Month: June 2015
27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.
31 So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate.
42 The singers sang loudly with Jezrahiah the director.
43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.
I hope you can follow through the thoughts of these verses. They are not in sequence as there are lists of people who were involved in this great dedication celebration. However, I want you to see that when people dedicate themselves to God, to His word and to the worship of His name that there is great joy.
Imagine a city with a choir so big that it can be split in half and put on corresponding walls. Imagine this choir singing praises to God together, rejoicing in unisons and harmonies to Him, and the joy of the singing was so loud that it was heard miles away. This joy this day was not because their city team won the championship but because their God had worked in them and through them and they were committing themselves and their lives to Him.
There have been times in my life when I have been in the presence of great joy. These were times when the people of God were unified in purpose and goal and gave of themselves totally to accomplish God’s purposes. In fact, as I read these verses this morning my first thoughts of great joy were last night. When we had our VBS wrap up and saw what God had done through our efforts dedicated to Him there was great rejoicing. When we realized that we had 67 children come last night there was great rejoicing. When we saw God turn dark skies clear just in time we rejoiced. When we knew that all of these children heard the gospel of God, salvation through Jesus Christ, we rejoiced. When we met many parents who came for the first time and were thrilled to see our excitement for the Lord and for their kids for Christ, we were thrilled with great joy.
For all of you who cannot come but are praying for VBS, rejoice with us.
We still have three more nights of VBS. Tonight Ben will be presenting the Helmet of Salvation. Pray for children who have heard about their need of salvation to come to faith in Him tonight. Pray for parents to come to love our church and want to come with their families to our Sunday service. God, through His Holy Spirit, is doing His work and we are rejoicing with great joy already.
Have a great day in the Lord, PS
8 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
When the people finished building the wall of Jerusalem the next thing they wanted was the Word of God. We have here a description of Ezra’s first public reading of the scriptures. The people wanted to hear it and Ezra publicly read it. They read from morning till noon and the people were attentive to the reading.
For some of the people there that day, this was the first time in their lives they had heard the law read. They had come from captivity, were born in Babylon, and had no Temple there. The Jews would gather in Babylon but would not sing the songs of the Lord there. Some may have heard the law of God read but did not know it well. And so, with anxious ears and hearts they gathered for Ezra to read God’s law to them.
What a reading that must have been. The walls completed the people felt safe in their own city for the first time in close to 80 years. Their parents were taken as teenagers away from it. Most memories of it were from times of battle and destruction. Now they were standing in the city, the Temple was rebuilt, the walls were rebuilt, the enemy was on the outside and the people of God were gathered inside listening to His Word.
Can we be this excited to hear God’s word? Or has His word become so commonplace to us that when it is read we would rather be somewhere else doing something else? Consider this the next time someone is reading the Bible out-loud. Consider that you are hearing the very Words of God given for you to know Him and to know how to live.
As we study prayer we learn that Bible reading and prayer go hand-in-hand. We talk to God through prayer and He talks to us through His word. May God’s word never become something commonplace and boring but may it ever live in us as God speaks to us through it.
Last night was a blessed time hearing the report and the message from the Bachorik family. What an amazing ministry God has given them and us through them. I am very thankful that we support the labor of this family.
We focused our prayer last night on the life-and-death opportunities of VBS. As children around us face life they need the Lord. If they find Him they find life. If they don’t find Him they remain in death. VBS is not just something we do, no, it is life-or-death ministry to those whom God brings for us to minister His word and grace to. Join in fervent prayer for God to do what He delights in doing, that is, saving souls from death and lives from sin.
Have a great day in the Lord, PS
Yesterday we read Nehemiah chapter 1 realizing that this man prayed out of a desperate heart of concern for the city and people of Jerusalem. I pointed out that when we pray to God as though life depended on it our prayers are different and God hears us. Our prayers today are so casual. We thank God for the day and then we pray for Him to bless everyone on our list then we add the closing “in Jesus name, Amen” and stop praying and go to the next thing.
When life-or-death is on the line prayer is much different. Who in the Bible prayed as though life or death was at stake?
- Hezekiah prayed for the deliverance of his nation from an army that was going to wipe them out. If the Assyrian army got its’ way the king would have nothing to be king over so nothing else mattered except praying that God would deliver them.
- Hezekiah on his death bed prayed because the prophet with a message from God told the king that he was going to die. “Get your house in order,” he said, “you are going to die.” Hezekiah’s prayer was more than thanking God for the day and asking His blessing on his current difficulty.
- When Peter stepped out of the boat and began to sink he prayed a quick but desperate prayer. Jesus heard him and saved him from the waves.
- Hannah was desperate for a son. God had closed her womb and childlessness was a shame to her. She went to the Temple and prayed so desperately that Eli, the priest, thought she must be drunk and rebuked her for drinking so early in the day. But Hannah wanted a son more than anything and so begged God that God gave her Samuel, whom she gave back to God. The answer to Hannah’s prayer changed the nation of Israel and led them to God for many years.
- King David had many desperate prayers. He had many enemies who wanted him dead. Psalm 142 records one such time in David’s life. Take time to read David’s desperate prayer.
- After Herod killed James he arrested Peter to kill him too. The church in desperate prayer prayed for Peter’s release. God answered and sent an angel to deliver Peter thus answering their prayers.
- Jesus desperately prayed in the Garden knowing what was coming next. He asked God for a different plan, if possible, knowing that this was the only plan. Jesus completed the Father’s will so that we could have life.
There are other examples but I want to take a moment to show you that when people pray in desperation they are the ones who change first. Casual prayer does not bring any real change. Don’t kid yourself; our obligatory prayers don’t change anything. Our desperate prayers change us and have the potential to change others. Let God change you first. Let Him take His flashlight to the hidden resources of your soul first. Let Him work on you in your moments of desperation.
The trials that bring us to desperate prayer are designed to change us. Make no mistake, God is in control of every situation and has planned them out of His love for us to shape us into His image and likeness. As we pray for others we should be letting our prayers change us. Look upward, toward God, then inward toward yourself, then outward toward the person in need.
Tonight we will have our prayer time first then Doug and Ruth Bachorick will be with us presenting their work in the Philippines. Doug is a choice servant of God, a man who surrendered his talents to serve the Lord and His kingdom. You don’t want to miss this presentation. BTW we have supported Doug and Ruth for probably fifteen years now.
Yesterday morning Gloria Bolthouse’s mother died. She was 94 and truly wanted to go and to be with the Lord Jesus. The wake is Friday from 3-8 at Hultgren Funeral Home in Wheaton. The funeral is Saturday, June 27, 10:30am at First Baptist Church, 1310 N. Main St, Wheaton.
If you can help up us Saturday to pass out flyers we need the help. Show up at 10:00 at the church.
Decorations are being put up today, tomorrow and Friday. If you can help call Jodi today and Bobbi tomorrow.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, 2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
For I was the king’s cupbearer.
Please take a minute to read the entire chapter noticing the desperation of Nehemiah. In his heart, the condition of Jerusalem was a life-or-death situation. The burden of Jerusalem’s safety and the safety of the people who lived there and had rebuilt the Temple and were worshipping there was heavy on Nehemiah. He fasted, he prayed, his face showed his great concern (as we read in chapter 2). The need of Jerusalem was changing his life and he just could not get away from the burden.
When was the last time you were so burdened? When was the last time that you recognized life-and-death in the balance and prayed as though your life or someone else’s life depended upon it?
As we study and focus on prayer I am seeing this attitude throughout the Bible. Instead of giving you examples, I would like you to think about this on your own. How many biblical situations record prayers that came from someone in a desperate situation? If you would make a list of these and send them to me I would compare and compile it and share it with you tomorrow.
When life or death is on the line our prayers change, our lives change. When we become that desperate in prayer our very lives change and that is one of the primary purposes in prayer. For when we change as we pray God hears and God answers. He did for Nehemiah. As you compile your list of others who prayed like this, whose lives were changed, you will see that God consistently responds to this type of prayer.
What is life-or death for you? Think about this today and see if it changes the way you pray today.
I have two specific prayer requests to bring to you today. Here is the description of Austin’s two-day surgery: they are going to be removing part of his vertebrae from a non-cancerous tumor. His mom says it is very serious they will be cutting into an artery he could also have a stroke they will be replacing vertebrae w/screws & hardware it will be a two day surgery. Austin is a friend of Natalie Ludwig. He is fifteen years old.
Ayrin Molefe’s mother, Imelda Calachan who lives in the Philippines is in congestive heart failure with water in her lungs.
Both of these people in very serious physical condition need Christ. Let us bond together in prayer that God would bring them to Himself in their hour of the shadow of death.
As always, I appreciate your prayers in our community service at Sunrise on Tuesday mornings.
I was praying this morning for God to show Himself strong and bring children to our VBS next week. It looks like a good weather week. Recognize the life-and-death nature of this outreach and pray for God to bring children in.
Have a great day in the Lord, PS
27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem,
28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.
Ezra was among the captives from Jerusalem in Babylon. He was a man learned in the scriptures and faithful to God. The king of Babylon, Artaxerxes, had issued a proclamation sending Ezra and all Jews who wanted to go with him, permission to return to rebuild the house of God. In his proclamation, the king ruled that great sums of silver and gold be send back with Ezra to make sure the Temple was built right so that sacrifices could be made to the God of heaven.
I want you to recognize that Ezra could do what he did because God touched the heart of a pagan king. Artaxerxes of Babylon did not need a temple in Jerusalem. But God put it in his heart to send men and women and money for this project. James said that every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above. Should we not pray for God to touch the hearts of the rulers of our nation for the benefit of His worship and work? We should. Can we pray believing that God can move the hearts of unbelievers to benefit His people’s worship and work? We should.
As a result of the king’s proclamation, Ezra was encouraged and realized that the good hand of God was upon him. When unsaved people bless us we should recognize that the hand of God is upon us for good. God can use whomever He desires to accomplish His purposes. Let us pray today for God to open unusual doors of provision so that we can completely do His work thus showing us that His good hand is upon us.
Today is the funeral for Destiny, Sandra’s granddaughter. Do pray for this family that they will find peace and comfort in the arms and will of God Almighty.
Pastor Bill is leading his services today at Spring Meadow and at Sunrise. Pray for him to clearly minister Christ and for those who hear the message to be encouraged in their walk with Christ.
We do have RU tonight and need your prayers for God to bring in those who need to be here. I am certain that hundreds of people who drive by our sign know they should stop in. I am certain that people in our church know addicted people who could greatly benefit from coming. Pray together that God would bring in these dear people who lied to by sin are now caught in its chains.
Tomorrow is our reception for Ben and Anna. It is an open house from 11:30-2:00. They will be wearing their wedding attire and a video of the wedding will be playing. Bobbi is providing lunch for all who come. Please come and celebrate their wedding with us.
I will be bringing a message Sunday morning from Isaiah 40:1-2. This is a great passage, pray with me that God will use it as He intended for it to be used.
Have a great day in the Lord,
19 And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.
22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
So far we have seen three times when the Temple was worked on, sacrifices were reinstated, and Passover was celebrated. Hezekiah, Josiah, and now the people who were captives in Babylon had been released to repair the Temple followed the Law of God and did what God commanded.
The returned captives, some remembered the previous Temple and wept because the new one was much less glorious than the previous one, and some who were born in Babylon and wept because for the first time they were seeing a Temple to their God. Seventy years had transpired as God brought judgment upon them for refusing to keep His laws. At the end of God’s judgment a renewed opportunity for worship was given. They took the opportunity and obeyed God.
Each time that the people of God returned to the Word of God and the Worship of God there were similar results. First of all, they prepared the Temple, then they prepared their own hearts by ridding themselves of their idolatry and then consecrated themselves to God. They rid themselves of their sin to re-enter into a covenant with God. Finally, they offered atoning sacrifices knowing that their sin needed to be covered with blood.
We can learn something from this. We cannot worship God until we cleanse our own lives and consecrating them to God wash them in the blood of Jesus Christ. Atonement is necessary for worship. Christ is our atoning and justifying sacrifice.
The greatest result that each of these found who returned to the Lord and His Passover celebration was joy. When men come back to God and commit to following Him and thanking Him for His atonement of their sin, joy erupts and flows like lava out of a volcano. You can’t stop a lava flow nor can you stop the flow of joy from a heart rejoicing in atonement from its sin.
Pray with me that every time we gather as a church it will be an outflow of joy from all of us who have enjoyed atonement of sins through the blood of Jesus.
The work of VBS is in full swing. The church looks partly like a church and partly like an army camp. There is drawing and painting going on in preparation for children to come and to hear about the Lord Jesus. Each year, people who come to our VBS know that this is an important week to us. They know that the whole church jumps in to make it a great week for their children. The preparation is part of the process to reach children and their parents for Christ. We sent out our second mailing to previous VBS attendees and are now praying that as they receive it they will put it on their calendar and come the first day. Join us in prayer to God for the spiritual success of this week.
Sandra’s granddaughter’s funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 in Chicago. If you want to attend let me know. We are leaving the church at 9:15. Do keep Sandra and her family in your prayers in this dark hour for them.
Let me add that we need to be praying for the congregation in Charleston that was attacked last night. This attack hits home. A group of Christ-followers were having a prayer meeting and a Bible study when a gunman came in, stayed with them in apparent fellowship, and then began shooting until nine people were dead. The pastor, a 41 year old father of two was killed in the shooting. As I said, this hits home pretty hard. Pray for this church, the pastor’s family and the families of those who lost loved ones. Pray for this church to continue as their faith is being challenged like never before.
Have a great day in the Lord,