, so they could get the work accomplished.

Notice, Nehemiah was not just commanding and demanding; he was a leader who became a part of the workforce. He knew what he was doing––so neat.

Joseph is another good example of a leader, who also had excellent management skills. When his brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt, Potiphar made Joseph his house manager:

Then he [Potiphar] made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake… Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand… (Genesis 39:4-6).

However, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and falsely accused him of rape! Joseph was placed in jail, but even there the jailer put him over the other prisoners. Finally, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. Then the Lord exalted him next to the Pharaoh in power (Genesis 41:25-32, 39-41). Joseph administrated Egypt’s food supplies during seven years of plenty to survive a seven year famine and, in the end, saved his family.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much…”
~Luke 16:10~

FRIDAY May 5, 2017

The Power of Strategy

And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.

Nehemiah 4:15-16

Nehemiah was a strategist; as he saw the discouragement among the people, he reassembled them by families. He set them up in positions of defense and made sure they are next to each other. Half of them watched for the enemy while the rest worked at constructing the wall. He gave to them a powerful strategy so they could be encouraged in the Lord.

I think of so many people whose homes are being totally wiped out by the enemy––Satan. Homes where the husband is not leading, and taking on the responsibility to be the head of his home––he is often too busy.

Fathers should be the prayer warrior of the home, the one called to watch over his wife and children. He needs to be a loving husband and father teaching the Word of God to his family. It is his responsibility to lovingly take care of his family and provide for them. Fathers, you cannot be too busy, even if you are working two jobs––you need to make time for your family, it is so important in these days.

I have to say to you fathers, “The enemy will come against you as the head of your homes.” Sometimes he will see that there are gaps, holes and openings in the wall of your home––spiritually speaking. This is when the family becomes separated from one another. When that happens the enemy will come in like a flood. He will begin to discourage your wife and your children. As a father prayerfully ask the Lord how you can strategize to bring your family back together in your home and in serving Him.

A home is not a building; it is a relational structure.
~Stephen Olford~

THUSRDAY May 4, 2017

National Day of Prayer

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May. This day has been designated by the United States Congress. Each year since its establishment, the President has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray. During the observance, the Church should pray for President Trump, his administration and the United States Congress. We should openly and unashamedly pray to God for our nation, our troops, police officers and our first responders.

On February 2, 2017 at the National Prayer Breakfast, Donald Trump said: So I want to express clearly today, to the American people, that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land. . . . America will flourish, as long as our liberty, and in particular, our religious liberty is allowed to flourish. . . that is what our people want; one beautiful nation, under God.

So long as we have God, we are never, ever alone. Whether it's the soldier on the night watch, or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength, and comfort. . . . For us here in Washington, we must never, ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public, according to His will.

Vice President Mike Pence is a Christian who also gave a speech on February 23, 2017 at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He asked the conservative community to give President Donald Trump and his administration their prayers. Seriously, this is what America needs, for our nation and its people to be directed back to God.

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
~George Washington~

WEDNESDAY May 3, 2017

Remember the Lord

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Nehemiah 4:14

The people were tremendously afraid of their enemies and they were discouraged in the work of the Lord. Nehemiah placed the people’s attention back onto their God. They should not be afraid of their enemies, as the Lord would fight for them! Who is bigger than God? Who is greater than Him? They needed to remember the battle was not theirs, it was the Lord’s.

If you are in distress and afraid because of your circumstances, you may ask, “Who is going to fight for us?” It is the Lord! He will fight in your defense for your wives, your children, your grandchildren and anybody else. He is not going to let you down––do not be afraid. God is faithful.

In the book of Lamentations, the Prophet Jeremiah who saw terrible times of war and devastation, called to his mind God’s faithfulness. God in righteous judgment had allowed the Babylonians to come against Judah. Many of Jerusalem’s population were slaughtered. But Jeremiah renewed his hope in God:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

It is true that life can be very discouraging but we need not lose hope. We must recall to our minds God’s mercy and compassion in our lives from the past to the present. Then as we see His faithfulness we will be greatly encouraged and our hope will be renewed.

I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
~Psalm 77:11~

TUESDAY May 2, 2017

Families that Fight the Enemy!

Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

Nehemiah 4:12-13

Nehemiah was the kind of leader who knew how to encourage the people. He went into action and strategically placed the families in positions to defend the wall as they continued to build. Interesting––everybody lined up together side by side, husbands and wives, with their families with their weapons in their hands.

When we have identified Satan’s strategies against us then we have to defend ourselves against our enemy. God did not leave us to fight empty handed. Christians have been given a full set of armor to stand and fight against the enemy. Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to: Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

It is very important to understand that we do not fight in carnality––with our flesh; we must fight with weapons of the Spirit. Why? Our battle is a spiritual battle and the Lord has provided us with spiritual weapons:

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:14-18).

As a family do you read God’s Word and pray together? If you do, you will defeat the enemy together.

The Christian needs his sword as well as his trowel.
~William Gurnall~

MONDAY May 1, 2017

The Enemy in the Midst

And our adversaries said, “They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.” So it was, when the Jews who dwelt near them came, that they told us ten times, “From whatever place you turn, they will be upon us.”

Nehemiah 4:10-11

This was a situation where Judah––the kingly tribe, and the ones who were the fighters, were down by the wall and gates, digging in the hole day and night. They had difficulty getting all the rubbish out. There was no time off from the work, they grew physically tired and spiritually they had become drained and discouraged.

Meanwhile the enemy had surrounded the city of Jerusalem and placed pressure on the people. The Jewish people were terrorized by their threats, and that was exactly their adversaries’ intent, to place fear in their hearts. Their enemies had become very persistent in their intimidations and threats to attack them and finally they had become very discouraged.

Notice how Satan attacks you––it is usually when you are physically and spiritually weak. When you are discouraged it is never good to make important decisions that you may regret later in life. When you are oppressed, depressed and discouraged you need to wait on the Lord before you make any decisions. Allow God to speak to your heart first so you can encourage yourself in the Lord and then strategize a plan for whatever the situation may be.

David, the future king of Israel, was in great distress, some of his family and those of his men were taken captive by their enemies. His men even spoke of stoning him because they were all grieved and discouraged. When everything seemed to be against David what did he do? …but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

If you wish to be disappointed look at others; if you wish to be disheartened, look at yourself; if you wish to be encouraged,
look to Jesus.
~Anon~

SUNDAY April 30, 2017

Failing Strength

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

Nehemiah 4:10

The strength of the people was failing; there was so much rubbish that the work had become difficult. It was hard to continue and they slowed down to a halt. The people had it tough and their enemies knew it. So they continued to discourage them and they wanted to destroy them.

What about the flock of Jesus? His people struggle at times to even get to church. They are often harassed by those people in their lives who are like Sanballat and Tobiah. Sometimes they must feel like their strength is failing them. Many fathers and mothers have to work and there is no supervision in the home. Parents not being home all the time––now that is a problem. Children can become insecure and perhaps they struggle in school. These are the areas Satan will attack the families in the church.

People in the world do not have it easy either. I think about everything that people go through in their lives without God. Imagine those who have to drive every day in the traffic into Los Angeles, that is a trial in itself. Think about what people go through daily––so much stress.

I knew a police officer whose wife, at thirty three years old, died of cancer. He was left with three children to raise. He began his shift at ten in the evening until six in the morning. He worked all night long. Afterwards he would go home, cook his children breakfast, and take them to school.

Then he would go to sleep, get up at about one o’clock and later return to work again. At times he would have to do a double shift and the children would have to go with another family member.

Now tell me, if you think you have got it tough? Seriously, we need to pray for God’s strength and depend on Him for everything in our lives.

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31~

SATURDAY April 29, 2017

Watch and Pray

…and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.

Nehemiah 4:8-9

As Nehemiah and God’s people began to do the work of the Lord, obviously they were not going to have peace; they faced opposition and war. Collectively, Nehemiah’s enemies had made plans to attack Jerusalem. They knew the weaker the walls remained, with more gaping holes, the easier it would be to attack and cause confusion in the city. So what did Nehemiah do against the enemy? He set a watch.

Christians are called to build the kingdom of God, defend the faith and accomplish His purposes. As you step out to do the work of God there will be opposition and spiritual warfare, it is a part of the Christian life–– get that fact in your mind. But I want you to realize that opposition and spiritual warfare will also cause you to grow in Jesus Christ.

Understand that once you have become a Christian, you can never just kick back in the kingdom of God––it is never easy to work for the Lord. It is one of the hardest things you will ever do. If you are seeking holiness and righteousness––you have not seen anything yet. The enemy will launch rockets against you, your family and everything else you possess. You have to watch from all around you because of Satan’s missiles––his attacks can come from any direction!

Jesus said to His disciples: Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation… this is still an important exhortation to the Church today.

In spiritual defense do you only stand and watch once in a while? No! God’s people must keep watch twenty four hours a day––my friends. How? We must continue to watch and pray. Watching for whom? We must have discernment with all the different people around us. We must watch for the enemy in the camp––for those opposing Jesus Christ and His work.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
~1 Corinthians 16:13~

FRIDAY April 28, 2017

Angry about Accomplishments

Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry…

Nehemiah 4:7

Sanballat, as an enemy of the Jews, never stopped his mockery against them. He had a lot of anger in his heart; so did the other enemies from different nations who had united with him. Sanballat came from the north, Tobiah came from the east, as he was visiting the dignitaries in Samaria. Then Geshem the Arab with the Arabians came from the south, while the Ashdodites came from west. Incredibly the Jews were being attacked and ridiculed from all four corners of the earth, and all because of the work of God that was being accomplished.

In Hebrews 11, we can read about the different heroes of the faith. They went through so many different attacks. They also endured being mocked (Hebrews 11:36). In times of persecution, Christians were tortured, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, cut in two, slain with the sword and destitute (Hebrews 11:35-38). Historically, they were thrown to the lions, burned with fire and even dragged apart by horses!

Sanballat in the Scriptures is a type of Satan. It is important to know that whenever you begin to get your life together and you rebuild the spiritual walls around your life, Sanballat will be there to mock. He might put into your mind comments such as, “Who do you think you are? You are just a self-righteous person, do you think you are better than everyone else?”

Discern the enemies’ attack and understand that those who hate you really hate God and are angry because of how the Lord is using your life (John 15:18). But that is between them and God. Despite the enemies’ attacks, are you accomplishing what God has called you to do?

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
~2 Timothy 4:5~

THURSDAY April 27, 2017

Having a Mind to Work

So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Nehemiah 4:6

After Nehemiah prayed, he took action––together with the people he built the wall. The whole purpose behind the mockery of Sanballat and Tobiah was to stop the work of God. But Nehemiah and the people continued to build the wall and they completed it halfway, as the people had a mind to work––beautiful. The Lord always unites those who have a common vision. He will move them to accomplish the work of God.

However, in the days ahead, not everybody was unified. There were those who had their own agenda, and God would take care of that problem. I like what Alan Redpath said: “In the building of a work for God, are you serving Him or are you opposing Him?” In past years we have had people oppose us in the work of God. When you have people like that you have to get rid of those people. Why? They will discourage God’s people––you have to get rid of the cancer as it will infect others.

Alan Redpath also asked: Are you on the Lord’s side or on Sanballat’s side? Are you for God or are you working for Satan? Whenever you come against the work of God you are on Satan’s side. Alan Redpath also wrote this quote: May God give us the grace to change sides and get onto the side of triumph and victory; and have a mind to work, a heart to pray, and an eye to watch.

Seriously, no matter what happens, you cannot stop the work of God––you cannot, I do not care what it is. We need to have a mind to work and come alongside others who fear the name of God.

I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those
who keep Your precepts.
~Psalm 119:63~

WEDNESDAY April 26, 2017

God is Provoked

Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Nehemiah 4:5

When it was Tobiah’s turn to give his speech, he completely united with Sanballat. He started his address by ridiculing the work of God. It was the same way with King Herod Antipas and the Governor Pilate, they used to hate each other, but they became united against Christ and His followers (Luke 23:12). King Herod had already killed John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-9). When God was at work among his people these types of enemies were always united together––interesting.

In response to this reproach, Nehemiah turned to the Lord and prayed––that was his weapon. He did not pray for God to destroy these men but for God to honor, protect and divinely watch over him. He asked God to fight for him and he prayed according to the will of God. Notice in Nehemiah’s prayer that he states that these enemies had provoked God to anger––not Nehemiah.

These are common tactics of our enemies that can be used against anyone of us. All of a sudden our enemies can become close friends as they unite in opposition to defeat us. Then, we need to think about what we would do to oppose our enemies’ mockery and threats?

Seriously, when our enemies are yelling at us and we feel that we are at the end of our rope; we need to do exactly the same as Nehemiah––turn to the Lord in prayer. After we have prayed, we must continue with the Lord’s work, no matter what happens, we cannot stop the work of God.

Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.
~Proverbs 16:3~

TUESDAY April 25, 2017 Mocked by the Enemy Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Nehemiah 4:4 Sanballat and Tobiah continually mocked the people of God. It is not unusual for enemies to insult the servants of God. Jesus, a Servant to mankind was mocked by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31). Jesus was also ridiculed and mocked by the rabble when He was crucified and in excruciating pain. Once the people had praised Him, but at His crucifixion they mocked Him: And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:39-40). Seriously, people can turn against you––crowds are fickle, one day they are cheering you and on the next day they are stoning you! In the Old Testament, Goliath mocked young David as if to say––you little shrimp! Seemingly he had no real weapons––a sword, shield or heavy armor. David was a shepherd boy but he was not afraid. Why? His confidence was in the Lord. How did He respond to the Philistine giant? “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). David put a rock in his sling and begun to swing it around, and then he let the rock go! God directed the stone right into that giant’s forehead. Sometimes our problems and trials look like a Goliath. But remember it is God’s battle my friends. “Do not be afraid nor dismayed… for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” ~2 Chronicles 20:15~

MONDAY April 24, 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today we remember one of the most horrific genocide accounts recorded in history. During World War II which spanned from 1939-1945, an estimated six million European Jews were systematically murdered. This was the result of one mad man’s hatred for the Jews––Adolf Hitler, who also believed in the Darwinian theory of natural selection. He wanted to create an elite race of humans––the Aryan––master race. In doing so he would seek the annihilation of weak and inferior human beings––namely the Jews, along with other minorities.

In many areas of Europe Jews were marked by a yellow star of David with the word Jew. Men, women and children were herded into box cars by freight train to extermination camps. On arrival, dehumanization of prisoners began when they were stripped of anything personal. Women’s heads were shaven. In these dreaded camps Jews were driven to slave labor, tortured or gassed––mass murders were commonplace. After the war ended, those who endured the brutality, were liberated. In remembrance, a plaque at Auschwitz reads: Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity where Nazis murdered about one and a half million men women and children mainly Jew––from various countries.

I have visited The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, the Jewish people’s memorial to each Jew murdered in the holocaust. Today Israel, who became a nation on May 14, 1948, has many enemies surrounding her boarders. Israel is an armed nation, ready to defend herself. The Jewish people remember the past and say Zachor, (Hebrew for “Remember”). It happened, it is recorded in history, and it must never be forgotten. What are the sentiments of Israel’s people today? Never again!

All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end. Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting,
and many are waiting for death.
Anne Frank’s Diary

SATURDAY April 22, 2017

Be Steadfast

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:1

As we take a closer look at Nehemiah 4, be open to the Holy Spirit, and see how He wants to speak to your own heart. Nehemiah showed God’s people how to be steadfast despite their enemies’ tactics against them. God’s people could have been easily discouraged as they heard the constant bombardment of insults. But they did not have to be afraid of their enemies. Nehemiah, through God’s power, knew how to defeat them.

Often Satan will use people to discourage you, especially when they come against you to mock and insult you. In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul reveals an important insight: Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. Think about that, Paul made it known that believers should be aware of Satan tactics. We are not to be ignorant of Satan. We should be aware that he is after us in anyway he can––so we have to prepare ourselves for spiritual warfare.

However, when people criticize me or have something to say against me, I do not place a shield up and tell them, you are wrong and I am right. I have to act in humility as I examine my heart, because I may be wrong. First, I ask myself if what they have said is true or is it false. If it is true––God will convict me and I will have to make it right. But if the enemy is trying to ridicule me, or come against me, then I have to trust that God will take care of me.

One thing I have learned in my life is that, I am not pleasing man, I am pleasing God. So, the best thing any of us can do is to keep our eyes on the Lord.

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
~Colossians 1:10~

FRIDAY April 21, 2017

Beautifully Blessed

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”

Nehemiah 4:3

Sanballat and Tobiah continued to mock the Jews endeavors; these evil men believed Nehemiah and the people were too feeble. They were intent on destroying their plans to rebuild. Yet, Nehemiah’s life and work were beautifully blessed by the Lord. God continued to provide the laborers, and all their supplies. The wall continued to be constructed at a fast pace. Seriously, no one can fight against the work of God.

When God called me to serve Him, I was able to see how the Lord beautifully blessed us as a church. Over the years I have seen people, who want to serve in ministry, but immediately they want to build their own kingdom––even to the point where they mock, lie and cheat.

Yet they have not been here from the beginning, when we started a Bible study in our home for five years. Later, we moved to a building, and at that time in ministry, I would walk to the church at 5:00 in the morning. Our family only had one car. Then there were times when food was left on our front door step––it was very humbling. There was not much to live on in the beginning. God has beautifully blessed us now but I remember the times when I cried with my wife.

In the times we live today we have among us a selfish generation. Why? They have not had to struggle and have not experienced poverty. This generation has had everything handed to them and they often demand things from their parents. They do not realize it takes hard work, time and sacrifice to purchase a new home, car and the other things that God beautifully blesses us with. The main priority is to seek God first.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
~Matthew 6:33~

THURSDAY April 20, 2017

The Waves of Warfare

And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”

Nehemiah 4:2

Nehemiah in the face of great opposition from his enemies remained steadfast and immovable. He would finish God’s work with the people despite the constant waves of warfare––he never resigned himself to failure. He would not be hindered, confused, discouraged, threatened or stopped.

Listen, if you are going to be in the ministry––expect trials. Jesus went through trials in His ministry; are we any better than Him? Seriously, as a leader if people see you give up––then they will also give up. Paul encouraged believers in 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

It is important to remember that walls––spiritually speaking are for protection. Satan does not want you to be protected; he may place ungodly friends around you to destroy your walk with God. Satan can even use your friends and family members to destroy the work of God in your life. So you have to be able to choose your friends wisely––especially in ministry. Surround yourself with godly men and women.

Jesus warned us about Satan’s evil character in John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” He is not going to mess around, he is your enemy–––your worst nightmare. Understand Satan will never give up his assaults on your life. His tactics are like waves, at times, a constant flow of attack.

Satan does not work haphazardly but attacks systematically.
~Thomas Cosmades~

WEDNESDAY April 19, 2017

Seasons of Spiritual Warfare

But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.

Nehemiah 4:1

Nehemiah 4 through 6 can be taught as one combined unit. In these chapters Nehemiah described at least nine different tactics of the enemy. Nehemiah went through some heavy pressures as he continued to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, while his enemies tried to stop the work of God.

First, Sanballat and Tobiah attacked the Jewish people with a major weapon––ridicule (Nehemiah 4:1-6). Second, there were plots of war with the intent to create confusion (Nehemiah 4:7-9). Third, these attacks came from within, among the Jewish ranks. When they faced difficulties, there were those who brought discouragement into the camp (Nehemiah 4:10). Among the people were those who did not have the same vision or have a mind to work. They did not want to glorify the Lord or help complete the rebuilding; instead they had their own agendas.

Fourth, the enemy brought fear into the camp (Nehemiah 4:11-23). Fifth, in Nehemiah 5, the whole chapter deals with selfishness. Sixth, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to destroy him through compromise (Nehemiah 6:1-4). Seventh, the enemies’ tactic was to try to destroy Nehemiah by slander and discredit the work of God in Nehemiah’s life (Nehemiah 6:5-9). Eighth, they tried to threaten his life so he would flee (Nehemiah 6:10-14). Then ninth, they attacked with intrigue (Nehemiah 6:17-19). None of these nine devices worked because Nehemiah was solid and focused––the wall would be built regardless of their attacks.

The way Satan attacks me is through seasons, there can be weeks and months where I think,” Where did Satan go? But then there are times my friends, when I have to lock myself in my office! Seriously, I can identify with the Psalmist when he wrote my steps had nearly slipped (Psalm 73:2). Like Nehemiah, I go through heavy pressures as a man of God––that is why I need the grace of God, and we need to pray for each other.

Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him [Jesus] until an opportune time.
~Luke 4:13~

TUESDAY April 18, 2017

Importance of Doctrine

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

Titus 2:1

Before we move on to Nehemiah 4, I want to touch on the importance of doctrine. There are seven major doctrines in the Bible that we need to know. As we read through the Bible we will touch on each of the doctrines. This will keep us in balance and harmony with the Scriptures.

There are four main, basic doctrines in salvation: regeneration––the new birth, being born of the Holy Spirit. Justification–– trusting God by faith and being in right standing with Him. Sanctification––holiness, being set apart by God daily. Glorification––our future perfect state, in God’s presence when we have our new bodies, and we no longer have our original sin nature.

When dealing with doctrinal conflicts there are three basic questions to prove whether something is sound doctrine: Can you find it taught in the Gospels? Is it taught in the book of Acts and can you find it written in the Epistles? If not, then we do not accept it––we only accept those things that are written for our examples. So, we really do not have to argue about doctrine.

Jesus, in His ministry was teaching, preaching and healing. There was no pattern when He healed someone. In a church service the elders should lay hands on the people (James 5:14), and God does the healing––it is His sovereignty. Nobody should get the credit for anything; it is all the power of God.

We are so fortunate to have been taught by Chuck Smith. As men of God it is really important to give to others what we have learned and to follow the model of Calvary Chapel––to pass on the vision that God gave to him. It is our responsibility to pass on the stories in the Old Testament as we teach God’s Word line upon line to the next generation.

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
~2 Timothy 2:2~

MONDAY April 17, 2017

Completion of the Gates

After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the Nethinim and of the merchants, in front of the Miphkad Gate, and as far as the upper room at the corner. And between the upper room at the corner, as far as the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:31

Previously in our study of Nehemiah we have spoken about the rebuilding of six of the ten gates around the walls of Jerusalem. Now we will move onward to the last four gates. The Water Gate in Nehemiah 3:26, led from the old city of David, near the Gihon Spring, towards the Kidron Valley. This gate symbolically speaks of the Word of God in the life of the believer. Psalm 119 emphasizes the importance of God’s precepts––His Word, which is what we need to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Horse Gate in Nehemiah 3:28, stood north of the Water Gate near the temple area. The horse stands for power and endurance––as used in battle. It symbolically speaks of the believers’ spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Then mentioned in Nehemiah 3:29, we find the East Gate, also known as the Golden Gate, which leads directly into the temple. According to Ezekiel 43:1-2, this is where our Lord and Savior will enter Jerusalem during the second coming––amazing!

The Gate of Miphkad––meaning appointed place or inspection is the last gate named in Nehemiah 3:31. It was located north east of the city. This gate, speaks of the judgment of Jesus Christ. When He returns, a Christian’s work will be evaluated and given rewards at the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Romans 14:10). There will also be the gathering of the nations, for a forty five day judgment before the millennial kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 25:32). Just as there is completion of the walls and gates in the days of Nehemiah, God will complete His work in our lives!

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
~Philippians 1:6~

SUNDAY April 16, 2017

A Day of Appearances

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

Matthew 28:5-7

Early Sunday morning, before sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome and Joanna were on their way to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body. Before they arrived there was a great earthquake. An angel had rolled back the stone from the tomb and inside it was empty. Jesus had resurrected from the dead! (Matthew 28:2).

This was a day of appearances––Jesus would appear to many different people. First, He appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:16-18). He also was seen by Mary, the mother of James, Salome, and Joanna (Matthew 28:9). Then, in Luke 24:34 the Lord appeared to Simon Peter. Also that evening He also showed Himself to the disciples (John 20:19-20). After eight days, Jesus appeared to the disciples again, this time Thomas was with them. Jesus told Thomas: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39).

Later, Jesus was seen: by over five hundred brethren (1Corinthians15:6). Saul, whose name was changed to Paul in his conversion, had also seen the Lord (Acts 9).

Easter Sunday is a perfect time to consider these infallible truths of Jesus’ resurrection. The Scriptures reveal Christ to us––He is our risen Savior. Do you believe this? If so, ask Him to forgive you of your sins today.

…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
~John 20:31~

SATURDAY April 15, 2017

A Day of Anticipation

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly.

Mark 8:31-32

There was a divine time for Jesus to die on the cross. He had so clearly spoken about His death and resurrection to His disciples but they were not paying attention. Why? Their mindset was on themselves, they were more concerned about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33-37).

The disciples expected that once Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He would clear out the Romans, set up His kingdom and they were going to rule and reign with Him. They were not thinking about His death and resurrection, so Jesus had to teach them. On one occasion Peter took Jesus aside and reprimanded Him. The Lord had to firmly rebuke Peter––he was not mindful of the things of God but of men (Mark 8:32-33).

Jesus, after His transfiguration, had commanded Peter, James and John: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9). When the disciples had stayed in Galilee, Jesus told them: “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” Then the disciples became very sorrowful (Matthew 17:23).

As Jesus and His disciples went up to Jerusalem, He had once again predicted His death and resurrection:

“… the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matthew 20:18-19).

After Jesus was arrested, condemned to death and crucified, the disciples should have had a day of anticipation––awaiting His resurrection but they were full of sorrow instead. Death brings much sorrow––but we have hope in the Resurrection!

“After three days I will rise.”
~Mathew 27:63~

FRIDAY April 14, 2017

A Day of Agony

And He, [Jesus] bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:17-19

Jesus has been betrayed, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His disciples had fled––they scattered (Matthew 26:56), even though they said they would never leave Him (Matthew 26:35). Pilate, under pressure of the Jewish leaders, and the crowds, released to them a robber–– Barabbas (John 18:40). They rejected Jesus and shouted for His crucifixion: …they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Then Pilate took a basin of water and washed his hands in front of all the people and said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person…” (Matthew 27:24). But Pilate was guilty––the whole world is guilty! So many times we blame the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion, but if we had been in the crowds, without knowing Him, we too would have cried out, “Crucify Him!”

This was to be a day of agony, for Christ. He was taken by a bunch of bitter, angry human beings and humiliated. They mocked and scourged Him. Then soldiers placed a crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe. Thorns, about three inches sharp were rammed into His skull, as they struck Him and mocked Him as the King of the Jews.

The Roman soldiers had already scourged Him with a leather whip that had attached animal’s teeth and pieces of metal. As they struck His back the whip wrapped around Him and ripped off His skin. He received thirty nine stripes––the number of mercy, forty is the number of judgment. By the time He carried His cross and got to Calvary He did not even look like a human being. He is my Master, my Lord, my Savior, and my King! He did this for us, for the sins of the world––Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16~

THURSDAY April 13, 2017

A Day of Arrest

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

John 18:3-5

Christ is the faithful one––our High Priest and He had begun to pray for His disciples in John 17. As we move into John 18, we read a tremendous part of Scripture. Jesus had left the upper room, walked through the Valley of Gehenna over to the Kidron Valley, and into the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, James and John joined Jesus, as He had asked them to pray with Him. Going a short distance further Jesus prayed for His Father’s perfect will––to go to the cross to redeem us from our sins so we can have eternal life!

Judas, one of Jesus disciples betrayed Him in the upper room. Satan entered Judas as he left the room (John 13:26-27). Judas went to meet with the chief priests who gave him thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal.

Jesus, innocent of any crime, faced a day of arrest––His time had come. It is believed about six hundred men came with torches, swords and clubs. Judas led the Roman and Jewish pack, he is the one that would betray the Lord with a kiss (Matthew 26:48).

I believe with all my heart that everyone of us have a time when we are tested. Our hour will come–spiritually speaking, not only in death, but when God wants your will to be in full submission to His. We are by nature selfish, strong headed, and often we do not listen. We do many foolish things that eventually hurt us. Instead, we need to be like Jesus, prayerfully our hearts and lives must be fully submitted to God––Thy will be done. Then by His grace, God can do whatever He wants in our lives.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…
~Ephesians 1:7~

WEDNESDAY April 12, 2017

A Day of Anointing

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

John 12:3

Jesus often came to the house of Mary and Martha in Bethany. They had a home of hospitality, as their friend, Jesus was a welcomed guest on any occasion. On one instance Martha had complained to Him about Mary, she was not helping her but sat undistracted at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word (Luke 10:38-42).

Mary was a woman of spiritual discernment and understood Jesus’ suffering and death was approaching. This would be a day of anointing––as she took an alabaster box, broke it and anointed her Lord with its contents. It was spikenard, a very costly perfume. It was one of the most loving acts of devotion she gave to her Lord. The perfume filled the whole house––she had done what she could.

Notice Judas, the Lord’s betrayer, he instantly complained against Mary’s sacrifice and influenced the other disciples to criticize her: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He had spoken with a hidden purpose in his heart, as he was a thief (John 12:4-6; Mark 14:4-5). The Lord immediately stopped the complaint started by Judas and said:

“…Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could: she has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-9).

Her sacrifice was an acceptable act of worship given to Him. It would become a memorial every time the Gospel was preached (Mark 14:9).

Spirit-directed giving is depending only on the
Spirit of God to direct the gifts…
~Lewis Sperry Chafer~

TUESDAY April 11, 2017

A Day of Argument

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”

Luke 20:1-2

After Jesus had gone into the temple in Jerusalem and dealt with the money changers who were fleecing the flock of God, He continued to daily to teach in the temple. He took the opportunity to preach the Gospel with great authority to the people who intently listened––Jesus was evangelizing.

However, the Pharisees, the Scribes––the religious leaders of the day, confronted Jesus and challenged His authority. They did not respect Him and even though they had witnessed His miracles, they did not believe He was the Son of God. They became irritated and jealous of His life and wanted to kill Him (Luke 19:47). Why? The people were following Jesus and not them.

The religious leaders hoped to entrap Jesus with their insulting questions. Jesus in His infinite wisdom gave them a direct question in return: “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:3-4). Whatever way they answered, Jesus had turned the situation around and entrapped them. The leaders believed, if they answered from heaven, Jesus was validated; if from men, the people would be enraged and stone them (Luke 20:5-8).

What is the Gospel? Simple, Jesus came, died and rose again. Every person needs to make a decision whether to accept or reject the Gospel message. I cannot convert anyone, it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit's ministry to bring the sinner to the Saviour
and to make the sinner like the Saviour.
~John Blanchard~

MONDAY April 10, 2017

A Day of Authority

So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.

Mark 11:15-16

The temple in Jerusalem was a sacred place of prayer, where the people met with God. But what had the money changers made of it? A den of thieves! You see, the people needed to bring an animal sacrifice, without blemish as an offering, but these deceitful men raised the prices ten times above the fair value! They abused the temple worship, made a handsome profit for themselves and took advantage of God’s people.

When Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem, the Lord went into the temple. He was filled with righteous anger as He knew they were ripping off the people. Then gentle, sweet, loving Jesus forcefully turned over tables and began to grab the money changers. So, with a whip in one hand, He beat these crooks out of the temple. I like Jesus––He did not mess around. Jesus gave these evil men a strong rebuke. These men were upset and angry with Jesus. The real reason––He had hurt their pocket book.

Jesus had quoted from Isaiah 56:7and Jeremiah 7:11, these two prophecies, were spoken by prophets under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Historically they go back five hundred years, now Jesus had fulfilled them both.

It is upsetting to me when I see people beg for funds and weep to fleece the flock of God. Many times I feel like Jesus, filled with righteous anger because these kinds of people especially prey on poor little widows––so sad. I have always believed where God guides God provides––so simple.

“Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.
~Jeremiah 7:11~

SUNDAY April 9, 2017

A Day of Acclaim

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13

Palm Sunday marks the day when Jesus of Nazareth entered Jerusalem. Jesus moved from the area of Galilee towards Jericho and then up to Jerusalem. He had traveled there every year for the Passover, but this year would be different––Jesus would give His life for the world.

Jesus’ fame had widely spread, and crowds of people took palm branches and went to meet Him. Palm branches, in the Scriptures are symbolic of strength, beauty, joy and salvation. The Jewish religious leaders did not know what was going on but the common people, the women and the children, were waving these palms––Jesus was their King.

This was a day of acclaim–– the peoples’ voices shouted out Psalm 118:25-26 “Hosanna––save now. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” and this prophecy became fulfilled. Their expectation and hope was to be saved right at this very moment.

Imagine, there were 2.5 million people in the city for the Passover celebrations as Jesus–––the Prince of Peace, entered Jerusalem on a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Interestingly a king who came into a city to make war; always entered the city on a white horse; but when they came in peace, the king would enter on a donkey. Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Yet the Jewish religious leaders missed it!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
~Psalm 118:26~

SATURDAY April 8, 2017

Christ’s Passion

… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:10

Many Christians celebrate Passion Week. They follow the different events of Christ’s life that lead up to His death on the cross and His powerful resurrection. Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of the world. Christ’s passion for mankind was expressed through His sacrificial death.

Jesus’ plan to die existed before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He came down and took human form; He was God in human flesh, (Philippians 2:1:1-11). As a Servant to mankind, He taught, healed and constantly ministered to people. Jesus rose to fame within three short years of His ministry. He became popular with the people who constantly thronged Him.

Yet He was hated by the Jewish religious leaders, who wished nothing more, than to see Him dead. They wanted to rid themselves of His authority, His rebukes, and His seemingly blasphemous doctrine. These religious leaders were nothing more than blind guides to the people.

The Pharisees continued to seek opportunities to entrap Him but Jesus did not place Himself into His enemies hands, not until His hour had come––the time of His great suffering. At the age ofthirty three––as a young man, in the prime of His life, He faced the cross––His hour had come.

Passion Week fulfilled many prophetical Scriptures concerning Christ. During this incredible week, examine these truths, as you walk closely with us on His path of suffering. May your life and walk with Christ be renewed as you reflect on the meaning of His resurrection this Easter.

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
~John 12:23~

FRIDAY April 7, 2017

The Gates of Jerusalem

After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah made repairs in front of his dwelling.

Nehemiah 3:30

Yesterday we discovered the symbolic meanings to three gates of Jerusalem: the Sheep Gate, the Fish Gate and the Old Gate. Now we have come to the location of the Valley Gate in Nehemiah 3:13. It was situated in the south west corner of the city. This gate speaks of a believer’s trials and sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:3-5), and everything that a Christian goes through as God tests their heart, in the Kingdom of God.

The Refuge Gate in Nehemiah 3:14, was a very significant gate. It was placed in the southernmost tip of the city, near the pool of Siloam. In the Old Testament times it used to be called the Valley of Hell. It was an area where the people burned their trash and also where they burned their children to the god Molech. It speaks symbolically of the carnal believer––a person who walks in the flesh and who are not fully submitted to God.

Then the Fountain Gate in Nehemiah 3:15, was located on the east wall just north of the Dung Gate. The Fountain Gate speaks of the Holy Spirit, and His work in the life of the believer (John 7:37-39). This was where Jesus spoke, at the Feast of Tabernacles, about the Spirit of God which would become as living water overflowing from a believer’s heart.

The symbolism behind these three gates can relate to us as Christians. We will go through valleys––a time of suffering, but God is always with us: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4). We are warned that those who live a life in the flesh––according to their earthly appetites, risk eternal judgment: For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6). We understand that the Christian life is lived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
~Galatians 5:16~

THURSDAY April 6, 2017

Building Stations

Beyond the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. After them Zadok the son of Immer made repairs in front of his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shechaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:28-29

Nehemiah organized the people and he placed them at certain stations, like the Sheep Gate, at the north-east corner of the city. Interestingly there are ten different gates that are mentioned in the city. Each one of them has a symbolic meaning––spiritually speaking.

The Sheep Gate in Nehemiah 3:1 was where the animals––goats, sheep and lambs were taken through and brought into the temple to be sacrificed. Symbolically speaking, this gate reminds us of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; John 5:2).

The Fish Gate was located on the west side from the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:3). It was positioned after the tower of Meah, a Hebrew word for hundred and the tower of Hananel, which means in Hebrew God is gracious. The Fish Gate was not only where the fish were brought into the market place, but it speaks of a Christian who has become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). Incredibly the Fish Gate, in typology, speaks of soul winning, our evangelism––as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

An interesting gate was the Old Gate recorded in Nehemiah 3:6, it was stationed in the northern quarter of the city, this gate symbolically speaks of reckoning the old man to be dead (Romans 6), whereby our old sinful nature is crucified.

As we begin to study the symbolic meaning of all these different gates, it would be good to ask ourselves these practical questions: Have you accepted Jesus Christ sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins? As a Christian are you sharing your faith with others? Are you living a crucified life?

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me…
~Galatians 2:20~

WEDNESDAY April 5, 2017

Leading a Combination of Workers

Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower. After them the Tekoites repaired another section, next to the great projecting tower, and as far as the wall of Ophel.

Nehemiah 3:26-27

Nehemiah led a mixed group of people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Among them were leaders who set a good example for the other workers. In the Old Testament a person’s name often meant something; it could be that their name stood for what God was doing or a certain situation. If you look up their individual names in a Strong’s Concordance, it is interesting to see what each name means––it is incredible.

Within the different groups of people there were those who would not work at all, they just wanted to make trouble. They tried to get in the way of those who wanted to work and they hindered the plans. It is interesting to read of people who were able to do more work. These people went out of their way to do more than anybody else, and they gave all the glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

It is important to understand that in ministry everyone is not the same, we all have different levels of energy. But what really spoke to my heart, is all the various people that God uses to do His work––it is not just a few people. It shows us as leaders that we need to involve many other people in the work of God. We must teach, lead and guide them into what we want them to do.

God will be able to do a tremendous work if we remain good examples as leaders. He will use each one of us how He fully intended. However, if we get full of pride, or think we know it all and have the wrong attitude, then how can God really use our lives? It becomes impossible. Seriously, we need to stay simple and humble before God.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking God uses only “special” people, the strong, the intelligent, the beautiful. We don't think He has a place for the rest of us. We are so wrong!
~Chuck Smith~

TUESDAY April 4, 2017

God’s Representatives

Palal the son of Uzai made repairs opposite the buttress, and on the tower which projects from the king’s upper house that was by thecourt of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:25

More important than the maintenance of the city’s walls, and beautifying the house of the Lord was to be a leader, who represented God to the people. Nehemiah genuinely cared for the people and he showed God’s compassion towards them. They could tell by his actions that he wanted to help them rebuild their lives.

At Rephidem, God’s people contended with Moses because there was no water to drink (Numbers 20:2-5). God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out so the people could drink. Moses misrepresented the Lord to them as an angry God, when the Lord was not angry with His people:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).

We are God’s representatives to His people and whatever actions we take towards them is what they will keep in their minds. Parents bring their children to church so they can learn about God, but how do we greet them at the doors? In ministry how do we answer the phones or as a leader approach someone who is misbehaving or has a problem?

In every situation, God has called us to represent Him to the people. We are to love the Lord and love His people, no matter how contentious they may be. If He loves them so should we.

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
~1 Peter 5:2~

MONDAY April 3, 2017

Who Gets the Glory?

After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress, even as far as the corner.

Nehemiah 3:24

As Nehemiah set about to complete the reconstruction of the walls he was concerned about one thing––the glory of God.

Let me ask you this question, “How is God getting the glory from your life?” You see, whether you sing, play an instrument or preach, people should not be in awe of you, they should give God the glory. People should not be coming to you and lifting you up. Instead they should speak about how the Lord is really shining through you! Then you can know for sure that your life is bringing glory and honor to His name.

If people are talking more about you than the Lord it is time for you as a leader to check yourself out––spiritually. Is there pride developing in your life? I would bring to your remembrance what happened to Satan. Pride caused Him to be cast out of heaven like lightening (Luke 10:18). Why? Satan had attempted to lift himself up above God:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

If you want to guard your heart from pride, ask yourself, am I stealing the glory from God? When you exalt yourself remember it is a very long way down. I would also remind you that God can use a donkey! When the Lord wanted to rebuke the Prophet Balaam, what did God do? He used Balaam’s donkey to speak to him (Numbers 22:28-30).

Pride was the sin that changed angels into devils.
~Thomas Manton~

SUNDAY April 2 2017

Making a Survey

And after him the priests, the men of the plain, made repairs. After him Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah,made repairs by his house.

Nehemiah 3:22-23

It is interesting to make a survey of the wall of Jerusalem as Nehemiah continued his work to rebuild. Nehemiah 3:1-5 describes the northern wall of the city and those associated in the repairs. Nehemiah 3:6-12 describes the west wall of the city, to the Valley Gate were Nehemiah passed through, at night, to inspect the city’s walls.

Then Nehemiah 3:13-15 describes the work on the south west wall, from the Valley Gate to the Pool of Siloam, on the southern slope of the city of David. During our trips to Israel we have been there many times. The work between the south east Fountain Gate and the Water Gate is described in Nehemiah 3:16-27. Finally, Nehemiah 3:28-32 describes the west Horse Gate to the Sheep Gate.

There were thirty eight individual workers mentioned in Nehemiah 3 and forty two different people groups identified. The word build is used six times, the word repair––which means to make strong or firm, is use thirty five times, and the locks and bars are mentioned five times.

All the different cultural people involved in the work, relate to us, that God uses all kinds of people, with unique personalities, and temperaments. It would be chaos if we tried to do that in the world; only God can bring unity among us––we are one in the body of Christ.

I would encourage any believer, to go to Israel with us and survey the city of Jerusalem for themselves. It is incredible as you walk into the city and see all the different sights. You will never read your Bible the same way, everything will come to life––it’s amazing!

Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
the city of the great King.
~Psalm 48:2~

SATURDAY April 1, 2017

April Fools’ Day

…I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”

Luke 12:19-20

Today is April Fools’ Day and although not a legal holiday, it is celebrated across the world. It is believed to have begun in 1700, Britain, when some young pranksters began to play tricks on each other. April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. Others believe it came from Geoffrey Chaucer’s book The Canterbury Tales from 1392.

However, God’s Word has a lot to say about fools. Proverbs 14:1 tells us: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. The side effects of drinking alcohol will make a fool out of you: Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1 KJV). A fool never learns from their mistakes: As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).

Jesus often taught the people around Him by parables––stories that would relate to them. The Parable of the Rich young Ruler is found in Luke 12:13-21.It tells the story of a rich man who stored away much treasure in life. He had the worldly philosophy of take your ease; eat, drink and be merry. What he did not know was God would require his soul that very night! He may have been rich on earth but he had nothing to show for himself before the Lord––he was spiritually bankrupt.

Many people today live by this foolish philosophy: eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die! But this is not the only life a person has––we have an eternal soul and after death we can go into an eternal life or eternal death. Do not be a fool in this life, be wise and make sure you know where you will be going in eternity.

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
~Matthew 16:26~

FRIDAY March 31, 2017

Ascribe to the Lord

After him Baruch the son of Zabbai carefully repaired the other section, from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. After him Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz,repaired another section, from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.

Nehemiah 3:20-21

As Nehemiah and the people built the walls of Jerusalem, the people surrounding the city must have stood in awe. The work was incredible to see and they would have to attribute the work to the Lord––God alone would get the glory. The people that watched the reconstruction would be left with no other explanation than to declare––there is a God in Israel!

God’s name would be lifted up amid His people and among the other nations. Once the walls were completed, God’s people could worship the Lord in safety, in the most important place of the city, the tabernacle–– their place of worship. Our Lord is worthy of worship:

For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the LORD in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the earth (Psalm 96:4-9).

Remember God does not share His glory with anyone. He declares to us: I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another… (Isaiah 42:8). Do you give the credit to the Lord for all He has done in and through your life?

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
but to Your name give glory.
~Psalm 115:1~

THURSDAY March 30, 2017

No Burn Out!

After him their brethren, under Bavai the son of Henadad, leader of the other half of the district of Keilah, made repairs. And next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section in front of the Ascent to the Armory at the buttress.

Nehemiah 3:18-19

Notice how the people worked tirelessly. They were unstoppable in their work to repair the walls. Their unified momentum can only be explained as a work of God. The wall was not built by the people’s strength or power. The Lord had empowered and enabled them.

All the work you do for God is not to be done with your own energy; otherwise you will be defeated and discouraged. It has to be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. People who say they are burned out are trying to do God’s work in their own strength. They simply do not trust the Lord. Chuck Smith did not believe that a person could ever burn out; there is no evidence seen in the Scriptures.

If people get overtired physically and walk around with long faces, that may become a sign that they are not relying on the Lord for their strength or His power for ministry. Jesus taught us to abide in Him. Why? Without His power and strength we can do nothing (John 15:5). Underline these helpful Scriptures in your Bible as a reminder that it is God who enables you: Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5). “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” Says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

You see, God has given us the way to accomplish His work. It is through prayer and the Word––as we meditate on the Scriptures. We must trust in the Lord. Why? He has given us a way to enter a spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:10), and He does the work through us. Philippians 2:13 tells us: for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…
~Psalm 37:7~

WEDNESDAY March 29, 2017

Eternal Perspective

After him the Levites, under Rehum the son of Bani, made repairs. Next to him Hashabiah, leader of half the district of Keilah, made repairs for his district.

Nehemiah 3:17

Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the people worked on the walls diligently. Their focus was to complete the work of the Lord. They let nothing distract them; no obstacles or problems were too difficult to overcome. Even their enemies’ provocation and mockery could not dissuade the people from accomplishing their end results. They would continue to build until the walls were finished.

It is important to know your mission in life and remain focused so you can finish the work God has given you to accomplish. We need to keep a passion for the things of the Lord. Many times your eyes can focus on something else, it could be a problem or distraction, and pretty soon you have begun to lose the vision God had given to you. Remain open to the Lord’s plans. Stay in tune and follow along with what God wants you to do. Keep an eternal perspective, this will help you to persevere, and you will find that no matter what happens, you will accomplish the vision.

It is important to understand that as we rebuild our lives our eyes should be focused on eternity. If your heart is not for eternity, then I feel sorry for you because you will be miserable. Do you not realize, the work of God will continue with us or without us?

Jesus was given a mission to accomplish, he told His disciples: “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). Jesus stayed focused on His eternal purpose––to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). He set His face like flint because He knew He faced the agony of the cross (Luke 9:51). Before Jesus died, He said: …I have finished the work which You have given Me to do (John 17:4). Jesus had an eternal perceptive, do you?

…Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:2~

TUESDAY March 28, 2017

Daily Spiritual Maintenance

After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, leader of half the district of Beth Zur, made repairs as far as the place in front of the tombs of David, to the man-made pool, and as far as the House of the Mighty.

Nehemiah 3:16

It is important to understand that once Nehemiah and the people had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, that these walls would need to be maintained. We call the church building, the house of the Lord. The building takes a lot of oversight and has to be daily and continually kept up. If the building is neglected it will fall into disorder and disrepair.

As Christians, we must rebuild our lives every single day. Why? We still sin every day. In our personal relationship with the Lord, we must keep short accounts. We must confess any sin committed against Him daily. First John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In maintaining our daily, spiritual walk with God we need to often take spiritual inventory of our lives. We need to learn from King David who came before the Lord to ask:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

God is all knowing–– omniscience. He can see into our hearts and minds. He knows our real motives. The Prophet Jeremiah revealed God’s omniscience in Jeremiah 17:10: …I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Have you examined your life before the Lord recently?

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the
inner depths of his heart.
~Proverbs 20:27~

MONDAY March 27, 2017

Submitted and Successful

Shallun the son of Col-Hozeh, leader of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate; he built it, covered it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired the wall of the Pool of Shelah by the King’s Garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the City of David.

Nehemiah 3:15

Another reason Nehemiah was so successful in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was because of his submission. He had first submitted to God and then to King Artaxerxes. How had he submitted himself to God? He mourned, fasted and prayed. Then in humility he remained accountable to the king in his venture, he sought his permission to leave, and gave him a time frame for his return (Nehemiah 42:4-6). Nehemiah became an example of a spiritual man to the king, his brother and God’s people.

It is important to understand, in the call of God, some people go and others stay behind. There are those who are called to be doers while others stay and become prayer warriors. We need to listen carefully to the voice of the Lord for His direction. King David prayed to the Lord and asked him: Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10).

Once you have discerned his voice, like Nehemiah, you should submit to His leading. Then you should remain accountable and submissive to those leaders He has placed in authority over you. God is a God of order. Always remember that you will never succeed if you try to do your own thing. First Peter 2:13-15 instructs us:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors… For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Is your life fully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, your church leadership and the just laws that govern where you live?

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
~1 Peter 2:17~

SUNDAY March 26, 2017

The Anointing on the Forehead

Malchijah the son of Rechab, leader of the district of Beth Haccerem, repaired the Refuse Gate; he built it and hung its doors with its bolts and bars.

Nehemiah 3:14

Nehemiah gave a detailed account of the city’s walls reconstruction. He was very careful in his oversight of the project. Nehemiah was a man who took the labor of God seriously. He knew rebuilding the walls was a work of God and not a work of man. His written words in the book of Nehemiah became his lasting memoirs.

Although the building of the city’s walls was vital, Nehemiah understood that his most important responsibility was to rebuild the lives of the people who lived in distress in Jerusalem. Nehemiah could take charge of the people because they could see the evidence of his anointing. God had anointed him to do the work He had planned for him.

It is God who sets a person apart and anoints them by the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of God. The Apostle Paul establishes this truth in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22:

Now He [God] who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

God has called His people to be builders––not destroyers. We are to help build each other up in Christ and we are not to tear each other down.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up... We can only build up other peoples’ lives through the God given anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Christian phrase, anointing on the Forehead is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s power and work in the life of a believer. Can people see the anointing on your forehead?

But the anointing which you have received from Him
[Jesus] abides in you.
~John 2:27~

SATURDAY March 25, 2017

No Man is an Island

Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They built it, hung its doors with its bolts and bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Refuse Gate.

Nehemiah 3:13

Notice all the people that came together with Hanun, in a joint effort to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem–– the entire people of Zanoah, a city in Judah (Joshua 15:34). It did not matter if there was a small or large portion of the wall to be rebuilt. The builders worked together in unity.

If there was no unity or harmony between the different people in the city, the work would have come to a complete stand-still.

Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, had gained ground after every single battle. The Lord had given them great victories. As Joshua continued to go to battle in the Promised Land, one man’s sin affected the whole camp. All of a sudden they experienced a disheartening defeat and Israel came to a humiliating stand-still. Why? One individual had his own agenda; he disobeyed and took spoils from the enemy’s camp. He hid them under his tent. When he was found out, he, along with his family suffered tremendous consequences (Joshua 7).

At one time in my life, I was privileged to do chapel services for a famous baseball team. Once in a while, there was one thing I saw, one player all by himself. This famous person had separated himself from the team. He enjoyed his own secluded area with all his luxuries surrounding him. That is not being a team player––you really cannot win like that. In a team you should not just have one hero, all the players are essential.

No man is an Island––a person with their own agenda and with no accountability. Those types of people will not remain within any corporation. Why? They will usually end up causing a division. There is no fame in the ministry. Jesus Christ should be the only one to receive the glory and the honor.

…to Whom [God] be glory forever and ever. Amen.
~Galatians 1:5~

FRIDAY March 24, 2017

A Sure Calling

Malchijah the son of Harim and Hashub the son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section, as well as the Tower of the Ovens. And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:11-12

Nehemiah had a great interest in the lives of other people; he really made such a difference. As the walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt so were the people’s lives being rebuilt. Compassion for other people is the key in ministry. He was also a leader of great humility and kindness, which is a notable benefit to a godly leader. He also cared about each individual family. Those who joined in the work where not only the fathers, but their sons and the daughters, families worked side by side to accomplish the work of the Lord.

The ministry is about taking care of people––it is serving the people, and taking an interest in their lives, this was exactly what Nehemiah did. The people of God have to be taken care of spiritually, that is the key. If you do not have an interest for people, then in all honesty, you are not going to do well in ministry.

I want to remind people interested in ministry that it has to be a call of God––it is not a job. If you do not have a call of God, you become like so many students who attended college, who take their general classes, major in a subject but still remain undecided in what they want to do––they wander from one subject to another and never become effective.

Those students who give themselves fully to a subject, and stayed focused, later become a professional. They succeed in their endeavors.

In ministry you have to know that you are called and you need to be sure of what God has called you to do. As you rise up to do the work of God, stay focused. As you minister to God’s people you will make a difference––big time.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call
and election sure…
~2 Peter 1:10~

THURSDAY March 23, 2017

Glorious City of God

And next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs. Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph made repairs in front of his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabniah made repairs.

Nehemiah 3:9-10

Jerusalem is where God had placed His name: Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there… (2 Chronicles 6:6), and where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt. This holy city was a place where Jews would go on a pilgrimage, they came before the Lord during the year to offer their sacrifices (Deuteronomy 16:16). In Jerusalem was the temple, the house of the Lord, where God met His people. Psalm 46:4-5 describes the city of Jerusalem:

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King. God, in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold.

As Christians, it is important to understand that God dwells with in us.

1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 2 Corinthians 13:5 also states: Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? 1 John 3:24 also informs us: Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Even though God dwells within us; we must come to house of the Lord to receive from Him. He will speak to us as we listen to the message given by the pastor; and we are to serve the Lord and joyfully give to Him.

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah.
~Psalm 87:3~

WEDNESDAY March 22, 2017

A Unified Effort

Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

Nehemiah 3:8

Notice, there was a unified effort between Nehemiah and God’s people in the work of the Lord. Certainly there was no possible way Nehemiah could have done this great work on his own. The people, with their different gifts and talents, all joined together to help with the repairs. It did not matter if they were goldsmiths, perfumers, leaders, priests or from a different district of Jerusalem, they all worked together, as one, in complete harmony. At a later time, Nehemiah gave credit to the people who had helped him rebuild the walls (Nehemiah 4:6).

Jethro knew Moses could not lead the people of Israel by himself. He had the same wisdom as Nehemiah. Jethro knew he could not do the work on his own, so he approached Moses. Jethro suggested establishing a chain of command. Place men over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens so they could judge the people’s problems. Then Moses could use his time sensibly in prayer and the Word. Only the difficult problems needed to be brought to him. Otherwise Moses would wear himself out (Exodus 18).

These examples remind me of 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-13. Christ is the head of the Church––the body of believers, and He uses every believer as a hand, foot, eye or ear in the building of the body of Christ.

He has given each of us gifts and talents to be used in the work of God. As we serve the Lord, He enables us to be in harmony as we work together.

Are you a gifted and loyal person, one who can lift up your leader’s hands, as you work alongside of them?

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
~1 Peter 4:10~

TUESDAY March 21, 2017

A Tremendous Work

Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River.

Nehemiah 3:6-7

Nehemiah, Chapter 3 contains one of the most detailed descriptions of Jerusalem in the entire Bible. If you pay close attention you will notice how Nehemiah described the walls, gates and towers that make up the whole city in detail. Jerusalem becomes so picturesque when you study each one of these areas. Interestingly each gate symbolizes something. Even today the Jews in Israel continue to do their business at the city’s gates––amazing!

As we examine this tremendous work of God, it really reflects the phenomenal, organizational skills of Nehemiah. Many people who looked at the city’s devastation may have thought, “Can anything good come out of all this mess?” But somebody had a vision––Nehemiah.

Often our lives can become such a mess, people may stare and think there is no possible way this person can rebuild their life––they are done. But God can take a broken life and restore a person––fully and completely. God can do a tremdous work in our lives as He builds us spiritually–– He beautifies us. Psalm 90:17 tells us: And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.

Is your life in a mess? The answer to your distress is to ask the Lord to rebuild your life––so He can use your hands to build His kingdom.

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.
~Psalm 149:4~

MONDAY March 20, 2017

Dealing with Strife

Also the sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors with its bolts and bars. And next to them Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz, made repairs. Next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok the son of Baana made repairs. Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles did not put their shouldersto the work of their Lord.

Nehemiah 3:3-5

Notice how Nehemiah recorded the problem he had with the nobles–– they had refused to help in the work of the Lord. There was a lot of physical and strenuous activity needed to rebuild the walls, but these nobles would not lend a hand or shoulder any of the burden.

Nehemiah not only faced opposition from without but also from within. His enemies on the outside had received important information from those cooperating with them from the inside. There were people from the inside who had spied out the work of God, and had given a full report of how the plans were proceeding to Nehemiah’s enemies.

In the Corinthian Church there was much carnality, sexual sin and strife. Believers not governed by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), will become carnal people. These carnal Christians from within the church, had caused deep division, and hindered the work of God. Believers began to follow after a certain person’s name––what teacher they liked best.

In 1 Corinthians 3:3, the Apostle Paul exhorted these carnal Christians for their worldliness: For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? We cannot have the philosophy of the world in the Church. It is good to examine our lives daily to make sure we are not being used by the enemy as a tool of division and strife.

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
~1 Corinthians 1:10~

SUNDAY March 19, 2017

The Faith Key

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and built the Sheep Gate; they consecrated it and hung its doors. They built as far as the Tower of the Hundred, and consecrated it, then as far as the Tower of Hananel. Next to Eliashib the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built.

Nehemiah 3:1-2

Nehemiah, in Chapter 3, recorded the names of many different people who helped him to rebuild. He also named the city’s gates. Nehemiah began his work at the Sheep Gate and moved counter-clockwise as he rebuilt. He approached the task with immense dedication. Nehemiah was faced with a great challenge, as he began to rebuild the walls, but he was a man of great faith. Nehemiah knew he served a great God; this wonderful perspective was the key to his faith.

In Jewish history, the tabernacle was a place where the children of Israel, met with God. The tabernacle was portable and went with them as they moved location. It traveled with God’s people when they began their great Exodus from Egypt, and as they conquered the land of Canaan. It was not until they settled in Jerusalem that the tabernacle was permanently built.

Faith was the key to move our church from West Covina, to our Diamond Bar location. We used to get lost in this massive building––it is so huge. As we have rebuilt, the congregation can sit down on comfortable chairs and enjoy the nice carpet, but many of the people have no idea what it took to get here––five years of sweat and dedication. In unity, our hearts were determined to build this place––an earthly sanctuary for God’s people to come and worship.

When God challenges us to do a work for Him, we need to have great faith. Faith is the key to our success in whatever God has called us to do. Without faith we will be defeated. It is important to understand that we are constantly on the move in this life, but when we get to heaven, we shall be there forever, worshipping in the presence of God.

Faith is the master key of the Christian life.
~Ronald Dunn~

SATURDAY March 18, 2017

Arise and Build

So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”

Nehemiah 2:20

Nehemiah told Sanballat, who was most likely a Moabite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem an Arabian that they had no relation with the Jews––they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Even though they were chief men among the Samaritans (Nehemiah 4:1, 7), they had no authority over them. As a leader Nehemiah stood up to his enemies and he reminded them they were of no importance.

Nehemiah, in the face of opposition, would arise and build with his Jewish brethren. God had already provided the means to rebuild, so they would continue with confidence––the Lord would prosper them. As God’s servants, they were unified, with one mind and one heart to complete this epic work–– to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

It is important to realize that we only have one life to live. There are people who sit in old folks’ homes, who have not fulfilled what God intended for their lives. They have wasted their years, when they could have been used mightily by the Lord. Now they are unable to anything, except to look back on their wasted lives. So many people miss out on the opportunities God had given to them. Can you imagine their torment?

Seriously, you can never get back the time you waste now, especially as a youth, the clock just keeps moving forward and time will pass you by. It is vital to discipline your life so that every minute counts for the Lord. Be careful to focus on what the Lord wants you to do. That is the only way you are going to gain ground. Chuck Smith said, “If you cannot govern your spirit now or take care of your problems now, it might be that you could become a regretful person one day.”

No reserves. No retreat. No regrets.
~William Borden~

FRIDAY March 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

Matthew 28:19

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick was born into a Christian family but had no interest in the church. As a boy, he was captured by slave traders and taken to Ireland. It was a place filled with magicians and pagan practices, the people were in spiritual darkness. He believed God was chastening him and would pray night and day. It was in Ireland, through trials and suffering that Patrick came to know Christ personally.

Finally, Patrick escaped and found a ship that carried him back home. He began to study for ministry when in a vision God called him to go and return to Ireland to preach to the people who had enslaved him. He traveled across the Irish countryside bringing the Gospel to the hostile pagan Celts. Patrick wrote a poem of faith and trust in God which he named the “Breast Plate”:

"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."

He brought the light of Christ into the spiritual darkness of Ireland and laid a good foundation for Christianity. In obedience to God’s call to go to Ireland, he was able to plant 300 churches. His ministry lasted 29 years and 120,000 Irishmen were saved and baptized into the Christian faith. He lit such a fire in Ireland as he faithfully preached the Gospel.

Any man touched by Jesus Christ is good publicity for the gospel.
~Vance Havner~

THURSDAY March 16, 2017

Keep Your Eyes on the Lord

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”

Nehemiah 2:19

Other people began to hear of Nehemiah’s plans to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Both Sanballat and Tobiah began to mock the plans, they sought to oppose and discourage the Jews. But Nehemiah, in his heart was fully convinced, on what God had called him to do. He kept his focus on the Lord and was not easily distracted by their words of mockery. He was able to remain steadfast and in tune with what God wanted him to do. Nothing moved Nehemiah and he continued to unify the people even in these times of opposition.

Peter was a man who needed to learn to keep his eyes on the Lord. During a storm, the disciples were on a boat in the middle of the Galilean sea (Matthew 14:22-23). The Lord walked towards them on the water. At first they were afraid, but Jesus called out to them and reassured them to not be afraid. Peter recognized the Lord, answered Him: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matthew 14:28).

Jesus beckoned to Peter to walk on the water towards Him. Peter, by faith, got out of the boat with the high waves all around him, and began to walk on the water. As Peter kept his eyes focused on the Lord, he stayed above water, but as soon as he placed his eyes on the wind and waves around him, he immediately began to sink. Peter called out to the Lord to save him! Jesus caught him and calmed the storm (Matthew 14:29-32).

When the enemy stirs up people to come against us, it is important to keep our eyes on the Lord. If we cloud our minds with doubt and listen to his lies, we start an internal storm in our hearts and begin to sink in discouragement.

The Christian's chief occupational hazards are depression
and discouragement.
~John R. W. Stott~

WEDNESDAY March 15, 2017

Rebuild Wall––Restored Status

Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

Nehemiah 2:17-18

Notice, Nehemiah was a good leader; he placed himself in the same distressful situation as the people. He was with them together, for the long haul––no matter how much time it would take to rebuild. Think about it––Nehemiah did not need to be in this difficult place, he could have stayed secure in a nice palace. But he heeded the call of God, and left everything behind to become joined with God’s people––that is the ministry.

Nehemiah began to instill hope in the lives of the people. He encouraged unity and gave them a renewed purpose––to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. In doing so, Nehemiah made them understand they would regain their status. Once they begun the work to rebuild the walls together, their enemies could no longer mock or harass them. They would be respected as a nation. Nehemiah, spiritually speaking would also rebuild the walls of the people’s lives––that is so important.

As Nehemiah brought them a good report, he was able to reassure the people. He relayed how God’s hand was on his life, as the Lord had given him great favor with King Artaxerxes, who had given him abundant provision. Nehemiah continued to unify the people so that they would be able to stand with him, to do the work of God. The people were greatly encouraged by Nehemiah’s leadership. But despite Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the walls, they would face strong opposition from their enemies.

Are you prepared to face opposition when doing the work of the Lord?

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
~Ephesians 6:10-11~

TUESDAY March 14, 2017

Bird’s-Eye View

And I [Nehemiah] went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

Nehemiah 2:13-16

Nehemiah proceeded to give an in-depth description of Jerusalem’s city’s walls. Nehemiah first needed to gain a bird’s-eye view of the scope and magnitude of what God had called him to do. He still remained silent and did not speak a word to anyone about his good intentions. God’s people were already depressed––if he had told them, they might have responded, “There is no possible way.” So, he prayed and waited on the Lord for the perfect time to let them know, what he was going to do.

Nehemiah would have to rely on the people to help him accomplish the work of God; he could not build the walls by himself. He would need faithful and loyal people to help undertake the task. As I get a little ahead in the story, how long did it take to complete the wall? It took only fifty two days to finish. Why? The reason the wall was accomplished so rapidly was they worked together in harmony. Everyone had a mind to work; they were unified; as the Spirit of God worked among them.

Loyal people are needed to accomplish the work of God. Nobody can have their own agenda. God will bring together a unified team with one vision and purpose––to get the job done!

If ten men are carrying a log — nine of them on the little end and one at the heavy end — and you want to help, which end will you lift on?
~William Borden~

FRIDAY April 14, 2017

A Day of Agony

And He, [Jesus] bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:17-19

Jesus has been betrayed, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and His disciples had fled––they scattered (Matthew 26:56), even though they said they would never leave Him (Matthew 26:35). Pilate, under pressure of the Jewish leaders, and the crowds, released to them a robber–– Barabbas (John 18:40). They rejected Jesus and shouted for His crucifixion: …they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Then Pilate took a basin of water and washed his hands in front of all the people and said: “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person…” (Matthew 27:24). But Pilate was guilty––the whole world is guilty! So many times we blame the Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion, but if we had been in the crowds, without knowing Him, we too would have cried out, “Crucify Him!”

This was to be a day of agony, for Christ. He was taken by a bunch of bitter, angry human beings and humiliated. They mocked and scourged Him. Then soldiers placed a crown of thorns on His head and a purple robe. Thorns, about three inches sharp were rammed into His skull, as they struck Him and mocked Him as the King of the Jews.

The Roman soldiers had already scourged Him with a leather whip that had attached animal’s teeth and pieces of metal. As they struck His back the whip wrapped around Him and ripped off His skin. He received thirty nine stripes––the number of mercy, forty is the number of judgment. By the time He carried His cross and got to Calvary He did not even look like a human being. He is my Master, my Lord, my Savior, and my King! He did this for us, for the sins of the world––Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16~

MONDAY March 13, 2017

Seal the Vision

So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.

Nehemiah 2:11-12

Nehemiah took some personal time to look around the city of Jerusalem. His survey of the city probably took him three days because he had never seen the full extent of the damage for himself. As Nehemiah observed the work that needed to be accomplished, he most likely thought to himself, “Lord, no wonder you spoke to my heart and I had such a great burden.” He knew rebuilding the walls was going to take a lot of work!

Then Nehemiah arose by night, with a few other men to examine the destruction of the walls as they went around the entire city. As Nehemiah viewed the repairs needed to be made, the devastation sealed the vision of God in his heart––the Lord totally confirmed what Nehemiah was called to accomplish. But he still had not told anybody, he had kept the plans to himself. Perhaps he would have been misjudged by these men he took with him? But he was excited to see what God was about to do.

God can speak to each one of us personally, about a work He desires for us to accomplish, but we need to go forward and take steps of faith to begin that work. As we pray and ask the Lord for wisdom, He will continue to give us confirmation. Often, God will give us confirmation through His Word, circumstances, a certain situation or through a person, who is in tune with the Holy Spirit, to speak to us.

Seriously, God can use any of these things to help seal the vision in our hearts. He gives to us a blessed assurance––a confidence that we are in line with His plans and purposes.

The inward testimony of conscience, the sealing of the conscience, the sealing of the Spirit ... far exceeds all the evidence of the senses.
~John Calvin~

SUNDAY March 12, 2017

Strong Opposition

When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.

Nehemiah 2:10

God had gone before Nehemiah and he would enable him to do a tremendous work in the city of Jerusalem––the doors were open for him and everything was proceeding as planned. But the people were in such distress they did not know what to do anymore. They had grown comfortable even in their difficult state and they needed a leader. God raised up Nehemiah and he had come to seek their well-being.

However, as Nehemiah unified the people, his enemies Sanballat and Tobiah opposed him. They became jealous and were upset about plans to do the work of God. They were selfish and self-centered, evil mockers, who depressed the people, and liked to keep them under their thumbs––they tried to lord it over God’s people.

Sanballat and Tobiah thoroughly set themselves against Nehemiah. They wanted the rebuilding of the city’s walls to be hindered. If possible, they would slow down Nehemiah’s vision to rebuild, so it could not be enhanced or continued. Tobiah was a rat and, as kin to the high priest, he readily leaked information to Sanballat and the others who were concerned about this new venture (Nehemiah 4:1-2). Sanballat and Tobiah would deliberately attempt to destroy the work of God. They hoped Nehemiah’s plans to rebuild the walls would just break apart. Then they could mock him further and say, “You tried but you failed.”

Satan is never happy when you try to do the work of God, especially if you are seeking the well-being of God’s people. Satan hates it––he is not happy at all. He will do anything in his power to slow down the work of God. He uses people like Sanballat and Tobiah, to fight against God’s people and hinder the plans of God.

Satan has no constructive purpose of his own: his tactics are simply to thwart God and destroy men.
~J. I. Packer~

SATURDAY March 11, 2017

A Straight Path

Then I [Nehemiah] went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me.

Nehemiah 2:9

Nehemiah became like a statesman. When he left the presence of King Artaxerxes, he had a straight path to do the work of God––he could move through any territory he traveled. The Lord had given Nehemiah traveling mercies, and the king had ensured that Nehemiah had all the provisions he needed; everything necessary to do God’s work. He never had to beg for anything, the Lord had gone before him––so cool.

Nehemiah was given large amounts of timber to build and divine protection. The king had sent his very own captains and horsemen along with Nehemiah. As Nehemiah arrived in the city of Jerusalem, the Lord had given him divine protection from any threatening assailants. God is not the author of confusion––this is exactly how the Lord works.

Understand, when God opens the doors to do His work, He protects us, and provides for all of our needs. Psalm 84:11 tells us: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians, when he said: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

God leads and guides our lives; He gave to us this promise: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye (Psalm 32:8-10). Each and every step of the way we must trust the Lord to direct us.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6~

FRIDAY March 10, 2017

By Divine Appointment

…and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

Nehemiah 2:8

Nehemiah knew God’s hand was on his life. He began to see all these doors open––God was providing for Nehemiah’s journey and he would be sent to Jerusalem by permission of King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah had the Lord’s assurance in his life, he could move forward, unhindered in his call to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

It is important to understand that whatever town or city we live in, we are there by divine appointment. We have to remember that God does not make mistakes; we are placed there at the right time and at the right place. But we have to be in tune with the Lord and what He wants to accomplish. God has a work to be done there and He expects us to submit our lives to Jesus Christ. If we do not yield to be used by Him, then He will use somebody else––plain and simple.

The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippian believers when he wrote to them. He said: being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

God is at work not only in our personal lives spiritually as He transforms us, sanctifies us and eventually completes our glorification, when we are with Him for all eternity; but He desires to accomplish His plans for us on earth.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~Jeremiah 29:11~

THURSDAY March 9, 2017

Absolutely No Compromise

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8

Daniel, at about twelve years old, was chosen along with his friends, and taken to Babylon as captives. Daniel became a key person in history; he was at the right place where God would use him. Daniel and his friends would be trained in Babylon, but they were never influenced by the Babylonian culture. Daniel, even though a young teenager, purposed in his heart not to eat the king’s food and drink. He would not compromise––he was determined to keep the Jewish traditions.

The Jews, even today, persist in their traditions. When it is time for prayer no matter where they are, they will put on their shawls and phylacteries as they face towards Jerusalem and pray. It shows their commitment and dedication to God; even though they do not recognize Christ as their Messiah.

Notice, when people want to change a culture they begin by changing the minds and hearts of the young children––that is how communism was accomplished. But Daniel left us a good example, of being in a foreign place where it would have been easy to compromise but he chose not to do so. It really proves that a person can live in an ungodly culture and not be changed. The Apostle Paul gave us this view of Christians in society:

that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15)

As Christians we can live in a corrupt world, in spiritual darkness but still purpose in our hearts not to compromise. How is this accomplished?

…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,
to fulfill its lusts.
~Romans 13:14~

WEDNESDAY March 8, 2017 Biblical Count Down Triggered! Nehemiah said, “…and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me. Nehemiah 2:8 Interestingly the first eight verses, in Nehemiah 2, were a trigger point to one of the greatest prophecies in the Bible––the seventh week of Daniel. In the past we have spoken about Leviticus 26; and Deuteronomy 28-30, where, the Lord, spoke about blessing and cursing to the children of Israel. God foreknew that the nation of Israel would enter into sin and apostasy. Israel, because of their disobedience, suffered and had gone into seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Then, as we reach Daniel 9; the seventy years of captivity were just about over, and the seventy week prophecy of Daniel was about to begin. The seventy week prophecy of Daniel 9 represents 490 years. This prophecy began with the command of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2:1. This command was given on March 14, 445 BC. According to Daniel’s prophecy after 483 years Messiah would be cut off. 483 years in their calendar would be 173,880 days. Counting 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC puts us at April 6, 32 AD, which was the Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem. What an incredible fulfillment of Bible prophecy! But there is one final week––the seventh week of Daniel, the 7 year period known as the Tribulation, which leads to the end of the world. Nehemiah was the one chosen to trigger the beginning of this prophecy––this amazing countdown! God also used Daniel. As the prophetic calendar unwinds, consider the condition of your spiritual life? Are you ready for the return of Christ? Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” ~Luke 21:28~

MONDAY March 6, 2017

Requests Fulfilled

Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Nehemiah 2:4-5

Artaxerxes––the heathen king recognized that Nehemiah was not depressed; He had discerned that it was something more, deep inside Nehemiah’s heart that was troubling him, which prompted him to ask: “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2). Nehemiah spoke and got right to the point. He told the king of the entire situation in Jerusalem. Then the king immediately responded and asked Nehemiah what he requested.

Notice, before Nehemiah even answered the king’s question, he continued to pray silently, in his own heart, to the Lord––as God knew all their needs. Nehemiah trusted that God would continue to go before him. Prayer had laid the ground work, and after four months, God opened heaven and answered Nehemiah’s prayer.

Once the king offered his assistance, Nehemiah knew a door of opportunity had been opened to him. Nehemiah was fully prepared to speak with authority, and share his heart with the king. The Lord had given Nehemiah favor and King Artaxerxes was touched by Nehemiah’s words.

The Lord works the same way today as He did in Nehemiah’s time. He moves on people’s hearts through prayer. God honors a person’s steps of faith as they move forward into the direction He has called them to take. Understand we do not need any new gimmicks in the Church or in our lives to do the work of God.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,
Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
~Proverbs 21:1~

SUNDAY March 5, 2017

Open Doors of Opportunity

Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?”

Nehemiah 2:2-3

Ever since Nehemiah had heard what had happened in Jerusalem, he had begun to pray. The walls were broken down, and the enemy was able to come in and destroy, the people of God, at will. Nehemiah’s concern for the people had caused him to pray, this was Nehemiah’s priority in life.

Nehemiah knew he would need huge amounts of money, resources and also man power to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. So, he continued to give himself over to prayer and fasting. He continued to pray for four months and his sadness was seen by the king, it was written all over his face. As a cupbearer to have a saddened countenance in the presence of the king could mean death.

Now, as we look at Nehemiah’s personal life again, we see how God began to answer his prayers. Circumstances around him were changing as the king asked, “Why is your face sad…” Nehemiah replied, “May the king live forever!” He reassured the king there was no conspiracy against his life. God, through prayer, had gone before Nehemiah; he was given an open door to speak to the king. Nehemiah spoke with authority about Jerusalem and the distress of the people.

Notice how Nehemiah had committed all these needs for the city and its people to prayer. He believed in the same philosophy of Calvary Chapel– “Where God guides God provides!” Maybe the reason God has not answered our prayers, and given us open doors of opportunity, is that we have failed to make prayer a continuous priority.

We dare not limit God in our asking, nor in His answering.
~John Blanchard~

SATURDAY March 4, 2017

Are You a Risk Taker?

And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before.

Nehemiah 2:1

Nehemiah, during the month of Nissan––the first month of the Jewish year, stood before King Artaxerxes with a sad countenance, he had placed himself in serious danger. When the king observed Nehemiah’s face and saw how sad he had become, he could have thought something was wrong. The king may have thought, why is Nehemiah not smiling–––could there be a plot? Despite the imminent danger Nehemiah trusted the Lord’s direction to do His work. Nehemiah was a man of faith; he believed in God and took the risk.

Joshua and Caleb were both risk takers. Following the command of Moses, they went to spy out the land of Canaan with ten other leaders. Even though the land was very fruitful, ten men came back with a fearful report. Giants were in the land and they felt like grasshoppers before them (Numbers 13:26-28; 31-33). God had promised the children of Israel the land (Exodus 3:17), and Joshua and Caleb trusted by faith, God’s promise. They gave a report that encouraged God’s people:

“The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

What kind of leader are you? Are you a risk taker––someone full of faith, which has fully placed their trust in the Lord?

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him.
~Hebrews 11:6~

FRIDAY March 3, 2017

Send Me

“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah, in his petition asked God for specific help. He needed God to bless his endeavors. Nehemiah prayed for the king’s heart to be turned favorably towards him as the king’s cup bearer and that he would be granted provision from the heathen king. What was Nehemiah ready to do? Nehemiah was willing to step out by faith, trusting God for His mercy, and that the Lord would prosper and provide for all of his needs.

Notice Nehemiah was not praying alone. He mentioned there was a remnant of people, who feared God’s name, also praying to the Lord for Israel’s spiritual restoration. According to Nehemiah 2:1, Nehemiah stayed silent for about three or four months. Nisan is the first month of the Jewish calendar, in the spring, which coincides with March and April.

Nehemiah’s humble prayer closed with an expression of confidence. He would wait on God’s perfect timing to bless him. Nehemiah, was neither sad nor depressed, he kept the joy and peace of God in his life while he waited. He was a straight shooter––an honest and forthright person who showed himself faithful in the small things. Now God would give him the greater things––an incredible mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

What about you and me, have we been faithful in the little things? Jesus after teaching a parable taught this important truth:

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities (Luke 16:10 NLT).

When we have been faithful in the little things, only then can God entrust us with His greater projects.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
~Isaiah 6:8~

WEDNESDAY March 1, 2017

Return to Me

“Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’”

Nehemiah 1:8-9

After worship and confession Nehemiah’s prayer turned into a time of humble petition. Nehemiah reminded the Lord of His words He spoke through Moses in Deuteronomy 4:27: And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. Also in Leviticus 26:33 and Deuteronomy 28:64-68, God had given them fair warning of the consequences of their disobedience.

Israel’s long list of blessings was conditional (Deuteronomy 28:3-14), they were contingent on their total obedience to God’s Word. The Lord had also warned them of the curses that would come upon them if they chose to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). So now once again, we understand clearly that the terrible circumstances they were experiencing were due to their disobedience. What God warned was exactly what He said would happen. Nehemiah, in his prayer, reminded the Lord of His promise given to His people to gather them and return them to their land:

Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." Ezekiel 11:17

Notice, God never intended to cast His people away. He promised them restoration. If you are in a backslidden state, know that the Lord loves you and desires that your life be fully restored. Why not return to the Lord today?

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.
~Zechariah 1:3~

TUESDAY February 28, 2017

Pray to Make a Difference

We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.

Nehemiah 1:7

As Nehemiah continued his prayer; he honestly acknowledged Israel’s sins and placed himself with the people’s offenses. Had Nehemiah acted corruptly? No––of course not, but in his petition he identified with the people and never placed himself above the people. Nehemiah, as an intercessor stood in the gap for Israel. God would answer Nehemiah’s petition and do a great work––amazing.

First, Nehemiah had praised God’s awesomeness and greatness. Second, he understood why the children of Israel were in such a terrible state and confessed: …we have sinned (Nehemiah 1:6). Many things Moses had instructed them from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, had been disobeyed.

God help us to learn from Nehemiah’s sincere and penitent prayer. We too can become a man or woman, who through prayer can make a big difference in the lives of so many other people. Seriously, when we hear of difficult situations in people’s lives, we would pray and petition the Lord on their behalf. As we continue to intercede, we must wait on the Lord to answer, knowing that He will direct us in a plan of action to assist them.

When should we pray and intercede for situations and other people?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us: pray without ceasing––which means to pray incessantly without intermission. In doing so you will need to find a time and place where there is absolutely no interruption. Why not make a determined commitment to pray unceasingly, at a specific time and set place each day?

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.
~ Corrie Ten Boom~

MONDAY February 27, 2017

Entering into Confession

And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.”

Nehemiah 1:5-6

We can learn so much from Nehemiah as he was a man of prayer. He began his prayer with worship as he acknowledged the greatness of God and not the greatness of himself––so important. Then Nehemiah entered into a time of confession before the Lord. He prepared his heart as he humbled himself before God and confessed Israel’s sins.

In Nehemiah’s prayer, it is clear that he understood God’s covenant and mercy. He acknowledged that through disobedience God’s people had broken His agreement. Nehemiah placed himself, with the people, when he confessed Israel’s sins; which was exactly how Daniel prayed (Daniel 9:3-5). It is so beautiful how this prayer developed in the mind and the heart of Nehemiah. He had entered into a continual time of prayerful confession day and night as he waited on God to answer his prayer.

In Nehemiah’s contrite confession, we see another important fundamental truth––the only person that can truly worship God is a person who is obedient to the Lord. The Samaritan woman, even though she had religious knowledge, needed to be a true seeker of God. Jesus directed her into the place of true worship; God must be worshipped in spirit and truth. She needed to deal with the issues of sin in her life (John 4:23-24).

Consider your own life––it is important to get your heart right with God through humility, and honest confession. Then learn to be persistent in your prayers until God answers.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,
and it shall be opened unto you.
~Matthew 7:7-8~

SUNDAY February 26, 2017

Resting, Weeping, Mourning and Fasting

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

Before Nehemiah did anything about the situation in Jerusalem he first went to the Lord. Nehemiah was a spiritual man; he sat down before the Lord, not because he was depressed but because spiritually-speaking, sitting––is a position of resting in the Lord. Nehemiah knew God would do the work through him. Second, he wept before God for the people. Nehemiah was a man of tears.

Nehemiah reminds me of the Apostle Paul, who prayed and wept for three different types of people. Paul’s tears were for the carnal person, the non-believer and for the false teachers. Third, Nehemiah mourned––he lamented. Fourth, Nehemiah fasts––he abstained from eating food. He realized that if this work of God was to be accomplished, he had to be stripped of self, there was to be nothing of himself.

Notice the different steps of spirituality as Nehemiah sought God’s perfect will. He prepared his heart completely before the Lord. Why? Nehemiah, as he poured out his heart and soul before the Lord, wanted to enter into a time of unhindered communication with God––to be an open channel to the Lord. Nehemiah was able to express his heart and petition honestly.

We can learn from Nehemiah, how to pray to the Lord. When was the last time you sat down before the Lord to weep, mourn, fast and pray out of a sincere love for a person? There are those who are no longer involved in the ministry. It should break our hearts to see their spiritual gifts and talents, wasted. We should desire to see them accomplish a work for the Lord. Weeping comes when you genuinely care about the work of God and restoration of those who have strayed away from the Lord.

Fasting is the voluntary denial of a normal function
for the sake of intense spiritual activity.
~Richard Foster~

SATURDAY February 25, 2017

Undertaking the Work of God

“The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

Imagine, in starting the work of God, Nehemiah took on a big undertaking. He would have to count the cost of being a leader. After he had heard Jerusalem was broken down, and its gates were burned with fire, he was willing to lead the people––they could not grow spiritually on their own. God had chosen Nehemiah, just as He had chosen other leaders in Israel’s past history, men such as––Jeremiah and Isaiah.

When God chooses leaders it is not so they can “Lord” over the people. A leader’s main objective is to guide others to the cross. This is where they will learn to grow and mature. Ministry can be very tiresome––every single day, you have to study, teach and sometimes travel. When the weather is beautiful and there is an opportunity to go to the beach often you have to deny yourself to study. In ministry you have to count the cost––that is the heart of a shepherd, even though exhausting––I love it.

When people come in for counseling there is a major problem. It soon becomes obvious that their house––the walls of their spiritual life are broken down. Why? They do not read their Bibles, pray or fellowship with other Christians. It does not matter what the sin issues are because their situations can all boil down to those three areas of their spiritual life.

If you are in church, listening to God’s Word and fellowshipping with other believers then you will remain, accountable. The Word of God will convict you of sin and as you pray your life is realigned with the Lord. If you are not doing those three important things, then what has replaced them? Who are you now fellowshipping with? Are those friendships pulling you away from Christ? Or are they leading you to the power of the cross––that is important. In rebuilding the walls of your life––God has to be first.

The cross is the resting place for sin, the tomb for self
and the throne for our fears.
~Harold St. John~

FRIDAY February 24, 2017

The Call of God

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

There is something in the book of Nehemiah for every Christian. God desires to use each and every one of us. Understand, people in ministry are no different than the common folks––God is not a respecter of persons. Ministry is a call of God and it is a great responsibility but I believe with all my heart, everything that we do in life is a call of God. A call of God can fall under your profession: a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, dentist, blue collar worker or whatever it may be––everyone has a call.

An occupation not only provides for the needs of your family, but it isa place where God has called you to be a major influence. If you are an employer you have to oversee and take care of your employees. So, seek to please God in whatever place He has you––it is a great responsibility. The Apostle Paul, in biblical times, addressed both the employer and employee. He gave them a good standard of Christian work ethics to live by (Ephesians 6:5-9); the key is to do …the will of God from the heart.

God is unique in that He calls those who, in the eyes of others, may not be that special or who they may consider weak, but God values everyone and uses the weak and insignificant:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty… (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

Can you comprehend the obvious reason why? So God gets the glory.

…that no flesh should glory in His presence.
~1 Corinthians 1:29~

THURSDAY February 23, 2017

Got Vision?

And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

Nehemiah––had a true vision from the Lord. Once he had heard the report from his brother of the people’s distress, and the terrible condition of the city, from that point on, he began to discern what God had called him to do. Nehemiah’s task was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem––how was this to be accomplished? God began to mold and shape the vision of Nehemiah and gave him a master plan of action. Nehemiah started to set the vision in motion with prayer.

In your own personal life you may have questioned, “How do I receive a vision–– a specific work from the Lord?” As in the life of Nehemiah, God has to speak to you––a specific ministry comes from Him. Once you have a vision for a task, then you will need a plan of action. How are you going to accomplish what God has called you to do? Completion of any vision must be planned and strategized, it just does not happen overnight.

In your master plan to do God’s work, you have to count the cost. If you were to build a house, you would have to research to see how much it would cost to accomplish the task. How are you going to accumulate the needed resources and building materials? Are you prepared to overcome the problems and the situations that will happen?

Make sure you know exactly what God has called you to complete; then fulfill the ministry He has given to you. Remember, God chooses a unique man or woman, to be in the right place at the right time––it is not by coincidence that you are in a certain area for His master plan. If you have a vision and are called to fulfill a task in God’s kingdom, then Jesus Christ must be the foundation of that work. Otherwise you have no vision.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 3:11~

WEDNESDAY February 22, 2017

George Washington’s Birthday

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits,the God of our salvation! Selah

Psalm 68:19

Psalm 68 is a song of praise to the God of Israel. His people acknowledged and expressed their gratitude to the Lord who provided, protected and in His divine providence led them. He was their God and they were His people (Deuteronomy 14:2). The Jewish nation was to be a spiritual light to the surrounding nations. God in His love and providence provided a way for all nations to come to know of His salvation: I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).

Christianity began with Christ: …the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The Gentiles––heathen nations, were shown the grace of God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ––amazing! Through receiving salvation, they became grafted into a Jewish lineage (Romans 11:11, 17). The Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom and Christianity spread. America became founded upon Christian principles and our first President––one of the Founding Fathers, George Washington was a Christian.

The United States has been blessed by the Lord. We need to continue to acknowledge the Lord for His provision, protection and His divine providence in leading this nation. We must never forget that He is the God of our salvation. Seriously, we also need to be diligent as parents and grandparents to pass down to our children and our grandchildren the knowledge of God, His infinite character and His ways to them. Why? Sadly, the knowledge of God is no longer taught in our schools––can you believe that?

What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favors.
~George Washington~

TUESDAY February 21, 2017

In the City of Our God

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God,in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge.

Psalm 48:1-2

If you want to get the full picture of the beloved city of Jerusalem, there are psalms that are very descriptive and expressive of not only the city’s beauty but its devastation. In Psalm 48:12-13 the beauty of the city was encouraged to be viewed; what was seen was so magnificent that its glorious description should be passed down to the next generation:

Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following.

Imagine the glory of the temple in the time of Solomon. The smoke you could see from the temple mount as the sacrifices were made and the beautiful Shekinah glory as the Lord came to that place––amazing. But in Psalm 79 we see the opposite depiction of the city’s full destruction:

O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of Your servants They have given as food for the birds of the heavens…Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to those who are around us.

People reflect on past glories–– but they are not doing anything currently. What is God doing in your life today? Has the enemy laid waste to your life and you find yourself in need of restoration?

O LORD God, invincible warrior, restore us! Smile on us!
Then we will be delivered!
(Psalm 80:19 NET Bible)

MONDAY February 20, 2017

Survivors in Great Distress

And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:3

The people of God were greatly distressed. Even though they lived in the city of Jerusalem, they were not right spiritually and the city remained wasted. Nehemiah was used like a type of the Holy Spirit. He came to assist and help rebuild the peoples’ lives. First, we see there was a remnant in Jerusalem ––about fifty thousand Jews had returned to the city––a relatively small number. Second, we see the ruin––the city was such a mess. Third, the people suffered reproach, their condition was one of constant shame and disgrace––they were despised by their enemies.

Before the people were taken captive they were farmers but in Babylon they had become infected by the world system. They became excellent business people and lived comfortably with all their wealth. God wanted to restore the place of worship in Jerusalem but as they returned to their homeland, their priorities were messed up. As they sowed and reaped from the land, they became more concerned about making money.

Remember, through the prophet Haggai, God reminded His people to consider their ways––the Lord allowed their money to blow away as if a hole was in the bottom of their money bags. They needed to realize that from sun up to sundown they were not gaining ground financially. Then God used Zerubbabel to stir the people to rebuild the temple and Ezra to bring spiritual reform. Now God would use Nehemiah to rebuild the wall.

Life can be hard––many people are in great distress. They try to survive, often living from pay-check to pay-check. But it is good to examine our lives to see if spiritually our priorities are on track. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts, comforts and assists us in rebuilding our lives.

It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince,
and then to comfort.
~Matthew Henry~

SUNDAY February 19, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events

…and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:2

According to biblical prophecy, Jerusalem was a very important capital. The Babylonians made three sieges against Jerusalem, and then took God’s people into captivity. Seventy years of judgment was determined against Israel. These series of unfortunate events, take us back to Deuteronomy 28-30, where we find the reason for these seventy years and why they needed to be fulfilled.

God’s chastisement also came because God’s people failed to keep the Sabbath years––their hearts were greedy. The people were to work the land six years, and then on the seventh year, they were to let the land rest. In doing so, the land would not be over worked and the poor could eat (Exodus 23:10-11). Over a four hundred and ninety year period they had not kept seventy of the Sabbath years. They had also worshipped other gods––which God had warned them not to do (Judges 2:11-15). Due to their direct disobedience they went into captivity for seventy years.

God had warned both the Southern and Northern Kingdoms of Israel but they did not listen. In 722 B.C. the Northern Kingdom first went into captivity; and then two hundred and twenty years later, the Southern Kingdom also went into captivity. Now, both Jerusalem and the Jews were desolate. There was no place for their feasts, and their enemies went in and out because they had no walls of protection. The people had to come to a place where they understood they had sinned against God.

This whole scenario gives to us a picture of the life of a person who has left their God. You see, their spiritual walls are broken down and they are left unprotected before the enemy. It is important to understand that we must first acknowledge and confess our sins, before God can rebuild our lives. Only then can He wash and cleanse us from sin and do a brand new work.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
~1 John 1:9~

SATURDAY February 18, 2017

A Sincere Inquiry

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

In order to understand the book of Nehemiah, you must read the books of––Ezra, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These books go hand in hand with Nehemiah’s book. They help us see the whole picture of what happened in God’s master plan. As we return back to the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah, we see that Nehemiah was in Shushan, the citadel–– the capital city of Persia.

The book starts in the month of Chislev––which corresponds with November and December, in the twentieth year, during 445 B.C. which is a very important date. Why? The date aligns itself with April 6, 32 A.D. in the book of Daniel. This period begins the four hundred and ninety years that God spoke about. Chronologically, everything has to do with the seventy week of Daniel; along with the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. Understand that Nehemiah is not just another book; it ties up everything in the Old Testament and the New Testament prophetically.

Hanani, enters the city, with other men of Judah. It is believed that he was Nehemiah’s actual brother. Notice Nehemiah’s sincere inquiry, he wanted to hear about the city of Jerusalem and how his brethren were doing. He wanted to be informed about their welfare. Why? He cared about their lives.

As Christians we should not be so concerned about our own comforts but look to other people’s welfare. When was the last time you made a sincere inquiry about another person to see how they were doing?

Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
~1 Corinthians 10:24~

FRIDAY February 17, 2017

Are You Getting Involved?

“O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah was different than most people because as he heard from his brother of the people’s situation in Jerusalem, he became moved with compassion. As compassion filled his heart he was ready to go––send me. Notice, right then, from the hand of God Nehemiah received His ministry. From that time forward, Nehemiah prayed that God would open the door and move the heart of the King Artaxerxes to send him and provide all he needed (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah realized the seriousness of the situation, accepted the responsibility and took on the task. He then did four major things, he mourned, wept, fasted and prayed––interesting (Nehemiah 1:4). He became immediately involved in the work of the Lord; ready to fulfill his mission fully and completely.

Do you ever think about believers who are uncommitted today? People just do not want to get involved, but God has called them to be involved with Him in the work of God. How about you? Do you have that sense of responsibility to do what God has called you to fulfill? Have you realized the seriousness of situations around you? Do you have compassion like Jesus when He saw the weary and scattered people? (Matthew 9:36).

Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes and ears to the needs of people and as God speaks to your heart get involved. Do not miss out on what God intended to do with your life. The heart of God––is what we need.

We are fit for the work of God only when we have wept over it, prayed about it, and then we are enabled by Him to tackle the job
that needs to be done.
~Alan Redpath~

THURSDAY February 16, 2017

Let us Build the Wall

“Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”

Nehemiah 2:17

Now, as we leave the short survey of Haggai and return back to the book of Nehemiah, we will see that the main primary motive of Nehemiah, as he returned to Jerusalem, was for God to give to him the capacity of leadership. The whole key was for God to use him as a leader to build the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s journey to Jerusalem was not just to view the city or to make for himself a name. The whole purpose was for God to accomplish His work.

Nehemiah would rebuild the wall so that the people could immediately return back to the priority of worship and they could have safety from their enemies. Nehemiah sincerely cared about the people and had a burden from the Lord to begin and finish the task of rebuilding the city’s wall.

Jerusalem was an important place for the Jews––it was a place where God met His people. In captivity, as they experienced deep sorrow in their remembrance of the city, they sung this tearful song:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion… For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song… “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? …If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy (Psalm 137:1-6).

Earlier, Daniel, in Babylon opened his window; faced Jerusalem and prayed three times a day. Both Daniel and Nehemiah had their priorities right before the Lord. Once again, is God the first priority in your life?

[Daniel] in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
~Daniel 6:10~

WEDNESDAY February 15, 2017

The Cost of Living

“Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:10

Imagine, everything the Lord did was to get His people’s full attention. He withheld the rain and all the earths plenteous produce. God was the One who brought the drought, famine and their bankruptcies. Why? The temple of the Lord was in ruins and they had not prioritized their lives.

If you are experiencing problems in your life it may be that God is trying to get your attention as if to say, look up, keep your eyes on Me and worship Me––God desires to establish His priorities in the life of the believer. We often get ourselves in trouble when we take our eyes off the Lord.

In the future Tribulation period, there will be the same kind of anguish and problems that the Jewish people were having, at this time in the book of Haggai. Christians will be taken in the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), but those left behind have not seen anything yet––they will begin to feel the rising costs of living. Financially things will continue to get out of control just as God said it would happen.

There has to be a world-wide financial catastrophe that will give way to the Antichrist, and the establishment of the one world government. The Antichrist will manipulate and control the world. The reason God brings the Tribulation period is so people will look up and worship God. But He will continue His work through the Jewish people and those who will be saved during the Tribulation period (Revelation 6-19).

Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
~Revelation 6:6~

TUESDAY February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

John 15:13

Historically, Valentine’s Day or as some still refer––Saint Valentine’s Day, has its first origins in a historical account of martyrdom. The story is told of a Roman priest named Saint Valentine. The Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II, banned soldiers from marriage if they had not fulfilled their military duties and persecuted Christians. Valentine assisted them both; he performed marriages against the order of the state and aided Christians.

Valentine was then imprisoned, tortured and beaten. Finally, he stood before the Emperor and refused to renounce his Christian faith. Valentine was beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D. Since then, the Christian Church has set aside February 14, as a day to commemorate Saint Valentine.

However, it was thought that Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet from 14th century England was attributed with modernizing the version of Saint Valentine’s Day to express romantic love. During this medieval period when men treated women with chivalry and courtly love, on Valentine’s Day they gave them love notes and flowers. Valentine’s Day has spread all over the world to become a happy occasion in which love is still expressed by the giving of cards, candy and flowers.

Yet, God has ultimately showed us His divine love through the sacrifice of His own Son––Jesus Christ: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus Christ, for our salvation and forgiveness of sins, died a brutal death. The Romans tortured, mocked and crucified Him. Knowing that Jesus demonstrated His love towards you in such a sacrificial way, what do you think should be your response towards Him?

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
~1 John 4:10~

MONDAY February 13, 2017

Gone With the Wind

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house…”

Haggai 1:9

God, through the message given to Haggai, gave a clear reason why His people had continually failed to prosper: Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. The priorities of the people of God were all messed up. Now we can see a clearer picture of why everything was such a mess in Jerusalem.

Remember when Nehemiah’s brother came to him with the distressing news? He had told Nehemiah that even though the people had returned from captivity they were not worshipping the Lord, and to make matters worse every day they were being harassed by their enemies––there was absolutely no protection (Nehemiah 1:3).

Now, mark this important phrase in your own Bible––I blew it away.

Consider how much you work, almost all your life and you try to save and place the money away in the bank. But in the end it all blows away and becomes nothing. Understand that when your priorities are not right and your focus is on making money––God blows your finances away! Why? The problem is worship; we are not in tune with the Lord; we place our own interests before the Lord’s.

Also take into consideration that if your priorities are a mess then you will become an open target for the enemy to attack. Why? There is no protection from the enemy without a spiritual life. Again, consider your own life; are you being harassed by the enemy? Then take a look at your spiritual life.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves
through with many sorrows.
~1 Timothy 6:10~

SUNDAY February 12, 2017

Lincoln’s Birthday

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Psalm 33:12

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He later was elected the 16th President of the United States in 1861. Interestingly––Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican to win the presidency over an immensely divided Democratic Party. He won despite only receiving forty percent of the popular votes.

Abraham Lincoln hoped that he would be used by God to bring a divided nation together under one Union, the Constitution and the freedoms for which the people had endured this great civil struggle. On February 21, 1861in his speech to the New Jersey Senate, President Lincoln said:

“…I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

Today in America, despite the obvious division from within the Democratic Party, Donald J. Trump, is the 45th President of the United States of America. He will need our prayers to lead this great country. It is important for our children and grandchildren that the Constitution, our country’s freedoms and Christian liberties be upheld. We must never forget that men and women have fought and died to keep our nation free.

Many hope that under the Trump administration, our ties with Israel would be strengthened. They are after all, God’s chosen people and as such, we should bless them with our support, prayers and loyalty.

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
~Genesis 12:3~

SATURDAY February 11, 2017

The Peace of God

…the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet…

Haggai 1:3

What do Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel and Haggai have in common? They all served the Lord with the knowledge that God had spoken to them by His Word or He had placed a burden on their hearts. Each one of them knew exactly what God had called them to do. They had the peace of God as they obeyed Him, despite any opposition. God’s mission––His purposes in their lives became their greatest priority.

Priorities are so important in the life of the believer. Therefore, I have to repeat the same questions that I asked earlier “Are you in the center of God’s will in the place where God wants you to be?” Also, “What task has God called you to accomplish in your lifetime?” One way to know and be sure you are in God’s perfect will is to ask yourself, “Do I have the peace of God?” So simple, I love it. If you do not have any peace given to you by the Lord, then again, examine your life.

It is so important to understand that before you have the peace of God you must receive the grace of God. Notice how the Apostle Paul, in His greeting, addressed the Christians in the church at Corinth: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Why does Paul mention grace before peace? In the New Testament we have received grace through Jesus Christ; we are not under the Law––God’s covenant with His people. God, through Jesus Christ has established a new covenant of grace: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Do you have God’s grace and peace in your life? If you accept Christ into your life, then you will be given both.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God
and of Jesus our Lord (KJV).
~1 Peter 1:2~

FRIDAY February 10, 2017

A Repetitive Rebuke

“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

Haggai 1:6

Notice, God’s people were working all day long but their bank accounts were empty. The more they spent on themselves the less they had. Imagine that––a bag with holes. Why? God let them know the reason; the whole thing was their priorities. They were neglecting the work of God. The Lord instructed His people in what they should do and then stopped to repeat the same repetitive rebuke:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD (Haggai 1:7-8).

For the Lord to be honored and glorified the people needed to have the right priorities. What about the Church today? Are we, as God’s people placing Him first on the list of our priorities? So many people earn and spend so much money but in the end they say their money is gone. They do not understand where it has all disappeared to. They have money to eat but it is barely enough to cover all the bills. Perhaps in some cases families are spending above their needs? Instead of overspending do we know how to be content?

Seriously, we need to rethink our priorities and place God first even in our finances. Every person needs to consider if they are being obedient in tithing to the Lord. The Lord promises to maintain us (Malachi 3:10). Otherwise, if we choose not to be obedient in our giving, the faster we earn our wages the faster it will disappear.

….for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
~Philippians 4:11~

THURSDAY February 9, 2017

Consider Your Ways!

Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”

Haggai 1:5

Notice, Haggai does not respond to the people with his words, but he waits on the Lord to speak. God through the prophet asked a legitimate question: “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (Haggai 1:3). Do you think it is right for you to have everything you want but neglect the most important thing––that is, My house? Therefore, God called them to consider their ways.

God, through asking this question, desired to align His will with the will of His people. Think about it––they would have to stop and think about the question God had asked them. It gave them the time to think, meditate, concentrate and then they had the opportunity to answer the question. Why did God allow them this time? The Lord had caused them to examine their lives––there was no way of getting around it, they had to.

In Revelation 2:21, God spoke to the Church of Thyatira: And I gave her space to repent… God had given a space of time to repent from sin. God always gave a space for people to repent. I can see that space of time, right here, in this question that God gave to His people in Haggai 1:3.

God’s thought provoking question can apply to us today (Haggai 1:3). Man is always interested more in himself rather than the things of the Lord. We are also called by the Lord to consider our ways. When was the last time you took an honest inventory of your life? As you examine yourself, see if you have been neglectful in your relationship with the Lord. Meditate and concentrate on Isaiah 55:8-9. God has given us a space of time to repent of any ways that are contrary to His Word.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts
than your thoughts.
~Isaiah 55:8-9~

WEDNESDAY February 8, 2017

Sending a Wake-up Call

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Haggai 1:3

God sent Haggai to give a wake-up call to His people. Why? They could not see that their priorities were distorted. All that mattered to them was their money, wives, children, and the comfort found in their beautiful paneled houses. All those earthly comforts blinded them from what mattered most, the place of greatest importance––God’s house, which lay in ruins. Once set free from captivity the people were to build their temple, a place of worship but it was neglected and totally torn down.

When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, He taught His disciples to have the right priorities. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Notice, that in context, Jesus had basically given the exact message as Haggai. Jesus spoke about not being anxious for food, clothes and all their earthly necessities in life.

Then the Lord focused the disciple’s attention on what should always be their first and right priority––God’s kingdom and true worship. Jesus taught the woman by the well that: God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

It is so important that we understand this concept of worship. Our lives are not to be spent with the main priority of building our own kingdom but building God’s kingdom. How can we be the people of God’s kingdom when we do not make the time to worship our King? Check your priorities by answering this question: “Where do you prefer to be every Sunday morning, in God’s house to worship the King? Or do you prefer to remain in the comfort of your own home?” Understandably some people have to work, but if not, your answer should tell you where your true priorities lie.

Let us go into His tabernacle;
let us worship at His footstool.
~Psalm 132:7~

TUESDAY February 7, 2017

Called to Worship God

…I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.

Daniel 9:16-17

In Daniel 9:16-17, once again, we find the main reason why God allowed His people to be taken into captivity. The consequences of their sin had caused them to be so far away from Jerusalem–– their center to worship their God. How they must have wept and cried, they could no longer meet with God in the temple. The whole situation was centered on the worship of God. Now, Daniel earnestly prayed to the Lord and said:

We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land (Daniel 9:5)

Notice how Daniel identified with the people’s sins and included himself; as he confessed the people’s sins. Daniel continued his prayer to the Lord. He asked the Lord to forgive and have mercy towards the city of Jerusalem and its people (Daniel 9:6-19).

Incredibly, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells Christians where God dwells in their lives: do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? When you put this truth into perspective, examine the walls of your own life. Is your temple in total collapse, desolate and in desperate need of repair?

…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
~1 Peter 2:5~

MONDAY February 6, 2017

A Rebuke to Carnal People

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Haggai 1:3-4

In the first return from captivity about fifty thousand reentered the land; but notice how easy it was for them to return back to their same routine and forget God. Those wealthy among the people were living in their beautiful paneled houses. This became more of a priority to them, than the urgency to build God’s house. The people had become selfish, and when that happened the rich got richer and the poor became poorer.

Imagine, as they resettled in Jerusalem, they quickly forgot the hardships they had suffered as a captive in Babylon. Those that had plenty of food and prospered chose to forget about their God. The Lord had already warned them about the loss of this first priority once they prospered (Deuteronomy 8:11-20). Amazingly––Haggai, at this time in history, became the man of the hour who God had called upon to proclaim a strong rebuke to His people.

How many times do we see people who do not want to rebuild their lives in the Lord? They have become carnal people, living for their own benefit as they yield to their fleshly desires. These people have become like the Corinthians, who were carnal and not spiritual. The Apostle Paul needed to rebuke them. He hoped that his epistles to the Corinthian Church would cause them to repent of their carnality (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

It is important to know that if you choose a life of carnality you will be wiped out––spiritually speaking. I urge you to read over Paul’s two epistles written to the Corinthians. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any carnality. Then begin to rebuild your lives according to God’s Word.

For to be carnally minded is death,
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
~Romans 8:6~

SUNDAY February 5, 2017

Are You A Team Player?

In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’”

Haggai 1:1-2

The book of Haggai takes us back to the first return of the people from captivity. We can learn so much from what the prophet Haggai has to say even though the book has only two chapters. Within the first verse, the prophet Haggai gave to us the background dates of when God began to fulfill this prophecy. Previously, I had mentioned that this book is all about priorities and how God’s people did not have their priorities in order.

The Lord heard what the people had said and spoke to His prophet: “This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.’” God’s people gave themselves an excuse for not building God’s house. They were completely disobedient to what the Lord had originally called them to do once they were back in the land––build the temple of the Lord.

Notice, how each of the men mentioned in Haggai 1:1-2 were called of God to play a big part in the work of the Lord. God had aligned these key people to create a dedicated team together. Each person had a specific task. God’s prophet received a message from the Lord and communicated it to the people; the priest encouraged the people in their giving to the work of rebuilding, and the governor established the political policies for the people. God set a chain of command to accomplish everything He intended to do for Israel.

Can you be counted on to be a good team player as you join with other men and women called by God to build His kingdom?

Winning teams have players who make things happen.
~John C. Maxwell~

SATURDAY February 4, 2017

Aligned with God’s Purposes

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

This was the third time the children of Israel had returned back from captivity and resituated themselves in Jerusalem. In the book of Ezra we read how they began to rebuild the temple and fortify the city. But even then, the people were still not completely in submission to the will of God.

However, Nehemiah like Ezra was a man in complete submission to the will of God. He immediately and quickly aligned himself with the Lord’s purposes––he did not waste any time. Even though Nehemiah had not been to Jerusalem to see with his own eyes the situation in the city, he knew God had called him to the task of rebuilding the city’s walls.

When we do not align ourselves with God’s purposes nothing will get accomplished. This is never God’s fault; any failure is due to a man’s disobedience, by not aligning themselves with the Lord’s purposes. Yet, God never loses out––we lose out on what God had intended to do through our lives. God always finds another man or a woman to use. He will wait until that person becomes obedient to His call.

I often remind people about the elderly sitting in rest homes today. They know God, but in their minds they struggle with the knowledge, that they never accomplished the purposes of God. Think about yourselves, if that was you, when you get old, just sitting in a rest home. What if you did not accomplish what God had called you to do? Sadly, you will suffer a lot of guilt and regret, knowing God could have tremendously blessed you as He used your life. Why not align yourself with the purposes of God today?

I delight to do Your will, O my God,
and Your law is within my heart.
~Psalm 40:8~

FRIDAY February 3, 2017

A Man with Priorities

…that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:1-3

Nehemiah was born in Persia he had never been to Jerusalem. His own brother, as an eye witness, told Nehemiah what had happened to the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem when they returned from captivity. He gave Nehemiah such a distressing report—details of everything the Jewish people were experiencing. Nehemiah, from that time forward became a man with priorities. He was a man with a mission, aligned with God’s plans in this particular place and period of history.

Nehemiah’s character is very important to study because we must relate what we have learned to our own lives practically. In fact, there is a very important and practical question for each of us to answer, “What has God called you to accomplished and fulfill in your life time?” Once we have become born again (John 3), we become a part of God’s kingdom. God calls each of us to accomplish a task in ministry for a specific purpose.

This is why it is important to understand the significance of being a man or a woman with priorities. Without priorities in your life you will never accomplish your God-given mission. While there is still opportunity you should align yourself with God’s schedule. I have spoken to people in rest homes who live with the constant regret because they did not accomplish what God has called them to do. Do not miss out on what God intends for your life––He desires to use and bless each and every one of us.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
~Matthew 6:33~

THURSDAY February 2, 2017

Ready for the Rapture?

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

We have now completed a thorough, historical background study of the book of Nehemiah. We began in the book of Exodus, when Israel made an exodus from Egypt, until to the rebuilding of the walls, in the book of Nehemiah. Then we continued our study through to the book of Malachi and reached the four hundred years of silence. We carried on into the book of Matthew and reviewed the genealogies that weaved throughout biblical history up until the birth of Christ.

Now we are returning to the book of Nehemiah; where we find Nehemiah, in the winter palace of Persia, taking care of the king Artaxerxes as his cup bearer. Historically when King Artaxerxes gave the commandment for Nehemiah to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, on March 14, 445 B.C. that event began the development of the whole prophecy of the seventieth week of Daniel.

What is the seventieth week of Daniel? This period of history is the last seven years of earth’s history in the future––the last days. Once the fulfillment of the time of the Gentiles ends (Luke 21:24, 25), and the rapture of the Church happens––these prophetical events lead into the seventieth week of Daniel, also known as the Great Tribulation period. This period begins with a peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27), and the Anti-Christ is revealed (Daniel 11:31). Millions of Jews will be murdered. The rest flee to Petra and the Lord protects them (Matthew 24:15-22; Revelation 12:6). This time period ends with the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). The rapture is the next prophetical event to happen. Are you ready for when the Lord returns for His Church?

…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
~1 Corinthians 15:52~

THURSDAY March 2, 2017

The Redeemed

Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

Nehemiah 1:10

Israel, at the time of Nehemiah, had forgotten the primary importance of worshipping their God––who had redeemed them. Nehemiah reiterated the sense of belonging; these were God’s people, His purchased possession, who served Him. Nehemiah voiced their miraculous history. God, the great I AM, by His mighty power had rescued them from their cruel bondage in Egypt. Psalm 136:10-15 describes God’s mercy towards His people in His great deliverance of them from Egypt:

To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, for His mercy endures forever; and brought out Israel from among them, …with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm… to Him who divided the Red Sea in two… and made Israel pass through the midst of it… but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea…

It is very important to remember where the Lord has taken us from and to reflect on what He has done for each of us. Think on your own life before you accepted Christ as your Savior; when you lived a life of sin and bondage. How did the strong and mighty hand of the Lord redeem your life?

I believe with all my heart that we need to take the necessary time to thank the Lord for what He has done. As we live our lives, we need to continue to glorify Him. He has given us spiritual freedom (John 8:36).

Therefore we should not only remember what the Lord has done for us but pray for opportunities to share and tell others of His redeeming work in our lives.

Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story––those he redeemed
from the hand of the foe.
~Psalm 107:2 NLT~

WEDNESDAY February 1, 2017

Compassion Brings Revival

…hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You.

Nehemiah 1:6

In our introduction to the book of Nehemiah, I had mentioned how Nehemiah cared for the people. It is important to fully understand what transpired through Nehemiah’s heart of compassion. Through his compassion God brought about a revival among His people.

Nehemiah was a man well acquainted with God’s character. Historically He knew how God showed compassion towards His people in their past:

…in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst… (Nehemiah 9:19-20).

Before God starts a new work, he will choose a person who has compassion for people––through this person God can begin the work of a true revival. God will raise up a compassionate man and place a burden on his heart––a call to do a special task in ministry.

God will use a person to build His Church if they are compassionate towards His people. If you really do not care about God’s people or the kingdom of God, He will use somebody else. Is compassion a lacking quality in your Christian character? If so, do an in-depth study of God’s compassion found in the Scriptures. Humbly ask the Lord to give you a heart of compassion. Then God will use you to build His kingdom.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23~

TUESDAY January 31, 2017

The Lord of History

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

Daniel 2:20-21

Malachi prophesied during or shortly after the time of Nehemiah. After Malachi’s prophecy the Old Testament comes to an end. Then begins the four hundred years of silence, where the Lord does not speak to His people through His prophets. During this period the Medes and Persians ruled and governed Israel. After these kingdoms the Grecian king Alexander the Great conquered the world. After his reign the Romans ruled the ancient world for centuries.

It is interesting historically to break down the different years these kingdoms ruled. First we see that Babylonians ruled for seventy years. Secondly the Grecians arose and become conquers for another two hundred years. Thirdly the Medo-Persians ruled and occupied Israel for another two hundred years. Fourthly came the Romans; they ruled for a span of about fifteen hundred years.

The story of the Gospel is incredible; it weaves its way through all these historical kingdoms of the ancient world, into four hundred years of silence. God breaks this silence when He sent the angel Gabriel to speak to Zacharias and Mary. After all these years, God was going to do a new work among His people––the Messiah, Jesus Christ would come.

The New Testament book of Matthew begins with genealogies that lead to the Christ. Interestingly, five women are written in Jesus’ lineage, it shows to us God’s grace and redemption. Historically, Jesus Christ has made it so easy for us to understand the Gospel.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. ~Matthew 1:17~

MONDAY January 30, 2017

Wait on the Lord

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1

While Ezra began to bring reform to God’s people, Nehemiah was still in Persia as a cup bearer in the king’s court. Nehemiah was willing to lay down his life for the king by tasting his food and drink. If anything was poisoned he would be first to die (Nehemiah 1:11). Nehemiah’s position next to the king was a trusted place of preeminence. It gave him much responsibility and authority. He was in a place where he could hear everything that was going on within the kingdom.

Nehemiah, from his own brother, heard a distressing report concerning the Jews in Jerusalem. As I mentioned previously, Nehemiah was a man who cared for the people in distress. What did he do with the information he just received? Nehemiah kept the news to himself. He did not tell anybody of the concerns that troubled his mind and heart. He stripped away self as he fasted, mourned and prayed.

God heard Nehemiah’s prayer and the Lord touched the heart of king Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was able to share his heavy burden with the king. Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah financial aid, his protection and the necessary time to complete the task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s life is an amazing story for all of us to learn from how God works in a person’s life. If only we would pray and wait upon God. Then the Lord will accomplish the desires He has placed in our hearts––God will lead you into His perfect plan for your life––amazing, amazing.

Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me.
~Micah 7:7~

SUNDAY January 29, 2017

Prepare for Reform

And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. On the first day of the first month he began his journey from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ezra 7:8-10

The Prophet Habakkuk is concerned because he cannot see anything happening in retribution for the sins of God’s people (Habakkuk 1:1-4). God told him that Chaldeans from Babylon (Habakkuk 1:6-11) were going to invade as an instrument of God’s chastisement and fulfill His purposes. Habakkuk went up into the watchtower to see what God was going to do (Habakkuk 2:1).

In Ezra 1-6 the Jewish captives returned to the land of Israel. God then raised up Ezra, a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses to help bring reform to the people (Ezra 7-10). Artaxerxes king of Persia granted Ezra leave. Before setting out to accomplish this great work for the Lord, we see Ezra as a man who first prepared his heart and sought the Lord. The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, he continued his ministry for about thirty years. He continued his ministry alongside Nehemiah who had arrived to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra relied on the Lord and was able to accomplish God’s will.

Ezra’s character is a good role model for husbands and fathers. Is your home in need of spiritual reform? Men, as the spiritual leaders of their homes must prepare their hearts to seek the Lord. Then God can use husbands and fathers to make spiritual reforms in their own homes. God will enable them to minister to their wives and teach their children God’s Word. Then they can also become great role models for others to follow. When should they begin to reform? Why wait? Like Ezra, just do it!

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for
Me with all your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:13~

SATURDAY January 28, 2017

Business as Usual

Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!”

Haggai 1:3-5

Under the authority of King Cyrus of Persia, about fifty thousand Jews returned back into their land. But there was a big problem––their lives became business as usual. Haggai was written to these people and is a book of priorities. The people had forgotten their first priority––God. They had no desire to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Instead their first priority was to rebuild their own beautiful paneled houses. It was obvious that rebuilding the temple was on the bottom of their list. Where was their desire to build a place to meet with God and have true worship?

In Babylon the Jews had become great business people. Making money was their main priority. But it seemed the more they made financially the more it disappeared. It was as if God had placed a hole in the bottom of their money bags—their money just flew away (Haggai 1:6).

America is a very prosperous nation and many people have become successful and gained much wealth. There is nothing wrong with having money but what kind of stewards have we become with our finances? Is our first priority to spend our wealth on ourselves? What about the house of the Lord–our place of worship? Biblically, giving to the Lord is an act of worship and a test of our obedience. Malachi 3:10 prioritizes tithing:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse… try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”

If you are not giving to the Lord consider changing your priorities.

If we would have God open his treasury, we must open ours.
~Thomas V. Moore~

FRIDAY January 27, 2017

A Word to the Wise

O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…

Daniel 9:22-23

Daniel was a wise man of understanding and in his old age, while he prayed and studied the Scripture passages of Jeremiah, he realized that seventy years of Israel’s captivity was just about over (Daniel 9:1). Incredibly, the next biblical event to happen was for God to release his people. At this time, God’s people were still in captivity under the Persian Empire, as the Babylonian empire had fallen––defeated by Persia.

In biblical history what nations did God use to chasten His people? It was the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian and the Roman Empire. These were the major nations of the world to chastise the people of God. Interestingly, in the last days––end times, God is once again going to use the revived Roman Empire (Daniel 7-8). Everything in Scripture fits perfectly together like a puzzle––it is just a matter of time.

Daniel was steadfast and fervently prayed to God. He interceded for Israel. Daniel not only confessed the people’s sins, but in humility, identified himself with the sins of the people. He understood that because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to the Lord, they had been scattered near and far throughout the nations (Daniel 9:7-16).

Daniel prayed for God’s forgiveness and waited upon God to answer. The angel Gabriel came and told Daniel what was going to happen in the fulfillment of the seventy–week’s prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27). Already God had in His heart to prepare a man to help His people and rebuild the city of Jerusalem––Nehemiah. God will reveal to you the deep mysteries written in the Scriptures as you become a person of the Word and prayer.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
~Jeremiah 33:3~

THURSDAY January 26, 2017

The Cream of the Crop

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

Daniel 1:1

During the first siege of Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar picked the best from among the Jewish people––the cream of the crop, to take captive for himself to Babylon. He took young men who were wise and intelligent, to train them in the ways of Babylonians and to help prosper his kingdom. Daniel was one of those young men; he may have been thirteen years old at the time of his captivity:

Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1:3-4).

During the second siege, King Nebuchadnezzar went into the temple and took all the beautiful cups and utensils. In his final siege, the city of Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the people taken captive for seventy years, but he allowed some of the poor to remain in the city.

Interestingly, as we go back to the book of Deuteronomy 28:64-65, what God said did come to pass. The Lord, at this time, judged His people. God would now use Daniel, his three friends, and the Prophet Ezekiel to speak to His captive people in the kingdom of Babylon.

During this time in history, God is choosing His best to be used in His kingdom for His purposes. Are you ready to be used by the Lord?

…be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master,
prepared for every good work.
~2 Timothy 2:21~

WEDNESDAY January 25, 2017

.

Suffering for Righteousness

Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, shared and begged the people of Israel to listen to the Lord. He had such a miserable time dealing with their rebelliousness. They not only persecuted Jeremiah with their words they imprisoned him in a cistern where he sunk into the mud:

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire (Jeremiah 38:6).

Imagine, as Jeremiah continued his ministry as the prophet to Israel, he questioned the Lord, as if to say, “Why am I here?” The Lord reminded Jeremiah of what he was told from the beginning of his call (Jeremiah 1:6-8), the people would be hostile towards him––it would not be easy.

God called Jeremiah to bring a message of judgment to His people. After he preached the Babylonians came. The Assyrian king Sennacherib conquered Israel and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar made three sieges against Jerusalem within a three year period, conquering the city. King Nebuchadnezzar was used to fulfill God’s judgment on His people.

It is important to understand that when Christians become carnal, fleshly and rebellious they can become a real problem. Believers not walking in the Spirit can offend and hurt other Christians by their actions. Those walking in righteousness can suffer at the hands of those not walking with the Lord as they should. What should a Christian do in such cases?

Seriously, the best thing you can do is pray for them as God will convict them and chasten them if need be. Christians need to speak the truth in love and forgive those who have offended them. (Matthew 18:15; Ephesian 4:15, 32). It is important to keep your eyes on the Lord and not on the people, or you will become stumbled by their bad behavior.

…You follow Me.
~John 21:22~

TUESDAY January 24, 2017

Imminent Judgment

…the LORD has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.”

Isaiah 1:2-3

God continued to show His love and mercy to Israel but the people of the Lord had left their first love. Israel did not want to listen to the Lord; so after one hundred and sixty years had passed––judgment came. The Lord allowed the Assyrians to come upon Israel and through them, God chastened His people.

The Assyrians had the worst reputation in war because they committed brutal atrocities against their captives. They would strip their prisoners to shame them and then separate each person from their families. The Assyrians systematically dismembered their captives, a hand, toe or tongue would be cut off. Hot irons were used to stick into their eyes and up their noses. Other captives were taken and buried up to their mouths or noses, eventually they would slowly suffocate.

Surviving captives had a hole drilled either through their nose, lip or ear and a chain with hooks placed through the hole to drag them off into captivity. Most nations at war with the Assyrians, rather than being taken captive, preferred to commit suicide. During the invasion some of the poor people of Israel remained and intermarried with the Assyrians. These people later became the Samaritans who were treated with contempt as half breeds and hated by the Jews with pure ancestry.

Many believers in the Church today are guilty of not placing the Lord first in their lives. Revelation 2:4 is a written exhortation to the Church of Ephesus. The words of Jesus still exhorts the Church today: nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. If you have strayed from the Lord, why not return to your first love––Jesus Christ and serve Him before His chastening comes?

Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent and do the first works…
~Revelation 1:5~

MONDAY January 23, 2017

Heeding the Message

Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”

Jeremiah 18:11

There were many prophets that God used to speak to his people. Among them were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. At times they would warn God’s people of His coming chastisement if they continued down a path of disobedience. In response the prophets often experienced persecution because of Israel’s outright rebellion. This was Israel’s reply after the prophet Jeremiah gave them a warning from the Lord:

Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.” (Jeremiah 18:18).

When Stephen accurately retold Israel’s rebellious history to the Pharisees––the Jewish religious leaders, their attitude had not changed (Acts 7:1-50). Notice what Stephen tells them, before he was killed, about their treatment of God’s prophets:

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One… (Acts 7:51-52).

When God speaks to you by His Word and convicts you by the Holy Spirit, do you heed His warnings? Do not have the same reaction as the men Jeremiah warned or the Pharisees that stoned Stephen (Acts 7:54).

… we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
~Jeremiah 18:12~

SUNDAY January 22, 2017

Given Fair Warning

Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples… and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.

Deuteronomy 28:64-65

Moses was a prophet to the people of God; he led the Children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt towards the Promised Land. But because of Israel’s disobedience and lack of faith, a journey of a few weeks turned into forty years of wandering in a great and dreadful wilderness. After that time, another opportunity came to enter the Promised Land. Joshua was chosen to be the new leader of the people (Deuteronomy 34:9-10).

God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land but he was given the liberty to look at the land from a distance (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Moses, before his death, warned Israel, not to fail to observe the law or fear God’s name. Otherwise the Lord would scatter them among the other nations. In a foreign land, they would find themselves spiritually destitute, trapped in servitude to false gods of idolatry. Israel would be without a place to call their own, physically weakened and in emotional anguish.

After Joshua’s leadership ended, Israel was led by judges, then came the period of the kings. God spoke to these kings and Israel through the prophets. The Lord in His kindness, continued to give fair warning to His people through the prophets, before chastening them. They had enough time to repent. In Exodus 34:6 God declared His character:

…the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

Are you testing God’s patience by continuing in a life of sin?

God's love for sinners is very wonderful, but God's patience with
ill-natured saints is a deeper mystery.
~Henry Drummond~

SATURDAY January 21, 2017

Contingent Promises

But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight.

1 Kings 9:6-7

King David’s son Solomon was the wisest man in the Old Testament. He was called to build a house––a temple for the Lord. God had blessed him immensely with wealth and wisdom. He began his reign in great humility, dependent on the Lord who answered his prayerful request:

…see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor…So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days (1 Kings 3:12-14).

Notice, Solomon’s blessings were contingent on his obedience. In his greed he became more interested about his own royal house. Sadly, his heart was turned away from the Lord when he married foreign women––the king had become an apostate (1 Kings 11:4). Ironically, Solomon, although wise became a fool.

Solomon in his lifetime wrote the book of Proverbs, Song of Solomon and towards the end of his life, the book of Ecclesiastes. Despite the adversity God would send because of his disobedience (1 Kings 9:9), Solomon came to one final conclusion: …Fear God and keep His commandments… (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It would be wise not to wait until the end of your life to come to that important conclusion.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
~Proverbs 9:10~

FRIDAY January 20, 2017

For King and Country

I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

Acts 13:22

God has a plan for Israel and it continues despite man’s failure. Notice throughout all the books of the Bible, when man failed the Lord looked for someone else. He raised a man or woman to accomplish His work. In

1 Samuel, God established the work of His kingship. A reign of kings began with King Saul, it continued with David and his son Solomon.

After Solomon’s reign, the kingdom split. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the Southern Kingdom, were ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom of Israel now consisted of ten tribes and was ruled by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12). Throughout Israel’s history, different kings governed these kingdoms. Most kings in the Northern Kingdom were evil in the sight of the Lord. But some good kings in the Southern Kingdom feared the Lord and some kings partially served God.

Under the reign of King Josiah, who was only eight years old at the time (2 Chronicles 34:1), Israel was spiritually reformed. King Hezekiah ruled well but then asked the Lord to extend his life. God granted his request and gave King Hezekiah fifteen more years to live. However, I believe the king should have gone home to be with the Lord. Why? During his extended lifetime, he had a son––Manasseh. He was one of the wicked kings in Israel’s history. He even killed his own sons as he worshiped the pagan gods (2 Kings 20:1-6; 21).

As we continue to survey the Old Testament books of the Bible as a historical background to the book of Nehemiah, it is important to see the grace of God extended to Israel and its kings. Even King David and Manasseh repented and God was merciful to them (2 Chronicles 33:12-13; Psalm 51). If you need grace and mercy from the King of kings you only need to repent and ask.

Grace is omnipotence acting redemptively.
~Geoff Thomas~

THURSDAY January 19, 2017

Getting off the Sinful Cycle

Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers…

Judges 2:11

Moses recounts Israel’s history, but then within Deuteronomy 28-30, especially in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Moses presented to Israel the possible blessings of God through obedience and the cursing, as a result of their disobedience. In the book of Judges, we find that the people of Israel were going around in a sinful cycle, as if on a roller coaster ride. Judges 21:2 tells us their mindset: …everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is the philosophy of the book of Judges.

Yet, God in His faithfulness gave them judges, who led them spiritually and delivered them from their enemies. But when any judge died, Israel fell back into the same repetitive sinful cycle. They stubbornly continued to choose to live sinful lives with no real spiritual change. Judgment came from the Lord because of Israel’s spiritual apostasy and from a lack of obedience.

As we look around our world today we can see a parallel––we see a generation who does not honor God or man. Man without God desires to govern himself, be in control and have his own way. We have a generation who refuses to worship God, willfully rebels, disobeys and has no respect for life. Why? Our children and young adults do not know God’s Word. Parents have failed to teach them God’s principles and morals. Most children do not even know God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Seriously, there is no fear of God today!

Sadly, today’s generation is not experiencing God’s blessings; they are trapped in a terrible cycle of sin, suffering the consequences. What about yourself? Do you need to repent from a life of disobedience? Ask the Lord to help you break your sinful cycle so you can enjoy God’s blessings.

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
~John 13:7~

WEDNESDAY January 18, 2017

People of Apostasy

Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!

Joshua 24:14

In understanding the book of Nehemiah, we must continue to survey the Old Testament. The book of Joshua is where God demonstrates to us through Joshua, a type of Jesus Christ. Joshua was Moses’ servant; Jesus became a Servant to us (Mark 10:45). But also in the book of Joshua we see Jesus as the Commander of the Army of the Lord (Joshua 5). He was with Joshua as he entered into battle in the Promised Land.

Joshua, as a leader to God’s people, established a life of obedience and set a good model and example for them to follow. Joshua, near the end of his life, gave the people a strong charge (Joshua 24:15), they must choose who they were going to serve, the false gods or the Lord. But as one generation passed; another generation came:

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).

The reason for the children of Israel’s apostasy was a lack of knowledge about the Lord. The great grandparents and grandparents faithfully taught the children of Israel the history and works of the Lord. But the parents of the next generation failed. They neglected to do what God told them in Deuteronomy 6-8. The Word of God became so watered down after each generation, until there was nothing left. As a result, the people became ignorant of the Lord and easily fell into apostasy––they abandoned the Lord. This was the reason why Israel came under God’s judgment.

You can recognize if you are slipping into apostasy when you begin to think like that apostate generation.

…everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
~Judges 21:25~

TUESDAY January 17, 2017

Complete Biblical Doctrine

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16

When you study biblical history, understand that from the book of Genesis, God began to establish all systems––the government and religious systems. In Exodus, He redeemed a people to Himself. Then in the book of Leviticus, God used the Levites––priests of the Lord to teach the people to worship. In the book of Numbers, God being a God of order, taught the people order, and what He expected of their lives as they journeyed in the wilderness.

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy in around thirty days, which became a constant, written reminder to God’s people of what the Lord required of them. So literally, the whole doctrine of God in the Old Testament is established in the first five books of the Bible, Genesis––Deuteronomy, called the Pentateuch or the Torah. Both the survey of the Old Testament and New Testament is very important in regards to complete, sound biblical doctrine.

As we come to the New Testament, the four Gospels and the book of Acts; Pentecost comes and fulfills what Jesus taught in the Gospels. James and Peter were not trained theologians like Paul. This is one of the reasons why God saved Paul, to bring a good balance of theology to the New Testament. He wrote fourteen New Testament books to establish the basic biblical foundation of the Church.

I love the Old Testament; there is much life in its content. These books teach us what God intended to do through Jesus Christ our Lord in the New Testament.

The doctrines of the Bible are not isolated but interlaced; and the view of one doctrine must necessarily affect the view taken of another.
~A. A. Hodge~

MONDAY January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today. He lived his life in accordance with his message. But his message of freedom had a high price––his life. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. He stood on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee when a sniper shot him. He died for what he believed, preached and dreamed could happen when people would accept each other regardless of the color of their skin. His legacy of life and his bold speech, Let Freedom Ring should never be forgotten.

More importantly, the Gospel message, the heavenly hope of eternal life was given to all people (Luke 2:10-11). Christ won the price of our freedom from sin and death. It cost the high price of His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19) shed on the cross. Our spiritual freedom is something that can never be taken for granted. It must be guarded.

As ludicrous as it may seem, many people choose to give up Christ, their freedom from sin and their eternal life over such sins as: an adulterous affair, greed for money or the material things this world can offer. Satan, can use these things to entangle and enslave us once again into sin. The Apostle Paul reasoned with Christians:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death (Romans 6:20)

Why then would you want to lose such a precious freedom found only in Christ? Do you not know how to protect yourself from temptation, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life? Simple, obey the doctrine of God’s Word.

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
~Romans 6:17-18~

SUNDAY January 15, 2017 The Bloodline of Redemption Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6 The book of Nehemiah establishes biblical history. As you go back and begin to study the thirty nine books of the Old Testament you will find it is incredible. Why? Because you will begin to see and understand how all the different types and shadows of the Old Testament make complete sense in the New Testament, especially in the book of Hebrews. In the Old Testament, the bloodshed from animal sacrifices was a covering of sin. But it was a type, a shadow of things to come when Jesus Christ would die and His blood would take away our sins once and for all. The Apostle Paul explains this truth clearly in Hebrews 10:12-14: But this Man [Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Since the beginning of creation, you will find the promise of redemption in the book of Genesis, with Adam (Genesis 3:15). Adam’s bloodline weaves its way through many biblical patriarchs: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and King David further onward. Why are theologians interested in this bloodline? Because they, or anyone else studying the Scriptures; can follow this blood line to the Messiah––the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1-17). God’s work of redemption was accomplished by the Messiah. Jesus paid the full purchase price for the forgiveness of our sins––His blood. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. ~Ephesians 1:7~

SATURDAY January 14, 2017

A People Chosen to Worship

Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

Israel’s history has another significant aspect not to be overlooked. God desires to establish a people to worship Him. When King David brought back the ark into the city of Jerusalem, he appointed Levites––the priests of the Lord, to thank and praise God. Levite singers and those who played all kinds of stringed instruments, harps and cymbals of bronze joined together to worship the Lord (1 Chronicles 15:16-22; 16:4-6).

David’s Song of Thanksgiving gives us insight into the importance of worship, especially among the other idolatrous nations:

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples… Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods… (1Chronicles 16:23-25).

It is interesting to see the difference between Ezra, a Jewish priest who instilled back the value and necessity of worshipping the Lord and Nehemiah, who was called to build the walls of Jerusalem. There was no possible way the people could have their time of worship in the temple, without the safety or protection of walls built to surround the city.

It is the same with us; the walls of our lives are spiritual. How can God accomplish His work of worship in our lives if those walls are broken down? There has to be a rebuilding of the walls in our lives––spiritually speaking, so we can lift up our hands to worship the LORD.

Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the LORD.
~Psalm 134:2~

FRIDAY January 13, 2017

Suffering Consequences?

We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations…”

Nehemiah 1:7-8

Incredibly, the more I study the book of Nehemiah; the more gold I discover––those rich spiritual nuggets. The book of Nehemiah not only speaks to my own life personally, but it locks into my mind the history of the Old Testament. These short, thirteen chapters actually build a solid foundation and background into the reasons why God had to judge his people and why the walls of Jerusalem were torn down.

In fact within the history of Israel, there are many twists and turns that can cause people to miss the main point––historically, of what the Bible speaks about from the book of Genesis through to the book of Zechariah. In these books, many people overlook the purpose of the Messiah and they also neglect to see the important references to His birth. It is very easy to get confused; for instance, why was there four hundred years of silence between the book of Malachi and the Gospel of Matthew?

However, it is in the book of Deuteronomy where God’s judgment of Israel is referenced. Moses had already warned the people about the terrible consequences if they chose not to obey God’s Word:

Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known... (Deuteronomy 28:64).

God always knows what is ahead of us and warns us in His Word. If only we would pay attention, then we would avoid suffering the consequences.

Obey God in all things today! Drive out the enemy! Lay the ax to the root of the tree, and the capacity for Jesus Christ will be increased tomorrow.
~Alan Redpath~

THURSDAY January 12, 2017

Jerusalem, Sin City

Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan.

Nehemiah 13:30

As we look at the outline of the thirteen chapters of the book of Nehemiah, we shall see Nehemiah as a man of great concern (Nehemiah 1:1-4). Then we see him as a man of construction; as he began the rebuilding process of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2-3). He was a person who dealt with conflicts (Nehemiah 4-6), and a man who took seriously the consecration of God’s people (Nehemiah 7-12). Lastly, Nehemiah was a man who would cleanse the city and the temple of every pagan sin (Nehemiah 13).

Nehemiah would bring reform into the lives of God’s people. He would not give any room for compromise. Seriously, he did not allow them to bring in anything pagan into the temple. He would even separate them from their pagan wives. At one point he contended with some of the Jews by pulling their hair and striking them in the face (Nehemiah 13:25). Nehemiah would remind the Jews of King Solomon’s sin, when he took for himself pagan women, as wives (Nehemiah 13:26-31).

It is important to cleanse our lives of sin daily (1 John 1:9); then we can begin the process of rebuilding the spiritual walls in our lives. As we have seen the plan of God in Nehemiah’s life, we can ask the Lord, “What do you intend to do with my life?” As you read God’s Word, He will speak to your heart. The Lord will use a man or woman, anointed by the Holy Spirit, with their abilities, gifts and talents to build the kingdom of God.

I hope that this year is the beginning of a changed life, heart and ministry, so that we can all work together in perfect harmony.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
~Philippians 2:1-2~

WEDNESDAY January 11, 2017

Shedding Tears

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4

Nehemiah was a man who wept for the people in Jerusalem. Once he had heard of their terrible distress, the state of the city’s walls, and the gates burned with fire, he set himself apart to pray and fast. He mourned for many days, as he felt a deep grief over his brethren’s sad condition. His tears were shed in complete sincerity and truth.

The Apostle Paul, in Acts 20:19 also wept. There were four types of tears he shed. First, for the non-believer––those who had rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, for those who were carnal––believers who were continually overcome by their fleshly appetites. Third, for false prophets–– teachers who tried to corrupt the simplicity of the Gospel through their false teachings. Fourth, he wept for the Church of Jesus Christ.

Paul, through his godly jealousy selflessly cared for the churches. He spoke of his true commitment as a minister of Jesus Christ. Think about what he went through on behalf of others:

…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often… in journeys often… in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often… besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

What is your commitment to ministry like? Seriously––we need to weep in the presence of God for others. When was the last time you cried over somebody’s spiritual condition?

Jesus wept.
~John11:35~

TUESDAY January 10, 2017

Do You Give a Care?

…Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?

Nehemiah 2:3

Nehemiah was a person who cared for people––it was seen in his countenance. Caring, is very important in the character of a good leader. He not only cared for the present needs of the people before him but the traditions of the past––the biblical principles that were taught by Abraham, Jacob and even Moses. He showed genuine concern over the people’s hopes for the future. He may have asked himself, “What would be the future of the city and its people? Would everything continue after I am gone?”

Nehemiah cared about his ancestral city and his heritage but most importantly he was mindful about bringing glory and honor to his God. Nehemiah revealed his care in different ways. He did not stay silent, he inquired about his brethren, (Nehemiah 1:2). Then he travelled to Jerusalem and felt the people’s hardships himself (Nehemiah 2:11-17). Nehemiah, in his concern for the people, became open to whatever God wanted to do through him. He never became comfortable in the courts of King Artaxerxes and set his face to pray for God’s wisdom for the crisis.

What about us? Sometimes we do not care for others like Nehemiah. Instead of being open to what God has for our lives, we think only of ourselves. It may be time for you to leave the secure, comfortable position you have and do what God desires for your life. Will you commit yourself to prayer and ask God to provide for all the necessities?

Do you care about your Christian heritage? Will you be prepared for the future in prayerfully raising qualified people whom God has anointed––to carry on the vison and work of the Lord for when you have gone?

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.
~Psalm 90:17~

MONDAY January 9, 2017

The Character of a Godly Man

…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Titus 2:7-8

Throughout the book of Nehemiah we find that Nehemiah was a patriotic man (Nehemiah 1:1-4), a prayerful man (Nehemiah 1:5-11), a man of perspective (Nehemiah 2:1-18, 20), and a man of persistence (Nehemiah 4). Nehemiah was also a person of great persuasion (Nehemiah 5), and he proved to be a person who had pure motives (Nehemiah 5:14-19).

When Nehemiah went to spy out the land, with some other men, as they looked at the rubble of the city; God confirmed his vision to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11-14). Nehemiah showed himself to be a man of great perseverance, through every affliction, trial and temptation (Nehemiah 6). As a man of God, he was steadfast and always moved ahead with God’s plans. He never quit because he knew God was on the throne.

It is important to start out in ministry with the right heart motives. Do not be concerned about your own interests or seek to build your own kingdom. Otherwise God may never show you the vision He intended for your life––the Lord always checks our hearts. Even if you do get to see what God wants to do and you get excited about the vison; if you place yourself above others, He will not allow you to be a partaker of the work.

When God calls a person to do a great work for Him they must be obedient, with the right heart. Ask yourself, “Am I a person who is persistent, who perseveres and has pure motives to work for God?”

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the hearts.
~Proverbs 17:3~

SUNDAY January 8, 2017

Facing the Realities of Ministry

…endure hardship...fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:5

The subject and purpose of the book of Nehemiah, is to historically record the Jewish people’s return from captivity, for the third time, and to document the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem. The scope of the book is about twelve to fifteen years. The Lord would begin to build His government among His people. God, in using Nehemiah, would cause a unifying submission of the leadership to restore the city’s stability.

In Nehemiah’s book we also see the opposing enemies of Israel; those who came against the work of God. Despite their hostility and antagonism, the leaders and people of Israel would remain steadfast. They not only had God’s mind they had a mind to work together––in complete harmony. Every person labored with one hand and held a weapon of defense with the other hand (Nehemiah 4:17-18).

First, it is important to understand that in ministry you cannot get away from authority, order or submission––it is inescapable. You must ask yourself, “Do I have a mind to work for God, in unity with the leadership?” That is called being like-minded, with the same vison.

Second, ministry is not doing what we want to do with our lives. When God restores our lives, He gives to us faith, which not only protects us but enables us to have victory over the enemy. Then we are equipped to minister and work for the Lord. God’s servants are called to build people up not to tear them down. Seriously––if we are not rebuilding we are tearing down. Disunity and even slothfulness can slow down the work.

Third, face the realities of ministry––hardships; know that one of the things you are going to face in life is opposition. Especially as you align yourself with the purposes and plans of God––believe me, you cannot escape conflict; it is going to be there all the time, you will have enemies.

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.
~C.S. Lewis~

SATURDAY January 7, 2017

Broken Down Walls

…The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.

Nehemiah 1:3

Notice, Nehemiah, was given a troubling report. The Jewish people were in great distress, completely vulnerable to their enemies, as the walls were broken down and the gates burned with fire. The people were dreadfully oppressed and depressed. There was absolutely no defense for the city and no watchmen to warn the people when their enemies would approach the city’s walls.

At this particular time, the city and its occupants had no order; their enemies just came in and out as they pleased. Yet, the Lord found one man––Nehemiah who would stir up the people; under his leadership, the city would have order restored. He would once again bring peace to God’s people.

Interestingly, Zerubbabel––a priest and scribe, was used of the Lord to help rebuild the temple, to restore the Jews place of worship. Nehemiah’s emphasis was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the temple was built. He would be in charge of replacing the walls of protection around the city.

Under God’s authority and power, these godly men unified the people. They worked hand in hand for the same reason––to bring glory and honor to God in everything they accomplished.

Many times God wants to do a great work but there are those people whose only desire in leadership is to gain power and authority. They resist being under authority. But how can God give them authority and power when they are not obedient to God or submissive to work in unity with others?

To be a man of authority you must be a man under authority.
~Raul Ries~

FRIDAY January 6, 2017

A Leader’s Integrity

As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,and set me before Your face forever.

Psalm 41:12

Nehemiah, as a leader was a man of great integrity. When he took on the responsibility to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; he would become accountable both to God and His people. He was already found trustworthy by King Artaxerxes; he had been placed in a tough position as the king’s cup bearer. Despite his own life being threatened, he acted loyal to the king. Nehemiah faithfully took the first drink from the king’s cup to ensure that his drink was not poisoned.

King Artaxerxes, saw something different in the life of Nehemiah compared with other men. He saw a man of quality––he stood out as a man of great character. The king held Nehemiah in high esteem as a man of integrity. Some theologians believe he was not only the king’s faithful servant as a cup bearer but he would have held a high office as the king’s advisor and trusted confident.

It is very important that people see you as a quality leader––a person under the anointing of the Holy Spirit who is in full submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. Integrity is an essential quality in ministry or any area of your life. Remember people will see you for who you really are as they observe your actions. Are you aware that other people are watching your life?

I believe with all my heart that you have to ask yourself this crucial question, “Can both God and man trust you with great responsibility because they can see you are a man or a woman of great integrity?”

The integrity of the upright will guide them…
~Proverbs 11:3~

THURSDAY January 5, 2017

Receiving Mercy to Rebuild

“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you,but in My favor I have had mercy on you.

Isaiah 60:10

Incredibly, we shall see, how the book of Nehemiah fulfils the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah 60:10; and Zechariah 1:12-17 but especially the fulfillment of the building of the walls in Jerusalem according to Daniel 9:25:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

Daniel’s words combine the prophetic calendar for the later return of the Messiah—Jesus Christ with the current events to rebuild the walls. After Jerusalem was destroyed and many of its people taken into seventy year captivity in Babylon, God would have mercy on His people and restore the city of Zion. Psalm 102:13-14 tells us:

You [God] will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.

God would now use Nehemiah to rebuild the walls. The Lord had placed him in the presence of King Artaxerxes, a foreign king who would help in the endeavor. He would even give Nehemiah the permission to oversee the vast project––amazing! Examine your own life; is it time to ask God for His mercy, so He can help rebuild the walls of your life?

Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, that I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation…
~Psalm 106:4-5~

WEDNESDAY January 4, 2017

Called to Intercede

It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1:1-2

Notice, God had found a man in whom He could anoint for ministry. His heart was close to the heart of God and to the people of Jerusalem even though he was so far away. Nehemiah was in Persia, as a cup bearer, under the authority of King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 2:1).

He had never been to Jerusalem but God had spoken to him about the needs of the Jewish people there. Why? Because of the Holy Spirit Who interceded on behalf of those people (Romans 8:26). Concerned for the people, Nehemiah enquired of his brother, about their welfare. He would soon hear a vivid report of the gravity of the situation in the city of Jerusalem and the state of its people.

We shall see that Nehemiah was a man of silence and a man of prayer. He never told anyone what was heavy on his heart; until God impressed on the hearts of others, the needs of the people––that is how God works.

God can make us intercessors like Nehemiah. Imagine, we can be praying for any place in the world––China, Chile, Colombia or Arabia through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we pray before we even speak; we shall learn how God will lead and provide for situations. Will you be committed to intercede for people whom God has placed on your heart, those who are far away in a foreign country?

He [God] saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
~Isaiah 59:16~

TUESDAY January 3, 2017

Nehemiah Introduction

A good name is better than precious ointment…

Ecclesiastes 7:1

Nehemiah had a good name that reflected his leadership abilities. Now, if you lived in this time period and had a Hebrew mindset, you would know his name was very impressive. In Hebrew it literally means comforted of God, which is the similar definition of the Holy Spirit. In the Greek––the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity is the Parakletos––the Comforter, Who comes alongside the believer to comfort and help them; especially when they go through times of trial or persecution (John 14:16-17).

Seriously, Nehemiahs––those who comfort others are needed in the Church today. This is what leaders are supposed to do; they are to bring comfort to the body of Christ. So whether you are a teacher, evangelist, musician, or janitor you want to become a comforter like Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was a lay man and a business man––interesting. As we begin to study the book of Nehemiah, I believe with all my heart that God is going to take us through business school. Why? Because the principles we are going to receive in these thirteen chapters are not secular, they are biblical principles on how to run the church, take care of the people and lead them––so neat.

The book of Nehemiah is about principles in which God’s people can learn great leadership skills. God desires to build men and women of good character to be leaders. As we go through the book of Nehemiah together this year, it would be good to get a journal and see how the Lord will speak to you personally. You can begin by asking yourself this important question, “Do I have a good name in my church and more importantly, outside the church?

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
loving favor rather than silver and gold.
~Proverbs 22:1~

MONDAY January 2, 2017

The Book of Nehemiah

The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah…

Nehemiah 1:1

Nehemiah is an autobiography and history of God’s people. It is one of my favorite books; it is essential for leadership and we will discover what God intends to do with our lives. First, we will see how God looks for a man to do His will. Second, when He finds that person He anoints them by His Holy Spirit and gives to them a ministry to fulfill.

Third, it is important to understand that God will also give to that person the ability, gifts and talents to accomplish that call of ministry. We learn from 1 Corinthians 12, that Christ is the head of the body––believers in Christ. Each part of the body is sustained and moved by our Head. The Lord sees the needs in the body of Christ and He will speak to a specific person and place them accordingly.

Then fourth, a Christian has to be pleased where the Lord has placed them within the body of Christ. The reason the Church is so weak, is that people want to do something else other than what God had intended for them. God has not called us to compete with each other. Christians, not content with their own gifts will resist submitting to the Lord. These types of people will create division in the body of Christ and we will never accomplish anything for the kingdom of God.

Finally, a believer needs to step out by faith in obedience to do God’s will. Then the Lord will give to them the wisdom, knowledge, ability and strength to accomplish that work. Are you the kind of man or woman God can use to accomplish His will? If you want to be used by the Lord, you must set yourself apart from the world, to be fully consecrated to Him.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
~Romans 12:1-2~

SUNDAY January 1, 2017

New Year’s Day

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Acts 2:1-4

A New Year opens with great expectancy as if a new chapter has begun in your life. Perhaps you will pick up a pen and begin to write an introductory, contemplating your goals and desires you wish to be accomplished, over the next twelve months. However, what about getting on your knees to prayerfully ask the Lord what He wants to do with your life this year?

Imagine, what God could do if the body of Christ––individual believers, would seek Him diligently. God has given us gifts and talents to be used for His glory in the body of Christ. Christians must obediently make themselves available to the Lord and willingly take on the tasks He desires for them to do.

If only the Church––believers in Christ, would unite together they could be used to build the kingdom of God––not their own little kingdoms. Then the Lord could send a fresh fire and baptize the body of Christ with the Holy Spirit. As in the book of Acts; the Church would be emboldened to share the Gospel and people would be saved (Acts 2).

God is always looking for men and women He can use. What has the Lord called you to do this New Year? Will you prayerfully seek Him for the wisdom on how you can accomplish the ministry He has given to you?

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those
whose heart is loyal to Him.
~2 Chronicles 16:9~

SATURDAY December 31, 2016

New Year’s Eve

In Him [Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…

Ephesians 1:11

Most people celebrating New Year’s Eve do a great deal of reminiscence. Memories from the past twelve months bring to their mind moments they have enjoyed and cherished. While other people may have endured a difficult year and for the most part, they are glad it has finally ended. Whatever has transpired during the former year, may we be thankful for the good times and the bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us: …in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

You may question, “Why should I do that? Can I really give thanks to God for my sufferings this past year?” It is important to understand that God works all things out for good, even the most painful of times in your life. Romans 8:28 gives to us this strong consolation: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

When suffering happens we need to look to the cross––Christ’s death on the cross worked all things together for our good. God’s will meant suffering in the life of Christ but His suffering brought about eternal life for those who would accept Him as their Savior. John 3:16 simply explains: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Through Jesus’ submission to His Father’s will to die on the cross, we have gained an eternal inheritance. God had a plan––our salvation. Trust the Lord and believe that any suffering God has allowed in your life is for a greater plan for good.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~Jeremiah 29:11~

FRIDAY 30 December, 2016

God’s Guidance

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 2:19-20

Notice, how God continued to give His guidance to Joseph and Mary; an angel, in a dream, told them it was now safe to return to Israel. Herod who had tried to kill their Son was dead. It is amazing to see the hand of the Lord direct their lives. We can reflect back and see how God’s guidance influenced them. The Lord chose Mary to conceive the Son of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).

In God’s perfect timing; Elizabeth had been barren but was now six months pregnant. Mary journeyed to see her aged cousin, and stayed there for three months (Luke 1:39-40; 56). Meanwhile the Lord had spoken to Joseph in a dream, not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

In God’s sovereignty a world-wide census was taken, Mary, even though great with Child, had to take a difficult journey with her husband to be registered in the City of David––Bethlehem. There was no room in the inn, Christ was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger for his bed (Luke 2:1-7).

Even when Herod was determined to see the young Child killed. God’s guidance kept them safe. The Lord directed Joseph to escape to Egypt. Later, Joseph, guided by the Lord returned to Israel. Once again, Joseph heeded yet another dream given to him by the Lord and turned to the region of Galilee. They all settled in the city of Nazareth (Luke 2:22-23).

Each step of the way Scripture was being fulfilled, the events fit together like a perfect puzzle––amazing! Now, do you trust God to guide your life?

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye
~Psalm 32:8~

THURSDAY 29 December, 2016

Refusing Comfort

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:17-18

Herod, the King of Judea was greatly troubled when he heard the news of a new King born in the region he ruled. His reign would not be shared with another. Secretly, he had inquired as to the time the star appeared to the wise men. Herod asked them to bring back word when they found the Child. Why? He supposedly wanted to worship Him (Matthew 2:3-7). But he was incredibly insincere and blatantly lied about his motives.

Herod had murder in his heart and worship was so far from the truth. All he wanted was to destroy the young Child. God warned the wise men and they did not revisit Herod but returned to their own country another way (Matthew 2:12). Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord in a dream to take Jesus and his mother Mary to flee into Egypt (Luke 2:13-14).

Herod, in fury and anger at the wise men not returning to him, devised an evil plan to insure the destruction of the young Messiah. He would exterminate the One––named King of the Jews. He determined the possible age of the Child from the wise men. Then he ordered the horrific slaughter of all the male children from the age of two years old and under in Bethlehem, including the surrounding districts (Matthew 2:16).

We live in a world opposed to Christ. The Bible tells us that man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeramiah 17:9). Even today, innocent people suffer horrible atrocities because of those who are evil. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one due to acts of violence can be hard to console. Only God can soothe their grief. He is the God of all comfort.

"Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us…”
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4~

WEDNESDAY 28 December, 2016

Come to Worship Christ?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

Wise men––Magi from the East often traveled in a large caravan of people for security. These wise men studied the stars using the natural science of astronomy. They had seen a sign––the star of a King and had followed its path into Judea. Once there they began to inquire among the people: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”

Why had they traveled so far? What was the purpose of their long journey? With all sincerity, these men had come to worship the newly born King. The star had gone before them and stood right over the place where the young Child was. Their long journey was rewarded; when they came into the house and found Jesus with Mary His mother.

Immediately these wise men fell down and worshipped Jesus. In an act of obeisance they brought precious gifts for the King, gold––represented His deity, frankincense a most exquisite fragrance, and incredibly expensive myrrh, both related to His coming death (Luke 2:9-11).

Jesus is worthy of our worship. He is our King, should we not adore Him? Psalm 95:6 tells us: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. During Christmas many people will reflect on the birth of Christ and attend church but is their worship sincere? Is their yearly attendance more of a family tradition?

It is important to understand that only those who know who Christ as their Savior and King can truly come to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~John 4:24~

TUESDAY 27 December, 2016

Those Who Look for Redemption

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age… and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna was only married seven years before she was widowed. Since her widowhood, she faithfully served the Lord by fasting and praying in the temple, both during the day and night. Notice that old age and widowhood never stopped Anna from serving her God. As Simeon, in the temple spoke his prophecy about Christ, then Anna, a prophetess entered.

Even though Anna was elderly she remained spiritually alert. Like Simeon, she also recognized the Child and acknowledged Him as the Messiah. In that very instant she gave thanks to God and spoke prophetically about Him. Anna must have been well known among the people, they would have regarded her prophetical words about Christ. Christ was born and for those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, that time had surely come––amazing!

What is redemption? In the Old Testament, the word simply means, a ransoming from imprisonment for debt or slavery. But the redemptive work of Christ redeems an individual from the penalty of sin. What is the penalty for our sin? Romans 6:23 tells us: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Seriously, knowing the just penalty and the payment due for your sins–– death, what should be your main concern in view of eternity? Are you one among the many who are looking for your needed redemption?

…but with His [Jesus’] own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
~Hebrews 9:12~

MONDAY 26 December, 2016

Consolation of Israel

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 2:25

Simeon was known as a man of great character. He was just––his life was conformed to God’s high standard of justice. Therefore in the eyes of God he was deemed righteous. He was also strongly devout; he displayed a godly respect for the things of God. Simeon was a true example of a man who feared God.

Simeon patiently waited on the Lord for the ‘Consolation of Israel’––a name used for Christ, the long awaited Messiah. We do not know how long he had waited but we see him being led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the perfect time and place to see Jesus Christ.

Soon, Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, brought the Child into the temple to present Him to the Lord according to the law (Luke 2:22-24). Simeon’s, greatest desire in life was now before him––the Lord’s Christ. He held in his arms the Child He knew was destined to comfort Israel. God had kept His promise to Simeon; elated and empowered by the Holy Spirit he said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon, prophesied that not only was the Christ Child given for the comfort and salvation of Israel but He would be light to the heathen nations ––the Gentiles as well. All people are blessed by the Messiah’s light, knowledge of salvation that has come through God’s chosen people––Israel.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
~Isaiah 40:1~

SUNDAY 25 December, 2016

Finding Christ in Christmas

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Luke 2:15-16

The shepherds believed the angel’s words. The Lord had revealed to them that––Christ the Lord was born! In unison they agreed to leave their fields and flocks to go into the crowded city in search of the Child. They found the Babe, lying in the manger, just as the angel had told them.

After they had seen Jesus, they publicly made know what was told them about this Child. Those who heard marveled. Mary, the mother of Jesus, pondered all these sayings in her heart. As the shepherds returned to their flocks of sheep in the fields they glorified and praised God, not only for what they were privileged to hear but Who they had found. They had found the Babe––Christ the Lord. They had seen Him for themselves with their very own eyes (Luke 2:17-20).

Perhaps, this Christmas Day, you find yourself melancholy and alone. All you seem to do is spend your days and even your nights, in some field of work. You may feel empty, unfulfilled and this question might come to mind, “Is this all there is to life?" But you have yet to discover the glad tidings of the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloth, lying in the manger.

If you search for Christ the Lord in the Scriptures you will find Him. The Lord will make the significance of Christ’s birth and His amazing purpose He has planned for your life known to you personally. This Christmas Day could be the very day you find Christ! Then you too will praise and glorify God for the birth of His Son––the greatest gift He has given to you.

… [Search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
~Acts 17:11~

SATURDAY 24 December, 2016

While Shepherds Watched

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Luke 2:8-9

While shepherds faithfully watched over their sheep, outside on this dark night, all of a sudden an angel stood before them and the glory of the Lord illuminated the darkness all about them. They were in awe at the heavenly sight. Maybe they covered their eyes to shield themselves from the brightness or stared at the angel completely speechless. The angel spoke to them:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11).

Can you believe that? These insignificant shepherds were chosen to hear about the birth of Christ. Contained within these good tidings was His purpose for coming. He was to be the Savior––for all people. For confirmation of the angel’s words, they could go and find the Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger in the city of David.

Then instantly the night sky was filled with a multitude of heavenly host––angels praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). It is important to understand God’s heart towards mankind is for good. He desires for everyone to rejoice at this good news; not one person has been excluded from the opportunity to find His peace and salvation through Christ.

For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples…
~Luke 2:30-31~

FRIDAY 23 December, 2016

No Room for Jesus

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

The streets and inns were occupied with people who had traveled into the city of Bethlehem for the worldwide census. Everywhere Joseph and Mary looked for a vacant room to find rest was full to capacity. They must have knocked on many doors and inquired to see if there was a place. But there was none available, the only location left open was a humble stable, where animals where kept.

Then, Mary, went into labor, she had no midwife to help her give birth to her Son. She wrapped him in the swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger. Our Savior, the King of kings was born and laid in a humble manger used to feed the animals. Jesus, Creator of the world became created, He was both human and divine:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth… (Colossians 1:15-16).

It is important to understand that even though God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16), most people were oblivious to the miraculous event of Christ’s birth. What about today? So many people during Christmas time fill the streets of cities as they shop in stores for gifts. Yet do they stop to think about the greatest gift––God’s Son?

When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart will you let Him in? Why not make room for Jesus in your life this Christmas and accept Him as your Savior?

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
~Revelations 3:20~

THURSDAY 22 December, 2016

A Difficult Journey

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

Luke 2:4-5

Under the Roman rule of Caesar Augustus, a decree was issued that the known world should be registered. This census took place while Quirinius was governing Syria (Luke 2:1-3). Some believe that this was done for the taxation of the people. Joseph would have had to leave Galilee with Mary to travel to Judea, to the city of David––Bethlehem.

Imagine how difficult this harsh journey must have been for Mary. She was near the time of giving birth to her Son. She was described as being great with child (Luke 2:5 KJV). Joseph and Mary would have traveled about seventy miles over the rough and rugged terrain.

Yet they both believed what God had spoken to them and trusted Him for the outcome. This difficult journey was a part of God’s perfect plan; just as the Prophet Micah foretold:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me

the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old,

from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

Sometimes, God will allow different situations in your life to happen. These events may take you on a difficult journey. It is important to stay committed to the Lord and believe His Word. Through your submission to His plans, even in the most arduous times, your faith will grow stronger.

Belief is not faith without evidence but commitment without reservation.
~Leighton Ford~

WEDNESDAY 21 December, 2016

A Light in the Darkness

Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

The Jewish nation was heavy burdened under Romans rule. They endured a harsh existence in a land no longer freely theirs. A Roman soldier could tap anyone on the shoulder and they would be forced to carry his gear for a mile. The Jews were forced to pay taxes; which funded the Roman army who occupied them. The Romans were cruel; a person could be sentence to death by crucifixion, for their crimes.

As Zacharias concluded his prophecy, there was a glimmer of hope among the dark days of oppression. Their Messiah would come as a light––a dawn in the darkness. He was their Dayspring, to bring to His people peace. War had brought their enemies into their gates––the Roman presence in Israel was such an unwelcomed intrusion.

It is important to understand that our own lives have an enemy––death. Because of sin we all sit in death’s shadow. We live in the fearful knowledge that each new day could be our last. Death is something we cannot control, it is an unwelcome intrusion. But who can help us?

Our Dayspring––Jesus Christ, visited us like the dawn that ends the darkness. As Mary’s child He took upon Himself human flesh. He was able to destroy death’s hold over us when He died on the cross:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
~Isaiah 9:2~

TUESDAY 20 December, 2016

Prophet of the Highest

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins.

Luke 1:76-77

As the child John grew, the hand of the Lord was with him, he became strong in Spirit. He would live in the area of the desert until his ministry began. Zacharias, in his prophecy gave an explanation of his son’s ministry. In biblical times, when a king visited, a herald would proclaim his coming. The people would prepare the way by removing all the rocks and trash from the roads to make them as smooth and straight as possible.

Likewise, when a man, John the Baptist, as he preached, would herald, Jesus the King of kings––the king of the Jews and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. John would give a strong message to repent. His words would convict the people and they would see their need for the forgiveness for their sins. The people’s hearts were made ready––for their coming Messiah.

As John ministered to the multitudes of people, he was questioned as to whether or not, he was the Christ? He left this testimony in Scripture:

...when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20).

When Jesus began his ministry, He asked John to baptize Him. John before his Lord, took a position of humility and said: “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” (John 1:27). It is very important to notice John never pointed people to himself he always pointed them to Christ. Who do you point others too, yourself or Christ?

…I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
~John 1:34~

MONDAY 19 December, 2016

A Priest of Praise and Prophecy

Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…

Luke 1:67-71

Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, not only praised the Lord he also prophesied. He spoke of God’s visitation among His people—Israel. Their Messiah, the horn of salvation, would come through the household of David (Psalm 132:17). Zacharias praised God for his nation’s redemption, salvation and rescue from their enemies. God’s promises had been spoken through His prophets, since the beginning of the world.

Imagine, the people were very familiar with these ancient spoken promises. God in His mercy would perform the oath He swore to their father Abraham. It was the great hope of the people of Israel; to be delivered from the hand of their enemies, so they could serve the Lord without fear, in holiness, all the days of their lives (Luke 1:72-75).

Now the time had come to see the prophecy’s fulfillment. John would be used of the Lord for the sole purpose to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was to be a witness to His true Light:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:6-9).

Do you prefer to live your life in the darkness or in the Light?

…Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
~John 3:19~

SUNDAY 18 December, 2016

What Child is this?

Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Luke 1:65-66

Imagine, all the people who lived around Zacharias and Elizabeth were in awe of what was happening. They began to discuss the miraculous events surrounding the birth of this new born child––John. At first Zacharias was mute and the people perceived he had seen a vison in the temple. Then Elizabeth in her old age conceived and gave birth to a son! Now, after the child was given the unexpected name of John, by his father, Zacharias began to speak. As the people discussed these unusual events, news began to spread throughout all the hill country of Judea.

What did these extraordinary happenings mean? Clearly the people were aware that God was doing something even though they could not understand the full picture of His plan. So, for the time being, they kept what was spoken in their hearts. They were left with a probing question in their minds, “What kind of child will this be?”

Imagine, among all those people in the hill region of Judea, who had heard what had transpired, was there any who could truly perceive what had happened, according to the Scriptures, concerning John and his ministry in relation to Christ?

Notice, it is the same today. How many people will not understand the spiritual significance of Christmas? Instead they will enjoy a commercialized holiday. But perhaps family members will ask you about the babe in the manger, saying “What Child is this?” Will you be able to answer them, “Christ our Savior” and tell them the Christmas story?

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
Who is Christ the Lord.
~Luke 2:11~

SATURDAY 17 December, 2016

Birth of John the Baptist

Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Luke 1:57-58

Mary had stayed with her cousin for three months; then came the time for Elizabeth to deliver her baby. The Lord in His mercy had taken away her shame of not being able to have a child. Elizabeth had a time of seclusion but now her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had blessed her. He had given her a son––everyone rejoiced (Luke 1:56-58).

The miracle of Elizabeth giving birth in her old age was not the only wonder to happen––on the eighth day, those present expect the baby to be named after his father but Elizabeth had said no, his name would be John. Confused by an unfamiliar name not found in their family lineage, they looked to Zacharias for further confirmation (Luke 1:59-62).

Zacharias motioned for a tablet and in their amazement he wrote the name––John. Immediately his tongue was loosed and he could speak, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:20). Notice, the very first words to come out of his mouth were pure praise to his God (Luke 1:59-64).

When Zacharias had heard the angel Gabriel’s message, at first, he had spoken words of unbelief. He could not even imagine the possibility of a child being born to him in his old age. But now, when what was spoken had taken place, and he had obediently called the child John, he praised God, fully and completely.

It is very important that we examine what comes out of our mouths. Do we question God’s Word in unbelief? Or do we believe His Word and have nothing but praise on our lips?

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. ~Psalm 34:1~

Rejoice in God my Savior

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

Luke 1:46-49

Mary, responded to all that had been spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and Elizabeth, her cousin. She spontaneously began to magnify the Lord in her sweet song of praise. Mary had indeed been made to rejoice; God who is mighty beyond measure, had done great things. Mary was blessed and she praised His magnificent holy name.
Imagine, Mary, in humility recognized that she was a lowly maid servant to be used in God hands. Her life’s story, as the mother of Jesus, would be remembered for all generations. It is important to understand, this holy Child she carried would not only be Savior of the world, He would be her own Savior. Mary, although pure, needed salvation herself, although blessed among women; she was not sinless like her Savior.
Mary saw herself in the correct light; she understood the profound truth of her insignificance, compared to the greatness of God. But do we? Imagine, we are but a speck of dust in this vast universe, but God in His love and affection for us, is mindful of us and gave us dominion over His creation:
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…(Psalm 8:4-6).
When was the last time you worshipped the Lord for His magnificence, His Salvation and all the great things he has done in your life?
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.
~Psalm 126:3~