The Road May Be Long

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Today’s Reading – Job 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 1 – 3; Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “0605 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” – (Job 2:13)

I have read these first four chapters from Job many times and I have preached several messages from them, but I noticed something new to me today that I thought was worth developing. But, first let me review the story. In chapter one Job lost all of his children, and nearly everything that he possessed; yet, his response was worship for God (see vs. 20 – 22). In chapter two, Satan is permitted to destroy Job’s health. I do not know much about what Job experienced, but I would imagine that Satan chose the most painful malady possible in order to make him break. Yet, Job maintained his integrity, even when his wife turned against him. By the way, I used to beat up Job’s wife for her weakness, but now I have some compassion for her. After all, she did lose all of her children and her possessions. This must have been a very difficult time for her as well. Then Job’s friends arrive. Again, I used to be pretty rough on Job’s friends, but they stayed with him for seven days without saying a word. I believe they truly wanted to help him.

It is not until we get to chapter three that we see Job begin to break down. He begins to complain that he wished that he had never been born at all. Satan couldn’t get him to break with the loss of his children and possessions, and he couldn’t get him to yield initially when Job lost his health. However, after enough time went by, Job began to crack. Time was the element used by Satan to wear Job away. Then, once he began to break, Job’s friends also piled up on him. They shouldn’t have said anything, but I think like most well-meaning people, they didn’t have a clue.

I have seen this happen in people’s lives today. When tragedy comes their way, oftentimes their first reaction is positive, but after a little time, bitterness begins to set in, and soon their faith begins to wane. Had Job’s trial ended the day after it started, he would have been fine, but time took its toll and slowly caused him to lose all hope.

I don’t know exactly what can be done in order to keep encouraged during trials like this, but I think understanding that trials are seldom short-term can be a help in itself. In other words, we need to realize that when we go into the valley, we need to be prepared to be there for quite a while. I have experienced long seasons in the valley, and I am sure there will be some more of them in my future. I need to understand that God may not be finished working in, and or, through me. I need to just trust Him. He can do what ever He wants. I need to remember that He knows what He is doing, even if I cannot see it. God may never remove a trial, but that is His decision. We need to be prepared to endure until the Lord removes the trial, or takes us home. It may be a very long road.


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No Such Thing As Luck … by Amanda Olive

Today’s Reading – Esther 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13Psalms 16 – 20Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0604 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, like so many, everything in my life changed. I looked back at my life before and could see God’s hand in every little thing and every big thing. I realized that luck or chance wasn’t a thing. Reading these verses, I can’t help but think God put the book of Esther in the Bible to remind us that God is in total control of everything. There is no such thing as luck. Esther wasn’t lucky to be queen; God made her to be queen for His purpose. Mordecai wasn’t lucky to have overheard the assassination plot; God put him in that spot at that moment for His purpose. It wasn’t luck or by chance that put Haman in the courts at that moment, God knew what He was doing. It wasn’t luck that dropped Esther to her knees to plead for her people, God used her greatly for His purpose. And it was definitely not luck that saved God’s chosen people. God exalted the Jews and Mordeceai, not by luck, but for His good. God knew exactly what he was doing.

As Christians, we must always know that we are not lucky; God is in control. God most definitely sees what is going on in this world right now. His people must stand firm; we need not to worry or be anxious. Pray for God to show you how you can be an Esther or Mordecai in these times. Go to scripture and be reminded that God is in control.


“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed: for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” ​(Isaiah 41:10)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ​(Psalm 46:1)

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall i fear? the Lord is the strength of my life;of whom shall i be afraid?” ​(Psalm 27:1)

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17)

We as Christians are blessed to know the end of the story. God wants us to be brave like Esther and Mordecai. Step in faith and get the gospel to all the lost that dont know that God is in control. There is no such thing as luck.

The Olive Family

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For Such a Time as This … by Hannah Erickson

Today’s Reading – Esther 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click hereto view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 5 – 8Psalms 11 – 15Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0603 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – It’s a God Thing; and “Obsession.”

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this? Then Esther bade [them] return Mordecai [this answer], Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which [is] not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:14-16)

“For such a time as this” – I’ve heard that phrase get thrown around my entire life, I’ve heard messages preached on it and lessons taught and I’m sure you have too. It has almost become a cliché phrase, but I think now more than ever it is something we need to be reminded of. 

God did not make Esther queen so that she could live large and be waited on hand and foot. God had a purpose for her to stand up for His people. Mordecai had to remind Esther of her purpose and encourage Esther to be bold for the sake of her people. Esther would have to go before the King and risk her life to stand up for what was right. I’m sure Esther was terrified. I know that I would be, and I honestly don’t know if I would be able to do what Esther did. Esther set her fears aside and risked her life because she was created “for such a time as this.” 

The world is becoming crazier and crazier, there seems to be something new happening every day. As Christians, we need to be bold like Esther and take a stand. God has placed us where we are for a specific purpose. Think about what would have happened if Esther had gotten caught up in the royalty and lost her purpose. We can’t get caught up in the things happening in the world and lose focus on what really matters. Just like Esther we need to be bold and take a stand “for such a time as this”

Sami, Melissa, and Hannah

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Spring Cleaning

 

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “0602 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” – (Nehemiah 13:9)

In Nehemiah 13, I noticed that there were four things that had crept back into the life of the people of Israel that had to be cleaned out:

1 In vs. 4 – 9 we see that Eliashib the priest had actually emptied a chamber in the temple of God, and had prepared it for Tobiah to stay in. Tobiah had been the one who had opposed Nehemiah and the people of God as they rebuilded the city of Jerusalem. He had to go. Nehemiah gave him the boot.

2 In vs. 10 – 13 we learn that the Levites had to go back to the fields to work because the people of God were not supporting them through their tithes and offerings. Nehemiah corrected this problem as well.

3 In vs. 15 – 22 we see that God’s people were violating the Sabbath by working, and by trading with outsiders. God wanted the Sabbath Day to be kept holy, and set apart from the normal routines of the week. Nehemiah commanded that the gates of the city be closed on the Sabath so that the merchants could not enter in to do their business.

4 Finally we see that the Jews began to inter-marry with the heathen people around them. It got to be so bad that some of the children did not even speak the Hebrew language, but instead conversed in the language of the land where the mother came from. Nehemiah had a fit about this, and made the people promise to separate from people who were not Jews. He reminded them of how even King Solomon was caused to sin because of his marriages to non-Jewish women. God wants his people to marry within the household of faith.

It is amazing how quickly all of these abuses crept back into the lives of the people of God. Every once in a while we need to have an old-fashioned house cleaning to remove all of the junk that creeps into our lives as well. Why not take a spiritual inventory of your own life. Is there anything in your home, or in your life that God would want cleaned out? Just a thought.


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We Will Not Forsake the House of Our God

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 13 – 16; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0601 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.” – (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” – (Nehemiah 10:39)

I enjoyed thoroughly reading these three chapters today from the Book of Nehemiah. The people of Israel are back in their own land after having been in captivity for many years. They are united, “in one accord”; and they are fully surrendered to the Lord. This is certainly one of the high places in their history. In these three chapters I have noticed some ingredients that were in place that brought about a wonderful revival in the lives of God’s people. As I already mentioned, the people were unified, which in itself is an important part of the revival; but in addition to that, let me list some ingredients that I observed.

1 They are putting a heavy emphasis on the reading and preaching of the Word of God. We see this in chapter 8, and again in chapter 9. The people stood for a fourth part of the day listening to the Word. We have a tough time getting people to sit in padded seats for an hour. The word caused them to implement many changes in their lives, including the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

2 There is an emphasis on prayer. In chapter 9, we see the people corporately confessing their sins; and praising God for His mercy and grace upon them. People who are right with God will praise God. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

3 In chapter 10, we see that the people have made a commitment to the House of God. They committed to give their offerings so that the servants of the Temple, including all of the priests and Levites, would have everything that they need in order to minister to the people.

I have left out some other things, but as you can see from the reading today, these three ingredients were part of one of the greatest revivals in the history of God’s people. If we ever see revival again in America, I bet that these three ingredients will be here as well.


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I Cannot Come Down

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Today’s Reading –  Nehemiah 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0531 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – (Nehemiah 6:2 – 3)

In our passage today we see Nehemiah busy doing what the Lord had called him to do: rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. He had a job to do, and he was intent on completing it. Now there were also people in the area that were intent on stopping Nehemiah from fulfilling the will of God, but Nehemiah did not let them distract him from completing his work. I love what Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” The work Nehemiah was doing was certainly great, because it was God that had asked him to do it.

I have a great work to do for the Lord as well, and so do you. God has something to do for all of us who are His children. We must not get distracted from completing the work that God has given us. I have observed through the years that distractions can come from a variety of sources. The wicked one is famous for distracting people away from the will of God. This was the case with Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshom from our text. They were wicked men who did not have Nehemiah’s best interests in mind. They were working against the will of God, but notice how they tried to disguise themselves as God’s servants and as Nehemiah’s friends. As God’s children we need to learn to be discerning about the true motivations of the people around us as they attempt to pull us away from the primary tasks that God has given us.

Another type of distraction comes from good people who often invite us to do “good things”; but even these good things become evil if they take us away from the best things. I am slowly learning how to graciously turn down many “good” invitations from caring people. I simply do not have enough time and energy to do all of the things that I might like to do, especially as they pull me away from the primary areas of my responsibility. As a pastor, I get invited to many birthday’s, picnics, graduations, dinners, weddings, conferences, barbecues, etc. I love to be with God’s people, but I simply cannot go to them all.

A third distraction is the distraction God brings your way. There are times that God will interrupt the daily routine in life in order for you to learn something, or maybe in order for you to accomplish something special for Him. Again, we must be very careful to discern whether these distractions are indeed from God. A few years ago, because of the tight budget at the church I had to go back to a secular job for a few months, which required me to work overnight 6 nights per week. This job was certainly a hindrance that kept me from doing all that I might have wanted to do in the ministry; but I am convinced that God had lead me down that path, at least temporarily. My primary ministry is my family, and God had provided this job as a means for my family to be taken care of while still allowing me to serve as the pastor. However, because of this constraint on my time, I was very limited to what I could do. My life consisted basically of working, sleeping, prayer, Bible reading, studying and preparing for messages, and a little soul winning. That is all that I could do during those months. I  had to learn to say no to many other things so that I could do those main things. My focus was still on serving God, but I had to take some time away from that service in order to help the church financially, and in order to put food on my family’s table. God taught me much in the short time that I had been working the outside job, and He even used me to be a light to a very dark workplace. I thank the Lord that my time at the supermarket was short, and that He has turned our church’s financial situation around, but I am convinced that God allowed that period in my life for a reason.

The bottom line of today’s devotion is this: don’t allow distractions to pull you away from the primary things that God wants you to do, unless, of course, it is God who is doing the distracting.


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He said WHAT!? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 30)

Read the “0530 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

Good morning. There is an old saying from World War II: “Loose lips sink ships!” Another saying, which we ignore as adults, may be something we learned from our parents: “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” I guess that’s why I’m the quiet type! Many church people like to hear the latest “dirt” about someone else. Some take the scorner’s route, trying to destroy ministries. Loose lips may sing ships, but God’s will is going to be done. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks, so you become a scorner, and a gossiper. I like my wife’s way of looking at gossipers: “If someone says such and such about another person, WHAT DO THEY SAY ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND?

In Nehemiah chapter 4, we have Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the Ammonite, talking trash about the work of God rebuilding Jerusalem…

“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” (Nehemiah 4:1-3)

But what they did not know is that Nehemiah was praying…

“Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:4-6)

And then the scorning and gossip turned to sin in action, but God told Nehemiah what to do…

“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.” (Nehemiah 4:7-9)

And here is what you should do…

1) If someone talks bad about you, and it’s made known to you, immediately pray for that person.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:43-46)

2) If someone talks bad about someone else to you, just tell them that they must have a problem with that person, let’s go and talk to them. They are not going to like that idea, but they will either go with you to make things right, or go look for someone else who will listen to the trash.

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

The work of God is going to go on with or without you. And the work would flow much smoother without the gossip, and scorning. If you have gossiped or scorned, take it to the Lord, and get back in the race.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Peace!


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Here We Go Again

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Today’s Reading – Ezra 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalm 136 – 140; Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0529 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Am Ashamed and Blush

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.” – (Ezra 9:13-15)

In our Scripture passage in the Book of Ezra today, we see the people of God returning to Jerusalem from the bondage of captivity. The reason that they were taken into captivity in the first place is because they had forsaken the Lord by serving other gods, and by ignoring the principles contained in the Law. However, God in His mercy, did not forsake them, and gave them a new opportunity to re-establish themselves in the land of Israel. One of the leaders of the returning remnant was Ezra, the man who penned this book. He was a priest, and a very good man, and he was very concerned that the people would repeat their errors of the past. Notice what Ezra did before making the trip back to Jerusalem:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” – (Ezra 8:21)

This man, and many others of the people of Israel, wanted to please God, and they desperately desired God’s blessing on this renewed nation.

However, when we get to chapter nine we discover that some of the people had begun to make some serious errors in judgment again, as their fathers did before they went captivity. Notice the first two verses of chapter nine:

“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” – (Ezra 9:1-2)

Some of the leaders of the people had taken the first step toward the idolatry that their ancestors were guilty of by marrying some of the non-Jewish women that dwelt in the land. God knew that if these men married these women, soon they would be worshipping the gods of the women, and tolerating some of the ungodly practices of the culture that the women came from. God demanded that His people live separately from the people of the land. God demands the same from us today. Consider the following New Testament verses:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

There are so many more verses that we can look at, yet the principle of separation is pretty much an ignored doctrine to many of our New Testament churches. There has never been a more worldly group of believers since the time of Christ. Someone once said that the church follows the world by about ten years, or so. I am not sure if that is true or not, but I do know that there is not a whole lot of difference between the lifestyles of the unbelievers today and the lifestyles of Christians. This passage of Scripture from Ezra is a great picture of what is happening today. The people of Israel were placed in captivity and bondage because of their sin, but were then given a second chance; yet they chose to do the same things that got them into trouble in the first place. We who are saved have also been delivered from the bondage of sin, yet we keep choosing to go back to the sinful things and worldly lifestyles that we were delivered from. Shame on us!

Well, what should we do? It would probably be a good idea to do what Ezra did. A careful reading of chapter nine will reveal that Ezra first repented on behalf of the people when he realized the problem. He then went to God, and poured out his heart to Him; and then he went to the people, and poured out his heart to them. The good news is that the people repented too, and got right with the Lord before He would have to send judgment again. I hope that we will do the same thing.


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Let the Work of this House Alone … by Wesley Clayton

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16Psalms 131 – 135Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone” and “Stop Living in the Past

With so many parallels to what is going on today in these chapters it is hard not to mention anything political and I will do my best not to, and let you draw your own conclusions.  We start out in chapter 3 with a very serious problem; the children of Israel do not have a temple. We find out later what happened to the temple: 

 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.”  (Ezra 5:12)

They continue doing everything they can to worship, keeping the feast, doing offerings, “but still the foundation of the temple of the Lord was no yet laid.”  No matter the circumstances we may find ourselves in, keep doing what you can. If nothing else, you have the word of God in your heart (at least you should). Share it.  Finally, they decided to start building in chapter 3:9; people started rejoicing, praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, and some wept. Now I am not entirely sure why some wept with a loud voice in verse 12. It could have been for joy, but it also could have been because they did not like it.  Can we all agree on something, even as Christians we are all different, and we all have different preferences. Let us not be the ones who are bashing or talking bad about our Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, Song Leader, whoever it may be, just because they are doing something that does not match our preferences (yes I am talking specifically to myself).  We need to be the ones holding up the arms of those making decisions, praying for them, and trusting that they are getting their directions from God to make those decisions.  

In Chapter 4, we are introduced to some adversaries who try slithering their way into the building party, no doubt to cause destruction.  Without hesitation or reservation, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers kicked them out.  We are in very trying times as a church, the devil and his fallen followers are working harder than ever, and when you try to do something for the Lord, they will attack just as we see here.  The Bible tells us repeatedly, do not be afraid, do not fear, be strong and of good courage, we must not forget the gates of hell will not prevail against the church:

   Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”  (Romans 16:17 – 18)

Of course the adversaries did not like that so they went further in their plan to “weaken the hands of the people of Judah and troubled them in building.”  They wrote a letter to Artaxerxes describing how the building of the temple would hinder his kingdom and it worked for a little while. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us there is a time for everything and we must trust in God’s timing, so many times we mess things up trying to go on our timeline when God already has it planned out perfectly.  They begin to build again, and again the trouble began, only this time there was a new king, Darius.  The Governor wrote another nasty letter, but this time the children of Israel reminded the new king about a decree that king Cyrus had made saying to not only build the temple but that the king was actually going to help them get it built.  Not only did Darius honor this decree, but also made another decree saying, the people who were hindering were now going to pay the builders and anyone who tried to stop the building of the temple would hang.  I know they suffered, I know there hearts were broke, but by following God and allowing God to control things, I think we would all agree that it worked out way better.  

Wes, Melissa, Amelia, and Barrett

 


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Help Wanted

Old_wood_help_wanted_sign_2

Today’s Reading – Ezra 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “A Fresh Start

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.   (Ezra 1:2-3)

After Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, God commanded Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the Temple. Everyone did their part. Some helped with the actual rebuilding and others gave toward the project.

Today, we also need everyone to support the building of churches.  Millions of Americans are in the greatest struggles of their lives. Financially we are facing rising unemployment, fears of a national recession – or even a depression. The dramatic stock market losses have taken huge amounts out of retirement accounts.  This is our new way of life: The “Lean Times.”

“Lean times” also may apply to some other areas of life. Relationships can be hard times, grief can leave a person in emotional ruins, and disease can attack. Faith challenged. If you face “lean times,” you’ll need a good foundation Jesus Christ.

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20)

King Cyrus would not be impressed with our version of hard times.  He would tell us, you can choose either defeat, or a victory. His was victory.

Let’s band together and continue the work so the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard around the world.


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