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Nehemiah 6:1-8:8 

“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.  When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”    Nehemiah 6:15-16

They were told all along that it could not be done.  The job was too big and the problems and obstacles that they faced were too large.   What was once thought impossible is now not only possible, but done in an astonishing fifty-two days!  The wall was completed in record time and all of the enemies of Nehemiah and all of the surrounding nations are left with nothing else to do but gaze upon Jerusalem in stunned disbelief.

There is no fanfare, no great ceremony, no ribbon cutting.  Only God could have accomplished this amazing task.   During the fifty-two day period of rebuilding the wall surrounding Jerusalem, Nehemiah demonstrated incredible leadership.  When his enemies were hurling insults, ridicule, threats, rumors, deceit and false reports, Nehemiah met this opposition with prayer, encouragement, bravery, and an amazing love and incredible heart for God, determined to do His will.  He stood firm when most would have given up, and now God gets the glory and praise that He is so worthy of.

What a tremendous example Nehemiah is.  The wall around Jerusalem is more than just a wall of defense and protection.  It is a monument to God’s amazing and unfailing love and a reminder of His faithfulness to do amazing, even impossible things, in the lives  of the people who love Him and obey Him.

Nehemiah encountered just about every form of opposition imaginable in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Satan has thrown so many obstacles from his bag of tricks to cause him to stumble and fall.  He does this same thing in my own life today, only I find way too many times in my own experiences, unlike Nehemiah, it often ends up Satan succeeding and I fail.

But I also know that God does not desire for me to fail.  His desire is to accomplish great things with my life and in the process, continually transform my heart and my mind into the likeness His Son, while drawing me closer to Him each and every day.    Nehemiah allowed God to work in Him and through Him with the power of prayer and perseverance.  Every time he faced an obstacle or one of his enemies attempted to make him fail, He prayed prayers of praise and thanksgiving and made specific requests to God that were centered on God getting glory for the work He was doing in his life.  This is the type of prayer and perseverance that God desires from me in order for Him to use my life for His will.

O great God of all that was and is and is to come, what an incredible and awesome God you are!  Whenever I read stories like this in your word, my heart just bursts with praise and adoration for you!  You keep your beautiful covenant of love with your people all the time, without fail!  You get all the glory that you are so worthy of receiving through the lives of people who love you and obey you.  I humbly thank you for loving me and desiring to use me to accomplish your great and awesome deeds in my life and in eternity.

Lord, I confess to you my sins.  Far too often, I have acted foolishly and wickedly in the face of obstacles and temptations that have been placed in my path.  Far too frequently, I have failed the test of faithfulness and instead of taking those unique opportunities to pray to you and use them to honor and glorify you, I have failed and leaned on my own strength and the world’s wisdom, instead of turning to you.

O Lord, how foolish I have been to think that I could accomplish great things on my own when you have shown throughout history, that it is only through you that I am truly successful in anything.  But Lord, I thank you that you are a God of infinite grace!  Lord, I repent of these sins and I ask that you restore me to you and take this existence and do great and awesome things through me.  I can’t do it by myself.  My heart’s desire is that your success in me not be used for my own personal advantage, position or acclaim, but instead, I ask that you work out your purpose for my life so that you may get the credit and the glory and that others may marvel at what an awesome God you are!

I commit myself to you.  I will listen for your calling on my heart and I will pray earnestly for your success in my life.  Lord, be magnified and glorified in me!  Use me!  Let my joy be in understanding and knowing you! Redeem the time you have given me.  Make it fruitful. The only thing that truly brings my heart abounding joy and gladness is you.  The only thing that brings me peace is you.  The only thing I could ever be satisfied with is you.  The only one who makes my dreams pleasant is you.  You are the absolute delight of my heart and I cannot live without you.  If you are not the one orchestrating my life for your glory, then it is not worth living.

How awesome are your deeds. So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.  All the earth bows down to you.  They sing praise to you.  They sing praise to your name!

Love you!

John (johnd7264)

From the archives. Originally published June 7, 2009.

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2 Chronicles 4:11-7:22 

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Solomon had just finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace and had completed the dedication of the temple and had sent the people back to their homes, “joyful and glad in heard for the good things the LORD had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.” (2 Chronicles 7:10 NIV)

While Solomon is in his own palace, the Lord appears to him at night and tells him that He has heard his prayers and lays out the guidelines for His blessing… Obedience = Blessing and the flip side Disobedience = Disaster.

I can’t help but think about the disasters that affect our Nation and this World. Floods, fire, AIDS, the economy…how many of these things are the result of God’s hand of protection being removed, as a direct consequence of God being removed from the very foundation of it all?

Where does my part fit in? How often do I pray for our Nation, our President, our World leaders, etc.? Do I support those who are out there fighting for Christian principles and beliefs? Do I take a public stand for things that matter to God?

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry Lord for neglecting to pray for those, whom You have placed in positions of power in this World. Our land needs healing desperately, and only You have the power to bring about that healing.  But first, You ask us to humble ourselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from our wicked ways. Please help me to do my part willingly and without question and to always honor You above all else.

Amen.

Beckie (look2thehills)

From the archives. Originally published May 23, 2009.

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1 Chronicles 26:20-29:19 

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind. For the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you…” (1 Chronicles 28:9, NIV)

A Father’s Decree to His Son:

  • acknowledge our God
  • serve Him with your whole heart
  • serve Him with a willing mind
  • seek Him

As I was reading this verse I was deeply moved. I will never be a parent so I can’t relate to the passion a father experiences as he instructs his son. But I could completely relate to the position of being a child who is fathered by the perfect Father. And when I keep that position in mind, and remember that it is totally undeserved, my response should be nothing less than “acknowledgement, service, seeking.”

I think this verse sums up the call of a follower of Christ. Discipleship 101. And I believe that it is rooted in the last point…”seeking.” If I would honestly seek God, the other steps would follow.

So what does it mean to “seek Him”? Twenty years ago I would have answered, “Obeying His commands, following His rules, doing the ‘right’ things.” While all that sounded righteous it never brought me closer to knowing who God is. I was concerned about results and not about a relationship. How do we build a friendship with a human being? Spending time together, communicating deeply, sharing our hearts and hurts, laughing, crying, looking into each other’s souls, breaking down walls and revealing our true selves. Seeking God is no different. And it is only when we seek God that we serve Him willingly and for the right reason…motivated by our love for Him instead of fulfilling a checklist.

“God, I know our arch enemy wants to distract me with the checklist. He’ll do anything to keep my focus off of You, even if it means using ‘good’ things. But I also know that when I’m truly seeking You, I experience a fulfillment that is beyond human description. And the result is love-centered motivation. As I face every challenge, pitfall, joy, success, or decision today, remind me to seek YOU in every situation.  In Your precious Son’s name, Amen.”

simply spoken

From the archives. Originally published May 20, 2009.

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1 Kings 9:10-11:25 

“‘Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, He has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.’” 1 Kings 10:9 (NIV)

“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.” 1 Kings 11:9 & 10 NIV

The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon to see with her own eyes, the report of Solomon’s achievements and wisdom. She gives the glory for Solomon’s wealth, accomplishments & wisdom to the Lord. God had indeed blessed Solomon immensely. Solomon had a huge responsibility as King of Israel to uphold the Lord’s commands as he led the people.

But, Solomon had a profound weakness for foreign women, women that God had forbidden Israel from marrying, because they would turn their hearts after other gods.

His 700 wives and 300 concubines led him astray “and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David father had been.” (1 Kings 11:4 NIV)

I, unlike Solomon, am not married to 700 husbands, etc. but there are still things that I must be on guard from, that can lead me astray and turn my heart from fully being devoted to God. And, I may not be the king of a mighty nation, but I am still one of my children’s primary role models and that carries a huge responsibility for me to cling to God with a heart of pure devotion.

Heavenly Father,

You have blessed me immensely with a wonderful husband and five beautiful and healthy children. Thank you so much! Please help me to not take for granted the blessings you pour into my life and to always give the glory to You. I pray that You will give me a heart of pure devotion only to You and that I will not be led astray by the things of this world. If I am led astray, please help me to turn and run, as fast as I possibly can, back into Your loving arms of grace and mercy.

Amen.

Beckie (look2thehills)

From the archives. Originally published April 25, 2009.

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2 Samuel 22:35-24:17 

David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” 2 Samuel 24:14 (NIV)

David knew God well. He was a “man after God’s own heart”, and though he was far from perfect, he loved God deeply, and worshiped Him intimately, and knew His character personally. Because of their close relationship, David was sure God to be merciful. David knew that, even though his actions warranted punishment, God would temper justice with mercy. “Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,” David said, confident that even in punishment, that was the best place to land.

If I’d had David’s options, I’m not sure I would’ve left it up to God. In fact, I don’t even like to let God choose the every day details of my life, let alone my divine punishment! I like to have a say…to be the one in charge…to control outcomes as much as possible. “Leave it in my hands, please Lord, and I’ll take it from here.”

Why? Obviously I’m not in charge, even when I think I am, but why would I not trust my life to my God? Perhaps it’s because, sadly, I have not grown the kind of intimate friendship that David shared with God. I don’t depend on His character like David did. I don’t trust Him with every outcome—good or bad—because I am not completely assured that He will be completely merciful. It’s scary to fall into the hands of someone I don’t know or trust.

God, I want to know you like David knew you—I want to follow after your heart as he did. Let me rely on Your faithful, merciful character. Just as David didn’t want to fall into the hands of the people he didn’t know, let me know You so completely that Your hands are the only place I want to be. I want to “know and rely on the love” You have for me. Amen.

amystorms

From the archives. Originally published April 20, 2009.

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