A UNIFYING WALL
Read: Neh. 4:10-18
So we built the wall, ... for the people had a mind to work. -
Walls divide. That's the reason they're built. The Great
Wall of China was built to keep back marauding tribes. That
remarkable line of defense once snaked for 4,000 miles across
Asia, and much of it still stands. In contrast, the Berlin Wall
kept people in instead of out. Its destruction in 1989 brought
people together in a joyous celebration.
Centuries ago, the reconstruction of another wall served to
bring people together. God had told Nehemiah to rebuild the wall
around Jerusalem. It was essential for protection but had been
demolished during the Babylonian invasion. But the enemies of the
Jews opposed the reconstruction project and looked for ways to
sabotage their efforts (Neh.4:7-8). While half the men worked,
the others stood guard to protect them.
In addition to providing protection, this wall was a
demonstration of teamwork and unity (Neh.3). All the team members
brought their talents and skills, blending them together to
accomplish far more than they could have achieved as individuals.
It should be that way in the church today. Our talents are
gifts from God to be used for building His kingdom. We work
better when we work together. - Cindy Hess Kasper
God builds His chumh with different stones, And makes each one
belong; All shapes and sizes fit in place, To make the structure
strong. - Sper
COMING TOGETHER IS A BEGINNING; KEEPING TOGETHER IS PROGRESS;
WORKING TOGETHER IS SUCCESS.
Read: Revelation 2:1-7
I have this against you, that you have left your first love. -
Why does spiritual passion fade so easily? When we first
experience God's love, we spend hours thinking about Him,
studying His Word, and telling others how much He means to us.
Then it happens. Our busy schedules slowly dampen our passion.
Our longing for Jesus and our study of His character become an
occasional glance. Surely the object of our affection hasn't
The church at Ephesus wrestled with maintaining its
spiritual passion. Jesus, through John, wanted to help them
restate and maintain their love and zeal for Him. Although He
commended this church for their work, Jesus saw that they had
abandoned their lost love - Him (Rev.2:4).
The Ephesians had lost their spiritual passion for Jesus. It
had become a cold and mechanical orthodoxy. I wonder if they had
allowed the stealthy culprit of religion and busyness to enter
their hearts. Whatever it was, something had stolen the affection
they had once reserved for the Lord.
Have you allowed something to steal you passion? If so, it
can be restored and maintained when you consistently remember His
amazing love demonstrated at Calvary. Repent of you sinful,
unloving attitudes, and out of love for Jesus repeat your "first
works" (v5). - Marvin Williams
What once was filled with wonder, Lies cold within my heart;
Return, O Lori, that wonder, And may it not depart - Sper
DEVOTION TO JESUS IS THE KEY TO SPIRITUAL PASSION.
Read: 1 Kings 19:1-10
He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He
prayed. - Mark 1:35
In the film Castaway. Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland a clock
conscious Federal Express manager who gets shipwrecked on a
desert island. Completely cut off from other people and modern
conveniences, he must learn the primitive skills of a caveman. He
puts arduous effort into harpooning fish, making fire by rubbing
sticks together, and opening a coconut to get its milk and sweet
fruit. The movie is rich with insights on how difficult life can
become for someone who is stranded in an isolated wilderness.
In the Bible, the wilderness is often the setting for the
mighty work of God within the human heart. Jesus made a
practice of withdrawing to the wilderness to pray and receive
direction (Mark 1:35). In a similar setting, God fed the
despondent prophet Elijah with heavenly food (1 Kings 19:1-10),
and in the wilderness the Ethiopian pondered the gospel (Acts
8:26-40). After Paul's conversion, he withdrew to the Arabian
Desert and was taught by the Spirit (Gal. 1:15-18).
Do you find yourself in a "wilderness" experience, isolated
from friends and family? If so, the Lord may want to teach you
lessons of faith and endurance that you could never learn in a
busy crowd. - Dennis Fisher
In solitude, on wings of prayer, My soul ascends before the
throne; My only hope of strength is where My heart and His meet
all alone. - Anon.
GOD IS WITH YOU IN YOUR MOST BARREN WILDERNESS.
WHAT'S THE COST
Read: Luke 14:25-33
What things were gain to me, these I have counted lose for
Christ. - Philippians 3:7
Years ago when Romania was under the control of Communism,
Beta Karolyi coached gymnastics. He skillfully developed the
talents of stars such as gold-medalist Nadia Comaneci. For his
success in training athletes who were bringing fame to his Iron
Curtain country, he was rewarded with an expensive car and many
other favors. But Bela hungered for freedom. So one day, carrying
only a small suitcase, he resolutely walked out of Romania into
There's also a cost in following Jesus and experiencing the
freedom He gives. When fishermen Peter and Andrew heard Jesus
call, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men," - they
"immediately left their nets and followed Him" (Matt.4:19-20).
Similarly, James and John left their father and their livelihood
to embark on a precarious life of discipleship. They knew the
cost and chose to follow Jesus, leaving everything behind
What an example for all of us who claim to be disciples of
Jesus! He said, "whoever does not bear his cross and come after
Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:27). Are we willing to make
sacrifices - major and minor - for our Lord? Let's respond to the
Savior's invitation, "Follow Me," not merely in word but in
action. - Vernon Grounds
Jesus calls me - I must follow, Follow Him today, When His tender
voice is pleading, How can 1 delay? - Brown
WHEN WE FOLLOW JESUS ALL OF OUR LIFE CHANGES DIRECTION.
OUT OF PROPORTION
Read: Psalm 111
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. - Psalm 111:10
I'll never forget the time I had my picture taken with
Shaquille O'Neal, one of the giants of professional basketball. I
never thought of myself as short until I stood next to his 7'1"
frame. With my hetall as I thought I was, at least not when
standing next to the Shaq!
The psalmist wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom" (111:10). Fearing God requires that we get things in
the proper proportion, like the fact that He is so much greater
in every way than we are. "The works of the LORD are great"
(v.2). They are the outworking of His love, strength, wisdom,
foresight, will, and faithfulness. Fearing God means coming to
grips with this truth.
But it's easy to miss the point when we don't stay close to
God. The closer we get to Him, the more we realize how much we
are lacking, and how desperately we need His far greater wisdom
to direct our lives. Left to our little selves, we get everything
out of sync. If we're honest, we have to admit that our limited
perspective is often wrong and sometimes can be destructive.
Wise people realize how little they know and how much they
need the great wisdom of God. - Joe Stowell
Great works, Jehovah, You have wrought, Exceeding deep Your every
thought; A foolish man knows not their worth, Nor he whose mind
is of the earth. - Psalter
THE WISE WILL RECOGNIZE THEIR LIMITATIONS AND GOD'S UNLIMITED
RAISED TO GLORY
Read: 1 Cor. 15:42-49
The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. - 1
Years ago, I heard a story about a man looking for flowers
for spring planting. At the greenhouse he came across a golden
chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. To his surprise, it was
hidden in a corner and growing in an old, dented rusty bucket.
"If this were my flower," he said to himself, "I would place it
in a beautiful pot and display it proudly! Why is it confined in
this old bucket and hidden away in this concealed place?" When he
remarked to the owner about the flower, she explained, "Oh, I
started the plant in that old bucket until it blossomed. But it's
just for a short time. Soon I'll transplant it to my garden."
The man laughed, and imagined such a scene in heaven.
"There's a beautiful one," God will say, "the product of My
lovingkindness and grace. Now it's confined in a broken body and
in obscurity, but soon, in My garden, how tall and lovely this
soul will stand!"
So we may now be "planted" in bent and battered contain-
ers for a short time while our Lord beautifies our souls. But,
"as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also
bear the image of the heavenly Man" (1 Cor.15:49). Then He will
display His handiwork and our loveliness for all to see. This is
our assurance and delight. - David Roper
In bodies that will ne'er grow old, We'll reign with Him through
years untold; O precious thought: We all shall be With Christ
through all eternity. - Watson
WHILE GOD IS PREPARING A PLACE FOR US, hE IS PREPARING US FOR
THE BEST FRIEND
Read: 2 Chronicles 34:14-21
I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord. - 2
In 1987, a West Michigan couple, the Zartmans bought four
books at an estate sale. They were excited to find that the
books contained two collections of letters and sermons by the
preacher and hymnwriter John Newton (1725-1807), who wrote the
beloved hymn "Amazing Grace." Also included was a two-volume set
of his sermons based on Handel's Messiah.
Newton's family had preserved these writings by passing them
down through the years. Then in the 1840s his heirs brought the
books to the US. They are currently being used by an organization
that plans to republish all of Newton's works in 2007 in
commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his death. The books
will then be donated to a museum in England.
An even greater find is recorded in 2 Chronicles 34:15.
During Josiah's reign as king of Judah, he ordered the repair of
the temple. In the temple, Hilkiah the high priest found the Book
of the Law that had been given to Moses by the Lord. When Josiah
"heard the words of the Law" (v.19), he felt convicted and later
stood before his people to make a covenant to keep all that was
written in the book (v.31).
The Bible is still the best book we can discover. In it we
learn what God wants us to do to please Him. - Anne Cells
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind but now 1 see -
THE WRITTEN WORD REVEALS THE LIVING WORD.