Friday, September 22, 2017

Rejoice

O. . #1066  "Rejoice"
Sept. 22, 2017
Nehemiah 8-Part 2
And Nehemiah continued, "Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10


LET IT GLOW

Our denomination enjoys fellowshiping over a meal. We have pot luck often, using any excuse to have it. Sometimes there is no reason at all for it. Today's lesson ends with a feast.

Ezra read from the Law of Moses for 6 hours as the people listened attentively. He praised their great God. The Jews responded by raising their hands, saying "Amen," and bowing down to the ground to worship God. Then Ezra instructed the 13 Levites standing beside him to explain the meaning of the Word in  their own language.
Interestingly, the word people is mentioned 15 times and understanding is used 6 times in verses 1-13. so the focus was upon the people understanding the Word of God. The massive crowd could have contained as many as 50,000 people so not all understood the Hebrew language.

The study of God's Word produces two results-mourning over the conviction of sin and rejoicing of the heart. As the people were convicted of sin, they were weeping and mourning, which began to interrupt the service. Once they confessed and repented of their sins, the LORD forgave them. Then, instead of mourning and weeping, they were to celebrate by feasting and sharing with those who were in need. They were to stop grieving and give thanks and praise to the LORD for His forgiveness. And that the Jews did. They celebrated with great joy because they had heard God's Word and understood them. Their celebration was not self-centered because they shared with others that were without.
Did you know this Bible conference was held for a week? (verse 18)

Is the Lord the joy of our strength?
Paul said to believers in Philippians 4:13,  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. In 4:4, he said, Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice.

Are the Scriptures making us joyful?
Do we apply all the day long, what we have learned in our Bible study?

Together we sing, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the earth is filled with His glory. As I type this, I hear this song on my radio. What great timing!

LET IT GROW

This was a special month in the life of the Israel. Three significant events were to take place during the seventh month:
  1. the Feast of Trumpets was celebrated on the first day, was later celebrated as the New Year on the Jewish calendar;
  2. the Day of Atonement was celebrated on the tenth day;
  3. the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated on the fifteenth day.
A thousand years elapsed between  Moses' writing of the Law and Ezra's reading of the Law. (Wiersbe)

LET IT GO

Repent of my sins.
Let the Lord fill my heart with joy.
Share with others.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Listening

O. T #1065  "Listening"
Sept. 21, 2017
Nehemiah 8

Jesus to us in these Scriptures:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.  (John 5:39)
I am the way, the truth, and the life.  (John 14:6)

LET IT GLOW

We can learn a lot by listening, whether it is to others or to God's Word. Words reveal thoughts, feelings, and instructions. We need to listen twice as much as we talk. But do we? Did the Jews in this chapter? Read on to find out.

The scribe Ezra had been teaching the Law of God for 12 years in Jerusalem and Judah before the arrival of Nehemiah. Eventually, Ezra's teaching had made an impact on the Jews. Now that the walls around Jerusalem were rebuilt, the nation and the people needed rebuilding. This was achieved through:
  • God's Word,
  • a revived spirit,
  • making a covenant of commitment,
  • strengthening both Jerusalem and the people,
  • and discipline. (The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible)
The people gathered at the Water Gate where Ezra gave a powerful and moving sermon from the law of Moses. Did they have a hungering for God's Word? Evidently so, because Ezra read it for 6 hours, as they were attentive.
How many have a problem listening to a sermon for just 30 minutes?
Are we hungering for the Word of God?

LET IT GROW

What happened during that time?
  • Ezra read from a high wooden pulpit (a tower), platform.
  • On his right stood 6 assistants and on his left stood 7 assistants, named in verse 4.
  • When Ezra opened the book, immediately the people stood up. They honored and respected God's Word in this manner. (There were no soft cushioned pews.)
  • First, Ezra praised the LORD, the great God before teaching the Word.
  • Next, the people responded by saying "Amen," while raising their hands, then bowing down and worshipped God with their faces on the ground.

Do we listen attentively to God's Word?
Do we ask, "How does this apply to my life?"
Are we asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand it?


LET IT GO

Listen attentively to God's Word.
Ask how it applies to me.
Don't hesitate to praise the Lord with "amen's" and raising of my hands.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pioneers of Faith

O. T. #1064  "Pioneers of Faith"
Sept. 20, 2017
Nehemiah 7-Part 2
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength. 
Isaiah 26:3-4

LET IT GLOW

Pioneers of faith. Are there people who come to your mind when it is mentioned? I can think of several in our home church, yet they have gone on to heaven now. They remained faithful to God during their lifetime. And the lasting influence they had on us. Their teachings and encouragements kept us going to where we are now. The Jews had some pioneers of faith, too. Shall we check them out?

At that time, the city was large and spacious, but the population was small, and none of the houses had been rebuilt. So God gave Nehemiah the idea (heart) to call together all the nobles and leaders of the city, along with the ordinary citizens, for registration (genealogy). verses 4-5, NLT/KJV

It had been 69 years since Zerrubbabel led the first group of Jews back to Jerusalem. They came out of a 70 year captivity in Babylon and Persia. Obviously, they were old or dead by this time. Then there were those who returned with Ezra. which was 12 years earlier. Those groups had rebuilt the Temple and the sacrificial system of worship, only to turn away from it during those 57 years before Ezra returned.

It was to the pioneers of faith that God wanted to rebuild His nation, have a new life, occupy the Promised Land, and experience His blessings. These people listed here were ancestors of the faith. They genuinely trusted God, believed He would fulfill His promise to send the future King and Savior, Messiah-Jesus Christ-into the world through them.
Nehemiah wanted such people as citizens of Jerusalem, people of strong faith and commitment in the promises of God. He insisted the population of Jerusalem be of pure Jewish blood or descent. (11:1-24)

Can we be called pioneers of faith within our family and church?
Do we trust God with all our heart?


LET IT GROW

Note that this census of genealogy is about the same as the one found in Ezra 2. A few names and numbers differ. The scribes copying the original may have messed up accuracy.

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible gives us 10 points of an outline, breading down the genealogy of those registered:

  1. The original leaders: Zerubbabel (the governor), Jeshua (the High Priest), and 10 others listed in verses 6-7.
  2. The various families or clans in verses 8-25.
  3. People from various cities and towns in verses 26-38.
  4. The priests in verses 39-42.
  5. Levites, including Levite singers and gatekeepers in verses 43-45.
  6. Temple servants and the servants of Solomon, including descendants of various clans and of several servants of Solomon in verses 46-60.
  7. People whose ancestry was questionable and could not be proven: The Babylonian town from which they came; the 3 families or clans from which they descended; the priest who had no record to prove they were true priests in verses 61-65. Those were excluded from the priesthood and not given the priests' share of sacred food until their priesthood was established.
  8. The totals-of exiles or captives; the servants; the singers; the livestock found in verses 66-69.
  9. The contributions given to the work-what the governor, other leaders, and other people gave is listed in verses 70-72.
  10. The settlement of the returning exiles, towns from which their families had been taken into captivity and exiled to Babylon in verse 73. This was throughout Israel.
Now, that was a long list. However, God considered it important or He would not have had Nehemiah write it down. Verse 66 gives the sum total of people who returned to Judah as 42,360. (If you want it broken down, NLT gives it.)

I believe God has put us in a particular family for His purpose. Perhaps it is in order for us to be His witness. Are we a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, sharing His coming again, and our home in heaven that awaits us?


LET IT GO

Be a pioneer of faith to this generation, remaining faithful to the end.
Pray for my family members.
Pray for my church.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Singing with Joy

O. T. #1063  "Singing with Joy"
Sept. 19, 2017
Nehemiah 7


LET IT GLOW

In verse 1 Nehemiah appointed singers.
The spirit of praise is the spirit of power. This means we should be a rejoicing group of folk, but joy is often absent from the contemporary church. It is not made up of  happy group of people. Bible study is not a joy to them.  (J. Vernon McGee)

Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18-19, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is access; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Are we encouraging others with songs, psalms? Do w make melody in our heart to the Lord?



LET IT GROW

After the 52 days spent rebuilding and repairing the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah organized security and the leadership there. It was not enough for it to be standing tall wall, providing protection against enemies outside, but they had to prevent enemies from entering the city to do them harm. The city was great and large, but the people were few. (verse 4)

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible describes what Nehemiah did to secure Jerusalem:
  • He appointed the gatekeepers. (verse 1) They usually guarded the doors of the Temple, but because of the continuing threat by the surrounding nations, Nehemiah appointed them to stand guard at the gates of the city.
  • He assigned to the singers and Levites, assistants to the priests, the additional duty of helping the gatekeepers guard the city. This protected against any enemy's infiltrating the population to carry out terrorist actions.
  • He appointed 2 military leaders, each one being assigned the responsibility for half the city.
  • One was Nehemiah's brother, Hanani. He was the man who originally brought the dark report of the walls to Nehemiah when he was the king's cupbearer. (1:2)
  • The other military leader was Hananiah, who had earlier been appointed commander of the citadel or palace. (3:8) He was a man of integrity who feared God. 
  • Those two leaders were to immediately set security measures in place. (verse 3) Rumors of impending attacks had been spreading across the countryside.
  • Nehemiah instructed them to make sure the gates were open only after sunrise.
  • They were to organize a neighborhood watch, posting citizens on the wall by their own houses.
Two things were needed-more people and more housing. Their population was not enough to protect the city. Also, they needed more housing or more people to live there. (verse 4)

LET IT GO

Be grateful to God for all He has given me.
Sing His praises throughout today.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Keep on to the End

O. T.#1062  "Keep on to the End"
Sept. 18, 2017
Nehemiah 6-Part 3
If, when you do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto, were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps. 2 Peter 2:21

LET IT GLOW

This was the third year our church held a teen girls retreat. Everyone worked hard to make it a success. God  worked in and through the women leaders, the musicians, and the speaker. He worked in the hearts of the girls and 6 were saved this past Saturday. Only God can save a sinner. We give Him the glory and praise. Nehemiah and the Jews worked hard on the wall and gates around Jerusalem. For about a century and a half the walls laid in ruins.

Finally, it was finished! In the hottest part of the year, the Jewish builders worked day and night, day after day, until the wall around Jerusalem was completed. Amazingly, it only took 52 days, less than 2 months, to get the job done.  Only God could have done this through them. He works through faithful people; it is God who works.

Perseverance was essential in the task completion by the Jews. They worked until it was done. In spite of opposition, disaggreeance, there is the tendency to quit when it gets tough.

How is our perseverance in these scenarios?
  • marriage,
  • raising children,
  • working at our job,
  • leading projects,
  • teaching a class at church,
  • staying faithful to Christ?

LET IT GROW

What impact did the completion have on their enemies?
  • They were disheartened, for they had failed to stop the project.
  • They were frightened since Jerusalem would grow stronger with God's help.
It is revealed in verses 17-19 how Tobiah found out what Nehemiah was doing during the work. He communicated with nobles in Judah, since he married into a Jewish family. His son had married one o the workers on the wall. Also, h had a close relationship with the high priest. Jewish leaders were loyal to Tobiah, probably due to business dealings. These informers spoke of the happenings. They even tried to persuade Nehemiah that Tobiah was a good ole boy. Those tattletales!

People in leadership often receive nasty notes, rude e-mails, mean text messages, belligerent voicemails, or even old-fashioned hate mail, trying to intimidate leaders with personal attacks. One mean-spirited comment can trump a dozen glowing praises. Leaders nee discernment in order to weed out such comments. Because Nehemiah was on his knees, he was able to face the threats without giving in or loosing sight of his ultimate goal. (Swindoll)



LET IT GO

Keep on keepin' on.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Slander and Lies

O. T. #1061 "Slander and Lies"
Sept 15, 2017
Nehemiah 6-Part 2
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.  Proverbs 29:25

LET IT GLOW

We mentioned the three different schemes the enemies of Nehemiah and the Jews that were used in an effort to stop the building of the Jerusalem wall. God's people experience them, also.
First was compromise and cooperation with worldly unbelievers. Second was slander, rumor, and lies. Third was acting cowardly and disobeying God.

Nehemiah thought carefully about his response to the 5 letters the enemies sent. He knew the charges were false and slanderous. There was no truth at all. He was not planning a revolt against the king nor planning to attack the surrounding nations.

How did Nehemiah respond?
  • He forcefully denied the slander and lies. (verse 8)
  • He boldly charged the enemy with lying and deception.
  • He prayed for strength. (verse 9)
Slander and lies cause intense pain and often destroys a persons reputation and character. Gossip can be included in the list.

Do we have a strong character of integrity? Are we walking in the truth of God's Holy Word?
Are we obeying His commandments? Do we live righteously before the public?

LET IT GROW

Nehemiah's enemies devised a third scheme, leading him to act cowardly and disobey God. They hired a priest to deceive Nehemiah and lead him into a trap. He was warned of an assassination plot and suggested they hid in the Temple.

Nehemiah's refusal:
  • to act cowardly in fleeing;
  • to disobey God by entering the Holy Place, in which only priests were allowed to enter. (Numbers 18:7) He did not want to sin against God.
  • Nehemiah knew his enemies had hired the priest.
Sometime later, when he was alone, Nehemiah prayed, asking God to execute justice against Tobiah and Sanballat, the prophetess Noadiah, and other unnamed prophets who opposed God's work.

Dare we pray for justice in situations? Can we stand for what is right?
David stood against the giant Goliath, who blasphemed God, and was victorious.
Gideon's small army won the battle through faith in Almighty God.


LET IT GO

Stand strong in faith for God.
Continue to obey His Word.
Ask for discernment.
Recognize lies.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Compromise

O.T. 1060 "Compromise"
Sept. 13,2017
Nehemiah 6

LET IT GLOW

The wall around Jerusalem was almost completed, only the gates had to be hung. Nehemiah's opposition had failed previously, but they were not done. If the wall was done, then their enemies could not defeat them. The Jews could become a powerful empire in the world. It was the same 3 conniving rulers that schemed against God's servants.

Three schemes included:
1. Compromise, cooperation with worldly unbelievers (v. 1-4)
2. Slander, rumor, lies. (v. 5-9)
3. Acting cowardly and disobeying God. (v. 10-14)

So 4 letters were sent to Nehemiah trying to get him to meet with them in Ono, a city 20 miles from Jerusalem. Each time he replied that he could not leave the work unsupvised and suggesting they meet in Jerusalem. Nehemiah suspected foul play. His enemies had a plot to kill Nehemiah. He had discernment and wisdom.

So many times believers compromise engaging in immorality, stealing, cheating, alcohol and drugs, join the crowd, and even unlawful behavior.
Are we aware that such can destroy our testimony?

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

LET IT GLOW

The fifth time Nehemiah's enemies sent an unsealed letter to him so others would read it and spread lies. He was accused of plotting a rebellion to set himself up as king. Sanballat threatened to notify the king of this.
Nehemiah's response was to deny the slander. He boldly charged the enemy of lying and deception. He prayed for strength because he knew the enemy was using intimidation to stop the work.

Lie not one to another, seeing that he have put off the old man with his deeds. Colossians 3:9

Are we discerning and wise in or responses?

LET IT Go

Pray for discernment.
Avoid compromise with unbelievers.