Needs Met

Nehemiah 9:20
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.”

Nehemiah is reflecting back upon how God faithfully met the needs of His people as they struggled through their wilderness journey. He speaks regarding the Spirit, the manna and the miraculous supply of water. If it were not for the provision of God there is no way Israel could have been sustained.

Their journey in the wilderness is both a real life historical incident as well as an illustration of the Christian life. The struggles they faced with difficulty, opposition, fear and periods of wanting faith are not unfamiliar to everyone who attempts to walk with Christ. It is important to know that the same God who provided for them will provide for us today.

When Israel was in want the Lord always had a remedy. At times water was supplied from very unlikely places, but there was always enough. A desert is incapable of supplying food for the masses so God sent bread from heaven. When Israel faced an enemy who threatened their safety it was the Spirit of God that enabled them to have victory.

The same will be true for us today. There are times in life where we face situations that seem to have no remedy. We may be facing financial problems, relational issues or just the daily struggles that come with life in a fallen world. Remember the same God that supplied for Israel will supply for you.

Jim

 

Build Your House

Nehemiah 7:4
“Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt.”

By this time, in the Nehemiah’s story, much has been accomplished. He has experienced the call of God that took him from a highly coveted position in the kings court to becoming a leader among the congregation of Israel. He has seen God provide for his personal needs as well as the needs of his new found ministry. He has seen the people who had been both divided and discouraged rally together to accomplish the work of God and build the city wall. With all that Nehemiah came to realize that the work was still incomplete. There was much more that God wanted to do in and through his life and ministry. As he looked out over the city he discovered that the people had yet to build their own homes.

Consider for a moment the ministry of Joshua. He gathered the tribes of Israel together and drove the Canaanites out of the land. Under his leadership the enemies were defeated and each tribe was given their allotment of the land. As time went on it became clear that the people were neglecting to fight the battles necessary within their own territories and needed to be encouraged to get to the task at hand. A very similar problem is taking place here. The wall is built around the city by the combined efforts of those from every tribe, but the necessary work for the homes to be built has been neglected. The reason given is the limited number of people.

It is not uncommon for people who come to Christ to have victory in a lot of areas of their lives and still neglect to fight battles on the home front. A person might be hailed as a great employee and church member, yet still not treat their family members in a way that brings glory to the Lord. Regardless of how far you have come in your relationship with Christ, allow me to encourage you to consider  how much your relationship with Jesus is affecting your marriage and your family. Are you taking your Christianity home with you and focusing on building up your family? Whether you are a son, daughter, mother, father or grandparent it is time to build up our homes for the sake of the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

Jim

 

Take A Stand 

Nehemiah 13:8
“And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room.”

Jesus, speaking figuratively, said if our hand causes us to sin we should cut it off, and If our eye causes us to sin we should pluck it out (Matthew 18:8-9). Essentially, He was saying we should take radical action against personal sin. As the book of Nehemiah comes to a close, we see Nehemiah doing just that. He has seen the devastating effects sin has on an individual and a nation, and decides it is time to take a radical stance against sin.

The people had begun to compromise their relationship with the Lord by getting involved with the “mixed multitudes.” These were people who pretended to be committed to the Lord, but lived after the standards of the world. They would show up at the feasts and Sabbath days, but during the rest of the week they behaved like the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. Some of their actions included violating the Sabbath, living for the values of this world, and committing sexual sins. Those who associated with them, soon became like them.

Knowing the dangers of compromise, Nehemiah took some pretty serious actions. We read, he threw Tobiah out of the Temple mount, he contended with the rulers, shut the gates of the city on the Sabbath, and even pulled the hair out the beards and heads of those who withstood him.

I am not suggesting that we go on a rampage ripping the hair out of those who refuse to walk with the Lord. However, I do think it is a good idea to examine our relationship with Christ, discover the factors which keep us from following and serving Him, and remove them. As each day passes, our salvation draws nearer and nearer. It is time we took our Christianity seriously by taking a radical stance against sin.

Pastor Jim

 

Costs 

Nehemiah 11:2
“And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.”

Years before these events, Zerubbabel led a host of people from captivity, to begin rebuilding the temple. His ministry was followed up by Ezra, who led the people to recommit themselves to the Lord. Then Nehemiah came with the intent of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, for the security and safety of the people, and the work of God. Now that the temple stood and the walls were erected, people were needed to maintain the work of the Lord. This chapter gives us a list of those who gave themselves to the work, at great personal cost. For many choosing to be involved in the service of God meant giving up other ambitions, and even relocating into the city.

Ministry always costs. If we desire to be involved in furthering the work of Christ, it will mean we must invest time, energy, talents, and resources. When these investments are made into the kingdom of God, it means they are no longer available for other things.

The question we must answer is, “Are we willing to make personal sacrifices to further the work of God?” While I am sure that many of us revere those who willingly give themselves to the work of God, I wonder how we have let that affect us personally. We may love to hear the stories of missionaries who sacrifice so much for the cause of Christ, but have we allowed that to stir us, to make our own sacrifices?

Paul explained that we are living sacrifices and that it is reasonable for us to offer ourselves to the work of the Lord (Romans12:1). In what way will you give yourself to the furtherance of the kingdom this week?

Pastor Jim

 

Neglect 

Nehemiah 10:39
“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering… and we will not neglect the house of our God.”

Much of our life is experience oriented. We save, plan, and prepare for a trip; making sure we get lots of photos, so we can remember our experience, and share it with others. We might even put together a photo album and place it on the coffee table, making it easier to look back and remember the times we enjoyed. Sometimes, we treat our relationship with the Lord the same way. We have an encounter with the LORD, we come forward at church to receive Christ, or recommit our lives to Him. Rather than treating this as a day-to-day ongoing relationship, we simply memorialize the moment. I think it is important to remember, while salvation transpires in that moment in time when we trust in Christ, relationship with the Lord is an ongoing event, and should be a part of our daily living. This relationship includes, not only what He has done for us, but committing ourselves to be a part of the further work He desires to do.

We read here, they committed themselves “not to neglect the house of God.” That meant, they were committed to doing their part. The priests committed to their service requirement, the Levites to theirs; while the people committed to giving the first fruit of the produce, to provide for the work. Giving back to the Lord is a very important part of following Him. We give, not because God is needy, but as an expression of our love and gratitude for all He has done for us, and because we want to be a part of the work He is doing in the lives of others.

Only you can determine if you have been neglecting the house of God. Why not take a few moments to examine your commitment to Christ. What part of your time, talents, and treasures have you been giving to the Kingdom of Heaven? If you need to make adjustments now is the time.

Pastor Jim

 

Celebration 

Nehemiah 8:10
“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

Chapter 8 brings us to the climax of the book of Nehemiah. After the grueling task of building the walls was completed, the people gathered together to celebrate the Lord. Ezra the priest, stood on the a stage and began reading and explaining the Word of God. One by one the people began to weep as their sins were exposed in light of the Word.

I find it interesting that Nehemiah told the people not to weep. In essence, he was saying this was not a day to weep, but to rejoice. His reason, this was a holy day. The word holy carries the idea of separation. This day was to be dedicated to the Lord, and instead of sorrowing over past failures, they should be celebrating the work of God. There is nothing more worthy of our celebration than when a person turns to Christ. The Bible teaches us, when that happens, sins are forgiven, eternal life is granted, and the work of the Spirit begins transforming us into the image of Christ.

While it is important that we realize our sins and turn from them, it is also important that we move past them into the wonderful mercy of God. As long as we let the past hold onto us, we will be hindered from moving forward in the Lord. It is time to let go of our failures, trust the mercy of the Lord, and move into the life He has written for us.

Pastor Jim

 

All Inventions Are Not Created Equal

Nehemiah 6:8
“Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.’”

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The enemies of Judah seem to be constantly thinking of new ways to attack Nehemiah and the work he is trying to accomplish. On this occasion, they wrote an open letter And threatened to send to the king of Persia. This letter was filled with accusations against the remnant of Israel, claiming they were planning a rebellion, and had already selected a new king. The real reason for the letter was to distract Nehemiah from what God had called him to, and get him to spend his energies trying to stomp out the rumors. Instead of reacting to these accusations, he responded with true godly wisdom.

Nehemiah 6:8 “Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.'”

Nehemiah silenced the enemy when he realized the source of the accusations was nothing more than the invention of their hearts.

I wonder how much of the distractions, fears, anxiety, worry, or depression we face, are the inventions of our own hearts? I am sure that we, like Nehemiah have some real life, flesh and blood enemies that are wreaking havoc and creating opposition. However, I am equally certain, that many of the difficulties we face are created, or at least magnified, by our own imaginations. Jesus understood this about us and said,

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Worry is an action that focusses, not on what is. but on what might be. We find ourselves becoming so concerned with what might happen, we lose sight of the promises of God,and we create a scenario that is too big for anyone to handle. Worry rarely gives any consideration to the intervention of God, or to the fact that He may want to use the current situation to bring about change in us, or to bring glory to Himself.

Instead of filling your heart and mind with all the things that could go wrong, why not take some time to memorize a few of God’s precious promises, then instead of inventing scenarios in your mind that may never come to pass, take time to meditate on the Word of God.

Pastor Jim