A Mind to Work! #5

Friday, May 24, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah chapter 4 continues, “[7] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, [8] And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

“[9] Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. [10] And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. [11] And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. [12] And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. [13] Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

“[14] And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. [15] And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.”

In the face of intensifying opposition, God’s people were determined to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Satan would not be successful in deterring them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are Matthew 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of the same Spirit baptism?

A Mind to Work! #4

Thursday, May 23, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

The Jews under Nehemiah’s direction build the sections of the wall of Jerusalem (chapter 3). Also, they reconstruct the various gates or entryways. In spite of the opposition and snide remarks from their enemies (2:19), God’s people are not deterred. They have determined not to let Satan get the advantage.

Watch how chapter 4 opens: “[1] But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. [2] And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? [3] Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.

“[4] Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: [5] And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. [6] So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Here is today’s Scripture, please notice.)

Sinful Gentiles, men cooperating with Satan, continue to make fun of God’s work. The LORD has ordered Jerusalem and its walls to be rebuilt, so the Devil has naturally taken the opposing view. Verse 7, “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,….” Satan is relentless….

A Mind to Work! #3

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah chapter 2 continues: “[9] Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. [10] When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. [11] So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days….”

“[17] Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. [18] Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. [19] But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? [20] Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”

When Israel’s enemies (Arabs, Palestinians) heard that a man, Nehemiah, had returned to Jerusalem to seek Israel’s best interests, those adversaries became willing tools of Satan. They laughed at Nehemiah and his Jewish brethren, attempting to discourage them from rebuilding the city wall. Nehemiah correctly responded, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” He had already trusted God’s Word, and they were heartened to rebuild….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?

A Mind to Work! #2

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

Nehemiah, a Jew, lived 450 years before the Thessalonians of Paul’s ministry. He was in Persia (modern Iran), born there after the Babylonians captured and exiled Judah nearly 150 years prior. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had ransacked Jerusalem, and burned its walls and Temple. Nehemiah is despondent, depressed to learn that Jerusalem still lies in ruins after all these decades. (Read Nehemiah chapter 1.)

Persian King Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah why he is unhappy. Chapter 2: “[3] And [Nehemiah] said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? [4] Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. [5] And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

“[6] And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. [7] Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; [8] And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me.”

The LORD God has granted Nehemiah favor with Artaxerxes. Now, Nehemiah can return to rebuild Jerusalem and especially its walls….

A Mind to Work! #1

Monday, May 20, 2019

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).

It is a verse from Israel’s ancient records, but the underlying principle is most beneficial to us if we are willing to hear and believe it.

The Church the Body of Christ appears to be hopelessly ignorant, does it not? It is no secret that many professing believers find even the most basic life decisions quite difficult. Rudimentary principles of Christian living are so completely foreign to them. There is no sound Bible doctrine being taught and believed, so their minds are shallow, feeble, and easily manipulated.

If God’s Word has truly been studied and believed rightly divided, it will (!!!) work to renew the minds of the saints. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

That renewed mind causes Christians to work in accordance with the doctrine contained in the verses. When we see believers in Christ sitting around, looking down at the floor, wasting time doing nothing, they are guilty of one thing—failing to have a renewed mind! The Bible is there. It is not God’s fault. They have not learned sound Bible doctrine, or they have been taught it but have not believed it. Whatever the case, someone has been grossly negligent—and it is not God!

Notice what the Apostle Paul said of the Thessalonian believers in chapter 1 of his first epistle to them: “[6] And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: [7] So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” Paul preached God’s Word to them, and once they trusted it, they began to work….

Bible Q&A #610: “Is that a UFO in Ezekiel chapter 1?

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Thirteen years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory! 🙂

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

By the way, you may also be interested in reading this archived special-edition study about my own college experience.

Human Eyes Versus Divine Eyes #4

Thursday, May 16, 2019

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth (Matthew 27:39-44 KJV).

It is the same event, viewed from two different perspectives. Which assessment is reality and which is folly?

Dear friends, sin causes us to have a misleading sense of reality. Jeremiah 17:9 attests: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Spiritual darkness and confusion corrupt our standards, to the degree that we cannot accurately evaluate our surroundings. Our heart tricks us. If left to ourselves (lacking or refusing Divine insight), we dwell in the dark as those of today’s Scripture.

Isaiah 55:8,9 declares: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God (of course) is infinitesimally intellectually superior to us. With that limitless knowledge, He effortlessly lays out complicated paths to achieve His goals. We are simply too inadequate to understand His every move. Hence, if we depend on our sinful hearts, then we will ridicule Him. The equivalent is a child in his ignorance making fun of an adult’s planning. Is the child capable of appreciating mature reasoning? (Nay, and as long as we laud our incomplete astuteness, neither can we realize God’s wisdom!)

“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Yea, 1 Corinthians 1:20 is correct. God has made foolish the “wisdom” of this world….