Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Five

Week Five: Being Faithful to Finish

As Nehemiah watched the wall rise in stature, we too are watching this building rise before our very eyes. Will we remain committed to seeing it through that God may be glorified and people will come to Him? How does all this tie in with faithfully living into our Baptismal Vows?  

Scriptures:
Nehemiah 12:27-31a, 43-46
Ezekiel 36:22-28
Psalm 51:10-12
Mark 12:28-34


Day 1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 11

Now that God’s people have heard his word afresh and been called into covenant in their own generation, they are also called to fully populate Jerusalem. This stems from their being called into God’s Holy Land to dwell with Him. The leaders of the people were already there in Jerusalem, and now the general population would be represented there as well. They were also now in close enough proximity to support the Temple with their tithes and offerings of their time, talent, and treasure. We see Jerusalem being revived as a city, not by way of the wall, but by way of the people living within its walls. The people are called to live as God’s Holy people. Prayerfully consider God’s call upon your life in all its facets. How do you live into Romans 12:1: ”So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” as a form of living into God’s call upon you? Close with prayer in Psalm 48.


Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 12

Nehemiah calls the priests and Levites to lead the worshipping community of Jerusalem in dedicating the reconstructed wall. He also sets up a means by which the Temple, worship leaders, and needs of the inhabitants will be met by initiating standards of giving for the community, setting up a system of interdependence. There is jubilation and praise rising from the city as worship is becoming a regular part of their lives. New norms are setting upon the people, the best of which is that they dwell safely under God’s blessings as they keep the covenant he has provided. What does interdependence mean to you? How do you see it as an instrument of God’s provision? What are the ways you are living into it? In what ways can your life, and the lives of those around you be enhanced by living interdependently with others, under the sovereignty of God? Prayerfully close with Psalm 97.


Day 3

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 13

Things threaten to fall apart as God’s people fail to live into His covenant. The people are disobedient and allow themselves to be corrupted. Their faith deteriorates as a result, and they fall into habitual idolatry. This effects both the citizens and those serving in the Temple as they allow Tobiah into the Temple and suffer his plundering and desecration of God’s provision which came by way of His people. They also disregard the Sabbath as a Holy day unto the Lord. In short, Jerusalem is going the way of the sinful surrounding culture, and in so doing, going to hell. Needless to say, Nehemiah returns to find all this going on and strives to turn the people back to God and to faithfulness to His covenant. We don’t know the outcome in this story, but we know from history it doesn’t work out for the Jewish people as they are conquered and reconquered. How can we be fortified to remain faithful to God? How does the Holy Spirit empower us to live into our baptismal vows and thereby remain faithful disciples of Jesus? Pray for God’s fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit to be upon you and this church. Close with Psalm 27.


Day 4

Scripture Reading: Mark 12:28-34

“The greatest of these is love” – the Bible brings all the law into focus through the lens of love. Jesus exemplified this, and Nehemiah knew that the covenant promises of the people must be lived into in order for them to enjoy the loving gifts God so desired to lavish upon them. God’s covenant was rooted in love and his people showed them how much they loved him by keeping their part of the covenant. The Temple in the midst of Jerusalem made possible the communication of God’s loving purposes to his people. Today, we are the Temple of God. The place where he dwells is in His Church. Not the buildings or even the institution, but the Body of Christ, His people who know and love Jesus as their savior and lord and love other people. And yet, the Church gives us a framework for living as the Body of Christ, and its buildings, our building, help give us an identity in this community from which we can be the Body of Christ to one another, and those who do not know Jesus. How do you think having a building will change how we are the Body of Christ? How can we use it to empower the ministries God has called us to serve into? How can we best open it up to welcome those who do not know Jesus? Close by praying 1 Corinthians 12:25-13:13.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Four

Week Four: Spiritual Revival

History and Scripture show us that repentance and obedience lead to revival, and build to a crescendo as God’s people come together. This is true for individuals, communities, nations, and eventually all creation. 

The people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time came to know God’s Word, His commands, and the transformation they bring. This led to repentance and a revival of worship, rejuvenating their lives. When we follow our Lord and move forward out of obedience it will lead to revival in us and the surrounding community. We want to have freedom to bless our community with the Lord's revival!

Scriptures:
Nehemiah 8-9
Psalm 29
Mark 10:46-52


Day 1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8

The people hear the Law, read by Ezra the scribe and are cut to the heart. It is more than something emotional that happened to them in the moment. We see that they hunger for more, a deeper understanding of God’s will, and a deeper commitment to Him, and to one another. They came together for the Feast of Booths and to take part in a week of scripture study and prayer. They encouraged one another in this, so they would have full participation. The people were encouraged in joy. What have you taken joy in lately? How has the Lord moved your heart and spirit to be joyful in Him? Take time today to thank Him for the joy He brings to you in His word, in life circumstance, in His Holy Spirit moving within you and those you know. Close by praying Psalm 29.


Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 9

Joy begets repentance. The people respond to their feasting and joy with fasting and repentance. The Law, while a joy to learn, points out to them the ways they have not been following God and their need for repentance. This is not a mournful or sorrowful repentance but one of joy, celebrating God’s call upon their lives and His gracious willingness to forgive. They come to know on a deeper level the essence of His love for them, a love that will forgive again and again. They take heart in this and are strengthened and encouraged! We began three weeks ago in confession and repentance, to have clean hearts before God as we began this adventure together. If you are still in need of knowing God’s forgiveness, confess you sins to him and like the people in Nehemiah’s day, recommit your life to Him. Be open to how and where He leads, and respond in obedience. Remember, He has the best plan for your life. Close by praying Psalm 30 in joy!


Day 3

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:46-52

“[T]hen the eyes of the blind shall be opened” - Isaiah 35:5

This was a prophetic witness to the work of Jesus Christ. We hear it repeatedly in the Book of Isaiah, as well as the other prophetic books of the Old Testament. In Mark’s gospel account, we see tension throughout the narrative of the blind being given sight, (physical sight and spiritual sight into the person of Jesus) and those who should see clearly, (the Pharisees, scribes, Romans and even at times the disciples), being spiritually blind to who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish for us. Blind Bartimaeus comes to Jesus in the right posture saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Interestingly, he is both humble and exuberant at once. He came to Jesus in a posture of repentance, but was excitedly certain of the outcome. Jesus had the power to forgive, set him free of his sin, and heal his blindness, giving him not only physical sight, but the assurance that Jesus was his savior and Lord. Bartimaeus, like Nehemiah saw the goodness of God. How do we see His goodness in our lives today? Close with prayer in Psalm 118.


Day 4

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 10

“[W]e will obey God’s laws and observe all his commandments. We will not allow ourselves or our children to be polluted by the surrounding culture, we will obey Sabbath rest, we will give generously for the service of the house of God” - Nehemiah 10:29-32

The people are sealed in covenant with God. God’s people renewed in revival, now commit to their side of the covenant. They know the blessings in store for them by keeping the covenant, and the consequences for unfaithfulness. They also want to continue to realize the joy they have come to know in walking with the Lord. A central component of all this is their offering of their means. In their time it meant crops, grain, wine, oil, and livestock as well as money. What is our offering to the Lord? How can we best be faithful? Pray for God’s guidance and conviction of what he is calling you to offer. Pray for the obedience to follow where he leads. Close with prayer in Psalm 145.


Day 5

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11–3:12, 4:1-7

“Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” - Ephesians 4:7

The grace of God was upon the people of Nehemiah’s day. The covenant He offered was once again a covenant of grace; a gift they did not deserve, but one He desired to give them in order to reconnect with His people in His love. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains with New Testament perspective the gift of grace and how now it is Jesus who is humanity’s covenant keeper. He took the consequences of our unfaithfulness so we could enjoy the grace of God. He calls us to enjoy this together as the Body of Christ on earth, built on Jesus, our one true cornerstone. There is a sense in which Paul is sharing with us that we together as a Body of believers are so much more than a collection of individuals. When we come together in the name of Christ, committed to walk as His Body, there is nothing His Church cannot accomplish through Him. That means leaving behind our individual ambitions, likes, and dislikes, and yielding to Christ speaking to and through His Church, that all may know the hope that comes in Him through His Church. Are we ready to be that Church, one in Christ, interdependent with each other, rather than a collection of independents? Pray for the Lord’s clarity as we continue to move forward. Close by praying Psalm 133.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Three

Week Three: Learning To Overcome Obstacles

Nehemiah faced one challenge after another in fulfilling the vision God put before him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He faced the challenges by first relying on God and then following through, depending primarily on God’s provision, wisdom, and grace.  

The construction project was plagued with opposition. Sanballat, Tobiah, and others tried to halt the work with insults, ridicule, threats, and sabotage. Some of the workers became fearful; others became weary. In each case, Nehemiah employed a strategy to frustrate the enemies—prayer, encouragement, guard duty, and consolidation (chapter 4). But a different problem arose—an internal one. Rich Jews were profiteering off the plight of their working countrymen. Hearing of their oppression and greed, Nehemiah confronted the extortioners face to face (chapter 5). Then, with the walls almost complete, Sanballat, Tobiah, and company tried one last time to stop Nehemiah. But Nehemiah stood firm, and the wall was finished in just 52 days. What a tremendous monument to God’s love and faithfulness.

There have been many obstacles for us as well, and we will likely face more. Yet we can be sure that since God is leading, as we remain yoked to Him, we can persevere through the difficulties. How can we do otherwise?

Scriptures:
Nehemiah 6
Psalm 104:1-5
John 15:9-21


Day 1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah hears that Sanballat and Tobiah are ridiculing and conspiring against the wall rebuilding project. What is the first thing he does? (vs.4-5) More threats came, and Nehemiah and his leaders turned again to God in prayer (vs. 6-9), and despite the weariness of God’s people, and the strength of their enemies, Nehemiah, inspired by God, led the people to persevere, as God protected their efforts. (vs 10-15)

Nehemiah never gave up or gave in. God guided him to a practical solution with the strength of heaven to see it through. Pray for the Lord to reveal to you the difficult times he has gotten you through. Give thanks to him, for his providence, wisdom, and grace. Close by praying Psalm 121.


Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 5

In the midst of a grand project, Nehemiah helps those in need. Although he was a man on a mission, and was uncompromising on completing that mission, Nehemiah never forgot God’s command that though it all, he must take care of those in need. As a leader, he set a beautiful example of generosity, and called his fellow Jews to do the same. This was in the midst of battling the opposition. When in dire straits, we too can get “tunnel-vision,” seeing only the big task or goal and forget our call to love others and take care of those in need. What are the needs you see in your community? Pray the Lord shows you how you can be an instrument of his provision to those in need. Close by praying Psalm 4.


Day 3

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 6

When the opposition fails, they play dirty. They lie, they cheat, they will use any means, fair and unfair to come against us. But we know we have one enemy, who is God’s one true enemy. It is not a person or people, but the father of lies, Satan himself. He will try to deceive us into sin, as he did with Nehemiah. But Nehemiah was not deceived. Under God’s care he persevered and trusted God to see him through. Take vs 16 to heart and claim it as your own, and our own as God’s Church. Pray Psalm 3 for God’s protection and blessing.


Day 4

Scripture Reading: John 15:9-21

Jesus teaches about remaining connected to him through all things. This flows from his love for us that he invites us to “abide” in. How do you experience the abiding love of God in Jesus Christ? What are the ways he touches you? How do you experience his love? 

How is it that we can experience a higher quality and quantity of God’s love by sharing it with others, or giving it away? In what ways have you been tempted (especially lately) to hoard his love and keep it to yourself? In what ways have you experienced his blessing by generously sharing it? Close by praying Psalm 23.


Day 5

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7

The wall is finished and the Exiles return. Interestingly, Nehemiah puts worship leaders in charge of the Gates of the rebuilt wall. Why do you think that is so? So many families and groups are named as those who came up from exile to re-inhabit Judea, their land of promise and ancestral home. What promises of God are you looking forward to for yourself and for His Church? Pray for the Lord to reveal the good things he has in store for you and for us. Close with prayer in Psalm 13.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Two

Week Two: Who Is The Leader And Rebuilder?

While God appoints human leaders for times and seasons, He is the one who inspires, creates, and provides what is needed. He is our leader. How have we seen God lead us? To what extent are we willing to serve Him? Are we willing to count the personal cost and still persevere in serving Him?

Scriptures:
Nehemiah 3:1-27
Psalm 22:3-11
Mark 10:17-31


Day 1

Scripture Reading: Psalm 22:3-11

In this Psalm of lament we hear the words of Jesus from the cross. The Son of God, the one through whom all things were created; whom the angels delight in and adore, gives himself over to be disgraced and physically destroyed, that we would obtain the grace and mercy of God. This “broken man,” is our King! The writer here, and Jesus himself, may have been on the edge of despair, yet he comes back repeatedly to trusting his heavenly Father. The Father allowed the Son to suffer and the son willingly gave up his earthly life that life abundant would be showered upon all who believe in him and follow him as savior and lord. What does it mean to serve a disgraced leader like Jesus? What benefits were there for Jesus to gain from what he suffered? What benefits were gained for us by Jesus’ suffering? Do we appreciate that all of this was God’s plan? Jesus was not a victim, but one who gave himself up for us. How have you/we suffered injustice?  Do we understand that God allows this and, in his good time, brings a better outcome from it?  What examples can you think of in your life and in the life of the church? Pray for God to open your mind to the good things he has for you. Be thankful to him for all of it. Close in praying Psalm 22:23-31.


Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3

In Nehemiah chapter 3 we see the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem, and the leaders who oversaw different sections of the wall’s rebuilding are named, along with a description of the part of the wall they built. God gave Nehemiah the wisdom to assign different sections of the wall to be built simultaneously by different teams, so the wall would be built quickly and efficiently, and be high enough (half its eventual height) before strong opposition was able to mobilize against it. While Nehemiah was the superintendent of the entire project, he and the workers knew it was God’s project and all were under His sovereignty. How have you experienced God working through multiple people to see His work accomplished? Are you willing to play the part God has for you, even though it may seem menial, and you may be nameless in it? How has God blessed you when you’ve responded to him in this way in the past? Spend time in quiet contemplation with Him and ask him to reveal to you his call to serve him and be willing to accept whatever he has for you. Close by praying through Psalm 4.


Day 3

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-22

This is a familiar passage concerning the wealthy man who came to Jesus asking how to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ two part answer disheartens him, because he was not willing to part with his wealth. Jesus still loved him, yet there is a lesson for us if we would be true disciples of Jesus, and not just admirers of him. There is a cost to being a disciple, a true Christian. Are we willing to give up what we’ve perhaps spent years in attaining, whether that be monetary wealth, stability, security, or comfort? Yes, Jesus tells us the poor will always be with us, yet he also calls us repeatedly to share generously what we have with others as he leads us. Are we willing to ask Jesus what he is calling us to give, knowing it will cost us? Put yourself in the place of this rich man and have this conversation with Jesus. Take joy in knowing you cannot out give him. Whatever he asks you to give he will give back to you even more, and do good in the world through what you give for the benefit of others. Close with praying Psalm 8.


Day 4

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:23-31

After the action comes the lesson. Jesus teaches on how difficult it is to be with Him in His kingdom if we hold too tightly to our wealth and possessions. He says on human terms it is impossible! Only by being generous toward God can we fully be his disciples. Pray and spend time with the Lord and ask him to show you how he wants to bless you and others, by having you loosen your grip on your money and possessions. Pray though 1 Corinthians 9:6-11.


Day 5

Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:1-22

In the midst of this passage we see David’s prayer acknowledging the sovereignty of God over all provision. We say the words every week at offertory time: “all things come from you o Lord, and of your own do we give to you.” David encourages the people to join in the building of the temple as God puts on their hearts to contribute, and he sets the example of giving generously himself. In Nehemiah’s time, the people of Jerusalem contributed their gifting to the building. In our time we have seen, and many of us have contributed sacrificially to our building project. Thank you and may the Lord bless you for doing so. As we near completion we will have needs in bringing things to fruition in this building to bless the community we are in. Pray to God to show you, if and how he is calling you to play a role in bringing this to fruition. Pray Psalm 150 in tankful celebration for who God is.