Oh to rekindle our love for God.
Oh to just seek Him, desire Him, understand Him, and serve Him. Why does my heart constantly battle against this? I am such a prideful being, always wanting my own way.
Yet now, I have fallen in love again...
with the writings of the Old Testament. The book of Nehemiah has captured my heart. At first I was inspired by the spiritual warfare the people faced in re-building the wall around Jerusalem.
But now, as I read of Ezra, the priest standing before the people to read the Book of the Law to them... and the Levites' desire to help them find true meaning...
and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave sense, and helped them to understand the reading.
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.
Nehemiah 8:7-12 NKJV
These lovely people...
had hearts to return to God. They had been in exile, scattered in foreign lands, far from their heritage. But once they were united together and the word of God was spoken over them... and explained to them, they wept. Not because it was condemning, but because it pierced their hearts as a sword, dividing soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Lord, rekindle my love.
Never let us wander far from You. Pierce our hearts for what is dear to You. Give us understanding of Your Word as You did in the days of Nehemiah, that we would understand this kind of joy. That we would be filled with it as our strength.
I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood.
But the other night,
I would have sworn that Transformers...
you know, like the ones in the movie
with Shia Laboeuf, where on their way
though the trees in my back yard.
Seriously, it was this ongoing,
crazy loud and destructive
sort of crashing noise that had me
a bit concerned for my safety.
I stopped what I was doing,
turned down the volume
on every device around me to listen.
Was it a helicopter,
a distant train,
a diesel truck on a street nearby?
I couldn't identify the noise as
anything I'd heard before.
Nor was it a consistent sound
or volume, as it kept morphing.
So I ventured to the back door.
First, I just looked out.
Then I stepped out to listen
and look around.
And what I discovered
was nothing like I expected.
for God had made them
rejoice with great joy;
the women and the children
also rejoiced, so that
the joy of Jerusalem
was heard afar off.
I wonder if way back then...
in the day of Nehemiah,
some of the people in towns nearby
had to stop what they were doing,
to turn down the volume
on every device around them to listen.
Just what made all that commotion
down there in Jerusalem
that was traveling so far?
I bet it was like nothing
they had ever heard before.
Probably not even a consistent sound
or volume, as it may have kept morphing.
And I bet they too,
ventured to the back door.
First, to just looked out.
But then to step out to listen
and look around.
Now at the dedication
of the wall of Jerusalem
they sought out the Levites
in all their places, to bring them
to Jerusalem to celebrate
the dedication with gladness,
both with thanksgivings
and stringed instruments
Nehemiah 12:27 NKJV
Nehemiah had actually
gathered two large thanksgiving choirs
which he lined up facing
two differed directions down the wall.
And he stood in the middle
with the leaders of Judah who
were raised up on top of the wall.
There were instruments and singers...
and the vibration echoed off the walls,
like an amphitheater, ringing into the hills
that surrounded the city of Jerusalem.
It was such a grand celebration
that neighboring towns and villages
could hear the celebration from afar.
They certainly had to wonder
what are those crazy people doing down there?
And God sure likes the attention.
Glory, honor and praise we give
when we rejoice with gladness
over all that He has done.
How great it is when we are willing
to sing and praise so openly
that others actually notice enough
to ask what the commotion is all about;
opening the door to a conversation
where we can let them know
all that God has done for and through us.
Transformers bringing notice to God,
making a joyful noise to be heard from afar.
Not quite the same as what I heard
after opening my back door...
I only wish.
Mine was not a thanksgiving choir,
nor stringed instruments and cymbals banging.
But rather a neighbor's pool party
of rowdy 12 year old boys...
with surround sound cranked to full blast
on the outdoor movie screen which was
showing some sort of action flick.
So I returned to my bedroom
at least knowing I was safe
no matter how loud and long it seemed
the crashing clatter came and went.
And I could still rejoice
that though my walls did vibrate,
at the monstrous sounds next door,
they would not crumble nor fall.
But it was a great reminder
of the celebration of those
who danced and sang around those walls
rebuilt at the mercy of God
who loved this city of Jerusalem.
Word of God
train me today...
To never neglect the sound of rejoicing.
To know that I can bring
glory and attention to You,
transforming a moment of silence
into one of glory from afar.
If you've ever read
the history of the Israelites,
then you certainly have ridden
the rollercoaster of faith.
Because they had many highs and lows,
drawing close and trusting God,
then rebelling to live their own
stubborn and hard-hearted ways.
But God always remained the same.
He was the stable and sturdy track,
that kept the steel car propelled, even to
return to their promised land.
Now on the twenty-fourth day
of this month the children of Israel
were assembled with fasting,
in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads.
Then those of Israelite lineage separated
themselves from all foreigners;
and they stood and confessed their sins
and the iniquities of their fathers.
Nehemiah 9:1-2 NKJV
And the Levites stood to read
the historical account of how God
led them through the hills and valleys
of faithfulness when they did and didn't
follow closely the ways of the Lord.
Until 38 verses later,
they promise to follow all God's law
in this manner...
“And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and
our priests seal it.”
So why on earth
did they have to confess the sins
of the faithless people
who lived so long ago before them?
I mean, these people didn't
commit the sins that led to
their captivity to Babylon.
It was their fathers,
and the fathers before them
Why should they have to confess
for the sins of people long ago?
Why should they even have to endure
the lengthy and depressing history lesson?
Surely, this is a hard thing to conceive.
But if only we will take the time
to read through, to study and listen...
we would find that from God's perspective
these people of old, did nothing more
that live in the cyclical pattern of sin.
For the same pattern repeated itself
over, and over, and over... again.
None of them invented anything new.
It's the same rebellion of the human heart
wanting to have our own way.
So these new residents of Jerusalem
wisely agreed, that if they would accept
the fact that they too are capable
of each and every sin
that their forefathers committed...
and if they listened intently to the
history lesson laid out chronologically,
then maybe they could change the pattern.
Just maybe they could break the cycle
and start a fresh habit of obedience to God.
And what an honest and interesting
concept of the heart.
Rather than judging the sins of others,
pointing a finger and saying...
that could never,
that would never,
that will never happen to me.
I'm not capable of THAT sin.
Maybe we should consider
the cycle of the human heart.
Simply because we currently don't see
ourselves desperate enough
to commit that sin, does not mean
that one day, we won't be.
Never, say... never!
I've decided to simply admit
that I am capable of any sin
which any human can commit.
Not that I WANT to have a sinful heart.
But rather, that I want to AVOID
a judgmental spirit toward others.
So along with these new citizens
of Jerusalem, I too, confess my sins
of their forefathers...
And because of all this,
We make a sure covenant and write it.
So let me commit to the Lord...
Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever!
“Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You.
Word of God
train me today...
To live an honest life,
with an honest heart
to serve You always.
To not judge others,
nor their motives,
without first knowing
I am capable of the same.
Don't you just love it when
something you are challenged to do
finally gets finished!
So the wall was finished... in fifty-two days.
And it happened, when all our enemies
heard of it, and all the nations around us
saw these things, that they were
very disheartened in their own eyes;
for they perceived that
this work was done by our God.
Nehemiah 6:15-16 NKJV
Boy, I bet the Israelies were ready
for a great celebration.
I mean, I would have wanted
to dance on top of that wall.
Especially in front of those three enemies...
Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem.
I'm not sure what got into them,
but I've had a Sanballat, or two
in my life, and they sure do take
the wind out of your sails
when you're trying to get the courage
to start something new and different.
How awesome that these
former captives had a great leader
who kept his focus and looked to God
for protection those 7 1/2 weeks.
And as Governor, Nehemiah
then gathered the people, to be
counted for the census and recorded
in the books of genealogy.
And the first of the open meetings
was had at these, the new gates
within the walls of Jerusalem.
And Ezra, the priest and scribe
stood before the people
to read from the Book of the Law of Moses.
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.
Then all the people answered,
“Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands.
And they bowed their heads
and worshiped the Lord
with their faces to the ground.
And the Levites who taught the people
to understand the word of the Lord, said...
This day is holy to the Lord your God;
do not mourn nor weep.”
For all the people wept,
when they heard the words of the Law.
But Ezra quieted the people saying...
Go your way,
eat the fat, drink the sweet, and
send portions to those for whom
nothing is prepared;
for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow,
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
And the people went their way,
rejoicing greatly because
they understood the word of the Lord
that was declared to them.
These were people who had lived
most, if not all of their lives
captive to the bondage of Babylon.
They had heard of their heritage.
They had heard of the prophecy
that one day, there would be freedom.
But did they still have hope?
Before that moment,
standing free in the middle of
the rebuilt Jerusalem
did they really understand
the word of the Lord?
Finally, someone explained it to them
in words they understood.
Finally, someone spoke to them
giving examples and applications
that made sense to them.
Finally they were in a place
where they could
freely express their emotions.
Some wept openly.
Some rejoiced and lifted hands.
For many, I'm sure, this was the first
real worship experience they had ever known.
And possibly the first time
they truly understood that God was for them.
How wonderful it is...
to finally and fully know the Lord!
How great when we truly
understand the meaning of His word!
Word of God
train me today...
To rejoice each time a new understanding
of Your word takes place in my heart.
To never neglect sharing with others
all You have taught me, that they too
may understand Your word.
I am nowhere near
the place of admitting senility.
But have I had that moment
when come to a dead stop
on my way through the middle of a room,
put my hand to my head and think,
what was heading this way to do?
Because I did have a purpose.
And I knew what I was busy doing
at my desk a moment ago.
Clearly I got up to go do, or get
something of value.
So why have I gone blank?
It's not that I have an empty mind.
It's that I have so many things
jammed in the filing cabinet up there,
that the folders are bursting
at the seams, and the drawers
won't fully close anymore.
So I've just piled up stuff,
on top of stuff, on top of stuff.
And my thoughts sometimes
slide off the top of the pile...
leaving me standing
in the middle of a room.
You would think it might be
a loud and noisy place.
But sometimes it comes
with a great deal of silence.
So very many ideas...
but uncertainty as to just how
to weave them together
in a logical format that others
That is what causes me
to get stuck and feel as though
I am unsuccessful in finishing.
Even though I have given
great effort throughout the day.
But today, I was relieved,
when God said...
You know Lisa, you are not alone.
Others have felt that very same way...
And He pointed this out in
in the book of Nehemiah, when
the people He charged to rebuild the wall
faced great opposition...
So we built the wall,
and the entire wall was joined together
up to half its height,
for the people had a mind to work.
Now it happened, when Sanballat,
Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites,
and the Ashdodites heard that
the walls of Jerusalem were being restored
and the gaps were beginning to be closed,
that they became very angry,
and all of them conspired together
to come and attack Jerusalem
and create confusion.
Nehemiah 4:6-8 NKJV
Here were some people
who had a mind to work.
They got up each morning intent
to accomplish good things for God.
Unfortunately, that stirred anger
in the enemies of these people...
or rather, the enemies of God.
For anyone who opposes
God's people, and God's plan,
is really opposing God, Himself.
And these people were conspiring
to come and attack them,
The very problem that I face as well.
Sometimes my confusion may be
as simple as priority.
What is the most important idea?
Sometimes my confusion may be
how to implement it.
Sometimes it may be a greater
frustration with a technology,
or a person that I am unable
to get help from in a needed time frame.
No matter the issue of the day,
if it impedes my productivity,
there are gaps in my finished work...
there is weakness in the structure,
just as there would have been
in that wall around the city of Jerusalem.
And that would have made the enemies
of that city smile with arrogant pleasure.
And the people filled with discouragement.
But Nehemiah wouldn't stand for it...
Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God,
and because of them we set a watch
against them day and night.
And he armed them...
Therefore I positioned men
behind the lower parts of the wall,
at the openings; and I set the people
according to their families,
with their swords, their spears,
and their bows.
And the people found success...
And it happened,
when our enemies heard
that it was known to us, and
that God had brought
their plot to nothing,
that all of us returned to the wall,
everyone to his work.
I simply need to be
more diligent in my prayer.
Day and night, setting a watch,
knowing that I have an enemy...
the same enemy of God who does not
want me to succeed in making Him famous.
And in order for me
not to suffer confusion,
I must pray, day and night.
I must be diligent with my sword,
which is the Word of God.
And I must trust and know
that God will bring their plot to nothing,
as He did these three who tried
and failed against the rebuilding of this wall.
Word of God
train me today...
To trust You, Lord,
more than my confusion.
To set a watch, the night before,
and the morning of...
always diligent to pray in the Spirit,
Lord, Your will being done
will never cause me confusion.
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