Overcoming the Opposition

Nehemiah 6-7

So much work had already been done – the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt – now they just needed to finish the gates. Surely this project was God-ordained and he picked the right leader for the job – Nehemiah. He was able to get everyone motivated and working together, and despite the opposition they were able to finish their job on the 25th of Elul (which appears to correspond to somewhere between Sept 15 and October 2). So, this week is a super time to celebrate the work that is accomplished when working for God.

So much good had been done already – but the work did not end and neither did the opposition!

Nehemiah was under attack. Satan (along with Tobia, Sanballat, Geshem and the rest of those fighting against God) were using every weapon at their disposal to bring this righteous leader down: lies, fear, wolves in sheep’s clothing, attempting to distract him from his work with other business, spreading gossip and accusations of sedition to either silence him or get him in serious trouble with the authorities, even hiring a false “prophet” to scare him into sinning.

But Nehemiah stood strong. We continue to see him turn to God in prayer. Asking for strong hands and asking for God to take care of those getting in the way of the Lord’s work. He obviously had a strong knowledge of God’s law to not be tricked into sinning. This gave him wise discernment in knowing who to listen to and what to do, and not do. And, he knew to fear God not men.

We can learn a lot from Nehemiah today because Satan keeps using the same ploys. Adolf Hitler wrote, “Mental confusion, contradiction of feeling, indecisiveness, panic; these are our weapons.” Evil men seeking to destroy God’s work have come and gone and yet remain today. It is indeed a vivid reminder that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV). They love nothing more than trying to interrupt God’s work and if they can bring down a godly leader at the same time they probably get bonus points.

We see so much of this evil and oppression today. But like Nehemiah, we must not give up! We must turn to God again and again when faced with the lies and fears and Satan’s strong man tactics that would love to have us throw in the towel and take the easy way instead. Pray, fast, seek His word and His way, don’t fear man, resist sin, use discernment in knowing who to trust, what to say and do. Pray, too, for our leaders that they will have the wisdom and strong hands of Nehemiah

Satan has been running rampant and the result is a broken world. Keep at God’s rebuilding work – one brick at a time.

Marcia Railton

Speaking of our opposition, mental confusion, lies, panic, and pleasing man not God, reminds me of the life and death fight for the most innocent of God’s creations. Tonight would be a great time to watch See Life 2020 and #LoveEveryHeartbeat. And pray for strong hands – and hearts – to do the work God wants you to do.

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Nehemiah 6-7

Tomorrow we will read Nehemiah 8-10 as we continue seeking God on our

A Carrot and A Stick – REPENT

Ezekiel 13 – 15

Ezekiel 14 3 NIV SGL

 

In Ezekiel 14, we’re told that some of the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel.  God told Ezekiel in 14:3-6, “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?  Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry.  I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’

“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’”

 

I see two attributes of God at work here:  justice and mercy.  For those claiming to follow God, but not really following Him, there will be justice (i.e. punishment).  They will be made an example so others will see and turn to God.  This is a scary concept, and should cause us to repent and turn completely back to God so this doesn’t happen to us.

 

We see God’s mercy as he says to those not following him, “Repent!” and “Renounce all your detestable practices!”.  This too should cause us to repent and turn completely to God.

 

It doesn’t matter whether we respond better to a carrot or to a stick, since we’re given both.  The simple fact remains that we need to repent, renounce all our detestable practices, and turn completely to God.

 

And once that happens, we’re told in 14:11, “Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

 

May this be said of us too.  But it is conditional upon repenting and turning completely to God.  The choice is yours.

Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezekiel 13-15

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Ezekiel 16-17 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Model Faith

1st Thessalonians 1

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I love Thessalonians. It may have something to do with Larry the Cucumber not being able to pronounce it, but that is a whole different topic.

1st Thessalonians 1 is a letter Paul is writing to the church of the Thessalonians. I love the greeting of this letter, Grace and Peace to you. Everybody needs a little Grace and Peace. We should be extending this to everyone we greet. Paul goes on to say in verse 2 that they thank God for them (the Thessalonians) and that they pray for them. In today’s world we need to be praying for each other. Who can you pray for today?

 It is mentioned that the Thessalonians had severe suffering yet they welcomed the message of the Gospel with joy. They became a model to other believers…their faith was known everywhere. We need to make sure we are modeling our Love for God in ALL we do–our school, our jobs, our homes. It is not something we should only take out for Sunday mornings and special events. Our love for God needs to be showcased in every aspect of our lives; everything we do. The Thessalonians also turned to God from idols.  Where do you turn when you have a moment? I am not saying that all things are idols, but do you put “things” before Him? God should be at the front of our lives. If He is, then everything else will fall into place. It is not easy, it wasn’t easy for the Thessalonians, but they did it and they are awaiting the return of Jesus, just as we are. Please God, send your son soon!

 We are thankful for the opportunity to do devotions with you this week! We look forward to looking at 1st Thessalonians 2 tomorrow.

Many Blessings,

               ~The Ransom’s

 

(A little intro from us: We have been married for 18.5 years and have 3 kids (one is a foster son). We have been able to be a part of Family Camp for 11 years, our daughter LOVES FUEL and our sons are looking forward to it in 2019)

3 Steps

Isaiah 17-21

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Friday, February 10

In today’s reading, we have pretty much just oracles against other nations.  An oracle in the Old Testament is simply the Word of God.  Therefore, the different oracles about the separate nations are just the words of God, and the audience of the book of Isaiah is the people of Judah.  That means that these oracles are words from God to Judah concerning other nations.

As we have been reading, these oracles concerning other nations are usually more of a judgmental tone.  Often, God states that he will take action against these nations.  This may lead to the people turning to God, and that is present in Isaiah chapter 19.  Chapter 19 contains the oracle concerning Egypt.  In this oracle, God states he will take action for their poor behavior.  As a result of God’s action, “the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering,” (Isaiah 19:21).  Basically there are three steps happening here: The Egyptians sin against God, God punishes the Egyptians, and the Egyptians turn to God because of their fear.

We can learn a lesson from this.  We are inevitably all going to sin in our lives.  We all have sinned, and we all will make more mistakes in the future, similar to what the Egyptians were doing.  The punishment for sin is found in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.”  Death is what we all deserve.  God is not afraid to punish us if we don’t seek Him.  Similar to the Egyptians, we should then fear God and live a life that is pleasing to Him.  When we do this, we can receive eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, and God will indeed bless us.

-Kyle McClain

(Photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/book/isaiah/13)