Facilitating Spiritual Renewal
1 Corinthians 9:1-18
Verse of the day:
“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
Chapters 8 through 10 of Nehemiah describe one of the greatest revivals in the Old Testament. This account takes place shortly after the walls are rebuilt around Jerusalem when all the people are gathered in the city to hear Ezra teach the Book of the Law of Moses (8:1). What takes places throughout the next chapters creates a deepened sense of spiritual renewal in the people through several elements. In chapter 8:1-8, there is a renewed emphasis on the Word and all were attentive, so that means there was a serious effort to understand and apply the Word. In 8:6, prayer and worship take place where the people genuinely express their love for Him. 8:9 describes the reaction the people have due to the conviction of the Word. The multitude weeps because there is a sense of awareness and guilt that turns people to God for mercy because of their sin. This weeping is a confirming sign of the work of the Holy Spirit and by them turning from sin, God’s forgiveness and the deep joy of spiritual salvation is manifested (8:10).
I want to encourage you today that revival can be a daily experience. Whether that be on an individual or corporate level, the joy of the Lord follows those that continuously pursue Him, giving them incredible strength that cannot be found in anything else. The significance of being made in right standing with God propels the believer to the greatest heights and motivates us to success. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed it, but everything the enemy tries to do always comes down to trying to reap the believer of their joy. Sickness, lies, deceit, every tactic of the enemy always tries to disrupt the believer’s joy and causes a redirection away from God. Too many believers choose to rest in their circumstances and not in their salvation, creating a cycle of worry. Worry is not from God, nor does it have any place in the life of a believer. If anything, worry is a form of atheism because you place weight on your own shoulders that you don’t believe God can handle. He doesn’t want to see you struggle, He wants to see you laugh, smile, and enjoy the life He has come to give you in abundance (John 10:10)!
Allow the truth of God’s Word to fulfill your heart today and enable you to pursue greatness. There is nothing the enemy can do in the natural or supernatural to destroy you, but he can continue to throw pebbles at you to keep you distracted. Never allow yourself to see those pebbles as boulders, He’s not that strong. Instead, rejoice at the truth that you have been set free from sin, and have been made in right standing with God, and He has filled you with His Holy Spirit to complete every work placed before you. So, how you do ignite this revival and keep the strength? Read His Word, pray, worship, allow the truth to guide every step of your life because it will usher you in to a purpose that is so much greater than you could ever complete on your own. God will take you further than you can take yourself, which is why the joy is so strong!
Lead With The Right Kind of Fear
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Verse of the day:
Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land. (Nehemiah 5: 14-16)
Earlier in chapter 5, Nehemiah had just finished taking several Jewish nobles and officials to task for using their wealth to take advantage of their fellow countrymen. These nobles were loaning money with such large amounts of interest that people had to sell their land and even become slaves to pay it back. Nehemiah then contrasted his behavior as governor with previous leaders who also took advantage of others for their personal gain. He stated how his reverence, or fear of God prevented him from using his power inappropriately. When casually read, it may seem as if Nehemiah is almost bragging about the difference between him and his predecessors. But Nehemiah clearly highlighted the fact that previous leadership had begun to disregard God’s principles, resulting in the suffering of an entire nation.
The Global Leadership Summit this past week was incredibly insightful for people of all walks of life. Whether addressing CEOs, entry-level workers, or stay-at-home moms, each speaker made it clear that everyone is a leader because leadership at its core is simply influence. When we use our influence properly among family, friends or co-workers, everyone around us wins. Nehemiah said he based his leadership style on reverence, or fear of God. He recognized that he was accountable to God for the way he led the people. The results of this leadership style speak for themselves as the Jews went on to rebuild their city walls in fifty-two days, despite heavy opposition. The completion of this wall helped bring security and stability to a nation that had been left in ruins for years. I’d say that’s a clear win!
So how do we practically live a life of fearing God? We can start by taking the commands and principles of the Bible seriously and actively obey them. Psalm 119: 11 says we are to hide God’s word in our hearts so we don’t sin against him. Repeated failure to daily absorb God’s word puts us at a greater risk of disregarding it like the leaders before Nehemiah. When we absorb God’s word, we will see the value He places on every person and begin to deal with any selfishness attitudes or habits that hinder us from using our influence in a way that pleases Him.
Want to be a better leader? Then let’s lead with the fear of God in our hearts.
When It All Falls Apart
Pastor Tom Murray
1 Corinthians 7:1-24
Verse of the day:
When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT)
We experience those seasons in life where something we value falls apart or is destroyed. It happens in relationships, careers, finances, and ministry. Words come to mind like divorce, downsize, foreclosure and bankruptcy.
Sometimes we are partially or fully to blame. Other times it is circumstances beyond our control.
How do you react when you face life trials?
There was a time in history when the Jewish people were forced from their homeland because of their own rebellion against God. Poor decisions of earlier generations negatively impacted later generations. When this people group was allowed to return to Jerusalem, they encountered, “great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).
While we cannot undo what happened in the past, we do get to choose how we are going to move forward.
When Nehemiah heard the devastating news about the plight of the Jewish people, he "sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (v. 4).
What a great example of how to reset when we feel crushed.
Nehemiah stepped aside from busyness and “sat down.” His heart broke for what had been lost. Expressing outward emotion like shedding tears and reflecting on what happened are healthy reactions. Additionally, Nehemiah engaged in the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer.
Difficult seasons have the potential to drive us away from God. Instead, your Heavenly Father wants to you pursue Him in greater measure when the going gets tough.
Pastor Shawn Follis
I hate being wrong. I really hate it when I am wrong and someone else points it out. I even hate it more when I have to admit it to others that I was wrong. So, to fix that, I am always right!
I really wish it worked that way. I may be able to fake it with some people but God has a way of peeling back the layers of my pride and ego to expose the truth below the surface.
When was the last time you allowed God to examine your heart? I know he does not need our permission but when we allow him to examine our heart it allows us to be part of the process; to see ourselves from his point of view. Sadly, when I look from God’s perspective my motives don’t look nearly as pure as I thought they were. My reason for saying something rude or for judging someone becomes exposed as my own greed or self-doubt. Fear and anxiety have way more influence on my choices and decisions then I pretend that they do. Under God’s magnifying glass, my heart look way worse that I would hope.
That is why I am so grateful that he does the examination. When he looks at my life it exposes the areas that need work. The places where his son’s blood needs to be applied to my heart. I cannot earn his favor or his forgiveness, so examination is not about me being worthy. I will never be. It is about his application of Grace and Mercy.
There have been many times in my life that I felt justified to say or do something I knew was not right, but I “felt” I was right. I am so glad that the gauge of my life is not my own feelings but the examination of my heart through the power and under the blood of Jesus.
Take a few minutes today and let God examine your heart to make sure that you are allowing his heart to penetrate all areas of your life. Expose your motives to him that he can peel them away and leave you as one that is fresh and new. You may not be right in your own eyes, but you will be right in his.
Less talk, more power
Pastor Jon Brooks
1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Verse of the day:
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. (1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT)
If you remove power from the life of a Christian what do you have left?
If you remove power from a local church what remains?
Talk. And lots of it.
Paul is addressing the church in Corinth which was ripping itself apart with popularity contests for their favorite preachers—Paul, Apollos and Cephas. The root of it all was pride. The Corinthians were sermon connoisseurs, critiquing their preachers as entertainers rather than embracing the simple gospel message.
There has never been more content available to us as Christians than now. You can access thousands of sermons and books for free, most on your phone. We can become podcast connoisseurs yet at the same time claim we’re ‘not being fed’.
We need to heed Paul’s reminder; the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
You can talk at length about love but when people see you faithfully and sacrificially loving and serving your spouse and kids…that’s powerful.
You can expound on faith but when people see you take real risks to share the gospel of Christ…that’s powerful.
There is no teaching of scripture that lacks depth when it is put into action.
Let’s not be content with just a lot of talk. May there be less words and more power in our lives today.
Role to Play
1 Corinthians 3:5-23
Verse of the Day:
After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God's workers. And you are God's field. You are God's building. (1 Corinthians 3: 5-9)
I’m a terrible artist. If I try to draw or paint anything other than stick figures, it generally ends up looking like the work of a small child. If the fate of the world relied on me being able to create even a decent work of art, let’s just say that would be Mission Impossible… and not even Tom Cruise would be able to save the day because my art is a lost cause. Thankfully, God is smart enough to make sure that masterpiece artwork is not at all necessary in my calling. There are plenty of talented artists who have been given that gift from God who can fulfill that role, and I don’t have to worry about trying to fill their role.
God is a God of order. Paul says that, “Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” What a perfect example of the body working together, doing their part so that God could work through their actions. We see in the roles of Paul and Apollos that Paul’s strength and calling was in spreading the gospel. It wasn’t his calling to stay in one place and mentor those he was sharing the gospel with. His call was to reach as many people as possible. Apollos’s call was to shepherd the Corinthians. He was the one who watered the seeds Paul had planted, which required him to stay in Corinth. Neither job was more important, but they were both essential to God’s plan.
The same is true for us today. No role is more important than the other. We all have unique gifts and talents God has given us, and no gift is any more or any less important than someone else’s. The trouble comes when through various reasons, we decide we don’t want to play the role God gave us, or we want to play a different role we like better. This creates a void in the role we were supposed to play. If Paul had decided he didn’t want to keep traveling to spread the gospel and wanted to fill Apollos’ role, so many areas would not have heard the gospel. If Apollos had decided he wanted to travel and spread the gospel instead of watering the seeds in Corinth, the people of Corinth might have fallen away from God. We need to be humble enough to know that God’s way is always better than ours, and that if we stay in his plan and his timing, he will use us in ways greater than we could ever imagine.
Put Me On Trial
Pastor Dan Wootton
2 Kings 13:1-14:29
Verse of the day:
Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity. I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.(Psalm 26:1 NLT)
In the opening verses of Psalm 26, David makes a peculiar request of the Lord. "Put me on trial." He constructs the analogy of a court room where God is the judge and David is the defendant. The line of questioning is simple. "Test my motives and my heart."
David begins his defense with the record of his service to God. "I am always aware of your love, and I have lived according to your truth." David runs from the wicked. David values the sanctuary of the Lord. David is living a repentant and righteous life.
There's an old adage with lawyers: never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer. David's trial is in step with this advice. David already knows what the Lord's conclusion will be. David IS innocent. David knows that God will find him innocent, but being found innocent isn't his end goal. David has another objective in mind.
David wants a trade. He wants to trade his innocence for something better: redemption. After David eloquently states his case, he makes a quick left turn. "I live with integrity SO redeem and show me mercy." He appeals to mercy.
Even in David's best defense . . . even in his purest intentions . . . his innocence is not enough. His soul hungers for the favor of the Lord, and we should do the same. We should strive to live blameless. We should run from evil at every turn, but at the end of the day . . . when the closing arguments are made, we call upon the mercy of the court. God is merciful. God is just. Let God put you on trial.
A Church United
Pastor Joshua Humpa
2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33
Verse of the Day:
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose (1 Corinthians 1:10)
We’re in a time socially where completely destroying someone’s reputation and credibility is at an all-time high. Daily we hear of someone’s old tweets or secretly recorded meetings that are used to totally delegitimize their position. Athletes, politicians, movie directors and the list goes on and on. Their actions are in no way justifiable, but the social attitude to bring down and disqualify anyone we can will never bring us closer together as a nation. We struggle to find people to rally behind that unify us. The way Jesus wants us to live is in unity.
When Paul opened his letter to the Corinth church, the first issue he dealt with was the divisions that were uprooting the congregation. Different congregants were associating themselves with different church leaders. For example, some would say, “I follow Andy Stanley” or “I’m with Jerry Brooks’ teachings only.” Paul was concerned that the church was becoming divided by following different methods and teachings and that ultimately the church would dissolve.
I heard from another pastor that their inside verbiage amongst their team is, “Unity is our secret sauce.” In Paul’s letter, he encouraged the Corinthians to live in harmony with each other, united under the redemptive power of Christ. People will fail us, organizations will guard their territory, but Jesus is faithful. We’re going to be annoyed or miffed by the actions of other churches or church members, but we don’t have to be like the world and tear each other apart. Let’s find ways to resolve our differences, offer forgiveness quickly, and let unity drive us as a church! Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples by the love we show each other. Let’s be a united church and move forward together!
No Other God
2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13
Verse of the day:
“Who was there among all the gods of those nations which my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of my hand?” (2Chronicles 32:14 ASV)
Being in ministry as a young adult has given me many opportunities to witness to people of various faiths. Common questions I’m asked by unbelievers and individuals with other beliefs are, “Why do you believe in only one God?” or “What’s the difference between your God and any other gods?” Looking at this passage, I want to draw attention to the capitalization of “God” as compared to “god”.
The nations Sennacherib had defeated before Jerusalem all relied on their earthly gods to protect them. These gods were idols, made by man, who were no more than natural figures. They had no power, they offered nothing to their followers, they were worthless (Isaiah 45:20). The reason Sennacherib plundered all nations before Jerusalem was their idols couldn’t save them from anything, they had empty promises (Judges 10:14).
But the Lord God Almighty is not a man-made God, He is God who made man. His name is capitalized because He is a real person, and He has always existed. (Genesis 1:1) His divinely inspired Word has been given to humanity as proof of His existence. No other religion can truthfully say that the authors of their teachings were given heavenly revelation. Also, unlike all other gods, Jesus Christ does not have a resting place. He was crucified and placed in a tomb, but rose three days later (Mark 16). Our one true God is alive and He continues to reign to this day and in all days to come.
Sennacherib challenged the chosen people of God, a decision made in ignorance. The protection of the Lord was upon Jerusalem and Hezekiah held strong to that truth. As the Assyrian army heaped insults at Jerusalem, they had no idea they were heaping curses upon themselves (Genesis 12:3). God is not one to be defeated, neither are His people (Psalms 55:22, 1 John 5:18)
Finish reading the rest of this story. You’ll find not only was the Assyrian army defeated without one warrior of Jerusalem sent out, but Sennacherib retreated in shame back to his god and was later killed by the swords of his sons (2 Chronicles 32:21). So know this today, The Lord God almighty has dominion over all forces of evil. Whether they would be natural or supernatural, these evils shall not touch us (Psalm 91). Unlike the false words of other idols, God fulfills His promises and that’s the difference between my God and all others.
No other God promises salvation, protection, grace, love, hope, peace, and the like. People end up becoming slaves to their Gods without hope, whereas I delight in serving the Lord because I have the hope of what is to come. So be encouraged today! The God that delivered Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrians is the same God that will deliver you from the hand of your enemies. He is alive, He is willing, He is able, and He will make Himself known above all other false idols. Continue to remain faithful to the Word that you know is true, for surely God will deliver you!