Nehemiah Devotions Chapter 3, Day 1

Monday Concept of work
Text: Read through chapter 3 and notice the different references to work.

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In “A Passion for Faithfulness,” J.I. Packer helps us understand the biblical perspective of work: “When the Bible talks about work it has in view much more than what we do for money or gain, what we call our job or our employment. In the Bible, work as such means any exertion of effort that aims at producing a new state of affairs. (p. 73)”

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It seems appropriate to think about work on a Monday, the day most people ‘get back to it.’ People head into Mondays with a mixed bag of feelings. Some love their jobs, while others struggle to persevere.

What about the spiritual work we have to do? What job has God given you to do?

In John’s gospel we are told that God is at work and he invites us to join him.

Pray today for eyes to see where God is at work in the world around you and ask how you can join him.

WP Neh 3-1 work as if

Nehemiah Devotions Chapter 2, Day 7

Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.
They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. (Nehemiah 2:18, NLT)

Nehemiah had been in town for a few days. The people had seen him walk around. Some had probably bent his ear about the deplorable situation.

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And now it was time to let them know what God had in mind.

The response was overwhelming. Vision is contagious. The people were moved and committed.

Nehemiah laid out. He showed them God could be trusted because he is God and he will keep his promises.

It’s time to step up, catch God’s vision, and commit to his plan.

His Word tells us that we will do even greater things than have already been recorded.

What will be your part in rebuilding and building for the Kingdom?

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Who did you come to see?

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He is risen. He is risen indeed.

The women came to the tomb to care for his body. They came out of love. They came in their grief. They did not expect To be told he was not there. They definitely did not expect to be told he was alive!

In the gospel of John we find the account of Mary’s encounter with the risen Jesus. He asks her why she is weeping. She’s confused, by the empty tomb and the absurdity of the question. She wants to know where Jesus is. He asks again and asks who she is looking for. Still unaware she answers that she wants to know where they have taken his body. She’s thinking this has to be a cruel joke.

Then Jesus speaks her name. And she knows. All doubt, all fear, all confusion is instantly and totally erased. She runs to tell the others.

I’ve just seen Jesus.

We will see who we are looking for.

Who will you look for this Resurrection morning?

Jesus, Messiah, the Christ. The King. The risen Lord. The breaker of bread. The living water. The light of the world. The way, the truth, the life.

Will you hear him speak your name?

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

How do you wait?

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Nothing is really written about today. We who know the rest of the story look toward tomorrow morning like a child expecting a basket full of goodies.

But how did the disciples wait…or did they.

They hid. In John we read that they were huddled in a room behind a locked door. Fearful that they might be next…guilt by association.

Others went back to work, went back to what they knew…what they could count on.

Some made the long walk home to Emmaus.

They didn’t know the end of the story. Otherwise they would have been gathered outside of the tomb, ready to celebrate!

I’m not a very good “waiter”, especially when I don’t know what outcome I’m waiting for. I get impatient when God doesn’t answer right away…when Saturday drags on forever.

But even if I don’t know how things are going to end, even when the end seems so dreadfully far away…Sunday’s coming.

If we were sitting across the table, talking over a cup of something warm, I’d look you in the eye and say: “Let’s make a pact. Let’s decide to anticipate that God is going to do something. Let’s trust him to have our best in mind. Let’s.”

So, let’s.

PRAYER: God of silence, God of wait, God of meanwhile…we want to be like children eagerly anticipating that you have got an awesome plan for our lives. Better than we could ever imagine. Walk with us through our Saturdays, our times of doubt and fear. We want to live every day like Sunday’s coming. Amen.

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TGIF…No really, thank God

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But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)

That’s what today is all about.

It’s Friday. Jesus is made to carry his cross. They pound nails into his flesh. He hangs there and dies an excruciatingly painful death. And he dies.

He loves. And he dies.

He is the sacrifice to atone–to bring into one. My sin, your sin, our choices to feed our selfishness and our greed have separated us from the One who not only created us, but loves us.

But he didn’t wait to do that after we sinned. He did it before. He did it with us in mind. He did it for us. He did it because of us.

This was God’s plan from before time began.

That’s how much he loves me. That’s how much he loves you.

At our darkest point, he loved us…loves us. Provides for us.

That’s grace. That’s amazing.

PRAYER: On this solemn day, we say thank you for the expanse and expense of your love. Amen.

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Teach Us To Pray

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Have you ever had someone pray over you?

I have. I’ve had people pray with such intensity it felt like they broke through the roof, reached right into heaven, and grabbed God by the robe.

I have been there when prayer warriors shout, scream, moan, weep, dance, jump, pace, and whoop.

I have also heard the whispers of prayers so intense the words are barely audible.

But I have never had anyone pray so intently they sweat drops of blood for me.

Wait. There was one. His name was Jesus.

Early on in his work with the disciples, they came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray. He gave them words that day. Words we still use…sometimes without truly making the effort to understand.

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It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus showed them. He demonstrated the hard work of prayer…of intercession.

Jesus wrestled with God. Take this cup. Not my will but yours.

Jesus was honest with God. If there is any other way. Not my will but yours.

Jesus didn’t quit until he had his answer. Not my will but yours.

He paced. He needed his friends. He prayed with such intensity he sweat drops of blood.

And then he was done. And able to face the horror that came next.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray.

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More Than Washing Feet

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Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet…12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked,“Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (John 13: 4, 12-15, NLT)

What does it mean to be a servant?

This past week there was considerable news coverage of University of Kentucky’s basketball team–both on and off the court. It was the off court activity that caught my attention:

Powerful words, powerful action. Acts of service change us and others.

Not long ago an author friend asked this question on her Facebook page: What do you think store chains could do to improve customer satisfaction? (Great question Cynthia Heron!) My response? Bring back customer service. It’s a lost and dying commodity.

Service. What does it mean to be a servant?

I read that the biblical definition of being a servant is to bring glory to God by willingly meeting the needs of others.

How will you do that today?

It’s more than washing feet.

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A New Command

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And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. (John 13;34, TLB)

Everything Jesus does during his final days on earth pointed to this command. But I don’t think they got it. They couldn’t. The only thing the crew following Jesus had in common was Jesus. Other than that…nothing. It was surprising they could sit down on a mountainside together without skirmishes breaking out all over.

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But Jesus knew this was central to his mission. He not only shows them, he tells them again (see John 15:17) and again. Then to solidify it he tells them to get together in the upper room and stay put until the Holy Spirit comes.

When the pharisee asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded by reciting the familiar, “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Then he added his command, this command to love one another.

What would it look like in your corner of the world if in spite any differences or dislikes your first response was love? Can you imagine God asking you to sit in a room for fifty days with people you didn’t like or trust?

Did you just shudder at the thought?

Here’s the kicker…it’s not just a suggestion. It’s Jesus’ commandment. And he’s not asking us to do anything he didn’t already do for us.

PRAYER: God of love, who commands us to love, and gave us the ultimate example of love…forgive us for being unloving and unlovable. Give eyes to see others as you see and hearts to love as you love. Amen.

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Jesus Wept

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Not long before his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Books have been written on this one event. People have dissected the miracle, both to prove and disprove what happened.

I’m not interested in the arguments right now. I want to take a moment to look at Jesus, and the shortest sentence in the Bible.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

This morning I had a huge disappointment. My heart hurt and the tears flowed. The conversation happened right in the middle of writing this post.

I sat here in my chair wondering how I could say anything profound or encouraging…when the presence of Jesus and the remembrance of his tears for his friends who were hurting brought comfort to my spirit.

The old gospel song asks the question: Does Jesus care? And refrain answers back: Oh yes he cares, I know he cares. His heart is touched with my grief.

It’s all I’ve got today. I hope it’s enough for you, because it’s more than enough for me.

PRAYER: Jesus, you were there to comfort Mary and Martha in the time of grief. You wept with them…you hurt with them. Thank you for feeling my hurt to and coming alongside me. You see each tear that falls. Thank you for the comfort of your presence. Amen.

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Working With One Mind

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Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:1-5, NLT)

Work together with the mind of Christ.

Paul continues in this passage to describe how the mind and attitude of Christ demonstrated all the things he just required of the Philippians. His life was defined by humility, deference, surrender, and obedience.

Today the Christian church celebrates Jesus’ “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem. It was not what they expected or wanted. They were looking for the one who would free them from the oppressive Roman rule: conquering and victorious. Instead he rode in on the peacemaker’s colt. They wanted an overcomer and they got a humble teacher.

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How different would life look if we gave up trying to impress each other, and gave up seeking our interests–put the interests of others first?

I hear it’s the best attitude for cross-bearing.

PRAYER: Humility, obedience, surrender. These are words that don’t come easy to mind, and even less to action. Help us take a step today, Lord, in the direction of having your attitude toward others, and ourselves. Amen.

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