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Lord, Give Me Cause for Great Joy—Nehemiah 12:43

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 12:27-13:6, Nehemiah 5:14-19, Nehemiah 13:7-31, Malachi 1:1-2:9

Heavenly Father, I can’t imagine the feelings of the people of Judah as they gathered to celebrate the completion of the new wall of Jerusalem. Yes, they were happy because things were getting back to normal and the finished wall made them feel safe but I think there was another reason for their joy.

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. —Nehemiah 12:43

Lord, You knew this project would be something that would unite this divided group of people. You knew the power of working towards a cause that is so big that it’s impossible for one or two people to make it happen. You knew the power of teamwork. Nehemiah was Your chosen leader for this project and You gifted him with a supernatural understanding of the power of joy.

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” —Nehemiah 8:10

Jesus, when you came to earth and died for us, Your message and Your kingdom became our “cause for great joy!” Help us to unite and work as a team to help others to know You more.

 

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

 

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©2014, Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Malachi 2:10-4:6, Joel 1:1-3:21

Lord, Help Me to Learn From The Mistakes of Others—Nehemiah 13:26-27

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Chronicles 9:1b-34

Heavenly Father, Nehemiah was an amazing leader. He gave us so many lessons on leadership, character, and perseverance. The lesson in these verses focuses on learning from the mistakes of others.

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. How could you even think of committing this sinful deed and acting unfaithfully toward God by marrying foreign women?”—Nehemiah 13:26-27

Lord, as I read the Bible I’ve asked myself the same question Nehemiah asked, “how could they do that again and again?” Why didn’t they learn from the mistakes of their ancestors?

Learning from the mistakes of others is what the Bible’s all about. Adam, Abraham, Noah, Saul, David, Solomon, Peter—they all made their fair share of mistakes. Your Word gives us a look into the consequences of those mistakes and encourage us to learn from their poor choices.

There’s an old cliché that says experience is the best teacher, but that’s not true. By the time you’ve personally learned the all the lessons, you’re too old to use the knowledge. Learning from the experiences of others is the best teacher.

Lord, help me to learn from the mistakes of others and help others to learn from my mistakes.

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

 

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©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 12:27-13:6, Nehemiah 5:14-19, Nehemiah 13:7-31, Malachi 1:1-2:9

Lord, What Do You Think of My Worship? —Nehemiah 9:1-4

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8:13-10:39

Heavenly Father, as I read these verses I have many questions.

On October 31 the people assembled again, and this time they fasted and dressed in burlap and sprinkled dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. They remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God. The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani—stood on the stairway of the Levites and cried out to the Lord their God with loud voices. —Nehemiah 9:1-4

How could they stand for two 3-hour stretches?

Were they really listening to Your Word for three hours or did their mind wander off the way mine sometime does?

Were they sincerely sorry for their sins or were they just going through the motions?

Lord, here’s the real question that is stirring inside of me:

Lord, what do You think of the time I spend with You? What do You think of my worship?”

Certain types of clothing, a pre-determined postures, or long seasons of prayer and worship aren’t seen in today’s worship but You but You deserve it. You deserve to be honored this way. You deserve this kind of worship.

I want to worship You in a way that pleasing to You. I want to be the kind of worshiper John spoke about:

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” —John 4:23-24

Lord, what is a true worshiper?

What do You mean by worship the Father in spirit and in truth?

Lord, show me! Teach me to worship You in spirit and in truth.

 

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

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©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Chronicles 9:1b-34

Lord, I Need an Idea-Nehemiah 7:4-5


Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

Heavenly Father, I am continually amazed at the simplicity of Your Word.  Yes, there were times when You parted the waters, raised the dead, and killed the giants, but there were also times when You just gave someone an idea!

At that time the city was large and spacious, but the population was small, and none of the houses had been rebuilt. So my God gave me the idea to call together all the nobles and 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. 

Nehemiah 7:4-5

Nehemiah’s job was done. The wall was complete; everyone inside was safe, right?

Not exactly.

Nehemiah knew very well that the safety of a city, under God, depends more upon the number and valour of the inhabitants than upon the height or strength of its walls.

Nehemiah knew what was needed–the Jews to return to the city, but what he didn’t know how to get them to come home.

Until You gave him the idea…

Lord, You’ve given me some great ideas in my life. Some that completely changed the course of my life. Forgive me for taking credit for “Your ideas.”  Help me to be like Nehemiah and recognize Your ideas and then tell the world that You are the “idea giver!”

Lord, I don’t know what today holds. I know things will come up that I don’t know how to handle. I’ll be waiting for You to send me a great idea!

 

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

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©2014, Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8:13-10:39

Lord, Help Me to Think It Over—Nehemiah 5:6-7

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Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3:1-7:3

Heavenly Father, thank You for Nehemiah’s example of dealing with conflict.

When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem. —Nehemiah 5:6-7

In today’s reading Nehemiah was angry. He wasn’t just angry he was VERY angry. Not only was he angry, he was tired, stressed, and dirty; not the best conditions to exhibit self-control.

Anger happens. It rises up in us as a knee-jerk reaction to the circumstances around us. To suppress our anger and pretend to be “fine” isn’t healthy, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Neither is allowing anger to empower us to lash out at those who make us angry or take it out on the first person we see.

Nehemiah chose a different path. He chose to think it over.

Lord, “thinking it over” is a choice. In times of extreme anger it’s not the easy choice, it’s sometimes not the choice I want to make. In my anger I’d rather lash out and “share my pain” with the person or persons whose actions, or lack of actions have caused my blood to boil.

Lord, through Nehemiah You gave us a great example of the appropriate way to confront difficult situations and deal with our anger. Help me to remember these four steps the next time I’m overcome with anger:

Step 1: Acknowledge my anger

Step 2: Thinks it over

Step 3: Confronts the situation calmly and sensibly

Step 4: Finds a solution

 

Lord, Your Word is so relevant for my life. I’m constantly amazed by You!

In Jesus Name. Amen and Amen!

 

©2014, Dianne Guthmuller

*Unless noted all scripture references are from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

Why Do You Want to Be a Leader?—Nehemiah 5:15

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 12:27 – 13:6; Nehemiah 5:14-19; Nehemiah 13:7-21; Malachi 1:1 – 2:9

D.L. Moody said, “A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.” In our day of public scandals in almost every area of life, especially the political, how refreshing it is to meet a man like Nehemiah who put serving the people ahead of getting gain for himself.  (Wiersbe, Be Determined)

Nehemiah led the way most great leadership books suggest, but few leaders actually lead—by example.

  • His motive was pure–to honor and please God
  • He had compassion for those under his leadership
  • He was willing to sacrifice personal gain for the spiritual good of others
    • Did not use official expense account for household expenses
    • Was careful not to exploit people in any way
  • He participated in the building of the wall, didn’t just tell others what to do
  • He shared what he had with others

John Maxwell says a leader leads by example whether he intends to or not.

Are you leading by example…

  • In the home
  • In the church
  • In the workplace

Do you desire to be promoted to a place of “official” leadership in the workplace or your church?

Why do you want to be a leader?

  • To be in the spotlight
  • To be in charge
  • To tell people what to do
  • To make more money
  • To be in the “inner circle”

The reasons we want to be a leader will determine the way we lead.  Before accepting any position of leadership we should spend some time determining the “real” reason we want to lead.

Nehemiah wasn’t looking to be a leader; he just saw a need (the wall of Jerusalem needed rebuilding) and was moved with compassion to meet the need. (Nehemiah 1-2)

As you read this there are two responses you can have:

  • _________________ needs to hear this.  He/she is leading for the wrong reason.
  • I need to hear this.

Leaders must first grow in an area before we can help others grow.  That’s what makes leading by example so tough; there are many hard places we have to walk, so we can lead others through them.

Today’s our last day in the book of Nehemiah, let’s takes some time to reflect on our method of leading…

How does our leadership style compare with Nehemiah’s example?

What can we do today to become a leader that points others to Christ?

 

Heavenly Father, help us  make a conscious choice to live a life that leads others straight to You.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

 

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Malachi 2:10 through Malachi 4:6; Joel 1:1 through Joel 3:21

3 Reasons Why We Don’t Volunteer in Our Local Church–Nehemiah 11:1-2

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 11:1 through Nehemiah 12:26

As I read today’s passage, my western mindset was surprised that most Jews of that day did not want to live in the Holy City.

Here are 3 Reasons the Holy City Wasn’t Their Neighborhood of Choice:

  1. Because a greater strictness of conversation was expected from the inhabitants of Jerusalem than from others, which they were not willing to come up to.
  2. Because Jerusalem, of all places, was most hated by the heathen their neighbors, and against it their malicious designs were leveled, which made that the post of danger (as the post of honor usually is) and therefore they were not willing to expose themselves there.
  3. Because it was more for their worldly advantage to dwell in the country. Jerusalem was no trading city, and therefore there was no money to be got there by merchandise, as there was in the country by corn and cattle. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

In Nehemiah 7:4-5, God gave Nehemiah an idea to get the population up and the houses rebuilt.  In today’s reading we see that idea:

The leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city. 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.  And the people commended everyone who volunteered to resettle in Jerusalem. –Nehemiah 11:1-2

Some of these citizens volunteered willingly while others had to be “drafted” (Neh. 11:1–2). The people had promised to tithe their produce (10:37–38), so Nehemiah decided to tithe the people; and 10 percent were chosen by lot to move from the villages into Jerusalem.

In today’s world most churches are in critical need of volunteers to work in all areas of ministry.  You would think that people who have been redeemed, rescued, and know the Lord would be thrilled to serve in any capacity.   But most don’t…

Why?

  1. Because leaders are held to a higher standard and most are not willing to come up to that standard.
  2. Because being a leader puts a target on our backs for criticism and judgment by family, co-workers, and friends.
  3. Because being a leader takes time, energy, and money and most would rather use those valuable resources for their own personal wealth and pleasure.

Very interesting…

The reasons why today’s church is low on volunteers are very similar to the reasons Nehemiah was having trouble getting the Jews to move back to Jerusalem.

Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place where God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry. The men, women, and children who helped to populate the city of Jerusalem were serving God, their nation, and future generations by their step of faith.

Heavenly Father, help us to commit to serving others through our local church.  Holy Spirit, show us how our talents, gifts, and time could make an eternal difference in the lives of people who don’t know you.  Jesus, stir us up, make us aware of the needs of a lost world.  Use us for Your Glory.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen.

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller


Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 12:27 – 13:6; Nehemiah 5:14-19; Nehemiah 13:7-21; Malachi 1:1 – 2:9

Are Your Church Services Too Long?—Nehemiah 9:1-4

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 8:13 through 10:39

Did you go to church last Sunday? Did the service last an hour, an hour and a half?  How long did you stand up during worship?  How much scripture did your pastor read?  How much time did you spend in prayer and worship?

Probably not as long or as much as the Israelites did on October 31st 445 B.C.

On October 31 the people assembled again, and this time they fasted and dressed in burlap and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors.  They remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God. The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani—stood on the stairway of the Levites and cried out to the Lord their God with loud voices. –Nehemiah 9:1-4 (emphasis mine)

I know, it’s easy to say, that was then and we just don’t do things like that any more.

A couple of years ago I attended a Sunday Service at Park West Church of God in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I always enjoy attending this church when I am visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons.   They had a guest speaker, Dr. Hong Yang and his wife Dr. Esther Yang.

Dr. Yang’s grandparents and parents were committed communists and local leaders in the Chinese Revolution of 1949.  As a young teen, Dr. Yang was an enthusiastic youth leader in the communist party, until he began to question some of the doctrines and went to the library for answers, checked out a Bible and found Christ.  Ever since that day, his mission has been to put the life-changing Word of God in the hands of as many people in the Asian Pacific area as possible.

Dr. Yang and his wife have literally devoted their lives to bringing the gospel message to their homeland of China.  Dr. Yang has been imprisoned, tortured, and banned from entering the country.  He also told us of many others, some in his family who have been severely tortured; many have been sentenced to years in prison.

In today’s American churches pastors are trying to figure out how to get people to attend once a week for an hour.  For the 21st century Christian, thoughts of the unsaved in foreign countries rarely crosses our minds and certainly doesn’t keep us awake at night.  Most of us just want to check the “church” box on Sunday mornings and go and “enjoy” our day and our life…

Friends we have to fight against the selfishness and self-centeredness of our culture.  We must be different.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourself  from them, says the Lord. —2 Corinthians 6:17a

Heavenly Father, forgive us for our self-centeredness.  Teach us and show us how to live a life that has Your Kingdom as our top priority.  Jesus, You know our weaknesses (Matthew 26:36-41), strengthen us in our spirit so we live a life that causes others to know You more.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

 

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 11:1 through 12:26

Lord, I Need an Idea–Nehemiah 7:4-5


Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

I am continually amazed at the simplicity of the Bible.  Yes, there were times when God parted the waters, raised the dead, and killed the giants, but there were also times when He just gave someone an idea!

At that time the city was large and spacious, but the population was small, and none of the houses had been rebuilt. So my God gave me the idea to call together all the nobles and 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. Nehemiah 7:4-5

Nehemiah’s job was done. The wall was complete; everyone inside was safe, right?

Not exactly.

Nehemiah knew very well that the safety of a city, under God, depends more upon the number and valour of the inhabitants than upon the height or strength of its walls.

Nehemiah knew what was needed:

The Jews to return to the city, but what he didn’t know was how to get them to come home.

Until God gave him the idea…

When was the last time you had a great idea?

I wonder how many times God has given you or I an idea that completely changed the course of our lives or the lives of many others and we just thought,“we” had a great idea.

What if it was Him…

What if it was God speaking?

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Heavenly Father, forgive me for taking credit for “Your ideas.”  Help me to be like Nehemiah and recognize Your ideas and tell the world that You are the “idea giver!”

Holy Spirit, I’m working on several projects this week.  I know that if You gave Nehemiah an idea, You have ideas for me as well. Lord, thank You in advance for speaking to me.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller


Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8:13-10:39

Can You Stay Focused for 52 Days? Nehemiah 15-16

Today’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3:1-7:3

Last summer my husband and I watched several documentaries on the part food plays in our overall health.  We decided to make some changes.  We truly thought we would never go back to our old ways. We began working feverishly to stick to our plan: 

  • Walking every other day
  • Juicing once or twice a day
  • Organic foods
  • Very little sugar
  • No fast food
  • In the bed by 8 and asleep by 9

We had our plan and were doing great.  We had lost weight, had more energy, and were pretty, stickin proud of ourselves! UNTIL… We had company come in for the weekend. It’s been over two weeks since they left and we’re haven’t gotten refocused. If only we could be like Nehemiah.

We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard.  I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day.  During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water. —Nehemiah 4:21-23

Nehemiah had a lot more opposition than weekend house guests.  Under Nehemiah’s leadership the Jews were trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  They weren’t adding the wall for architectural beauty; with every stone laid they were fighting for their lives and the lives of their families.

Nehemiah had to deal with…

  • Being mocked (Nehemiah 4:4)
  • Hearing rumors of being attacked (Nehemiah 4:8)
  • The complaints of his own people (Nehemiah 4:10)

What did Nehemiah Do?

  • Prayed (Nehemiah 4:4)
  • Kept working (Nehemiah 4:6)
  • Prayed (Nehemiah 4:9)
  • Guarded the city day and night to protect themselves (Nehemiah 4:9)
  • Placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas (Nehemiah 4:13)
  • Stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows (Nehemiah 4:13)
  • Called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes! (Nehemiah 4:14)
  • Had half the men work while the other half stood guard (Nehemiah 4:15)
  • Made sure every builder had a weapon (Nehemiah 4:18)
  • Listened to their complaints and took the time to consider them (Nehemiah 5:6)
  • Avoided people who were trying to distract him (Nehemiah 6:3)
  • Ignored accusations and continued the work with greater determination (Nehemiah 6:9)
  • Discerned false prophets (Nehemiah 6:12)

…And Kept Working!

So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. –Nehemiah 6:15-16

This story reminds me of a John Wesley quote: “Work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God.”

We can do amazing things in short periods of time, if we focus on our work and bring every obstacle to the Lord and ask for His help.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for thinking, “I” can do all things.  Help me to learn from Nehemiah’s example.  Thank you for reminding me that I have a part but nothing happens unless You give the increase.  Thank You for all the times You’ve “helped” me.  Help me to focus like Nehemiah on the projects You have called me to do.

In Jesus’ Name.  Amen and Amen!

 

 

© 2013 Dianne Guthmuller

Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7:4-8:12

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