Are you focusing on the inside or the outside?

What really matters to you what it looks like on the outside or what is taking place on the inside? What is most important that it looks good on the outside or that it is good on the inside? Does it really matter if the shell looks good but the insides are festering or coming apart? Where do you put your time and energy? Are you more interested in make sure you keep the outside looking good to create the right perception? Are you more interested in making sure that the inside is good and healthy? From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! So we need to make sure we are filling it up with the right stuff! We need the inside to be the focus and then the outside will and should just be a revelation of what is really going on inside.

God’s not interested in the outside, He is more interested in our hearts! He doesn’t want our money, He wants our hearts! He doesn’t want us to do stuff out of fear, but out of love! He gave us freewill so that we can freely choose to listen, follow, obey His plans and His will for our lives out of love! He didn’t want robots, He wants relationship with us.

Let’s be focused on what’s on the inside! It’s what’s on the inside that counts!

Today’s reading speaks to this as we see Jesus say “because the Kingdom of God is within you“, so let’s take a look at the reading for today…

The Coming of the Kingdom

(Matthew 24.23-28, 37-41)
20Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. 21No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.” 22Then he said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will wish you could see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, over there!’ or, ‘Look, over here!’ But don’t go out looking for it. 24As the lightning flashes across the sky and lights it up from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25But first he must suffer much and be rejected by the people of this day. 26As it was in the time of Noah so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27Everybody kept on eating and drinking, and men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat and the flood came and killed them all. 28It will be as it was in the time of Lot. Everybody kept on eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29On the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and killed them all. 30That is how it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31“On that day someone who is on the roof of a house must not go down into the house to get any belongings; in the same way anyone who is out in the field must not go back to the house. 32Remember Lot’s wife! 33Those who try to save their own life will lose it; those who lose their life will save it. 34On that night, I tell you, there will be two people sleeping in the same bed: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. 35Two women will be grinding meal together: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind.” 37The disciples asked him, “Where, Lord?”Jesus answered, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.” –from Luke 17

So we need to make sure we have our focus on the right thing! We need to be more interested in the relationship with Jesus than just going through the motions or obeying rules. Ever notice how important David was to God? Ever noticed that it wasn’t that David was perfect or sinless, it was that God was his first choice. When he tripped up what did he do? He turned back to God! When he messed up, what did he do? He apologized and seeked God’s forgiveness. His heart was in the right place! It’s a matter of the heart! So let’s get things right on the inside and then allow God to flow out of us because of that!

Don’t be left behind!

As we get closer to Easter and the celebration of what God did for us we need to realize when Jesus spoke these words, the people didn’t realize that Jesus was going to have to go through so much pain and suffering. Jesus chose to allow it so that we could be reconciled back to God! It took things into His own hands since we weren’t going to be able to do it ourselves. As we experience Good Friday and remember the crucifixion. As we experience Easter Sunday and remember the resurrection. Let’s celebrate and run into Jesus’ arms starting, continuing, building up our relationship with Jesus! Let’s allow Him to be a part of each and every day! Let’s allow Him to be the wisdom to guide our every word, thought, and action. Let’s allow Him to come into our hearts and help get our lives cleaned up! Let’s ask His Spirit to grant us wisdom for every decision we need to make. Let’s live lives that are the overflow of our hearts that will glorify God each and every day! Let’s be set apart! Let’s be setup for special use!

Today’s reading continues in this flow with …

An Approved Worker

14Remind your people of this, and give them a solemn warning in God’s presence not to fight over words. It does no good, but only ruins the people who listen. 15Do your best to win full approval in God’s sight, as a worker who is not ashamed of his work, one who correctly teaches the message of God’s truth. 16Keep away from profane and foolish discussions, which only drive people farther away from God. 17Such teaching is like an open sore that eats away the flesh. Two men who have taught such things are Hymenaeus and Philetus. 18They have left the way of truth and are upsetting the faith of some believers by saying that our resurrection has already taken place. 19But the solid foundation that God has laid cannot be shaken; and on it are written these words: “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Those who say that they belong to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.” 20In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. 21Those who make themselves clean from all those evil things, will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed. 22Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. 23But keep away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels. 24As the Lord’s servant, you must not quarrel. You must be kind toward all, a good and patient teacher, 25who is gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth. 26And then they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the Devil, who had caught them and made them obey his will. – from 2 Timothy 2

So let’s not only get ourselves cleaned up on the inside so that we can escape the trap of the Devil, let’s also start to live on the outside shining our hope and love so that others can come to the truth and realization of Jesus and be saved! Not sure where to start? Not sure what to do? Do you know Jesus? If not consider reading the Roman road… (If you scroll down on my homepage, you will find the verses) and consider how much Jesus loves You! Ask Him into your heart! Tell Him how much you want to know Him, how you believe in Him and that you want Him to come into your heart and help you become everything He created you to be. Ask Him to forgive you and to help you to be the person He created you to become.

God’s Word is more than a bunch of stories. It is alive and will speak to you. Ask, seek, knock and you will hear answers, find what you are looking for, and see doors open .

Today’s reading continues into the book of Proverbs to tell us…

1Any who love knowledge want to be told when they are wrong. It is stupid to hate being corrected. 2The Lord is pleased with good people, but condemns those who plan evil. 3Wickedness does not give security, but righteous people stand firm. 4A good wife is her husband’s pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones. 5Honest people will treat you fairly; the wicked only want to deceive you. 6The words of the wicked are murderous, but the words of the righteous rescue those who are threatened. 7The wicked meet their downfall and leave no descendants, but the families of the righteous live on. 8If you are intelligent, you will be praised; if you are stupid, people will look down on you. 9It is better to be an ordinary person working for a living than to play the part of someone great but go hungry. 10Good people take care of their animals, but wicked people are cruel to theirs. 11A hard-working farmer has plenty to eat, but it is stupid to waste time on useless projects. 12All that wicked people want is to find evil things to do, but the righteous stand firm. 13The wicked are trapped by their own words, but honest people get themselves out of trouble. 14Your reward depends on what you say and what you do; you will get what you deserve. – from Proverbs 12

Don’t forget to give thanks!

Ever received an incredible gift? Ever been given something so priceless? Ever asked for something and then received it?

Did you say thank you? Did you give thanks to the one who gave it to you? Did you receive it and just move on?

Today’s reading start on just such a topic…So

Make sure you don’t forget to give thanks!

Jesus Heals Ten Men

11As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease. They stood at a distance 13and shouted, “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!” 14Jesus saw them and said to them, “Go and let the priests examine you.”On the way they were made clean. 15When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. 17Jesus spoke up, “There were ten who were healed; where are the other nine? 18Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?” 19And Jesus said to him, “Get up and go; your faith has made you well.” –from Luke 17

Consider what you have received. Are you sharing it? Are you mentoring others in the way? Are you delegating responsibility to others who can spread the good news that you have received? Are you running to win? Are you fighting like everyone’s lives depends on it? Are you being obedient? Are you following the rules? Are you staying on track? Are you acknowledging Him?  Today’s reading continues with…

A Loyal Soldier of Christ Jesus

1As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. 2Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also. 3Take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus. 4A soldier on active duty wants to please his commanding officer and so does not get mixed up in the affairs of civilian life. 5An athlete who runs in a race cannot win the prize unless he obeys the rules. 6The farmer who has done the hard work should have the first share of the harvest. 7Think about what I am saying, because the Lord will enable you to understand it all. 8Remember Jesus Christ, who was raised from death, who was a descendant of David, as is taught in the Good News I preach. 9Because I preach the Good News, I suffer and I am even chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not in chains, 10and so I endure everything for the sake of God’s chosen people, in order that they too may obtain the salvation that comes through Christ Jesus and brings eternal glory. 11This is a true saying:
“If we have died with him, we shall also live with him. 12If we continue to endure, we shall also rule with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. 13If we are not faithful, he remains faithful, because he cannot be false to himself.” –from 2 Timothy 2

So let’s acknowledge Him in all our ways and allow Him to make our path straight!

Will you celebrate and give thanks for what you have been given? Will you risk losing what you have? Make sure your heart is right! Make sure you are walking in alignment with God’s will for your life! Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! When we put first things first, then everything else can fall into place.

16A gracious woman is respected, but a woman without virtue is a disgrace. Lazy people will never have money, but aggressive people will get rich. 17You do yourself a favor when you are kind. If you are cruel, you only hurt yourself. 18Wicked people do not really gain anything, but if you do what is right, you are certain to be rewarded. 19Anyone who is determined to do right will live, but anyone who insists on doing wrong will die. 20The Lord hates evil-minded people, but loves those who do right. 21You can be sure that evil people will be punished, but the righteous will escape. 22Beauty in a woman without good judgment is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout. 23What good people want always results in good; when the wicked get what they want, everyone is angry. 24Some people spend their money freely and still grow richer. Others are cautious, and yet grow poorer. 25Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped. 26People curse someone who hoards grain, waiting for a higher price, but they praise the one who puts it up for sale. 27If your goals are good, you will be respected, but if you are looking for trouble, that is what you will get. 28Those who depend on their wealth will fall like the leaves of autumn, but the righteous will prosper like the leaves of summer. 29Those who bring trouble on their families will have nothing at the end. Foolish people will always be servants to the wise. 30Righteousness gives life, but violence takes it away. 31Those who are good are rewarded here on earth, so you can be sure that wicked and sinful people will be punished.  –from Proverbs 11

Everyone is going to miss the mark. Don’t be the one tripping them up!

God’s Word tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. God’s Word also tells us “things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen”. But we find in today’s reading how Jesus warns us not to be the cause of others falling into sin. Let’s take a look and read what He says…

1Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen! 2It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3So watch what you do!“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” –from Luke 17

So we need to watch what we do. We need to be people who are ambassadors of forgiveness. We need to forgive them otherwise it is like taking poison and expecting it to harm the other person. It plants a bitter root which will start to destroy you from the inside out. And God’s Word reminds us that we are to continue to forgive them. There is a great song 7×70 on that subject. In today’s reading we see how Jesus says “if he sins against you seven times” and in another verse when Jesus is asked if they need to forgive seven times we see Jesus tell them no, seven times seventy times. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. Without it, you are allowing something that someone else has done to get between you and God and you don’t want to get out from under the covering of God. Forgive and stay close to God and in alignment with His will.

Do you realize that even if you believe just a little it can be enough to help you move forward? Consider what Jesus says here…

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith greater.” 6The Lord answered, “If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it would obey you. –from Luke 17

That’s right faith as small as a mustard seed (I know it says as big) will give you enough faith to make a difference when your faith is in God! Trust in Jesus! Ask Him to help you in your unbelief! Fear not, Just believe!

Don’t try to life yourself up! You are just doing what you have been called to do! Be humble servants as you serve God’s plan and purpose.

7“Suppose one of you has a servant who is plowing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry along and eat his meal? 8Of course not! Instead, you say to him, ‘Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.’ 9The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? 10It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.’” –from Luke 17

Don’t be afraid to speak it! You have been lifted up, but just as Jesus was the leader who served, we are to be servant leaders as well. It isn’t easy, but it will glorify God! It’s our purpose to make Jesus known in this world we live. No matter what happens, don’t lose hope or confidence in who Jesus is or what God has planed for you!  Today’s reading speaks to it this way…

8Do not be ashamed, then, of witnessing for our Lord; neither be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christ’s sake. Instead, take your part in suffering for the Good News, as God gives you the strength for it. 9He saved us and called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace. He gave us this grace by means of Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but now it has been revealed to us through the coming of our Savior, Christ Jesus. He has ended the power of death and through the gospel has revealed immortal life. 11God has appointed me as an apostle and teacher to proclaim the Good News, 12and it is for this reason that I suffer these things. But I am still full of confidence, because I know whom I have trusted, and I am sure that he is able to keep safe until that Day what he has entrusted to me. 13Hold firmly to the true words that I taught you, as the example for you to follow, and remain in the faith and love that are ours in union with Christ Jesus. 14Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, keep the good things that have been entrusted to you. 15You know that everyone in the province of Asia, including Phygelus and Hermogenes, has deserted me. 16May the Lord show mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, because he cheered me up many times. He was not ashamed that I am in prison, 17but as soon as he arrived in Rome, he started looking for me until he found me. 18May the Lord grant him his mercy on that Day! And you know very well how much he did for me in Ephesus. –from 2 Timothy 1

Need help? Need wisdom? Need instruction? Need to be fed? Then take time to turn to God’s Word and allow Him to feed you and instruct you and correct you in and through His Word. So let’s live lives that will glorify God, live with humble hearts, live with honesty and integrity so that in and through it all God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

1The Lord hates people who use dishonest scales. He is happy with honest weights. 2People who are proud will soon be disgraced. It is wiser to be modest. 3If you are good, you are guided by honesty. People who can’t be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty. 4Riches will do you no good on the day you face death, but honesty can save your life. 5Honesty makes a good person’s life easier, but the wicked will cause their own downfall. 6Righteousness rescues those who are honest, but those who can’t be trusted are trapped by their own greed. 7When the wicked die, their hope dies with them. Confidence placed in riches comes to nothing. 8The righteous are protected from trouble; it comes to the wicked instead. 9You can be ruined by the talk of godless people, but the wisdom of the righteous can save you. 10A city is happy when honest people have good fortune, and there are joyful shouts when the wicked die. 11A city becomes great when the righteous give it their blessing; but a city is brought to ruin by the words of the wicked. 12It is foolish to speak scornfully of others. If you are smart, you will keep quiet. 13No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who is trustworthy. 14A nation will fall if it has no guidance. Many advisers mean security. 15If you promise to pay a stranger’s debt, you will regret it. You are better off if you don’t get involved. –from Proverbs 11

My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but fully trust in Jesus’ name! How about you? Have you met Jesus yet? Have you had the divine encounter that will transform your life forever? Is today the day? Leave me a comment if you want to discuss.

It’s too late to change after you die…Decide today!

Do you still have breath in your lungs? Are you reading this today? Then it’s not too late for you. This could be the first day of the rest of your life if you are willing to make a decision that will change your destiny. Don’t put it off figuring you can make it happen later. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow! What would it take for you to grab a hold of today and transform your life? What would it take for you to become salt and light? Do you think you have it all and don’t need anything? Are you sure? Do you know your final destination? I hope to get to spend eternity with you in Heaven! Will you join me?

Will you the choose eternity with God before it is too late?

Let’s take a look at what this morning’s reading speaks to us…

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19“There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury every day. 20There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man’s door, 21hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the feast in heaven. The rich man died and was buried, 23and in Hades, where he was in great pain, he looked up and saw Abraham, far away, with Lazarus at his side. 24So he called out, ‘Father Abraham! Take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool off my tongue, because I am in great pain in this fire!’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Remember, my son, that in your lifetime you were given all the good things, while Lazarus got all the bad things. But now he is enjoying himself here, while you are in pain. 26Besides all that, there is a deep pit lying between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, nor can anyone cross over to us from where you are.’ 27The rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28where I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them so that they, at least, will not come to this place of pain.’ 29Abraham said, ‘Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them; your brothers should listen to what they say.’ 30The rich man answered, ‘That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.’ 31But Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.’”

–from Luke 16

With Jesus we have the promise of spending eternity in Heaven with Him. Let’s receive Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior and then choose to receive God’s grace, mercy, and peace as we live out this side of eternity on earth. So let’s live life the way we are supposed to with the Holy Spirit. Let’s allow our faith to grow and to strengthen an encourage us to press on for the glory of God. Remember that God’s Spirit that He has given us doesn’t make us timid, rather He fills us up to overflowing with power, love, and self-control. So don’t be afraid to share the Good News! Let’s make today make a difference!

We see this message as we continue in today’s reading in a letter from Paul to Timothy…

1From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, sent to proclaim the promised life which we have in union with Christ Jesus— 2To Timothy, my dear son:May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

Thanksgiving and Encouragement

3I give thanks to God, whom I serve with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did. I thank him as I remember you always in my prayers night and day. 4I remember your tears, and I want to see you very much, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I remember the sincere faith you have, the kind of faith that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice also had. I am sure that you have it also. 6For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control. – from 2 Timothy 1

So where are you at? So what will you do? Not sure where to go? Not sure where to turn? Turn to God? Seek Him with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your strength, and all of your soul and you will find Him. Turn to His Word for wisdom for those who as God for wisdom will receive it because He gives it liberally without finding fault.

Today’s reading continues into Proverbs to give us wisdom for today…

17People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger. 18Anyone who hides hatred is a liar. Anyone who spreads gossip is a fool. 19The more you talk, the more likely you are to sin. If you are wise, you will keep quiet. 20A good person’s words are like pure silver; a wicked person’s ideas are worthless. 21A good person’s words will benefit many people, but you can kill yourself with stupidity. 22It is the Lord’s blessing that makes you wealthy. Hard work can make you no richer. 23It is foolish to enjoy doing wrong. Intelligent people take pleasure in wisdom. 24The righteous get what they want, but the wicked will get what they fear most. 25Storms come, and the wicked are blown away, but honest people are always safe. 26Never get a lazy person to do something for you; he will be as irritating as vinegar on your teeth or smoke in your eyes. 27Obey the Lord, and you will live longer. The wicked die before their time. 28The hopes of good people lead to joy, but wicked people can look forward to nothing. 29The Lord protects honest people, but destroys those who do wrong. 30Righteous people will always have security, but the wicked will not survive in the land. 31Righteous people speak wisdom, but the tongue that speaks evil will be stopped. 32Righteous people know the kind thing to say, but the wicked are always saying things that hurt. –from Proverbs 10

Are you walking with the blessings of the Lord and the favor of those in authority?

Ever been or seen someone who seems to find favor in their endeavors? Ever been or seen someone whose steps seem to be lead in such a way that nothing could get in their way? Ever been or seen someone whose words have power and influence? Ever wondered why? As this morning’s reading speaks…

Because Ezra had the blessing of the Lord his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for.

How would you use such blessings?

How would you use such favor?

How would you glorify God?

Let’s see what Ezra does…

Ezra Arrives in Jerusalem

1Many years later, when Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, there was a man named Ezra. He traced his ancestors back to Aaron, the High Priest, as follows: Ezra was the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron. 6-7Ezra was a scholar with a thorough knowledge of the Law which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to Moses. Because Ezra had the blessing of the Lord his God, the emperor gave him everything he asked for. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, Ezra set out from Babylonia for Jerusalem with a group of Israelites which included priests, Levites, Temple musicians, Temple guards, and workers. 8-9They left Babylonia on the first day of the first month, and with God’s help they arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. 10Ezra had devoted his life to studying the Law of the Lord, to practicing it, and to teaching all its laws and regulations to the people of Israel.

The Document Which Emperor Artaxerxes Gave to Ezra

11Emperor Artaxerxes gave the following document to Ezra, the priest and scholar, who had a thorough knowledge of the laws and commands which the Lord had given to Israel: 12“From Emperor Artaxerxes to the priest Ezra, scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven. 13“I command that throughout my empire all the Israelite people, priests, and Levites that so desire be permitted to go with you to Jerusalem. 14I, together with my seven counselors, send you to investigate the conditions in Jerusalem and Judah in order to see how well the Law of your God, which has been entrusted to you, is being obeyed. 15You are to take with you the gold and silver offerings which I and my counselors desire to give to the God of Israel, whose Temple is in Jerusalem. 16You are also to take all the silver and gold which you collect throughout the province of Babylon and the offerings which the Israelite people and their priests give for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem. 17“You are to spend this money carefully and buy bulls, rams, lambs, grain, and wine and offer them on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. 18You may use the silver and gold that is left over for whatever you and your people desire, in accordance with the will of your God. 19You are to present to God in Jerusalem all the utensils that have been given to you for use in the Temple services. 20And anything else which you need for the Temple, you may get from the royal treasury. 21“I command all the treasury officials in West-of-Euphrates Province to provide promptly for Ezra, the priest and scholar in the Law of the God of Heaven, everything he asks you for, 22up to a limit of 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of olive oil, and as much salt as needed. 23You must be careful to provide everything which the God of Heaven requires for his Temple, and so make sure that he is never angry with me or with those who reign after me. 24You are forbidden to collect any taxes from the priests, Levites, musicians, guards, workers, or anyone else connected with this Temple. 25“You, Ezra, using the wisdom which your God has given you, are to appoint administrators and judges to govern all the people in West-of-Euphrates who live by the Law of your God. You must teach that Law to anyone who does not know it. 26If any disobey the laws of your God or the laws of the empire, they are to be punished promptly: by death or by exile or by confiscation of their property or by imprisonment.”

Ezra Praises God

27Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors! He has made the emperor willing to honor in this way the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. 28By God’s grace I have won the favor of the emperor, of his counselors, and of all his powerful officials; the Lord my God has given me courage, and I have been able to persuade many of the heads of the clans of Israel to return with me.”

–from Ezra 7

Ever been in that place where you need wisdom? Ever been in that place where to go beyond you need a little extra oomph? Ever been in that situation where it seems so much bigger than anything you could do on your own? Have you ever tried prayer and fasting during those times?

Ezra Leads the People in Fasting and Prayer

21There by the Ahava Canal I gave orders for us all to fast and humble ourselves before our God and to ask him to lead us on our journey and protect us and our children and all our possessions. 22I would have been ashamed to ask the emperor for a troop of cavalry to guard us from any enemies during our journey, because I had told him that our God blesses everyone who trusts him, but that he is displeased with and punishes anyone who turns away from him. 23So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us, and he answered our prayers.

–from Ezra 8

The Return to Jerusalem

31It was on the twelfth day of the first month that we left the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. Our God was with us and protected us from enemy attacks and from ambush as we traveled. 32When we reached Jerusalem, we rested three days. 33Then on the fourth day we went to the Temple, weighed the silver, the gold, and the utensils, and turned them over to Meremoth the priest, son of Uriah. With him were Eleazar son of Phinehas and two Levites, Jozabad son of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. 34Everything was counted and weighed, and a complete record was made at the same time. 35All those who had returned from exile then brought offerings to be burned as sacrifices to the God of Israel. They offered 12 bulls for all Israel, 96 rams, and 77 lambs; they also offered 12 goats to purify themselves from sin. All these animals were burned as sacrifices to the Lord. 36They also took the document the emperor had given them and gave it to the governors and officials of West-of-Euphrates Province, who then gave their support to the people and the Temple worship. –from Ezra 8

What if things looked so bad? What if everything that was part of how we got started was being or had been taken away or was being broken up? What if we discovered that we had walked away from the truth and had not walked in alignment with what God’s plans and purposes for our lives were? What if we found the nation was walking away from God instead of with or towards God and His plans and His purposes? What would you do? What could you do? Would you confess them? Would you turn back to God and give yourself to His will? Is history repeating itself again and again? Different times…different behaviors…similar issues and consequences.

Let’s see how Ezra handles it…

5When the time came for the evening sacrifice, I got up from where I had been grieving, and still wearing my torn clothes, I knelt in prayer and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God. 6I said, “O God, I am too ashamed to raise my head in your presence. Our sins pile up higher than our heads; they reach as high as the heavens. 7From the days of our ancestors until now, we, your people, have sinned greatly. Because of our sins we, our kings, and our priests have fallen into the hands of foreign kings, and we have been slaughtered, robbed, and carried away as prisoners. We have been totally disgraced, as we still are today. 8Now for a short time, O Lord our God, you have been gracious to us and have let some of us escape from slavery and live in safety in this holy place. You have let us escape from slavery and have given us new life. 9We were slaves, but you did not leave us in slavery. You made the emperors of Persia favor us and permit us to go on living and to rebuild your Temple, which was in ruins, and to find safety here in Judah and Jerusalem. 10“But now, O God, what can we say after all that has happened? We have again disobeyed the commands 11that you gave us through your servants, the prophets. They told us that the land we were going to occupy was an impure land because the people who lived in it filled it from one end to the other with disgusting, filthy actions. 12They told us that we were never to intermarry with those people and never to help them prosper or succeed if we wanted to enjoy the land and pass it on to our descendants forever. 13Even after everything that has happened to us in punishment for our sins and wrongs, we know that you, our God, have punished us less than we deserve and have allowed us to survive. 14Then how can we ignore your commandments again and intermarry with these wicked people? If we do, you will be so angry that you will destroy us completely and let no one survive. 15Lord God of Israel, you are just, but you have let us survive. We confess our guilt to you; we have no right to come into your presence.”  –from Ezra 9

Would you go back to God in humility? Would you go back to God and ask for forgiveness? Would you come under the blood of Jesus and turn your life around? How far down? How far away? How far stretched would you have to get before you would stop, turn around, and come back home to God who desires a relationship with you? Are you with God or against God? Are you with God’s people or against God’s people? What do your words speak about your heart and your intentions? What do your words speak to your true thoughts and intentions? From the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks! Compare it with the Word of God! Is it in alignment? Is it out of alignment? If it is out of alignment, then you may want to look at what you are filling up your heart with. What are you going to do? Will you turn from your wicked ways and turn back to God and follow Him with obedience? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Not one of us is perfect and as such we can’t think of ourselves ad better than others. Sin is sin, we’ve all missed the mark. It doesn’t matter if it is a big or little sin, it’s a sin and so we need to let it go, we need to give it up to God and be forgiven and then let it go, don’t keep a hold of it, don’t bring it back with us, leave it with God and stay under the cover of the blood of Jesus where we can be washed white as snow.

Take a look around…Is everything ok? What are you hearing from the reports? What are you hearing about the situation? What are you going to do about it? Will you fast and pray about it to get wisdom, to draw closer to God and to find favor? Will you stand in the gap? Will  you step up to be counted? Will  you be a leader?

3They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned. 4When I heard all this, I sat down and wept. For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5“Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. 8Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’ 10“Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength. 11Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.” In those days I was the emperor’s wine steward.  –from Nehemiah 1

Turn to God for the heart of King belongs to God! It’s In the palm of His hand!

No matter what part of the process you are at, getting back into alignment with God is the key! Get back in the tent with God! Get back under the blood of Jesus!  And then God can start to work in and through you!

Let’s see what Nehemiah does…

Nehemiah Goes to Jerusalem

1One day four months later, when Emperor Artaxerxes was dining, I took the wine to him. He had never seen me look sad before, 2so he asked, “Why are you looking so sad? You aren’t sick, so it must be that you’re unhappy.”I was startled 3and answered, “May Your Majesty live forever! How can I keep from looking sad when the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4The emperor asked, “What is it that you want?”I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5and then I said to the emperor, “If Your Majesty is pleased with me and is willing to grant my request, let me go to the land of Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I can rebuild the city.” 6The emperor, with the empress sitting at his side, approved my request. He asked me how long I would be gone and when I would return, and I told him. 7Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province, instructing them to let me travel to Judah. 8I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me. 9The emperor sent some army officers and a troop of cavalry with me, and I made the journey to West-of-Euphrates. There I gave the emperor’s letters to the governors. 10But Sanballat, from the town of Beth Horon, and Tobiah, an official in the province of Ammon, heard that someone had come to work for the good of the people of Israel, and they were highly indignant. 11I went on to Jerusalem, and for three days 12I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me. The only animal we took was the donkey that I rode on. 13It was still night as I left the city through the Valley Gate on the west and went south past Dragon’s Fountain to the Rubbish Gate. As I went, I inspected the broken walls of the city and the gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14Then on the east side of the city I went north to the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool. The donkey I was riding could not find any path through the rubble, 15so I went down into Kidron Valley and rode along, looking at the wall. Then I returned the way I had come and went back into the city through the Valley Gate. 16None of the local officials knew where I had gone or what I had been doing. So far I had not said anything to any of the other Jews—the priests, the leaders, the officials, or anyone else who would be taking part in the work. 17But now I said to them, “See what trouble we are in because Jerusalem is in ruins and its gates are destroyed! Let’s rebuild the city walls and put an end to our disgrace.” 18And I told them how God had been with me and helped me, and what the emperor had said to me.They responded, “Let’s start rebuilding!” And they got ready to start the work. 19When Sanballat, Tobiah, and an Arab named Geshem heard what we were planning to do, they laughed at us and said, “What do you think you’re doing? Are you going to rebel against the emperor?” 20I answered, “The God of Heaven will give us success. We are his servants, and we are going to start building. But you have no right to any property in Jerusalem, and you have no share in its traditions.” –from Nehemiah 2

Will you stand in the gap? Will you stand prepared? Will you put your hand to work for the glory of God? Is there anything that will hold you back? Give it up to God! Put it all in His hands so that there will be no footholds or issues that will hold you back from completing the work has prepare in advanced for you to accomplish!

Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem

1This is how the city wall was rebuilt.The High Priest Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate, dedicated it, and put the gates in place. They dedicated the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred and the Tower of Hananel. 2The men of Jericho built the next section. Zaccur son of Imri built the next section. 3The clan of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate. 4Meremoth, the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built the next section. Meshullam, the son of Berechiah and grandson of Meshezabel, built the next section. Zadok son of Baana built the next section. 5The men of Tekoa built the next section, but the leading men of the town refused to do the manual labor assigned them by the supervisors. 6Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah rebuilt Jeshanah Gate. They put the beams and the gates in place, and put in the bolts and bars for locking the gate. 7Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, and the men of Gibeon and Mizpah built the next section, as far as the residence of the governor of West-of-Euphrates. 8Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith, built the next section. Hananiah, a maker of perfumes, built the next section, as far as Broad Wall. 9Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section. 10Jedaiah son of Harumaph built the next section, which was near his own house.Hattush son of Hashabneiah built the next section. 11Malchijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath Moab built both the next section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of the other half of the Jerusalem District, built the next section. (His daughters helped with the work.) 13Hanun and the inhabitants of the city of Zanoah rebuilt the Valley Gate. They put the gates in place, put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate, and repaired the wall for fifteen hundred feet, as far as the Rubbish Gate. 14Malchijah son of Rechab, ruler of the Beth Haccherem District, rebuilt the Rubbish Gate. He put the gates in place, and put in the bolts and the bars for locking the gate. 15Shallum son of Colhozeh, ruler of the Mizpah District, rebuilt the Fountain Gate. He covered the gateway, put the gates in place, and put in the bolts and the bars. At the Pool of Shelah he built the wall next to the royal garden, as far as the stairs leading down from David’s City. 16Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of half of the Bethzur District, built the next section, as far as David’s tomb, the pool, and the barracks.

Levites Who Worked on the Wall

17The following Levites rebuilt the next several sections of the wall: Rehum son of Bani built the next section; Hashabiah, ruler of half of the Keilah District, built the next section on behalf of his district; 18Bavvai son of Henadad, ruler of the other half of the Keilah District, built the next section; 19Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, built the next section in front of the armory, as far as the place where the wall turns; 20Baruch son of Zabbai built the next section, as far as the entrance to the house of the High Priest Eliashib; 21Meremoth, the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz, built the next section, up to the far end of Eliashib’s house.

Priests Who Worked on the Wall

22The following priests rebuilt the next several sections of the wall: Priests from the area around Jerusalem built the next section; 23Benjamin and Hasshub built the next section, which was in front of their houses; Azariah, the son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah, built the next section, which was in front of his house; 24Binnui son of Henadad built the next section, from Azariah’s house to the corner of the wall; 25-26Palal son of Uzai built the next section, beginning at the corner of the wall and the tower of the upper palace near the court of the guard; Pedaiah son of Parosh built the next section, to a point on the east near the Water Gate and the tower guarding the Temple. (This was near that part of the city called Ophel, where the Temple workers lived.)

Other Builders

27The men of Tekoa built the next section, their second one, from a point opposite the large tower guarding the Temple as far as the wall near Ophel. 28A group of priests built the next section, going north from the Horse Gate, each one building in front of his own house. 29Zadok son of Immer built the next section, which was in front of his house. Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate, built the next section. 30Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, built the next section, their second one. Meshullam son of Berechiah built the next section, which was in front of his house. 31Malchijah, a goldsmith, built the next section, as far as the building used by the Temple workers and the merchants, which was by the Miphkad Gate to the Temple, near the room on top of the northeast corner of the wall. 32The goldsmiths and the merchants built the last section, from the room at the corner as far as the Sheep Gate.