Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thurs.’s Devo - The Dedication of the Temple

Read: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 21:17-18
It is time to celebrate the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem and Nehemiah makes sure it is a great day of praise and joy. He brings in all the Levites from around Jerusalem to help in the celebration. Two choirs of Levites are stationed on the wall. One of them walks one way around the wall and the other the other way until they meet up together. All the while they are singing and praising God. It must have been an awesome sound and sight to see. It was recorded that the sound could be heard from far away! People brought tithes and offerings and gave them to the temple. Nehemiah rid the city of Ammonites and Moabites since they had tried to put a curse on the Israelites. God had turned that curse into a blessing.
Nehemiah left for a season and went back to Babylon to serve Artaxerxes and came back to find Tobiah, God’s enemy, living in a room in the courts of the house of the Lord. This is the very man that worked against the building of the wall. The enemy always tries to infiltrate the church from within and Tobiah was a plant of Satan’s. Nehemiah threw Tobiah out with all this belongings and ordered the Levites to purity the rooms he had used. He also learned that the Levites had not been paid for their job in the temple so most of them had had to go back to working in the fields. Nehemiah changed this and put trustworthy men over the finances of the temple. He also noted that the people were working on the Sabbath and also buying goods on the Sabbath. He put a stop to both of these things. Many had married foreign wives and their children couldn’t even speak the language of Judah - Hebrew. He rebuked them, calling down curses on them. Some of them he beat and pulled out their hair. Nehemiah didn’t play around when it came to purifying the people and following God. He was radical!
Paul explained that the man is the picture of Christ and the woman is the picture of the Church. Jesus is on the same plane as God and has the same authority. The church is submissive to Jesus in everything she does so since she is represented by the women, women need to submit to men out of obedience to God. Men have a great responsibility to use their authority to honor God and women have the same responsibility to honor men as unto God. When either of them get in the flesh and abuse their authority, God is the one who will punish and rebuke them.
Lord, help us to be like Nehemiah in our fight against sin and the things that offend You. May we purify our own hearts first, then the space around us that we have control over. Help us to be good representatives of your glory.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wed.’s Devo - To the Glory of God

Read: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26; 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:2; Psalm 34:11-22; Proverbs 21:14-16
The leaders wanted to fill Jerusalem with people so they asked for volunteers. When they still needed people they casts lots and one out of ever ten was chosen to move to Jerusalem while the others could stay in their towns.
A list was given of the descendants of Judah, Benjamin, the priests and the Levites. Some of the Levites were in charge of the outside work of the house of God. Some led in thanksgiving and prayer and some were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. Others were singers who were responsible for the service of the house of God. Pethahiah was the kings’ agent in all affairs relating to the people. Everyone had their gifts and places in the temple and they all did their work. Nehemiah was the governor and Ezra was the priest and scribe. When they worked together their was unity and joy.
Paul was trying to maintain that same unity and flow that Nehemiah had. It only works when the people are all worshiping the same thing and working toward the same goal. When idolatry slips in, their is division and many lines that should not be crossed are compromised. When we are under Christ we have freedoms others don’t have but that doesn’t mean we can flaunt them or defile their consciences. We have to be sensitive about what we do when it comes to others. If it offends them, then we need to abstain when they are around. This sounds hypocritical but what we do is judged by our heart and God is the judge of our hearts. Everything we do should be done to the glory of God.
Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You. Let the fear of You be on our land.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tues.’s Devo - Learn From Their Mistakes

Read: Nehemiah 9:22-10:39; 1 Corinthians 9;19-10:13; Psalm 34:1-10a; Proverbs 21:13
Nehemiah continues his retelling of Israel’s history. God had given them victory over the inhabitants of the land yet they were disobedient and rebelled against the Lord and his law. Even in their rebellion, God remained faithful to Israel. In his goodness, he turned them over to be slaves to other kings so that they could see the error of their ways and turn back to him. So they made a covenant to turn from their past life and follow the law and do what it said. They would give to the Lord what he required and not neglect the house of God.
In the Old Testament disobedience made them slaves but in the New Testament Paul who was free chose to become a slave to Christ that he might win others.
He explained the spiritual significance of the Old Testament. The children of Israel ate the passover lamb signifying salvation and the blood of Jesus. Then they went through the Red Sea which symbolized their baptism. They ate the manna which was their spiritual food like the Word of God is ours. They drank water from the spiritual rock which stood for Jesus. Everything they went through was to teach us spiritual lessons. They were an example for us not to follow. They set their hearts on following evil and it brought them bondage. We don’t have to experience that if we learn from their mistakes. God will make a way of escape from every temptation we face.
Lord, help us to learn from the mistakes of the children of Israel and choose wisely. We are blessed because we take refuge in You. Thank you that our faces are never covered with shame because we walk under the shadow of the most High.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mon.’s Devo - God’s Selection

Read: Nehemiah 7:61-9:21; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 21:11-12
The priesthood had to be pure and the only way to make sure was to check their geneology. Their blood line had to be proven. It was a picture of God’s selection and predestination. Only those who have been predestined before the sands of time will be able to enter into heaven. They must have Jesus blood. There will be a certain time on the earth that Jesus will come back and judge the earth. It is represented by the Feast of Trumpets which happens on the seventh month the first day. On this day the people assembled (Nehemiah 7:73, 8:2) and read the Law. They met at the Water Gate which represented the Living Water. There, Nehemiah read the Law explaining to the people exactly what it meant. The people realized how far they had strayed from it and began to weep and mourn. Nehemiah told them not to mourn or weep because this was not the time to do that. It was a time of joy and celebration.
The Feast of Trumpets will be a great day for the Christian because our King will be crowned King of Kings but, it will not be a day of joy for those who have rejected Jesus. This was to be a day of joy for them as God’s chosen people. It was a day that God wiped their sins away.
They left the celebration to prepare for the Feast of Tabernacles where they were to construct booths to live in for seven days to represent the fact that this life is temporary and this is not our home. Our home is in heaven with the Lord. Every day during this week they met to hear the word of the Lord being read on the 8th day they fasted and mourned, confessing their sins. This will be the day of judgement where the world will be judged. It will be a day of sadness and mourning for those whose names were not written in the book of Life.
In Corinthians Paul defends the right of leaders in the church to receive a salary from the church. Sadly, Paul did most of his ministry for free because they didn’t value his work. It didn’t stop his preaching because he was compelled to preach and did it out of love for Jesus and the people. Paul will receive his reward in heaven which will be so much more than the world could ever give. This is a good concept to remember when we feel unappreciated. The greatest reward we can get is the one we will get from God in heaven.
Even our Psalms and our Proverbs today, remind us of how the Lord takes note of all that happens on the earth and rewards his children for their obedience and punishes those who reject him.
Lord, may we trust in your unfailing love for us. Great is your name!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sat.’s Devo - Spiritual Warfare

Read: Nehemiah 3:15-5:13; 1 Corinthians 7:25-40; Psalm 32;1-11; Proverbs 21:5-7
The rebuilding of the wall is the perfect example of how everyone with totally different gifts can work together on the same task and accomplish it.
When their enemies led by Sanballat and Tobia realized the Jews were still building they came to discourage them. They attacked their goal questioning their strength, their timing, and the power of God. They called the Jews feeble and condescendingly asked if they thought they could build this wall in a day and if they could bring the stones back to life since they were charred by fire. All of these very things had been prophesied about Jerusalem. Yes, God would bring a nation to birth in a day. Yes, God would bring the stones back to life. They were prophets and didn’t even know it.
Instead of giving up, the Jews prayed and worked harder with all their heart.
Now, their enemies decided that words were not enough, they needed to physically foil their plans so they met to attack the Jews. Their mission was found out and the Jews fortified the wall with ammunition and fighting men. The workers worked with a sword strapped to their sides and a weapon in one hand. With the other they built the wall. That is how we are to work, always ready to fight our enemy, the devil.
Their other battle was from within. Some of the wealthy Jews had borrowed money to their brothers and were charging interest and making servants of their children. Nehemiah rebuked them and put a stop to both of these. He lent money to the poor without charging interest.
It is so true that we fight forces without and within. Sometimes we are our own worse enemies. We have to stop listening to the voices of condemnation and intimidation. The attacks we feel from people are not really from them, they are from the devil who is using them. We don’t fight flesh and blood but principalities.
Paul continues his talk on marriage. We live in a world where marriage is a status symbol and if we are not married then we think something is wrong with us. I personally know at least three unmarried women who are beautiful, bright and godly. They all long to be married. I see no reason why they aren’t. Paul is trying to get our attention off of marriage and onto what is most important which is living our lives for the Lord. I think you can do that married or unmarried it all goes back to your heart. I married a man who loves the Lord like I do so we are a team in the Lord. Bottom line is we are to be content whatever state we are in and grow in that place.
Lord, help us to see our status as our platform to do what You have called us to do.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fri.’s Devo - The Goodness of God

Read: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14; 1 Corinthians 7:1-24; Psalm 31:19-24; Proverbs 21:4
Nehemiah lived in the palace and was the cupbearer to the king of Persia. He was a devout Jew who overheard two men talking in Hebrew about Jerusalem. They told him about how the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates burned. This news was so sad to Nehemiah that he fasted and prayed to the Lord. He reminded God of his promise to gather his people and bring them back to the place he had set for them which was Jerusalem.
When it was time to bring the king his wine, Nehemiah couldn’t put on a happy face and the king noticed. When he asked him why he was so sad, Nehemiah told him his burden for his people in Jerusalem. The king asked him what he wanted and Nehemiah asked for permission to go back and help them rebuild their wall. The king sent him with his blessing, letters to the governors there and supplies to rebuild.
When he got there, he went out at night to see the condition of the wall. Once he saw the damage, he approached the Jews living there and told him his plan. They were delighted with his plan and set out to divide the wall into parts and assigned them to different families. Everyone was glad except for Sanballat and Tobiah who were enemies to the Jews and didn’t want to see their welfare change for the good. Sanballat means “hatred in secret” although he didn’t remain secret about it. Tobiah means “the goodness of God”.
There are always enemies of God’s people and their hatred can bring out the goodness of God. When someone rises up against us and we call out to the Lord, he answers and saves us by his goodness.
Paul speaks on marriage which is always controversial. The bottom line is to let love rule over everything.
Our Psalm speaks of God’s goodness also. It is stored up for us who take our refuge in the Lord.
Thank you Lord. We bless our enemies and turn them over to you. May your goodness flow to your people.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thurs.’s Devo - Putting Away Our Foreign Wives

Read: Ezra 10:1-44: 1 Corinthians 6:1-20; Psalm 31:9-18; Proverbs 21:3
Ezra set an example of repentance and intercession which spread to the people causing many to join him. He was distraught that the people of Judah had married foreign wives taking up their religion and idolatry - many of these being priests. God heard their cries and turned the hearts of the people to repent. They sent their foreign wives away even though some of them had had children by them. If you think divorce is wrong under all circumstances, you need to read the scriptures. One of the stipulations is spiritual idolatry and one is natural.
Paul asks his congregation in Corinth why they are taking each other to court to be judged by ungodly judges. It is the church that should judge the church. Since we are dealing with divorce in the Old Testament, it makes me wonder about Christians who divorce. Do they take their disputes to the judge or the Christian counselor? Certainly they should take their matters first to the Christian counselor. If one or both parties are unwilling to align their lives to the Word of God, then they would be like the ones in Ezra who refused to leave their foreign wife. A foreign wife is any ungodly activity or mindset that we have put above God. It can be an addiction, a person, or something intangible like unforgiveness. All of these can be brought under the blood of Jesus and we can be free from them. It is our choice. Paul said it well, “Everything is permissible for me - but I will not be mastered by anything.” He summed it up with the fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is not our own body to do with as we please. We were bought with a price of the blood of Jesus. So, we should honor God with our bodies. Even our Proverb today says that to do what is right and just is more acceptable to God than sacrifice.
Lord, help us to honor you in what we do and what we think. If we have any foreign wives in our lives, help us to send them away.