Monday, September 25, 2017

From This Time Forward

O. T. #1067  "From This Time Forward"
Sept. 25, 2017
Nehemiah 8-Part 3
And there was very great gladness. Nehemiah 8:17b

LET IT GLOW

Perhaps it was during a revival meeting, or after a near death experience, or after God brought us through a trying time in our life, that we made the commitment from this time forward to follow Jesus with all of our heart. We decided to be faithful to reading His Word daily, praying deeper, and obeying the leading of His Spirit. Such a commitment is usually followed by repentance of our sins. Then joy comes as it did with the Israelites in this chapter.

The Jews listened to Ezra read the Law of Moses for 6 hours. Then they repented, rejoiced, and ate food and drank, sharing with others.
What happened on the second day of their gathering together?
  • There was a meeting of family leaders, priests, and Levites met with Ezra the scribe to go over the Law in greater detail.  (verse 13)
  • While studying the Law, they discovered the Lord commanded Israel to live in shelters, tabernacles, booths, during the festival to be held during that very month. This celebration was known as the Feast of Tabernacles, which reminded Israel of their forefathers living in such tents as they wondered in the wilderness, freed from Egyptian slavery, and entering the Promised Land (conquering it). They gathered branches from olive, pine, myrtle, and palm trees for such a temporary housing lasting 7 days. It illustrated God's provision and protection during those years.
  • Word was spread in all Jerusalem and their cities-it was time for the Feast of Tabernacles to be observed. (verse 15)
  • These Jews obeyed God's Word as they built shelters in the courtyards, Temple courts, on the public squared of the Water Gate and the Ephraim Gate. (verse 16)
  • They celebrated the festival with great joy, which had not been done since the days of Joshua.
  • There was very great gladness. (verse 17)
Have we quit celebrating the Lord's Day, worshiping on Sunday our Risen Lord Jesus? We remember His birth and resurrection on days set aside for celebration, but are we thankful for them every day?

LET IT GROW

The celebration lasted 7 days as instructed in God's Word. During that time, Ezra read  in the book of the law of God daily. The long forgotten Feast of Tabernacles was faithfully reinstituted. What a spiritual awakening.

In his study guide, Hand Me Another Brick: Timeless Lessons on Leadership, Charles R. Swindoll gives this overview of chapter 8:
The Israelites met for a time of corporate prayer. The celebration brought them to an understanding of both the holiness of God and the depth of their sins, which led to an expression of deep sorrow and humility. Together they prayed, offering up sincere confession as well as thanksgiving and praise. And they committed to change-to study and obey God's commands from that point forward. The Israelites' example provides guidelines for the discipline of prayer that are meaningful, logical, and relevant for us today.
Are we wandering around in our wilderness without God's Word as a guide? Will we ask others the same question?
Have we made such a faithful follower commitment to Jesus lately? If not, today is a good day for it.
Is very great gladness missing in our life?

LET IT GO

Get back to serving Jesus more faithfully.
Obey His Word.
Praise Jesus for His freedom from sin.

*Please remember my husband as he has knee replacement today. Thanks y'all. Love you.

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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Repent, Restore, Repay

O T. #1059  "Repent, Restore, Repay"
September 12, 2017
Nehemiah 5-Part 3
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that  they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate (give, show benevolence): Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.   1 Timothy 6:17-19

LET IT GLOW


Folks, are we highminded, arrogant, because we have a big savings account? Are we neglecting those in need? Are we taking advantage of those in need? Some of the Jews were.

Repent, restore, repay. That was quite a talking to Nehemiah gave the wealthy nobles and officials in Jerusalem. He told them what they were doing was wrong. Because of the high interest charged on loans (for food), the poorer workers on the wall were mortgaging off their land and  children into slavery. Oppression
Nehemiah told those guys to:
  • walk in the fear God, be a witness of His, in other words, repent; 
  • restore the fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes;
  • repay the interest charged when they lent money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.
He laid it on the line, didn't he? Sometimes we just need to hear the plain truth, and not beat around the bush. However, reality can be hard. How do we react when confronted with it?

LET IT GROW

So what happened in Jerusalem? Those scoundrels said they would give back everything and demand nothing more from the people-restitution. They agreed to do as Nehemiah said. They faced the wrong head-on.
Nehemiah called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised n an oath. As an illustration, he shook the folds of his robe, asking God to shake out the possessions and house of any who failed to keep their promise. Can you hear the amens?

Today, will we do what is the right thing to do as a Christian? When we don't, will we repent, restore, and repay any wrong?

LET IT GO

Be not highminded (arrogant).
Trust in the Living God.
Do good.
Be rich in good works.
Be ready to distribute when the opportunity comes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Taking Advantage

O. T. #1058  "Taking Advantage"
Sept. 11, 2017
Nehemiah 5-Part 2
Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.

LET IT GLOW

Do you remember in Sunday School when we were taught the Golden Rule? Treat others the way we want to be treated. Where has it gone? Is it still around? Few demonstrate it now. They take advantage of others in order to profit themselves, but Nehemiah didn't.

Nehemiah was very angry with the social injustice being done to his people. After consulting with himself, he called a public meeting with the wealthy noble men and officials, the ones doing it.
What did Nehemiah do about this?
  • He pointed out their inconsistent, contradictory behavior. (v.7-8) They had been enslaved by the Persian Empire and now they were enslaving their Jewish brethren.
  • They must show fear for God, having respect and worship for Him.
  • Nehemiah challenged them the wealthy to be a witness for God. (v.9)
  • He gave his personal testimony.
Do we take advantage of others when it is possible?

LET IT GROW

What had Nehemiah done?
  • Nehemiah did not use his governor's expense account for his own personal use.
  • He didn't collect taxes from the people. Obtaining wealth and property was not his purpose, but rebuilding the wall was.
  • Nehemiah shared his wealth with others. He supported 150 officials and employees who served in is government, as well as many exiles who had returned there.
  • He entertained visitors o official business.
  • He did this he 12 years that he served as governor, never demanding provisions from the people. He felt the people had enough pressure on them in rebuilding their homes, city, and its walls.
  • He bore the weight of excessive taxation demanded by the Persians.
  • Nehemiah sought to please the LORD those 12 years.
[Resource:  The Preacher's Outlines  and Sermon Bible]

Can we say that Nehemiah served sacrificially the people as God had appointed him to do?
Do we see those around us that are suffering?
Will we help meet their needs wit love and compassion?

In the story of the Good Samaritan, we recognize compassion, sacrifice, and giving of himself in order to help another. Other passed the injured man without helping him, but this half-breed did not.
Ruth worked hard to provide for her mother in law, Naomi. so many examples in the Bible for us to follow.

LET IT GO

                                ... of selfishness.
                                ... and give to others.
                                ... treating others like I want to be treated.
                             


Friday, September 8, 2017

Love, Loans, and Lucre

O. T. #1057  "Love, Loans, and Lucre"
Sept. 8, 2017
Nehemiah 5

LET IT GLOW

Everything went smoothly as the Jewish brick layers rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. Brick by brick they sang to the Lord, smiling, helping each other. Their families were having a blast, too.  That is a good thought, but it was not the reality of Nehemiah's situation. No, it was actually the opposite.

What should have been a time of showing and developing brotherly love wasn't. Working from sunup to sundown  resulted in problems. There was a famine in the land; a shortage of laborers in the fields to harvest the crops. Jewish workers from the outlying villages were staying in the city for their safety. These factors contributed to a serious economic and financial crisis. Three groups of Jews were being oppressed by the rich, who took advantage of the workers:
  • The poor Jews did not have enough food to survive (verse 2)
  • The property owners who had to mortgage their fields and homes in order to buy foods. (verse3)
  •  Others had to borrow money to pay their taxes to the Persian government. (verse 4)
[Resource: The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible]

The wealthy Jews were loaning money with too much interest to their brethren. They demanded property as collateral. Their children were taken as slaves in place of the property. Leviticus 25 forbid such a thing. Brotherly love was to be the basic rule for the Jews, but it was not. These Jews either became wealthy in exile and brought it with them to Jerusalem or were the descendants of the first returnees.

Hard, selfish, and greedy hearts resulted in loving filthy lucre (money) more than those in need.

1 John 3:16 instructs us, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life forus: and we ought to lay down or lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bows of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.




LET IT GROW

These situations put an unbearable strain on the people's finances as well as their emotions. It could mean a failing nation and a wall not being completed. (Recall that Nehemiah's brother had told him that the returnees were in great trouble and distress in  Nehemiah 1:3) From whom would the Messiah come? Nehemiah had a serious matter on his hands.

How did Nehemiah react and what did he do?
  • It made him very angry. and rightfully so. (verse 6) Nehemiah showed self control.
  • He consulted himself. (I like that phrase.) He got alone and thought through the action needed in order to solve the problem,
  • He rebuked to the nobles and officials. (verse 7)
  • He told them that they were hurting their own relatives by charging interest when they borrowed money.
  • Then Nehemiah called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
A famine, high taxes, inappropriate interest. Sounds familiar.

Do we have a quiet place where we can lay all the emotions of our soul before God?
Do we consult God before we face the situation head on?
Are we setting a Christ-like standard in the way we serve and lead others?

LET IT GO

Consult God and consult myself.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lending a Helping Hand

O. T. #1056  "Lending a Helping Hand"
Sept. 7, 2017
Nehemiah 4-Part 4

LET IT GLOW

Do we see it? Do we hear about it? So many folks have gone to Texas and Louisiana to lend a helping hand for those in great need. (Plus supportive business in my area.) Others have sent items and monetary support. It gives me goose bumps to experience the love being shared with our fellow Americans in need. (Our Disaster Relief group from our state convention is feeding the desolate.)

And now as I write, I wonder if even more folk, those in Florida, will be in the same boat soon. I pray that God will quiet the winds and the rains as He did for His disciples in the storm while in a boat. (My sister and her family live there, too.)
So how did the Jews react when their brethren (builders on the wall) were in need of help? Join me as we find out.

There was a conspiracy against Jerusalem. Their enemies completely surrounded the Jews-on the north was Sanballat and the Samaritans; on the south was Geshem and the Arabs, on the east was Tobiah and the Ammonites; then on the wet was Ashdodites, who were the Philistines. They planned to swoop down on the rebuilders, kill them, and end their work before they knew what happened.
Even Judah complained that the workers were getting tired and there was too much rubble to move. Sounds like they were too pooped to pop. They could never be able to build the wall by themselves.

Why in the world was this happening? Earlier, we read about those same  wealthy men who wanted the money that Jerusalem provided. Economics is often behind opposition, isn't it?

Cyril J. Baber said, "A powerful Jerusalem means a depressed Samaria. One of the main highways passed through Jerusalem. With Jerusalem a well-protected city, its very location would attract trade; and gone would be Samaria's  economic supremacy in the land beyond the river."

Sounds like they didn't have a prayer in the world, but they did.

Verse 9 says, Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

Back in 2:20, NLT, Nehemiah told those enemies, The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, His servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right or historic claim in Jerusalem.

When Nehemiah looked over this situation, he called the noble and people together, encouraging them, Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!

Is our God still great and glorious? He never changes. He is the same today as back them.
Do we make a prayer to our God in our times of need?
Are we holding onto the fact that God can make us successful in our times of need?
Do we hear Nehemiah's strong, unwavering faith in God?



LET IT GROW

Discouragement can come through loss of strength, loss of vision, loss of confidence, and loss of security. (Swindoll)

Nehemiah placed armed guards on the lower parts of the exposed areas. Others that were armed, and stood guard by families as they worked on the wall. Prayer and practical action; God gave us minds and bodies. Are we using them?

Look at verse 15: When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall.

How did this happen?
  • From then on, only half of the men worked, while the other half stood guard with weapons.
  • Leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah.
  • Laborers worked with one hand, holding a weapon in the other hand.
  • All workers had a sword belted to them.
  • The trumpeter stayed with Nehemiah to sound the alarm when needed.
  • Because the work was spread out along the all, separating the men, when they heard the blast of the trumpet, they were to run to aid those being attacked. Then our God will fight for us.
  • People living outside Jerusalem were told to come inside the wall and help be a guard as well.
  • No one changed their clothing.
  • They didn't set aside their weapons, even while going for water to drink.
  • The builders worked from daylight to dark.
What commitment! Has the trumpet been sounded in our country? Are we lending a helping hand?
Are we encouraging those who need it?

Here are some Scriptures to lend a helping hand:
Ephesian 6:10-18
1 Thessalonians 5:8-9
1 Peter 5:8-10
Revelation 12:11
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Isaiah 43:1-2

LET IT GO

Lend a helping hand to those in need.

Show them love and encouragement.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Attacking Enemies

O. T. #1055  "Attacking Enemies"
Sept.6, 2017
Nehemiah 4-Part 3

LET IT GLOW

Do we allow rumors and insults against us to cause us to back away from the stands we take for our beliefs? The Jews were being attacked by their enemies. Is there something we can learn from their preparations for such attacks?

It was when the walls around Jerusalem were only repaired half of its height that their enemies came ridiculing and mocking the Jews to get them to stop their work. Nehemiah met the discouragement with prayer. The people had a mind to work, which made their enemies furious.

What were the children of Israel and Nehemiah up against? Their enemies gathered and made plans to fight against Jerusalem. (verses 7-8) What were their strategies?
  • Scorn, ridicule, mockery, and insults;
  • spreading rumors of a secret attack plotted;
  • discourage the Jewish workers, stirring up complaints of weakness and fatigue;
  • threatening and intimidating the Jews to cause fear in their hearts.
Do we allow rumors to  make us weak and fearful?

LET IT GROW

Nehemiah didn't pack up and return to King Artaxerxes as a failure, reporting a job half done. He used four strategies to prepare the Jewish people for any secret attacks:
  1. The people were armed and stationed at weak armed exposed areas of the wall. (verse 13) Nehemiah  posted the Jews by families, knowing that would cause them to be more readily to fight and defend their loved ones. Every family had swords, spears, and bows.
  2. Nehemiah assembled the people together and challenged them. (verse 14) He assured them of God's presence and power, challenged them to not fear, and assured them of God's deliverance.
  3. He lead the people back to work on the wall, showing their trust in the Lord and endurance. Their enemies heard about the Jews' indomitable spirit. They knew their lots had been frustrated. The Lord did it.
  4. Nehemiah organized the people for both work and battle.(verses16-23) (The Preachers Outline and Sermon Bible)
As we walk through life, are we prepared for the attacks of our enemy, Satan?
Do we realize that people may not like our personality, avoid us, spread rumors and false accusations against us, assault us verbally, or even hate the good we stand for.
Do we turn our fearful and discouraged heart to God?
Are staying in God's Word and prayer?

Let us follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith. Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Watch out for that roaring lion who is seeking someone to destroy today.

LET IT GO

Face the fight with the sword of the Spirit-Scriptures.
Walk with Jesus.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Continuing On

O. T. #1054  "Continuing On"
Sept. 5, 2017
Nehemiah 4-Part 2
At last the wall was completed to half its height around the entire city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm.  Nehemiah 4:6

LET IT GLOW

How many half finished projects do I have lying around my house? I look around and can see some, that's for sure. Maybe it's that way in my heart. I become discouraged and back out of my service when it is not complete. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
The Jews and Nehemiah had that challenge in today's reading.

Ridicule and mockery-they can cut to the bone. They can result in discouragement and despair. It's called bullying now days. When it happens to children, it is stopped. But when adults do it, nothing stops it. It grows like a wild fire.

Nehemiah must have heard about the mockery of Sanballat and Tobiah. We can hear their ridicule in the first 3 verses. Not only were those men trying to hinder the building project, but they were enemies of the Jews and God.
How did Nehemiah respond? NLT verse of the Bible tells us:
  • First, he prayed to his God. Nehemiah was driven to prayer 8 times during these events. (When forces of evil surround us, when we are faced with adversity, we must turn to God.)
  • Hear us, our God, we are being mocked. Nehemiah included himself in the group need.
  • May their scoffing fall back on their own heads. He asked for deliverance based upon God's justice and righteousness.
  • May they themselves become captives in a foreign land. (The Jews had been in captivity for 70 years.)
  • Do not ignore their guilt.
  • Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders. Nehemiah asked God to recompense them according to their sin.
When we are faced with a mockery of our faith, do we fall to our knees in prayer? Dear ones, He is waiting.

Psalm 91:15 assures us, He shall call upon Me, and I will answer Him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.

Are we calling upon Jesus in our time of need? His line is not busy.
Jesus has changed our right to ask for justice whenever His child is wronged. He tells us to be king, tenderhearted, forgiving, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32)

LET IT GROW

So what did these people do? They continued to work, according to our key verse. The job was only half don. They had more to build. Nehemiah ignored the sarcasm of the enemy and prayed, then continued to work. The opposition of  ridicule was overcome by the people.

In the midst of adversity the people had a unified purpose and a compelling desire to finish the work. (Falwell)

Are we setting our heart and mind upon finishing the task God has given us? Is our faith growing stronger and not faint? One day we will receive rewards for our faithfulness.

LET IT GO

Continue on faithfully serving God.

Don't faint, but grow strong faith.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Facing Ridicule

O. T. #1053  "Facing Ridicule"
Sept. 4, 2017
Nehemiah 4
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.  James 1:12 

LET IT GLOW

Through prayer and a planning, Nehemiah went to Jerusalem with a purpose of rebuilding the wall around the city in order to protect it from enemies outside. The Temple had been rebuilt, but through time the religious practices fell by the wayside. With everyone in their place of work, materials, and communication, progress continued. Sections of the wall and the ten gates were repaired and who worked on them were listed in the last chapter.

One might get the impression that once everyone was assigned a particular section of the wall in the repairing project, that everything progressed smoothly and without difficulty. But it was not so. Nehemiah and the Jews faced incredible opposition from their enemies the moment reconstruction began. Then it came again when the wall was only half the height it was intended to be.

In spite of the overwhelming responsibility, Nehemiah did it all in the strength of the Lord whose hand was on him (2:18).

Have we been challenged to better organize projects which God gives us to do?
Are we involving others as leaders of the workers?
Are we preserving the unity?
Are we encouragers of those who lead?

LET IT GROW

Chapter 4 fills in the gaps between the bricks of the wall as it was being built, so to speak. You recall the name of Sanballat and Tobiah, don't you? Sanballat served a governor of Samaria (to the north) and was probably a Moabite. Tobiah was magistrate to the east of the Jordan River. The Samaritans had intermarried with the Jews.

So when these guys heard what was going on, with the wall going up, Sanballat became very angry and mocked the Jews, making fun of them. He asked his army:
  • What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing?
  • Do they think they can build the wall I a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?
  • Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap, and charred ones at that?
Tobiah added, That strong wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it. (verse 3)


A fox is a light-footed animal. It can walk on a wall and not disturb a thing on it. Tobiah was saying that the feeble Jews were building a wall that even a light fox would knock down. After all, some of the builders were goldsmiths, druggists, and women. What did they know about construction?

Do you think the Jews had asked themselves the same questions? However, laughing at them did not stop the Jews from completing God's work. They set their minds and heart to complete the task. They did not loose faith nor give up, but persevered through the ridicule. Too many folks give up, back off, and get defeated when ridiculed, mocked, or scorned. Will our faith stand up to teasing, abuse, or
ill-treatment?


LET IT GO

Don't give up, back off, or become defeated; trust God to change hearts and give what is needed.
Endure those temptations to quit.
Let faith lead.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Registering

O. T. 1052. "
Sept. 1,2017 
Nehemiah 3-Part 9


LET IT GLOW 

What is the Gate of Miphkadd? 
It was located on the east wall, close to the northeast corner. 
It's name means review, numbering, counting, registering, inspection. 

When a foreigner entered the city of Jerusalem, he was to enter this gate and register. He was required to have a visa, but not like ours today. 

Can you imagiwhat it would be like if all our visitors had to do such a thing before entering Washington DC?

Are we registered before we enter heaven? Is our name written in the Lamb's Book of Life?  It is if Jesus is our Savior. 

LET IT GROW 

This gate was a gate of review, also. When an army had been out fighting a battle, they returned passing through this gate. 
King David would review his soldiers returning from battle here. He showed his love for his troops by meeting and thanking them for a job well done. Those battle-scared men had shown their unselfish loyalty and love for their king. 

Don't we all look forward to hearing our King Jesus say "Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into thy rest. "

Regardless of our job in life, are we doing our best so we honor our King?


LET IT GO

Thank You Jesus for providing my way for eternal life. 
You are the gate through which we may enter heaven. 
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. I will bow before Him as a warrior of love. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Glimmer of Light in Dark Days

O. T. 1051. "A Glimmer of Light in Dark Days"
August 31,2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 8

LET IT GLOW

Was it dark when the eclipse of the sun was seen? The moon hid it from us. And then the glimmer of light shone through the darkness. Are the dark days of sin preventing us from our hope in Christ's return to get us? Does our faith have a glimmer of light, expecting to see Him any moment? Shall we look at the nonetheless gate-The East Gate?

The East Gate

Obviously the East Gate was located on the east side of the city. It was the first Gae opened in the morning. As the watchman walked the wall looking for approaching enemies, he would see the first glimmer of the new day's light through the darkness in the east. As the sun rose, visibility improved.

One day our Bright and Morning Star will appear as 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tell us when the trumpet and archangel sound, Jesus will appear. The dead will arise and join us in the air to meet Him. Ooh what a day!  We will be with our Lord forever.

We call it the rapture of the church. Luke 21:25-28 tell us of the expected signs and to lift up our heads for our redemption draws night. Christ is our Redeener. We will all see Him coming in His glory, according to Matthew 16:37. Amen and hallelujah!!

Are we looking for Him today? Is everyone ready?  What if it was tomorrow? Are our loved ones ready?

LET IT GROW

 Wiersbe points out that the Turks sealed up the east gate in the 16th century, but it is probably known today as the Golden Gate. The Golden Gate is connected to the Messiah's coming in both Jewish and Christian worship and to future judgment among the Muslims.

In one of his visions, Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord leave the Trmple and depart through the East Gate. Later, another vision showed God's glory returning to the Temple through the same gate. (Chapters 10, 11, 43) This all suggests the coming again of Jesus Christ there, plus the East Gate faces the rising sun.

So let us do as 1 John 2:28 says,



And now, little children, abide in Him: that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 


LET IT GO and abide in Christ. Keep looking up, for our redemption drawers nigh. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Horses and Donkeys

O.T. #1050 "Hotses and Donkeys  "
August 30, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 7
verse

LET IT GLOW

Which do we prefer, riding a horse of war or a donkey of peace?
Continue reading to find the difference.

The Horse Gate
  • It was located on the eastern wall, close to the palace grounds and Temple area.
  • It was probably one of the major gates used for access to the palace. 
  • It lead to the Kidron  Valley. 
  • Horses were ridden by warriors. 
  • The priests repaired this gate. 
  • It is mentioned in 2Chronicles and Jeremiah 31:40. 
 Believers  are in a constant warefare against corruption of this world and wickedness of Satan. Are we prepared to stand against evil today? 
LET IT GROW

Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. It was an animal riddlen by a king. Men only rode horses during war time. 

Which animal do we prefer?

LET IT GO

Fight against spiritual forces. 
Put on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Refreshing Water

O.T. #1049  "Refreshing Water"
August 29, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 6


LET IT GLOW

Good morning everyone. It's good to be back with you. We had a wonderful vacation, seeing the wondrous works of God. One thing we saw was the great, roaring Columbia River flowing miles from the Pacific Ocean weaving through the Cascade Mountains. It brings refreshing water to the towns along its way. In our study, we will see how the Word of God does the same for our thirty soul, refreshing our life.

So far, we have studied about the repairs of 6 gates around the Temple of Jerusalem-the sheep gate, fish gate, the old gate, valley gate, dung gate, and the gate of the fountain. Today, we learn about the water gate.

Water Gate
An aquaduct brought some water into Jerusalem, but not all of it. The rest was brought in, carried, through the water gate. It was located on the east wall close to the Gihon Spring, which was one of the main water sources.
Located at the entrance was a large public square. That is where Ezra and Nehemiah gathered the people together to read the Word of God to them.  (We read it later in chapters 8 and 12.)

Here are some Scriptures which apply to us in this time:
John 15:3 says, Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.
John 17:17 says, Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.
Ephesians 5:26 tells us, That He might sanctify and cleanse it (the church) with the washing of water by the Word.
1 Peter 1:22 says, Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.

As our body needs water to maintain life, so does our soul. Jesus is the living water for our soul.
Does the Living Word quench the thirsting of our soul with love and instruction? Do we go to the source, which is Jesus?

LET IT GROW

J. Vernon McGee explains in his book  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, History of Israel:
Ezra erected a pulpit at the water gate. We are washed by the water of the Word. It is through this gate that we are trying to spread the Word. We all need to be water boys, helping to bring the water to those who are thirsty. Apparently when the other gates and walls were torn down, the water gate remained intact. That was unusual. Does that tell you anything? The Word of God, friend, does not need any repairs. It is intact.
Folks, we don't need to try to prove the Bible is the Word of God. We take it by faith, believing it is Truth, preserved down through the ages for you and me to read, study, and share.  It is the Living Word of God to us. It flows into our soul like a drink of water, bringing refreshment to a thirsty soul.

Let me add, there were parts of Oregon which were dry and very much in need of rain. They were having to water the crops, fruit trees, and yards. As I looked around the cities and towns, I could see many dry, thirsty souls in need of the gospel.

LET IT GO

Bring my thirsty soul to the Living Water, Jesus.

Allow His love to overflow through me to others that are thirsty.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vacation Friday

Vacation Friday
Hi ya'll,
Our adventures took us winding around mountains. The higher we got, the less green trees surrounded us. Bare mountain tops with some logs lying down posed wonder. Then we saw it-Mt. St. Helens. The volcanic mountain that blew its top off. Remains looked like 2 smaller peaks on one mountain.
We climbed the hill up to a museum located right in front of this enormous mountain. Inside, we watched footage of May 18, 1980. That was the day the volcano blew out the side and an avalanche of debris of ice, snow, trees, and ash began flowing down the mountain. It filled deep gullies. Other mountains were covered. There were about 100 earthquakes that day. Then the top blew up into the air miles up, sending ash boiling up in rolls. Rivers were filled with ash and logs. Air was polluted with ash. Lakes, animals, and the once green environment were gone some 15 miles away.

Land features were changed forever. Well, almost.  Here we saw green trees, grass, new lakes, some 37 years later. Well man helped replenish some. Now tourists come to see the handiwork and power of God.

But I wonder how many recognize this phenomenon was made by Almighty God. The wonder of wonders. A Wonder God He is. His wonders never seize.

Zoom in with me to your neck of the woods. Well maybe your street.

So do we recognize His wonderous work in our life?
And do we see His love everywhere?
Is there a day we can say that we experienced His hand on our life?
So many times I have.

We fly home on Monday. Hopefully we can get back to Nehemiah the next day.
See you then. Oh, let us remember the communities around Houston. I have a cousin who lives there with his family.

In awe of an Awesome God,
Linda

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gushing Out Like a Fountain

O. T.#1048  "Gushing Out Like a Fountain"
August 23, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 5 

LET IT GLOW

Gate of the Fountain

This gate and a section of the wall of the Pool of Siloam was built by Shallun. It was located at the southern part, but on the east side of the wall. The Fountain Gate was near the King's Garden, the old City of David, and the tunnel built by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20). Hezekiah anticipated a siege by an Assyrian monarch, so he wanted a water supply for Jerusalem, just in case it happened. The king had a tunnel dug for this purpose. The gate was located near the Fountain Head, the main water service for Jerusalem.

When I was a child, I recall a city named Siloam having  a pool with several fountains spraying water, gushing out in it. Apparently, it was fed by the spring water flowing out of the rocky hill. The stream meandered through the west side of town, with flower filled parks built along its way. What a peaceful place. Wedding pictures are often taken at the gazebo.


LET IT GROW

Excavation has revealed ancient stone steps descending from the old City of David, during Jesus' time on earth. It was on those stone steps that the Jews would ascend in order to get to the Temple  worship. John 9 tells us the account of Jesus healing a blind man there. The pool was fed by waters from the Gihon Spring, located in the Kidron Valley, a pool for swimming.

Jesus said to the woman at the well, But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  (John 7:38)

Jesus is our Living Water in our heart that we so desperately need. Have you drank from this Water?

The Gate of the Fountain teaches the fact that every believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God and he needs an infilling of the Spirit. When a believer is filled with the Spirit, he is not just a well, but a fountain of living water which will gush out to be a blessing to other people. All of us should be a blessing to others in these days in which we live. (J. Vernon McGee)

Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and gush out and over flow to others?

LET IT GO

                               ...and let the Love of Jesus gush out of my heart and life.
                               ... and take this Living Water to thirsty souls.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Vacation Thursday

Thursday August 24,2017

Hello everyone from the beautiful state of Oregon. Finally vacation week is here

. Tuesday we drove to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood. What an awesome God we have! He creates snow capped mountains in August. We could have skied but I opted to live another day.

Then we drove on the other side of the mountain to an apple orchard town where my husband picked apples the summer he was 15. Did I mention it was surrounded by tall green mountains? There was even more snow on Hood on that side. It was fun to be a part of hubby reminecing his teen years and visiting small tows in the country.

Well moving right along. We drove along the blue Columbia River straining our necks to look at the rocky green  Mountains straight up. Tomorrow we return to view the water falls. (Saw a baby one today, wetting my appetite .)

Hey I saw an outlet mall just down the highway. May have to check it out too.

Ps. 121:1 says, I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh  from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Mt. St. Helens and Pacific Ocean are on our tourist list. So stay tuned.

Linda




Stinky Stuff

O. T. #1047  "Stinky Stuff"
August 22, 2017
Nehemiah 3-Part 4


LET IT GLOW

Stinky stuff, garbage. No one likes the job of disposal of it. Certainly, we do not want it around us. We do our best to get it out the door of our house as soon as possible. That is what the trash can or dumpster is for, right?. Well, Jerusalem needed such a gate through which to remove their garbage. Carry on with me. We might have the same need our self.

Anyone gone through the Valley Gate lately? Things can be quite unpleasant when we get inside. It is not a place we desire to visit, but is often needful. Jesus can work on our life, pulling up weeds so we bare more fruit of the Spirit. The Jews needed this gate, too. Shall we find out why?

The fourth gate in need of repair on the wall around Jerusalem was the Valley Gate. Maps show us it was located on the west  and south sides. You have to go down into a valley in order to get out of Jerusalem.

Archeologists speculate the workers had to terrace the slope to create and to brace the foundation for the wall. (Hope Under Construction by Gene Getze)

The construction on the west side was a huge undertaking. There was over 500 yards of the wall that needed repaired, between the Valley Gate and the Dung Gate. We read of the commitment of Hanun and the residents of Zanoah.

It reminds us of humility before the Lord. In Philippians 2, we see Christ descending from the glories of heaven into the valley of human limitation and even death. (Wiersbe)

We don't like the valleys in our life, do we? However, it is often there that we desperately turn to God with a humble heart. Circumstances and people knock us to our knees in prayer. And there we find Jesus standing at the gate, holding it open for His child. We do not go through the valley of the shadow of death alone, as David wrote about in Psalm 23. We should not fear evil, for He is with us. We find His  comforting rod and staff.

The Valley Gate is the gate of humility, the gate of humbleness. God sometimes has to lead us through trials and difficulties in order to teach us some lessons. We are told that faith develops in us different virtues, and one of them is lowliness of mind. Colossians 3:12 calls it humbleness of mind.
(J.V. McGee)

Is faith developing in our valley?
Hang in there, for we will get through this.


LET IT GROW

The fifth gate was important to the health of the city. It was known as the Dung Gate or Refuse Gate. Not much is said about it. It was located at the southwest angle of Mount Zion. It is where the garbage and filth was carried out of Jerusalem. Garbage is useless, stinky, unneeded. We definitely do not want it around, that stinky stuff.

Paul spoke of our cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit in 2 Corinthians 7:1. Honest confession is the means by which we get out the garbage in our life. Got any garbage-jealousy, pride, strife, materialism, fear? It is good to check every now and then.

1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So now I understand  why the Valley Gate and the Dung Gate are needed in our Christian life. It's not easy nor enjoyable for us to experience those times, but profitable.

LET IT GO

Trust Jesus while going through the Valley Gate in my life.

Get rid of the useless garbage in my life that exists.

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.