Sunday, August 2, 2015

TREASURE

Today’s Reading: Colossians 2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Jeremiah’s Grotto is where tradition says the Prophet Jeremiah penned his “Lamentations.” His cave is just to the right of what is believed by some to be the Jewish and Roman place of execution. Nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus was crucified on a hill. Executions took place in the most public places. This public place today is a bus station. On top of the hill is a Muslim graveyard. Just to the left is a garden with a rock-hewn tomb (check John 19:38-42).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Colossians 2:8-10

Beware lest anyone cheat you (take spoil, rob, steal) through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

 

WARNING! The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (verse 3). There are those who are intent on stealing your TREASURE! They use “persuasive words” to accomplish this heist. Paul lists ways they try to break into our lives and rob us: (1) “Philosophy” (it may sound reasonable); (2) “Deceit” (they lie); (3) “Tradition” (Jesus is our focus, not centuries of tradition); (4) “Principles of the world” (materialism, prosperity, etc.); (5) Verse 16 – Requirements for certain foods; (6) Insisting on keeping appointed festivals and holy days as essential for God’s favour; (7) Verse 18 – The deceivers will put on a show of humility and claim to have superior knowledge, claiming to have heard from angels or being deceived themselves, even worshipping the fallen angel who is called in Scripture “The god of this world” (read 2 Cor 11:13-14); (8) Verses 21-23 – Self-imposed regulations or a “self-imposed religion.” Therefore, watch out for thieves!

Galatians 5:1 teaches us to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” AMEN!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, there are forces out to cheat me of Your ultimate truth in Jesus alone. Thank You that I am “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). I pray for grace to live constantly in that “Blessed Assurance” (click here for the hymn by that name). Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Dr. Ben Carson, the world’s most famous children’s neurosurgeon and a candidate for President of the United States, has a song he sings when he is under great pressure. It’s all about Jesus, and fits well with our reading of the book of Colossians. The song is, “Jesus is all the world to me” (click here for a rendition of the song). Dr. Carson has been a guest on the 100 Huntley Street telecast (click here for the interview from a few years back). Catch Dr. Carson on the Presidential debate this Thursday evening on FOX News live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Please pray for this man of God.

I was 18 when I came to realize my full freedom in Christ. I had been struggling to live according to certain rules and regulations when I came to the end of myself and said to God, “I can’t do this. I quit!” Then I’m sure I heard the Lord say, “Good, now perhaps you will let Me live My Life in and through you.” He did this! It became a joy instead of a duty to rise in the morning to read the Scriptures and pray. It became a joy to share my faith in Jesus, and so many other blessings followed that I can’t begin to mention them all.

Yours for the true freedom found only in Christ,

David

P.S. In Colossians we are focusing on Jesus. Click here for another instalment of Bruce Marchiano in the Matthew movie.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PEACE WITH GOD

Today’s Reading: Colossians 1

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Located just outside the ancient walls of Jerusalem, this rock face is believed by many to be “Golgotha” or “The Place of the Skull” (Matthew 27:33), where Jesus was crucified. Isaiah 53:10 tells us that,”It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” God was “Pleased.” “The pleasure of the Lord.” What a sublime mystery! Let’s think deeply about this.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Colossians 1:19-20

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

 

Just in case we might miss Paul’s main theme for this letter, he repeats the Name of Jesus, or a personal pronoun referring to Jesus, about 30 times in today’s reading. Jesus is the Lord of creation (1:16-17), the Source of reconciliation (1:20-22), the Reason for the believer’s hope (1:5, 1:23, 27), the Strength to live a new life (1:11 & 29), our Redeemer (1:14), 100% fully God (1:15 & 19), the Reason the cosmos exists and holds together (1:16, 17), the Head of the Church, the resurrected One, the preeminent Person in the universe (1:18), the Peacemaker between God and humanity (1:20), and the One who works mightily in us (1:29). Do we have the message clearly in our minds and hearts? God’s answer to human need is “Jesus.” We got this fact as children in Sunday School. We may remember that when the teacher asked a question, we would usually guess the answer was “Jesus.” Jesus taught that we are to become as little children (Matthew 18:1-5). In contrast to the first Covenant of God with mankind, which we read about yesterday (about keeping laws and regulations), the New Covenant is all about a Person and a personal relationship with Him.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, I believe IN You, not just about You. I believe IN You as a bride believes in her man whom she meets at the altar of God. I give You, Lord, my entire life forever and ever. As Paul gave thanks and prayed consistently for the people of Colosse, even so I give thanks and pray for all my blog brothers and sisters. I’m praying from the “prayer book” of Colossians (1: 9-11), and I believe God says a resounding “YES!” to my prayers. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’ve attached a movie clip to the blog of what I believe is most powerful. It features actor Bruce Marchiano as Jesus, quoting the actual words of Jesus. The Apostle Matthew was Bruce’s script writer. Bruce has often guested on the 100 Huntley Street telecast. My mind is putting Colossians chapter one as an overlay to the movie scene. I am deeply moved! (Click here to watch a short video clip).

I have had the honour in several communities to serve as a Chaplain for veterans associations. Invariably, when I spoke at memorial services, I chose today’s key verse as my text. Those who gave their lives for our country have made a great sacrifice. Jesus gave His life to make peace with God and between all people groups. He “made peace through the blood of His cross.” I share the fact that each of us must receive Jesus into our lives in order to experience the peace Jesus wants us to have. Many veterans and their family members have done this right there at the memorial service.

Yours for knowing and experiencing who Jesus is,

David

Friday, July 31, 2015

REMEMBER

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 13

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This olive tree is just outside the ancient city walls of the City of David in Jerusalem. Science has determined that olive trees can live and produce olives well over 2,000 years. Perhaps Jesus picked an olive from this tree’s branches.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 13:2b, 13:31b

Our God turned the curse into a blessing….Remember me, O my God, for good!

God takes any bad situation and turns it into good as we pray fervently about it, trust Him, and then make a full commitment to His will being done! He turns a curse into a blessing!

God does remember, but He does not remember our sins which we have confessed and for which we have been forgiven (Hebrews 8:10-13). A few days ago we were reminded that “a book of remembrance” is kept by God. Malachi was there in Nehemiah’s time and he wrote about that book. We can be sure God heard and answered Nehemiah’s prayer (Malachi 3:16-18).

Things were very different under the first covenant. Under the New Covenant (read Jeremiah 31:31-34) there are big changes. We start tomorrow, God willing, in the book of Colossians. We’ll learn that this church was coming under bondage to the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant, over-emphasis on the observance of sacred days, and religious forms and regulations. Let us not miss the next three days, and then we expect to begin our consideration of the book of Esther.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Thank You, Lord, that You have not shut the gates to any person any where at any time in these days of the New Covenant. You have invited me to come “boldly to Your throne of grace.” There I receive mercy and help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). I pray for grace to do this without fail every day. Lord Jesus, You are the Door by which we enter, and I pray these things in Your name, Amen! (John 10:7-10).

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m aware from the records that this blog has new readers. Therefore, I want to tell again about the most important thing that ever happened to me. I found that God did not shut the gates on me as Nehemiah did on the non-Jews during the Sabbath. I was 16 when I went forward at the invitation of an evangelist who was preaching in the Glebe Collegiate Auditorium in Ottawa. There, an elderly man gave me the sentence spoken by Jesus which turned my life around. He opened his Bible to John 6:37 and asked me to read it out loud to him. I read, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” He said, “Now David (he had asked my name already), you have come to Jesus, right?” “Yes” I said. Then he asked me, “What does Jesus do?” I answered, “He receives me.” Immediately, the light in my spirit turned on. I knew that I was not rejected by God but accepted by Him. I believed this fact. The next day, in order to confirm what had happened to me, I walked down to the stream behind my sister’s house, where I was staying, and repeated that promise of Jesus over and over. I’ve never doubted since that time that this most unworthy sinner had been accepted by God into His eternal family.

Yours for assurance that in the New Covenant God does not shut the gates on anyone who comes to Him,

David

Thursday, July 30, 2015

SINGERS AND THEIR SONGS

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 12

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here worshippers gather to encounter God.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 12:46

For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

 

Name after name after name! It’s for sure that God treats each individual as a VIP (very important person). Let us always do the same and rejoice that each of us are the object of God’s attention. This knowledge of God’s care will put a song in our hearts and in our mouths. This was the case in Jerusalem as we saw in today’s reading. Seven times the words “songs” or “singers” are mentioned. King David and Asaph, the Minister of Music, had left at least 150 songs (Psalms) for the worshippers of God.

As was suggested in yesterday’s blog, we may want to continue to compile a list of all the good things God has done for us. Then review the list each day. Try composing a song about God’s blessings! Our songs may be sung by others if we publish them, but chances are that it’s just between God and us. God is the most important audience we will ever sing to.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I desire that Your praise will continually be in my mouth. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “Having food and raiment, with these things we are content.” He also wrote, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I have so very much for which to praise You Lord, that I’ll keep doing this into eternity. You are worthy, O Lord, of all my worship! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As a pastor of four different congregations during the first few years of my public ministry, I encountered various modes of worship. Believe it or not, I tended to be quite conservative in my tastes in music. Give me a magnificent sounding organ and I was content in worship. A lovely lady in my last congregation insisted on bringing her tambourine. She was the art teacher at the high school attended by my daughter Elaine. I must admit that I prayed for grace each time I saw her in the congregation. God gave me grace and then would you believe guitars and drums began to make an appearance. I’ve opened my heart and mind to various forms of expression in worship.

I began a Sunday School when I was a public school teacher. One Lord’s Day an elderly man arrived. Under his arm he had a violin case. I thought that we were about to be treated to a violin solo, but such was not the case. He carefully took out his instrument and proceeded to sing into the openings in the body of the violin. I must confess I laughed to myself. He must have liked the sound of his voice coming back to him. He sang to the Lord songs of his own composition. I found out that he worked at Atomic Energy of Canada, not as one of the scientists, but as a dish washer in the cafeteria. I came to the conclusion that, crazy or not, his worship was pleasing to God. He came every Sunday. I can see him and hear him in my memory. I think he’s in Heaven now; I wonder if he has his violin. I hope I have the opportunity to meet him again. God put a love for him in my heart.

Yours for singing to the Lord “a new song” (Psalm 96),

David

P.S. While here on Manitoulin Island, Norma-Jean and I visited some beautiful spots. One was the Bridal Veil Falls in Kagawong (picture below). Also I participated in a service at he gravesite of Dorothy Crozier. Dorothy and her family lived just down the street from us in Sudbury back in the 1960s. Her daughter, Marilyn, was a babysitter for our children. We sang, “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace. When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be.” In the second picture below, I am with Dorothy’s daughters, Carol Ann, Marilyn, Donna.

Bridal Veil Falls in Kagawong on Manitoulin Island.

Bridal Veil Falls in Kagawong on Manitoulin Island.

photo 1

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

JERUSALEM

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 10-11

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Looking north from the east side of the City David you can see the Kidron Valley with the Mount of Olives on the right and the Temple Mount on the Left.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 11:2

And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.

 

Dwelling in Jerusalem today is much easier than in ancient times. Frozen meat and vegetables are available as in our western grocery stores. Jerusalem, at that time, was built on Mt. Moriah and Mt. Zion, rocky peaks where arable land is scarce. Jerusalem families had garden plots outside the city to which they would commute. Jerusalem was not “flowing with milk and honey” as was most of the rest of Israel. Living there 2,500 years ago was a sacrifice.

Blessing is the opposite of cursing. Understanding this fact enables us to grasp the meaning of “blessing.” All the dictionary meanings of “blessing” fall short of explaining what it means to bless someone. So…let’s bless someone today! Let’s use our imaginations to come up with a unique, personalized way to bless others.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God of Ezra and Nehemiah, I pray that today I will bless someone who needs a blessing! I ask for creative ideas and for the determination to follow through until I bless someone. In the Name of the One who has blessed the whole world, Jesus, my Saviour and Lord! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I am a blessed man. Our granddaughter, Sarah, who was 16 back in 2000, blessed me and many others by reading the Scriptures on a live satellite transmission from Jerusalem on the 100 Huntley Street telecast. This was the start of 24/7 broadcasting on a network of three satellite channels covering the world, where there was continuous reading of the books written in Jerusalem by the Prophets and Apostles. This continued from October to the end of December, 2000, when the funds designated for this purpose ran out. May I say that you, yes you, who have supported Crossroads/100 Huntley Street, and many other outreaches for God’s work, have blessed me more than words can express. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Someone sent me a picture (seen below) of Sarah blessing us with her reading from Jerusalem. The picture was taken off the person’s TV screen as 100 Huntley Street was live from Jerusalem.

Yours for blessing and being blessed!

David

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CONFESSION

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 9

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Another view of the Wetsern Wall of the Temple Mount (also known as the Wailing Wall). Many Jews come to this special location regularly to pray because it is close to where the Temple once stood which housed the Presence of God.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 9:2

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

 

Not only did the people confess their sins (a prerequisite to effective prayer), but they also confessed the history of God’s “amazing grace” through the centuries since Abraham. This is a thorough review of the past. Verse 36 brings the story to the present, “We are Your servants today!” “We are in great distress” (9:37b). Then we read the conclusion for the future: “We make a sure covenant and write it.” A “covenant” is the most solemn and binding agreement possible between two or more parties. In this case, it was a legal document between God and the individual person. It was most important that the “covenant” be witnessed and sealed by leaders, priests and Levites. We may want to conclude our meditation on chapter 9 by reading out loud from Nehemiah 9:5b to 9:38, the end of the chapter. Next, we may want to write our covenant with God and others over the next few days. For those people in Jerusalem, this process took 12 hours. Don’t rush it. You may want to share it with me and others as a comment on this blog at www.100words.ca (just click on the comments bubble at the top, then scroll down to where it says “Leave a Reply”)…and also share it with your leaders in faith. Perhaps this could even be a part of your last will and testament. Be generous with your family members, and then they’ll pay close attention when, by law, the lawyer is required to read it out loud. On second thought, it may be too personal to share it with me. You can leave that out, but I would be very interested to know that readers have taken me up on this suggestion. Believe me, it will be worth the huge effort required.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I confess my sins and trust You for the forgiveness You promised (2 Chronicles 7:14 and 1 John 1:9). I also confess as the people did. It is taking longer today, but You are not in a hurry. I pray that I will slow down and take more time with You. I pray this in the Name of the One who told the story of the Jew who collected taxes for Rome and prayed a short prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and who, according to Jesus, went to his home justified (made right in God’s sight), Amen! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I confess that I’ve gone well over my goal of 100 words. Please forgive me, and I’m sorry to report that I’ll probably do it again. I’m so full of God’s Word! Norma-Jean and I are here at an old fashioned camp meeting on Manitoulin Island for a few days. It’s called Spring Bay Pentecostal Camp and the morning speaker is Rev. Jim Cantelon and in the evening it’s Jim’s cousin, Rev. Brent Cantelon.

From time to time I have written out a statement, put it in my top centre drawer in my desk, opened the drawer first thing each day, and read the statement. It was a very effective way to focus myself on those things that are really important! That statement was not what I want put in my will, but a sentence, using as few words as possible, to describe my commitment to God and to others. For example, when the Crossroads Ministry had a big financial need, I would write something like this: “I am absolutely sure that God will meet the needs of the ministry, providing sufficient funds to pay every bill!” What about that!!! The ministry is still moving forward after 53 years. Thank You, Lord!

Yours for spending whatever time is necessary on putting first things first, and as someone has said, “Keep the main thing the main thing!”

David

Monday, July 27, 2015

CELEBRATE

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 7-8

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A night view from inside Jerusalem’s Old City walls looking towards David’s Citadel near the Jaffa Gate entrance. Built to strengthen a strategically weak point in the Old City’s defenses, the Citadel that stands today was constructed during the 2nd century BC and subsequently destroyed and rebuilt by, in succession, the Christian, Muslim, Mamluk, and Ottoman conquerors of Jerusalem. It contains important archaeological finds dating back 2,700 years.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 8:12

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

 

Imagine the scene. A choir of 245 singers and Ezra, the priest, stepping forward to lead the worship, the prayers, and the reading of Scripture. When Ezra blessed the Lord, the people said, “Amen, Amen,” lifted up their hands, and bowed their heads. This was not only reading, it was expository preaching, giving the sense of the passage, and helping the people understand the reading. We would be blessed to have such a meeting in our places of worship! “Amen, Amen.”

Malachi, the Prophet author of the last book in the Hebrew Scriptures, was there. He was probably participating as a Levite. Over and over “the children” are mentioned in the list of families present. Malachi proclaimed that God would “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6a). These are the final words of the last book in the Bible from which Jesus and the Apostles would have read. This bonding of families was happening as the people in the temple square wept, rejoiced, and “understood the words that were declared unto them.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, please grant me the grace to share Your Word with others every day. May I understand the meaning of Scripture so that those to whom I’m hoping to communicate will understand and respond, as the people did in today’s reading. I pray for all who read this blog. May it be a strong Word from You! “Amen, Amen!”

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Dr. Hannah Shaheen, M.D. is one of our 16 grandchildren (picture below). She is spending the summer serving in a small community hospital in Mindemoya, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. As highlighted in today’s reading, family is very, very important to Norma-Jean and me. To spend TIME (spelled LOVE) with Hannah, we crossed Lake Huron yesterday afternoon on the ferry ship from Tobermory to South Bay Mouth. She met us there and our first stop was a museum which took us back to our childhoods in one room country schools (picture below).

Norma-Jean, our children and I have some of our favourite and most cherished memories from a time in the 70’s when we got away from the pressures of daily life in our old 1958 ex-bread truck, which had been converted into a camper named Jonah (sometimes like the prophet, it didn’t want to go!). We did this in the month of July for several years. No telephones, no appointments, no commitments other than to each other. Our hearts, as in the words of Malachi, were truly turned to each other. I highly recommend such quality time to families everywhere.

Yours to help us all to “understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8b),

David

P.S. I believe that our priorities should be God first, family second, ministry and work in general third.

My granddaughter, Dr. Hannah Shaheen, checking out her grandpa...and the old ticker sounds good!

My granddaughter, Dr. Hannah Shaheen, checking out her grandpa…and the old ticker sounds good!

Yesterday we visited  an old one-room schoolhouse...taking us back to some childhood memories.

Yesterday we visited an old, one-room schoolhouse…taking us back to our childhoods.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 5-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A fence seperates the men’s prayer area from the women’s at the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem. This wall is part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 6:3

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”

 

This writing may have been a report back to King Artaxerxes in Persia. Not only did it speak of rebuilding the walls, but of the reform of civil society. Nehemiah took measures to repopulate Jerusalem with observant Jews. He enforced the cancellation of debt providing a brand new start for the people. He assisted Ezra in teaching and implementing the Law of Moses. Nehemiah’s determined leadership is captured in our key verse. He considered what he was doing to be “a great work.” We should never minimize the call of God on our lives. Doing God’s will is “a great work.” In spite of attempts to lure Nehemiah away and put fear in his heart, he never gave up! He took leadership and persisted in his efforts. When those who opposed him tried to make him fearful, he refused to be afraid. He feared God (ultimate respect) more than anything man could do to him.

Malachi, preaching while Nehemiah was in leadership, declared, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His Name” (Malachi 3:16).

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that this blog will have the same results as Malachi’s ministry. Thank You for all who speak to one another, encouraging each other in their responses to the blog, by telephone calls, or in personal conversation, or even in forwarding the blogs to others. I’m asking You, Lord, as did Nehemiah, “Remember me, my God, for good” (Nehemiah 5:19a). Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

At first glance it may seem self-centred to ask for God’s blessings for myself, but I’m fully aware that unless I am blessed, I cannot give what I don’t have. The Gospel song says, “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your blessings; see what God has done.” I’ve just gone into Google, typed in “Count Your Blessings,” and there was Guy Penrod singing this song on 100 Huntley Street (click here). On the senior’s TV series, Really Good Medicine, we had Jimmy Durante singing Irving Berlin’s song written for the White Christmas movie, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” I’ve often done that when I’m trying to fall asleep. It works!

Also, I have a grandson-in-law who is a police officer. As I was reading of Nehemiah’s plan to work with one hand while holding a sword in the other, I thought of the police motto, “To Serve and Protect.” Come to think of it, I want to do the same.

Yours for God’s goodness to be upon us all,

David

Saturday, July 25, 2015

THE TROWEL AND THE SWORD

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 3-4

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The Broad Wall is an ancient defensive wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall was unearthed in the 1970’s by Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad and dated to the reign of King Hezekiah (late 8th century BC). This wall is referred to in Nehemiah 3:8.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 4:6

So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

 

Those who opposed the building of the wall tried to stop the project in several ways. Firstly, they used ridicule, mocking the vision of the Jews. Secondly, when their indignation had turned to anger, they conspired to use violence against the Jews. The response of those who had God’s vision for the wall was to have “a mind to work,” to make “our prayer to our God,” and to “set a watch against them [their enemies] day and night.”

In doing the will of God for our lives today, let us work hard, pray hard, and watch carefully for enemy activity. Why do we fight the fight of faith? Yes, for our own futures, but as 4:14b tells us, we fight for our families, “our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters [also for those in other families who have no one to fight for them], our wives [husbands] and our houses.” The imagery of a trowel (the work) in one hand and a sword (the protection of daily reading God’s Word) in the other hand, is powerful. A complimentary New Testament reading could be Mark 10:28-31, where we are promised by Jesus 100 times more in houses, brothers, sisters, etc. The best results come from doing God’s will in spite of opposition.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray for daily strength to work diligently for Your cause, and to stand on guard against all attacks on Your great purposes for my life and that of my family. In the Name of the Carpenter who said, “I will build My Church,” and “I make all things new,” Jesus, Himself, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

In Canada’s national anthem we repeat several times, “We stand on guard for thee.” This brings to mind a story from my Dad and his partner in guard duty at Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, during WWI. Private Mainse and Private Hawley were on night duty walking the circumference of the Fort outside the walls. They would meet, salute, turn about face and walk the opposite directions until they met again. Each time they met they would each quote a sentence from the Bible which they had memorized the day before. The son of Private Hawley, Martin Hawley, confirmed this story to me not long ago. Both Privates became Generals in my books. It’s no wonder that they both were called of God into His service. They became ordained ministers of Christ.

The last building project in which I was involved was the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, Ontario (picture below). The building houses 143,000 square feet of TV studios, offices, a restaurant, and convention facilities. I invite all our readers to visit. I traveled to a quarry in Muskoka to choose the great stone you see pictured outside the entrance. The Scripture below the stone says, “Thus saith the Lord: stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls!” Jeremiah 6:16 (NRSV).

Yours for having “a mind to work” and “rest for your souls” and “to not be afraid,”

David

The Crossroads Centre, Burlington, Ontario, opened in 1992.

Friday, July 24, 2015

RISE UP

Today’s Reading: Nehemiah 1-2

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The City of David is the Israeli name for the oldest settled neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and it is a major archaeological site. It is on a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to Scripture, it is the place where King David built his palace and established his capital. The City of David enjoyed the defensive advantages of its position by the Tyropoeon Valley to its west (mostly filled in), the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. This photo is looking south along an ancient City of David wall. Down to the left is the Kidron Valley.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Nehemiah 2:18

And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to do this good work.

 

King Artaxerxes, ruler of the vast Persian Empire and stepson of Queen Esther, became God’s servant in the answers to the prayers of Daniel and many others who suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Jews were still subjects of Persia, but the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem provided some sense of control over their own destiny as a distinct people. Some have called this period of time “The Springtime of Judaism.”

Ezra, in our readings over the past few days, has concentrated on the spiritual restoration of Judah, and now Nehemiah focuses on the political and geographical restoration. God gave the Jewish people one more leader who was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, the prophet Malachi. His ministry to the people was crucial to the revival of Judaism. The final book in the Hebrew cannon of Holy Scripture is powerful. To discover the power of Malachi’s words we may read Malachi 3:6-12.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, like Nehemiah, I pray with all sincerity for You to move upon the lives of those in authority. Please lead, guide, and direct our leaders in Your ways. You influenced the Persian Kings for the good of Your ancient people; now I pray that You’ll do the same for our current civil authorities, and in particular our spiritual leaders. Raise up in our time, O Lord, powerful prophetic voices as You have done in times past. I pray all these mercies in the Name of Jesus, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

Almost 30 years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference of pastors and church leaders in Berlin, Germany. Rev. Volkhardt Spitzer was my host. He was the leader of a great Pentecostal congregation which had taken possession of the great church building in which Kaiser Wilhelm, of WWI times, had worshipped. I passed through “Check Point Charlie” into Eastern Germany, where I had the honour to preach in a Methodist Church. There in Communist-controlled territory, I found a church full of young people. Poverty was evident, but the joy of the Lord filled the building.

The next day, I took a taxi from my hotel to the infamous Wall that the Communist East Germans had built. A house which was a part of the Wall was being torn down and the Wall was being constructed to fill the gap. Police with machine guns were everywhere on the East German side. I approached the Wall from the west to try and make conversation with the masons laying the stones. I spoke in my best German (not that good) a warm greeting, but was met with no response. The workers would not look at me. I was totally ignored. I tried several times, but there was no response. I shared that evening in the conference that God is seeking to get our attention, but we just keep on building walls which separate. President Reagan said a few months later, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” As in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, God still uses leaders to bring about positive change in human affairs. I must never give up hope.

Yours for optimism based on the knowledge that God hears and answers prayer,

David

Ronald Reagan next to the Berlin Wall where he spoke the famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – June 12, 1987