Friday, March 29, 2013

The Harmoniously Committed

Scripture: Jeremiah 32:40
"I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

Insights: Today’s verse brings us to the very practical aspect of this week’s passage.  God has called us to be His children and to be faithful to Him.  This commission is something we are absolutely incapable of accomplishing in our own strength, power, thought, activity, etc.  As sinful human beings we are always going to falter on the side of self and sin, but because of that new heart and new way we learned about yesterday, we now have a heart that will not turn away from God.  That truth is the message of today’s verse.  Because of the everlasting covenant we have with God because of Jesus’ work at Calvary, we are able to live life victoriously because of His Spirit that indwells us.  We now are capable of living out this proper fear of the Lord in our daily lives.  In John 15:5 Jesus tells us, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  Today’s verse is stating this same truth just from an Old Testament perspective.  This truth is the key to a flourishing and growing Christian life.  Every aspect of the Christian life is about a relationship with the Lord.  God has done us good (as this passage indicated) by giving us His Spirit.  The problem with the Church of America is we are anemic because we are not abiding in the Vine.  We are faithful to an organization we call the Church, but we are not actively alive in the Body of Christ because we fail to abide.  The average church attender does not have a quiet time each day with the Lord.  The average church attender does not have a deep and devoted prayer life with the Lord.  The average church attender is not reproducing new babies in Christ because they are not abiding with the Lord.  Today’s verse, however, tells us we can have all of those things in our life if we abide in Jesus, because then we will not turn away from Him.  Beloved, pursue Jesus.  Start by worshipping Him this coming Sunday which is Easter and celebrate the remembrance we have in Jesus’ resurrection.  To God be the glory!

  1. Are you actively abiding with Jesus?
  2. What in your life is preventing you from remaining faithful to the Lord?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, because of the Spirit You have given me I am able to rest in Your grace and live a life of obedient faithfulness to You.  Keep me sensitive and pliable in Your hands throughout this pilgrimage of faith.  Amen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Daring Campaign

Scripture: Jeremiah 32:39
and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

Insights: Today’s verse takes us to the crux of this week’s devotional thoughts.  We have been looking at prophetic words that have had historical significance and yesterday we so the main thrust of the verse dealt with the second coming of Jesus.  Today’s verse dealt with the first coming of Jesus.  If Jesus had not come and paid our sin debt on the cross of Calvary and proven His victory over sin and death in His resurrection, then there would not have been a way for God to give us a new heart and a new way.  Today’s verse tells us God is going to give us one heart and one way.  John 14:6 informs us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Him.  Jesus is the one way to God.  2 Corinthians 5:17 communicates this truth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come.”  We are new because we have been given this one heart and it is new.  Before the foundations of the earth God knew this was the only plan to bring about redemption for His creation.  He chose to send His Son to die in our place in order for us to have an abiding love relationship with Him.  God did not desire for that relationship to just last through one generation of people.  He desired for us to share the love of God with those we come in contact and to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, etc.  God made a daring plan when it concerned His Son.  Beloved, we must also be willing to be daring for Him and share the love of Jesus with those around us.  Christ-followers are ALL commissioned to share the love of Jesus with others.  Every born again believer ought to know how to share the gospel with lost people.  In fact, every truly redeemed individual ought to have that experience under their belt (especially if they have been in church for a while).  We then ought to disciple those we have led to the Lord and help them become disciple makers as well.  Inviting someone to church is not the same as sharing the gospel, but it is a start.  Why not start this week by inviting someone this Sunday to an Easter service at your church.

  1. Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
  2. Are you actively investing in the next generation of believers by making disciples?
Prayer: Father, let my life reflect Your glory and allow me the grace to point people to Your Son Jesus.  Let them become men and women who share their faith and lead others to that saving relationship found in Jesus.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Holy Consummation

Scripture: Jeremiah 32:38
"They shall be My people, and I will be their God;

Insights: This particular verse today is one of those that fit into all three prophetic categories, but finding its fulfillment in the third part (if confused, read Monday’s post The Human Condition).  In other words, when God brought Judah back from their exile they became God’s people again and He became their God again.  Now mind you, it was not perfect after all the generations after them rejected Jesus as their Messiah.  What did occur, however, is after their return from exile, they never again worship foreign gods like Baal.  Instead they made the Law their god and fell into a completely different form of false worship.  The second part of this prophetic word comes on the scene with Jesus’ first coming.  Because of the work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection on that Sunday morning we have access to God in a relational way like never before.  The temple veil was torn and made a way for us all to have access to God anytime and anywhere.  All we have to do is to receive that free gift of eternal life found in Jesus through faith.  When we become born again, then God becomes our God and we become His people.  We, however, just like the Jewish remnant returning from the exile do not live this union out perfectly.  It is for this reason that the New Testament tells us about the Wedding Feast of the Lamb that is going to occur in the third part of the prophetic word (Jesus’ second coming).  In this final part, the Church (those born again) becomes the bride of Jesus and we enter into a marriage relationship with Him.  A perfect union that is no longer hindered by the sinful nature of humanity will be entered into on that day.  We then experience today’s verse in ultimate fulfillment.  We are really His people, untainted by sin, and He really is our God, forever enjoyed.  Beloved, I am so looking forward to that day.  It will be an amazing day of God’s grace.  If you are not certain of your invitation to that blessed event, then all you have to do is receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He stands at your heart door knocking and is asking for you to let Him into your heart.  He makes you a new creation and this relationship with Him begins.  Glory to God in the highest!  Glory to His name!

  1. In your engagement to the Lord Jesus, do you find yourself looking forward to your wedding day with anticipation?
  2. If you are not looking forward to that day, why not?
Prayer: Father, You have the perfect Son and are raising up a precious bride for Him.  Do whatever is necessary for me to be molded into the type of person You deem appropriate for the Church, Your Son’s Bride.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Divine Consolation

Scripture: Jeremiah 32:37
"Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety.

Insights: Yesterday I wrote briefly about Old Testament writings and how they can have historical implications, prophetic words about Jesus’ first coming, or prophetic words about Jesus’ second coming.  Today’s verse falls into that first category.  As I stated yesterday, Jeremiah was the prophet who wrote these words and he ministered before the exile to Babylon, but verse thirty-seven was written about after the exile.  So, it is a prophetic word, but one of those with historical implications. God did gather his people back to Jerusalem after His anger, wrath and indignation were appeased.  He did bring them back to Jerusalem and sent men like Ezra, Haggai and Nehemiah to have the temple and the walls rebuilt so that the people could dwell in safety.  In other words, God was providing relief to the children of Judah.  I am so grateful God is still a God of mercy.  As we mentioned yesterday, we all have a sin nature and if we will repent of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us.  At the same time, there may still be consequences to the sin.  For example, if a young boy and girl have sexual relations before they are married, then they have sinned.  If the girl happens to get pregnant, but then asks for God to forgive her of the sin, He will, but the consequences still remain.  Now, God can transform that consequence, in this case the child, into something beautiful, just like He turned the cross into something beautiful.  Let’s return back to the text: Judah sinned against God and the consequences were exile.  God, however, returned them from exile and made it beautiful with a new temple, wall and safety.  God brought relief when there seemed to be no aid coming.  God brought restoration, when no savior seemed present.  God still works like this today.  He will still bring salvation and relief.  All we have to do is cry out to Him and recognize by faith our need for a Savior and Lord.  This truth is amazing grace in its fullness.

  1. Are you grateful the God of history is still the God of today?
  2. What relief are you needing from the Lord today?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You are still active and involved in this world.  You continue to provide relief and comfort to those that belong to You when the turn their face to You.  Thank You.  Amen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Human Condition

Scripture: Jeremiah 32:36
"Now therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.'

Insights: Let me make some preliminary remarks about the Old Testament.  The words possibly can have multiple meanings.  There may be a word specifically for the people right then or in the near future.  There could also be a word regarding Jesus’ first coming (His Pascal Lamb appearance) or His second coming (His Lion of Judah appearance).  The verses we are going to look to this week have an immediate context for the children of Judah (the southern kingdom of Israelites), but later in the week we will also see them pointing to Jesus.  So, without further delay let’s look at today’s verse for a moment.  Jeremiah was the writer of these verses and he prophesized before Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.  This verse, therefore, was prophetic for the near future.  The king of Babylon was going to come and take the people by sword, famine and pestilence.  Why was this judgment from God going to fall on the people of Judah?  The answer was, and is still today the same, a simple three letter word—SIN.  Judah had sinned against the LORD God of Israel over and over and over again.  God had warned them and sent prophets to them over and over and over again, but the people refused to repent and turn from their wicked ways.  As a result there were consequences they had to face.  In Judah’s case the consequence was being taking into captivity by the Babylonian Empire.  The sad news is the human condition has not changed.  We, like the children of Judah, are just as sinful.  The reality for us is also the same.  We will be judged and there will be consequences for our sin.  In the case of Judah it was exile.  In our case, I do not know.  What I do know, however, is that at any point Judah would have repented from their sin, God would have forgiven them.  The same truth is present today.  All we need to do is honestly repent and humble ourselves before the Lord our God and He will forgive us our sin.  The consequence of our sin may still occur, but the restoration with the Father will be present.  The best practice is to remain in a healthy love relationship with our Savior and Lord, King Jesus, and let Him empower you against sin.

  1. What sin are you harboring in your heart?
  2. Are you aware that there will be consequences for such sin?
Prayer: Father, I am a sinner.  Reveal to me the specific areas in my life that hinder our relationship so that I can repent and turn back to You.  Lord, forgive me when I return and let me experience the joy found in Your mercy.  Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Encouraged by Joy

Scripture: Hebrews 12:3
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Insights: After Wednesday’s Thoughts by Scott I think it would be safe to say no one has ever experienced what Jesus did.  To take that statement a little further, we have not even come close to experiencing the pain, hardship, difficulties and assaults that Jesus did.  It would also be safe to say that through it all Jesus did not grow weary and lose heart.  Taking on the sins of the world was the most painful thing Jesus could have done, but He did not falter or fail to finish the assignment given to Him by God the Father.  Beloved, how many assignments has the Lord God given to you that you have grown weary and lost heart and in the end quit?  If it has only been one, then that is one too many, and unfortunately, we all have at least one failure in our lives.  Today’s verse, however, gives us encouragement.  Jesus endured the hostility and if we are born again He comes and lives within us in the form of God the Holy Spirit.  Where we were incapable of not growing weary and losing heart, the Savior in us, never does.  What we born again Christ-followers must do is stop relying on our strength and power and start trusting in Jesus.  Whatever circumstance you are facing stop trying to bear the load.  Trust in Jesus and your heart will be encouraged and you will proceed successfully for Your King.  Cast all of your cares on Him.  Let Him carry the weight of your predicament.  Let Him fill you full of His grace.  If you will do that, then you will be able to press on and not give up because of weariness and heavy heart.  Let your life glorify God as you continue on this journey of faith.

  1. Are you almost to the point of giving up?
  2. Are you willing to turn it, whatever it is, completely over to Jesus and trust Him no matter how the situation works out?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You and You alone are my hope and strength.  Let me trust in You and not grow weary as I trudge through this world.  Continue to encourage men heart, Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Enduring for Joy, Part 2

Scripture: Hebrews 12:2c-d
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Insights: Yesterday we looked at the HIStory past part of this verse.  Today we are going to look at the HIStory present and future.  Presently Jesus is indeed seated at the right hand of the throne of God and in this place He is experiencing perfect joy.  It is impossible for us finite thinking humans to fully comprehend the vastness, beauty, splendor and perfection of God’s throne room, but let me assure you of this—the all-pervasive radiance of Christ Jesus’ joy floods that room like the sun bursting awake at dawn.  Literally nothing, no one, and no place can hide from this glorious certitude.  As if it were possible to fill Jesus with more joy (and I am not certain that is possible), the HIStory future also points to the joy set before Him.  Because of the death He died, Jesus paid the price to ransom us from God’s wrath.  If we have truly been born again, if we are truly filled with the Spirit because of an encounter with this risen Lord, then one day we will be gloriously presented to the Son as His bride.  Think a moment about weddings and the joyous expressions that so often radiate from the bride and groom.  Those amazing earthly twinkles and satisfaction found in these creations of God will in no way compare to the glorious joy exuding from Jesus on His wedding day.  His death paid the dowry for His bride and she, the Church, will fully understand that day the true extent and cost her Lover paid for her.  Beloved, I am not capable of truly expressing in words the fullness and depth of this joy.  It is an impossible task.  I hope, however, you are beginning to understand a little bit more of Jesus’ love for you.  For His joy to be fully experienced, He endured the cross and despised the shame to sit down next to His Father and be married to His bride.  WOW!  Love so amazing!  Glory and praise be to our Father and to His Son and to the Holy Spirit.  Let us exalt and lift His name on high and declare to the world His love for them.

  1. Have you ever thought about the joy Jesus experiences?
  2. What about that thought surprises, intrigues, astonishes, etc. you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am incapable of understanding Your joy and the totality of its perfection.  Yet You tell me You give me Your joy.  Let it truly flow from the well springs of my life.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Enduring for Joy, Part 1

Scripture: Hebrews 12:2c-d
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Insights: Over the past two days we have been examining our engagement with joy on this side of eternity.  Today we are going to look at HIStory past and discuss the Good Friday event and tomorrow we are going to look at HIStory present and future to understand the joy which was set before Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Today’s verse tells us Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame of it.  For what reason did Jesus accept this assignment?  The answer is for the JOY set before Him.  Jesus was betrayed in the Garden by His friend and taken into captivity by the Jewish authorities.  He experienced multiple false trials between the High Priest, Pilate, and Herod.  Pilate had Jesus scourged to placate the people.  Tertullian writing about this event explained that halfway through the beating process they had to turn Jesus around because there was not enough flesh on His back to continue the process.  Many men died experiencing this brutal form of punishment.  Jesus was then ridiculed with a crown of thrones and mocked with false worship.  The Jewish officials were not satisfied with Pilate’s gesture and they stirred the crowd into a mob like frenzy and demanded for Jesus to be crucified.  Pilate succumbed to their evil cries and sentenced Jesus to death as he washed his hands in a basin stating, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”  Jesus then began the long journey up the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering.  Jesus was stripped naked and He willingly lay down on the crossbeam so they could nail his feet and hands to the wood beams.  He was raised and dropped into the hole which caused His body to convulse with pain.  The shame and taunts over the next few hours would penetrate deep into the heart of Jesus and our Lord responded to such brutality with “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Finally, Jesus cries out, “It is finished” and gave up His Spirit.  He chose to die as He took on Himself ALL the sins of the world.  Jesus did all of this for the joy set before Him.  Jesus paid it ALL for us!  Beloved, don’t you think we ought to be able to endure a little for Him!

  1. What in your life do you have to endure for the joy set before you?
  2. What shame are you experiencing for the joy set before you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is nothing on this earth and in my life that can even come close to comparing to the suffering and shame You experienced on the cross.  You endured these things for the joy set before You.  Open my heart to this truth and help me to know You better as a result.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Engaging with Joy, Part 2

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2b
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,

Insights: Yesterday we looked at those witnesses surrounding our lives which encourage us to remain faithful to our Lord Jesus.  Today, we move to the next part which deals with winning the race.  We win the race by having our faith perfected.  This perfecting happens in two ways.  First, we throw off everything that hinders us, which is sin that entangles us.  Think for a moment about how seriously Jesus told us to deal with sin.  If our right hand should offend us, what ought we to do with it?  Cut it off.  If our eye causes us to sin, what ought we to do with it?  Pluck it out.  In other words, we are to deal drastically with sin.  We must not let it in any way trip us up on this race we are running.  Second, and by far the most important aspect of this perfecting, we must fix our eyes on Jesus.  Think about a track race for just a moment.  As those runners are heading toward the finish line are they looking side to side to see where their competitors are in the race?  Absolutely not!  Do they tilt backward with their head held high?  Again, no!  They are looking straight ahead with their eyes fixed on that ribbon.  Their bodies are leaning forward to give them every inch of advantage as they approach that ribbon.  We are to run this spiritual race with the same kind of fixation as these Olympians run a foot race.  The difference is our finish line is not a ribbon, but a person, Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.  This second point is the key to the first part.  We are incapable in and of ourselves to throw off everything that hinders us.  We cannot miss the trap set before us in sin that so easily entangles us.  Jesus, however, can throw off those things that hinder us.  Jesus can prevent us from being entangled in sin.  So, how do we engage this world with joy?  We do it by living our lives in and through Jesus.  He is the One who empowers us and fills us with joy.  He is the One who gives us the strength to remain faithful and become a witness to others.  Everything you do ought to be done through the lens of Jesus.  Surrender to His Lordship and be blessed.

  1. What sins are entangling your life?
  2. Are you fixing your eyes on Jesus or the things of this world?
Prayer: Father, forgive me of my sin and change my vision to be transfixed upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Engaging with Joy, Part 1

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2b
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,

Insights: We are halfway through building our spiritual wall of faith with bricks of character through the book of Nehemiah. We are, however, going to pause for the next three weeks on that building project so that we can begin fixing our eyes on the cross of Easter.  This week we are going to be looking at the joy of Easter and specifically today and tomorrow we are going to be examining Hebrews 12:1-2b.  Notice with me the first phrase in this set of verses, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.”  Whenever you read Scripture and you come to the word “therefore” it is an instructive key to look at the preceding information.  In this case the entire eleventh chapter is to what the “therefore” of verse one is pointing us.  We call the eleventh chapter the “Hall of Faith” because it lists men and women like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, etc. who have proven their faith by their actions.  Their actions did not save them, their faith did, but their actions proved they had faith.  In fact, in verse four of the eleventh chapter we are told that Abel is still speaking to us even though he is dead because of his faithful actions.  Our lives are also surrounded by contemporary men and women who are witnesses to us.  It could be our parents or grandparents.  It could also be godly men and women who lived near us.  The point is we have witnessed and observed the lives of faithful Christ-followers who point us to the Savior Jesus.  Their love for Him was so great it convicts and challenges our lives to be obedient to Him.  In the same vain, our lives of faith ought to be leaving a legacy behind us as well.  We are to be witnesses to other people regarding our faith in the Lord Jesus.  Our lives and words ought to convict those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus to His salvific power.  At the same time our lives and words ought to be an encouragement to other Christians to remain faithful to their Lord.  This kind of life requires us to engage in the race and to do so with joy because of what Jesus has done for us.

  1. Who has been a witness surrounding you?
  2. To whom are you being a witness surrounding them?
Prayer: Father, as we begin turning our eyes toward the cross in celebration of Easter, let me be mindful of the legacy I am leaving and help me become a witness to those around me.  May my life bring You glory. Amen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Promotions affect People

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:18-19
Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.  Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Insights: The fourth major concern Nehemiah faced was the people affected by his promotion.  Earlier in the week I mentioned that two times Nehemiah made reference to not eating the food allowance which was given to the governor.  In verse eighteen we are told the reason for his refusal to accept such a privilege at that time.  It was because it would have added a heavy burden to the people under his care.  When we accept promotions it will place people under us and we need to make certain we lead them in such a fashion that does not over burden them.  In other words, our pace of leadership may need to be slowed down at times and at other times picked up.  We need to lead at the appropriate pace where we are just far enough in front that the people can see us closely, but not so far in front that they get scared or discouraged and feel like giving up.  Let me close this week with the motivating force behind Nehemiah’s leadership style.  He was concerned about the people because of his relationship with His God.  Back in verse fifteen the last few words read, “I did not do so because of the fear of God.”  The “I did not do so” was in reference to all the policies of the previous governors that added to the peoples already burdened lives.  Now we see him again refusing to accept his food privileges because of the burden it would have caused the people.  Then we move into verse nineteen and we see Nehemiah offering up a prayer to God and it is basically a prayer of examination.  It is as if Nehemiah is praying, “God, because of my fear of You and my desire to lead Your people well, please examine my leadership and tell me if I have acted properly for Your glory.”  Everything we do in the horizontal axis of this world and the relationships we have with other people ought to be driven by the vertical axis we have with the Lord God.  Beloved, I pray you seek the Lord first and then lead.

  1. At what pass are you leading those under your supervision?
  2. Is your relationship with the Father motivating you to be a better servant leader?
Prayer: Lord, at the end of the day it is because of my relationship with You that motivates me to be a godly leader for those under my care.  Help me to affect their lives in a positive way. Amen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Promotions involve Projects

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:17-18
Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.

Insights: The third major concern Nehemiah faced was the projects involved in his promotion.  We already learned yesterday from verse sixteen that Nehemiah’s passion was the wall of Jerusalem.  He knew God had assigned him the project of completing that wall.  It was not just a wall for the people.  It was a sign of God’s protective and providential hand on the life of Israel.  As we mentioned on the day we spoke about privileges, however, more responsibility was assigned to Nehemiah.  In other words, not only did he have his project of the wall to accomplish, but as governor he would have special interest groups bombarding him on a regular basis.  Once again, we see Scripture communicating the truth regarding the vast responsibilities people faced in ancient days that are no different from today.  Every day Nehemiah had 150 Jewish officials and other national ambassadors coming to him for political favors regarding their projects.  So, the question we have to ask ourselves is, how did Nehemiah take care of his daily responsibilities as governor and all of these extraneous projects and maintain focus on what he knew he was really called to do, which obviously was to finish the wall?  He learned to priorities his days.  I don’t know how this luncheon was run, but this was a business luncheon.  He did not invite these people every day just to partake of ox, sheep and birds.  It was the most efficient manner in which Nehemiah found to deal with the daily projects of other people that came with his promotion.  Before this meal and after it Nehemiah was free to focus on what truly mattered, the wall.  Beloved, we need to learn to be shrewd time managers in our lives.  We need to make certain we are making first things first and not get ourselves consumed by all the other projects that come on us with promotions and life.  The best way we are able to stay focused is to ask the Father every day to direct our paths and to seek His guidance each morning as to what is most important and then stay true to that project.

  1. What project is God assigning you to do for Him?
  2. How well are you balancing your project for God and your daily responsibilities?
Prayer: Lord, strengthen me and help me to remain focused on the project You have assigned me to do.  I desire for my life to bring You glory. Amen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Promotions threaten Policies

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:15-16
But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.

Insights: The second major concern Nehemiah faced was policy changes.  Here is what I mean by policy changes.  You are not going to do things exactly like the last person before you did them.  Your predecessor did things in a fashion that does not match your skill set and vice versa.  Specifically in regards to Nehemiah there were three things the previous governors did that Nehemiah knew needed to be changed.  First, the previous governors overtaxed the people.  We see this truth in the phrase “laid burdens on the people.”  Second, the previous governors took bribes for governmental sanctions.  We see this truth in the phrase, “took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver.”  Finally, the previous governors promoted their friends into positions of influence.  We see this truth in the phrase, “even their servants domineered the people.”  Do these three attributes of government sound familiar to twenty-first century American politics?  Nehemiah said these previous policies must go.  Notice verse fifteen states, “But I did not do so because of the fear of God.”  Nehemiah is going to be a blessing to his constituents and he is not going to participate in these evil practices.  One of the interesting things about human nature, however, is the resistance to change.  Unless the idea for change is your idea, you are more than likely going to oppose the change.  Not all change is good, but change, whatever it may be, is often resisted.  The reason change is resisted is because people at least know how to handle what they are presently facing.  Change moves them into the realm of the unknown and people are often times frightened of what they don’t know.  Chuck Swindoll writing about these verses points out the extreme pressure Nehemiah must have been under by his advisors because of his rattling of the cages.  Nehemiah constantly heard the age old, “It has always been done this way” or the “It has never been done like this before” chants from his advisors.  Leaders must hear these words and stay focused to the task.  Verse sixteen shows us Nehemiah stayed focused on the rebuilding of the wall as he changed these policies.

  1. What policies or procedures do you need to change as a result of your promotion?
  2. Have you experienced the pressure to maintain the status quo?
Prayer: Lord, You have blessed me with this position to change situations and to be a blessing to those around me.  Grant me Your favor and strength as I walk obediently with You. Amen.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Promotions bring Privileges

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:14
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.

Insights: Over the next four days we are going to look at the four major concerns that Nehemiah faced when he stepped into his new role as governor.  These four concerns are true for everyone who receives promotions in one way or another.  The first concern is the privileges of the job.  It takes a wise leader to use them without abusing them.  Today’s verse gives the first of two references to the governor’s food allowance and in both verses Nehemiah is emphatic regarding his not eating it.  There are times the privileges that come with promotion ought not to be taken.  For Nehemiah, this food allowance was such a privilege that needed to be avoided.  So, what is the secret regarding the privileges that come with promotion?  The answer is wisdom.  How does one get wisdom?  According to James we are to ask God (James 1:5).  Here is the point regarding the privileges:  when we receive these benefits do we take them as our personal rights or do we view them as God’s own possessions?  For sake of argument, let’s use the financial privileges that come from promotions.  When you get your raise, what do you do?  The vast majority of people say to themselves, “What can I get now?”  Whereas the Father above would have us ask the question, “How would God have me use this extra money?”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the privileges that come from promotions in and of themselves.  These privileges are given with promotion because more responsibility is being asked of the one receiving the promotion.  As a Christian, however, we must first seek God’s council as to how we ought to handle those privileges.  For Nehemiah, he was not to accept the privilege that was just given to him.  When we get to the final concern Nehemiah faced with this promotion, we will learn the reason he did not partake of this food allowance.  So, in conclusion Beloved, when you receive privileges from promotions, don’t selfishly abuse the gift, but rather first ask God what He would have you to do with these new freedoms.

  1. How do you handle the privileges of promotion?
  2. Do you first consult the Lord as to how you ought to handle them?
Prayer: Lord, help me not to take the privileges of promotion for granted.  You have blessed me for specific reason.  Give me the wherewithal to seek You and learn from You how You would have me handle these privileges. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Progression through Promotion

Scripture: Nehemiah 5:14
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.

Insights: When we began this study in the life of Nehemiah I mentioned that he would hold three positions throughout this book.  First, he was the cupbearer to the king.  Second, he was the builder of the wall.  Finally, he was the governor of the people.  In today’s verse we move into that final role.  It is regarding this promotion that this week’s Thought’s by Scott are going to be focused.  Over the years it has really surprised me how many Christ-followers have resisted advancement in their careers.  A lot of reasons are given and most of those excuses are not valid.  If you have been one of those who have avoided promotions, then let me encourage you through the words of Proverbs 29:2.  It reads, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.”  The reason the Lord God places Christ-followers in positions of leadership is to impact the lives of those around them.  Every one of us has had a boss that was tyrannical in nature.  Did you rejoice in going to work or did you groan?  I also hope you have had a godly boss for which to work as well.  Hopefully, you can say working for such a person was a rejoicing situation.  God appoints us to such positions so that we can point to the love of Jesus.  Our righteous leadership ought to help guide people to the love of God.  In such positions we can show justice from a biblical position when we discipline or reprimand an employee.  We can also display grace and humility when we instruct and assist along the way.  We can show wisdom when offering advice regarding projects.  In other words, our promotions are to be spring boards to point others to the Lord God.  Maybe you have not thought about advancement and promotions in this light, but as a child of the King, this is the proper vantage point from which you ought to accept such opportunities.  Beloved, we need godly leaders in business, politics, education, service industries and whatever other field you might serve.  I pray you will begin to think about the way you work and do it as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

  1. Does your influence make people rejoice or groan?
  2. Are you shying away from advancement for any reason?
Prayer: Lord, I want to be obedient to You in any way possible.  Help me to live a life that makes people rejoice and not groan.  I desire to bring You glory. Amen.