Nehemiah 3-Community is Key

Chapter 3 of Nehemiah is a testament of the community effort that Nehemiah’s leadership brought to Jerusalem.  People from all over the land rose up and built a section of the wall and gates. Not everyone was as committed as others, but from preists to artisans; each group attended side by side to the care and rebuilding of the walls and gates!  What makes chapter three more encouraging is the reminder that side by side, the community of God’s people were far more effective than they had neen on their own. If one was to check the history, they would find that all that returned to Jerusalem had nice enough homes and lands. The city’s infrastructure, however remained in complete dissarray.  Once the people banded together as a community, the things that needed to happen began to happen.
 
In our lives, we need to remain committed to the community of believers.  We need to understand that church is a team effort.  We work together to seek and to save that which is lost.  We need to be a part of the group that greets, that repairs, that gives and that prays for the body.  We need to rush forward to be a volunteer and accomplish whatever it is that needs to be done. We need to be generous with our time, our talent and our treasure. We know that it is God that provides all three.  Finally, we need to be a people without excuse. We simply and humbly jump in and be a part of something great–together we can!  As Paul said in Philippians 2–“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but  in humility–consider others better than yourself. Don’t only look out for your own interest, but also the interest of others.  Have the same attitude as Christ!…”
 
God Bless You

Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel.
2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.
3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.
4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs.
5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
6 The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.
7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates.
8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.
9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section.
10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him.

Ruth 4 Part 2–Being God’s Choice

So, at the end of the day, Boaz married Ruth.  They truly lived Happily ever after. They had a son Obed, who had a son Jesse, who had a son named David…not only do we see the lineage of David being born out of the faith of Naomi and Ruth.  But it also shows that God’s plan rarely looks like ours.  If one looks at the lineage of Jesus, it is filled with folks that most people would never have picked. Judah’s illegitimate child born out of deception, Rahab’s child born from a prostitute and spy. Ruth the Moabite and many more picks outside the norm.  
 
That is what makes faith so awesome.  We see throughout the Bible and throughout history–God using the folks and supplies He has to make the world different. plagues, miracles, people groups, and unlikely leaders dot the landscape of Bible history.  So as we look ahead, I personally am always looking to see how God might use me. We must always walk expectantly– to be the person available for what God has in mind. It worked for Boaz, Ruth, David, Paul, John, and so many more.  Jim Elliot said it best, “He is no fool that will trade what he cannot keep; to gain what he cannot Lose!”
 
God Bless You

Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Naomi Gains a Son

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

The Genealogy of David

18 This, then, is the family line of Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron,

19 Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,[d]

21 Salmon the father of Boaz,

Boaz the father of Obed,

22 Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of David.

Ruth 3 Part 2–God’s Plan v. Our Plans!

Boaz had a big job.  As Kinsman Redeemer for Naomi and her family, he was charged to care for them.  What does that look like for a man of means and the poor relations just back from Moab?  Well, first he made sure that Naomi did not starve.  He provided Ruth with grain and care and protection. Next came the job of looking more long term.  Naomi encouraged Ruth to go to the threshing floor and show kindness and humility to Boaz.  She did as she was instructed.  Now Boaz came face to face with the dilemma of being attracted to Ruth and being her redeemer.  Soo he set his heart to do right.  She needed a Husband.  He would present her to the nearest eligible relative to consummate the deal and get Ruth a husband, even if that meant not pursuing her himself.
 
So often our lives, we are faced with the opportunity to trust God to lead us. Many times His ways are not our ways. But, every time His way is best. If we truly believe that God is in charge, and loves us; and if we can cling to his word, then, when facing tough choices, we will honor God and allow Him to make our path straight.  It is very difficult to do so.  we want to “Help God Out” and give the Lord direction and instruction on how to proceed.  Amazingly, He does not need our help–He has this.  “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you–not to harm you! Plans to give you hope and a future!” Jer. 29:11.  
 
We, like Ruth and Boaz, must trust God’s way and follow His plans. If we will–great things will follow.
 
God Bless You

11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”

15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he[c] went back to town.

16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”

I John 4 Part 1–Loving the Church

John reminds the church that if it truly knows God, it will not be fooled by false teachers and lying spirits.  When one starts a relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit comes in and dwells.  The Spirit guides and directs God’s people to know Him and to know the enemy.  
 
Further, the Spirit teaches us to love others as Christ loves His own.  One major factor that sets the Church apart is its love for one another.  Jesus said it Himself, “This is how all men will know you are my disciples, that you love each other!” John 13:35. Love is what the Church is supposed to lead with.  That love will manifest in the way the Church reaches out to the community and how it protects and supports its own.
 
If we, as the Church, treat our own with contempt, how can we then expect to treat the lost any better? We have to first there for the family of believers, and then allow that same love and devotion to reach out to the world. If we are not loving the church, then the world would not want anything to do with us. Further, if we are not loving our own; we are failing the primary mission–to love one another.   This new year should charge us to practice our faith by listening to the spirit, Loving the Church and seeking and saving the lost.
 
God Bless You

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this, we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 2–You Can’t Follow Christ and Not Be Different

When one decides to follow Jesus, it is not simply an acknowledgment that He is God, it is an acknowledgment that we cannot be saved without God’s grace.  In that vein, John emphasizes that when one submits to His lordship, that person’s life and actions change. The spirit enters and begins to transform us into Christ’s spiritual image.  It is not a takeover, where one loses their ability to choose, and count on it, it is not like one becomes perfect immediately.  Instead, it is a change in attitude and priority, a world where God and others take priority over self.
 
In our personal lives, we all have areas that require a daily choice to acknowledge who is the boss. Those areas can cover a wide range of sin and selfishness. We, as God’s chosen, seek to live lives that honor God and relinquish control of our walk to the Lord. John reminds us that it is a choice we make several times a day, but, in the end, if Jesus is in our lives, those lives should look different.  Whatever the areas of our lives that we continue to try to control, we need to simply ask the Lord to give us the faith to release them to Him. when we do, we will find that God will only improve those areas. He will take the stress and the manipulation away, and leave a life of peace and purpose!
 
God Bless You

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.

1 John 1–The Truth of Christ and Salvation

In his first letter, John gets right to the point. If he were in a trial before a jury, He would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have seen, ate with, listened to, and literally held the Word, the author, and creator of all things. I want you to enjoy the relationship that I enjoy with God. But, to make that a reality, one must first recognize that God will not deal with sin. If you claim to be free from sin, you are deluded! If you recognize that you are a sinner and confess that sin, God, through Jesus will forgive the sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. BUT, to claim to be perfect makes Him out to be a liar and prevents Him from forgiving and cleansing you from sin and death!”
 
It is a simple reality. Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all sinners. Romans 5:8 reminds us that God demonstrated His love for us by dying for our sins and accepting us where we are. Romans 6:23 tells us that while the wages of sin are death, God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus. Finally, He reminds us in Romans 10:9-10, that if we confess His lordship in our life and believe him to be God and Savior, He will redeem us! So, John is simply reiterating the simple truth that God wants to be in a relationship with us.  He does, however, require redemption be received on His terms, not ours! 
God Bless You

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our[a] joy complete.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

This is the message we have heard from him and declares to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

I Peter 5–The Most Amazing Wrap Up Ever Written…

Peter finishes up the 1st letter with a package of truths that would blow away any theologian. For the church leaders, lead like shepherds laying their lives down for their sheep. For the up and coming, He says submit and be humble–the God will lift them up and then they will learn from the best!  With that, Peter tells the folks to toss God your burdens! He does not mind, because He personally cares for His own.  

 

Then Peter speaks of the enemy–Look at the world soberly and alert.  The enemy is prowling around just looking for opportunities to devour God’s chosen.  The great truth is that if one will resist Satan, in time He, like any bully will flee as an embarrassment.  The trails and suffering people face are not unique. So, if Christ’s own will trust and follow Him after they face the training and discipline,  He will lift them up, bless them, and cause them to be strong.
 
In our lives, the groups of truth contained in Chapter 5 are unprecedented in their magnitude and depth. If we could cling to this one group of verses we could face anything the enemy or the world might throw at us.  Help me, Lord, to take this word to heart and honor You through Good times and trials.
 
God Bless You

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power forever and ever.

Amen.