Timing… Perspective… Position… Placement… Action… Response… Questions… Answers… Retrospective… Control… Preparation… Faith… Peace… Joy… Hope… Trust… Love… Sow… Reap… Invest… Return… Steward… Selfless… Serve… Heart… Lead… Follow… Obey… Humility… Turn… Patience… Kindness… Goodness… Self-Control… Faithful… Gentleness… Endurance… Restraint…
What will be next? What will end? What will begin? What will continue? What will change? What will stay the same?
Where will you turn? Who will you talk to? When will you notice? When will you realize? Why will it take so long? Why not sooner? Why not now? How will it impact you? How will it make a difference? How will you respond? How will you react? How will you know?
The countdown continues…
Today’s reading comes from Nehemiah 7-8, and 1 John 1. Let’s take hold of all God has to say today and let’s share His hope and His love with the world around us so that they may hear the Good News of Jesus and respond before their time runs out.
What happens to people when they accomplish something? What happens to people when they meet their goals? What happens when it is finished? What’s next? New plan? New purpose? New schedule? New direction? What things will stay the same? What things will change? Will we need to take a count or audit of what is left? Will we need to consider the skills and talents of the remnant? Will we need to press on to the next milestone? Will there be new goals? Will there be new work?
1And now the wall had been rebuilt, the gates had all been put in place, and the Temple guards, the members of the sacred choir, and the other Levites had been assigned their work. 2I put two men in charge of governing the city of Jerusalem: my brother Hanani and Hananiah, commanding officer of the fortress. Hananiah was a reliable and God-fearing man without equal. 3I told them not to have the gates of Jerusalem opened in the morning until well after sunrise and to have them closed and barred before the guards went off duty at sunset. I also told them to appoint guards from among the people who lived in Jerusalem and to assign some of them to specific posts and others to patrol the area around their own houses.
The List of Those Who Returned from Exile
4Jerusalem was a large city, but not many people were living in it, and not many houses had been built yet. 5God inspired me to assemble the people and their leaders and officials and to check their family records. I located the records of those who had first returned from captivity, and this is the information I found:
6Many of the exiles left the province of Babylon and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own hometown. Their families had been living in exile in Babylonia ever since King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them there as prisoners. 7Their leaders were Zerubbabel, Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
8-25This is the list of the clans of Israel, with the number of those from each clan who returned from exile:
Parosh – 2,172
Shephatiah – 372
Arah – 652
Pahath Moab (descendants of Jeshua and Joab) – 2,818
Elam – 1,254
Zattu – 845
Zaccai – 760
Binnui – 648
Bebai – 628
Azgad – 2,322
Adonikam – 667
Bigvai – 2,067
Adin – 655
Ater (also called Hezekiah) – 98
Hashum – 328
Bezai – 324
Hariph – 112
Gibeon – 95
26-38People whose ancestors had lived in the following towns also returned:
Bethlehem and Netophah – 188
Anathoth – 128
Beth Azmaveth – 42
Kiriath Jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth – 743
Ramah and Geba – 621
Michmash – 122
Bethel and Ai – 123
The other Nebo – 52
The other Elam – 1,254
Harim – 320
Jericho – 345
Lod, Hadid, and Ono – 721
Senaah – 3,930
39-42This is the list of the priestly clans that returned from exile:
Jedaiah (descendants of Jeshua) – 973
Immer – 1,052
Pashhur – 1,247
Harim – 1,017
43-45Clans of Levites who returned from exile:
Jeshua and Kadmiel (descendants of Hodaviah) – 74
Temple musicians (descendants of Asaph) – 148
Temple guards (descendants of Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita, and Shobai) – 138
46-56Clans of Temple workers who returned from exile:
Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,
Keros, Sia, Padon,
Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,
Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,
Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,
Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,
Besai, Meunim, Nephushesim,
Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,
Bazlith, Mehida, Harsha,
Barkos, Sisera, Temah,
Neziah, and Hatipha.
57-59Clans of Solomon’s servants who returned from exile:
Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,
Jaalah, Darkon, Giddel,
Shephatiah, Hattil, Pochereth Hazzebaim, and Amon.
60The total number of descendants of the Temple workers and of Solomon’s servants who returned from exile was 392.
61-62There were 642 belonging to the clans of Delaiah, Tobiah, and Nekoda who returned from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer; but they could not prove that they were descendants of Israelites.
63-64The following priestly clans could find no record to prove their ancestry: Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai. (The ancestor of the priestly clan of Barzillai had married a woman from the clan of Barzillai of Gilead and taken the name of his father-in-law’s clan.) Since they were unable to prove who their ancestors were, they were not accepted as priests. 65 The Jewish governor told them that they could not eat the food offered to God until there was a priest who could use the Urim and Thummim.
66-69Total number of exiles who returned – 42,360.
Their male and female servants – 7,337
Male and female musicians – 245
Horses – 736
Mules – 245
Camels – 435
Donkeys – 6,720
70-72Many of the people contributed to help pay the cost of restoring the Temple:
||ounces of gold
||robes for priests
|Heads of clans
||pounds of gold
||pounds of silver
|The rest of the people
||pounds of gold
||pounds of silver
||robes for priests
73 The priests, the Levites, the Temple guards, the musicians, many of the ordinary people, the Temple workers—all the people of Israel—settled in the towns and cities of Judah.
How about setting a common ground? How about setting up a firm foundation on which to build everything else? How about aligning things with a cornerstone so that as things start to get built up they are in line? How about using good resources to ensure it lasts?
Consider the solid foundation which is Jesus Christ! Consider the cornerstone to align with to be Jesus Christ! Consider the common ground to be rules of higher standards Jesus has called us to! Let’s first love God with all of our hearts, mind, soul, and strength! Let’s love our neighbors as ourselves! Let’s lead with love! Let’s put Jesus in the middle of all our relationships so that we can come together with common purposes! A chord of three strands is not easily broken! Let’s point people back to God! Let’s turn our lives back to God! Let’s walk with Him and in His ways! Let’s start a revival where God is glorified and lives are transformed for eternity! None of the “stuff” will last forever, only people! So we need to have God’s eyes and God’s ears and God’s heart for the people around us! God sent Jesus to save the world! His hope was that nobody would perish but that everyone would come to faith in Jesus! So let’s ask God how He would have us kick things off! Let’s ask God for clarity and vision, purpose and passion for His plan! Let’s ask God to make us sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit so that in every situation we will be able to step up and step in and help people be restored to God!
Ezra Reads the Law to the People
1By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. On the first day of that month they all assembled in Jerusalem, in the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law which the Lord had given Israel through Moses, to get the book of the Law. 2So Ezra brought it to the place where the people had gathered—men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3There in the square by the gate he read the Law to them from dawn until noon, and they all listened attentively.
4Ezra was standing on a wooden platform that had been built for the occasion. The following men stood at his right: Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and the following stood at his left: Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5As Ezra stood there on the platform high above the people, they all kept their eyes fixed on him. As soon as he opened the book, they all stood up. 6Ezra said, “Praise the Lord, the great God!”
All the people raised their arms in the air and answered, “Amen! Amen!” They knelt in worship, with their faces to the ground.
7Then they rose and stood in their places, and the following Levites explained the Law to them: Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah. 8They gave an oral translation of God’s Law and explained it so that the people could understand it.
9When the people heard what the Law required, they were so moved that they began to cry. So Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra, the priest and scholar of the Law, and the Levites who were explaining the Law told all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God, so you are not to mourn or cry. 10Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who don’t have enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don’t be sad. The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”
11The Levites went around calming the people and telling them not to be sad on such a holy day. 12So all the people went home and ate and drank joyfully and shared what they had with others, because they understood what had been read to them.
The Festival of Shelters
13The next day the heads of the clans, together with the priests and the Levites, went to Ezra to study the teachings of the Law. 14 They discovered that the Law, which the Lord gave through Moses, ordered the people of Israel to live in temporary shelters during the Festival of Shelters. 15So they gave the following instructions and sent them all through Jerusalem and the other cities and towns: “Go out to the hills and get branches from pines, olives, myrtles, palms, and other trees to make shelters according to the instructions written in the Law.”
16So the people got branches and built shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the Temple courtyard, and in the public squares by the Water Gate and by the Ephraim Gate. 17All the people who had come back from captivity built shelters and lived in them. This was the first time it had been done since the days of Joshua son of Nun, and everybody was excited and happy. 18From the first day of the festival to the last they read a part of God’s Law every day. They celebrated for seven days, and on the eighth day there was a closing ceremony, as required in the Law.
Time is short! Life is like a mist! This world in its present form is passing away! We should live like stewards rather than owners as the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! We should live like servants as we serve the Lord! Be God’s hands and arms of love extended! See the world like He does! Hear the cries like He does! Ask Him for wisdom so that you know what to do! Ask Him for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in every situation because there may be more to it than what is on the surface! Let’s meditate on the Word of the Lord always! Let’s hope and trust Jesus in everything! Let’s live for eternity so that not only will we get to spend eternity with God but also that we can help others come into this same relationship!
The Word of Life
1 We write to you about the Word of life, which has existed from the very beginning. We have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. 2 When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life which was with the Father and was made known to us. 3What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We write this in order that our joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5Now the message that we have heard from his Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him. 6If, then, we say that we have fellowship with him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions. 7But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. 9But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us.
–1 John 1
Make time with God! Make time to hear from Him! Make time to do what He is calling you to do! Make time to speak life into the people He sends to you!