Archive for the ‘Nehemiah’ Category

Project 66 – Nehemiah, Esther, Job

Today we are running the gamut of the Old Testament…backwards!

Nehemiah and Esther are near the end of the Old Testament period (around 400 bc) while Job is considered to be a book placed somewhere back in the days of Abraham.

I took nearly 2 months off Project 66 (aside from refreshing my memory of the verses in my head while I drive) in order to concentrate on teaching a 10-week course on the History and Geography of Israel. But that is complete, so I’m returning to my Route!

Nehemiah – God’s Response to Brokenness

Nehemiah is a great book to turn to for leadership characteristics and strategies. But even more, it is a man of God doing what God called him to do…very convicting, this book!

The verse chosen from Nehemiah is 2:18:

[Nehemiah wrote]
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.

So they said,
“Let us rise up and build.”

Then they set their hands to this good work.

This relates to the enormous task of building up the crushed and shattered walls of vulnerable Jerusalem. What a blessing that Nehemiah had an “us” to help him! Indeed, it is not good for a person to be alone!

The convicting part comes from the “rise up” portion. It indicates a readiness towards activity. To move forward even with the prospect of failure and disapproving people. Just Get on Your Feet.” I get stuck there every time.

Oh Lord, enable me in my 44th year to become more like Nehemiah!

One more portion of this phrase is the word “build”!

Building is something positive, constructive, and uplifting. The opposite of destruction, tearing down, and breaking.

Even if I don’t know what exactly to build (like others did – Noah, Solomon, Jesus, Paul) I want to be a builder, a restorer! Of myself, of others and of Christ’s Cause!

Esther – God’s Response to Certain Death

The name of Jehovah is not in this book, but His fingerprints are all over it. I’ve often wondered if she was stripped of the opportunity to have true love, in order to fulfill this call to be the queen of Xerexes.

Whatever the case, God called Esther to a great task, and she got on her feet and did it! Convicting yet again!

I originally had wanted to memorize the longest verse in the Bible which is found in Esther 8:9, but the warmth of devotional thought from it (as well as the difficulty of it!) compelled me to choose a different verse!

Instead I selected Esther 4:16! Esther says:

“Go,
gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan,
and fast for me;
neither eat nor drink
for three days,
night or day.
My maids and I will fast likewise.
And so I will go to the king,
which is against the law;
and if I perish, I perish!”

Just like Nehemiah, she gave no mind to success or failure, just the mere call and need compelled her to action, even to the loss of her very own life.

What has to happen to make a person so recklessly abandoned to do God’s bidding? I believe I want it, as if there is nothing to lose.

It isn’t so much death or perishing that frightens me (perhaps a lack of reality makes it that way for me), but loneliness, or lack of community, or wastedness. For me the battle would be to say “If I must be lonely, I must be lonely!”

However, even in the surrendering over to the Lord, I’m also glad, that in Esther as well as Nehemiah, there is an “us”. She had people praying for her. Fasting for her. Even serving her. I don’t suppose we can all be Esthers, but we can be a part of Esther’s faith!

Esther is one of those books I could go on and on about, but I must move on to Job!

Job – My Heart Yearns within me for  Hope

Job 19:25-27

“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

Just like Job, only one thing I know, “My Redeemer Liveth!” I shall see Him face to face. With my own eyes. Accepted in the Beloved. Fully. Unconditionally. Eternally.

“Oh how my heart yearns within me!”

Restoring the People, Rebuilding the Temp

Restoring the People, Rebuilding the Temple...Let me a part of this Great Work

Your Joy

Lord, the joy You give outshines any happiness this world can give.
Your joy remains pure forever.
Your joy endures through times of sorrow.
Your joy is our strength!

Do not sorrow,
for the joy of the Lord
is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10

PURE joy can be found only in God!

King David knew this joy:

“You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound” (Psalm 4:7)

In David’s time, the hope of many rested upon the outcome of the year’s harvest.
If the crops were plentiful, the community rejoiced.
If the crops failed, the community despaired.

But David experienced a joy that flourished even when crops perished. He treasured a joy that thrived even through drought. David knew a joy that was pure.

Such joy flows from one source: the living God.
He alone remains steady when our world celebrates and when our world crumbles.
And He offers a joy that is equally steady.

The joy discovered by hearts that follow after God, is greater, purer, and more complete than the happiness this earth can offer.

Zambezi Sunset

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

Zeal to Keep My Word!

We read of Nehemiah being so radical in the rest of chapter 13, that we wonder if perhaps he isn’t a bit irrational and overbearing. But I’m sure the memory of the day the people of Israel made a solemn covenant to God regarding three things grieved his spirit deeply.

1) In Nehemiah 10:30 they promised not to have ungodly romantic relationships.
Some 10-12 years later, they were steeped in that exact sin which provoked Nehemiah to address it in 13:23-31.

2) In Nehemiah 10:31 they swore off buying and selling on the Sabbath day.
But alas! Nehemiah’s righteous judgment is stirred as in 13:15-22, we find them violating the 4th commandment given by Moses.

3) And then to top it all off, in 10:32-39 they pledged to support the work of God with money as He commanded.
But ten years later Nehemiah returns to the restored Jerusalem only to find that the work of God had fallen into neglect because no one had supported it in 13:10-14.

Nehemiah was radical. He was earnest. He was zealous. He was a man of action and a leader. I may not want to try to implement that style in dealing with all sins or bad choices in everyone else’s lives, but I do want that kind of passion when it comes to protecting me and my relationship with God!

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your patience, for communicating with us and giving us clear direction. You are our creator and know better than anybody what is best for us and what will help us function to our fullest joy and to Your greatest glory. Help us to walk in Your ways. And oh for some of Nehemiah’s passion and leadership! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Radical Enough to Protect!

In reading Nehemiah 13:1-14 today, I was struck at the radical measures Nehemiah took to protect and purify the people of God.

Worshipping and celebrating often leads to direction and guidance—and that according to God’s standard. That is what happened to the Israelites—as they drew near to God they became aware of His standards and areas they needed to work on in their lives. But what is more, they had the boldness to carry it out. Nehemiah 13:3

If they were like me, I’m sure they would have thought of 20 sound reasons why NOT to do what the word of God plainly told them to do.

  • “That command was made long ago, and speaks to a different time.”
  • “Perhaps there is a mitigating factor involved that we didn’t read about that provoked that rule.”
  • “Things are different now.”
  • “That totally violates my PC sensibility.”
  • “That was written to a different culture.”
  • “Let’s not go overboard.”
  • “We should assign a task force to examine the issue!”

But these folks just plainly, outright, forthright obeyed. (Surely I’m not the only one convicted by that 🙂

Nehemiah went back to his post in Persia for about 10 years after the revival in Jerusalem. When he came back, boy was he surprised to see that ole Ammonite enemy named Tobiah (Nehemiah 2:10) not only living amongst the Israelites, but he actually booted God out of His own house so he could camp out there. Is that something similar to hiring someone who is actively opposed to God to be your elder or deacon?

And though the spiritual leader Eliashib disagreed with Nehemiah, I stand in admiration of that bold leader Nehemiah as he had
the wisdom to not confuse love with being “nice” and
the wisdom to know when to take bold action.

I don’t want to get tangled into the thinking that
Nehemiah was overreacting or that
he was being insensitive or
accuse him of missing an opportunity to “win someone to God” by being their friend.

Rather, Nehemiah saw the situation for the danger that it was—someone is in the Temple courts of Jehovah, openly opposing His purposes and His people.

I’m wondering if I could rise to such integrity if I were confronted with the same kind of situation that Nehemiah or Jesus (remember? He cleansed the temple out twice…once at the beginning of His ministry and once at the end of His ministry) found God’s people in. Or would I take such radical steps to protect just one of God’s people? Myself? Hmmm.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your patience. And that while You do love us, You are also jealous for us and will take radical measures to protect us from ourselves, sin and any other kind of harm. I pray that You will grant us discernment to know how to interact Christ-like with others. I invite You Lord to come and be a Nehemiah to cleanse my life of any tobiah-like behavior. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Returning to My Jerusalem!

In Ezra and Nehemiah we learn of the Jews who have returned to Jerusalem to tryst with God once again in the Temple, so I too hope to rendezvous with God on a consistent basis again, by the work done by the Final Temple, Jesus Christ.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been 70 years since I have written, but I did miss nearly 500 years!!

So I’m picking up with St. Philip’s 3-year-reading plan and am looking at Nehemiah 12:27-47Dedicating a Wall unto the Lord! It seems rather appropriate after taking a four-month course about boundaries and protecting oneself! My ceremonial dedication (i.e., graduation) took place on August 10th.

And though I didn’t have quite the line up of thanksgiving choirs that Nehemiah and the Levites had, there was much rejoicing for God had made us rejoice with great joy! Well, enough about Pathways and what it meant to me…on to Nehemiah 12:27-47.

  • Celebrate
  • Dedication
  • Gladness
  • Thanksgivings
  • Singing
  • Music
  • Choirs
  • Sang loudly

Having God’s chosen city (or child) fully protected is something that is worth celebrating! And the Levites, the leaders of worship, sure knew how to do that!

(FYI: I once heard that there are 22 different instruments mentioned in the Bible…including the four mentioned in this passage!)

Have you ever heard that probably-most-famous-passage in Scripture (and I don’t mean John 3:16!)? But rather, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Matthew 7:1. Well, the rest of that Matthew passage says:

First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

And so the priests did exactly that in verse 30 of Nehemiah chapter 12:

Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and then purified the people, the gates and the wall.

The fact that they purified the gates and walls, also shows me that I too should have my surroundings wholesome and pure.

Verse 43 is beautiful expression of joy, the source of joy and the extent of joy….everyone got to rejoice in the great joy the Lord gave them…even the women and children 😉

And notice what was heard throughout all Jerusalem…it wasn’t the singing, but rather The Joy! I can think of a few places where the joy of the Lord has been unmistakably heard! Can you?

Purification –> Celebration –> Rejoicing –> it certainly makes giving and offering a delight instead of a burden or a hard task! So we see it happening even in the day of Nehemiah!

Lord Jesus, I thank you for Pathways and the healthy boundaries you have helped put in in my life through them. I pray Lord that I would have such a celebratory lifestyle that those around me would hear the Joy of the Lord! Above all Lord Jesus, keep me pure, keep my focus on You! Amen!