June 3, 2017

Today you should read: Nehemiah 13:1-31

I hope you’ve been encouraged by what you have read in the book of Nehemiah and some of our staff’s commentary on this lovely Old Testament book. I know I have. I also know that the book doesn’t end on such an encouraging note, so hopefully you’re on that spiritual, emotional high before it all comes down in the last chapter.

We have seen how Nehemiah has rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and how the people of God got serious about His Word and His will again. But this all falls apart (again) when we see Nehemiah return back to the king after the reforms he had made. During this time, Eliashib the priest did evil by not administrating the tithes and offerings the way God asked (v. 4-9). The Levites were also neglected their offerings so they left town (v. 10). The people of Judah broke the Sabbath and the Jews started marrying people outside of their faith.

After working so hard, it had to seem like everything fell apart when Nehemiah left and he was angry when witnessing all of this after coming back. He confronted these sins and even threatened some of the people who desecrated the fresh reforms that were put into place. This had to have been discouraging for Nehemiah and it’s interesting how the book ends with him saying “Remember me, O my God, for good.” I believe he said this because as the leader, he probably felt the heavy weight and responsibility of these sins after working so hard in leading these people back to God and having it all fall apart after a short time away. Many people feel that same way about their own sin or the sins of those that they are entrusted to lead. We remember the bad more than the good. I bring this up because one particular verse stands out to me over all other verses in this chapter that can sum up all of the bad things this book ended on after the great steps that Nehemiah and God’s people made in the first 12 chapters.

“….yet our God turned the curse into a blessing.” (13:2c)

This verse is referring to how God used the Israelites disobeying Deuteronomy 23 by allowing Ammonites and Moabites into the Temple (ex. Ezra 6, Ruth) but I believe that God used this last chapter which sets itself up as a curse into a blessing as well. I say this because I think you and I can read this and get hung up on all of the sin and wandering away from God more then the good He has done or that we have experienced as well and that a lot of that can be turned into a blessing.

Nehemiah closes out on a sour note but that’s not what the book of Nehemiah is remembered for. In fact when you hear about Nehemiah, you are reminded of his bold leadership and fearless reform in Jerusalem glorifying God once again. We worship a God that remembers the good in us because He only sees a good Jesus as our defense when we do go back to the sin He has saved us from.

  • Do you focus on the bad instead of the good in your life?
  • What supposed “curse” in your life can God turn into a blessing?

Feel free to comment below.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

June 2, 2017

Today you should read: Nehemiah 12:44-47

This passage is written for the purpose of recalling that the work of the priests and Levites had been put in place nearly a century before Nehemiah, and that even in that span of time they had always been provided for.

On that day there was a refresher on the proper collection of tithes and offerings. Time is taken to bring people together and remind them of how God has always been the provider and He has always been faithful. It was also a reminder of the law that says for the people to give tithes and offerings.

When I read this I am reminded not of a burden to give tithes and offerings, but a joy to give back a portion of what has already been provided to me. What we give back is simply a portion of what is already God’s. So we should take time to remember how God has provided for us so faithfully. When we do this we start to develop a lifestyle of generosity that is powered by a love for God and a desire to see His kingdom grow.

What are some other ways that we can develop this heart and lifestyle of generosity?

How often do you take the time to remember how God has been faithful to provide for you?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

June 1, 2017

Today you should read: Nehemiah 12:1-43

The first part of today’s reading may seem boring and mundane, but there are some great things happening. The people of Israel are functioning as the people of Israel should! Since this is a rare occurrence, it’s worth noting. The priest, scribes, governor, and Levites all took hold of their God-given purpose, at least in this moment.

Reflection Question #1: Am I living out the purpose for which God put me on this earth?

The second part of today’s reading gives us a snapshot of the dedication of Nehemiah’s rebuilt wall. This was such a climactic moment for the people of Israel – they could now defend themselves again. They could have “watchmen on the wall” and offer protection over the city. Jerusalem could stand once more as a “city on a hill”. This was no small thing. They asked for the blessing of the Lord. The choir sang. The musicians played. They celebrated.

Reflection Question #2: Is my life dedicated to the will of God?

The third part of the reading explains the re-implementation of the Temple servants. People were appointed for each of the various roles it took to make the Temple function: storekeepers, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and more. I love what verse 45 says about them: “And they performed the service of their God…”

Reflection Question #3: Am I living to the glory of God by serving with the gifts and talents He’s given me?

What else did you glean from our reading? What is the Lord teaching you through Nehemiah? Did the reflection questions help you think through your faith in Jesus?

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

May 31, 2017

Today you should read: Nehemiah 11

Whenever you come across a passage like this in the Old Testament, I think it’s important to remember what has brought us to the point we are at. At first glance, this list of names doesn’t mean much. But when you think about how, since from the book of Genesis, God has been working out a promise to redeem the people of Israel, you can see that there is much importance in making sure that the city of Jerusalem was well supplied with people. The ESV Study Bible says, “This chapter addresses the need to maintain a proportion of the population in Jerusalem, and records the names of leaders who lived there.”

Throughout the Old Testament we see example after example of Israel being brought back and redeemed, all pointing us to God’s ultimate form of provision in Christ. This is a great opportunity to be reminded of the grace of God and be thankful today. In the comments, what are some ways that you have seen God’s grace at work in your life this week?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice