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

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March 8 – Transformation Testimonies – Esther

Read Esther 4:1-17Esther 7:1-10

There is no doubt that Esther experienced transformation.  She was likely an unsuspecting Jewish teenage girl caught in a transitional time when some Jews had returned from exile to Jerusalem.  But she, with many others, was a subject in the Persian Empire.  At this fragile time in Israel’s history, she was taken off to beauty school, placed in the king’s harem, and looked upon with favor by King Ahasuerus.  That is a transformation that would turn anyone’s world upside down!

And yet, the transformation that captures our attention in today’s reading is much larger than a single life.  Haman, one of the king’s counselors, had developed a plan that would result in the execution of all Jews.  The plan seemed to be fail proof…unless the right person could get a hearing with the king.

Notice these words of challenge from Mordecai, Esther’s relative, in verse 4:14:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

On the one hand, Mordecai was convinced that the eternal plan of God could not be thwarted.  He understood that God’s people, the Jews, would somehow survive this threat.  After all, centuries before, the Father had promised to Abraham that they would to be a source of blessing to all of the nations (Gen. 12:1-3).  Mordecai knew that, on the one hand, God’s people would not be completely destroyed.  Somehow, He would provide deliverance.  The question was whether Esther was to be a key mouthpiece through which this relief and deliverance would come.

Having read the story, you know that God did use her miraculously.  She was an instrument of transformation for an entire nation.  Praise God!

There are many golden nuggets in this passage.  We can bank on the fact that God’s plans will be accomplished…in every way.  For example, He will build His church (Matt. 16:16).  The question for us is whether we will step forward, break the silence and be part of His incredible plan or passively allow His will to be accomplished through other means?  Will we be a mouthpiece to the “five” in our lives?  Will we serve Him passionately?

Steve Kern

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March 7 – Transformation Testimonies – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Read Daniel 3:1-30

Being used as an instrument for reaching others for Christ is one of the best ways to live a transformed life. How we act and the stance that we take, through experiences we go through, can greatly impact the lives of people and in some cases lead them to Jesus.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were all friends that were taken to Babylon as young boys in the exile of Judah. They proved themselves to be trustworthy and were promoted to leadership positions in the kingdom. The king at that time, Nebuchadnezzar, was a proud man; he erected a large gold statue of himself with the simple command that all people would bow down to it. The three friends, who were devout Jews, chose to not bow down and forsake their God. Nebuchadnezzar, of course, was not pleased with their decision and ordered them to be thrown into a furnace that was heated to seven times the original heat.

These men were about to be killed by fire because they refused to bow down to an idol. In verse 18, however, they stated that even if their God didn’t protect them from the furnace, they would not bow to this idol. They had enough faith in God to give up their lives to make a statement of faith. We find that they were miraculously saved from the furnace, and as a result, king Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed that the Israelite’s God was the most powerful of them all.

With the furnace heating in the background of their proclamation, they stood their ground.  When told to bow, they confidently said, “We will stand.”  We can all look up to how these men stood firm in their faith!

While they were willing to give up their lives, we are called to give up something as well.  It may not be our lives, but we may be called to sacrifice our popularity, our pride, or even our freedom. The ultimate test of a transformed life is the test of enduring faith. When your faith is tested, how will you respond? Will you fall on your face in submission to the thing standing between you and God or will you remain standing and endure whatever this world may throw at you? What are you willing to endure for the sake of the gospel?

Will you remain standing for truth?

Jake Lawson

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March 6 – Transformation Testimonies – Hosea

Read Hosea 1:1-11 & 3:1-5

How far are you willing to go to obey God? If God wants to accomplish something great in this world, how far are you willing to go to be a part of it? What is often the case is that we jump on board to this whole Jesus thing thinking that we are going to live a perfect life. However, when things start to get difficult for us, we second guess ourselves. “Wasn’t this life supposed to be trouble free? If I believe in God, shouldn’t He ease all my troubles?” When something is transformed, it is taken from its current state and made into something great. If you want God to transform you, you need to know, and believe, that God can use you in whatever state of life you’re in; He can use anything in this world for His glory.

Consider the story of Hosea. He was an Old Testament prophet and a living object illustration for the nation of Israel. God instructed Hosea to do some things that we would not think would be in a prophet’s job description. When you think of a biblical prophet, normally you think of someone who has good standing with the people and is recognized as a man of God.

In chapter 1, God instructs Hosea to take for himself a wife who is a prostitute. This was something that would have initially caused Hosea to doubt his calling. Talking with a prostitute was very looked down upon in that day and age and marrying one would be even worse. The Bible doesn’t share with us Hosea’s immediate reaction. All we know is that God instructed him in verse 2 and verse 3 starts with, “So he went and took Gomer…”. As absurd as this request was, Hosea still followed through. He knew that God had a plan, and he was willing to be transformed and used to reach the multitudes.

The principle of Hosea’s obedience rings true in our lives today. What are you willing to do to obey God? To what lengths will you go to bring glory to God? In Hosea’s life, it involved doing something that would cause people to look at him differently. He knew that in order to be transformed, he had to allow God to do whatever was needed in his life for the greater good. How far are you willing you go?

Jake Lawson

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March 5 – Transformation Testimonies – Jonah

Read Jonah 1:1-17 and 3:1-10

He told the sailors he was a child of God. Jonah even claimed he worshiped the One True God. Still he ran, trying to avoid God’s way of doing things.

I worship Yahweh . . . (v9)

The Hebrew word for worship here means fear, as in I fear God, the One who created the very sea whose waves are drowning us. Clearly, though he did not fear Him. Otherwise he would never have tried to run.

See, to fear God is to realize who He is, that He alone is worthy of all our afraid because He’s the only One in charge. It’s the basis of our worship because when we truly realize who Yahweh God is, when we take into account His all-encompassing power that can move the unmovable and redeem the horrific, we will fall in awe of the only One worthy of our worship.

Jonah 114

So when Jonah told the sailors who fought for their lives amid the Yahweh-created torrents of the sea that he worshiped/feared God, I have to think he didn’t really mean it.

The pagan sailors, on the other hand, seemed to have fully grasped the power and fear-worthiness of the One True God. In fact, as soon as they granted Jonah’s death-wish, they offered Him a sacrifice and made vows. They worshiped God for real while Jonah merely spoke the words.

But God transformed Jonah’s verbage into an act of obedience and true worship when He led that hungry fish straight to him then swam him back to Ninevah.

For you, Yahweh, have done just as You pleased (1:15).

Then Jonah, reluctant as he remained, worshiped God by doing what He’d commanded. That’s when we discover what Jonah had really feared.

That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster (4:2).

When Jonah saw God pour mercy on the people of Ninevah, he tipped his hand and let us in on the one he’d actually been worshiping all along — himself.

See, Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to know God’s grace. He didn’t want them to be like him, counted among the children of God. But God’s mercy is for all who will realize their sin and ask Him for mercy. Jonah feared not getting what he wanted so He tried to thwart God’s plan.

But God had His way. He always does. He transforms anyone who will humbly admit they need Him. Even the people who lived in Ninevah. Even Jonah. Even you. Even me.

Bria Wasson

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March 4 – Transformation Testimonies – David

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-17:58

David comes to us as a man highly acclaimed.  The Lord refers to him as “a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).  Even before taking the throne, those in the kingdom of Israel lauded him by saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.”  (1 Sam. 18:7)  God promised this man that one from his lineage would reign as king forever (1 Chronicles 17:14).

Even though we know the glorious outcomes, we must remind ourselves that David’s story is also one of transformation.  There was a day when he was the unlikely pick for the roles and tasks ahead.  He was not the obvious giant slayer or ruler.  Even though he was young, healthy, and handsome (1 Sam. 16:12), God’s choice of him as the future king was not evident.  In fact, as Samuel went out to anoint the incumbent king, the Lord had to remind him, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (1 Sam. 16:7b)  David, you see, was not the obvious choice.  He wasn’t the oldest boy in the family.  In fact, he was the youngest of eight.  And, even though he wasn’t a paper boy, his role as shepherd was not the most highly respected of all the possible “jobs” of his day.

But there was something that happened at His anointing that transformed him into Israel’s future king.  “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.”  (1 Sam. 16:13)David and Goliath

Friends, God’s transformation of you and me will include this same kind of divine influence.  But, if we are Christ followers, we don’t have to wait for a mystical experience when the “Spirit of the Lord comes upon” us.  The New Testament is clear that Christ followers have the ongoing, indwelling presence of the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19).  He is the one that is ready to transform you, changing your life from one characterized by the deeds of the flesh to one demonstrating the fruit of His Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23).  If we walk humbly, submissively, and sensitively to the Spirit, we will see our lives transformed.

Steve Kern

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March 3 – Transformation Testimonies – Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11

Years of bullying had Hannah reeling alone in her pain, grieving the child she longed to hold. It’s believed to have been the Passover Feast that took them to Shiloh. The Bible says Elkanah and his family went to God’s house and offered Him the sacrifices He’d commanded through Moses. (See Exodus 12.) The feast would have been a long one, 12 whole courses, but Hannah refused to eat.

Year after year, Hannah would reel alone in her pain and her brokenness, unable to eat the meal of remembrance, the once-a-year feast that spoke of God’s delivering His people from Egypt’s oppression. Hannah sat at that Passover table, pretending to remember how God had saved His people from their bullies even as she suffered the pain of her own oppression under the bully called Penninah.

This time was different, though. For whatever reason, after this particular Passover meal, Hannah got up and made her own offering to the LORD. Unlike her husband’s fat offering, hers was one of pain and brokenness. Hannah went before Almighty God and poured out her heart, from the depth of (her) anguish and resentment (v16, Holman).

She made a vow even as she begged Him for a son from her womb. Then she stood up and went on her way. Hannah went in the freedom God gave her when she unloaded her burden on Him.

The next morning, Hannah and Elkanah worshiped God before they went home. She worshiped Him from the freedom He’d given her the night before. Just like Elkanah had left his offering on the altar, so had she, never to take it back, as tempting as that might have been. For we read in verse 20 that it took some time for her to conceive.

But she did conceive, and she bore a son, and Hannah made good on her vow to God. In fact, Hannah’s offering to God increased when she brought her son Samuel and fulfilled the promise she’d made the year before at the temple. That night, she had offered her brokenness. This time she offered her wholeness.

I now give the boy to the LORD (1:28).

Then she offered a prayer of thanksgiving unlike any she had ever prayed. From the fullness of her freed up heart, Hannah praised God.

Indeed, God had taken Hannah’s prayer of utter brokenness and destitution and turned it into one of absolute gratitude and acclamation.

Are you ready for God to transform the pain in your life? Have you offered it to Him in true dependence and humility, trusting Him to take care of it in His perfect way? Have you left it with Him?

Bria Wasson

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