Category Archives: Nehemiah

There is an order

“They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.  They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God.” Nehemiah 9:2-3.

I am finding sequences in the Bible.  Things relating to God have order.

I always want to be right with God.

I know that I am a sinner and will always be a sinner.  It is a never-ending process to be confessing my sins.

In this “Nehemiah” sequence things start with a general confession.  How often we say/think “Lord, forgive me of my sins.”  Nothing specific.

Then these folks looked at God’s Word.  It helps to identify specific shortcomings.

Then they returned to confessing their sins because now they had discovered specific things in God’s Word that needed confessing.

At last they moved into worshiping.  They were clean before Him and could concentrate on Him.  The distractions to full worship were eliminated.

I think of how often I mess up this sequence.

Too often I generalize my sinfulness.

Too often I read without applying what I read to me.  I’m looking for others!

Too often my drive to confess specific sins in my life is less than it should be.

Too infrequently I stand clean before God and worship Him in that status.

I have a lot of work to do but knowing the order for doing it is provided in today’s verses.

Conclusion: Confess, read, confess some more, and then worship Him.

 

 

 

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Act in haste. Repent in leisure.

“When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.  I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials.”  Nehemiah 5:6-7.

Note what Nehemiah didn’t do.  He didn’t take immediate action.  His anger gave way to thought.

I now read Scripture looking for things I can apply to myself.  Today’s verses screamed out to me.

As I read verse six I thought of my need to hear what is happening in my midst and to have a reaction to it.  Don’t be so blasé.

But then verse seven followed.  Nehemiah pondered before he took action.

I get riled up.  I take immediate action and often regret it later.

There is a sequence given here.  I do need to be tuned into what is happening in my midst, BUT I also need to react in a Godly fashion.  To react as I should, involves an immediate connect to God: “What do You want me to do here?”

Sometimes there isn’t much time but often there is.

I covered a cross country meet yesterday.  It was very hot and many of the runners were in pain.  A girl from one team collapsed nearing the finish line.  A girl from another team was part of the group that came over to help.  That other-team girl stayed with someone she hardly knew nearly forty-five minutes because as she told me, “I saw that she was in a lot of pain and I had to help.”

I need to tune in to those around me. I need to see them as God sees them.

I need to ask God for the appropriate actions to take. He knows what’s best.

Conclusion: I must see those in my surroundings better and react when/how He wants me to react.

 

 

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Reacting to a bad report

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  Then I said: ‘Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments….”Nehemiah 1:4-5.

I hear bad news.  How do I react?

Nehemiah explains how he did it in today’s verses.

Nehemiah took the news personally and reacted privately.

As part of his private reaction he interacted with God.

After a while, he felt empowered to move on with God.

I am confronted by bad news all the time.  Things don’t go the way they should.  I referenced our clothes washer yesterday.  I could also mention that we had a couple of pans stuck together.  How should I react to bad news?

I often choose the second part (move on) without the first part (interacting with God).  Things seldom go pleasantly when I do that.

I have often mentioned that if I had some warning before things happen, or before I speak, I could prepare myself to react in a Godly way.  But often I don’t.

I must have an unceasing relationship with God.  It is the only way!  I cannot schedule when difficulties will come along.  When they show up and I’m loose from God, I WILL NOT react in the best of Godliness.  I will react poorly instead.

Nehemiah spells out what he did, and it is beautiful to see how it works out.  Truly role model material!

Conclusion: I must react to everything in a Godly way.  I must be mindful of Him without ceasing.

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I broke a rule and learned about justice

“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Nehemiah 9:17.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Nehemiah 9-10, and Acts 2.

I found out about justice in a personal way yesterday.

I went to a meeting this past Saturday in which the rules and regulations of the company I work part-time for were explained.  I heard them and agreed to them.

On my first day at work on Tuesday I took matters into my own hands and solved a problem.  When I asked yesterday to be compensated for what I had done, solving a company problem, I was told that it had been agreed that there would be no compensation for what I had done.

Internally outraged, I had numerous explanations for why I should have been compensated.  I left the office in an unhappy state but as I drove away I started to realize that what I had received was letter-of-the-law justice.  I had received what I deserved.

I realized that I didn’t want justice.  I wanted mercy and I had all kinds of reasons why I deserved it.  But mercy is not something I deserve, it is something given to me by someone willing to overlook my rule breaking.

Powerful stuff.  I have a God who knows my rule breaking and accepts my apology.  He gives me something I don’t deserve (a clean slate before Him) because of His gracious, merciful nature.  My task is to believe that He has done this for me and to live accordingly.

“Lord, thank You for bringing a personal justice/mercy message to me over the last few days.  I needed to see how that works.  You are just and have expectations of me yet You are also merciful to those who belong to You.  Expose my sins to me.  Help me to recognize them and repent of them.  Thank You for the restoration to You that You provide.  I love You, Lord.”

God is just but He is also merciful.

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Joy prescribed

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Nehemiah 7-8, and Acts 1.

I tend to concentrate more on God’s justice than on His mercy.

I know the things He wants me to do and I am more than aware that I often fail Him.  He has reasons to be displeased with me.  I strive to make a just God happy.

But today’s verse gets beyond the “just” God to the God of “mercy.”

I must remember that I am loved by a God Who knows all my failures.  There is no logic to His love.  It is flat-out mercy and in that I can rejoice.

The Jews had heard the Law and realized how evil they had been in the sight of God.  They were weeping and mourning over their failures.  But Nehemiah moves them beyond that because they are now right with God. The Jews had recognized their sins and repented of them.  They can rejoice in their cleansed relationship with God.

And I need to follow the same pattern.  I must recognize my sins and repent of them but I can’t just wallow there.  I must realize that my sins are gone.  I must realize that the consequences of my sins have been taken care of by Jesus’s death.  I’m clean forever!  Hallelujah!

“Lord, forgive me for limiting my view of You to justice.  You are just but You are also merciful.  I fear Your justice but I rejoice in Your mercy to me.  I have won the lottery and I didn’t even buy a ticket!  You are amazing, Father.”

Knowing what I know about God’s mercy, why am I not happier?  Am I waiting to be happy when I earn God’s approval?  That’s not mercy.

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Hedging my bet?

Hedging a bet?

“They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.  But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.”  Nehemiah 4:8-9.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Nehemiah 3-4, and Luke 23.

Trusting God requires action on our part.  Sometimes that “action” is inaction…….let go, let God.  Other times that “action” is some direct involvement.

In today’s verses the action is direct involvement.  They prayed and then they posted.

Earlier in Ezra there was a story of how on the trip back from Babylon to Jerusalem, they did not request that the Babylonians provide protection.  Why?  Because Ezra believed that the Babylonians would lose respect for his God if his God couldn’t take care of them.

In the Nehemiah story, the protection was put in place.  As it turned out, that “protection” was never called into play.  Maybe if the builders in Jerusalem had trusted God, they wouldn’t have had to worry so much about protecting themselves?  Were they trying to “help” God?  Maybe they were hedging their bet?

Maybe, in the Nehemiah story, God expected them to post guards.  And maybe God knew that if guards were posted the enemies wouldn’t bother them.  Therefore, He offered the Jews that solution.

The ultimate keys for me are that I must trust God and then do whatever He wants.  One size does not fit all when it comes to solutions.  I must be willing to do His bidding, not my own.

“Father, protect me from choosing my own ways.  Your Ways must be my ways.  Open my senses to catch what You want me doing.  Empower me to get those deeds done.  I love You, Lord.”

The closer I am to God the more likely I will know what He wants me to do.

 

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What should I say?

“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’  Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king.”  Nehemiah 2:4-5.

Verses chosen from today’s Bible reading; Nehemiah 1-2, Psalm 133, and Luke 22.

This is a favorite verse of mine.

I find role models good and bad in reading Scripture regularly.  Nehemiah comes out on the good side in this one.

I want to use God’s Words in every conversation but how often do I turn to Him, as Nehemiah does, before speaking?  Not often enough.

Some of my recent Bible readings have referenced commitment to God.  A full commitment is the coveted standard.

A full commitment to God would produce a steady stream of His Words in my conversations.

I like the way Nehemiah made a quick consult to God before answering the king.  I am quite certain that Nehemiah didn’t kneel, or close his eyes when he prayed.  He prayed to himself and then gave an answer.  I must do the same thing.  “Lord, help me,” is a wonderful prayer to give prior to conversations and even during interactions.

“Lord, I want Your Words in every conversation I have.  Forgive me for using my words.  I need Your’s in every one of them.  Guide me, O thou great Jehovah.”

Your Words must be the foundations of every verbal interaction.

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