Saturday, June 15, 2024

June 15, 2024

If we have learned anything through reading God’s word, it’s that we must contend with the enemy of our salvation. The work of the Lord must go on. Nehemiah and the workers repairing the gates and the walls around Jerusalem had to contend with the evil Sanballat and his friends. They jeered at them while they worked and conspired to fight them. So Nehemiah set people on the high parts of the wall; others hid behind it, and some covered the low places, all carrying a weapon, either a sword, spear, or bow. Nehemiah had a trumpeter with him, and if the enemy approached, he would blow it and call everyone to him so they could fight them off together. He reminded them that God was with them and that the fight would be worthwhile for their brethren, sons, daughters, and wives. They resumed the work with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other.

They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every onewith one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. Nehemiah 4:17

Our daily lives consist of the same thing. We must constantly contend with the enemy and his schemes against us with the Sword of the Spirit in one hand and the tools for our work in the other. When our fellow laborers for the cause call on us for help in the fight, we must react by pitching in, whether by prayer or physical action. We are together in this fight against the enemy, and bringing others to salvation through Jesus is our cause. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

The Israelites worked together but separately on the wall and the gates for a common cause. I found it interesting that it was a community effort to secure Jerusalem. This chapter names everyone who participated and frowns on the nobles who refused to help. We must be willing to get our hands dirty, and as we see throughout this third chapter of Nehemiah, God saw and made sure most of the people doing his work were acknowledged by name. 

And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord. Nehemiah 3:5

The walls of the United States are not secure, and the immigrants pour in through our porous border. Whether they seek to undermine our security, are looking for a handout, or want a taste of our so-called freedom, the invasion seems real; at least, that's what the media wants us to think. However, we do not live in fear; God's plan will fall into place as it always has. We can count on Him to work out the details and assist us in every way possible. Stand firm, mighty warriors of God, and fear not; He is with us, and may the peace that passes all understanding rest upon you. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

King Artaxerxes called Nehemiah to bring him wine, and being the king's cupbearer, he came before him. Nehemiah's sadness for the disrepair of his city was written all over his face, and it caught the king's attention because his usual manner wasn't melancholy. Queen Esther was sitting by the king when Nehemiah brought the wine. You have to wonder if she had something to do with Nehemiah being called before the king since no one was allowed to approach him without being called. My guess is she did because she was very aware of the condition of Jerusalem, and she stayed in touch with the goings-on of her people. The king was sympathetic to his countenance and asked him why he was sad. He explained that he was concerned for his city and its deplorable condition. The king gave him leave to go home and supervise the repairs but wanted him to come back to continue his work for him. He considered a timeframe but also asked for the king's help with letters showing he was allowed to pass through the region and work on the wall of Jerusalem. 

When he got to Jerusalem, he covertly assessed the damage and made a plan. He did it under the cover of darkness to avoid unnecessary questions and interactions. Sanballat had already approached him when he came into the city. He showed him the letters from the king. He questioned him again, and Nehemiah told him it was none of his business and that God was in charge of what he was doing. 

Nehemiah was fearful but honest when speaking to the king. Courage, followed by action when inspired by the Holy Spirit, sets us apart from the average person who lives day by day without a purpose. Jesus gave us a purpose, gifts, and talents to help us pursue His plan. If you don't know what that is, pray, begin reading your Bible daily with a set plan, and you will find your purpose recorded in scripture. I'll give you a hint: your purpose will have something to do with the great commission, but it may look different from others because of our various giftings. 

Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. Nehemiah 2:18

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. For some reason, he decided to continue working in the palace when the people of Judah were released from captivity to go back home. However, their welfare was always at the forefront of his mind. He had received word from Hanani and some of his brethren that there was trouble back home because the walls around Jerusalem were in disrepair. The news broke his heart, and his concern for the people weighed heavy upon him. 

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:4

It’s not a coincidence that God placed Nehemiah in the palace of King Artaxerxes, who was giving favor to the people of God. We can be sure that the most minute detail of God’s plan will play out before our eyes. Even today, as we watch what seems to be the destruction of the world, I have no doubt that God’s plan will prevail. Nehemiah asked God’s forgiveness for the sins of his people and the sins of his family. Our prayers should always include confession to give us a clean slate when seeking God’s help. Any valiant work for God starts with prayer. The world needs us to intercede with God on their behalf, and God wants to hear from us. Pray!

O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer. Nehemiah 1:11

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Ezra became aware of the sins committed by the people of Israel, having intermarried with the daughters of the land, which went against what God had told them because of their idolatry. He was so overwhelmed by grief that he plucked out the hair from his head and beard, tore his clothes, rent his mantle, and fell face down before them and asked mercy from God. 

And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Ezra 9:3

Upon realizing the gravity of their trespass against God, they who had intermarried, under the guidance of Ezra, made a solemn covenant with God. They pledged to send away their wives, a decision that must have been heart-wrenching. Ezra gathered all the people, giving them three days to comply; otherwise, they risked losing their inheritance. After gathering the people, Ezra instructed them in their decision. It took them about three months to handle their affairs and send away their wives. As a sign of their repentance, they offered a ram.

Though it looks pretty harsh, they were fearful of the wrath of God and probably didn’t want to go into captivity again, so they did what they were told. Once you’ve faced the wrath of God, you don’t want any part of it again. They were doing their best to follow God’s commands. Aren’t you grateful for your salvation through Jesus? We have nothing to fear because we are hidden within Jesus, who covers us and protects us from wrath. 

Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. Ezra 10:11-12

Monday, June 10, 2024

June 10, 2024

God had released and set the captives free from Babylon, but some chose to stay. After gathering the people together and numbering them, Ezra found no Levites. He needed them for the temple services, to take possession of the silver, gold, and copper, and to bring them safely to Jerusalem, keeping an accounting of them. Ezra asked Iddo to send Levites who were of the understanding, and many came to him for different jobs in the temple. They weighed all the precious metals before leaving and would weigh them again at the temple after the journey. Once the Levites joined them, they could journey to Jerusalem, which would take about four months. Their journey was long and treacherous, with evil people waiting to overtake them. However, because Ezra boasted of God to the king, he didn’t want to ask him to help. So, as a congregation, they prayed together for God to send the protecting angels to secure them in their travels. If you boast in God, you had better show that you trust him! Ezra expected God’s intervention in their protection, and they made it to Jerusalem unscathed.

How can you expect protection in this harsh society we now live in if you are not in a congregation of believers working together as The Church? If you do not attend a Bible-believing church, please begin your search before living in society gets worse. We need one another so when there are areas of weakness, our numbers can strengthen us. That’s how the body of Christ works. Ezra knew this and made sure he had everyone needed to fulfill the temple's needs, including the Levites he was missing. There is a church that’s missing your talents and gifts. Ask God to help you, and He will guide you in the right direction. Internet church is not going to help you when things get worse. 

Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. Ezra 8:31

Richard and I belong to Brandon Baptist Tabernacle, a church for seasoned believers, new believers, and those who’ve been saved for a while but haven’t received a healthy diet of satiating spiritual food. If you live in the Tampa, Brandon, or Plant City area, I would love for you to come sit with us in church. 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

June 9, 2024

Ezra had an impressive lineage. He was a grandson of Aaron! Ezra made it a point to learn the scriptures and the law of Moses. It is said that he compiled the manuscripts to include the law, history, poetry, and the writings of the prophets, which make up the Old Testament of today. Artaxerxes sent him to Jerusalem along with other people, accessories for the temple, and money to purchase whatever might be needed for the temple service. Artaxerxes also told the treasurers throughout his kingdom to give Ezra whatever money he needed for the temple. He wanted it known that he was giving this offering to God. You can bet he learned a great lesson from Esther and Mordecai and now believed in the deity of God. Artaxerxes appointed Ezra to teach and raise others in the law of God. He made it illegal for anyone to touch the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers and made it unlawful to tax any of them. If anyone didn’t follow the law of God, they would face severe penalties. Ezra praised God for all he had done through Artaxerxes.

God’s provision is over and beyond anything we can ever expect when a righteous person, faithful in His dealings, seeks to do His will. I’m not saying there won’t be challenges; there always are because the enemy wants to devour us, but God will protect and defend His children who have set their eyes on Him alone. 

And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. Ezra 7:25