October 10 – Attributes of God – Grace

Read Nehemiah 9:17

The last few years I feel I’ve received a lot of grace from the people around me.

Certainly, my wife and family as they had to make many concessions and do many things I couldn’t do due to my health. Also, from my employer and co-workers. They had to pick up the pieces and finish work that I couldn’t complete. We also have unbelievably good friends who did so much for us and I feel that God showed His love through them.

I’m very thankful for all of the above but, as significant as it was, nothing can compare with the grace I’ve received from God.

So, what is grace?

We use the word or a form of it in many different ways:

“That person was very gracious.”

“I’m sure glad they had a grace period after the due date on that bill.”

“That dancer is so graceful.”

Sometimes the words grace and mercy are used as though they are synonymous.

I believe mercy is not getting what I deserve such as, “I’m a sinner and deserve the death penalty but because of God’s mercy I’ve been forgiven and won’t receive that penalty.”

Grace, on the other hand, is receiving what I don’t deserve, in the form of a gift. Receiving Christ’s righteousness and becoming a member of the Heavenly Father’s family because of what He has done for me by dying on the cross.

Here is an acrostic that illustrates this:

God’s

Riches

At

Christ’s

Expense

GRACE is a GIFT!

Grace comes in many different forms and I want to talk about just a few types.

God’s grace is:

Forgiving – Through grace, we can be forgiven (Ephesians 2:8 – 9).

Accepting – God wants us all to be part of His eternal family and He has made a way through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9).

Sustaining – He gets us through the tough times if we will turn to Him and trust in Him completely. (Isaiah 46:4).

Freeing – God wants us to be free.

Free from fear.

“So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

Free from worry (Ephesians 4:6 – 7)

Free from anything that keeps us from becoming who He made us to be.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John10:10b)

God’s grace is so important, without it we would be utterly hopeless.

It’s also very broad and I’ve touched on just a few points, but I ask you to consider how God’s grace has impacted YOUR life and thank Him.

Who around you needs to hear about the hope and love that is embodied in God’s grace?

Please pray that God will:

  • show you who needs to hear about Him
  • create opportunities with that person
  • give you the words that will point them to Jesus Christ.

God’s grace is the best gift ever. May we never take it for granted!

Mike Molter

April 15 – Jesse Tree – God Uses Normal People

Read Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

“I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” Nehemiah 2:5

Remember, our Jesse Tree celebration and journey is helping us to identify some of the key people and events that lead up to the coming of Jesus. God had clearly indicated that Jesus would be part of the family tree of Jesse. Jesse was an Israelite descendant of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.

God’s plan was to allow Jesus to be born in the land He had promised His people. Unfortunately, God’s people didn’t always obey Him. As punishment, God allowed them to be taken as prisoners to another country for 70 years. Thankfully, they returned after those 70 years. But even though the people returned to their land and its capital city of Jerusalem, the city, its surrounding wall, and gates had been destroyed.

Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a professional servant of God, but he wanted to make sure that the walls were rebuilt. Rebuilding the walls was a way to protect the people and to demonstrate honor for God. God used Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and lead the people in rebuilding. The Lord used Nehemiah to do something that was very important to Him.

Did you know that God can use you to do things that are very important to Him? Here is a quick list of things that He values:

  • Telling others about Jesus
  • Giving so that the needs of others are met
  • Praying for and encouraging someone who is down
  • Being happy with others who are happy
  • Worshiping Him

Steve Kern

July 20 – His story : Man’s rescue – It might as well be you!

Read Nehemiah 1:1-2:20

“Somebody’s got to do something! It might as well be you!”

Hold that thought!

Those 70 years of Jewish exile in Babylon were long. Some people likely knew nothing other than Babylon. They were born there…and there they died. But the seventy years eventually passed, and God, true to His promise, allowed waves of His people to return to their homeland. At His bidding, and in spite of many challenges, the people eventually reconstructed the temple (see Ezra and Haggai).

Meanwhile, more years passed. Some Jews like Nehemiah had not only not returned but they were continuing on with life far removed from Jerusalem. Nehemiah himself had a responsible position as cupbearer in the Persian king’s palace. But, even though years passed and miles separated him from the land of his fathers and of the Father’s promise, he had a heart for the things that were close to the heart of God. He asked about the God’s people and about His city.

The situation in the Promised Land was not particularly good! The people were in “great trouble and shame.” The protective wall around Jerusalem was still “broken down” (1:3). Apparently, Nehemiah’s question of concern was much more than a polite, appropriate one to ask when others from Judah were in town. The years and the miles had in no one dulled Nehemiah’s sensitivity to God’s priorities for His people and His city. Such a negative response caused him to sit down to weep, kneel down to pray, and rise up to work. You see, Nehemiah would play a critical part in God’s story of man’s rescue. Under His leadership, the wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt.

Even though Nehemiah was miles away from the tragedy in Jerusalem, he couldn’t bear the thought. His response was essentially the line with which we started today’s blog entry…”Somebody’s got to do something! It might as well be me!”

What are those injustices or who are those people in life about which you ask yourself, “Why isn’t someone doing something about that?” Is it possible that God wants to use you to address the need? It might as well be you! But make sure you do what Nehemiah did…pray and fast before you act.

Steve Kern

March 9 – Transformation Testimonies – Nehemiah

Read Nehemiah 4:1-23

The city of Jerusalem was an important piece of real estate.  Its significance was first of all tied to the fact that it represented the capital of the nation of Israel and an epicenter of God’s presence.  He had chosen this as the location for the building of the temple where He manifested Himself in the Holy of Holies.  But Jerusalem was also of great value because it was home to many a Jew.  In light of these precious realities, a wall had been constructed around the city, protecting the people and the temple from enemy attack.

Unfortunately, under Nebuchadnezzar the city and temple had been destroyed and many of God’s people had been taken in exile to Babylon decades before the events you read in Nehemiah 4.

Over time, people were permitted to return to their home land.  Reconstruction work on the temple, the city, and the wall was begun.  But this work was not without opposition.  The truth is, Satan is opposed to anything that God is for.  And in Nehemiah 4, he seems to use the threats of Sanballat, Tobiah, and others to bring discouragement to the work.  At risk were the glory of God and the welfare of His people.  Nehemiah helped the people of God recognize this as he challenged them in verse 14:

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’”

This is a theme verse for a ministry to men called “Fight Club.”  And yet, it serves as a good reminder to all that the glory of God and the welfare of His people is still at risk.  It serves as a rally cry to set aside our passivity in family life.  It prompts God’s people to consider anew the greatness of God in a day when He is marginalized.

Doing so can transform a family!  It can transform a city!

Steve Kern

September 22: Nehemiah

Read Nehemiah 4:1-23

The city of Jerusalem was an important piece of real estate.  Its significance was first of all tied to the fact that it represented the capital of the nation of Israel and an epicenter of God’s presence.  He had chosen this as the location for the building of the temple where He manifested Himself in the Holy of Holies.  But Jerusalem was also of great value because it was home to many a Jew.  In light of these precious realities, a wall had been constructed around the city, protecting the people and the temple from enemy attack.

Unfortunately, under Nebuchadnezzar the city and temple had been destroyed and many of God’s people had been taken in exile to Babylon decades before the events you read in Nehemiah 4.

Over time, people were permitted to return to their home land.  Reconstruction work on the temple, the city, and the wall was begun.  But this work was not without opposition.  The truth is, Satan is opposed to anything that God is for.  And in Nehemiah 4, he seems to use the threats of Sanballat, Tobiah, and others to bring discouragement to the work.  At risk were the glory of God and the welfare of His people.  Nehemiah helped the people of God recognize this as he challenged them in verse 14:

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’”

This is a theme verse for a ministry to men called “Fight Club.”  And yet, it serves as a good reminder to all that the glory of God and the welfare of His people is still at risk.  It serves as a rally cry to set aside our passivity in family life.  It prompts God’s people to consider anew the greatness of God in a day when He is marginalized.

Doing so can transform a family!  It can transform a city!

sbk

December 1: Out of Place

Read Nehemiah 4:1-3 and Nehemiah 13:4-9

Some weekends ago I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and organizing my basement. Since I am a bit of a pack-rat, the place had a lot of stuff (actually, it still does).

As I went through the items, it was clear that I had two main categories: things that “belonged in there” and needed just to be organized, identified and shelved; and things that “didn’t belong in there at all”, and needed to move to another place, or just be thrown away.

This can be a time consuming project, and the worst part comes when you have something that you know shouldn’t be there, but you don’t want to let go of it.

It made me think about how many things we allow in our lives that don’t belong in there. They just clutter the place.  And this can happen in almost any area that I can think: professional, social, spiritual, in the family…

Many years ago I found a somewhat obscure story in the Bible that illustrates what I am talking about:

When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem some leaders from the neighboring lands were opposing him very strongly. Among them there was a guy named Tobiah. He and his allied did whatever they could to make Nehemiah stop the project, but he persisted and completed it. Later, after Nehemiah had been absent for sometime, he came back and found Tobiah using one of the rooms of the temple in Jerusalem (thanks to some close relations with the priest). This room was supposed to be used for storage of offerings and temple articles. In other words, Tobiah and his furniture didn’t belong in there. So, Nehemiah threw everything out of the room, and had it purified and put back to its intended purpose.

So, when I look at my life, I think: What do I have here that doesn’t belong? Is it a relationship that shouldn’t be there? Is it a habit or an attitude? What are the things that, if they stay, they can ruin a lot of good things around it?

If you identify something like that, the only choice is to throw it away, even if you like it a lot (like some of my junk in the basement).

Written by guest writer Ed Rocha

November 26: Conscious Dependence

Read Nehemiah 12:1-47

Consciously dependent?  Consciously independent?  Or unconsciously independent?  In relationship to God, which will you be today?  Will you be aware of the fact that He is your moment-by-moment sustainer?  Will you reject His involvement and set out to do things without Him?  Will you catch yourself part of the way through the day or at the end of the day realizing that your day was lived without intentionally recognizing God’s provisions and relying upon Him?  These are important questions.  You see, the heart of Thanksgiving is our ability to consciously recognize and appreciate the fact that God provided something that we did not or could not provide.

Just ask the Jews.  When it comes to wall construction, I suppose it can be hard to recognize dependence on God.  Walls are different from the crops we read about yesterday.  While the farmer must plant and cultivate, the ultimate harvest is out of his/her control.  The farmer is dependent upon God for the right temperatures and the right amounts of sunshine and precipitation.  There are times when the crop grows independent of the farmer’s work.  Meanwhile, if you are constructing a wall, your sense of self-reliance can grow because, after all, the wall doesn’t go up over night or by itself.  It only goes up if you work on it.

But the Jews recognized that they were very much dependent upon the Lord.  God had protected them from opposition.  He had given them abilities and strength.  It is no wonder, then, that the ribbon cutting ceremony was not a celebration of man’s accomplishments.  It was a thankful dedication of the wall (and the city) to the One who reigns supreme and who had provided for them.  They were conscious of their dependence on Him and, as a result, sang songs of Thanksgiving.  They even sent a parade of choirs in both directions along the top of the wall expressing gratitude through lyrics.

Remember…even those tasks you feel like you accomplish reflect His provision.  Would you pray now that today would be a day of conscious dependence?  If your day is drawing to a close, would you pause to consciously recognize how God provided for you?  Let that now overflow into Thanksgiving!

sbk

December 23: God Uses Normal People

Read Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

“I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” Nehemiah 2:5

Remember, our Jesse Tree celebration and journey is helping us to identify some of the key people and events that lead up to the coming of Jesus at Christmas. God had clearly indicated that Jesus would be part of the family tree of Jesse. Jesse was an Israelite descendant of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.

God’s plan was to allow Jesus to be born in the land He had promised His people. Unfortunately, God’s people didn’t always obey Him. As punishment, God allowed them to be taken as prisoners to another country for 70 years. Thankfully, they returned after those 70 years. But even though the people returned to their land and its capital city of Jerusalem, the city, its surrounding wall, and gates had been destroyed.

Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a professional servant of God, but he wanted to make sure that the walls were rebuilt. Rebuilding the walls was a way to protect the people and to demonstrate honor for God. God used Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and lead the people in rebuilding. The Lord used Nehemiah to do something that was very important to Him.

Did you know that God can use you to do things that are very important to Him? Here is a quick list of things that He values:

  • Telling others about Jesus
  • Giving so that the needs of others are met
  • Praying for and encouraging someone who is down
  • Being happy with others who are happy
  • Worshiping Him

Questions and Activities:

  1. What is one thing you can do today that is important to God? How, when, and with whom will you do it?
  2. Who are some of the people in the family tree of Jesus?
  3. Cut out, color, and display today’s ornament.

sbk