Friday, September 29, 2017

Looking Around and Ahead

O. T. #1070  "Looking Around and Ahead"
Sept. 29, 2017
Nehemiah 9-Part 3


What do you see if you look around at your circumstances? If I  take a few minutes to look around at my situation, I would see two sick guys at my house, my husband and cat. Yesterday was a rough third day after hubby's knee replacement. Hopefully, it will get better from now on. As for my cat, I didn't realize he was sick until yesterday. But he ate some tuna and is looking better. Spending 2 hours on the road and my days at the hospital took my attention away from the cat. Hopefully, he is on the mend, too. I prayed for both. I know God can heal both. He has done it before. The Israelites were praying the same way.

We are taking a closer look at the structure and purposes of this faith-inspiring prayer in chapter 9, which has four dimensions, according to Charles Swindoll:
  1. The first dimension of prayer is looking up (adoration and praise). verses 5-6
  2. The second dimension of prayer is looking back (reflection and thanksgiving). verses 7-18
  3. The third dimension of prayer is looking around (petition and confession). verses 19-31
The Israelites' prayer moved from the past to the present. They focused on confession, freely admitting tat they were facing hardships because of their sins. They pleaded with the Lord to enter into the pin they felt as they lived in their own land under the yoke of another nation.
The all-knowing knew the suffering and pain of His children long before they recognized it themselves. He understood their needs. They still brought their petition to Him, sharing their struggles and pleading with Him to intercede. The very act of placing their burdens at His feet signified their faith in His goodness and their submission to His sovereign will. (Swindoll)

Peter tells us our solution in 1 Peter 5:7:
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 

Are we making the choice of casting our care upon Jesus? It means consciously handing over our anxiety to Christ and allowing Him to carry the weight of our problem.
Is it hard to turn them over?
Is our self-reliance and worry holding us back?
Are we trying to deal with something our self?
Do we consider there to be God-sized problems and our-sized problems?
Will you let Him carry your load today?


         4. The fourth dimension of prayer is looking ahead in commitment and direction.

As the Israelites looked toward their future, they remembered the terrible consequences of disobedience  their forefathers suffered. Their future would be the same if they did not change.
They were in a predicament-slaves in their own land. The Israelites had to give a portion of their resources to a foreign king.

The Jews made a binding agreement in writing on a sealed document containing the names of their leaders, Levites, and priests. Those are listed in chapter 10.

Are we applying the four dimensions of prayer-praise, thanksgiving, petition, and commitment as we commune with our God?


Praise God for ho He is.
Thank God for what He has done.
Ask His help.
Obey His will.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where Are You Looking?

O. T. #1069  "Where Are You Looking?"
Sept. 27, 2017
Nehemiah 9-Part 2


Where are we looking-at the circumstances that surround us, discouraging us? Or are we looking up, adoring and praising our God in stead of that? Can we look back in our past and thank God for His faithfulness? Are we in need of His grace and compassion? He is ready to give it. He never runs out of them. He is ready to provide and give us peace. Israel experience that and I need to.

We looked at the outline of how the Jews prayed and worshiped God in chapter 9.

Charles Swindoll, in his study guide, Hand Me Another Brick Timeless Lessons on Leadership, takes a closer look at the structure and purposes of this faith-inspiring prayer, considering each of its four dimensions:

1. Looking up in adoration and praise to God. (verses 5-6)
  • They praised the name of God.
  • They praised Him for is exalted position, set on high above the mountains.
  • They comprehended the grandeur of His peerless sovereignty.
  • They praised God for His matchless creation, which daily heralds His omnipotence, faithfulness, mercy, and  love.
The Scriptures give the many names of God, which reveals something different about His character.

In Genesis 22:14, He is called Jehovah-Jireh, which means The LORD will provide.
We read of God providing a ram to be  offered by Abraham in the place of Isaac, his son.
Can we be thankful for all He things God has provided for us?

In Judges 6:24, He is Jehovah-Shalom, which means The LORD is Peace.
Gideon was called by God to defeat the mighty army of the Midianites. He did it with only 300 men
God gave him peace and reassurance of victory.
Can we use some peace in our situation?


2. Looking back in reflection and thanksgiving. (verses 7-18)
  • Israel's past is reviewed, documenting the hand of God in each event.
  • God made promises to Abraham and was faithful to him.
  • God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt through signs and wonders.
  • Laws were given through Moses, and God provided for His children as the wondered 40 years in the wilderness.
Israel a its ups and downs, went around in spiritual circles, forsaking God, repenting of their sins, and following Him.
In 9:31, we read Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them; for You are a gracious and compassionate God.

God would have been just and in the right to have wiped out Israel and started with another group of people as is own, but He didn't. He showed compassion and grace as He forgave them over and over again. Aren't we glad He does that for us?


Jesus, You are all I need. Nothing is impossible with You.
Thank You for providing for me, all that I have and all that I need.
I need Your peace, grace, and compassion.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


O. T. #1068  "Praising"
Sept. 26, 2017
Nehemiah 9


Thank you for your prayers. My husband made it through knee surgery and now for the painful rehab.

Two days after the festival in chapter 8, the Israelites assembled together, fasting, dressed in sackclothes, and ashes upon them, a sign of mourning, ad separated themselves from all unbelievers. In their worship service, the Jews read God's Word for 3 hours, then spent 3 hours confessing their sins. The Levites led their worship, praise, and prayer The were divided into 2 groups, calling  the name of the LORD.

The Israelites sought God through praise and thanksgiving. They praised God for:
  1. His supremacy-He is eternal, Creator, and His name is to be exulted above all, or He alone is God. (verse 5)
  2. His creation-He made the universe, heaven and earth, and all therein. (verse 7)
  3. for choosing Abraham and calling him for such a great purpose; he had a faithful heart, receiving the covenant of the Promised Land and for his descendants. God kept His promises. (verse 8)
  4. for delivering His people from Egypt's slavery by diving the Red Sea and drowning the Egyptians. God made a lasting name for Himself.(verses 9-10)  Also, for guiding His people through the wilderness. (verses 11-12)
  5. giving the Law and the Sabbath through Moses. (verses 13-14)
  6. His provision of food and water. (verse 15)
  7. forgiving the sins of a proud, stiff-necked, and disobedient people. (verses 16-18)
  8. sustaining His people as they walked toward the Promised Land. (verses 19-23)
  9. strength and power to conquer their enemies. (verses 24-25)
  10. His mercy and forgiveness, despite continued and persistent backsliding. (verses 26-29)
  11. His prophets and their warning to repent. (verses 30-31)
[Resource:The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible]


The prayer of the Israelites reached in our directions, spanning history from creation to their present day and even looking into the future through:
  • praise and adoration (verses 5-6)
  • thanksgiving for all God did in their past (verses 7-31)
  • looking at their present situation and petitioning the Lord (verses 32-37)
  • commitment to future obedience (verse 38). (Swindoll)
We will take a closer look at all of this example written down by Nehemiah. What a heart bent toward God he had as he spiritually led his people. So man lessons for us are found in this chapter.
Will we let god teach us His ways
Will we surrender to them?


Lord Jesus, teach me Your ways and Your Word to live by and share.
Open my heart to hear from you.

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


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?


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?


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


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


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!


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)


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

Thursday, September 21, 2017


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)


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?


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?


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


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?


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?


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


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?


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)


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


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?


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)


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


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?


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.


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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


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


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


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?


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


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?


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?


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.


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?


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.


                                ... 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


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.


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?


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


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?


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


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


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?


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.


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


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)


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.


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 


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?


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


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


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


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. 


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?


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.