Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to the Old Paths

O. T. #1046  "Back to the Old Paths"
August 21, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 3


LET IT GLOW

I find my older self backing out of activities, using my age and lack of energy as an excuse. Maybe I can still contribute stability and guidance on the right path, whether it is old or new. We need to keep our focus on serving and witnessing for Jesus. Perhaps getting back to the old paths is a good thing-prayer and Scripture.

So far we have read bout the Sheep Gate ad the Fish Gate. Today we will look at the Old Gate. It was located in the northwest section of the wall around the Temple in Jerusalem. The men laid the beams, set up the doors, and put on the locks and bars.

Gibeonites who helped were not under the authority of the Jerusalem governor. They were responsible to the governor on his side of the Euphrates River.  Nevertheless, they assisted in the work. (Falwell)

This Old Gate must have been there from the beginning, perhaps Solomon's day. Jeremiah warned Judah  the results of their idolatry was coming-captivity. (Israel had been captured by Assyria some 100 years earlier.)

Jeremiah gives the image of  travelers who are lost, stopping to inquire about the right way they once knew before they wandered so far away from it. (MacArthur)

He instructed them in Jeremiah 6:16, Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.

Rest for the soul. Who couldn't use some of that? The thing is, some people spend their time working and accumulating the newest and latest gadgets, fashion, house, automobile. Then  time is spent caring for these. Aren't they leading us down the path to a dead end street with no purpose in life. Jeremiah tells us to ask for the "old paths" since on them we will find rest for our soul.
In Christ we find rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
Don't we need something greater than the mechanical, electronic push-button age has to offer? We need to get back to the old paths.

LET IT GROW

Who helped work on the Old Gate?
  • Two men joined in the repairing the Old Gate. They were co-founder, and shared the honor of it between them. Are we thankful for our partners in work, in our projects, in our service?
  • Several good and honest tradesmen/businessmen helped, as well as priests and rulers-goldsmiths, apothecaries (perfumers), merchants. They did not consider their time a loss in their business, but knew God would bless them.
  • Rephaiah had been a ruler responsible for half of Jerusalem. 
  • The ruler of the other half was Shallum. He and his daughters contributed money for buying materials and paying workmen.
  • There was a long section in the wall between the Old Gate and the Valley Gate, so the Tower of Furnaces served as a defense for that section.
Do we detect a spirit of unity and cooperation among the people? Did you notice that workers from neighboring communities worked on stretches of the wall away from the homes of Jerusalem builders?

We may no like the methods used in a project, but the outcome can be for greater good. We can support it with our resources.

LET IT GO

Get back to living on the old paths and the old ways.

Love God and love others.

*We would appreciate your prayers as we finally get a vacation this year. Going to visit the beautiful state of Oregon. My husband is giving me a tour, since I have never been there and he has. Can hardly wait to see God's wondrous creation.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Goin' Fishin"

O. T. #1045  "Goin' Fishin' "
August 18, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 2

LET IT GLOW

The Sheep Gate was completed so the priests could make the sacrifices in the Temple as the sheep were brought in for the slaughter. We talked about Jesus Christ being our Lamb of God that takes away our sins. He entered through this gate a He went into the Temple.

Fish Gate
One of the main roads into Jerusalem entered through the Fish Gate (2 Chron.33:14). since the fish market was near this gate, merchants from the Sea of Galilee, Mediterranean Sea, and the Jordan River. One probably did not have any problem locating this gate. Your nose would lead you right to it.

What does the Fish Gate symbolize? The Lord Jesus told his disciples to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men (Mark 4). Believers fish for people in various ways and places. It does not require a fishing pole and gear. We are taking God's Word into all sorts of places during our day-grocery store, shops, schools, work place.  We throw out the line with the bait on it, enticing a person to come to Jesus. This is done to the hurting, broken hearted, the sick, those in need. Jesus wants to be their hope. So get your stuff together. Read the Scriptures, ask for the leading of the Holy Spirit, surrender to God's will, and get fishing.


LET IT GROW

The Tekoites' nobles were lazy and would not lift a finger to help in the repairs of the Fish Gate. (verse 5)
There are always some who think that the work is beneath them; to wise or too important to participate. Every church has them. So we ignore them and continue the work without their help. (Non-fishermen enjoy eating the fish caught, though.) Does their inactivity seem to be remembered by the workers?

What joyful it is to lead someone to faith in Jesus. Often times it takes several witnesses using various types of bait before the fish is caught. So keep on fishin' friends.

LET IT GO

Share the love of Jesus and His Word today.

Look where the fish are biting, people in need.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Repairing Gates

O. T. #1044  "Repairing Gates"
August 17, 2017
Nehemiah 3


LET IT GLOW

Get out of my way. We are going to work.  God's with us in this.  By the way, you will have no part in it. Don't even try it. Nehemiah was bold, wasn't he? He had to keep those men who ridiculed the rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and the gates from discouraging the workers. In this chapter, 75 names of people are mentioned and at least 15 groups who were workers. Nehemiah knew their names and where they worked as he recorded this.

The ten gates tell us  story of the gospel, according to J. Vernon McGee. They are:
  1. Sheep Gate
  2. Fish Gate
  3. Old Gate
  4. Valley Gate
  5. Dung Gate
  6. Goat of the Fountain
  7. Water Gate
  8. Horse Gate
  9. East Gate
  10. Gate Miphkad
These obscure names and unknown places meant something to the people of that time. Their accomplishments were honored as their names were recorded in this chapter. It only took 52 days for the gates and wall to be rebuilt, so the workers got right to work. Keep in mind, the wall around Jerusalem was separated form the one around the Temple area. That inner one is where the gates were rebuilt.

Do we have any gates in our spiritual life that need repaired? How about our relationships, worship, faith, obedience, faithfulness, love?


LET IT GROW

How do those gates illustrate God's plan of salvation?

Sheep Gate
  • The priests built the sheep gate. (Eliashib was the grandson of Jeshua the high priest in Zerubbabel's era.)
  • They sanctified it unto God.
  • Doors were set up on it.
  • They dedicated the Tower of the Hundred and Tower of Hananel. (Its location was found by moving counterclockwise on the map. The area opened up to the Benjamin plateau where the enemies could easily attack.)
  • Men of Jericho built next to the Jews.
This gate as located on the north side of the Temple. There were no barriers, such as a hill or lookout towers. That is why they built the two towers. Now we can see the importance of this are being repaired first.
It was through the Sheep Gate that the animals for sacrifice were brought to the Temple. Obviously, that is how it got its name. Jesus would have entered the Temple area through he Sheep Gate, illustrating  Him being the sacrificial lamb of which John 1:29 speaks. When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.

The Sheep Gate symbolizes the Cross of Christ. It is at the cross where we begin our relationship with God. He was the perfect sacrificial Lamb who took our place in paying for our sins. What will we do with Jesus? Will we believe He is the Son of God and Risen Savior? Will we ask Him to forgive us of our sins and be our Savior? Or will we reject Him?

McGee talked about this after his visit, "If you came around the Mount of Olives on the road to Jericho, you would be at the place where these men worked. The pinnacle of the Temple and the Temple area is at that spot."

Are we using our gifts, abilities, and resources to build up the people of God? To further the Kingdom of God?

LET IT GO

Thank You Jesus for being my Sacrificial Lamb.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Scorned, Despised, and Mocked

O. T. #1043  "Scorned, Despised, and Mocked"
August 16, 2017
Nehemiah 2-Part 6
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised). And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.  Hebrews 10:23

LET IT GLOW

No one likes to be laughed at, made fun of, or ridiculed, especially when we were growing up. Right? It isn't a new thing. The Jews faced it, too. Although those three words in our title are strong, those techniques were used against the Jews by their enemies.

No one knew what Nehemiah intended to do in Jerusalem until this point. After making his plans, how did he reveal his purpose? We find the answer in verses 17 and 18:
  • He assembled and motivated the people. Jews in the area came-farmers, business owners, religious and political leaders. 
  • He presented their problem-walls were broken and gates were burnt around the city of Jerusalem, where the Temple was located. Nehemiah included himself, identifying with them.
  • He challenged the people to action,  joining him in rebuilding.
  • He gave his personal testimony as to how God's hand was upon him to obtain support of the king.
  • He challenged them to rise up and build.
The people were enthused about the building project. God must have been working in their hearts. All right then, let's get to work guys.
How do we respond to we respond when leaders challenge us?

LET IT GROW

The task wasn't going to be easy. Look what happened next. In verse 19, opposition raise its ugly head and tried to discourage the people. Three men named here:
  • laughed the people to scorn; (Scorn, according to Webster's Dictionary, means open dislike and disrespect. and derision often mixed with indignation, contempt.)
  • despised the people; (In other words, they looked down on them as worthless.)
  • mocked the project as foolish;
  • accused the Jews of rebelling against the king.
Their opposition is detailed in chapters 4-7. At this time their destructive path of ridicule, mockery, and false accusations began.

Any one laughing at you? Have you been ridiculed lately? Have people mocked you and your work? Have they even made false accusations against you?
Being a Christian and one that is doing the will of the Lord Jesus, is often not easy. Especially whenever we stand up for what the Bible says and it is against the world's ways.

We can't leave the story at this point.
How did bold Nehemiah reply?
  • The God of heaven will prosper us.
  • Therefore, we His servants will arise and build.
  • Ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem. 
Now that is what I'm talking about. Nehemiah was going to fulfill his God-given task. And when he was done, those three men would not be allowed to participate in anything within Jerusalem. Their authority over its citizens was gone and their claims on Jerusalem vanished. Nehemiah had been appointed governor of Jerusalem by King Artaxerxes and that was that! Way to go Nehemiah!


LET IT GO

Take my discouragement to God.

Trust Him to work in hearts.

Stand for His Word.

Encourage others in their kingdom work.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Planning Our Way

O. T. #1041  "Planning Our Way"
August 14, 2017
Nehemiah 2-Part 3

LET IT GLOW


Planning for our future is good. We plan our education, job, family, community, retirement. But, do we get so busy planning our way that we leave behind God's way? Without His power and blessings, we will fail.

Nehemiah had done more than pray in his closet for 4 months. He had been planning, which as an exercise of faith. He was so sure God would let him go to Jerusalem that Nehemiah drew up an agenda in case the king asked him how much leave of absence he would need. The presence of faith does not mean the absence of organization.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us,  The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

So it pleased the king to send me. (verse 6)

Nehemiah made preparations for the long journey to Jerusalem.  When the king asked how he could help, Nehemiah requested letters. These were necessary in order for him to safely pass through the territory of the Persian governors west of the Euphrates River. He would need a large military escort which did not pose a threat to the local governors. Also, he need to secure materials from the king's forest.

God stirred the heart of the king and such requests were granted. This cupbearer was on his way to being a chief bricklayer and a governor.

In Swindoll's book,Hand Me another Brick, he gives us 4 principles for getting started God's way:
  1. Changing a heart is God's specialty. Don't try to manipulate people, play games, plan schemes, trick, or deceive them. Instead, tell God on them!
  2. Praying and waiting go hand in hand. Learn to pray and wait, letting God take charge.
  3. Faith is not a synonym for disorder o a substitute for careful planning. Organize a plan of action while waiting on God to work.
  4. Opposition is o be expected when God's will is carried out. Following God's will usually involves at least one person in opposition. Press on and execute God's plan His way.

LET IT GROW

Scripture does not record anything about Nehemiah's journey to Jerusalem. From the capital of Susa, it could have taken 2-3 months. Obviously he had success in the territories through which he traveled. Once he arrived in Jerusalem, events began to happen rather quickly. Opposition was about to greet him. Of course, this had been going on 90 years as the building of Jerusalem was opposed by those who settled there while the Jews were in captivity.

Two officials, Sanballat and Tobiah, heard what was doing on in their region. They were very angry at the new governor, Nehemiah, being appointed in Jerusalem. (verse 10) What a welcome wagon.

A discovered ancient letter said that Sanballat was governor of that district, which he was from, Beth Horan, located some 12-18 miles from Jerusalem.
Now, Tobiah was either a governor of Ammon or else a high official who served under Sanballat.  Tobiah was married to the daughter of Shecaniah, one of Nehemiah's workers. His son was married to one of the daughters of Nehemiah's supervisors, Meshullam.  Also, Tobiah was closely related to the High Priest Eliashib. Both of these officials served under the authority of King Artaxerxes.
(The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible)

Obviously Nehemiah was a political threat to those two men. They feared loosing their power, authority, and influence over the people. Unfortunately, I have found this to be true in churches. When new people come in, those in control fear loosing their power. The shifting is not pleasant.

Are we serving God or our self? If we oppose God's work, there is a heart problem. Unity is important as we work together spreading the gospel of Jesus and teach His Word.

LET IT GO
                     ... of my plans and ask God what His plans for my life are.
                                ... and ask God to direct my plans and steps.
                                ... and realize opposition will be waiting.
                                ... submitting to God's will, giving Him glory.
                              

Why Are You Here/There?

O. T. #1042 "Why Are You Here/There?"
August 15, 2017
Nehemiah 2-Part 4


LET IT GLOW

Do you know the  purpose God has for your life? Why are you living here? Why are you working at your job? Why are you attending church where you are? Are we spending time alone with God to ask Him for the answers, listening for answers, and ready to follow Him? Join me as we see how Nehemiah found his answers.

Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Not only did Nehemiah risk his life being a sad cupbearer, but when he made requests of King Artaxerxes also. After 4 months of prayer and planning, he found himself leaving a good job with the king of this empire to travel 800 miles to lay bricks. He lead a military escort through enemy territory. The only thing that kept him safe were the letters from he king.What a leader! What a man of faith and obedience.

Nehemiah should have had affirmation that he was doing God's will when he was met by opposition of those who despised the things of God as the welcoming committee. When he entered the city of Jerusalem there was no parade downtown, guided tours fireworks, luncheons with officials or press conferences.

A rebuilt Jerusalem  posed a threat to the authority of the Samaritan officials who had been running things since the Jews were taken captive. They didn't want any more Jews in their city threatening their positions.

Are we faithful, obedient servants when God leads us to trust Him as we walk by faith into an unknown situation? Nehemiah was.

LET IT GROW

How did Nehemiah spend the first three days in Jerusalem? He rested. What he did next was a surprise. I can tell you he wasn't at a country club getting acquainted with the local officials or dining with the Jewish leaders. No, his first order of business was to seek silence and solitude for the purpose of undisturbed reflection. He paused to learn and gather information or the task at hand.

Paul spent 3 years in reparation and transformation for the service of Christ. Jesus spent times in solitude away from crowds in fellowship with God. Are their examples tell us something?

It was at night when Nehemiah took a tour with God to survey the walls of Jerusalem-a secret survey. We read of the details of his findings in verses 13-15. It was a secret investigation. His findings and plans were unknown until the right time.
The rulers didn't know where he went or what he did. He didn't even tell the Jews or priests. He formulated the details of his plans. So no one knew why Nehemiah was there.

Why are you here? Why are you living there? Are you on mission for God?
Do we run off half organized with a plan when we get excited about God's plan for us? There is a time to rest, pray, and fast, then a time to act.

LET IT GO

Spend time in prayer, fasting, and in God's Word seeking answers to my questions.

Listen to God.

Be ready to obey.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Making Requests

O. T. #1040  "Making Requests"
August 11, 2017
Nehemiah 2-Part 2
Then the king said unto me, For what doest thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.  Nehemiah 2:4

LET  IT GLOW

We never know until we ask. We may be hesitant to ask something of our boss, spouse, or friend. Instead of thinking they may refuse our request, ask and see how they answer. It just might be affirmative. Nehemiah was at such a crossroad in his life.

Four months had passed since Nehemiah had heard the sad news of Jerusalem's broken walls and burnt gates. He knew that meant his  Jewish family was susceptible to enemy attacks in that condition. So Nehemiah prayed and prayed. The things changed-the king asked him why Nehemiah was sad. After Nehemiah explained, the king asked how he could help. King Artaxerxes, who ruled over the Medeo-Persian Empire, offered help to the Jews? Now that was an answer to prayer!

Nehemiah was afraid, so he quickly said a prayer. He boldly laid his request before the king: Would you send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried? This would mean the king would loose his trusted official's service. Did such a request shock the king? Would he give permission to leave?

In Proverbs 21, we read  that the king's heart is like channels of water in the  Lord's hand. He turns it wherever He wishes. Like irrigation channels carrying water, God causes the king's heart to bend and incline in whatever direction He pleases. (Swindoll)


Folks, will you join together in praying for our President today as he deals with the threats on America?
We can boldly approach God through Jesus Christ in our time of need like Nehemiah did. We can ask King Jesus for His guidance, protection, and deliverance. Almighty God is the only king victorious and sovereign forever. Let us praise Him.

LET IT GROW

What a timely lesson!
The king asked Nehemiah how long his journey would be and when he would return. Nehemiah gave the king an answer. Scripture does not tell us his answer. (He ended up staying 12 years.)

Another request was made for letter granting permission to travel throughout the land on his way to Judah. Also, letters giving Nehemiah timber for the walls and gates and his house. It was all granted.

God gives us power to be strong, courageous, and fearless as we face difficult or trying situations. He did it for Moses and Joshua. He can do it for us.

Do we hesitate to ask others for help? God's answers to our prayers may come in that form.
Are we hesitant to ask God for something on our heart, a burden? Do we have faith the size of a mustard seed? He just might grant it, as the king did for Nehemiah.


LET IT GO

Ask, pray, seek God's will.