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Showing posts from August 9, 2015

Temptation

The picture of a shiny apple being handed to you temptingly is the picture of temptations allurement. We all face it, we all fall to it, we all dream of winning over it. There is no limit to temptation's treats; they are innumerable. So, what can we do about it, continue to fail, be resigned to defeat? Maybe for some, but not for those who trust God. Paul wrote to a community that was plagued with sins, the church at Corinth. He spoke clearly about sin problems and provided solutions. When it came to the precursor of sin, temptation, he said the following: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) He writes this just after he has addressed the four biggest sins faced by Israel in the wilderness wanderings: idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, and grumbling. …

Joy of the Lord

Nehemiah had successfully built the walls of Jerusalem and then came together with all the people to celebrate. They listened to the Law be read to them and it caused them to weep as they recounted the directives of God and the history of their people that had followed and then abandoned it. They were there at the end of seventy years of exile because of the actions of previous generations. But that grief was getting in the way of celebrating looking at what God had just done in helping the people to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. So, Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) From this verse comes the song, The Joy of the Lord is my Strength. Its lyrics are: The Joy of the Lord is my strength, The Joy of the Lord is my strength, The Joy of the Lord is my strength, The Joy of the Lord is my strength. The …

A Righteous Life

What’s it like to be around a person that has integrity in his dealings with other people and respect in his understanding of God? We have all had the opportunity to be near someone like this. It gives you a feeling of confidence, trust and peace when you are in their circle. Nehemiah had many people that were trying to make him fear by slandering him to the King of Babylon and discrediting him to the people around him. Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and other enemies sought daily to stop the work on the walls of Jerusalem by stopping the leader of the people. Intimidation was regularly happening and it could have seriously crippled the work and vision of Nehemiah but he did some things to stop it. First, he fought back against their words with his words. He did not hide the truth but spoke it continually. Second, he found trustworthy people to lead with him. “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of…

Zealous

We see some that are zealous for money and possessions. We see some that are zealous in their political beliefs or in their jobs. So, what does it mean to be zealous for God? Rebuilding on the wall of Jerusalem, seemingly without other helpers, was a man named Baruch. It was said only of him that he "zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest." (Nehemiah 3:20)  The Matthew Henry Commentary defined this as "an inflamed zeal,” not that others building on the wall were cold and indifferent, but just that he was a stand out. Here are reasons that Baruch would have been so zealous in his work: He had a right attitude. He was working for God not for man. This was the city of David, God's jewel, His favorite city. (Psalm 87:2) His motivations were pure; no fame or fortune, or self-aggrandizement. He was after God's glory.He wanted to inspire others by his zealous work. There was a sense…

Rubble

"They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there." (2 Chronicles 36:19) Nothing but rubble was left after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia got through with the city of Jerusalem. He destroyed their worship center, their political center and all that they valued and put these people into submission (captivity) for seventy years. It was a mess noted by all who passed by it. Then God moved on Ezra to go back and rebuild the Temple and later on Nehemiah to go back and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, both at the blessing of the rulers of their captivity, Cyrus and Artaxerxes. Nehemiah challenged the people present in this moment to rebuild the walls and forty-one specific groups rallied to the task. They included the high priest and fellow priests, Levites, temple servants, a gate guard, men from other cities (Jericho, Tekoa, Gibeon, Mizpah, Zanoah), goldsmiths, perfume-makers, and mercha…

Hope in Trouble

Ezra had returned to Israel from his captivity in Babylon. He had led over 1,500 Israelites back who had carried with them the original utensils of Temple worship stolen by their captors but now given back by King Artaxerxes. He had not asked the King for soldiers to protect them on their journey because he had boasted about how God was watching over them. But, he had also divided the huge amounts of money and Temple articles among twenty-four trustworthy leaders for their safe keeping on the journey. Now, after arriving and regathering these items Ezra prays, “…so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:8b) His prayer recognizes the continued control by Babylon over them but reflects on the silver lining; God has given them hope and a measure of comfort. We too can hope and know that the God of all comfort can bring us peace in all our situations. It is not easy to be separated as a family, or from a family member in the military, or face the challen…

Integrity's Actions

When stasis, a condition in which things do not change, move, or progress, happens in your life it becomes dangerous because it can lull you to sleep about important things like your integrity. Tucked among Paul's greetings to over twenty-eight persons and groups was this admonition to integrity’s actions. He said, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Romans 16:19) Paul recognized the Roman believers for their obedience to Christ but also warned them that when things were going along smoothly it was not time to relax. Their evident obedience made them a target for those who want to destroy reputations. Verse 20 notes a reference to Genesis 3:15, about the crushing of Satan being necessary after the deceiving of Adam and Eve. Satan is persistent in his attempts to destroy and devour God’s people. Paul states that integrity of a moral nature, "being wise about what i…