Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30, 2012 … And Here Is The One!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 274

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Luke, Chapter 1 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: John, Chapter 1 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Luke 1: 1-4; 80 : [NLT] … {The account of The Christ from a Gentile Physician, writing an accurate and detailed historical account about the extraordinary man, Jesus, Who was God in the flesh, and this account was primarily written to/for the Gentiles of the day.} 1 Most honorable Theophilus: {The person of Theophilis may have been a Greek patron of Luke’s; or he may represent all gentiles of the day – about 60 BC – to whom Luke wanted to share the gospel truth about Jesus.} … Many people have written accounts about the events that took place among us. 2 They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises. 3 Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you, 4 to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught. …  
{Then, after Luke accounts the wondrous birth and early life of Jesus, he introduces the last in the line of God-anointed Prophets, John the Baptist, who helped to launch Jesus’ public ministry.} … 80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. Then he lived out in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. 
Highlight Passage: John 1: 1-5; 29-30; 40-42 : [NLT] … {John, one of the original chosen/anointed 12 disciples, wrote his version – in about 85-90 AD – to give a first hand witness account of the God-man, Jesus, about whom John wanted all in his day, Jews and Gentiles, to know was everything He, Jesus, claimed to be. Hence we read from John of many of the miracles Jesus performed during his adult ministry and times with His disciples.} … 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. 4 Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. 5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. … {And somewhat like Luke, the physician biographer of Jesus, John introduces and describes, in more detail than Luke, about the forerunner of The Messiah, John, The Baptist, the last of God’s Prophets and Jesus’ first cousin, whom God used to proclaim the reality of Jesus in his day, … God in the flesh.} … 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.’ … {Jesus, called out men on a beach near Capernaum to be His Disciples. Note how Jesus changed Peter’s name, an indicator in those times that Jesus saw something in Peter of a changed character, something that Peter couldn’t even see.} … 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who had heard what John said and then followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ). 42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 

My Journal for Today: And here we are in this year-long chronological trek through my Bible, finally arriving in the New Testament; and, as I’ve titled my journal entry today, we are finally introduced to the ONE Whom all those Old Testament Prophets I’ve been reading in the past weeks had been foretelling; and He is the One Who would save the world.

These two books, one more historical, written by the Gentile Physician, Luke; and the other, authored by Jesus’ beloved friend and inner Disciple, John, are vastly different in their author-intent. Luke was writing to provide a carefully crafted and accurate biographical portrait of Jesus, THE CHRIST, … the One Whose life, teaching, and death would save the world. John was writing more for all peoples of His day whom he wanted to see Jesus’ wondrous life in the context of being THE MESSIAH, the Lamb of God, the prophesied One, … the One Who would save any who believed that this man, Jesus, was or is truly The Christ.

Do you know Jesus? No, I’m not asking if you know OF Jesus. Do you really KNOW Him … believing that He is Whom He said He was … and IS. And that is where the authorship of Luke and John come together. Using the character of John the Baptist in their Chapter One introductions, these two authors show that this last anointed and chosen Prophet, and one who really knew Jesus, being His first cousin, clearly told all who were following John, as disciples, should turn their attention and allegiance to Jesus, because this One was the Lamb of God, Who would take away the sins of the world.

So, ... I ask again, … do you know this man, … the God-man, Jesus, as THE Messiah, … Your personal Savior? Is He the Lamb of God to/for you? Because if you know Him as Luke and John knew Him, He is your Redeemer; and because of your faith in the God-man, you will spend eternity following the One Who called out those men on the beach near Capernaum to be His disciples. If you now, really KNOW, Jesus as Your Messiah, as I do, we’ll be reading for the rest of year in the New Testament, reading of the reality of the Lordship of Christ and the witness of Him being our Messiah.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, You’ve led me, in Your truth, to Yourself; and now I read of the wonder of how You lived, died, and arose to be my Savior. Praise Your Holy Name!! Amen

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012 … He Is Coming (Again!)

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 273

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Malachi, Chapters 1-4 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Malachi 1: 6-9; 13-14 : [NLT] … {Malachi became God’s prophet to Jerusalem after the rebuilding of the Temple and walls. He was the prophet to Jerusalem who brought the news of the coming Messiah. But he also brought a message of chastisement to God’s people, especially the priests who had distorted worship practices from those called forth by God in His word.} 6 The LORD Almighty says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever despised your name?’ 7 “You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’” You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD Almighty. 9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the LORD Almighty. … 13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the LORD,’ and you turn up your noses at his commands,” says the LORD Almighty. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and mutilated, crippled and sick—presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the LORD. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is feared among the nations! 
Highlight Passage: Malachi 2: 1-2; 7-9; 14-16 : [NLT] … {Being God’s Priest is serious business; and now we must realize that we Christians are part of God’s Royal Priesthood.} 1 “Listen, you priests; this command is for you! 2 Listen to me and take it to heart. Honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning seriously. … 
7 The priests’ lips should guard knowledge, and people should go to them for instruction, for the priests are the messengers of the LORD Almighty. 8 But not you! You have left God’s paths. Your ‘guidance’ has caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD Almighty. 9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown partiality in your interpretation of the law.” … 
14 You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. 15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want; … Godly children from your union? So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,” says the LORD Almighty. “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” 
Highlight Passage: Malachi 3: 1-3; 6-9 : [NLT] … {Refiner’s fire from The Messiah.} … 1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD Almighty. 2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes. 3 He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. … 
6“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already completely destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my laws and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’” You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.”  
Highlight Passage: Malachi 4: 1-6 : [NLT] … {Malachi’s prophesy of the coming Messiah would be the last from God’s anointed/chosen prophets for 400 years until the coming of John the Baptist as a Prophet representing “Elijah,” and heralding the coming of THE ONE who would save the world.} 1 The LORD Almighty says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. The arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw on that day. They will be consumed like a tree—roots and all. 2 “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. 3 On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the LORD Almighty. 4 “Remember to obey the instructions of my servant Moses, all the laws and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel. 5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of parents£ to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” 

My Journal for Today: Wow! Reading all of the Book of Malachi, the last of the Prophets in the Old Testament, is my assigned reading from my chronological trek through the Bible this year. Where does one begin to journal about the life application of Malachi’s writings?

From Chapters 1 and the outset of Chapter 2, I could write about how God’s leaders, primarily the Priesthood in Malachi’s day [see Malachi 1: 6, bold/underlined above] who fallen in their modeling of God’s righteousness and in the teaching of God’s real truth from His word. That subject matter would certainly be pertinent in today’s world with so many of God’s representative church Elders, Pastors, Priests, and Ministers dropping like flies in the spiritual warfare of the day.

From Chapter 2, I could journal about the social issue of divorce, which has become an unGodly plague in our culture today; and God’s word weighs in heavily and clearly from Malachi that “God hates divorce!” [see Malachi 2: 16 … underlined in bold above].

Or, I could discuss that controversial issue of tithing from Chapter 3 of Malachi’s journal, where God seems to be strongly chastising the people of Malachi’s day that they were robbing God by not bringing their tithes into God’s storehouse (see the underlined passage above from Malachi 3: 8-9). Should we feel led by God to tithe in today’s church, … a most pertinent focus of journaling, would it not be?

All of those options would be great topics for journaling, for sure, with very pertinent modern-day application. And my Parson’s commentary, which I use almost daily in my Bible studies, says the following about the Book of Malachi: ” Malachi gives us practical guidelines about commitment to God: God deserves the best we have to offer (1:7-10). We must be willing to change our wrong ways of living (2:1, 2). We should make our family a lifelong priority (2:13-16). We should be sensitive to God’s refining process in our life (3:3). We should tithe our income (3:8-12). There is no room for pride (3:13-15).”

However, when one meditates on the book of Malachi and looks for the #1 topic of application, I think one has to concentrate on all of Chapter 4, which I’ve copied above, as the focus of emphasis; because this last Prophet in the Old Testament, clearly heralds a call for the people of his day and for all of us now to watch for one who would come declaring, as did a previous the Prophet, Elijah, the coming Messiah.

And we, in these New Covenant times, as documented by the New Testament, into which I’ll be venturing very soon, certainly have a vision advantage over the peoples in Malachi’s day, don’t we? Yes, … for sure, we do; … because we know of the historical and well-documented events of Jesus’ day, when John The Baptist came as the “Elijah” figure about whom Malachi prophesied, as well as the Messiah, having come to us in the also well-documented life of Jesus, The Christ, and the One Whom all of the Old Testament Messianic Prophets were heralding.

Yes, Malachi called it; and we know it! … The Messiah has come; and … He is coming again!! … And so, once again, do I sense an emphatic ”Amen!” Or maybe even an exuberant …”HALLEUJAH!!!”

My Prayer Today: … Oh, yes, Lord … HALLELUJAH!!! … Amen

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012 … They Had Church!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 272

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 8-10 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Psalm 126 [NLT] To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 11: 1-4 : [NLT] … {Nehemiah also had to play the roll of city manager and mayor in Jerusalem. And in this chapter the names of those moving to the city from outlying areas was documented.} 1 Now the leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city, at this time. A tenth of the people from the other towns of Judah and Benjamin were chosen by sacred lots to live there, too, while the rest stayed where they were. 2 And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem. … 3 Here is a list of the names of the provincial officials who came to Jerusalem. Most of the people, priests, Levites, Temple servants, and descendants of Solomon’s servants continued to live in their own homes in the various towns of Judah, 4 but some of the people from Judah and Benjamin resettled in Jerusalem. 
 Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 12: 1: 27; 30; 43 : [NLT] … {Celebration of the wall being completed was documented.} 1 Here is the list of the priests and Levites who had returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the high priest: [names of priests listed]. … 
27 During the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levites throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, lyres, and harps. … 
30 The priests and Levites first dedicated themselves, then the people, the gates, and the wall. …  
[At the time of the dedication of the walls surrounding the Temple and the Holy City.} 43 Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 13: 26-27; 30-31 : [NLT] … {After returning to Judah to fulfill his promise to Artaxerxes, Nehemiah, discovered that the people had fallen back into unGodly, sinful practices, which he took immediate proactive steps to deal with such practices in their culture.} 26 “Wasn’t this exactly what led King Solomon of Israel into sin?” I demanded. “There was no king from any nation who could compare to him, and God loved him and made him king over all Israel. But even he was led into sin by his foreign wives. 27 How could you even think of committing this sinful deed and acting unfaithfully toward God by marrying foreign women?” … 
 30 “So I purged out everything foreign and assigned tasks to the priests and Levites, making certain that each knew his work. 31 I also made sure that the supply of wood for the altar was brought at the proper times and that the first part of the harvest was collected for the priests. Remember this in my favor, O my God.” 

Cross Reference Passage: Hebrews 10: 25 : [NLT] And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. 

My Journal for Today: This morning I finish out the last three chapters in the Book of Nehemiah as well as Psalm 126, which expressed the joy that the third wave of Jews coming back to Jerusalem experienced. And in reading these chapters, I was struck by the joy expressed by Nehemiah (and likely Ezra, his priest/scribe) as they facilitated and witnessed the people back living their lives in Jerusalem and worshipping, individually and corporately, in the Temple.

As we southern Christians often say about a rousing worship experience, “They had church!” … and that means the people found the joy that comes when they obey God and do life His way as well as what it’s like when God’s people come together into a joy-filled and even a music-filled worship environment. And these people, especially the faithful and obedient Jews, had come back to their roots of worship, with music and songs being played … just like in the days of David, the musician king who reveled in personal and corporate worship. Yes, … THEY HAD CHURCH!

But then, Nehemiah, fulfilling his promise – after about a dozen years of being in Jerusalem – returned to Susa in Persia for a season, followed by a second return later to Jerusalem, with the Persian king’s permission, to live and be the Governor in Jerusalem again. And what did he find? He found the people falling back into their old patterns of inter-marriage and selfish/ungodly worship. UGH!!! Why can’t mankind get God’s message and faithfully stay involved, the way God desires for us, in Spirit-led living and worship?

And the answer to that can be found in Isaiah 53: 6 and Romans 3: 23. We’re all sinners – by nature – and when we leave ourselves open to our nature, we will default back to the flesh … almost every time. Hence, mankind needs to have self-established modes and mechanisms of accountability and corporate patterns of worship. And that’s why I’ve cited the cross-reference passage above from Hebrews 10: 24-25. Go back and read and meditate on that passage as well as today’s readings; and I think you’ll agree with me that we all – and I’m certainly one – need to have help from our fellow believers to live for God and worship Him with our lives.

And do I sense a pretty loud ”AMEN!” ?? 

My Prayer Today: … Amen, Lord, … AMEN!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012 … And God’s Truth Shall Set You Free

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 271

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 8-10 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 8: 1-5; 8-10; 13-14; 18 : [NLT] … {Ezra, the Priest in Jerusalem opens God’s word – their Book of the Law and reads to the people.} Now in midautumn, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, 1 all the people assembled together as one person at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey. 2 So on October 8£ Ezra the priest brought the scroll of the law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people paid close attention to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet. …  
{A number of Levites were designated to read and explain God’s word, … likely the Mosaic Books of the Jewish Bible.} 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” All the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the law. …  
{In learning from God’s word, traditions like the Festival of Tents were re-instituted. Because of the influence of God’s truth, a revival had broken out for God’s people.} 13 On October 9 the family leaders and the priests and Levites met with Ezra to go over the law in greater detail. 14 As they studied the law, they discovered that the LORD had commanded through Moses that the Israelites should live in shelters during the festival to be held that month. … 18 Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God on each of the seven days of the festival. Then on October 15 they held a solemn assembly, as the law of Moses required. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 9: 1-3; 38 : [NLT] … {Note how the ingestion of God’s truth proceeded confession and getting right before God for the people.} 1 On October 31 the people returned for another observance. This time they fasted and dressed in sackcloth and sprinkled dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3 The Book of the Law of the LORD their God was read aloud to them for about three hours. Then for three more hours they took turns confessing their sins and worshiping the LORD their God. …  
{In the passage of Nehemiah 9, verses 6-38, Nehemiah (through his scribe, Ezra) summarize the prayers and reflections of the Levites, preaching/teaching to the people in response and revival to God’s word, where they reflect on their sinful history of God’s people and their need to repent and be obedient to God’s commands and recipients of His Promises.}38 “Yet in spite of all this, we are making a solemn promise and putting it in writing. On this sealed document are the names of our princes and Levites and priests.”
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 10: 1…; 28-29; : [NLT] … {The people felt compelled to take an oath before God – which was very serious business to these believers – that they would uphold and live by God’s commands in His word.} 1 The document was ratified and sealed with the following names: {All of the names of those committed to repentance were listed in verses 2-27.} 
28 The rest of the people—the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, Temple servants, and all who had separated themselves from the pagan people of the land in order to serve God, and who were old enough to understand — 29 now all heartily bound themselves with an oath. They vowed to accept the curse of God if they failed to obey the law of God as issued by his servant Moses. They solemnly promised to carefully follow all the commands, laws, and regulations of the LORD their LORD.{Note that God’s truth being revealed, after the Temple and walls being rebuilt, led to confession, repentance, and revival of God’s designated faith disciplines, which then in turn led to commitment and oaths of surrender to God’s word and His will for the lives of God’s people.}

Cross Reference Passage: James 5: 16 : [NLT] …{Note the correlation of this NT truth with Nehemiah 9: 2-3 where God’s people, inspired by God’s word, confessed and repented openly their sins.} Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.  
Cross Reference Passage: John 8: 31-32 : [NLT] 31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

My Journal for Today: Today I was led to review, study, and meditate on Nehemiah, Chapters 8-10; and these chapters are uplifting – at least to this humble seeker of God’s truth – with the promise of God’s power to change sinful people by the truth of God’s word and the blood of His Son.

Chapter 8 of Nehemiah recounts the story of what happened after Ezra had led the rebuilding of the Temple and Nehemiah had led the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. And the issue for God’s people was “NOW WHAT DO WE DO?” And this is a question that continually is before God’s people, most certainly Christians today. It’s the question, “What does a believer do once he truly believes in the Gospel and the saving power of God?” Well, Chapter 8 of Nehemiah presents a model of the “HOW” of repentance and revival.

And we see the cooperation of Ezra and Nehemiah as well as the active participation of Godly, well-trained teachers, who were called upon by Ezra to help him bring Gods’ word back into the lives of God’s people. And when the people heard the word, they were overwhelmed with conviction and grief, and a revival of repentance broke out. It’s really a powerful example of the truth of what Isaiah had written over 100 years earlier in Isaiah 55: 11 … that God’s word is the power of God’s Spirit when it goes forth, for His purposes, and is received by His people. And that’s exactly what happened as you can read in Nehemiah 8, which caused a revival in commitment for the people to live according to God’s truth (see Nehemiah, Chapter 9-10).

This raises questions for believers today. First, are we going deeply into God’s word with the determination to know God as we read in Nehemiah 8? … Secondly, has God’s truth captured our hearts, leading to a personal revival of seeking God’s will from His word and living according to His ways? … And finally, have we made repentant commitments to walk according to God’s commands, … setting up disciplined accountability mechanisms to keep us on track when convicted by God’s mirror of truth to change by following Him?

I’m dealing – with conviction – with those questions right now. I’ll leave them for your consideration here today as well.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me to keep on keeping on with the commitments and battle plans I have set in motion to keep me in Your word and living according to Your precepts. Amen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26, 2012 … A Job Well Done!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 270

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 6-7 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 6: 1-3; 9; 10-12; 15 : [NLT] … {Nehemiah’s enemies became desperate as the walls were almost rebuilt.} … 1 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet hung the doors in the gates — 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But I realized they were plotting to harm me, 3 so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am doing a great work! I cannot stop to come and meet with you.” …  
{Note again that Nehemiah’s first-line battle strategy was to pray!} … 9 They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could break our resolve and stop the work. So I prayed for strength to continue the work. …  
{The Jewish opposition tried to set up Nehemiah; but the setup was foolish, asking Nehemiah to go into the Temple, which Nehemiah, well trained in God’s OT ways, would not do because he was not a Priest.} … 10 Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.” 11 But I replied, “Should someone in my position run away from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” 12 I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin by following his suggestion. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me. …  
{Note the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophesy – see Dan. 9: 25, copied below.} … 15 So on October 2 the wall was finally finished — just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16 When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 7: 1-3: 4-5 : [NLT] … {Just because the walls were built didn’t mean that God’s people could rest easy; and Nehemiah recognized the need for vigilance, 24/7.}  ...
1 After the wall was finished and I had hung the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2 I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3 I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day. And while the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at their regular posts and some in front of their own homes.” … 
 {The remainder of this chapter is a genealogical record of the people in Jerusalem at the time, very similar to the chronicle compiled and recorded in Ezra 2; and it’s quite possible that Ezra being the scribe for this book, helped Nehemiah contribute this listing of the people.} … 4 At that time the city was large and spacious, but the population was small. And only a few houses were scattered throughout the city. 5 So my God gave me the idea to call together all the leaders of the city, along with the ordinary citizens, for registration. I had found the genealogical record of those who had first returned to Judah. 

Cross Reference Passage: 2nd Timothy 1: 7 : [NLT] …  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  
Cross Reference Passage: Daniel 9: 25 : [NLT] … Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times. 

My Journal for Today: Perhaps you had a father, grandfather, or mentor in your life, as did I, who might have taught you about life by saying, “If you’re going to do a job, you might as well do it well.”

Well, in the two chapters I was led to read in my chronological study from the book of Nehemiah today, the title of my journal comments today, Job Well Done!, certainly fit the content of Chapters 6-7 of this book. In just 52 days, just a little short of two months, Nehemiah led a handful of Jews, against a devilish degree of opposition, to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. And when you think about how city walls were built in those days … very high and very thick … this was a job very well done.

In Chapter 6 of my study today, my life lesson was a reinforcement of a symbol I often use to encourage others … “ <’KOKO>< “ … which means “Keep on keeping on in Christ!” As the wall-building project moved into its later stages, where the opposition could see the very real possibility of success, the opposing forces got more and more desperate. Sanballat and the boys really tuned up the heat of opposition and intimidation; but, as you read in the summary I have copied above, Nehemiah would not be deterred, discouraged, or defeated.

And as I was studying this chapter, one of my scriptural strength verses popped into my head, … 2nd Timothy 1: 7, which I’ve copied above. And, in this NT interaction, we read of Paul as he was mentoring Timothy, the young pastor of the church in Ephesus. And in this passage, Paul reminds Timothy (and us) of a faithful God who wants to show us His love and power, giving us the clear-minded purpose of His will to guide us, rather than letting a spirit of fear dictate our steps in life. And similarly, Nehemiah’s faith would not be deterred by external or internal pressures and ploys. With a sound mind, as indicated in the 2Timothy passage, Nehemiah ignored any fears, KNOWING that God’s love and strength were his.

And the task was completed to/for God’s glory; and it was such a magnificent project that all who saw it completed, especially the opposition, knew that ONLY GOD could have engineered the completion of such a project. And as I reread that in Nehemiah 6: 16, I couldn’t help but speculate what would happen if all of God’s people today, led by a capable Godly leader, would come together with God’s plan to rebuild the walls of God’s kingdom in our culture and world?

And the walls of God’s kingdom, most certainly in our culture, are down and we are vulnerable to the very real attacks of enemies like the abortion industry, the XXX conglomerate, and the unGodly spiritual forces of so many non-Christian and anti-Christian sects in our world. But if God’s people came together, following a modern-day Nehemiah, we could rebuild the walls of God’s kingdom to resist evil enemies like these. But no matter what is not being done in this regard in the world, the least I can do is to rebuild the walls around God’s temple in my own heart; and brick-by-brick, with such bricks as compassion, forgiveness, purity, availability, vulnerability, accountability, sensitivity, determination, and many others, I can build a wall of protection around God’s temple in my own life. And God’s temple, of course, in my own personna, is my own heart, mind, and body.

 And just as Chapter 7 of Nehemiah exhorts, even when the walls are built to protect God’s Temple, I must remain vigilant on the walls to insure that no enemy of God can penetrate those walls and invade to disrupt or disturb God’s Temple where I worship our Lord by living my life for Him [see Romans 12: 1-2]. I’ll leave it to you to decide which bricks you need to replace in the walls around your heart and just which strategies of vigilance you need to set in motion to protect and preserve God’s Temple of worship in your life.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, You have led me to build the wall high and strong against attack around my own heart; and I pray that I can help others to remain vigilant in doing all we must to protect Your Temple of living sacrifice and worship. Amen

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012 … Called To Serve

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 269

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Nehemiah, Chapters 1-5 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 1: 4; 10-11 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah on hearing from his brother of the walls in Jerusalem being in shambles…] 4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.  
[Nehemiah humbly prayed as he felt called to leave his position as cupbearer to the king and to go to Jerusalem to lead in rebuilding the walls] 10 “We are your servants, [GOD] the people you rescued by your great power and might. 11 O LORD, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” … In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 2: 4-6; 9-10; 11-12; 17-18 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah, fearful of showing his grief to the King, asks Artaxerxes for the favor of going to Jerusalem.] 4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” … With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please Your Majesty and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” … 6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” So the king agreed, and I set a date for my departure. …
[Artaxerxes graciously granted Nehemiah’s request for letters of passage and resources to use in the rebuilding project, illustrating the deep relationship Nehemiah had with his king.] 9 When I came to the [Persian] governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, I delivered the king’s letters to them. The king, I should add, had sent along army officers and horsemen to protect me. 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of my arrival, they were very angry that someone had come who was interested in helping Israel….  
[Upon arriving and getting settled, Nehemiah carefully scopes out the scenario.] 11 Three days after my arrival at Jerusalem, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us, except the donkey that I myself was riding. …  
[The people on hearing Nehemiah share God’s ambitious plan caught the vision and took ownership of the vision given through Nehemiah.] 17 But now I said to them [i.e., to the Jews near Jerusalem], “You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins, and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!” 18 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, “Good! Let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. …  
[Opposition to the project continues; but note where Nehemiah places his open confidence, … in God … not revealing that he had letters from Artaxerxes to give him the king’s permission.] 19 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing, rebelling against the king like this?” they asked. … 20 But I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We his servants will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no stake or claim in Jerusalem.” 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 3: 1; 28 : [NLT] … 1 Then Eliashib, the high priest and the other priests, started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel. …  
[The people followed the lead of Nehemiah’s charge and their Priests example, building near where they lived and close to their own abodes. And note how the names of the people in this chapter were listed, documenting God’s people being involved in God’s kingdom work.] 28 The priests repaired the wall up the hill from the Horse Gate, each one doing the section immediately opposite his own house.  ============
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 4: 4-5; 8-9; 15-18 : [NLT] … [After mockery and intimidation from Sanballat and Tobiah and others, we read of Nehemiah’s first response – PRAYER!] 4 Then I prayed, “Hear us, O our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! 5 Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked You [LORD] to anger here in the presence of the builders.” … 
 [When the opposition was massed to come against God’s people/project, note Nehemiah’s first-line battle strategy – yes, PRAYER, but also strategic action.] 8 They [Sanballat, Tobiah, and others] all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and to bring about confusion there. 9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. …  
[Note the balanced battle/building strategy Nehemiah instituted, having the people build and defend and all the time God was in control with His people doing His kingdom work.] 15 When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The officers stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The common laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm. 
Highlight Passage: Nehemiah 5: 9-10; 12 : [NLT] … [Nehemiah ran into a snag involving some of the richer Jews using loans to get control over the poorer in Jerusalem; and being their leader, Nehemiah reminded them of the Old Covenant way of handling loans. And seeing Nehemiah’s Godly leadership, the people complied.] 9 Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10 I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of loans. … 
12 Then they replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials formally vow to do what they had promised. … 

My Journal for Today: Another enormous gulp of scripture in today’s chronological reading plan segment by going through the first five chapters of the book of Nehemiah. There are many angles which could be the subject of my journaling here … such as the surrendered faith and devotion of this man, Nehemiah, whom God called to step out of his role as the cupbearer to Artaxerxes, the Persian king, and to go back to Jerusalem when he learned that the walls of God’s city were in shambles.

I could write about Nehemiah’s brilliant and gifted leadership with many instances of leading the thousands of resettled Jews in a miraculous rebuilding project. Also I could comment about Nehemiah’s skillful political strategies in dealing with local opposition from greedy and jealous leaders when the Jews went back in this third migration from Persia back to Jerusalem. And I could write about how organized and careful Nehemiah was in having the people take both builder and battler positions, always building with their trowels but always carrying their swords as they rebuilt God’s kingdom. Oh, so much could be written about how God called this common man to do a very uncommon task.

But the one aspect in these five chapters I want to highlight is Nehemiah’s primary administration and battle strategy which was exhibited often and powerfully during this wondrous 52 days as Nehemiah’s became God’s rebuilding agent; and that strategy was PRAYER. And I hope you take the time to read and study through either the first five chapters of the book, as I have this morning, or to read through my “Cliff notes” summaries, copied above.

 If you do you’ll note that each time Nehemiah was confronted with his calling or by set-backs in the operations or circumstances, Nehemiah prayed. And reading these prayers, some of which are documented by Nehemiah, likely dictating his memoires to Ezra (whom the scholars believe was the scribe for this book), we read how personal and serious were these prayers.

All of this says to this humble seeker that surrendered and humble prayer needs to be my primary battle or building strategy for life. When I feel God calling me, as Nehemiah certainly did, I need to do what this man of God did … to PRAY! When I’m confronted with set-backs as I seek to do life God’s way, I need to do what Nehemiah did … and that is … to PRAY! And I hope we all see that God wants us to come to Him when we are seeking His will or His way, not relying on self, but seeking direction from the Savior.

As I’ve often taught, from learning that life is spiritual warfare, … prayer is taking the high ground for battle; and we need to take the hill and to hold it – EVERY DAY – just as Nehemiah did; and when we do, God will lead us to victory … just as he did Nehemiah.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I come to you … seriously … today, surrendered to do Your will in Your way; so, show my Your way from Your word and I will follow, prayerfully leading others to you in the process. Amen

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012 … Lord, Have Mercy!!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 268

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Ezra, Chapters 7-10 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Ezra 7: 1: 6; 8-10; 14: 27-28 : [NLT] … 1 Many years later, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia£, there was a man named Ezra. … 6 This Ezra was a scribe, well versed in the law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the LORD his God was on him. … 8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August of that year. 9 He had left Babylon on April 8£ and came to Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel. ... 
[King Artaxerxes, in writing a letter of passage for the Jews, even though a pagan king, recognized the power of God’s law and made sure that Ezra took the captured Arc of the Covenant back to Israel with the returning remnant] 14 I and my Council of Seven hereby instruct you to conduct an inquiry into the situation in Judah and Jerusalem, based on your God’s law, which is in your hand. …  
[Ezra writes a doxology, praising God for His orchestration of Ezra’s return to Jerusalem; and we note the person change, from third to first person, in the writing of the remaining of Ezra’s journal.] 27 Praise the LORD, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty princes! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the LORD my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.
Highlight Passage: Ezra 8: 15; 21-23; 28-29 : [NLT] … 15 I assembled the exiles at the Ahava Canal, and we camped there for three days while I went over the lists of the people and the priests who had arrived. I found that not one Levite had volunteered to come along. …  
[Later during the journey to Jerusalem] 21 And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. … 23 So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer. … 
 [After the worker priests were established Ezra gave them a charge of stewardship of the treasures they were taking with them to rebuild the temple.] 28 And I said to these priests, “You and these treasures have been set apart as holy to the LORD. This silver and gold is a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. 29 Guard these treasures well until you present them, without an ounce lost, to the leading priests, the Levites, and the leaders of Israel at the storerooms of the LORD’s Temple in Jerusalem.”  
Highlight Passage: Ezra 9: 5-7; 9; 13-15 : [NLT] … [After realizing how spiritually polluted the remnant had become with intermarriage and sinful disregard for God’s worship and His ways, Ezra, though pure himself, grieved and prayed for God’s mercy and the repentance of the people.] 5 At the time of the sacrifice, I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I fell to my knees, lifted my hands to the LORD my God. 6 I prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 Our whole history has been one of great sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today. … 
9 For we were slaves, but in his unfailing love our God did not abandon us in our slavery. Instead, he caused the kings of Persia to treat us favorably. He revived us so that we were able to rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins. He has given us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem. … [Ezra’s prayer for mercy, recognizing God’s holiness and justice.] 13 “Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less than we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant. 14 But now we are again breaking your commands and intermarrying with people who do these detestable things. Surely your anger will destroy us until even this little remnant no longer survives. 15 O LORD, God of Israel, you are just. We stand before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence.” 
Highlight Passage: Ezra 10: 10-13 : [NLT] … [After much contemplation, fasting, and corporate confession in prayer] 10 Then Ezra the priest stood and said to them: “You have sinned, for you have married pagan women. Now we are even more deeply under condemnation than we were before. 11 Confess your sin to the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do what he demands. Separate yourselves from the people of the land and from these pagan women.”  
[God’s people realized that not only did the Temple have to be rebuilt to honor God, so did their lives have to be restored in repentance and surrender to honor the Lord with their holiness.] 12 Then the whole assembly raised their voices and answered, “Yes, you are right; we must do as you say!” 13 Then they added, “This isn’t something that can be done in a day or two, for many of us are involved in this extremely sinful affair. This is the rainy season, so we cannot stay out here much longer. 

My Journal for Today: After returning to the last five chapters in the Book of Ezra today after a two-day jaunt in the book of Esther, I have entitled my journal title for today’s study, ”Lord, Have Mercy,” which is a phrase one often hears from the mouth of a Christian when there is a realization of personal sin or a perception of someone else’s sinful behavior.

Could I get an “Amen!” of agreement to the truth in Paul’s theological declaration, in Romans 3: 23 that … We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yes, we know that’s true, don’t we? However, sometimes, … maybe too often, … we recognize that we’ve personally fallen into a season of habitual or recurring sin which has dampened or damaged our personal relationship with the Lord; and we also recognize that we must either personally – or even corporately – take steps to confess, repent, and to choose to do what Christ demands of us in Luke 9: 23. But, at the same time, we’re undergirded by the truth of 1st John 1: 9, … that if we confess our sins, God, in His faithfulness and mercy, will cleanse us of our sins (by the blood of Christ) and restore us unto righteousness.

That was the realization of Ezra, and ultimately the remnant of believers returning to Jerusalem from captivity to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. They came to realize that they had to voluntarily choose repentance (as repentance is always a choice!) and turn back to God; and they did so, following Ezra’s preaching of truth from God’s word that God is holy and He demands holiness from His people. Not only were the people going to have to dedicate all the treasures they were taking back to rebuild the Temple to God’s glory; but they were going to have to be stewards of their own holiness and rededicate their lives to holiness just as they were going to rebuild the Temple to worship God in His holiness.

I don’t know where you are in your life and/or relationship with God; but I do know that most of us can use a serious self-examination and a season of serious prayer and confession, repenting from past patterns of sin and allowing God’s to extend His enabling grace, through our faith, to give us the strength of God’s directed purpose to live in obedience to God’s word, seeking His will, and choosing to live in His way.

In that regard, I say again that God wants us to become His Priests, just as Ezra was His Priest to His people, praying humbly and diligently that we all choose to be stewards of God’s holiness in our lives.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I want to be an Ezra, shining Your light of holiness into a world darkened by unholiness. Amen

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 22-23, 2012 … Here For A Day Such As This

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 266-7

Blogger's Note: No, ... I didn't disappear for a day or shirk my discipline in my daily chronological study of the Bible this year. Today, I'm merely combining my study from yesterday with my devotional journal for today to document my study of the Book of Esther for the past two days.

Passage of the Day - 9/22: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Esther, Chapters 1-5 To study these chapters, go to this link
Passage of the Day – 9/23: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Esther, Chapters 6-10 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Esther 1 … Use the link above to read each Chapter of Esther : [NLT] … {Read of the intrigue in the palace of the Persian King, Xerxes, in the remainder of Chapter 1, especially how his Queen, Vashti, was banished from the kingdom by a drunken, impulsive King when she refused to come to him when summoned.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 2: : [NLT] … {Read of the remaining intrigue in Chapter 2 from the link above of how Esther became favored by the King among all the women brought to him and how she was crowned as the new Queen of Persia, keeping her Jewish ancestry a secret at the advice of her older cousin, Mordecai, who had raised her like his daughter.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 3 : [NLT] … {And now, in this drama of life, we read of a scenario totally orchestrated by God, Whom, by the way, is not mentioned even once in this book. But, reading on in Chapter 3, enters a powerful character, Haman, who was Xerxes’ right hand man in Persia. And this proud administrator ordered that all in the kingdom bow to him; and all did, save Mordecai. And rebuffed by the Queen’s relative, Haman conned Xerxes into signing a decree that all the Jews would be killed.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 4: 13-15 [Note highlighted and underlined verse 14 below] : [NLT] … {Now the plot thickens as Mordecai grieves the King’s decree, engineered by Haman, Esther asks to be seen by the King, … a brave move because in that kingdom, no one is allowed to come to the King on his/her own. Then Mordecai contacts his cousin. And we read the key verses in all of this chronicle of the life of Esther.} …  
13 Mordecai sent back this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” 
Highlight Passage: Esther 5 : [NLT] … {And then we read of Esther’s plan to uncover Haman’s scheme as she plans two banquets, seemingly honoring Haman but where she ultimately will reveal all to Xerxes, which would be the ultimate test of the King’s love for her. And in all of this God’s hand moves, with His sovereign grace, to reshape the political landscape in Persia and, as we’ll read in the remainder of this book, save His chosen people, using this simple Jewish girl to execute His will. Read the remaining portion of Chapter 5, using the link above, to read this portion of God’s drama in Persia.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 6 … : [NLT] … {And in this perfectly timed historical drama, Haman’s very human pride and greedy misperception became God’s vehicle to take Mordecai to a place of honor and Haman to his just “reward,” which of course was death [chapter 7]. God will always punish disobedience and reward obedience, … even though it may take a while – i.e., God’s timing – for the scales of God’s justice to fall into alignment … maybe not even in this life; … but all of God’s justice will fall into place – HIS place – in glory.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 7 … : [NLT] … {And the true colors of Haman are unveiled and the gallows become his final place of dishonor in history, while God’s plan of salvation for Esther and His chosen people play out in the relationship and witness of love which Esther had established with King Xerxes. }
Highlight Passage: Esther 8 … : [NLT] … {And God’s reward for Esther’s and Mordecai’s faithfulness is meted out by King Xerxes, showing God’s ultimate reward for the faithfulness of believers. But we shouldn’t expect that such a reward will take place in this life. And even when it does, as with the travails of Esther, we often have to walk through the fires of life to allow God’s will and plan to be executed. That was the lesson we also learn from Job, isn’t it? But God’s ultimate reward for our faithfulness is worth anything we might encounter in this life because, as Xerxes sealed the reward of protection for the Jews through Mordecai in Chapter 8, our future in protected – FOREVER – by God’s seal of His Spirit and eternal life for those who’ve given our hearts over to the Messiah.}
Highlight Passage: Esther 9 … : [NLT] … {In Chapter 9 we read of how the events of God’s justice played out historically for the Jews in those days of Xerxes and his giving the Jews the right to defend themselves against any enemies. And when it all played out, Mordecai established a feast, the feast of Purim, which is still celebrated by orthodox or Messianic Jews about this time of the year, celebrating another of God’s just deliverance from the injustices and schemes of those who would come against God. … The message – God will not be mocked! }
Highlight Passage: Esther 10 … : [NLT] … {My Parson’s commentary at the end of this chapter, records the following: "Although we may not understand everything happening around us, we must trust in God’s protection and retain our integrity by doing what we know is right. Esther, who risked her life by appearing before the king, became a heroine. Mordecai, who was effectively condemned to death, rose to become the second highest ranking official in the nation. No matter how hopeless our condition, or how much we would like to give up, we need not despair. God is in control of our world.” }

Cross Reference Passage: Romans 8: 28-30 : [NLT] … 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together£ for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory. 

My Journal for These Two Days: And for the past two days my chronological reading plan has taken me into the fascinating narrative of the book of Esther, … a book in God’s inspired Bible where the human author (whom we don’t know for sure – possibly Mordecai) never mentions God by any of the LORD’s names; but in this narrative, which almost reads like a three-act Shakespearian play or a Greek tragedy, the hand of God is very evident as He uses the lives of the main players, Esther, Mordecai, Xerxes, and Haman, to play out their roles – under the scripting of God Himself – to show all of us how God moves to protect those who love Him and are His called ones. And as I read this dramatic scenario again this morning, I was taken to one of my main memory verses in the NT, … Romans 8: 28, which reads [in the NKJV], All things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.

As you can see above, I’ve changed my format a bit in my journaling these past two days, putting in some of my own descriptive comments above instead of quoting from the actual text of the Book of Esther. But I do hope anyone reading this will go back and read through the Book of Esther’s life, which shows us all how we’re planted here in our times and our sphere of influences to be agents of God’s purposes and His players in His perfectly timed drama of life.

To quote from Mordecai’s plea to Esther (and the key verse of the Book in Chapter 4: 14), … “who can say but that you have been elevated to [this time and place] for just such a time as this?" And by taking in this dramatic scenario in Esther’s life, we must ask ourselves, in these times in which we live, “What is the role God wants me to be played in my life and times to be God’s well-placed person and to carry out His well-intentioned will for this time and place in my life?”

And I’ll leave that to your own personal quandary today. It certainly weighs heavily on my mind mind/heart.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, show me where You want me to step in and become Your voice in my life and times. I want to be like Esther and shine Your light in an ever darkening world, exactly where You’ve placed me. Amen

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012 … That Day Is Coming

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 265

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Zechariah, Chapters 10-14 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Zechariah 10: 1-4; 8-9 : [NLT] … 1 Ask the LORD for rain in the spring, and he will give it. It is the LORD who makes storm clouds that drop showers of rain so that every field becomes a lush pasture. … 2 Household gods give false advice, fortune-tellers predict only lies, and interpreters of dreams pronounce comfortless falsehoods. So my people are wandering like lost sheep, without a shepherd to protect and guide them. 3 “My anger burns against your shepherds, and I will punish these leaders. For the LORD Almighty has arrived to look after his flock of Judah; he will make them strong and glorious, like a proud warhorse in battle. 4 From Judah will come the cornerstone, the tent peg, the battle bow, and all the rulers. … 
8 When I whistle to them [pictured as the Good Shepherd], they will come running, for I have redeemed them. From the few that are left, their population will grow again to its former size. 9 Though I have scattered them like seeds among the nations, still they will remember me in distant lands. With their children, they will survive and come home again to Israel. 
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 11: 14-17 : [NLT] … 14 Then I broke my other staff, Union, to show that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken. … 15 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This will illustrate how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for the sheep that are threatened by death, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves. 17 Doom is certain for this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye! His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind!”  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 12: 1-3; 10-14 : [NLT] … 1 This message concerning the fate of Israel came from the LORD: “This message is from the LORD, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the spirit within humans. 2 I will make Jerusalem and Judah like an intoxicating drink to all the nearby nations that send their armies to besiege Jerusalem. 3 On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone, a burden for the world. None of the nations who try to lift it will escape unscathed. … 
10 “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on Me whom they have pierced and mourn for Him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.  11 The sorrow and mourning in Jerusalem on that day will be like the grievous mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo.  12 “All Israel will weep in profound sorrow, each family by itself, with the husbands and wives in separate groups. The family of David will mourn, along with the family of Nathan, 13 the family of Levi, and the family of Shimei. 14 Each of the surviving families from Judah will mourn separately, husbands and wives apart. 
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 13: 1; 7-9 : [NLT] … 1 “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement. … 
7 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, the man who is my partner, says the LORD Almighty. Strike down the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn against the lambs. 8 Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die, says the LORD. But a third will be left in the land. 9 I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘these are my people,’ and they will say, ‘the LORD is our God.’” 
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 14: 1-4; 9; 11; 20-21 : [NLT] … 1 Watch, for the day of the LORD is coming when your possessions will be plundered right in front of you! 2 On that day I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses plundered, and the women raped. Half the population will be taken away into captivity, and half will be left among the ruins of the city. … 3 Then the LORD will go out to fight against those nations, as He has fought in times past. 4 On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west, for half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. … 
9 And the LORD will be King over all the earth. On that day there will be one LORD — His name alone will be worshiped. … 11 And Jerusalem will be filled, safe at last, never again to be cursed and destroyed. … 
20 On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: SET APART AS HOLY TO THE LORD. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the LORD will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar. 21 In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be set apart as holy to the LORD Almighty. All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices. And on that day there will no longer be traders in the Temple of the LORD Almighty. 

My Journal for Today: Today I was led into the last five chapters of Zechariah’s journal of prophesy; and I’m a bit overwhelmed. In these chapters, as you may know, God, through the Prophet, tells of  "THAT DAY"  on the horizon of time when God’s Son, The Messiah, will come, in all His glory, to defeat the evil forces of this world, take their evil leaders – i.e., Satan and his minions – captive, and restore all that is righteous for all of those who have believed in Messiah and lived in obedience to His word as evidence of that faith.

And it all points to that final battle where the triumphant Good Shepherd, will come down through the valley of Megiddo and destroy all the evil forces in this world and establish The Lord’s kingdom, with the LORD ruling on the Mount of Olives, where He will rule forever in the New Jerusalem.

Again, this morning I’m not going to say too much, hoping that you’ve read, studied, and meditated on the truths of these last chapters in Zechariah. I’ll only ask a few very personal, but important, questions, having been through this meditation myself. I’m deeply convicted, especially by Chapter 14, highlighted above with some key phrasing in bold/underlined.

… And I ask this, again from my own conviction … “Are we read for that day?” ... and … “Are we watching, even today, for the return of our Good Shepherd?” … and … “When He comes, will He call our names?”

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I’m ready. Come soon, my LORD, Jesus! Amen

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20, 2012 … The King Is Coming!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 264

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Zechariah, Chapters 5-9 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Zechariah 5: 3-4; 9-11 : [NLT] … 3 Then he said to me, “This scroll contains the curse that is going out over the entire land. One side says that those who steal will be banished from the land; the other side says that those who swear falsely will be banished from the land.” 4 And this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I am sending this curse into the house of every thief and into the house of everyone who swears falsely by my name. And my curse will remain in that house until it is completely destroyed—even its timbers and stones.”… 
9 Then I looked up and saw two women flying toward us, with wings gliding on the wind. Their wings were like those of a stork, and they picked up the basket and flew with it into the sky. 10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel. 11 He replied, “To the land of Babylonia, where they will build a temple for the basket. And when the temple is ready, they will set the basket there on its pedestal.” 
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 6: 1; 5; 8; 12-13; 15 : [NLT] … 1 Then I looked up again and saw four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains. … 
5 He replied, “These are the four spirits£ of heaven who stand before the Lord of all the earth. They are going out to do his work. …” 
8 Then the LORD summoned me and said, “Those who went north have vented the anger of my Spirit there.” … 
12 Tell him that the LORD Almighty says: Here is the man called the Branch. He will branch out where he is and build the Temple of the LORD. 13 He will build the LORD’s Temple, and he will receive royal honor and will rule as king from his throne. He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between the two. ... 
15 Many will come from distant lands to rebuild the Temple of the LORD. And when this happens, you will know my messages have been from the LORD Almighty. All this will happen if you carefully obey the commands of the LORD your God.  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 7: 3; 6; 8-9; 11-12 : [NLT] … 3 [The remnant of believers in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem] They were to ask this question of the prophets and of the priests at the Temple of the LORD Almighty: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction, as we have done for so many years?” … 
6 [God’s response through Zechariah ] … “And even now in your holy festivals, you don’t think about Me but only of pleasing yourselves. …” 
8Then this message came to Zechariah from the LORD: 9 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. … “ 
11 “Your ancestors would not listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the LORD Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the LORD Almighty was so angry with them. …”  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 8: 1-3; 6-8; 9; 13; 18-19 : [NLT] … 1 Then another message came to me from the LORD Almighty: 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem! 3 And now the LORD says: I am returning to Mount Zion, and I will live in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City; the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain. …” 
 6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “All this may seem impossible to you now, a small and discouraged remnant of God’s people. But do you think this is impossible for me, the LORD Almighty? 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. 8 I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God. …” 
9 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Take heart and finish the task! You have heard what the prophets have been saying about building the Temple of the LORD Almighty ever since the foundation was laid. …” 
13 “ … Among the nations, Judah and Israel had become symbols of what it means to be cursed. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing! So don’t be afraid or discouraged, but instead get on with rebuilding the Temple! …” 
18 Here is another message that came to me from the LORD Almighty. 19 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter£ are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace.  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 9: 9; : [NLT] … 9 Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey — even on a donkey’s colt. … 

Cross Reference Passage: Matthew 19: 26 : [NLT] …  Jesus looked at them [i.e., His disciples] intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”  
Cross Reference Passage: Matthew 21: 1-1 : [NLT] … To read this fulfillment of Zech. 9: 9 … GO TO THIS LINK ... 

Blogger’s Addendum: For added devotional emphasis of these wonderful prophesies from Zechariah, may I link you to that wonderful old praise song, The King Is Coming!, written and performed by Bill Gaither and his Trio - 

My Journal for Today: Was led into the next four chapters in Zechariah’s prophetic journal today; and it was a glorious time of study and meditation this morning. I’m not going to write much here in my journal today, hoping that you’ll take the time to read and reflect on Zechariah’s prophesies in these passages.

I was especially taken by that marvelously accurate prophesy of the Palm Sunday scene in Zechariah 9: 9, [in a separate color above] where The Messiah, Whom we now know is Jesus, from the scenario in Matthew 21: 1-11, linked above, is triumphantly riding on the little colt, prophesied by Zechariah, down that street from the Mount of Olives into the Temple Gates. And at that moment God’s people would seemingly recognize that their King is coming again. But just a few days later, that triumphant scene would be replaced with the horror of many of the same people calling for the God-man’s crucifixion.

And as I read through all of the Messianic prophesies of Zechariah this morning in my quiet time, I couldn’t help by remember and pull up from You Tube (linked above) the old song, written and sung by Bill Gather and his trio; and I hope you link to it and watch this piece to get a sense of what Zechariah, some 500+ years before Christ’s first coming, was prophesying of our Lord’s second coming; and isn’t that prophesy in Zechariah, Chapter 9, verse 9 just the most wonderful picture that The King Is Coming again … in glory!!

My Prayer Today: … Awaiting Your return, Lord; … come soon, Lord, Jesus! Amen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 2012 … Looking On Ahead to New Beginnings

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 263

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Zechariah, Chapters 1-4 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passage: Zechariah 1: 1-6; 14-17; : [NLT] … 1 In mid-autumn of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD gave this message to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah and grandson of Iddo. 2 “ I, the LORD, was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore, say to the people, ‘this is what the LORD Almighty says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.’ 4 Do not be like your ancestors who would not listen when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘this is what the LORD Almighty says: Turn from your evil ways and stop all your evil practices.’ … 5 “Your ancestors and their prophets are now long dead. 6 But all the things I said through my servants, the prophets, happened to your ancestors, just as I said they would. As a result, they repented and said, ‘We have received what we deserved from the LORD Almighty. He has done what he said he would do.’” …
 [Zechariah prophesying to The Remnant in Jerusalem] … 14 Then the angel said to me, “Shout this message for all to hear: ‘this is what the LORD Almighty says: My love for Jerusalem and Mount Zion is passionate and strong. 15 But I am very angry with the other nations that enjoy peace and security. I was only a little angry with my people, but the nations punished them far beyond my intentions. … 16 “‘Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I have returned to show mercy to Jerusalem. My Temple will be rebuilt, says the LORD Almighty, and plans will be made for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.’ 17 Say this also: ‘this is what the LORD Almighty says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own.’” …  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 2: 6-7; 8-13 : [NLT] … 6 The LORD says, “Come away! Flee from the north, for I have scattered you to the four winds. 7 Come away! Escape to Jerusalem, you who are exiled in Babylon!” … 
8 “After a period of glory, the LORD Almighty sent me against the nations who oppressed you. For he said, ‘Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession. 9 I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.’ Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.” 10 The LORD says, “Shout and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you. 11 Many nations will join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they, too, will be my people. I will live among you, and you will know that the LORD Almighty sent me to you. 12 The land of Judah will be the LORD’s inheritance in the holy land, and he will once again choose Jerusalem to be his own city. 13 Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.”  
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 3: 1-4; 8-10 : [NLT] … 1 Then the angel showed me Jeshua [or “Joshua,” the High Priest in Jerusalem to the Remnant from Babylon] … the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. Satan [“the Accuser”] was there at the angel’s right hand, accusing Jeshua of many things. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from a fire.” … 3 Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. 4 So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” … 
8 Listen to me, O Jeshua the high priest, and all you other priests. You are symbols of the good things to come. Soon I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 Now look at the jewel I have set before Jeshua, a single stone with seven facets. I will engrave an inscription on it, says the LORD Almighty, and I will remove the sins of this land in a single day. 10 And on that day, says the LORD Almighty, each of you will invite your neighbor into your home to share your peace and prosperity.” 
Highlight Passage: Zechariah 4: 6-7; 10 : [NLT] … 6 Then he [the angel messenger bring God’s message to Zechariah] said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty. 7 Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will flatten out before him! Then Zerubbabel will set the final stone of the Temple in place [i.e., the Cornerstone, Who is Jesus], and the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’” … 
10 [Zechariah prophesies about working for God’s purposes] … Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. For these seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.” 

My Journal for Today: Moving on today in my daily chronological Bible-reading assignments, having come through part of Ezra, the Priest in the days of God’s remnant returning from Babylon to Jerusalem as well as the Prophets of Haggai and, now today, Zechariah, who were given the task, by God, to prod the people, in their very human reticence, to KEEP ON KEEPING ON to complete their Spirit-anointed task of rebuilding God’s Temple in Jerusalem. And yesterday, I was led to reflect/study Haggai’s role, who helped spark the remnant to believe God’s pormises and to move toward completion of the Temple building project.

But Zechariah, today’s focus prophet, took God prodding and prophesy to a whole new level, looking even further down the road of history (i.e., prophesy) to show the Israelites how God was using current day personae, such as Yeshua, the local High Priest, to be God’s picture of a new beginning for the believers who trusted in God’s one day glorious day of return when the ultimate returning High Priest, The Messiah, whose Name we now know would also be “Yeshua,” would rule in a wondrous and gloriously perfect Temple time; … and He would rule forever, wearing new, perfect garments to replace the old rags of sin which had been worn by other priests in Israel’s past.

The remnant, especially the older ones in Zerubbabel’s time, were no doubt somewhat disappointed that the restored temple which they were rebuilding would not be as glorious as the Temple built by Solomon. However, Zechariah, prophesied an even greater Temple which would be ruled over by the promised Messiah, … where God’s believing remnant would be cared for … forever.

The book of Zechariah has wonderful pictures of Jesus, The Christ, … the One and Only Messiah, who would be God’s Lamb and Who would judge the world upon His return; and here, through this one post-exile prophet, God paints the picture of what we, post-resurrection Christians, can now recognize are clear predictions of all which would be fulfilled in the life, death, resurrection, and return of the perfect Yeshua, Whom Zechariah pictured so clearly in his journal of prophesy.

I relish the further study and pictured promise of our Messiah’s 2nd coming, especially as I’m led to study further in the prophesies of Zechariah. I hope you, who might be coming along with me, are just as excited as am I to be meditating on these prophesies.

My Prayer Today: … Oh, LORD, thank You for the promise of You in Your word. Amen