Archive for Devotions and Teachings

Nehemiah week 4- final session

Well, it is our last session of Nehemiah and I can honestly say- I now see that a Jewish man who lived thousands of years ago, and I have much in common. At first glance I knew the story of Nehemiah, but didn’t know how it could really apply to me- Esther? yes. Nehemiah? Ummm- well- I ‘ll give it a shot.
And I am thankful I did. It just goes to show that God’s Word is as applicable today as it was then and to men and women; ancient and modern.
Some of the things I learned from Nehemiah were:
1) God uses the breakable heart.
When Nehemiah heard of the condition of his people, his heart broke. He fasted, prayed and mourned for days. (Neh. 1:4) Then God used him to go and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. He gave him favor from the king (the very king who ordered the wall to be torn down) and sent him with his supplies he needed, protection from enemies, and cooperation from the people. And they did it in record time!
2) God loves His people.
After the wall was built, God called His people home. A city with a wall and no people is not a city at all. God orchestrated all of this to happen through Nehemiah because He loved His people and wanted to reconcile them to Himself. He knew He was the best thing for them. He wanted to take care of them again- and they wanted it too. It was like a parent welcoming home the lost child. A beautiful image of the loving Father welcoming home the prodigal son.
(also see Isaiah 43:1-7)
3) God’s Word is powerful.
After the wall is built and Ezra reads the Law (Neh. 8) and the people wept out of conviction and celebrated out of victory. They were back with their God. If you have followed the Lord for any time, you understand this. Reading the Word is convicting, but it is so beautiful to know that God is working in you. And then when you see Him and His victory- oh there is nothing like it! I know this was a powerful time for Israel.
4) Oh how soon we forget!
Even after all that Israel went through and saw the hand of God, they went back to their old ways after Nehemiah went back to the palace. How often do we do the same? I get frustrated with the Israelites’ fickleness until I realize my own. How many times are we so excited for the things of God and the very next day feel like He’s abandoned us? We are so fickle as humans. But I pray we learn to stay the course. God is worth the journey! (read Duet. 8 for more about why God does this with the Israelites.)

I am so thankful to Kelly Minter and her insight on this Bible study. God’s Word always changes something in me. His Word is truly alive and changing hearts. I pray your heart can break for what breaks God and that each of us can go and fulfill our purpose for the kingdom as Nehemiah did.

Praying blessings on all!

“Your statutes are wonderful, therefore I obey them.” Psalm 119:129

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Nehemiah Week 3

In Nehemiah week 3, Kelly’s study takes us through the completion of the wall and what God laid on Nehemiah’s heart: Now bring back My people. The goal of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem was only half of the goal. The wall’s completion was only the beginning. After insult, and intimidation, Nehemiah finishes the wall in 52 days! An amazing feat for sure. It amazed even the surrounding nations and “They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” (6:16)
But Jerusalem was nothing without its people. The Jews were in exile, and now it was time to call them back. Nehemiah had rebuilt the wall- now it was time to fill it with her people. To understand God’s heart for His people, Kelly had us read Isaiah 43:1-7. I am going to put it here so you can read it right away. It is such a beautiful glimpse into the heart of our God. He truly loves His people.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth —
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made. ”

God’s heart is for His people. This section of scripture in Isaiah was written about a century before the events in Nehemiah. God’s prophecy is being fulfilled through Nehemiah. Wow!
Kelly also reminds us that this prophecy in Isaiah 43 is also for His children in Christ that He will gather since we are now spiritually part of chosen Israel. (“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6)

Oh- isn’t it to beautiful to know how precious you are to God? I love what He says in verse 3-4. He will give nations for your ransom, and give people in exchange for your life. He gave the ultimate gift of His Son on the cross for you. What an amazing and loving God we serve!

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

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Nehemiah Week 2

In Kelly’s Bible study on Nehemiah week 2, she points out how the Israelites worked side by side to accomplish God’s plan. And it got me thinking. In today’s world we are so independent. But it is clear it should not be this way. God uses the body of believers to accomplish His plan.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 speaks of the body of Christ and how we are all members of the same body. We are all unique; we are all necessary; we all have a purpose to accomplish the kingdom’s cause.
What a great reminder in Nehemiah that we need each other. Can I boldly say- We will not accomplish God’s great plan alone. He will put us side by side with other believers to help us and we will help them accomplish God’s purpose and plan on this earth.
What has God called you to do?
Pray about this. I pray that you and I will hear His call and go and fulfill it according to His plan. This week Nehemiah has shown me a beautiful picture of God’s people working together to accomplish God’s purpose.
May our lives go and do the same.
“You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor. 12:27

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Nehemiah Week 1

Hello again! I am doing a new study in the book of Nehemiah with my women’s Bible study. It is by Kelly Minter, Nehemiah: A heart that can break. As a teacher on a summer schedule, I am so thankful to be doing this study with our group. And so far- it is amazing! Thank you ladies who are on this journey with me! I pray it is speaking to you in amazing ways and God is revealing more and more of Himself to you through His Word. He is so good!

I find blogging through my journey is very therapeutic for me. And if anyone cares to read this- then great 🙂 I hope it encourages you and blesses you. Kelly is doing such a great job with this study and it is so clear, God has given her a message to give to all of us. 

In the beginning of Nehemiah we see the state of Jerusalem as Nehemiah inquires about his city. They tell him of its horrible condition: the people are “in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.” (1:3) When Nehemiah heard the condition of his city, his heart broke. He wept and mourned and fasted for days, then prayed to God. His prayer is journaled in v. 5-10 in chapter 1. It is a prayer of a broken-hearted man, humbling himself before God, and asking favor for he was about to ask the king something huge. 

Now- I didn’t realize how huge of a thing Nehemiah was asking until this study. Nehemiah is cupbearer to Artaxerxes, king of Persia (1:10). In Ezra 4:8-23 we read the background of king Artaxerxes- he was the one who stopped the Jews “by force” from rebuilding Jerusalem (v. 23). And now, Nehemiah was about to ask the king to leave and go back and rebuild the city that he stopped from rebuilding? Nehemiah had every reason to be afraid of asking the king for such a thing! When the king asks Nehemiah “What is wrong? What is it you want?” The Scriptures say Nehemiah’s response is:

“Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king.” (2:4)

I can only imagine the uncertainty Nehemiah felt. How would the king react? Would he be indignant? Offended? Shout- “off with his head!”? This is a huge risk for Nehemiah. But the conversation that follows has God’s hand all over it. Not only does the king grant Nehemiah the privelege to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall, the king gives Nehemiah letters of safe conduct, lumber and a military escort on top of it! (2:6-9) I would say Nehemiah’s prayer of “God’s favor” was answered! (1:11) God is so good!

When we are willing to step out and speak up, God promises to be there on our behalf. And He always does abundantly more than we dare to ask.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:20-21

Be encouraged that God has a great plan for your life. Listen to what He has put in your heart and then boldly answer the calling! He is with you 🙂

God bless!

“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matt 10:19-20

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James Bible Study- week 8

I Cor. 15:7 “And then he appeared to James. . .”
In our last session of James Beth spoke on these five words found in I Corinthians. By the time she was finished some of us were in tears and I am willing to bet all of us were changed. This man James that we have studies for the past few months has, as Beth says, “messed with us.” But in a good way!
I wasn’t sure how much I liked James at first. I actually remember thinking, “How did this guy get in the Canon!” But God knows why. When I heard Beth say the same thing, then say, but “James won me over!” I couldn’t’ say the same, until the close of this session. Now I see how.
The wisdom in James is extensive. At times, I felt the heaviness of the law. I needed to hear from Paul! Preach on some grace please ☺ Then that ending of James. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him hack remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” James 5:19.
James knew that Mercy Triumphs. He needed the grace of his Savior. He knew the risen Savior was all about grace. He experienced it first hand. Remember James as the one who lived the law as a Jew and lived under the same roof with the One who would fulfill the law for the Jews, then to all who would believe in Him? James didn’t believe, but came face to face with the risen His risen Savior- and everything changed. And the same thing happens to you and me when we come in contact with the risen Savior- we are forever changed.
“Then he appeared to James.” Those five words bring a whole new emotion to the book of James, don’t they? Oh how I love the Word of God!
What are your thoughts on James?
I have loved this amazing journey with each of you! I am sad to see it end, but ready to start a again. New Bible study coming soon!
Be blessed! And stay in God’s Word!
Cari
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
James 1:22

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James Bible Study- week 6

“Therefore confess your sins to each and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

James is right-Prayer works! I know that it is prayer that has been the most effective tool in my personal life and my family’s. I have seen God change me and my circumstances, that once looked impossible, through prayer. Another thing that has power is: the power to be prayed for. I don’t know if you are like me, but sometimes I am hesitant to share prayer requests. I feel like such a burden, I don’t want to bother, but God is showing me that:

1) There is GREATER power when others pray for you. In fact, recently, I was praying over something and just couldn’t get peace. As soon as I asked two of my closest friends to pray for me, I felt the peace that very day! There is great power in being prayed for!

2) It is selfish not to share. God is showing me that when I don’t share my prayer requests I am withholding the potential blessing for the person praying for me. I asked myself recently, “Don’t I love praying for others and MY faith is built when I see them answered?” Why don’t we want to share then? Also, we can fall into pride thinking, “We can do it ourselves.” This can be dangerous.

3) It gives God the glory. By allowing others in our prayer lives to witness our miracles, breakthroughs, and answered prayers, God is getting more glory! Let’s not rob Him of that.

Now I know there are some things that are personal, and we shouldn’t share everything with just anyone- please don’t misunderstand. BUT maybe you haven’t seen your breakthrough because you don’t have people praying for you.

James has been challenging, I know. I understand, sister! But we have to be willing to address our fears in order to grow. Satan wants to isolate each of us so we stay powerless. Bringing it to light takes the power from the darkness. Having people pray for us brings greater power! We would be wise to listen to James in this: “Therefore confess your sins to each and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

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Beth Moore’s James study- week 5

We took a little break for spring break but we are back into the swing of things! Week 5 was no disappointment. James for me can be hard to swallow. He doesn’t sugar coat anything! I can so see how he and Paul might not have gotten along. I tend to side with Paul- he is my favorite apostle and he did write over 2/3 of the New Testament so I am more accustomed to his writing. James only has one little book- but it is in there and it is for good reason. God put it there.
Paul’s message is we are saved by grace. If you don’t know that- you need to reread his many letters to the churches. He was passionate about that truth! James’ message is grace, yes, but if you’ve been saved by grace, then you better show it or you may as well not have it at all. Please don’t confuse James as saying his “faith without works is dead” (2:26) as we are saved by works. We are not! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves- it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:7-9) And that message is supported through so many of the books of the Bible. To take James’ one verse out of context would be wrong. We are saved by faith- so let’s show it!

During week 5, I enjoyed day four in our workbook. It was over the verse, “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12
Let’s be clear- we are not God. But don’t we sometimes judge like we are? The moment we feel we are God or even close to being God we are, as Beth writes, “jumping off a cliff”. She says that if we don’t recognize and remedy it for ourselves quickly then the only “remedy is hitting the ground so hard that we break into pieces then the real God gets to show up and put us back together. And for the sake of those in our sphere, the shorter the period between playing God and breaking into pieces, the better.” (pg. 144) Oh, so true.
Slander, grumbling, criticizing, judging others all, as James says, is sin. And if you thought James was tough on that- go ahead and read James 4:9-10.”Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Then go watch session six of Beth Moore’s. Sounds scary, but really one of the best ones yet!
I’ll end on a note that I love from Beth. Ok- it is in the beginning of week six’s homework, but I think it will help take a look at the ugly side of us.
“Even when we are not as glad about what God says, as long as He’s talking and empowers us to hear, our relationship with Him teem with spirit and life.” (pg. 163)
So true ☺

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