The Spirit of Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit, a very important skill for God's servants as they serve the Lord and His people. There are many Tobiahs and Sanballats in our time, and they are possessing malicious spirit that can destroy the weak and baby Christians inside the church. The focus of malicious spirit is to destroy the life and reputation of the leaders and to spread nasty and evil report, using even the people around the leaders like what happened to Nehemiah. Our reaction should be humility to God, lifting up our hearts to heaven with a prayer; "O God, strengthen my hands" (v9). At the end, the wall was completed in 52 days, ascribing all things to God alone. Remember that the enemies of the gospel has no plan to stop, so we should not cease in doing our walls till the coming of our Great King Jesus Christ... Reading: Nehemiah 6, God bless.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
The fear of God and unselfishness were the factors that motivated Nehemiah to promote equality, unity, human rights, God's word, and compassion toward men. In contrast, bad civil and religious leaders were doing usury, oppression, slavery, and exploration. If all Christians will have the same attitude like that of Nehemiah -walking in the fear of God- we will not be either covetous of material gain and neglect our responsibility with fellow Christian. Those who truly fear God will not do any cruel, unfair, and unjust actions. Rather they will honor their brethren, including their leaders. Selfishness and individualism are some evil ingredients that destroy the community of faith. But the fear and love of God in the heart, and true agape of the brethren, will lead to every good work and result... Reading: Nehemiah 5, God bless.
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Monday, December 29, 2014
Building the walls in Jerusalem in time of Nehemiah can be compared to our experience today as we build our own faith in Christ. We will be insulted by some people, we will not be supported by others, or we will be deserted by some of our friends, but one thing is very very sure, when we put our trust in the Lord, "Our God will fight for us" (v20). As Nehemiah declared, do not be afraid, but always remember the Lord our God because He is great and awesome God. Nehemiah's strategy was one hand with sword and spear, while another hand working to complete the walls. It means one hand to glorify Christ, the other hand to edify the brethren through our ministry. This is the very purpose of our existence, God and His creation... Reading: Nehemiah 4, God bless.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
The works to repair the walls and gates of Jerusalem were divided to all families, and each one has its own assignment to be accomplished. There was a division of labor, having no personal interest with one goal. Both men and women were equally working, and no one thought that his or her work was above or below from the other. In the kingdom of God each one was given talent or gift that may be used for the "repair" of its walls; in other words, advancement of the gospel of Christ. And each of us is responsible to finish our task until the end of the age. Some are assigned to do the mission, pastoral, teaching, encouragement, worship, leading, help, etc. Where is your "assigned wall" in the kingdom of God? Are you doing your job faithfully? Reading: Nehemiah 3, God bless.
Friday, December 26, 2014
The walls and gates of Jerusalem were in ruin and the restoration began when the Lord put this burden at the heart of Nehemiah. The ministries always started from the Lord, and He put that vision at the heart of someone whom He had chosen. Nehemiah prayed first to God and the king of Persia encouraged Nehemiah to tell him what was in his mind. As a result, he found favor from the king, but he also met oppositions from the people of the land, the Samaritans. When we are in God's perfect will, we need to believe that He will support our cause and provide our needs. Nehemiah did not do it alone, but shared his burden with other people. At the same time, he faced his opponents who do not have heritage and memory in the works of God. One day we will leave this place but our memory in the book of heaven will always be remembered by the Lord Himself... Nehemiah 2, God bless.
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Thursday, December 25, 2014
Scattering is one of God's punishments to His unfaithful people. "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations" (v8). But God's promise will always be true that if they will return and obey His commandments, God will gather them and bring them back to their land. Nehemiah was a cup-bearer and one of the captives in Babylon. He understood the situation and feeling of a person living outside their homeland. Today, millions of people are scattered in all parts of the globe, without knowing the very reason why they were there. Now that we have been brought back by our Lord to the kingdom of God -our eternal homeland- our prayer should be focused on Christ's promise that He came to save us from our sins, and He will never leave us nor forsake us until the end of the age... Nehemiah 1, God bless and Merry Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014
When the repentant sinners weep for their sins and tremble at the word of God, there is hope that they will forsake their sins. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and that is the grace of God. For by grace we have been saved! The fasting and prayer of Ezra had touched the very heart of God, and the result was enormous, moved the hearts of his men too. Weeping before God's present is good, but reformation with action is better; and that was what they did. It's hard to understand the act of putting away the pagan wives and children from their homes in modern time, but we have to understand that that is an act 500 years before Christ. It could only be understood in line with the context, their current situation, and conviction with regard to the word of God... Reading: Ezra 10, God bless.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Ezra prayed like the one who had much shame, fear and phobia. The people were guilty, the kings and religious leaders were all responsible for the errors and iniquities of the nation. They had ruined their society and even their children's future. And now, Ezra cried out that they were still guilty for the intermarriage, which God had forbidden all marriages with the heathen people. The holy seed or the purity of the race of God's people has to be protected till the birth of the Holy Savior. Today, the New Testament commanded the followers of Christ not to be unequally yoke together with the unbelievers. We have been redeemed from our sinful nature, and now partakers of the nature of God. It is therefore our role not only to keep ourselves sanctified, but to spread this nature to many in this fallen world... Ezra 9, God bless.
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Monday, December 22, 2014
Ezra was a man of knowledge and intellect, but also a man of spirituality. He fasted and humbled himself before God because this is the proper way of doing God's mission. He did not rely in his own power and strategies, but to God's providence who alone can fulfill his vision and plans. At the same time, he worked very hard, used his connections, and did what was right in mobilizing his people. "And the hand of our God was upon us... (v31). For all our concerns about our families, ministries, future plans, etc. it is our duty, by prayer and supplications to commit everything to God. Always ask wisdom of God, and in some occasions, let us avoid anything that will dishonor the name of Jesus, like what Ezra did by refusing military help from the king of Persia.... Ezra 8, God bless.
Friday, December 19, 2014
It is true that there were struggles at the beginning when you do the will of God, however when God's time has come to fulfill His plans, He will raise up the bar and touch the hearts of men where miracles and unexpected things can happen. This chapter wants us to believe that all things are possible to God. It also tells that when the Israelites began to seek the Lord, they separated themselves first from the filth of the surrounding nations (v21). We cannot find God's will while still living in the midst of uncleanness and wicked ways are world. He is holy! As Christ's followers, we are the living temple of God, built by His Son Jesus Christ to bring the message of salvation unto the whole world... Ezra 6, God bless.
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Thursday, December 18, 2014
Because of oppositions, the construction of the temple was stopped for about 10-20 years, however two prophets of God, Haggai and Zechariah urged the Israelites to move on and continue to finish the work they had started. The intervention of the prophets show that they were under His favor and protection, God was with them and His power was upon them for the better. As long as God is sending His servants, we have to remember the we are under God's favor and kindness, and that should keep us to reciprocate it and perform our duties unto the Lord. In today's reading, we have witnessed again the oppositions, but God gave them wisdom to counter this resistance. It tells that we must be ready to answer the inquiries that man asked; not on WHAT do we do, but WHY do we do the things that we do... Reading: Ezra 5, God bless.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014
When God's people had attempted to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, the enemies of the Jews from Samaria stirred up the opposition by frustrating their plans and vision. This is the normal pattern of Satan's strategy to destroy God's plan from the first stage of planning. "Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do" (v2). If God's people are insensitive, they will come and pretend to help, but deep inside their goal is demolition. They might be successful at their first attempt, but if we will follow the persistency of God's servants like Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Ezra, and the rest of the Israelites, we too will be victorious with the help and guidance of God. Those who love the gospel of Jesus Christ should avoid the appearance of discouragement and evil things, otherwise they are helping the enemies to demoralize our plans and visions. If God is for us, who can be against us... Ezra 4, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:21 AM
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
As the returnees progressed in restoring their community, they learned that all things must be started with God, by offering sacrifices at the Feast of Tabernacles. Indeed, it is better to have God our partner and to keep communion with Him in our plans and projects. When they began building up their ministries, these people are willing to pay the heavy price without delay. They knew that God had called them, and He can provide all things they need even in time of difficulties. And as they laid the foundation of the temple, there was a mixture of emotion; as some shouted for joy, many cried out when they remembered the glory and destruction of the first temple. Praise God for the new hope God gave to His people. For our generation, our relationship with Jesus should not be frustrated by our past. Let us move on to continue on what God has done in us, and build a new life that will give glory to His Holy Name... Ezra 3, God bless.
Monday, December 15, 2014
The Bible shows the importance of relationship and genealogy for the Israelites. Those who can establish their family connection can return easily and be part of the kingdom, however, it would be hard for others if they could not identify their father's house whether they were of Israel (v59). This is similar to our relationship with God and with men. God the Father requires our connection first and foremost with His Son Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Had we been born in the kingdom of God? Second, God brought us to the local church, representing the Body of Christ. Are we really connected as part of this body to receive our privileges from the Head, and become channel of blessings, forgiveness, love, grace, and affection to other parts. We must be sure of our "spiritual genealogy" because God will require it in the day of reckoning... Reading: Ezra 2, God bless.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014
Historical records wrote that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah on 586 BC. He died on 562 and his kingdom fell to Persia. On 538 king Cyrus of Persia authorized the Jews to return home and rebuild the temple (1:1). In the land of captivity, God stirred up the hearts of His people to fulfill what had been prophesied by Jeremiah to bring them back after 70 years. Many obeyed the voice of Cyrus, but there were more who preferred to stay in Babylon permanently. The calling of God and His offer of salvation to us when we heard the gospel is similar to this event. The Spirit of Christ had called us up to return to His fold and be His friends and disciples. We were once in the land of captivity, but God who is sovereign over all the earth has opened the door for us and delivered us from our bondage and slavery. Now we are free to serve our living God and build the temple of praise. Blessed be the name of the Lord... Reading: Ezra 1, God bless.
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Friday, December 12, 2014
The writer of Chronicles told the new generation that disobedience was the cause of the nation's destruction. The Lord did His responsibilities and used His prophets to warn and alert the kingdom that the only remedy for the coming judgment is repentance. But instead, they mocked God's messenger, despised His words, and ridiculed His prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, "till there was no remedy" (v16). It means that the only solution is judgment. God is eternal and He will never be a loser when the people rejected His plan. If the current generation will not listen to His voice, God can wait to raise up a new generation that will be willing to obey His words. Let us tremble on these stories and may the Lord give us encouragement as we end up this book of Bible passages... Reading: 2 Chronicles 36, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:36 AM
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Observing the Feasts of the Lord like the passover is a demonstration of people's faithfulness unto God's commandments. It is a reminder that our lives is not ours anymore but His through the animal sacrifices. The blood offered at the altar is a symbol of an exchange of life, like the firstborn in Egypt. God alone can truly give us new life! In this story, we also learned that Josiah did not listen to the warning, and his death was caused by meeting Necho of Egypt at Megiddo. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah, including prophet Jeremiah. Our lesson is that, we really need to pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit through men. If we say Josiah had some neglect here, we should be careful to avoid the same fate... Reading: 2 Chronicles 35, God bless.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The text states that Hilkiah found a "Book of the Law" in the temple during Josiah's temple renovation. Then he gave the scroll to his assistant and took it to king Josiah. Here, Josiah trembled because of the word of God, not because of the words of Huldah the prophetess. As God's people, our first obligation is to humble before the Lord and check out our own heart. Josiah did not criticize his forefather's past sinfulness, nor the hearts of other people around him, but he looked upon his own heart. And because of his tenderness and humility, God rewarded him and spared him from the upcoming judgment. Looking back at your personal experience, do not forget the moment when the word of God became alive into your heart (rhema), and brought your knees down to pray with fear and trembling ...Reading: 2 Chronicles 34, God bless.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Manasseh was said to be the most wicked king in Judah, even though his father Hezekiah was a godly person and lived in a time of spiritual prosperity. Then came the turning point in his life, he lost his war and had been carried off to Babylon. When he repented and asked God's forgiveness, God grant him favor. He came to know that God is able to save and deliver him from his enemies. He learned to fear, trust in, love and obey Yahweh. As a brand new person, he displayed a new character and walked in the newness of life, like many of the followers of Jesus Christ in our time. Unfortunately, his son Amon did not follow his father's footsteps and worst, he died early. If Amon lived longer, he might have a chance to realize his own wickedness and asked God forgiveness too, but it did't happen. Lesson: Be ready always because tomorrow is not a promise... Reading: 2 Chronicles 33, God bless.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Hezekiah's account shows both his greatness and weakness, he was not a superhuman but ordinary person, capable of committing sins and neglect. However, his faith and confidence to the power of his God raised his people's moral against the prevailing fear of man. The world's strategy is to instill fear, like that of Sennacherib's, but God's words always declare, "Fear not, for I am with you!" In our present time, we are facing demonic attacks against Christianity from all over the world, even deceptions from other religious groups. Their goal is to weaken our faith and uphold their deceptive and misleading propaganda against God's people. But praise God for Christmas, for Jesus came to guarantee our relationship with God and strengthen our knees in time of difficulties. Blessed be the name of the Lord... 2 Chronicles 32, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:51 AM
Saturday, December 6, 2014
One of the most admired kings in Judah was Hezekiah because of his sensitivity to the religious connection both with the God of his forefathers and his people. He was not only after his personal growth and the advancement of his kingdom, but also the maturation of his people in the knowledge of God. As a result, people can declare, "we have enough to eat and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed His people, and what is left is this great abundance (v10)." Everything Hezekiah took up, whether it had to do with his personal or group worship in the temple, obeying God's law, helping his people, or in his prayer, he did well in the spirit of humble worship and total dependence on God. He was successful because God honored his heart. We too can do the same pattern in our own way through the guidance of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ... Reading: 2 Chronicles 31, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:52 AM
Friday, December 5, 2014
Hezekiah's people went back to the Scripture to seek the will of God. They carried out God's message to other regions to bring many people unto the Lord. Though some rejected His message but there were small group that humbled and yielded to God's will. Praise God for those messengers that carry out the good news of forgiveness and salvation from city to city. This story tells that though many were unworthy to partake the passover meal, yet by the grace of God, He made them worthy. If God will deal with us using His strict law and meter stick, we are all unfit. The only way to obtain pardon is to seek Him through prayers, humility and blood offering. When Christ came at the cross, all animal sacrifices and ceremonial laws became obsolete. We need God's grace through faith in Christ alone... Reading: 2 Chronicles 30. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:29 AM
Thursday, December 4, 2014
As soon as Hezekiah sat on the throne, he began to work religious reform in the entire land. First step was cleansing of the temple by removing all the rubbish. It's spiritual meaning to us is repentance, for our body is the temple of God. Second step is offering of animal sacrifices. In Christianity, God wants a living sacrifice, not dead animals but our living body, like the living body of Jesus that was offered at the cross. Third is thanksgiving offering with willing heart. It is the fruit of our lips giving thanks always to our Lord. It means we are serving God not because we are compelled to but we love Him for giving His life for us. Now that we have learned the good works of God, let us continue to do it well according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit... Reading: 2 Chronicles 29, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:35 AM
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Ahaz reigned in Judah wickedly to the point of burning his children to fire according to the abomination of the surrounding nations. He encouraged moral decline in the land and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord. Ahaz didn't care about the truth in the law of Moses and whether the God of Abraham was the One true God. He was pragmatist because he did care only about "what worked," so that when the Assyrians helped him against his enemies, he worshipped the gods of Assyrians. In other words, Ahaz is just like many people today using worldliness and practical approaches in solving their problem, without exercising their faith. Unknown to many unfaithful and 'practical' people, their ways could not help them in the long end, in fact that will bring them to their own downfall and destruction. If it did't work to Ahaz, it will not also work with us even today. What we need is trust in Jesus... Reading: 2 Chronicles 28, God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
King Jotham was one of the few good kings, and "he became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the Lord his God" (v6). Although he did not enter the temple of the Lord (v2), it shows that he did not encourage reform and religious revival in Judah, because people continued in their evil ways. In church context, it means there are people that are zealous in their knowledge of the word of God, but do not encourage others to change their ways and be obedient unto the Lord. In our spiritual life, the more we become faithful to Jesus, the more we become strong and passionate in the service of God. Serving God is not doing anything that we want to do, but doing the things that God has assigned to us in a local community. Spiritual gifts were given by God to the church so that the Body of Christ may function well and perform what He had prepared for His people... Reading: 2 Chronicles 27. God bless.
The Bible is very consistent to tell that God helps people as long as they seek the Lord, and protects them when they cry out to God in time of danger. Also, it tells that God forsakes them when they began to become arrogant and proud. Uzziah was one of them who started with God having a good report. But when he became prosperous and 'feeling strong,' he started to do things that God didn't ask him to do. He stops listening to Zechariah the Lord's priest. So God struck him with leprosy, removing him from being the king. What a pity! Don't forget that it is only by His grace that our ministries exist. When we begin to feel that we don't need help from our leaders who had been appointed by God to shepherd our souls, then and then that the curse of leprosy will come in. The key for everything is transparency and humility... Reading: 2 Chronicles 26, God bless.
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