May 15, 2013
I love reading, there is something just so satisfying about a well written story. Sometimes, you can read a book and the story will be written so beautifully, that it's like the author is painting a picture with words in your mind. But I suppose what I like most about a story, is the happy ever after. What makes a story worthwhile is that it should have a good ending. One that resolves all the plot lines and brings everything to conclusion. As we have read the narrative of Nehemiah, having learned many excellent lessons from him, how wonderful if at end of this narrative we could have concluded, â€œAnd they lived happily ever after.â€ But the history of mankind is unfortunately not a fairy tale. Nehemiah had done what he set out to do - the wall was rebuilt! He had appointed men to all the various positions of responsibility. The people had committed themselves through oaths to keeping the Laws of God and they were contributing to the work of supporting the Levites, singers and gatekeepers. Nehemiah thought that his job was done. I suppose he thought he was heading for a happy ever after. >>> Continue Reading >>>
March 25, 2013
What should God's people do when they are serving God faithfully, building up His kingdom - and opposition comes? Nehemiah gives an outstanding example for us to follow in his narrative in chapter 4, on standing firm during times of opposition. Charles Simeon is another example of someone standing firm. He was appointed (by the bishop of York) to be the vicar of Trinity Church in Cambridge, England from 1782. Unfortunately, the parishioners did not want him as their pastor as they preferred the assistant curate, Mr. Hammond, and so Simeon offered to step down. However, the Bishop of York refused Simeonâ€™ offer, saying that he will not place Mr. Hammond in the position of vicar. And so Charles Simeon stayed on. The parishioners were still unhappy and started an all-out attempt to remove him from office. As they had the authority to choose who preached Sunday evening service, they assigned this service to Mr. Hammond. After 5 years, when Mr. Hammond moved on, they invited other preachers to preach Sunday evening service for another 7 years. Can you imagine, serving a church for 12 years that would not even let you preach on Sunday evenings. >>> Continue Reading >>>
February 21, 2013
Kathleen Nielson writes, â€œNehemiah is not only telling the story of the Jewish people. He is telling above all, the story of God at work among His people, accomplishing His sovereign plan to preserve them and bless the nations through them, as He promised Abraham.â€ (Nehemiah Rebuilt and Rebuilding" page xiii.) At the time of Ezra, the Jewish remnant has re-established the temple, but the rest of the city still remains in ruins. We now meet Nehemiah, the man God used to lead the rebuilding of the city wall. Who was Nehemiah? Unlike Ezra, who was a priest, Nehemiah was a lay-person. He could have been born and raised in Persia. In chapter 1 verse 11, Nehemiah tells us that he was a cupbearer to king Artaxerxes. He protected the kingâ€™s life with his own life, tasting the kingâ€™s wine for poison. He was trusted. He was in a very influential position. He had access to the king, yet it was also a very dangerous job. >>> Continue Reading or Listen to it>>>
January 22, 2013
The first Friday Magazine in the Gulf News 2013 was full of encouragements to make this a better year. In fact, flashed across the cover was â€œ2013: Why it will be your best year yet!â€ Inside the magazine there were articles on people who achieved great things in 2012, like conquering a shopping and hoarding addiction, giving up binge eating, quitting smoking and losing 52 KGs.
As inspirational as those stories are, studying the book of Nehemiah is perfect for the beginning of a new year. Nehemiah is a man who accomplished great things and the book is the story of a new beginning for his people, the people of Israel. While the book doesnâ€™t end on a triumphant note, we can be encouraged by Godâ€™s mercy and kindness towards his people, and Nehemiahâ€™s faithfulness to his God. Before we decide what will make 2013 our best year yet, we should consider what this short book has to teach us about being the people of God.
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