Lakeside lesson #5

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This Bible study was taught at Lakeside Advent Christian Campground on July 30th, 2021.

Session 5 – 20210730

I am going to be reflecting on some Old Testament verses that explain how our God demonstrates his love to us.

My overall theme is simple: God loves us. If you believe that, you will be cheering on these messages. But if your faith in the biblical God as a loving God has been challenged, I hope you will be encouraged by these studies.

Today’s text is Nehemiah 9:22-23 CSB

Nehemiah 9:22-23 You gave them kingdoms and peoples and established boundaries for them. They took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and of the land of King Og of Bashan. You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky and brought them to the land you told their ancestors to go in and possess.

Notice the four things that this prayer claims about what God did.

  • God gave the Israelites kingdoms and peoples
  • God established boundaries for them.
  • God multiplied the descendants of Israel like the stars of the sky.
  • God brought them to the promised land.

Notice the commission that God gave the Israelites

  • God told their ancestors to go in and possess.

Notice the preliminary victories that God allowed the Israelites to experience.

  • They took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and of the land of King Og of Bashan.

Remember the description of God from verse 17.

  • a forgiving God,
  • gracious
  • and compassionate,
  • slow to anger
  • and abounding in faithful love

All of the things that God gave the Israelites are consistent with his character as described in that verse.

When we pray to God, we need a prayer attitude that matches the truths pointed out in this prayer from Nehemiah.

• He is סְלִיחָה selichahforgiving. He chooses to overlook our acts of blatant rebellion and ignorant foolishness, instead of giving us the immediate destruction they deserve.

• He is חַנּוּן channun – gracious. He chooses to be generous when he sees one of his creatures in need.

• He is רָחוּם rachum – compassionate. He acts with mercy, not giving us the condemnation we deserve, and he feels that compassion.

• He is ‎אֶֽרֶךְ־אַפַּ֥יִם erech ‘appayim – long in the nostrils. That is what it says literally. It takes some explanation.

• He abounds in חֶסֶד chesed – faithful love. This is God’s covenant faithfulness.

In fact, the deliverance in Egypt may tell us even more about God’s covenant faithfulness. The blood on the doorpost and lintels may be a direct reference to it. It may have spelled out ח the first letter in chesed .

Also, when we face a challenge, we need to rehearse in prayer all the preliminary victories that God has already brought us through.

And we need to express faith that we – with God’s help – can accomplish the commission that he has given us.

God loves us. This is foundational for living the Christian life, and for facing the commission that he has charged us with.

Lakeside lesson #4

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This Bible study was taught at Lakeside Advent Christian Campground, Belgrade, Maine, July 29th, 2021.

Session 4 – 20210729

I am going to be reflecting on some Old Testament verses that explain how our God demonstrates his love to us.

My overall theme is simple: God loves us. If you believe that, you will be cheering on these messages. But if your faith in the biblical God as a loving God has been challenged, I hope you will be encouraged by these studies.

Today’s text is Nehemiah 9:20-21 CSB

Nehemiah 9:20a You sent your good Spirit to instruct them.

God provided a visible means of guidance to the Israelites as they walked. He provides an invisible means of guidance for us as we walk the Christian walk.

• John 14:15-17 (NET) "If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

• John 14:26 (NET) But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

Another word that fits nicely as a meaning for paracletos in this context is discipler.

Nehemiah 9:20b You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.

Jesus is our manna

John 6:48-58 I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate – and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Jesus is our living water

John 4:3-14 he left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria; so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. “Give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.” “Sir,” said the woman, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”

When John uses the word life, it is shorthand for the permanent life that Jesus promised at the resurrection on the last day. It is not a reference to some kind of spiritual life that is different from life as we know it today. The comparison between the manna in the wilderness and the life Jesus offers is that the manna prolonged the temporary lives of the Israelites. Believing in the death of Jesus enables us to live another life – a permanent one.

Nehemiah 9:21a You provided for them in the wilderness forty years, and they lacked nothing.

Deuteronomy 2:7 All along the way I, the LORD your God, have blessed your every effort. I have been attentive to your travels through this great wasteland. These forty years I have been with you; you have lacked for nothing.'”

They lacked nothing, but that did not mean they had everything. The Lord is our shepherd, we shall not lack – but there are all kinds of things we might want. Contentment in the Christian life comes from resting in the sufficiency of God’s love and appreciating his demonstration of that love.

Nehemiah 9:21b Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

•  Deuteronomy 29:5 I have led you through the desert for forty years. Your clothing has not worn out nor have your sandals deteriorated.

God showed his love to the Israelites by protecting them from their own ignorance.

When they left for their journey, they did not imagine that it would take an entire generation. God added to their basic provision of food and water. He added protection for their clothing and their feet.

The God who loves us shows that love in little miracles along the way.

He’s not going to overwhelm us with obvious miracles all along the way, but as we look back on our lives we will see signs of his tender loving care.

I think we miss most of what God is doing in our lives because we are looking for the weird and dramatic, but God just wants to show us he cares about us. Unless we are determined to see those signs, they will go unnoticed.

As a spouse, you learn to see the little signs of attention and love. People outside your relationship will miss them. But you learn to appreciate them. The signs are different in each marriage, because people have their unique love languages.

In our relationship with God, he provides signs of his love too. As we reflect over our time with him in prayer, we can learn God’s love languages toward us, and it can become the basis for our personal worship and praise.

Lakeside lesson #3

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This Bible lesson was taught at Lakeside Advent Christian Campground, Belgrade, Maine, on July 28th, 2021.

Session 3 – 20210728

I am going to be reflecting on some Old Testament verses that explain how our God demonstrates his love to us.

My overall theme is simple: God loves us. If you believe that, you will be cheering on these messages. But if your faith in the biblical God as a loving God has been challenged, I hope you will be encouraged by these studies.

Today’s text is Nehemiah 9:18-19 CSB

Nehemiah 9:18 Even after they had cast an image of a calf for themselves and said, “This is your god who brought you out of Egypt,” and they had committed terrible blasphemies,

Even the most blessed of all people can go desperately wrong by taking matters into their own hands instead of waiting on God for guidance. This is what took place among the Israelites under Moses. God had provided them with a trained guide and shepherd, but the people abandoned God’s guide and sought to create their own means of guidance. In doing so, they were like the pagan nations, who created gods in their own image, and sought guidance from them – a means of guidance that they could manipulate to their own advantage.

Before the advent of the great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) most of the planet had been trapped in animistic religious systems and cultures. Ironically, modern secular philosophers are now harking back to animistic polytheism as the only hope to restore the world to balance. This rewriting of history is happening in much the same way as the social theorists have rewritten history in such a way as to blame the European pioneers for stealing all the land from native Americans and polluting it. Sure, there is some truth to that – but the idea that the Native Americans were noble, peace-loving tribes which the foreigners destroyed is too simplistic. We encountered that ideology in New Zealand as well. People blamed the European settlers in New Zealand for crimes against the Maori, but failed to mention the tribe that lived in the land before the Maori came. The Maori ate them!

The fact is, if the Israelites had followed God’s instructions they could have avoided the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. You and I should learn some lessons from that. One lesson is that when God gives us a way, we should not set it aside and seek to create our own.

The good news is …

Nehemiah 9:19a you did not abandon them in the wilderness because of your great compassion.

God had every right to abandon the Israelites as a result of their abandoning him. But he is compassionate.

The longer we live as Christians, the more opportunities we have to make great, glaring, tremendous boo-boos. How thankful we should be that our God is a compassionate God, forgiving us and bringing us back to himself time after time.

• God is רָחוּם rachum – compassionate. He acts with mercy, not giving us the condemnation we deserve, and he feels that compassion.

He suffers with those who suffer, even if that suffering comes from their disobedience and selfishness. The secularists think of God as the mysterious other, and criticize religions for believing in a God who is worldly enough to give laws for people to obey. But the religious see those laws differently. We see the laws as reflections on a God who loves. He cares about what happens to us, and what happens to others because of us, and what happens to the world around us.

• Psalm 78:38 Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath.

• Joel 2:13 Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.

• Jonah 4:2 He prayed to the Lord: “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I thought while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

Lest we get the wrong idea, let us remember that God spared the Ninevites because they repented. His compassion is moved by our repentance and godly sorrow. He will not tolerate defiance.

Many in the world today seem to think that God (if there is one) tolerates sin because it is insignificant to him. They cannot image the divine being caring about someone’s beliefs or social habits.

Later, God did destroy the Ninevites. His wrath against sin is just as much truth as his compassion toward the repentant.

Speaking of repentance, I have to say that there are many today who seek inclusion in Christ’s kingdom without repentance from sin.

• Matthew 4:17 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There is no entrance into the kingdom to the non-repentant.

Our text says that God did not abandon the Israelites in the wilderness. Instead, he demonstrated his love to them by giving them laws and regulations to live by. The secularists are wrong when they say God is only the mysterious force behind all life. He is more than that. He is the close counselor who comes alongside us and gives us what we need to take the journey he commissioned us to take.

Nehemiah 9:19b During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go.

God provided a visible means of guidance to the Israelites as they walked. He provides an invisible means of guidance for us as we walk the Christian walk.

• John 14:15-17 (NET) “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

• John 14:26 (NET) But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

Lakeside lesson #2

This Bible lesson was taught at Lakeside Advent Christian Campground, July 27th, 2021.

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Session 2 – 20210727

I am going to be reflecting on some Old Testament verses that explain how our God demonstrates his love to us.

My overall theme is simple: God loves us. If you believe that, you will be cheering on these messages. But if your faith in the biblical God as a loving God has been challenged, I hope you will be encouraged by these studies.

Today’s text is Nehemiah 9:16-17 CSB

Nehemiah 9:16-17a But our ancestors acted arrogantly; they became stiff-necked and did not listen to your commands. They refused to listen and did not remember your wonders you performed among them.

Even the most blessed of all people can go desperately wrong because of arrogance and stubbornness.

This truth is demonstrated in four contexts.

The prayer in Nehemiah referred to the Israelites who settled in the promised land, and promptly forgot the love of the God had brought them there.

The prayer brought that truth forward as a kind of warning for Nehemiah’s generation. They could also be potentially sidetracked from their mission by failure to recognize God’s love in their current situation.

The Pharisees in the New Testament are an example of a blessed people who thought they were special because of what the knew and how separated they were from others.

Our generation of Bible believing Christians can be guilty of the same attitudes. If we think God loves us because of what we know, and because of how different we are from others, we have taken two giant steps backward.

There is nothing wrong with knowing more about God. I encourage it. I think we should be spending more times study the Bible and theology, not less. But fostering a relationship with God based on responding to his love is more important.

1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.”

Paul was talking about the issue in his day of eating meat that might possibly have been dedicated to an idol. He encouraged the Christians in Corinth not to simple go by their knowledge. They should act out of love. Knowledge alone would have said that all foods are clean, so there is no problem. But love would say “could I be leading someone astray by eating this? Paul’s instruction was “take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (8:9).

Our generation also seems to overdo our separation. We like to mimic what our culture is doing with Christian versions of everything under the sun. Sometimes that is just our attempt at being relevant, and that is a good thing. But we need to be careful of our motives. If you only go to Christian movies and read Christian books and attend Christian schools, etc., you might come to a point where your life is so separated from the lost that you will never have a chance to show them Christ.

Nehemiah 9:17b
They became stiff-necked and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.

The prayer refers to the people’s insurrection after the twelves spies came back, and the people accepted the majority report. God threatened to wipe them all out and start over with Moses, but Moses asked him to show his power by forgiving them instead. He did forgive them, but did not allow that generation to enter the promised land.

This fact also relates to Nehemiah and his generation as well. God had given them a commission. If they chose to stay instead of going to repair the walls of Jerusalem, they would be missing out on the blessing of the accomplished mission.

God has a mission for us. The love that he has shown us is designed for us to express by loving others and leading them to Christ. We can’t stay in the wilderness. We either have to rebel against God’s plan, or submit to it.

I might also point out that in the case of the Israelites in the wilderness, democracy failed them. They chose what the majority wanted to do, based on the majority report, rather than respond by faith to Joshua and Caleb’s call. There may just come a crucial point in your life when you are going to be called on to do what nobody else wants you to do. Like the apostles in the early church, you may have to say “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts5:29).

Nehemiah 9:17c
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, and you did not abandon them.

Look at this marvelous list of divine attributes.

• God is סְלִיחָה selichah – forgiving. He chooses to overlook our acts of blatant rebellion and ignorant foolishness, instead of giving us the immediate destruction they deserve.

If the wages of sin is death, then every mistake, every failure that we commit deserves immediate judgment and annihilation. We could not exist if we did not have a forgiving God.

He does not stop to judge whether the needy person deserves his generosity. No, he pours out his grace upon a planet filled with the undeserving.

• God is חַנּוּן channun – gracious. He chooses to be generous when he sees one of his creatures in need. 
• God is רָחוּם rachum – compassionate. He acts with mercy, not giving us the condemnation we deserve, and he feels that compassion. 

He suffers with those who suffer, even if that suffering comes from their disobedience and selfishness. The secularists think of God as the mysterious other, and criticize religions for believing in a God who is worldly enough to give laws for people to obey. But the religious see those laws differently. We see the laws as reflections on a God who loves. He cares about what happens to us, and what happens to others because of us, and what happens to the world around us. The mysterious detached unmoved mover of the universe cannot do that. But the biblical God does.

We humans create laws out of compassion for others and the desire to protect them – especially protecting the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Many of God’s laws are given for that purpose as well. They are a reflection of his compassion on his creatures.

• God is ‎אֶֽרֶךְ־אַפַּ֥יִם erech ‘appayim – long in the nostrils. That is what it says literally. It takes some explanation. 

When the Old Testament describes a person’s mental or emotional state, it usually uses body parts metaphorically. In American English, for example, if we wanted to say that someone was prone to anger, we might say he was hot-headed. That is using a physical body part (the head) as a metaphor for an emotional state.

In Hebrew, two body parts are generally used to describe a person’s emotions. First, there is the nefesh – the throat. The throat was used because it is the body part through which the breath passes, and often someone with an emotional disturbance.

• Genesis 42:21 Then they said to one another, "In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his throat, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us."

Joseph’s brothers remembered how he begged himself sore trying to get them to release him from the pit. They heard his anguish.

You might recognize that word nefesh because it is the word our English Old Testaments usually translate as soul. It is the throat. It came to represent the life of a person about to die because the breath leaves the body through the throat at death. It is not immortal, folks.

The second body part that Hebrew often uses this way is the nose, or – more particularly, the nostrils. Like nefesh, appayim is a part through which the breath passes. Someone with long nostrils takes a long breath before he does something. That became a metaphor for someone with patience.

God showed his love to the Israelites by patiently forgiving them long after human patience would have given up. Our noses are too short.

This is how our loving God acts toward us. He is patient – long-suffering, giving us a chance to repent and turn back to him.

• God abounds in חֶסֶד chesed – faithful love. This is God’s covenant faithfulness.

God’s faithfulness to his own covenant with his people is often used to describe him. It is love going in a certain direction, love toward a people to whom God is committed.

This is our God, friends, and he loves us.

Lakeside lesson #1

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These Bible lessons were taught during chapel time at Lakeside Advent Christian Campground, Belgrade Maine, July, 2021.

Session 1 – 20210726

During our chapel sessions this year, I am going to be reflecting on some Old Testament verses that explain how our God demonstrates his love to us.

My overall theme is simple: God loves us. If you believe that, you will be cheering on these messages. But if your faith in the biblical God as a loving God has been challenged, I hope you will be encouraged by these studies.

• 2 Timothy 3:16 CSB — All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,

If we are looking for encouragement in believing that God loves us, we can look anywhere in the Bible. I decided to focus on these Old Testament verses in our chapel studies in hope that these studies will add some foundational support for what our evangelist will be sharing.

Today’s text is Nehemiah 9:15 CSB

15a You provided bread from heaven for their hunger; you brought them water from the rock for their thirst.

God showed his love to the Israelites by providing for their basic needs, even in extraordinary times.

When you go for a walk in the wilderness, you learn really quickly what things are essential and what things should be left behind. My wife and I just spent nine days hiking the 100 mile wilderness, a section of the Appalachian Trail that stretches from Mount Katahdin to Monson. It is called a wilderness because there is no means of self resupply. You have to carry all your food with you. We actually hired someone to drop a resupply package for us at the 40 mile mark. That enabled us to finish the trail. Water was not a problem because the same God who supplied water for the Israelites in their wilderness journey put streams and springs and rivers every few miles in this wilderness.

We made two mistakes on this trip. First, we forgot to pack our fuel. That was not too great a hardship. It just meant making a fire every night to heat our food, and drinking our coffee cold every morning. This we did until the 40 mile food drop, where we were reunited with our fuel.

Our second mistake was choosing the wrong charging cable for our cellphones. The one we brought decided to stop working. Fortunately we met up with several other hikers who generously loaned us their cables at times so we always had access to our phones and their apps to guide us on our trip, and communicate with the outside world.

We learned, however, that neither fuel nor communication was really a basic need. As long as we had food and water we could make the trip.

God knew what the Israelites really needed for their wilderness journey. He miraculously provided it for them. He was trying to tell them something really important for them to learn. He was trying to tell them the same thing our parents were telling us by feeding us and making sure we had the basics, long before we could ever say “thank you.” With every drop of water, poured from the rock, God was saying “I love you.” With every flake of that mysterious manna, he was telling them “I care about to you.”

When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he told them to ask their Father in heaven for their daily bread. It’s not like God is going to withhold food and water from us, but it really helps for us to pray like that. One of the reasons is that it helps us to recognize the miraculous that is happening in the ordinary. What we call ordinary is just the miraculous that happens all the time – because God loves us.

For the Israelites, they had a front row seat, because for them the miraculous became the ordinary. Imagine an Israelite Dad talking to his son: Here Son, have some manna. No, son, I didn’t make it. Our loving God provides this for us regularly. Why? Because he loves us of course. Here, son, enjoy this cup of refreshing water. No son, I haven’t been digging a well. It came from that rock over there. Our loving God provides this for us regularly. Why? Because he loves us of course.

15b You told them to go in and possess the land you had sworn to give them.

This prayer will add on a lot of details later, including going into detail about possessing the land. So, why mention possessing the land at this point? I think it was important for the Israelites to link the two realities. The first reality was God’s provision of daily necessities. The second reality was God’s commission for them – to go to the promised land and take possession of it. The Israelites in Nehemiah’s time saw their commission to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls as comparable to that of possessing the land to begin with.

Jesus’ prayer instruction mentions both realities for us. There is…
• “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and…
• ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

What God is already doing for us is enough to empower us to do what he calls us to do for him. We do not have to wait for a second or third or fourth anointing. He has already shown us that he loves us, and that is enough.

There was a temptation for the believers in Nehemiah’s time to get to a point in their faith lives where they stopped and waited because it seemed like God was not doing enough. They thought God was doing just enough to get them by, so they thought they were being spiritual by just sitting and waiting on him to take the next step. But the lesson Nehemiah learned was that God was waiting on them to take the next step!

A mother can only do so much toward making her little baby walk. She can provide nutrition, a safe place to practice, and encouragement. But then she has let the baby try, fail, try, fail and try again. For Nehemiah to take his baby steps, he had to pray to God, and appear to the king for permission, and lead the delegation back to Jerusalem, and begin rebuilding the walls.

We believers in the 21st century have to learn that lesson as well. We have to take encouragement from the fact that our God has supplied our basic needs, and then trust him to supply what we need to follow his commission. His commission for us is not to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls but to make disciples for Jesus Christ in all the nations of the planet.

But we are so good at coming up with excuses for not doing that. One of our favorite excuses is that we do not have the resources. We think that all we are doing is just getting by, so the disciple-making should be left to the well-to-do Christians in the large churches with the large budgets.

But the Great Commission was given to all eleven apostles and intended to be passed on by them to all believers until the end of the age. That’s why Jesus promised them that he would be with them “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The apostles would live temporary lives. They wouldn’t be around at the end of the age. So they had to pass on that commission to the believers who followed.

There are some similarities between the two commissions: the commission of Nehemiah and his friends and the Great Commission given to the eleven.

First, Nehemiah and his crew were not perfect specimens of faith in God. They had grown up in the faith school of hard knocks. But the eleven were not perfect specimens of faith either. Matthew 28:17 says “When (the eleven) saw (Jesus), they worshiped, but some doubted.” Imagine doubting even while staring at the risen Savior!

Second, Nehemiah got his permission from the king, but he got his authority from someone higher than the king. The commission came from God himself. Likewise, Jesus made it clear to the eleven that “All authority has been given to (him) in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Third, Nehemiah had to get up off his position to obey God. He could not just stay in his comfortable job as cup-bearer to the king. He had to get up and go. He was here, and the problem was there. Those walls were not going to come to him. Likewise, Jesus tells the eleven “go therefore.” In fact, the exact translation of that Greek aorist participle πορευθέντες is more like “after you go.” He was telling them that if they are obedient in going, then the rest of the job would become evident as they obeyed the “go” part.

Fourth, Nehemiah had to enlist others in his obedience. His was not a private commission. The job was too great for simple individual devotion to handle. Likewise, Jesus told the eleven to baptize and teach others to follow the same Great Commission. Our commission will last longer that a few years – even longer that our lifetimes. It will last for the entire age until our master returns. The only way for us to finish the course is to bring others onto the team.

I want to come back to one message for us to meditate on today. That message is God loves us. His provision for our basic needs is one way that he demonstrates that love. There are many other ways. But once you know that somebody loves you, you don’t have to keep looking for proof.

Loving Father, thank you for demonstrating your love to us by providing for our basic needs. Encourage us today to respond to your love by taking the next step in obedience to your call.