Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 13 Day 1

Monday: What Happens Without Leadership?

Neh 13 leadership

Text: 6 But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission 7 and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God.

Teach: As promised, Nehemiah returned to Babylon. While he was gone the people lost sight of the promises they had made. Nehemiah was mostly likely gone for ten to twelve years. That’s a long time to be without leadership.

Neh 13 leadership 2

Take: When I read of the behavior of the people, their spiritual amnesia, I wasn’t surprised. It reminded me of when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God. He was only gone forty days, a little over a month, and look what happened: the people created their own god to worship made from gold. The hymn writer put it well, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.” (Come Thou Fount)

Task: Godly leaders hold us accountable. We may not always like it, but we need it. Today let’s pray for those whose responsibility is to keep us on track spiritually.

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 7

Sunday: Put It In Writing

Neh 9 sealing covenant

Text: 38 “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.” (Neh. 9:38)

Teach: Our God is a god of covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are 321 references to covenants contained in the Old and New Testaments. Covenants follow a standard pattern: first whoever initiates the covenant lists who he is and what he has done; then the obligations/expectations between the parties are identified; and finally the positive and negative results of keeping or breaking the covenant are defined.

Neh 9 signing contract

Take: For many years my husband was in business for himself. At times it was construction and then in restaurant work. One of the hardest lessons for him to learn was to get things in writing. Creating a contract seemed to smack of distrust, but actually ended up providing the means for clarity and accountability. Both parties knew what was expected and could perform to their best.

Task: What covenants do you have with others and with God? How are you accountable? Journaling is one way to keep track of those things. I know I tend to forget things and writing things down helps me stay on track. Oh look, we’re back at remembering.

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9, Day 6

Saturday: Never Abandoned

Text: 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (Neh. 9:31)

Neh 9 hebrews 13-5

Teach: Occasionally, I will ask a gathering of believers to share a Bible promise. Inevitably, someone will mention Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” This is what God told Jacob. It’s also what Jesus told his followers: “be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end” (Matthew 28:20).

Neh 9 hound of heaven

Take: Psalm 139 is one of my favorites. I remember when I discovered it. I was in high school and our teacher had us read the poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” The author, Francis Thompson, is described as a tortured soul, one who battled addictions. But he, like David, and the rest of us, realized that God is a relentless pursuer. But he is also gracious and merciful. No matter what we’ve done, how arrogant or disobedient we are, he will never abandon us.

Task: Make time to read Psalm 139, or the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and thank God for his gracious mercy. He will never leave you. Ever.

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 5

Friday: Do We Learn From History?

Text: 16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. (Neh. 9:16-17a)

Neh 9 history words

Teach: Reading through Nehemiah 9:16-30 we find the ups and downs of God’s people. Their experience is summed up pretty well in our text for today. What was the root of their up and down relationship? Arrogance, disobedience, and lack of remembering. They forgot how they got to where they were. They began to think they could handle things all on their own. And as a result the walked in disobedience.

Take: Remember. So often we live as spiritual amnesiacs. Some of Jesus’ final words to his followers came at the Last Supper: this do in remembrance of me. Don’t forget. Daily Bible reading isn’t merely an exercise to cross off our “to do” list. It’s the process by which we keep on remembering.

Task: What miracles has God performed in your life? Take time to remember, and give thanks.

Neh 9 history

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 4

Thursday: No One Like Our God

Text: 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Neh. 1:6)

Teach: When Moses gave the people God’s commandments, he began by telling them to acknowledge that there were no other gods before the LORD. He is the creator, the one who breathed life into everything. As a young teen I learned this truth. We would sing a chorus that said, “There is enough of God in nature, His power is clearly shown. A man has no excuse for wondering. God and heaven are known (see Romans 1:20).”

Take: When I sit out under a clear sky and see the multitude of stars above, I can’t help but think of God speaking to Abraham or David penning Psalm 8. And I want to break into a chorus or two of “How Great Thou Art.”

This verse in Nehemiah speaks to me of perspective: how great God is and how small, or insignificant, I am. And yet he loves me. He loves us. It really is amazing.

Task: We will have God’s perspective when we are aware of our position in relation to him. Psalm 8 tells us that God’s majesty fills the earth, but that he made us to care for his creation. There is trust and relationship implied throughout his Word. Pray through Psalm 8.

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c]
5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their[g] feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 3

Wednesday: What Is Worship?

Text: 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. (Neh. 1:3)

Neh 9 confession

Teach: You’ve probably heard the saying, “Confession is good for the soul.” Many attribute this to a Scottish proverb, but note that it should read, “Open confession is good for the soul. There is a sense of accountability implied in that openness. The people who listened to the Word were in this together, so there was personal as well as corporate confession taking place.

Neh 9 Jesus is Lord

Take: As you can probably imagine, Jesus had something to say about confession: Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32). Paul speaks to the emphatic nature of confession to the Romans: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

And just what is confession? The best explanation I heard was many years ago when I was a counselor at church camp. The speaker was explaining what it meant to confess to a group of teenagers. He told them confessing was telling God everything he knew about them was true. What I like about that is it works for our confession for our salvation and for the sins we commit after.

Task: Take time today to confess. What do you need to acknowledge that God already knows about you?

Neh 9 confession good

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 2

Tuesday: Come Apart

Text: 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. (Neh. 1:2)

Neh 9 1 Ptr 2-9

Teach: Separated. Chosen. Picked. That’s what God’s people are. Peter declares it this way: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). In the original language, to be holy is to be set apart for special use.

Take: Jesus in one of his final recorded prayers (see John 17) speaks to how his followers will be in this world, but not of it. Paul expounds on this when he urges the Roman believers: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2a). We’re in this world, but the way are needs to reflect whose we are. Separate doesn’t always mean far away. We need to be sure the world can see the difference in us.

Neh 9 conformed or transformed

Task: Inventory time. As you pray today, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the ways you are different, and perhaps where you have compromised. Are you ready to separate yourself?

Rebuilding With Nehemiah, Chapter 9 Day 1

Monday: Feasting Turns to Fasting

Text: On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. (Neh. 1:1)

Neh 9 fasting and prayer

Teach: Fasting isn’t an easy topic to address with people, primarily because we don’t like to go without. But fasting also presupposes the awareness of need or sin, something isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Here in Nehemiah, the people had been listening to and convicted by God’s plan and purpose as lined out in the Law.

Neh 9 when you fast

Take: Jesus speaks about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount: 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18). Did you catch the implication? He isn’t commanding fast, he’s not even suggesting it, he’s assuming we will.

Task: Can you think of time when you don’t have or know of a spiritual need? Me either. Pray with me today and ask that God would enlighten us on when and how we should fast.

Rebuilding with Nehemiah, Chapter 5, Day 4

Thursday: Accepting Responsibility

Text: 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” (Nehemiah 5:11-12, NIV)

WP Neh dev 5-4 right step

Teach: Nehemiah was a man of action. He required that the lenders stop charging interest and return a portion of what was taken. This was major. Nehemiah didn’t just shame them for their actions, he called them to make things right. It wouldn’t solve all their problems, but it was a huge step in the right direction.

Take: We live in a time when very few people accept responsibility for their actions. We blame everyone else. The reaction of the people to comply with Nehemiah’s instruction was commendable and an excellent example for us today.

WP Neh dev 5-4 responsibility

Task: Accepting responsibility when we’re wrong can cost us—just as it did the lenders in Nehemiah’s day. Ask God to help you bring what you do in line with what you believe even when the cost is great.

Rebuilding with Nehemiah, Chapter 5, Day 3

Wednesday: Walking Without Fear or Reproach

Text: So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? (Nehemiah 5:9, NIV)

Teach: What were they doing? While it was not illegal or wrong to loan money, charging excessive usury or interest is. It is wrong to gain financially of someone’s need.

WP Neh 5-3 hoarding

Take: Nehemiah was concerned not only with the negative effects of the unfair loan practices were having on the people, but also with the impact their actions was having on those outside watching.

Task: Jesus told his followers they were salt and light and how they lived would either draw people to God or drive them away. As you reflect on the text today, ask God to reveal whether your witness is a light that leads others to him.

WP Neh dev 5-3 light shine