Sunday, August 31, 2014
Read: Job 37:1-39:30; 2 Co. 4:13-5:10; Ps. 44:9-26; Pr. 22;13 After days of five men giving their wisdom on God, God speaks. He puts their speeches in the dust as he explains His majesty and the glory of His creation and how it works. Every drop of water, every animal, every storm, everything is carefully and explicitly planned by the great creator, God and everything has a purpose. Like an orchestra, God tunes, directs and plays the music of the universe in perfect harmony. Truly what is seen is temporal and what is unseen is eternal. This great powerful God who made all the earth and raised up Jesus from death, will also raise us up. Paul describes the trials of life as “light and momentary troubles”. This is the same person that was beaten numerous times, thrown out of towns, etc. These trials, he said, are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs any trial we could meet. We learn in our Psalms that God knows the secrets of our heart. Lord, thank you that You so intimately know us and all our fears and shortcomings yet You have mercy and grace on us minute by minute.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Read: Job 34:1-36:33, 2 Co. 4:1-12, Ps. 44:1-8, Pr. 22:10-12 Ellihu continues his barrage of complaints against Job. He claims that Job is getting what he deserves. Since Job has seen no advantage in being good, he has resorted to sin. God only disciplines hypocrites and sinners so surely Job is one of these. Elihu should have kept his mouth shut. Paul talks about the treasure we carry in our earthly bodies. This treasure is Jesus! This treasure is hid to those who are lost so that they can’t see it. Yesterday, I had a man come to my shop to order curtains for his house. He told me all about a stroke he had had and how it had left him impaired and disabled on his left side. I asked him if he were a believer and he told me he was but when I tried to tell him God could heal him, he was blind to it. He kept telling me how he would never be able to see out of his left eye because the nerve was gone, etc. I tried to tell him that the God who created his eye could recreate it again. He couldn’t receive it at all. Although he wouldn’t let me pray for him, I told him I was going to pray for him anyway. When he left, I did pray for him but I was so frustrated. People walk into my shop daily with migraines and all kinds of illnesses and I’m just tired of letting them walk out with them when I know the God of healing resides in me and in some of them. Good news is that the man does want me to do his curtains, so I’ll get to see him again. I pray a miracle in his life so he can see the love and healing power of our God. Lord, let the light that you sent us in the face of Jesus Christ, shine from our face and change our world.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Read: Job 31:1-33:33, 2 Co. 3:1-18, Ps. 43:1-5, Pr. 22:8-9 Job stands by his claim that he is righteous so Elihu decides he has heard enough and tries his reasoning on Job. He starts by trying to convince older Job of why he should listen to him since he is much younger. Elihu does give us some insightful wisdom about dreams. God seals instructions in dreams. I have seen that happen over and over in my life. God will drop an idea in my heart and then confirm it in a dream. It does take me out of the equation and I follow what God wants. Elihu concludes that Job is not just and God is greater than man. Paul teaches us that our lives are living letters that show Jesus to the world. In the Old Testament everything about Jesus was veiled in types and shadows, but when we come to Jesus, the veil is removed and we can see clearly. The Old Testament way to God was glorious but the New Testament was is more glorious. Moses’ face was so lit up with the glory of God, that the people couldn’t even look at him. In the New Testament Steven’s face glowed with this same glory. (Acts 6:15) God is going to make our faces shine this same glory. Moses ended up having to veil his face because the people couldn’t take seeing the glory. God had to veil the face of the Jews because they couldn’t receive Jesus’ glory. Lord, please don’t veil your glory from us. We want to behold your face for You are the health of our countenance and our God.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Read: Job 28:1-30:31, 2 Co. 2:12-17, Ps. 42:2-22 Pr. 22:7 Job explains to his friends that if man searches hard enough and drills deep enough he will find precious minerals, but no amount of digging will result in wisdom or understanding. There is no price tag on them. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord and understanding is to depart from evil. Then Job reminisces about his past life, when his life made sense and he was a blessing to the earth. Job sounded like the perfect man of God. Now, Job sees himself as the joke of base people. He has become cursed. He things that God doesn’t hear his cry or hears and refuses to answer. Job’s joy has turned to mourning. Paul encourages us by reminding us that God always causes us to triumph in Christ. We are His aroma everywhere we go. Our aroma is life to those hungry for God and already saved, but it is death to those who hate God. If you are in a hard place right now, our Psalms is uplifting. David is struggling to have faith but remembers all God has done for him in the past. He knows that God will command His lovingkindness in the day and His song in the night. David didn’t seem to have a friend to encourage him so he was constantly picking himself up and preaching to himself to hope in God. Lord, we command our spirits to hope in You. You are our song in the night seasons and Your lovingkindness is appreciated in the good times. You are our rock.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Read: Job 23:1-27:23, 2 Co. 1:12-2:11, Ps. 41:1-13, Pr. 22:5-6 In Chapter 23 Job defends his lifestyle and generosity. In Chapter 24 Job describes the life a person who cares only for himself and doesn’t regard the life of his fellow man. In 25 Bildad argues that no man is righteous before God and in 26 Job answers him that no man can understand God so how can Bildad speak for God. In Chapter 27 Job continues to defend his own righteousness. Job would have loved reading Psalms 41; it would have fueled his defense. I wish Paul had been in their conversation because he would have explained that Job was innocent because of the grace of God. Paul like Job, is trying to convince the Corinthians of his own confidence which was not in himself, but in God. Then Paul goes on to talk to them as their spiritual father. As all spiritual fathers, sometimes he has to rebuke them, but it is all from his heart of love for them. He ends by admonishing them to forgive everyone they might have an offense with. If we don’t we hand Satan the advantage. Lord, examine our hearts and remind us of anyone we need to forgive. May we walk in your generosity and grace today.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Read: Job 20:1-22:30, 2 Co. 1:1-11, Ps. 40:11-17, Pr. 22:2-4 Jobs friends try to decide if Job is a hypocrite since he started out with so much and ended up with so little. His blessing has turned to a curse and that is the only explanation they can come up with. Job tells them that their reasoning is false. Job is a great book to remind us that sometimes circumstances can’t be reasoned out with man’s reasonings. We have to ultimately trust God. In our reading in Corinthians, Paul encourages us to comfort those going through tribulations. Jobs’ friends needed to read this. Everything we go through is for our good and the good of someone else coming behind us. Several times in scripture it talks about the Holy Spirit being our earnest. “Earnest” in the Hebrew means a pledge or part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest. If the Holy Spirit is just a part of what is going to be given to us then I can’t imagine what the rest is going to be. The Holy Spirit teaches us, leads us, reveals hidden mysteries to us, comforts us, speaks to us and does a whole host of other things. One day we will be able to speak to Jesus face to face and He will teach us himself and lead us and share with us the mysteries of the kingdom. That will be a great and glorious time. Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We look forward to the day we will behold you face to face.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Read: Job 16:1-19:29,1 Co. 16:1-24, Ps. 40:1-10, Pr. 22:1 Job responds to his friends “encouragement” and tells them they are miserable comforters. If he was in their place he would try to lighten their load, but they have made his heavier. Job feels abandoned by God and his friends. Job has lost hope for his future and has become cynical about life and death. Somehow, after Job’s words Bildad decides to defend himself and the others. Bildad argues that the end of the good and the evil are not the same. The life and death of the evil will be torturous and bad. He will be remembered for the evil he did. The only problem with what he says about the evil is that all of it has happened to Job…and Job is not evil. So Job speaks his mind. He contends that it wasn’t his lifestyle that got him where he is but the hand of God. God has turned against him and he doesn’t know why. Everyone who once loved him now hates to be around him. He cries to his friends for pity, not judgment. Then Job slips in a prophecy about Jesus in verse 25: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” The disciples in Corinth had seen Jesus come to earth and yet like us, they were looking forward to the day He would return. In the meantime, Paul instructs us to stay awake spiritually, stand fast in the faith, be strong and let all we do be with love. In verse 22, “Anathema” means “to excommunicate or ban” and “Maranatha” means “our Lord has come”. Paul is saying that if a person doesn’t love Jesus then he is condemned because the Lord came and they rejected him. Lord, may we be awake and looking for Your coming with great joy!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Read: Job 12:1-15:35, 1 Co. 15:29-58, Ps. 39:1-13, Pr. 21:30-31 Job answers Zohar again and explains the frailty of man. Everything man does is under God’s control. Both the deceived and the deceiver is His. God determines his length of days and his times are in God’s hands. Job wishes that his friends would stop trying to figure out his life and leave him alone. They are not doing a good job of thinking for God because they don’t have the mind of God. We are so blessed to live in a time where we can think the thoughts of God. We have the mind of Christ. (1 Co. 2:16) Our reading in the New Testament explains to us that we are no longer just a living soul as Adam was but through Christ we are a quickening spirit. Everything on this earth is a type of heavenly things and if we will open our spiritual eyes we will understand spiritual mysteries by looking at natural creations. Here is an example. We have been tithing and giving offerings our whole married life and at the beginning we had our needs met but not much more than that. Honestly, it was discouraging to see others prospering when we were just making it. But we continued to sow and sow into the kingdom. Our seed was the seed of an oak tree. An oak tree first forms a great network of roots under the ground so it will be able to hold the huge oak it is going to produce. Finally, a little shoot will come up and the tree will begin to grow. It takes years for an oak to grow but when it does it is the one of the biggest trees that can become home to many animals and provide shade for many people. That has been the story of our finances. They are finally becoming that nest and shade for many. First the natural and then the spiritual. Our spiritual ministry has been the same way…very hidden at times and then very open. I thank God for the hidden times when we can grow and make our mistakes in private where we don’t hurt a large amount of people. God is so wise in His plans. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t prosper as soon as you give your gift…remember the oak tree. And don’t be discouraged if you feel your spiritual gifts are being unused. Be faithful in the place God has planted you and he will promote you in your season. Lord, we praise Your infallible wisdom!
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Read: Job 8:1-11:20, 1 Co. 15:1-28, Ps. 38:1-22, Pr. 21:28-29 Bildad’s name means “confusing love”. He suggests that God killed Job’s children because of their sin. I would say he got the love of God confused. Then he suggests that Job is a hypocrite. He assesses that a person’s life should start out insignificant and small and end significant and great. Job’s life has done the opposite so the error must lie in Job. A righteous man would be accepted of God, happy, and protected from his enemies. Job agrees with his last statement but argues that no one is blameless before God. God is all-powerful, omnipotent, creator of all, invisible, just, overwhelming, mighty, but Job still says that at this moment he is blameless. He explains that God is sovereign and bad things happen to the good and the bad. Job understands that God finds him guilty, but there is no advocate for him. Because of this, he hates his life and just wants to die in peace. Zohar answers and disagrees with all Job has said. He thinks that if God would talk he would condemn Job. What great comfort! In the New Testament Paul explains that before Christ rose, no one had risen from the dead. They all lived in the land of the dead called Sheol. Once Christ rose, now all in Christ rise. There is coming a day when death will be completely destroyed. Lord, open our hearts to contain more of You.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Read: Job 4:1-7:21, 1 Co. 14:18-40, Ps. 37:30-40, Pr. 21:27 Job had more or less put his calamity on God’s sovereignty, but today Eliphaz tries to explain that there is a reaction to every action. You can only reap what you sow. He even tells of an encounter he had with God where God told him that He couldn’t even trust the righteousness of His angels and man is lower than angels. He suggests that God is correcting Job for something he has done but as soon as God is finished, His blessings will flow. Job replies that he is grieved beyond words and finds it a punishment to live. He contends that there is no sin between him and God. I love Job’s tenaciousness to stand up for himself. Some where we have gotten this wrong doctrine about how we have to sin every day. That is not scriptural. What is scriptural is that we ALL have sinned and come short of God’s glory, but once we become Christians we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us and we DON’T have to sin. If you have a question about this study Romans. Job was not being arrogant, he was humble and realized that his life was vanity and that he had sinned. Remember at the beginning of Job how Job was always offering sacrifices for his sons. Job knew how to repent - he was an intercessor for many. I’m sure Job prayed prayers like today’s Psalms. When reading the letters of the Apostles we have to remember that these were letters written to different churches to help them with their individual problems. In their church services they split the men and women. While the preacher was preaching, if a woman didn’t understand something she would yell her question to her husband. This was disrupting the service so that is why Paul told the women to hold their questions till they got home. Some have taken this so far out of context that they don’t even allow women to teach or preach in their churches. Tongues was another gift that got a bad rap. They were doing it too much in church and no one was benefiting unless someone interpreted what they said. In verse 39 Paul tells them not to forbid people to speak in tongues and he tells them that he speaks in tongues more than most of them. Lord, be our balance and give us discernment and wisdom.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Read: Job 1:1-3:26, 1 Co. 14:1-17, Ps. 37:12-29, Pr. 21:25-26 The word “Job” in the Hebrew means “hated, persecuted”. First he was probably hated because he was the richest man in the east. I’m sure people that didn’t know him were jealous of his prosperity, and I’m sure these same people were glad to see him lose it all. It is the way of human nature, but we have the nature of God so we should never covet another’s success or be happy when they lose it. Job had a really bad day the day he lost everything. He might have temporarily lost his reputation on earth but what he didn’t realize was he was growing it in heaven. All heaven was watching this showdown between God and Satan. Job just happened to be the pawn. If Job had known this I’m sure his disposition would have been different. This is a good word for us to hear. Sometimes our circumstances have nothing to do with us. Maybe God is using us as an example in heaven. It was a great compliment to Job to be chosen for this test. We should feel honored when tests come. They come to make us strong, teach us patience and humble us. I do think it is interesting to know that Satan knew the thing that would affect Job the most because Job said in 3:25 “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Satan has demons that watch us to see our weaknesses and fears. That is what he brings to tempt us. Paul teaches us in Corinthians that in the church it is better to use gifts that edify the people. He is talking about speaking in tongues. But he will tell us tomorrow that he is glad he speaks in tongues because it is the spirit that is speaking. The Holy Spirit knows just what to pray. Lord, thank you for the trials we face. Help us to do it willingly with love.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Read: Esther 8:1-10:3, 1 Co. 12:27-13:13, Ps. 37:1-11, Pr. 21:23-24 The underlying story is about Mordecai. He was a man of obscurity who rose to be the second in the land much like Joseph. In chapter eight, Esther and Mordecai were blessed with Haman’s wealth but they couldn’t stop there or their future would have been very short. They had to get authority to fight. I think this is where we are tempted to stop. We get some reprieve from the enemy and think everything is going to be alright, when really we haven’t even reached the main battle. Blessings and position are not enough. We have to take the devil out. His desire is to kill, steal, and destroy. I pray that Israel gets this in their war with their enemies. There is no peace treaty with the devil that will work. We need to get authority to fight. The devil needs to know our names and tremble. They knew Paul’s name. Authority comes from intimacy with God. It is knowing our commander in chief. The more we know God, the more we know how powerful He is and how in control He is. I couldn’t put it better than our Psalms today says it. First Corinthians teaches us that a gift is just that - a gift. Anyone can have the “gift” of prophecy and he did nothing to deserve it. But love is a fruit and it has to be cultivated and grown through practice. It is the “how” to our gifts. Whatever gift we have, if it is not performed out of love it is not worth having. Love should be our mode of operation for our gifts. Lord, we pray that we gain authority with You as we draw close to know You. Let love be our goal in all that we do.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Read: Esther 4:1-7:10, 1 Co. 12:1-26, Ps. 36:1-12, Pr. 21:21-22 Every generation has an anti-Christ who rises up and tries to annihilate the Jews. Today it is the Hamas. In Esther’s time it was Haman. God always raises up a deliverer like Esther. Mordecai played the part of the Holy Spirit who reveals secrets, guides, and speaks the truth. Mordecai revealed the plot to kill the king and informed Esther what was going on in the outside world. He guided Esther to go before the king and plea for mercy for the Jews. Then he spoke the truth to Esther when she was afraid to ask Ahaserus. He told her she would not be spared and instead of being a deliverer, she would be cursed if she didn’t realize why she had been placed where she was. God places everyone in strategic places for His glory. Sometimes we are afraid to lose that position for the sake of the gospel, when it is for the sake of the gospel you are in that position. If you are being asked to lay your future on the altar, then He will protect you and provide for you. It is always when the devil looks like he is winning that he falls. Haman had just bragged about his position and favor with the king. He plotted how he was going to kill Mordecai. Everything reversed for him when God’s people fasted and prayed. In 1 Corinthians we learn how we are all part of the body even though we have different gifts. I was thinking today about how in the Old Testament they had the twelve tribes. They each had their own personalities and functions like the Levites who were in charge of the temple. Today we have different denominations with different personalities. The Baptist’s are devoted to evangelism, bringing people on earth to heaven. The Charismatics are devoted to intimacy with Christ and to moving in the gifts and bringing heaven to earth. We need both. We get in trouble when we compare with malice or competition and not realize we are all part of the same body. We all need each other. Lord, help us to be willing to give up everything for you and embrace the whole body of Christ.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Read: Esther 1:1-3:15, 1 Co. 11:17-34, Pr. 35:17-28, Pr 21:19-20 I love the book of Esther! You get to see the providence of God and how he moves people and events around as He wants them. He causes Vashti to be removed so Esther can be promoted to queen so she will be in position when He needs her. Then he uses Mordecai to save the king and be forgotten till it’s time. Timing to God is everything. What would have happened if Mordecai had gotten mad that the king confiscated his niece? He would probably gladly let the two men kill the king. But Mordecai trusted God and those He put in authority. Then, what if he had gotten bitter over not being rewarded for saving the king…God would not have been able to use him later. God is looking for people He can trust to wait on Him…a good word for me right now. In Corinthians there was apostasy in the church. Taking the Lord’s Supper is something only a Christian can do right. In their churches, unbelievers must have been participating because they had turned it into a party. Many people think that they are “Christians” when really they treat their “Christianity” like any other event in life. To become a believer we have to do what verse 28 says…to examine ourselves first. “Examine” means to test or discern right from wrong. Only the Holy Spirit can do that in the pliable, teachable heart. To be irreverent toward God in the name of being a Christian only causes a person to be condemned and damned. A true Christian will want to honor God, not take Him lightly. Lord, may we esteem everything You esteem.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Read: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31, 1 Co. 11:3-16, Ps. 35:1-16, Pr. 21:17-18 Imagine what it must have sounded like: joy that could be heard afar off! As they read the law they found out the things that they were doing wrong, like allowing the Ammonites and the Moabites to come into their congregation, and allowing Tobiah to live in the temple when he was not even a Levite, and not paying the Levites and the singers from the tithes. Nehemiah also noticed that venders were set up outside Jerusalem to sell food to those who traveled to Jerusalem on the sabbath. Nehemiah got rid of them. Nehemiah cleansed everyone that was serving in the Temple, the walls, and the gates of Jerusalem and the people. If we are going to be a holy people set apart for His service we will have to keep the Word and cleanse ourselves from anything that doesn’t line up with God’s way. Our reading in 1 Corinthians is a little confusing since it has a lot to do with their culture but it means that Jesus is our husband and our covering. To be uncovered is to be out of the blood. We can’t pray or prophesy if we aren’t saved. We came from him so He is our glory and our beauty. Lord, may our joy be heard by many and our righteousness bring you glory.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Read: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Co. 10:14-11:2, Ps, 34:11-22, Pr. 21:14-16 A tenth of the people volunteered to live in Jerusalem. They gave up their inheritances and land to come and live and establish a new city. They put a high priority on music since the king commanded that they got paid daily. He must have understood the power of worship. Two things stuck out to me in 1 Corinthians today. The first is verse 24: “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” What if we were more interested in others prospering than ourselves? What would that look like? The second is found in the end of Chapter 10. Paul has just explained that when they go grocery shopping they shouldn’t ask if the meat was offered to idols so they wouldn’t have to deal with their conscience. Everything comes from God. But, if someone brings out that the meat was also the same that was offered to idols, for their conscience, we shouldn’t eat it. So even if we feel freedom in an area, if it offends someone watching, we should abstain. We should prefer other people to ourselves. This glorifies God. The bottom line was in everything we do we should to it to God’s glory.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Read: Nehemiah 9:22-10:39, 1 Co. 9:19-10:13, Ps. 34:1-10, Pr. 21:13 The people renewed their covenant with God to follow His law and they sealed it with their own seals. Ephesians 1:13 says that we who believe in Jesus are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession is made manifest. If the Holy Spirit is just the type, then how glorious will be the manifestation. They not only sealed their promise to follow God’s law, but they entered into a curse if they didn’t. There are always consequences to following God. They actively changed their lifestyles to follow the law which was their fruit of repentance. Repentance means to turn and walk another way. To do that always requires a sacrifice and they started offering tithes of their livelihood. Paul had learned temperance which was self-restraint in diet and chastity according to Strong’s. He related to all men in order to win them to Christ. Paul, like Nehemiah was reminding them of the covenant their fathers made to God to follow Him. We need to renew our covenant with Jesus from time to time and remember that we have been bought with a price and we belong to God. All that we do is a picture of Jesus to the world. Jesus is the same Rock that followed them in the wilderness only He is inside us. Lord, help us to renew our covenant with You and be examples of You to the world.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Read: Neh. 7:61-9:21, 1 Co. 9:1-15, Ps. 33:12-22, Pr. 21:11-12 One thing I have to remind myself is that they didn’t have a copy of the Bible in their possession so when Ezra stood and read the law for four hours, the people listened. For some of them , it was probably the first time they had heard it read. The people stood for four hours listening! They had teachers to explain the law to the people. The people wept when they heard the law read. On the second day they read about the feast of tabernacles in the law and decided to celebrate it since it was the season for it. They brought their branches and erected their booths. They fasted and repented for their sins and praised the Lord, recalling all He did when God chose them to be His children. This is a picture of the last feast of tabernacles when God will set up his earthly kingdom. The elect will be separated out and their eyes will be open to see the truth. We will all gather to be taught the Word and praise our Saviour. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is notifying the Corinthians of all his boasting of them. They were such great givers in the past and he hopes that they are still that way. If we really understood how blessed we are when we give, we would give more freely. The way we give is the way we are blessed in return. If we give grudgingly, then we will be repaid the same way, but if we give freely and abundantly, we will be repaid freely and abundantly. God loves a cheerful giver! Lord, we want to give freely and abundantly. Show us how.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Read: Nehemiah 5:14-7:60, 1 Co. 8:1-13, Ps. 33:1-11, Pr. 21:8-10 Under Artexerxes, Nehemiah had been the governor of Judah. Unlike the governors before, Nehemiah had lived below the allowance for the governor so he wouldn’t have to tax the people so much. He fed a hundred and fifty hungry people and even visitors from other countries. He reminded the Lord of his kindness as he is now needing God’s favor in building the wall. When it was completed, except for the gates, Sanballat, his enemy requested a meeting with Nehemiah. Nehemiah knew they were up to no good so he sent them a letter telling them he was busy and couldn’t meet with them. This was repeated five times until Sanballat accused him of starting a revolt against the king. Nehemiah called him a liar and continued to work and pray. When this didn’t work, Sanballat sent someone from the inside to stir up fear in Nehemiah’s heart. Nehemiah saw through his scheme and refused to run in fear. Nehemiah continued to build and when he finished it was his enemies who were afraid. They recognized the power of God to protect His children. Nehemiah set the doors in place, the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites. Look at the picture. Nehemiah stands for us: the Christian. We devote our lives to caring for God’s people and God’s house. The devil hates us and will do anything to discourage our destiny. When we can’t be discourage, he will try to cause us to fear. We need to do what Nehemiah did and ignore the discouragement and turn the fear back on the enemy. They should be afraid of the power we hold, not vise versa. We just need to continue to do God’s work like Nehemiah did. Once we build our walls which are salvation (Is. 60:18), we need to set up our doors: ears to hear, eyes to see, and the gatekeepers who are our angels assigned to us. The singers are our praise and the Levites represent our righteousness and authority with God. Next, Nehemiah needed people to dwell within the walls. God is looking for a people who will dwell with Him continually. Lord, our victory is in You!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Read: Neh. 3:5-5:13, 1 Co. 7:25-40, Ps. 32:1-11, Pr. 21:5-7 As the Jews continue to build the wall, Sanballat finds out and tries to intimidate them. He makes fun of them and their work. Nehemiah asks God to take care of their enemies and continues building. When they almost completed the wall, Sanballat was really mad. Sanballat decided to come in battle against the Jews and hinder their work. They put fear on the Jewish people so Nehemiah placed guards on top of the walls all around the city. They were able to continue working. They slept with their armor on so they would be ready for an attack. This is spiritual warfare on the front lines. When God gives us an assignment, it will make the devil mad. Our job is to not quit but to surround ourselves with other Christians who will help us man the fort through prayer. All night they had guards and sometimes it takes a through-the-night prayer vigil to fortify the spiritual wall so the devil can’t slip through and kill. There is never a time in our lives that we can take off our spiritual armor. We need to stay spiritually awake and aware or our enemy. The next thing that happened was within their own camp. If the devil can’t attack us from without, he will attack us in our families or our own churches. We have to love other Christians like they are our family and we should love our family like God loves them. Lord, open our eyes to see our enemy and his tactics. Heal our relationships and all the breaches in our walls.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Read: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14, 1 Co. 7:1-24, Ps. 31:19-24, Pr. 21:4 Today we begin Nehemiah which is a continuation of Ezra, but both books span 110 years. It started with the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel which lasted twenty-one years. Sixty years later, Ezra brought revival and restored correct temple worship. Nehemiah began thirteen years later when he learned that the walls had been torn down and the gates burned. He repented for the nation and remembered the promises of God about what happens when God’s people rebel and what happens when they repent. Nehemiah was king Artaxerxes’ cup bearer which meant that everyday he laid down his life for the king. The job of the cup bearer is to sip the king’s wine before he does to see if it is poisoned. If it is, he would die and the king’s life would be spared. On the day he learns of the condition of Jerusalem he is sad and the king notices and asks why. God used his favor with the king to supply him with everything he would need to return and rebuild the walls and gates. His adversary was Sanballat which means “hatred in secret”. He didn’t look too secret to me. He openly scorned Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild. Nehemiah divided the wall and gates and distributed the parts to different groups. If this temple represents us then the walls are our fortification to protect the Holy Spirit in us from being stolen by the world’s influence. The gates represent our ears, eyes, mouth, pores, etc. These are openings that allow information to come in and out. We must regulate what we allow in and out of these gates. We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit with evil things. Lord, may we build our walls and fortify our gates to honor the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Read: Ezra 10:1-44, 1 Co. 6:1-20, Ps. 31:9-18, Pr. 21:3 Many came to join Ezra in his mourning for Israel’s sin of marrying strange wives. They decided to get rid of their strange wives. If they didn’t they would receive no substance. Up till then they were living off of the kings supply. The children of Israel had been in Jerusalem for nine months. Many already had children by their wives so they must have brought them with them from Babylon. They met and appointed leaders to see to the massive divorces. I wonder what that looked like. They had a problem and they settled it among themselves. In 1 Co. they were not settling their own problems but going to outside institutions to settle their matters. They were letting the ungodly worldly system settle their matters. That sounds like us today. Christians should settle disputes among Christians. We have Christians suing Christians. At the end of the chapter Paul deals with the sin of the Israelites in Ezra. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and they shouldn’t be committing fornication. Our bodies are not ours to use any way we choose. We were bought with the blood of Jesus so our lives should glorify Him.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Read: Ezra 8:21-9:15, 1 Co. 5:1-13, Ps. 31:1-8, Pr. 21:1-2 As I read today’s reading in Ezra, two things hit me. The first was how Ezra refused to ask the king for protection. He went to God for it. How many kings got in trouble for this very thing. What a reminder to us as God’s people living in trying times to trust first in God to protect us instead of our government, our security systems, or our guns. The second thing that impressed me about Ezra is how he responded when he found out the leaders had participated in idolatry. He interceded and repented like he had done it. Ezra was a true leader. It reminds me of what our response should be when we learn one of our spiritual leaders has had an affair, or embezzled funds. Do we identify with him and repent for him or do we sit in judgement? Paul deals with this same issue. A man who claimed to be a believer is having an affair with his step mother. The law of Moses says this is an abomination to God. Apparently, this man is not repentant so Paul tells the people to make him leave their fellowship and leave it to God to judge him. God will do it in a way that it will kill his flesh and save his spirit. If they let him stay, his sin would influence others to break God’s laws. Ezra was dealing with the sins of many and Paul, the sin of one. Either way, God has a plan for judgement and restoration. His discipline is always to bring about restoration from a heart of love. Lord, give us love for our brothers that have fallen into sin. May You restore them back to fellowship with us and You.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Read: Ezra 7:1-8:20, 1 Co. 4:1-21, Ps. 3-:1-12, Pr. 20:28-30 Ezra must have made a great impression on King Artaxerxes because it says that he granted any request Ezra had. The king gave letters authorizing Ezra to take all the gold and silver they could find in Babylon, plus money from the offerings of the people and buy animals to sacrifice and anything else they would need. He opened his treasury house and sent them away with an abundance of wheat, wine, oil, and salt. He gave all the Levites and those who would minister in the temple tax-exemption and the right to punish all who opposed God’s laws. Ezra, in turn prayed God’s blessing on Artaxerxes. Over one thousand left Babylon with Ezra. When he stopped to take stock in who had come he found that he had no Levites. Who would be able to minister in the Temple when they built it? So he sent for Levites to volunteer and over two hundred Levites met them. There they proclaimed a fast to seek God’s guidance. Our chapter in Corinthians is warning us not to exalt a human being or be jealous of someone God has exalted. We are to hold our leaders accountable because they are figures of God who are to point us to Him. Paul then describes the ministry of an apostle. They are fools, weak, despised, made to suffer hunger and thirst, naked and buffeted. They have no home and have to make a living from hard labor. They bless those who revile them, suffer persecution, are defamed, and treated like dogs. But, they preach the word of God in power, not just words. Lord, when you choose to bless a work like you did for Ezra, you open the earth’s wealth to pay for it. Let us not worry about finances because we know that You always have enough and you can cause kings to give to Your cause. We honor fellow Christians who are right now suffering great tribulation to preach Your name. Keep them safe and move in power through them.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Read Ezra 5:1-6:22, 1 Co. 3:5-23, Ps. 29:1-11, Pr. 20:26-27 Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews that they were to build the temple and its walls so the people rose up to obey. When the enemy led by Zerrubabel found out what they were doing, they showed up to discourage them. Tatnai was the Jewish leader and his name means “gift”. He sent a letter to King Darius tell him about the opposition they were facing. He begged him to look up in the book of histories and find out the truth about what they were doing, Darius did that very thing and found the decree of Cyrus. He sent a letter to Tatnai and told him to pay their expenses for the temple and give them all they need. The consequences of not helping them would be death, so Tatnai had to eat all his words to Ezra and humble himself before him. The Jews were able to have the temple ready for the passover feast. Talk about God turning your enemies to serve you…this is a great example. In Corinthians we read that the foundation is Jesus and we are the temple, built on that foundation. God is our protector. In Psalms we read that all in God’s temple cry “Glory”. God is the King of the temple and blesses his people with peace. As we read about the rebuilding of the temple in Ezra we can think of ourselves as that temple. When we are ‘rebuilding’ our lives there will always be the enemy trying to tear us back down. But we have the “gift”, the Holy Spirit who will cause our enemies to help us. Our function is to be a place where God’s glory can dwell in. Lord, make us your temple.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Read: Ezra 3:1-4:24, 1 Co. 2:6-3:4, Ps. 28:1-9, Pr. 20:24-25 The priests built the brazen altar so they could celebrate the feast of Tabernacles in it’s month. They had laid the foundation for the temple so everyone could see what the floor plan would be. Those that had remembered Solomon’s temple cried because this was nothing to be compared to it. Those that had not seen it shouted for joy that they were going to have a temple. It is recorded that their sound could be heard from a far off. I am tempted sometimes to be like the older people who could only cry because they couldn’t reproduce the past. When God does a new thing it doesn’t always look as grandeur as we remember it being. How many times have I found an old outfit that I remembered one way and when I saw it it wasn’t near as great as I remembered it being. This temple might not have had the pomp of Solomon’s but it would have the same spirit. God is doing a new thing again and we can’t be those who cry because it wasn’t like the past. We have to embrace the new plan. It will end up better than the past plan. Of course, nothing God does is not met without God’s adversary, Satan. Ezra’s nemesis was Zerubbabel. His name means “descended of Babylon”, and Babylon means confusion. That was his plan: to confuse the workers. He finally sent letters to the new king telling him to look in his history books and see how the Jews were always fighting and causing trouble. So Artaxerxes did some reading and had their work stopped. In 1 Co. Paul talks about a mystery that no one in the past has understood until now. That mystery is the Holy Spirit. He can tell us God’s secrets. He is the one who gives us the mind of Christ. Lord, thank you for what you are doing new on the earth. May we have your mind today.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Read: Ezra 1:1-2:70, 1 Co. 1:18-2:5, Ps. 27:7-14, Pr. 20:22-23 Jeremiah had prophesied that Jerusalem would be taken captive to Babylon, but at the end of 70 years, they would return. (Jer. 29: 10) It is time to do that so God moves king Cyrus’s heart to send the Jews who wanted to go back to Jerusalem to build God a house. He would supply all the money and supplies. When God is ready to move he will cause your enemies to bless you. Cyrus gave them all the instruments that had been taken from the first temple and let them take them back. In all the long list of names that went back I noticed Mordecai. We’ll see him again as a much older man in Esther’s story. All the fathers are dead but their children will carry on their legacy. The children of the priest would have to learn how to be priests. The total that came were 7,337 people. That’s a good Bible number! Psalms 27 is one of my favorites. It will pick you up when you feel attacked. One of the themes in our Psalms and Proverbs today is to wait on the Lord. In Ezra, they had waited 70 years for God to move. When He did it was quick and powerful. God is our deliverer! You may have been praying for something for a while and it doesn’t look like anything is changing, but just wait…God will do something quick and powerful for you and me! Paul does his best to describe God’s upside down kingdom. It looks foolish to the world, but it is the glory of God. Lord, help us to wait for You to move. Soften the hearts of the people we are witnessing to and deliver them from the world’s wisdom.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Read: 2 Chron. 35:1-36:23, 1 Co. 1:1-17, Ps. 27:1-6, Pr. 20:20-21 Josiah did everything right. He had just celebrated the feast of Passover and Unleavned bread when Necho, the king of Egypt came to fight against Syria. Josiah went to oppose him. Necho tried to reason with Josiah, telling him that he didn’t come to fight Josiah but Josiah refused to stop. They fought in the valley of Meggido, the place where the last battle, Armageddon will be fought. Josiah was killed in the battle. His son, Jehoahaz was taken captive to Egypt and his brother, Eliakim, made king. Necho changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was evil and was carried to Babylon in chains. His eight year old son, Jehoichin reigned three months and ten days and was evil. He was carried to Babylon also. Every time a king got carried to Babylon, they took pieces of the temple with them. His brother, Zedikiah became king of Judah. He actually got to rule eleven years! During these times God sent prophets and His word to the people but they rejected His words and mistreated the prophets. God finally had enough and sent the Chaldeans to punish them. They killed many and took the rest captive. They burned the temple and all its vessels. They had not let the land rest like the law had instructed so God made sure the land got to rest all the Sabbaths it had missed which were seventy. At the end of the seventy years the king of Persia made a proclamation to encourage all the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. If any story in the Bible shows the sovereignty of God it is this one. God is in control of good and bad kings and He moves them like pawns on a chess board. It would all have been different if they had just stayed faithful to God and obeyed His laws and served Him with all their hearts. We could learn from this. Members of the churches in Corinth were having trouble with unity of faith. Paul encouraged them to come together and have the same mind. Lord, may your people everywhere turn to You and seek you with all their hearts that You might heal our land.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Read: 2 Chron. 33:14-34:33, Ro. 16:8-27, Ps. 26:1-12, Pr. 20:19 After Manasseh’s repentance in prison, he came home to do massive cleansing of the land and repair to the walls and the temple Here is one king who ended well. His son Amon took the throne when he died and turned from God to idols. His own servants conspired against him and killed him. The people of the land killed the servants and made Josiah, his son, king. Although Josiah was only eight, he did a massive cleansing of the land like few kings had ever done. It took him ten years to cleanse the land of idolatry. He then started repairing the temple. In their renovation they found a copy of the law and had it sent to Josiah. When he read it, he realized how much they had disobeyed what it said. Josiah repented for the nation and God promised that His discipline would not fall during Josiah’s reign. I often wonder if he read the prophecy where he was named by name. It is found in Zephaniah 1. If I had read that, I would have repented too. Romans gives us a list of names of people Paul wants to honor for their service in the ministry. If you need a good baby name, I found one from the list: Rufus Urbane. Sounds like a winner to me! Seriously, at the end, Paul gives us some good advice. He said to be wise to what is good and simple concerning evil. In other words, study to understand what good is and don’t concern yourself with knowledge of evil. Wasn’t that the fruit we weren’t suppose to eat in the garden- the knowledge of good and evil? Then Paul promises us that Satan would soon be put under our feet which is where he is now. Lord, your Word is life and it is a sword. To Josiah it was a sword and to us it is life. Thank you for your Word.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Read: 2 Chron. 32:1-33:13, Ro. 15:23-16:7, Ps. 25:16-22, Pr. 20:16-18 Hezekiah, who saw God deliver him from his strong enemies and was healed of a fatal disease still let pride be his god. God had blessed him with great riches and power, but he couldn’t seem to have power and stay humble. When he died his son, Manasseh became king. He was evil from the start even though he was only twelve when he became king. He brought in witchcraft and all types of demonic worship. God sent prophets to turn Manasseh’s heart to Him, but Manasseh refused to listen. He was finally led in chains to Babylon. There, he humbled himself and cried out to God. God heard his cry and brought him back to Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew for himself that God was the only god. There is such a stark contrast in the lives of the kings of the Old Testament and the lives of the saints in the New. The king’s spiritual walk was a roller coaster of ups and downs where the saints stood true till the end. Paul mentions Priscilla and Aquilla who had remained faithful. We first met them in Acts 18. They encouraged and taught Paul on one of his missionary journeys. They are still faithful now that Paul is reaching the end. The difference is the Christians in the New Testament have the power of the Holy Spirit in them. The kings in the Old Testament called on God in their need where the New Testament saints were always in need. They were living in a day where Christians were persecuted and hated. The kings fell away when they prospered and had much. What we have or how much power shouldn’t be our spiritual thermometer. We should be like Paul who was faithful when he abounded and when he was abased.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Read: 2 Chron 30:1-31:21, Ro 15:1-22, Ps. 25: 1-15. Pr. 20:13-15 Since the observance of the Passover in the first month was done so hastily and many were not able to come, Hezekiah wanted to do it again the second month and invite the people in the whole kingdom. He sent out men with letters throughout Israel and Judah to tell them to turn back to God and come serve the Lord at the Passover feast. Some of the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Zebulun laughed and mocked them, but many people humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. They had a huge crowd who enjoyed a time of sacrificing, giving, feasting, worshiping God in song and hearing the Word preached. The people were filled with joy and God was pleased. Psalms 25 could have been their prayer. I remember an old Amy Grant song that said, “When the world sees you change, don’t expect them to applaud.” Hezekiah went against the flow of the land to turn back to God. Some people got on board, but others laughed and made fun of him. We will always face opposition, persecution and rejection when we follow God. But we have to be like Hezekiah and set our heart to worship God and not get upset with those who don’t approve. Following God is the only course that brings true joy. Paul admonishes us in Romans to have patience with those that are weaker in faith and build them up. We are to be one in our worship to God. He gave us a great prayer to pray for people in verse 13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Lord, help us to abound in hope and be filled with joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.