Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

Displaying 26 - 30 of 172

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 33 34 35

Nehemiah’s Dependence on Prayer

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Clearly, one of the great characteristics of Nehemiah is his dependence on prayer. He was far away from the temple, but he continually turned to the God of heaven who needs no temple to hear from His servants. Nehemiah often offered brief “arrow prayers”; short, and shot straight into heaven, “The king said to me, ‘What would you request?’ So, I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king...” (Nehemiah 2:4-5).  Also, Nehemiah was a great man of penitent prayers. He knew how to weep in prayer. He was a man of dependent prayers, putting himself in the hands of God. One of the things that made Nehemiah’s prayers so powerful is, they were full of Scripture. This young man raised in exile, was also raised in Scripture, for he often prayed the promises of God. Nothing is more powerful than asking God to do what He has promised to do. 

Doors of opportunity are built by patient prayer. One reason we often fail to seize our opportunities is because we will not wait for God to act. So, we rush out with our plans, and we begin to force it when the time isn’t ready yet.  When we think we know what God wants, it’s hard to wait for the doors to open. 

One version starts chapter two saying, “One day four months later.” That is what it means. In Chapter one he said this whole thing started in the month of Kislev, that’s December on our calendar. Then chapter two says, “In the month of Nisan,” that’s the month of April on our calendar. So, Nehemiah is saying every day from December to April he prayed constantly for God to open a door, and nothing happened. Every day for four months he wrote the same thing in his journal, “Prayed again today, nothing happened.”  Yet, he remained patient and persistent in prayer and waited for God to make the opportunity. Nehemiah patiently waited on the Lord for directions.

When we wait on the Lord in prayer, we are not wasting our time; we are investing it. God is preparing both us and our circumstances so that His purposes will be accomplished. However, when the right time arrives for us to act by faith, we dare not delay.

For today, we need to stop the frantic pace of life long enough to pray, even if it is a short prayer. Though it may be short, don’t rush to get done. Also, we must be persistent beyond what we might think is a reasonable time for God to answer. Time is what we live by, not God.


Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The book of Nehemiah provides lessons not merely about faith, or about trust in God; the book of Nehemiah is one of the greatest books on leadership that’s ever been written. While that may not be the primary purpose of the book, the example this humble servant of the Lord provides helps us to see what true God-focused leadership looks like. Every one of us are leaders in some capacity. It may not be in a formal role or setting. It could be at home, or in the neighborhood, or in a congregation. Leadership simply defined is influence – an influence that provides direction and guidance for another. 

The book of Nehemiah begins setting the context in place – the people of God had been in Babylonian captivity for the past 70 years. After which, through God’s providence and the defeat of the Babylonians, the Persians allowed God’s people to return to their homeland. Some did, and some remained. Nehemiah is one who remained. Scripture reveals he lived in Susa, the capital of the Persian empire, and worked as a cupbearer for the king. That may not sound like an important position from our modern contexts, but in the ancient world a cupbearer was one who would taste the king’s wine to make sure it was safe before he drank it. Only someone of utmost trustworthiness would be allowed such a position. Because of his consistent close interactions with the king, he acquired an influence far beyond most. 

The first chapter opens with one of Nehemiah’s brothers visit to Susa from Jerusalem. Nehemiah asks about the status of their homeland, and is told the crippling news – it is still vulnerable and unprotected. The once safe and stable capital of God’s people now so weak and feeble. The fallen state of Jerusalem is but a visual picture of Proverbs 14:34 – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” 

Nehemiah’s response to the news of Jerusalem provides us two power principles of leadership: 

  • Leaders Recognize the Seriousness of the Situation (v. 2-4) – Susa was safe, his job was secure, his life was in good shape – so why ask? To ask is to get involved. To ask is to convey interest and concern. Though living in Susa Nehemiah was still a child of God and cared for His people and God’s city. And when told about the city his response told it all – he didn’t sugarcoat it, downplay it, or ignore it. For days he mourned, wept, and fasted. The serious situation in Jerusalem demanded a serious response from it’s citizens. Do you know the condition of those you are leading (PROV 27:23)? How’s the spiritual, mental, emotional, physical condition of your mate, your children, your brethren, your coworkers – those under your care? 
  • Leaders Know Where to Begin (v. 5-11) – first things first, the highest priority for Nehemiah was to bring these burdens to the Lord. Before crafting his plan to repair the wall, and preparing his speech to the king, his first step was to talk with God. In reading Nehemiah’s prayer it’s obvious this isn’t new or out of the ordinary for him, rather we get a glimpse of a man who had built the habit of praying often with his God. Great leaders are great prayer(er)s. In reading through his prayer we see the building blocks of how to pray well – the acronym ACTS – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. And it all flowed from such a humble heart – a heart that cared enough to ask, a heart that placed himself in the fault of the problem, as well as placing himself as part of the solution. Are things not well at home, with the brethren, at work, with your people? Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray deep. Pray often. 

If leadership is about influence, the greatest influence comes from the greatest influencer – the one who holds even the hearts of kings in His hands (PROV 21:1). Nehemiah understood something we tend to forget – leadership isn’t about products and projects, it even wasn’t truly about a wall that remained broken down. Leadership is about people. Leaders know about their people, and leaders pray often about their people. 

“Almighty God, You are our highest motivation, our strongest influence. We seek to know Your will and to follow Your ways above and before all else, because Your ways and Your plans are always perfect and good. As leaders, in whatever capacity we fill, we ask for your blessing. Help us have hearts molded with compassion, filled with concern for those whom we are over. Help us to remember that leadership is more than products and service, even in the rebuilding of the walls, leadership is about people. We are thankful for each person you have placed under our influence, and ask you use us, the instruction of our words and the example of our lives to lead others closer and closer to You. May this prayer be but one of many moments shared with You this day.” 


Monday, February 06, 2023

Nehemiah is the story of a man who built up the people of God by returning to Jerusalem to build up the walls around the city of God.  When he arrived in the city, he saw it was in ruins. A lot of people are very interested in ruins, and they will go all over the world to see certain ruins. The Acropolis in Athens is one of the most famous ruins in the world. Thousands of tourists visit that notable hill every year, and secretly steal small marble pieces from among the ruins. Yet there continues to be enough ruins left, because the people of Athens understand that people love ruins, so every couple of months a large dump truck comes by at a quiet time and pours a whole new load of marble chunks across the face of that mountain. 

In Nehemiah, we find that God has a little different attitude about ruins than we do. He isn’t nearly as enamored with them as we are. God would rather build, than sight see. Building up spiritual houses is what the book of Nehemiah is all about. As one author has put it, “Survival has replaced revival as the plan for the future.” Nehemiah was one of God’s great builders, and from this God-lead man we can learn how to leave behind the ruins of our past and learn how to be used by God as living stones to build up His kingdom.

The one God used to build up His people, is truly a remarkable man. The Book of Nehemiah opens with these words: “The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah.” The book appears to be largely, if not entirely, based on the personal memoirs of this governor of Judea. Much of the book is written in the first person. Therefore, we have an opportunity to get an intimate, inside-look into the life of this man. His story is a continuation of the thrilling history portrayed in Ezra. The lives of Ezra and Nehemiah overlapped. In fact, their two books were considered a single unity for centuries. While Ezra deals primarily with the religious restoration of Judah, Nehemiah is concerned with Judah’s political and geographical restoration. The first seven chapters are devoted to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls because Jerusalem was the spiritual and political center of Judah. Without walls, Jerusalem could hardly be considered a city at all. As governor, Nehemiah also established firm civil authority. Ezra and Nehemiah worked together to build the people spiritually and morally so that the restoration would be complete.

For the month of February, we want to consider Nehemiah’s life from the book that bears his name. We will learn many lessons useful for us today.

In this reading, we learn the need to have a heart for God’s business. Nehemiah did not have to go to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was the place God had recorded His name. As far as he was concerned, he had no other option than to go.

We must have that same kind of mind toward God’s business today. It probably won’t be building walls, but we will see he also built up the people. Yes, somebody else could do it, but we must personally feel the need to help.

The Resurrection

Monday, February 28, 2022

It was the darkest day the world has known. Dark for the Jewish court who convened an illegal trial, and with no grounds for His death they insistently called for Jesus’ execution. Dark for Pilate. It was a dark day for the cowardly Governor who signed the death warrant for an innocent man.  Dark for the Scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish people who rejected Jesus as God’s messiah. Dark for Mary, the mother of Jesus, who stood by the cross with tear-filled eyes and a broken heart to see this unthinkable act of cruelty. Dark for the Apostles, their Lord tortured, for Judas who betrayed, for Peter who denied, and all but one who fled (Mark 14:50). Dark for Jesus. Humiliated. Mocked. Spat upon. Brutally beaten. Crucified on a cross. 

The day represents humanities’ lowest, our greatest failure.

“But God raised Him from the dead…” (Acts 13:30-33). The despair, the agony, the pain and darkness gave way to the hope, the light, the joy and victory of Sunday. That morning some women go the tomb expecting to see the slain body of their Lord, and they find hope, they find joy, they find an empty tomb, and an angel who declares, “He is risen, just as He said” (Matt. 28:6). God turned a bad day into a good day by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Because of the resurrection Jesus proved once and for all that He is the Son of God (Rom. 1:5). There is glory in the cross and power in the blood – there is good news of great joy in the risen Savior who conquered death – Satan’s empty win gave way to Christ’s triumphant victory. 

God used what was black and ugly and turned it into something good. God turned a bad day into a good day through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus – the giver of the abundant life, breathed new life into fainting hearts and breathless souls. The empty tomb dissolved despair – chased away doubt, cleared the fog, and renewed their strength. From despair to hope, from gloom to joy, from sinner to saint, from enemies to children of God, from night to day, from darkness to light, from hopeless to full of hope, from defeat to victory! Rom. 5:8-10 – reconciled through His death, saved by His life. I need to remember that no matter how bad the darkness of despair may be, there is a Sunday. The Lord lives. Jesus is alive. There is light. There is love. There is forgiveness.

The death of the Savior for many was a dark day. I’m not sure where you are today. You may be living in a dark place - in  pain, regret, sorrow over life choices - don’t live in despair. Don’t live in guilt and pain. Don’t keep living in the past and making the same mistakes. Don’t live in fear. 

Luke 24:5-6 – why seek the living One among the dead? He is not here. 

Colossians  3:1 – If you’ve been raised, keep seeking the things above where Christ is. 

Seek Christ where He is. He’s not in the tomb. He’s risen. He’s in Heaven. Come to the cross, see the Savior, bring your life to Him, but remember that after cross, Sunday comes. There’s hope. There’s life. There’s forgiveness. Come to the cross. Come see the nails, the crown of thorns, the blood. But come see the stone rolled away. Come see the empty tomb. Come to the living Lord. Come to Jesus. Come to Sunday. Come to life. 

Lord of glory, I give you thanks and praise because you live. You are worthy of honor and praise because you faced the cross, you suffered for our sins, you purchased our redemption, you rescued us from death. We know you are Lord because you live. The grave was empty, the stone rolled away, and through your triumph over the grave our victory over sin and death is secured. There are not the words to express our thankfulness for your love, for your sacrifice, for your death on our behalf. There is no anthem worthy enough to express the glory you deserve for the victory you gained over Satan, over sin, over the grave. Blessed be your name, now and forever, the great I AM. 

Raising Of Lazarus

Friday, February 25, 2022

Jesus had good friends just like we do. Among them are Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus (John 11). Word comes to Jesus that Lazarus is sick and about to die. Instead of dropping what He was doing He delays coming for two days. During that brief span of time Lazarus dies. Mary and Martha both appeal to Jesus that if He had come sooner Lazarus would not have died. 

There are two phrases in this event that are worthy of great thought. First, one of the most powerful thoughts in the text is this, it says literally, “Jesus troubled Himself”     (John 11: 33). When Jesus was face to face with death, and He saw what it did to people, it trouble Him. He came to show us He understands. So, Jesus troubled Himself. Jesus felt pain and the hurt that we feel when we are by the grave. He doesn’t just care how you hurt He knows how you feel. Jesus did not have to feel what we feel when we hurt.  He chose to do it.  

Second, So, He said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” He is saying, “Martha,all you’re seeing in the problem. All you’re seeing in the corpse. Remember you were saying just a few minutes ago, you were calling Me the Son of God. Have you forgotten that’s what you said?  Have you forgotten who I am?  Don’t get wrapped up in the corpse, focus on Me.”

Now, I want you to notice something here that to me is powerful. “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Jesus didn’t say, “If you believe I’ll do the miracle. He said, “Listen, if you believe you’re going to see the glory of God!”  You see, Jesus was going to raise Lazarus whether Martha believed or not. She didn’t have to believe to see her brother come out of that tomb. But she had to believe to see the glory of God when Lazarus came out of the tomb! 

So, Jesus is saying, “Martha don’t just see a corpse come alive, but see God reveal Himself. I believe that is a principle we must learn today. All most people see when God answers their problem is the answer to their problem. All they saw when Lazarus came out of that tomb was an answer to a death.  But when Lazarus came out of that tomb what a lot of them did not see was God at work in that situation.  

Jesus said, “You have got to believe, not to see the miracle, but you’ve got to believe to see the glory of God in the miracle.”  God is doing great things every day. God raised the sun today.  A lot of people see the sun raise, but not very many of them saw the glory of God.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the sign that climaxed all other signs and gave indisputable proof to the claim. Standing before the tomb of His friend who had died, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Immediately the living body of Lazarus camo forth.

Jesus had now confirmed His claim to be able to raise the dead and His claim that He is the resurrection and the life. He had proved Himself to be the master over death and the giver of life.In this sign He has given His personal guarantee that everybody now lying in the tomb will some time hear His voice and beraised. Eventually, the glory of God will be seen by all!

Prayer: Lord, please give eyes of faith to see Your glory.

Displaying 26 - 30 of 172

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 33 34 35