Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nehemiah 11 - 13

Study 12 – Nehemiah 11

  1. The city of Jerusalem was settled by leaders of the people that volunteered to live there as well as through the casting of lots. One out of every 10 people from Benjamin and Judah were chosen in this way to resettle in Jerusalem while the others remained in the surrounding villages. Those that volunteered to settle in Jerusalem were commended by all of the people.

  2. The resettlement of Jerusalem required a variety of different types of people with those that took part in Temple worship receiving special mention. For the body of Christ to function in the way that the Lord intends it to function; it is necessary for everyone to do their part. There is no ‘spiritual’ and no ‘mundane’ in Kingdom service. We truly need each other and every gift and service that one another has to offer.

Study 13 – Nehemiah 12

  1. Nehemiah had come a long way since he first appeared downcast before the King! The celebration at the dedications of the wall and the Temple must have truly been amazing. This is a reminder that the great celebrations and accomplishments in life start out with solitary decisions that are often accompanied by great internal anguish. It is through faithfulness in the moments of solitude that we gain the right to public victories.

  2. Judah needed both spiritual and administrative leadership. The same is true of the church today. A strong preaching and teaching ministry will not be effective without strong administrative leadership. More often than not these gifts will need to come from different people. The pastor that is a gifted administrator may need to have a greater variety of guest speakers and special meetings with outside speakers whereas the pastor with a gifted pulpit ministry will need administrators to come alongside of him to help steer the ship.

Study 14 – Nehemiah 13

  1. In Nehemiah’s absence things began to rapidly disintegrate. A foreigner had taken up residence in the Temple. The people had began to engage in commerce on the Sabbath. The Levites were no longer receiving their proper portion. The tithe was no longer being gathered with the consistency that is deserved. Intermarriage with foreigners had resumed all over again to the point where the grandsons of the high priest was married to the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite that had tried to stop the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem!  When Nehemiah’s away the people of Judah will play! You can never be lax in leadership because the enemy will always try to get the people to revert to the ways of the flesh.

  2. We must constantly be on our guard against the ways of the enemy. Even in the midst of revival and times of tremendous celebration the enemy is still at work. As soon as the music dies down we will be quick to revert to our old ways if we do not remain extremely diligent.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nehemiah 8 - 10

Study 8 – Nehemiah 8

  1. The people called on Ezra to read from the Book of the Law of God before all of the people. The people were filled with joy and a readiness to obey which was illustrated in their immediate participation in the festival of booths or tabernacles.

  2. Loving discipline brings about repentance and a return to obedience. The exile was the type of ‘tough love’ that Israel needed.

Study 9 – Nehemiah 9:1-21

  1. The people fasted, dressed in sackcloth, covered their heads with dirt, and stood listening to the Law of the Lord their God.

  2. God never gives up His efforts on keeping His chosen people in covenant relationship with Him. At times that may mean that we will pass through some very difficult circumstances, but He uses those difficult circumstances to bring about repentance and spiritual maturity on behalf o His people.

Study 10 – Nehemiah 9:22-37

  1. This section begins with the victory of Israel conquering the promised land to the point where, “They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness” v. 25. To the very next verse that begins a vicious cycle of disobedience, followed by deliverance, followed, once again, by disobedience. God was always willing to extend His hand and Israel was always ready to almost immediately forget the deliverance that they had just received. Once again they are asking for deliverance and promising not to reject God afterwards. God is always ready to forgive and man is always all too quick to deny Him.

  2. The key verse of this section is, “In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.” 9:33. God’s actions toward disobedient people are meant to restore not to destroy.

Study 11 – Nehemiah 9:38-10:39

  1. The people promises:
    a. Not to marry foreign women
    b. Not to participate in commerce on the Sabbath
    c. To bring a shekel each year for the service of the house of God
d. Contribute to the wood for the altar of sacrifice according to lots casted
e. To bring the firstfruits offerings in according with God’s law
f. To bring their firstborn sons as well as the firstborn of their herds
g. To bring a tithe of their crops as well as the first ground meal, wine, and oil

  1. The people promised to give up their engagement with foreign people and their customs and promised to give the first and the best of what they had to the Lord and the service of His Temple. If we are to whole-heartedly give ourselves to the Lord it begins with our rejection of the ways of the world and with placing God first. The placing of God first in our lives is best demonstrated by our willingness to give the first and the best of our finances and resources.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nehemiah 6 and 7

Study 6 – Nehemiah 6

  1. Nehemiah recognized that the enemy was always ready to set a trap for him. Far too often we walk blindly through life forgetting just how cunning the enemy is. We expect his attacks to be obvious when most often they are extremely subtle. We must be on our guard against those subtle attacks!

  2. They threatened Nehemiah by telling false things about him. In other words they threatened to attack his reputation. Nehemiah wasn’t concerned about his reputation – he was concerned about the reputation of the Lord!

Study 7 – Nehemiah 7

  1. Nehemiah established hours for opening and closing the gates, as well as set leadership in place in Jerusalem, and the posting of 24-hour guards. Hananiah was chosen because of his integrity and the fact that he ‘feared God more than most men do.’

  2. The list provides us with a knowledge that those that returned initially from exile represented a wide variety of people, places, professions, and positions. It takes all types of people to build the Kingdom of God. We truly need each other!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nehemiah 5

Study 5 – Nehemiah 5

  1. Exploitation of the poor had reached grotesque limits in the time of Nehemiah. The Israelites were selling themselves as slaves to one another in order to eat! Nehemiah took his complaints straight to the powers that were exploiting the poor.

  2. Nehemiah did not use his position for personal gain, but served as a ‘servant leader.’ He modeled what true leadership should all be about.

  3. As Americans we have a tendency to constantly demand our ‘rights’. What we need to really be focused on is the amount of ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ that God has extended to us. We need to remember the words of Christ that call upon His followers to ‘deny self’ and to ‘take up their cross’ and to ‘follow’ His example. Yes, He was the ‘King’s Kid’ but He had nothing that He could call His own.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nehemiah 2 - 4

Study 2 – Nehemiah 2

  1. Nehemiah prayed a quick prayer under his breath and first asked the king for permission to leave to help rebuild the city. He then asked for letters of safe passage as well as letters to give him permission to cut down timber to help rebuild the gate of Jerusalem. At any one of these stages the King could have refused Nehemiah and put an end to his ambitions. He also faced the obstacle of the Ammonites that were opposed to the rebuilding of the city.

  2. Nehemiah stated clearly that the reason that he was successful was, “. . . because the gracious hand of God was upon me.” Nehemiah took no credit for himself or his own cunning powers of persuasion. Far too often God fails to move miraculously on our behalf because we are all too ready to take the credit for His actions.

Study 3 – Nehemiah 3

  1. The change of a city in disrepair to one of a city busy at the work of rebuilding came about because one man – Nehemiah – dared to make a request of the King. One man’s boldness and courage changed everything!

  2. We desperately need one another. We need everyone. We need people from all walks of life and from every socio-economic and educational background. We are all deeply in need of one another and realizing that each one of us has a vital role to play in the building of the Kingdom of God.

Study 4 – Nehemiah 4

  1. The ridicule and potential threat of physical harm to those rebuilding the city became extremely intense. The people dealt with the ridicule by resting on their faith in the Lord and they dealt with the threat by working with a weapon in one hand while they worked with the other!

  2. Nehemiah was fearless. He didn’t plan to be in the background if a fight broke out. If there was going to be a fight Nehemiah planned on being on the front lines!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nehemiah 1

Study 1 – Nehemiah 1

  1. After hearing the news of the state of affairs in Jerusalem, Nehemiah spent four or five months mourning, fasting, and praying.

  1. In his prayer, Nehemiah acknowledge that God was a covenant keeping God, but those covenants required obedience on the part of His people. Nehemiah confesses the sins of Israel, his family, and his own and repents of those sins and asks for forgiveness and restoration.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ezra 9 and 10

Study 7 – Ezra 9 and 10

  1. The people of God had begun to intermarry with the foreigners around them who were worshipers of other gods. The problem never has been that one cannot marry outside of one’s own race or ethnicity, the problem is marrying outside of the faith. It was the fact that these people served other gods that resulted in these relationships being sinful. Any way in which we embrace the things of this world that are contrary to the things of God should be considered sin.

  2. Leadership cannot sit back and let sin be swept under the rug. It must be exposed and it must be repented of publicly. To distance oneself from the mistakes of sin is not without consequence. The public humiliation as well as the pain that can be involved in letting go of our old ways is never easy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ezra 8

Study 6 – Ezra 8

  1. Approximately 1500 men plus an unknown number of women and children accompanied Ezra back to Jerusalem. While it would not have been wrong for Ezra to take troops along with him; he had previously made a statement to the King that would have caused the King to doubt not only Ezra’s faith, but the Lord’s ability to protect Israel. In order not to bring shame to the Lord or the people, Ezra stuck to his word, declared a fast, and trusted the Lord. Ezra didn’t want to be a flip-flopper when it was convenient. He wanted to exercise genuine faith.

  2. Anytime that we undertake a work for the Lord we need to do so only after we have fasted and prayed and we also must do due diligence in order to make sure that we have all of the necessary provisions to make the accomplishment of that work successful. God comes to the aid of those that plan and work hard to accomplish His goals.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ezra 3 - 7

Study 2 – Ezra 3

  1. The returning exiles wanted to start things off on the right foot with the Lord. They wanted to begin at the altar offering sacrifices exactly as prescribed by the Law of Moses.

  2. They began the construction with the altar! They began with sacrifices! They began in spite of fear of those around them and what they might think.

Study 3 – Ezra 4

  1. The Jews refused the help of those that were outside of the community of God. Far too often the Church today relies more on the help of outsiders than they do on the help of the Lord. We look to grants, governments, and businesses in the community to help build the Kingdom when the Kingdom belongs to the Lord.

  2. Separation from the world comes at a price! Often that price is extremely high. That does not, however, mean that it is not a price worth paying. Our help comes from the Lord. The church is too willing to loosen its stance on sin in order to accommodate outsiders. God will build His Church and He will build it with those that He has chosen. We can never be so desperate that we look for those outside of the faith to build the Kingdom for Him.

Study 4 – Ezra 5 and 6

  1. God used the preaching of the prophet Haggai to inspire the people to renew their efforts to rebuild the Temple even though they had previously received an order to halt construction.

  2. The celebration that took place at the completion of the Temple must have been something truly amazing to have been a part of. The sacrifices alone included: 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 male lambs, and 12 male goats. All of these sacrifices took place surrounding the instillation ceremonies of the priest and Levites as well. The next thing that takes place in Ezra is the celebration of the first Passover in the newly reconstructed Temple some 70 years after the Temple of Solomon had been destroyed.

Study 5 – Ezra 7

  1. Ezra was a gifted Teacher of the Law of God and ‘the hand of the Lord was upon him.’  Artaxerxes instructed Ezra to teach all of the people of the area to obey the Law of God.

  2. The unbelievable generosity on the part of King Artaxerxes caused Ezra to burst forth in praise for the grace and mercy of that God had bestowed upon him. Without the hand of the Lord none of this would have been remotely possible.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ezra 1 and 2

Study 1 – Ezra 1 and 2

  1. The Lord used a pagan king to initiate the rebuilding of His Temple! This King would even make sure they had safe passage and provisions! To get to return back to their homes after so many years in exile must have been an unbelievable feeling. To go back to their old property and start life over again must have been filled with emotion. Those that couldn’t return  were more than eager to give gifts toward those that were going to pave the way. The entire community was charged with excitement.

  2. No matter how impossible the situation may seem, God never forgets the promises that He has made to His people! There is always hope in Him! Never give up! Repent, turn toward Him, and prepare to be delivered!


Study 1 – Philemon

  1. Paul held tremendous authority over people in the church, but he took great care to treat people on the basis of brothers rather than as an authority figure. He appeals to Philemon to respond to Onesimus with love, and to treat him as a brother in Christ and no longer as a slave.

  2. It appears that Onesimus has repented of his wrongdoing and has come to relationship with Christ. As Christians were should not only make ourselves useful in the church; we should also make ourselves useful where we work or go to school. We should be shining examples of the type of people that employers and teachers desire to have around.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Colossians 3:18 - 4:18

Study  6 – Colossians 3:18 – 4:18

1.      The Lord should be at the center of everything and should dictate our behavior towards others whether that is in: marriage, with our children, in the work place, among our brothers and sisters in Christ, or when speaking with total strangers. Every action and every word should be one which exalts Christ.

2.      In order to be effective in our prayer life and in our witness toward others we must be wise, watchful, thankful, and ready to take advantage of every opportunity. In our prayer life we need to become more like Epaphras who wrestled in prayer for others rather than focusing upon himself. I fear that our prayers are to self-centered rather than God focused and people driven.

Colossians -- Continued

Study 4 – Colossians 2:8-23

1.      False teaching depends both hollow and deceptive and depends upon human tradition and worldly principles rather than upon the teaching of Christ. Jesus provides for a circumcision of our hearts rather than our flesh, the death of the old life, a new birth, the cancellation of a written code, and the forgiveness of our sin!

2.      Paul points out that all of the rules, regulations, and even the angels were merely shadows or entities that pointed to Christ. Christ does away with the need of such things for the purpose that they once served. There is no need to serve the shadow when you can gaze upon the reality!

3.      Christians were circumcised in the cutting away of their sinful nature at the hands of God rather than the removal of their foreskin at the hand of a priest with a flint knife. The impact of the cross, not the knife, marks the beginning of a Christians acceptance into the community of believers.

Study 5 – Colossians 3:1-17

1.  and  2. Based on what Jesus has done for us there are some things that are required!

1.      Set your hearts on things above
2.      Set your minds on things above
3.      Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature
a.       Sexual immorality
b.      Impurity
c.       Lust
d.      Evil desires
e.       Greed
f.       Idolatry
g.      Anger
h.      Rage
i.        Malice
j.        Slander
k.      Filthy language
l.        Lies
a.       Compassion
b.      Kindness
c.       Humility
d.      Gentleness
e.       Patience
5.      Bear with one another
6.      Forgive one another
7.      Love one another
8.      Let peace be the rule of your life
9.      Be thankful
10.  Be a student of God's Word
11.  Teach and admonish others
12. Be a worshipper

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Colossians

Study 1 – Colossians 1:1-14

  1. Christ “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” He has redeemed us; forgiven us! This knowledge gives us: hope, joy, strength, power, and patience to endure. The Church at Colosse enjoyed these benefits and as a result bore much fruit and growth.

  2. The Apostle Paul, Timothy, and Epaphras as well, were praying that the Church at Colosse would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will, spiritual wisdom and understanding. The underlying desire behind such prayer was that the Church at Colosse would continue to bear much fruit and have uninhibited growth.

Study 2 – Colossians 1:15-23

1.      This section of Colossians offers the following description of Christ.

A Descriptions of Christ:
Image of the invisible God
Firstborn of all creation
Creator of all things
Before all things
Holds together all things
Head of the Church
The Beginning
Firstborn from among the dead
All the fullness of the Godhead dwelled within Him.
Reconciler of all things

Knowledge of who Christ is should fill us with hope and a holy fear which will
lead to an unswerving desire to faithfully serve our Lord.

2.   Prior to the death of Christ we were alienated from God. We were His enemies! The
      forgiveness that is offered through His death on the cross is our only means of
      escape. All we need to do is accept that forgiveness by faith and to continue to walk
      in it.

Study 3 – Colossians 1:24-2:7

1.      Paul’s calling was to take the gospel to the gentiles. He had suffered greatly in the flesh as a result, but was willing to suffer even more. The fact that Colosse exhibited so much fruit and growth further cemented Paul’s desire to continue to suffer for the cause of Christ. Paul believed that the Word of God was to be used to both admonish and bring wisdom to the Church. Paul desired more than anything that the Church have a solid understanding of Christ and all of the hidden treasure that He brought.

2.      We must have a solid understanding of who Christ is and be sold out to His mission if we are to escape the traps of the enemy. I am particularly struck by Paul’s statement, “I delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is” 2:5. This is a radical departure from what he wrote to the church at Corinth. Paul was tremendously concerned about the church being knowledgable of God’s Word. Knowledge of God’s Word was key to a solid faith and orderly worship.