“God’s Love Letter”

God is love!

Malachi 1 to 4 When you begin to write a letter to someone precious, how do you start? God starts by saying: “I have loved you,” [Mal 1:2] Instead of thanking God for His love, they ask Him: “How have You loved us?” Why is it we ask that question when the very evidence of his love is seen outside our kitchen door in creation by revealing His invisible attributes? How do we respond to God’s words: I have loved you? Instead, often we say God doesn’t love me when things are not going the way we think they should forgetting that God disciplines those He loves. In doing so, we have hurt the heart of God. Stop today and think of all the ways He has shown his love practically and spiritually to you. Try making a list.

Malachi records another of God’s conversations about their tithing because we are a people who do not remember God’s care and lovingkindness. God challenges the people, and us, to bring the whole tithe into his storehouse. The principle is clear; He promises that when we are faithful to take care of God’s business and His house, He will open the windows of heaven and pour forth a blessing so great we cannot find room for it all.

Will you take time today to tell God how thankful you are for His love and care?

Nehemiah’s Epitaph

Nehemiah's epitaph

Nehemiah 11 to 13, Ps 126 Nehemiah reminds God! Do we?

Over and over, one refrain is used by Nehemiah “remember me, O God” for what I have done. Does God forget? No, He does not. In Exodus and throughout, God remembers His covenant. Why then does Nehemiah tell God to remember? Could it be that it is a reminder to each one of us lest we forget? Psalm 139 says, “You have searched me and known me.” God knows all, but we are forgetful.

Nehemiah doesn’t say reward me but remember me. Malachi records that, “A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name.” [Mal 3:16]
As we step apart from Nehemiah today, let us look forward to that time when we meet Nehemiah in the heavenly temple as the faithful servant of God who only asked one thing: “Remember me, O God.”

What an outstanding epitaph of the legacy of this faithful servant.

Nehemiah 8-10 The Joy of the Lord!

God's joy is given to us for our strength

God is good; his commandments are good. If we obey Him and them, He will give us joy and blessing. 

 Ezra had spent many years in Babylon, “dedicating himself to the study of the Law of the Lord, to its observance and to teaching its statutes and judgments.” [Ezra 7:10] Now the people asked him to bring the book of the Law and to read it for they were eager to hear what God said. 

Are we eager to hear the words of God? Do we hunger and thirst for righteousness so we can be satisfied? [Matt 5:6]

 Ezra read from morning to midday so the people might understand how to honor God. As they read, their hearts were pricked, and they began to weep. The Levites helped them understand that today was a holy day and not grieve for the joy of the Lord God is their strength, and they did. 

Is our heart pricked, and do we grieve when God’s Word is read? Is the joy of the Lord our strength? [Nehemiah 8:10] God is good, His commandments are good, and obeying them brings us joy and blessing. 

Fear of Man or Fear of God?

Nehemiah an example to follow

Nehemiah  6-7 Principle #1 When you are in leadership, there will be opposition. Principle #2 Fear is our biggest enemy. Principle #3 Believers need discernment. Nehemiah had learned all three as he served the pagan king. and therefore was successful in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem.  God uses any time we serve to learn the skills we need for future kingdom work.

Nehemiah experienced opposition that came from outside as well as inside. When Satan cannot achieve from the outside, he turns to the inside where he expects we will cave because others are not the apparent enemy; they are part of the holy huddle community. So, he turns to his arsenal of the deadly d’s of distraction, discredit, and deception, but we have a more significant “d,” in our arsenal and that is discernment. Nehemiah knew that he had the king’s directives and permission. As a man of integrity, Nehemiah would not be distracted or discouraged from the work. If he caved to their requests, his integrity and place before the king and outside before the workers would be forever changed.

 Nehemiah knew that the truth of the opposition: “there is no fear of God before their eyes” [Rom 3:18]. Instead, he trusted in the words of  Ps 118:6 “The Lord is on my side; I am not afraid!”   Is this true of “me” and “you?”

“The Trilogy”

The Trilogy ...Ezra. Esther, Nehemiah examples of prayer

Nehemiah 1 to 5 Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah all lived in or around the palace in Susa, yet as Moses taught, they were separated religiously from the pagan idolatry of the land. They were examples of fasting and prayer before executing their duties, and God blessed them to serve.

We live in a land that idolizes celebrities who do not live a life pleasing to God. John wrote: “They are from the world; therefore, they speak from the world’s perspective, and the world listens to them.” [1Jo 4:5]  Yet, Ezra-Esther-Nehemiah chose to live “in the world but not of the world,” which is a paraphrase of Jesus’ words; Joh 17:16 “They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world.”

A page out of Nehemiah’s diary might have read; today, I read from the Word, prayed from the Word, and lived by the Word. Nehemiah did nothing until he prayed before he entered the king’s presence, prayed as he faced the enemies, prayed and thanked God for the work he was doing.

What does our prayer life look like?

An Example to Follow!

Ezra, an example to follow

Ezra 7 -10 – 2 Tim 2:15

Ezra 7 to 10 takes place after the drama of Esther in the palace. King Xerxes has passed on, and King Artaxerxes is in power. What took place in the book of Esther prepares us for the drama in Ezra, a man dedicated to God. “Now Ezra had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel.” [Ezra 7:10] A man who wants to be an approved workman of God is to include all three steps: study, do, and then teach. Psalm 1 is the foundation: “But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”  Then he will be an approved workman that is unashamed before God. [2Tim 2:15]

Because of those principles, Ezra found favor in the eyes of the king and was granted all he sought.

The NT places this warning before us:  “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, and sisters because you know that we will be judged more strictly.” [James 3:1] as well as the one from Mark 9:42: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”

Ezra set his heart to do all that was needed and God blessed him. He is a great example to follow! 

God directs our steps

God directs our steps

Esther 6 to 10 As Peter reminded us, our arch-villain seeks to destroy [1Pet 5:8], but God in His providence will always overrule his plans because long before this story, God told Abraham in Genesis 12: 3 “I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse.” 

We left Esther with a dilemma and a challenge “Don’t imagine/think…” you will be the one spared just because of your position. [Esther 4:14]  Remember this often God uses people and circumstances to be the hand that guides us even if we cannot see the next step.

Haman’s plan to exterminate all Jews because one man would not bow down to him became his undoing and downfall. This truth became a reality; “The one who is pregnant with wickedness conceives destructive plans…digs a pit and then falls into the hole he has made. He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head.” [Ps 7:14-16]

You may be facing a villain as Esther was. But, will you decide to step out and trust God even to the point “if I perish, I perish” [Esther 4:16] because you know the truth of Romans 8:1 “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus?”

The Hallmark Movie of the Past

God is never far away

Esther 1 to 5 In every Hallmark movie, there is a knight in shining armor who swoops in to rescue a damsel in distress. God is Esther’s knight and He is ours as well. Since time began our arch-enemy, “Haman,” has sought to destroy the line of Christ. He tried it first in the Garden, then through the murder of Abel to the selling of Joseph to the “Hamanites” of Egypt, to the Samaritan’s ruse to destroy the work of the temple as we just learned in Zechariah and Haggai and in 2Chron 36. As Peter said, he roams about seeking whom he can devour. [1Peter 5:8] Now, in the story of Esther, we have Haman the Agagite seeking to destroy the line of the Messiah through an edict he has written and sealed with the signet ring of the king.

Satan hates God’s people, and he will go to any lengths to destroy them. But, God is the providential author, the knight in shining armor, of all that seems impossible. He is the author and finisher of our faith and His plans for our lives. He is the Savior who comes in at just the right time to end Satan’s plans in ways we could not imagine. Stay tuned tomorrow to see how that happens.

There may be a Haman in your life right now, and you don’t see how God will upend his evil plans. Will you fast (and pray) for His deliverance just as Esther proposed?

The King is Coming!

O Glorious day

Zechariah 8 to 14 There is a song with one stanza:

“O the King is coming, The King is coming! I just heard the trumpets sounding, And now His face I see;” 

It indeed will be a glorious day when our King plants his feet on the Mt of Olives and splits the earth to open a valley for all to walk through to the New Jerusalem. All memories will rush back to when He was seen only as of the price of a slave and sold for thirty pieces of silver. They will recall when they pierced Him on that cruel cross, and they walked away from His gift of love. But, when they see Him face to face, in their mourning, they will be comforted.  

Yes, our King is coming, and every eye shall see him. He will rule as Zechariah describes and the gospels record: “He is legitimate and victorious, humble. He rode in on a donkey— on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.” [Zech 9:9 paraphrase] But, when he returns he will come on the clouds and every eye will see him! [Rev 1:7]

The King is Coming!

“Dirty Laundry & Fasting”

God asks why do you fast?

Zechariah 1 to 7 The remnant has returned to Jerusalem, but they have carried “old baggage” with them. When we travel, do we take clean clothes or dirty? The dirty laundry that they dragged with them was an unclean heart and mind. They still had wicked hearts that listened but did not heed or apply. They were caught up in the rituals: “Should we weep in the fifth month, fasting as we have done over the years?” [Zech 7] God asks them: “for what were you fasting; for Me or yourselves?” His second question follows: “Should you not have obeyed the words that the Lord cried out through the former prophets…..Just as I called out, but they would not obey, so they will call out, but I will not listen,’

How often do we fall into the same pattern? God sends His prophets, but we do not listen or heed the warning. Our suitcases reek with the dirty laundry of rituals. Listen to God calling:

“return to Me and I will return to you.”

Beloved, there is a step we must follow if we want God’s blessing. It begins not with outward rituals but a cleansing of the heart.