Nehemiah had a great concern for the city of Jerusalem. Even though the Jews had begun returning to Jerusalem, the city’s walls lay in ruins and the people were unprotected from enemy attacks. When the people of the city heard that Nehemiah had come to help them rebuild, they all pulled together and the work started. Nehemiah 3 might sound like a long boring list of names to you, but don’t miss the lessons hidden in it.
First, there is a work to be done. Until Jesus returns, you and I are charged with kingdom business. There are lost people who need to be found. There are saints that need to be nourished, comforted, and strengthened. The work we face is a “great” work (Neh. 6:3).
Second, things go easier when we all do our part. I counted about fifty individuals or groups of people that took part in the project. Many hands make quick work. We all are members of the body of Christ. We all have a part.
Third, the work just may start at home. It seems that many of the builders took the responsibility of building the section of wall that covered their neighborhood. Some built right next to their homes. More than one builder was sure that their family was involved. “And next to him was Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs” (Nehemiah 3:12).
It is a good work that God has called us to be a part of. Find your spot on the wall, grab a trowel, and let’s build together.
A few weeks ago I was having one of my crazy busy weeks. I am blessed to have good friends around me who care about me, and Dave Dunagan is one of them. Dave jumped in and asked if he could help out with anything so I asked him to write my weekly “Pastor to Person” article. You may remember that article. It was about asking for forgiveness and how God is waiting to forgive if we only ask. When Laurie (my secretary) printed the bulletin, we noted that Dave had written the article. When I put the article on my blog, I mentioned Dave. But when I sent out the “Pastor to Person” email, I forgot to mention that it was written by Dave. The response was hilarious and embarrassing. One friend wondered about the daughter mentioned in the article since I only have three sons. Another friend told me it was the best article I’ve ever written. I had a great laugh over that one. I explained to both that I had forgotten to note in the email that Dave had written the article. Then yesterday the Fullerton News-Tribune put a couple of my articles together and printed them in their “Faith” section. And of course, the first article was … Dave’s.
Here’s my point. Learn to apologize a little quicker and more fully than me. Paul wrote, “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right” (2 Corinthians 7:11). Dave, would you forgive me?
We have electrical, phone, and cable lines running behind our house. A few days ago my wife spotted one of the lines down and hanging loose in our backyard. When Edison showed up, they told us it was a power line. And to think I almost picked it up.
Power can be deadly unless you know what you’re doing. We are constantly reminded of the dangers of immorality and greed, yet the abuse of power can be just as seductive and deadly. When King Jehoshaphat died, he had seven sons, but it was the oldest, Jehoram, that Jehoshaphat gave the throne to. “Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel” (2 Chronicles 21:4).
Jehoram didn’t have to fight for his throne, it had already been given to him by his father. He didn’t kill his brothers as a way of “establishing” his authority, because he was already “established”. Yet he killed them anyway. When a person tastes power, it can certainly mess with their mind.
Handling power requires humility. Even when you find yourself with power as “king” over your own realm, you must cultivate humility. The humble man doesn’t need to promote himself, a good reputation will take care of that. The humble man doesn’t feel threatened by his brothers, he learns to serve instead of destroy. A good electrician knows how to handle high voltage lines. Be sure to handle power carefully.
If you’re sick and the doctor gives you a prescription, what do you do with the prescription? I guess the answer to that question depends on how bad you want to get better. God gave Solomon a prescription for a time when the nation might become spiritually sick. God said, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). I love our country, but to be honest, I think we have become quite ill. We are heading down some pretty dark paths. As believers, we need to decide how bad we want our nation to get better.
First, the prescription is for those who know God, not for those who don’t. We don’t need to be pointing fingers at people who don’t know God. The prescription is written for us, not for them. Second, we need to humble ourselves. Spiritual healing requires humility before God. We don’t need to be looking down our noses at others, we need to be on our knees looking up. Third, we need to pray and seek God’s face. We talk about prayer, but talk is cheap. We need to pray. Fourth, we need to turn from our wicked ways. There is plenty of darkness out in the world, but we need to be concerned first with what’s going on in our own lives and hearts. We need to repent and turn up the light in our own lives.
Does the news about our country have you a little sick to your stomach? Maybe it’s time to fill the prescription.
I think that much of what I perceive as happiness in my life is based on my attitude more than it is my actual circumstances. And I’m finding that much of my attitude depends on what I’m feeding my mind with. If I’m feeding my mind with mental junk food, I can get one of those mental sugar highs, and then find myself crashing in an hour. When I spend too much time consuming the stuff I’ve got on my DVR, or clicking on unhealthy things on my screen, I might find a minute or two of “up”, but it will be followed by an hour or two of “down”. Yet when I feed my soul something a little more healthy, I seem to be a little more emotionally stable.
I might see everything around me doing well and still find reasons to complain and gripe. Yet sometimes things in my life seem to be difficult, and I am able to maintain a positive attitude. I think it’s all about diet, soul diet.
How is it that an attractive, wealthy movie star contemplates suicide while a Christian quadriplegic is able to experience hope and joy?
That great theologian, Yogi Berra, once said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
Look for good, healthy food to feed your mind. Feed your soul with something that will give you stability and the strength to move forward.
The Psalmist wrote, “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92).
God’s Word is healthy for you beloved. It’s the best “soul food” of all.
They call it an “attitude of gratitude”. The Bible uses the word “thanks”. I call it difficult.
To be honest, I don’t seem to be a thankful person by nature. I tend to lean towards the complaining side of things most of the time. Sit with me long enough and you will eventually hear me complaining about this thing or the other.
For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to walk every day. I’ve learned to combine my daily devotional time with my walking by putting my prayer list on my phone and letting one of my Bible apps read the scripture to me as I walk. A few years ago I put a single word at the top of my prayer list, and every day this is the first thing I’m reminded of as I pray. That single word is “thanks”.
Now to be honest, I sometimes have to walk three or four blocks before I can come up with something I’m “thankful” for, simply because “thanks” doesn’t come easy for me.
This morning I found a treasure trove of things to be thankful for, right in our reading. The Psalmist writes, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:8–9). You know my friend, God is really, really good. He does so much for us. I have a lot to learn from the Psalmist. I hope this week we can all “cop an attitude”, that special attitude. The attitude of gratitude.
This post was written by pastor Dave Dunagan -
“I forgive you.” This can be a very hard thing to say and an even harder thing to do.
My children, I suppose, were just like all kids. I remember when they were little and my son would take something away from his sister. He would say “mine”, and my little girl would get upset and start to cry. She might try to hit him, and a little squabble would start between the two. I would step in and act as a mediator between them. I’d tell them to stop and tell each other that they were sorry. Then they would both begrudgingly say, “SORRY”. Now, at least they said they were sorry, but sometimes I don’t think they really meant it.
Because we find it hard to forgive others, do we really believe that we can be forgiven by God?
Beloved, we need to be forgiven! We need to tell God that we are truly sorry for the sins we have committed. Unconfessed sin in our lives comes between us and the Lord and damages our relationship with Him. Isaiah 59:2 tells us “But your iniquities have separated you from your God”
It’s comforting to know that God is always ready to forgive us. David says in Psalm 86:5 “For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.”
God is waiting. He is ready. All we have to do is ask.
The prophet Elisha was quite an amazing fellow. God worked in him in ways that just boggle the mind. One time a group of fellows accidentally put a poisonous gourd into the stew they were cooking, but when Elisha added some flour, the stew was healed. God raised people from the dead. God healed lepers. God even gave Elisha little bits of military intelligence, enabling the King of Israel to avoid incoming raiders.
There was one time though, when God didn’t tell Elisha what was going on. It happened with a woman who had been blessed with the gift of a child. “Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me”” (2 Kings 4:27). The woman would have to actually tell Elisha that she was distressed about her son.
Now this might not seem a surprise to you, but there are times when we actually can’t read each other’s minds. I know that every once in a while, God will whisper something in someone’s ear, but that doesn’t happen all the time.
Your friend that you want to give you a call can’t read your mind. The person across the room that you’re attracted to doesn’t know what you’re thinking. The struggle you’ve had in your fight against sin might be something others really don’t know about. That desire you’ve had for others to pray for you – speak up. Say what’s on your mind.
He was the wisest man on the earth. His dad was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was king at the very height of the kingdom of Israel. And he blew it. Big time.
Sometimes I wonder how we can think that certain things don’t apply to us. A young kid jumps off a roof to see if he can somehow be the one to fool the law of gravity and fly. You know that you’re late to work and think that perhaps if you drive a little bit faster you will get to work and not get a ticket. God warned Israel back in the days of Moses that they should not intermarry with people who worshipped foreign gods because their hearts would be turned away from the Lord (Deut. 7:3,4). But for some reason, King Solomon thought the rules didn’t apply to him. He married a couple of women who worshipped pagan idols. A couple? He married hundreds.
For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 11:4)
Solomon’s choice to go against God’s warnings would lead to disaster. Solomon’s own heart became corrupt. Eventually the kingdom would be divided in civil war because of Solomon’s unwise choice (1Ki. 11:11). My friends, the purpose of God’s commandments is not to ruin your “fun”. They are to save your life. Ignore them at your own peril. Or choose to love God and do what He says.
There are not too many sins more infamous than what David did. He committed adultery with his friend’s wife. He had that friend killed. He did all this while he was king. He tried to cover it up. And this was all done by the “sweet psalmist” of Israel, the “man after God’s own heart”. As heinous as David’s sin and hypocrisy was, David discovered something with his sin that we all need to learn. He found that there was forgiveness with God.
When a sin is committed, a debt has incurred and the debt needs to be paid. This is the part sacrifice plays with our sin. A sacrifice pays the debt that we’ve incurred. Jesus would one day come and be the ultimate sacrifice, laying down His eternal life. He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.
Yet the mistake that we make comes when we think that all we need to do is pay for our debts and the world is right again. This is where David’s new insight comes into play. David wrote, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16–17).
Are you struggling with the memory of something you’ve done wrong? Guilt can be something that God can use to move you from a bad place to a good place. Saying a simple “forgive me” prayer may not be what you need. It may be that God is looking for true brokenness over your sin. He’s looking for a humble heart. That’s where you will find forgiveness.