Teachings from Nehemiah
Part 9: Dedicate and Celebrate
It was a joy-filled day in Jerusalem. The time had come to dedicate the wall and celebrate what God had done. The people gathered, the singers were in place, the musical instruments were ready in the hands of the musicians, and the priests and Levites had purified themselves and all involved. It was time to corporately dedicate this work of God and rejoice together. It was a time of great celebration.
Many came into Jerusalem for the occasion from outlying areas. The Levites were sought out “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.” (v. 27) In addition, the sons of the singers assembled together from the countryside and villages surrounding Jerusalem. (vv. 28-29)
It is interesting to note that the singers’ homes surrounded Jerusalem. God had placed His singing servants strategically. Praise stops the enemy at the gate. We, too, are to praise and worship God — at home individually and at our ministry meetings. Part of the power of praise is protection from the enemy.
Before the dedication, there was purification. “Then the priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall.” (v. 30) The purification involved cleansing and setting apart for God’s purposes.
As Christ followers today, we are pure and holy because of the blood of Jesus. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) We are sanctified, set apart to serve the Lord and dedicate ourselves and our work to Him. As we go out on mission, we are first to be humble and obedient individually, then humble and obedient corporately. It’s all about giving God glory by representing Him and doing things His way.
After the purification process, it was time for the procession on top of the wall. Nehemiah placed the leaders of Judah on the wall as well as appointed two thanksgiving choirs. Ezra, as priest, led one group one direction, and Nehemiah, as governor, and his group went the opposite way, so that the two groups met by the temple. The large groups were singing, trumpets were blowing, and musical instruments were playing as they together celebrated what God had done. (vv. 31-40) They walked on the pinnacle of this work giving thanks to God. As God had called His people to this great project, He had been faithful to see them through to the end. It was a walk like no other. There was great rejoicing from the top, a new vantage point, giving a new perspective.
Once everyone had gathered in the house of God, the dedication and celebration continued. There was more singing, loud singing, and the sound of the trumpets rang out. “Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.” (vv. 40-43)
As God’s appointed ones called to mission, do we stop sometimes to celebrate with thanksgiving and rejoicing in what God has done? Do we dedicate our work to God corporately with joy? These occasions are important, and offer a new perspective marking a milestone in our on-going work for the Lord. These times are encouraging and refreshing to all — vital for the weary — and help propel us together into what the Lord is directing going forward.
Onward we go, serving Him with gladness, accomplishing His purposes, all to bring glory to His magnificent name!
Part 8: The Word Front and Center
By God’s great provision and protection, Nehemiah and the groups of workers successfully completed the mission, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. The physical structure was in place surrounding the temple; now it was time to re-establish the Book of the Law of Moses as the spiritual foundation of the Jewish people.
Together all the people gathered as one in the open square in front of the Water Gate to hear the Word of God. (8:1) There was great unity as the people came together with singleness of purpose. Nehemiah stepped aside and Ezra, the priest and scribe, stepped forward with the Law in hand. As Ezra read the Law in front of the Water Gate, this servant of God spoke the Word like rushing water, God’s living water, for it cleansed, refreshed, and renewed the people there.
It is important to note that Nehemiah, as governor, was not up front leading. Ezra, as priest and scribe, was the one chosen to lead with the Word as catalyst for revival. Happy is the day when strong, effective leaders know when to lead and when to step aside and support. Strong is the ministry that encourages this, and where leaders build one another up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
The scripture tells us that Ezra stood and read for several hours and that “the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (v. 3) All the people stood up when Ezra opened the Law. (v. 5) “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” (v. 6) Individually and corporately the people were being transformed by the renewing of their minds by the Law. (Romans 12:2)
The next couple of verses tell us that some priests and Levites helped the people understand the scriptures. How beneficial it is today, too, for teachers to give insight as to meaning.
When those present heard the Law, they wept. (v. 9) The washing of the water by the Word prompted this response. Surely there was confession of sin as well as joy in the righteousness and truth of the Word. Surely there was the sense of being overwhelmed by the love, mercy, and sovereignty of God.
Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites said, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep. (v. 9)…Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (v. 10)
Today we as God’s people are to be washed anew by His Word. (Ephesians 5:26) Continually. Our response then is one of worship, understanding the truth, confession, and rejoicing. We “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) As we immerse ourselves in the deep waters of the Word, we rejoice in the hope we have in Christ. The joy of the LORD is our strength.
The next day the heads of the fathers’ houses, the priests, and the Levites met with Ezra to understand the words of the Law. (v. 13) When they realized that it was time (the seventh month) for the Feast of Tabernacles, which had not been observed since the days of Joshua, they led the people to construct booths and commemorate the time of wandering in the wilderness. “Very great gladness” was the result of following the Law in this way. Notably, the Law was read each day of the celebration. (vv. 14-18)
Later in the seventh month, the Israelites assembled together to fast, hear the Law, confess sin, and worship. (9:1-3) Some of the leaders led a prayer blessing God and remembering His faithfulness to His covenant with Abraham and his descendants despite the people’s sins. (vv. 4-37) What resulted was a new covenant initiated and sealed by the leaders. (v. 38) The people who decided to separate themselves to God and His ways followed their leaders by making the commitment to “walk in God’s Law.” (10:29)
The washing of the water by the Word! Just like in Nehemiah’s day, it is vital for leaders in ministry to not only know the Word for themselves, but also to lead with the Word. In Aglow specifically, is the Word the foundation of each meeting, leadership and lighthouse alike? Are there certain scriptures that your team is praying over the ministry work? In order for God’s purposes to be accomplished through each lighthouse, the Word must be front and center.
Part 7: Resist, Resist, Resist the Enemy
Chapter 5 gives us insight about Nehemiah as Governor of Judah beyond his work as wall-builder. The end of the scripture passage includes the news of the completion of the wall. (6:15-16) Most of the passage, though, focuses on enemy attacks at the time that the wall was almost finished. As a strong and courageous leader, Nehemiah has much to teach us about resisting the enemy.
Chapter 6 begins with the enemies resurfacing at the time that they heard that the wall was rebuilt, with no breaks in it (although the doors had yet to be hung in the gates). (v. 1) Sanballat and Geshem requested a meeting with Nehemiah with the intention to do him harm. They wanted to meet about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem in the plain of Ono. Nehemiah refused, not just once, but all 4 times they persisted. (vv. 2-4)
Our enemy, satan, often attacks when we’re close to completing a work for the Lord or have just done so. Like Nehemiah, we can be attacked a number of times in the same way. The goal is to stop the work, destroy it, and/or harm those doing the work. Sometimes the enemy tries to get through the “door” of our sin, past sin, or another weakness. Nehemiah shows us what to do: resist the enemy and keep on going. James exhorts and encourages us: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7b)
The next enemy attack was more intense. Sanballat sent a letter with the lies and accusations that Nehemiah and the Jews planned to rebel, that the wall was being rebuilt so Nehemiah would be their king, and that prophets would proclaim this news. Additionally, all of this would be reported to the king. Sanballat asked that he and Nehemiah “consult together.” (vv. 5-7)
There are 3 important points as to how Nehemiah handled this attack. First, he responded to Sanballat: “No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart.” (v. 8) Second, Nehemiah understood that the enemy was trying to instill fear to weaken their hands, so the work would not be completed. (v. 9a) Third, Nehemiah prayed, “Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” (v. 9b) In other words, he resisted the enemy, understanding his tactic, and called out to God to help.
What do you do, though, if the enemy works through your own team members in ministry? As leader, call a time of fasting and prayer. Declare a “gossip-free zone”. Get wise counsel and prayer from a mentor as needed. Walk in forgiveness, love, and integrity. Encourage your team to do the same. Trust in God to give you strategies to overcome the enemy’s interference.
The following attack was even more intense. Nehemiah was invited to meet in the temple by Shemaiah, a secret informer, for he was told his life was at stake. Nehemiah responded: “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” (v. 11) Furthermore, Nehemiah saw that this was a trap. He perceived that Tobiah and Sanballat had hired Shemaiah. Their wicked intent was that Nehemiah would be afraid and sin by entering the temple in that way, so there would be cause for an evil report. (vv. 12-13) As before, Nehemiah called out to God in prayer asking Him to “remember” his enemies. (v. 14)
In times of fierce attacks, it is imperative to be covered in prayer. You may need to add intercessors to your personal prayer team. Perhaps you need to share an area of weakness you have, so at least one will watch and pray that that door would be shut to the enemy.
The wall was finished in only 52 days. (v. 15) “And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.” (v. 16) What a witness of what God does when His people work together, overcoming adversity, to complete His assignment!
We are to take heart as we press on in serving God. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:8-11: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Part 6: Keep Watch and Keep on Going
Nehemiah and the wall builders had just come through an intense time of opposition from the enemy. They did not lose heart or quit — instead they increased their watch and continued on with the work at hand. It was important for them to follow a new strategy at this time in order to complete the work that God had given them to do. The new strategy involved the way they worked and kept watch.
According to verse 16, half worked building the wall and half held weapons and wore armor. The construction workers held a weapon as they worked. Each builder had his sword girded at his side. (vv. 17-18) This was part of the new strategy. It was understood that the enemy could attack at any time, and all had to be ready. The other half kept watch, as watchmen with weapons and armor, ready to fight. They were on the lookout for the enemy and his plots and schemes. They were resolved and committed to protect the work and the workers.
We, as workers today in advancing God’s kingdom, must also wear armor, spiritual armor, and wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We are to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:11,17,10) We are to speak the scriptures God gives us over the ministry work itself and our co-laborers. Standing on the Word and proclaiming it is our offensive weapon in the fight. We are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). It is imperative that we all look out for one another on mission, watching each other’s backs, and intercede continually.
As one who serves God in leadership on mission, how are you doing in all of this? Are there enough watchmen and are they doing the job? Is your team united in purpose and work lifting one another in prayer and supporting one another on an ongoing basis? Do God’s ways of love prevail?
Another tactic that Nehemiah implemented was a plan to rally the workers to one central place if needed. He said, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” (vv. 19-20) The one who had the job of sounding the trumpet (shofar) was beside Nehemiah. (v. 18)
Certainly today we must rally the troops and pray together. When we, as God’s beloved servants, lift up our prayers of one accord, He listens and answers. The Word and our prayers are our weapons. The Lord fights our battles for us. He gives us the strength and endurance we need. In Christ we have the victory.
What a wonderful example Nehemiah is of a servant leader! He, too, was on the wall round the clock as well as led the mission. He was vitally involved in this massive project, and, as an effective, strong leader, he pressed on with key strategies to accomplish the mission. Importantly, he did not give up even when he was surrounded by the enemy.
When the going gets rough, when there is opposition to completing our mission, it is important to get strategies from the Lord. Even when we feel like the underdog in the fight, as we call upon the Lord, heeding His instructions, He is faithful to show us the way to victory. In these times, don’t give up. Keep watch and keep on going.
Part 5: The Enemy Attacks, the Jews Counterattack
We who are on mission for God can expect enemy interference. We can also expect to overcome and succeed in mission by God’s grace. In addition, as we deal with our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, and the enemy, as we turn to God and depend on Him to see us through, we are strengthened. Like Paul penned, our heart’s cry can be, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) In fact, God develops us in the process, molding and shaping us to become more like Jesus.
In chapter 4 we see that Nehemiah trusted in God for the wall project to continue on and succeed even in the midst of much enemy interference. When the enemy appeared and tried to stop the mission, Nehemiah cried out to God to help His people. And God was faithful each time.
The same is true for us today. As we cry out to God to save us from our enemies, He hears our cry and rescues us. (Psalm 18:3)
It is important to be aware of enemy strategy in order to overcome through the Lord’s power. Much can be learned about enemy strategy and about overcoming his tactics as we look closely at the scripture.
Sanballat, one of the enemies of the Jews, was furious, very indignant, and ridiculed the Jews when he heard that the wall was being rebuilt. (v. 1) “And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish – stones that are burned?’” (v. 2) Anger and ridicule are tactics of the enemy to “rattle” or weaken us enough to affect our intent or work. Questioning one’s strength or ability is yet another tactic. Mocking one’s faith takes it to another level. Sanballat mocked the Jews’ faith indicating it would take a miracle to rebuild the wall.
Beside Sanballat was Tobiah the Ammonite, another enemy of the Jews. He said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” (v. 3) Tobiah mocked the quality of the workmanship.
Have you experienced these kinds of attacks as you serve God? Whether someone else speaks it or you hear it in your mind, believers today face the same adversary and must defeat him in the name of Jesus.
Nehemiah’s response to the verbal attacks was not to address the enemy directly. Instead, he called out to God to intervene. He trusted in God’s might to take care of the problem indicating that this was God’s building project. (vv. 4, 5)
When we are confronted with an enemy attack, we, too, are to cry out to the Lord. We are to pray keeping in mind the following: “Repay no one evil for evil…Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17a, 19)
As leader, Nehemiah had the responsibility to watch for enemy interference and pray for God to intervene. He had to stay alert. He was a man of courage and faith. He believed God would complete His building project through His workers even though they had many challenges.
Through all of this, the people kept on. “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” (v. 6) The people pressed on despite the enemy’s efforts to stop them. They had a mind to work. They were united in purpose and action to complete the mission.
However, when the enemy heard of the restoration of the walls and that the breaks were beginning to be closed, there was a new intensity in the attacks. Four different groups conspired together to attack Jerusalem and cause confusion. (v. 8) God’s people prayed and also took it to another level: they set a watch against them day and night. (v. 9)
During this time, for the first time, we see that the workers were discouraged and fearful. Their focus was on their failing strength and all the rubbish that could prevent them from building the wall. (v. 10) Furthermore, the adversaries made it clear that they were out to kill the Jews and cause the work to cease. (v. 11) In addition, some Jews who lived near the enemies expressed fear (10 times) that they would be harmed. (v. 12)
What was Nehemiah’s response to these attacks? He strategically placed men by the lower parts of the wall at the openings (where the enemy had easier access). He also placed families together with their weapons in hand. “And I (Nehemiah) looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’” (vv. 13, 14)
Nehemiah first said not to be afraid. In other words, take courage. Believe God will see you through as you look to Him. The Lord is great and awesome in power and authority. Fight! Fight for your families, fight for those you love! Notice that Nehemiah arose and spoke out to not only the workers but also the nobles and leaders. As the one appointed by God to lead this great work, Nehemiah spoke with authority.
What happened to the enemies? They knew that they were found out. They realized that God had destroyed their plot. So everyone then returned to his work on the wall. (v. 15)
Like Nehemiah, as leaders we are to be watchmen for the ministry. We are to stay alert, pray, and lead out at all times based on God’s Word and word to us. God will give us the strategies to defeat the enemy in the name of Jesus. God will give us the faith, the courage and all we need to succeed on His mission.
Part 4: United in the Purpose and the Work
It was a God-inspired undertaking. To rebuild the wall of Jerusalem — 1 ½ miles long, parts of it 8 feet thick, in 52 days — was a massive work orchestrated by God and carried out by His people. About 40 groups worked together in a remarkable display of unity led by Nehemiah, a man anointed by God to lead this great work. Despite the obstacles noted in the succeeding chapters, the Israelites committed to the work and persevered until it was completed. It is a powerful example of what God’s people can do when they labor side-by-side, together doing His work, in love and unity.
In chapter 3 we see that the wall builders left different occupations temporarily to work on the wall. These were not people who were expert in building walls. Some of the wall builders were from the temple — the high priest, priests, Levites, and Nethinim (temple servants). Some were district leaders. There were goldsmiths and a perfumer. Merchants also contributed their efforts. The men (and a few women) who put their hands to the work had different skills and gifts. Surely they had to learn how to build a wall, doing the nitty-gritty tasks like spreading mortar and laying stones. Gates had to be built, laying beams and hanging doors with bolts and bars. Sometimes new parts of the wall were built, sometimes areas were repaired. Stone by stone, area by area, the wall was rebuilt by those who put their hands to the work, laboring shoulder-to-shoulder, to contribute to the completion of a fortified Jerusalem (v. 8).
The people were united in purpose — led by Nehemiah, who was led by God.
What are we to learn from the scripture?
First, leaders lead by example. Nehemiah followed God. That is the fundamental thing –we are all to follow God. Eliashib, the high priest, built the Sheep Gate and a part of the wall with his brethren the priests. (v. 1) Eliashib was willing to get his hands dirty and work alongside those he led. So are we to do. Verse 1 also notes that the priests consecrated their work. We, too, are to dedicate our work to the Lord.
Second, when some refuse to work, keep on going. The Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not. (v. 5) The reason is not noted in the scripture, but sometimes people are called, but they say “no”. How are we to respond as leaders? We are to pray for them, encourage them as the Lord leads, and then move on, with them or without them. We are not to focus on who is not with us, but rather on what God has for the committed ones going forward.
Next, there will be some surprises along the way. For instance, we see that Shallum, leader of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs with his daughters. (v. 12) This is the only mention of women working on the wall. What an example of men and women working side-by-side! Additionally, what a wonderful example of a father leading his children!
It is important to note that we are to take seriously the responsibility of encouraging and mentoring young people. Simply put, we’re to work alongside with them now, for they will carry the “torch” into the future. What are we doing as leaders to involve young people?
Finally, integral to the success of the mission is good teamwork. Each one, equipped by God and trained by man, worked within his group to do his part. Surely when there were problems, they had to pull together to solve them. Also, they couldn’t just focus on their small part of the wall; they had to also work with their neighboring groups. The adjoining groups collaborated to ensure that there were no breaks in the wall.
How could the Israelites, varied in occupation, skill, and gifting, successfully complete this enormous project? It took a leader appointed by God. For all it took humility and submission to do the work in love and unity. The same continues to be true today in any work we do for the Lord. The apostle Paul wrote, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Oh God, let us heed Your Word. May we leaders lead following You and Your ways. May we consecrate our work to You and do the work of the ministry in love and unity. May You, Master Builder, be glorified!
Part 3: Keys to a Successful Start on Mission
It must have been an exciting day for Nehemiah. Accompanied by captains of the king’s army and horsemen, Nehemiah set out on mission to Jerusalem with the king’s letters in hand. (2:9) The letters were for the governors en route to allow Nehemiah and the others safe passage to Judah. (1:7)
At the beginning of the journey, Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard the news, and “they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.” (2:10) These men were rulers in areas outside Judah, and later would prove to be enemies of Nehemiah and the Israelites.
Once Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he was not in a hurry. He told no one of his mission right away. He was there 3 days before even surveying the damage on the wall. (2:11-12) Most likely he was praying and preparing himself for the next steps. Throughout the book of Nehemiah we see that he was a man who kept in step with God.
Nehemiah carefully viewed the damaged walls and gates of Jerusalem in order to assess what needed to be done. He took a few of his men to do this one night under cover of darkness. He was not yet ready to disclose his purpose for being in Jerusalem. (2:12-16)
As leaders in ministry, it’s important to follow God’s way and timing. Like Nehemiah, sometimes we begin our mission quietly, without fanfare. When the Lord says it’s time to involve others, then we can. The Lord shows us who to trust with certain responsibilities. Only God has the whole picture. We are to trust and follow Him step by step.
Then Nehemiah told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials and some others of his plan. He told them “of the hand of my God which had been good upon me.” He informed them of the king’s support. Their response: ” ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.” (2:17-18)
When we go on mission, it is imperative that it is God’s plan, not our own, and that we have the necessary support. Then we must prayerfully plan the action steps.
As soon as the building project was about to begin, the enemy attempted to intervene, but Nehemiah stood his ground. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab, enemies of God’s people, “laughed at us and despised us, and said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?’ ” Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem.” (2:19-20)
As we, too, start out on mission for God, we can expect the enemy to try to stop us. The enemy uses people (sometimes people who have been for us) to prompt us to doubt we’ve heard from God, to question our motive or plan, to laugh at us, and even to declare the mission will surely fail. What we must do is stand with courage in who God says we are and what we’re about, declare a successful mission ahead, and proceed, determined to go on even when faced with opposition. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. ” (Joshua 1:9)
It is important to note that Nehemiah made 3 points in his rebuke to his adversaries. He first declared that God in His sovereignty will prosper His servants on mission. In other words, God is in charge; this is His work, and He will see that it is accomplished. Next, he states the course of action — arise and build. Finally, he renounces the enemy by declaring that he has no right to interfere.
Let us learn from Nehemiah. When opposition comes, let us trust in God and resist the enemy. With courage let us declare God’s sovereignty over us and the work of our hands. Then let us take action, whatever action we are to take, as the Lord prompts, trusting in His provision and protection.
Fundamentally, we must pray. Let us undergird everything we do with prayer. We need to seek God together as teams and pray continually for each other and the work God has entrusted us to do. Fervent prayer is key to success. God can do a mighty work as we pray and allow Him to work through us.
Part 2: An Unexpected Beginning
Nehemiah 1:11 – 2:8
Action step #1 of the mission did not go as Nehemiah expected. It appears that he had done everything he knew to do to prepare. According to chapter 1, he fasted and prayed for the dire situation in Jerusalem. He said “yes” to God’s call to mission to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, the city of his fathers’ tombs. He asked God for mercy to approach the king to get things started. However, when the time came to talk to the king, Nehemiah was “dreadfully afraid” (2:2) in a situation he surely did not expect. Nehemiah pressed through the fear, though, and completed action step #1.
As cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, God had placed Nehemiah in a trusted, privileged position. His job was to taste the wine to make sure it was not poisoned before serving it to the king. Furthermore, he was to appear composed, not revealing his emotions upon serving the king. If he did not succeed, he could be put to death.
According to the scripture, when Nehemiah served the king his wine one day, the king noticed that he looked sad and questioned him. Nehemiah became “dreadfully afraid”– after all, his life was now at stake! (2:1-2) He pressed through the fear, however, and told the king about the destruction in Jerusalem. (2:3)
“Then the king said to me (Nehemiah), ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (2:4)
Not only did Nehemiah not back away because of the fear, but he had the wisdom to pray first before answering the king. He knew he needed to pray before going on with action step #1.
Nehemiah then asked the king for permission to leave for a time to rebuild the city. (2:5) He also asked for letters — for the governors en route to Judah to allow his passing through as well as a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, to supply timber for the work ahead. The king granted all of it “according to the good hand of my God upon me.” (2:7-8)
What can we learn from Nehemiah in these few verses?
First, he did not let fear stop him. Ask the king to take a lengthy leave from his privileged position? Believe God for favor and all the resources to complete such an undertaking? Although the scripture does not mention these fears, he likely had to push through these obstacles in his mind. Nehemiah chose to trust God. Also, he took the first step. Many quit before starting the mission because of the fear of starting and/or completing the assignment. We are to believe God at His word to us and go!
Additionally, it is important to note that in this scenario Nehemiah faced the enemy’s interference and overcame it. The fear that gripped his heart could have easily stopped him from pressing on and taking action step #1. Next, Nehemiah could have avoided answering the king’s question truthfully. It surely was not an ideal situation. However, he chose to have faith in God, pray in the midst of the conversation with the king, and ask for what he needed even though the circumstances of the conversation could have paralyzed him.
The enemy typically tries to stop us when we begin a new mission. Sometimes we, too, are on the threshold of embarking on mission when we could be easily sidetracked, delayed, or halted from advancing. “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) Extra prayer support at such times is imperative.
As leaders we are not in this alone. God is on our side, equipping and empowering us to complete His mission. We must expect difficulties, struggles, and interference from the enemy. We must expect the unexpected. Like Nehemiah, we are to pray throughout depending on the Lord. We are to submit to God, commit to His mission, and go, giving Him all the glory!
Part 1: It’s Time for Change
A new season has arrived. In order for the new to come to fullness, what is old and now “out of season” must go, even if it was good while it lasted. Sometimes our tendency is to cling to the old because it is comfortable, because we feel secure there. Sometimes we are reluctant to change because what we’ve been doing has been working. To embrace the new, we need to resist fear, doubt, and whatever it could be that would stop us. We need to trust God when He shows us it’s time to move on.
Nehemiah is a wonderful example of a man who knew it was time to make a change and did so. He trusted in God, leaving behind the old and venturing into the new with great faith. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah and his willingness to follow God.
Nehemiah was a Jew serving as cupbearer (a highly trusted position) to an ungodly Persian king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah lived away from Israel, the home of his people, and when he heard the following news, it broke his heart and spurred him to action: “The survivors (Jews) 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.” (Nehemiah 1: 3, NKJV) Nehemiah’s response to the bad news was to weep, mourn, fast, and pray for many days (1:4). Although the temple had been rebuilt, the protective wall around it needed to be rebuilt.
In his time with God, Nehemiah received God’s call to action, willing to do what God directed him to do to restore the wall in Jerusalem, and by so doing, restore the Jewish people.
Nehemiah could have refused to follow God because he thought the project was too big, fraught with difficulties, or he couldn’t see how it could be done…..he could have felt inadequate, untrained, or afraid to fail …. or he could have decided to stay in the palace and just pray because he didn’t want to go…… Nehemiah 1 does not document any doubts or fears that Nehemiah may have had to get rid of. What we know is that this godly man said “yes” to God’s call to mission, and asked God for mercy to approach Artaxerxes to get this project started (1:11).
As leaders in ministry, we are to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and follow God’s plan in leading others. We are to follow God’s agenda, not our own. His agenda may require that we change direction dramatically. That’s what happened with Nehemiah. When he got the report, he prayed, and knew he was to go on a new mission for God.
How could he possibly take on such a huge project? He could not initially see the necessary steps or how it all would be completed. He had to have faith that God would give him everything he needed when he needed it — favor, protection, workers, and resources.
What is God’s agenda for you and those you lead in ministry in this new season? Will you take courage like Nehemiah did, and say “yes” to God’s mission? God always provides what we need when we follow His plan.
Lynda Moore, East Texas Area Vice-President of Ministry Development and Resources
The Naomi Mantle
At Aglow International’s Fiftieth Anniversary Global Conference the end of September, Chuck Pierce and Dutch Sheets draped Jane Hansen Hoyt, Aglow’s President and CEO, with a tallit. They prayed over her and declared that God was clothing her with a Naomi mantle. As these words were proclaimed, I found it interesting that this new mantle was designated as the mantle of Naomi (not the mantle of Ruth). In the past, Aglow has received specific spiritual callings/anointings in the capacity of Deborah, Esther, and even Mary, Mother of Jesus; these callings described the function of Aglow in particular seasons.
However, Naomi was strikingly different from the other women listed in that she was an older woman familiar with trials and sorrows, as opposed to a younger pioneering woman. Naomi was a pilgrim, a widow whose children were deceased as adults. As a foreigner living in Moab and bereft of all her immediate family other than her Moabite daughter-in-laws, she decided to return to her homeland Bethlehem (which means house of bread, signifying provision). One of her daughters-in-law bravely chose to abandon her own family of origin and cleave to Naomi and her God. Together, they made their way to Bethlehem, where they were met with some surprise by those who had known Naomi years ago, prior to her departure for Moab.
As the Book of Ruth relates, Naomi played a key role not only in Ruth’s being accepted in the community, but also in finding provision for both of them for the long term. When Ruth asked Naomi’s permission to glean in the field belonging to a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband, Naomi encouraged her; when Ruth found unprecedented favor with Boaz, the landowner, Naomi instructed her daughter-in-law regarding specific strategy for securing her God-appointed place in the community. We also know that Ruth, a Gentile, ultimately married Boaz and was thereby grafted into the line of Messiah. Although most women tend to identify with Ruth, who was commendable for her courage, devotion, and obedience, and was gloriously rewarded, the fact remains that Naomi played a pivotal role in Ruth’s finding her destiny.
Aglow International has experienced a glorious fifty years of vibrant and varied ministry. Established on a foundation of worship, prayer, and evangelism, this ministry has expanded to 170 nations. Aglow women and men have labored for reconciliation between male and female in the Body of Christ; they have invested years of prayer for Muslims to come to know Jesus Christ; they have blessed and supported Israel and the Jewish people in a multitude of ways; they have been involved in prison ministry, post-abortion counseling and healing, support groups, Bible studies, missions and ministry training courses. Aglow also partners with other ministries to combat modern-day slavery (aka human trafficking). NOW, however, after fifty years, Aglow has received a Naomi mantle. THAT means that we have a calling to develop relationships with younger leaders and partner with God to launch them into their harvest fields, to help equip them to find their places in His Kingdom work. It is time to give away what the Lord has spent fifty years pouring into us; it is time to empower others to do the work of the ministry. What a privilege that is, and what a holy trust! Praise God that He equips those He calls!
Where are the younger women and men in our circles of influence? Perhaps it is time to begin to invest in them in more substantive ways and encourage them to move forward into their respective callings. Thank You, Lord, for the Naomi mantle! We receive it for ourselves, both corporately and individually, for our lighthouses and for our families, in Jesus’ Name!
The Power of Synergy and Exponential Increase
Have you ever noticed that some families, companies, churches, and even cultural or national groups carry corporate qualities or virtues? I know families that are extremely gifted in hospitality, service, or demonstration of compassion. Others seem to carry a pioneering call. Certain churches are known for discipleship, whereas others are especially gifted in evangelism. My British friends have great respect for authority, and my Brazilian friends are enthusiastic and friendly. My Scandinavian friends, while wise and cautious, have proven supportive and faithful in relationship for decades.
Of course, these observations are admittedly broad-based and generalized, but they illustrate a basic principle: working together, we have more impact than the sum of our individual efforts; working together, we can also experience an exponential increase in God’s power through us to combat darkness in the earth. After all, He made us in His image, and the impact of His kindness and goodness in and through us can be magnified when we join together and seek His will for our families, churches, ministry groups, and even cities and nations.
Let’s begin asking the Holy Spirit to show us what special corporate anointing He has imparted to our families and churches; the nature of that anointing serves as a key to the types of outreach activities we should develop. Similarly, the nature of that anointing informs how we pray to see God’s Presence manifest in and through ministry teams we are involved in. Specifically, we can begin to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the nature of His anointing on our Aglow lighthouses before we begin to strategize how to reach our neighborhoods and communities with the Gospel. Might we then be more effective?
Christine Ege, East Texas Area President
A little over two years ago I wrote an article for our team word entitled “Are you a GameChanger?” Today, I am giving an accounting of my second and third time though this study by Graham Cooke.
The local lighthouse I attend is finishing up our second GameChanger study. All the exercises have been leading up to writing our personal identity statements. For all of us in the group, the writing of this statement has probably been the hardest exercise in the study. Whether or not I (we) have known some of these truths a long time, I have not owned them. And, then to say them out loud and read them to others…it can seem boastful. And should you, dear Reader of this team word, get the idea that I am boasting, — yes, like Paul, I am boasting in what my Jesus thinks of me! It really does not matter what you might think about me. It only matters what God and Heaven thinks!
This is a portion of my third statement of what heaven thinks of me from the Scripture and some of the prophetic words that have been spoken over and to me…
I am called. I am a daughter of the Most High God. He knows my name. I have destiny and purpose. He takes great delight in me. He has danced and rejoiced over me all my life, and He will continue to do so. He has grown me into a mighty warrior-woman. I have been called a general in the army of the LORD. I can war in the spiritual realms through intercessory prayer. I have been given free access to Heaven. He has called me a pillar in his Kingdom. It has nothing to do with my physical stature! Daddy-God has found me faithful and has given me sheep to tend, feed and care for. He has blessed the work of my hands. I can do all things through Christ; He has given me the strength to do all things…His joy is my strength. He has instilled in me grit, determination and endurance. He has increased my focus…depth in my seeing…to see between the lines and layers…the ability discern, to look again and see from a heavenly perspective, the revelations of mysteries, strategies and surprises. I have favor wherever I go. I have been called a “Star,” an “Esther.” I have no idea of the impact of my words. I speak before kings and people of great power and influence…He gives me the words to speak. I am an ice-breaker…going where few are willing to go and break new ground…bringing a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit.
My desire, dear Reader, is to encourage you to enquire about a GameChanger study. This course has changed my life, and it can and will change your life. It has been an awesome journey. Come join us. Become a GameChanger.
I am Linda Carpenter, and I continue to be an Aglow 21st Century GameChanger “…from Glory to Glory.”
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
Shhh = The Key to SHALOM
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 (AMPC)
Humankind as we know it began with God creating one person, then a second. Together, those two people populated the earth in spite of their sinfulness. Similarly, Jesus, the second Adam, brought life.
Proverbs 30:28 (NKJV)
Everywhere you go during October, it is decorated for Halloween. You can’t escape it unless you stay in your house for the month and avoid television and computer. One popular decoration is spider webs with spiders patiently waiting for their prey.
Even when it is not Halloween, it is pretty easy to see spiders in most places. Even in Solomon’s palace, there were spiders. Solomon had a grand palace with many servants who kept everything cleaned and polished. But spiders can gain access to the tiniest places.
You can compare this to your own life and heart. You can keep yourself in the Word and prayer and be cleansed by the washing of the Word, but if you allow one little crack, a spider can come in. They start with a very small web, and if you don’t clean out that web, it grows larger and larger. Then it becomes difficult to remove. It’s sticky and clings and leaves a residue.
Psalms 139:23 (NKJV) says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties.” Ask God to shine a light on anything that is in your heart that does not belong and keep your heart clean and forgiven by God’s mercy and grace. Keep those cracks filled with God’s putty to keep those “spiders” out.
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Financial Development
Several weeks ago, I was visiting with some Aglow friends, when I was told of an incident for which the prescription/cure intrigued me. My friend’s mother had had an episode of low blood pressure…the doctor had suggested that the daughter give her mother a tomato and salt. I happen to like homeopathic medicine, so that started me thinking about the spiritual aspects of this treatment.
Tomatoes are, generally, red…the blood of Jesus is red. Some tomatoes can be sweet or tart depending on the variety…sometimes the words of Jesus are sweet, just as His name, other times His words can be sharp, (a double-edged sword) Heb. 4:12. Tomatoes take many shapes, but most are roundish…we are to be well-rounded in our study of the Scriptures “…study to show yourself approved.” 2Tim 2:15. Tomatoes are a fruit filled with many seeds. Just think of the Fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.” Gal 5:22-23. God’s seed produces only good seed…a tomato seed will not produce potatoes — only other little tomatoes…seeds of love will only produces love… “love covers a multitude of sin” (1Peter 4:8), “a gentle word spoken will turn away wrath” (Prov 15:1).
And then there is salt…salt is necessary for life; even too much salt can destroy life. There are different types of salts that we use. The most common is table salt…sodium chloride used as a flavor enhancer and as a preservative. Years ago meat products were salted and cured to extend the life of those products… “meat,” the word of God! The Word of God preserves us during hard times as well as the good times. Salts are used as medicines…whenever we had a sore throat, the cure was to gargle with warm salty water; when we had sore and tired muscles the prescription was to soak in Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13)…we are to be salty…don’t believe me? The next time you cut your finger and put your finger in your mouth to stop the bleeding…taste your blood…next time you exercise hard and sweat…taste your sweat…is it salty? Don’t lose your saltiness, or you would be thrown out and trampled underfoot! (Mt 5:13)
Oh, yes, my friend’s mother recovered from her episode…In fact, the other day there was a photo of her with a big bowl of ice cream on face book! To God be the Glory!
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
So, “arise”, beautiful daughters of the King and “shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (see Isaiah 60:1) and “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) because the Creator of all things, the King of Glory, the Sovereign Most High God has adopted us as His very own, commissioned us as His ambassadors, promised to supply all our needs AND will be with us always! Hallelujah!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
The Power of Perspective
I recently devoured a captivating volume entitled One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. The author shares her story of learning the art of giving thanks, which proved to be the key to unlocking a treasure chest filled with joy, beauty, and wonder in the face of our ineffably powerful and tenderhearted Father. Learning to give thanks in the face of sorrows and challenges was not any easier for her than for the rest of us; after all, Ann, a farmer’s wife, is a homeschooling mother of six children and subject to the same less-than-perfect, interrupted days that most of us face. Beyond the immediate delight to the reader afforded by her exquisitely poetic and picturesque way with words, the author boldly addresses raw theological questions raised by serious faith-seekers throughout the centuries.
For her, the answers to her doubts and fears were revealed in the process of giving thanks in all things. She is not talking about some misplaced name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospel that denies the realities and pains of life; rather, she shares her journey of discovering God’s presence in every detail of every situation, once she sought to see Him. As she so aptly quips in the text, “The remedy is in the retina.” How we see things is pivotal to how we think about them.
As a reader of this thought-provoking tome and a person who longs to see Jesus in the details of everyday life, both small and great, I am gripped by the significance of Ezekiel’s vision of the whirling wheels:
The scene is a vision of the presence and glory of the Lord in His temple; it is significant that the cherubim moved like wheels in response to the Holy Spirit and were “full of eyes all around.” How I need God’s eyes, His point of view, and His perspective on everything! Perhaps if I stopped in my tracks and ASKED Him what He desires to show me, I would see with His eyes! Indeed, the remedy to all my problems is to lay aside my own perspectives and opinions and give thanks for what the Holy Spirit allows me to glimpse of His beauty and glory in the day-to-day lurch of life!
Christine Ege, East Texas Area President
Are You a Dreamer?
The Bible has more than 100 references to dreams. Numbers 12:6 NKJV reads: “Then He said, “hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.” God gives dreams of warnings, prophesies, instructions, peace, revelation, you name it. God uses dreams to speak to you.
I’ve had people tell me that they don’t dream…ever. And I respond, really?! I dream every night, and if I take a nap during the day, I dream then too. There are the weird, crazy dreams that were probably brought on by something I ate. Then there are dreams that are forgotten within minutes of waking. But the dreams I want to talk to you about are the ones that God gives you that are filed away in your memory bank to draw from when needed. The Holy Spirit brings to my mind dreams that I had years ago and still remember vividly. And then I ponder on them.
I would like to share a portion of a dream that I had a very long time ago that is still fresh in my mind. During the time of this dream, my husband and I were struggling financially due to a lull in the construction industry.
In my dream, my husband and I were walking in a parking lot to our car. We came to this car that had a big sign on it that said “Mary Daniel won this car.” We both got into the car; my husband in the driver’s seat, and I was in the center of the back seat leaning forward between the front seats. In the passenger seat was stacks of money wrapped in bands. I picked one of them up and showed my husband. We were so excited. I then reached across the front passenger seat to open the door, and it was locked. You had to have a key to unlock and open it. I then had a large ring of keys in my hands, and I was going through them one by one until I came to a key that said Jesus on it. I used it and it opened the door.
I am not an interpreter of dreams, but to me the meaning of this one is pretty obvious. JESUS IS THE KEY! Not long before I had this dream, I had been driving and worrying about all our “stuff,” and the Lord had spoken to me Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. I believe the dream was a confirmation of what God had already spoken to me. Put God first. Seek His face. Go to Him with your concerns. He is the one who opens the doors you need to go through and closes the doors you don’t need to go through. He is the one who provides your every need, if you just seek Him first.
Through the years when times have become difficult, I just reach into my memory file box and remember when God gave me dreams of encouragement and instruction.
Acts 2:17 (NKJV) and Joel 2:28 (NKJV): And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
I am so grateful that God gives me dreams every night, even if I don’t remember most of them. But the ones that are important are still there, just a thought away waiting for me to draw on to be encouraged, to pray, and just know that God is right there with me…always.
Numbers 12:6 (NKJV) Then He said, “hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.
Job 33:15 (NKJV) In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds
Genesis 41:32 (NKJV) And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Deuteronomy 13:1 (NKJV) If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,…
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Finance
Grace…what is grace? When I was growing up I knew grace as a short little prayer we pray before we eat our meal and sometimes after our meal. “Your Grace” is a title we bestow to a person of royalty. We are currently in that cycle of names where Grace is a common name for a woman or girl. Later I understood grace to be “the undeserved favor of God”.
However, grace is so much more than undeserved favor of God…I believe that grace is the essence of Jesus. Think of the synonyms…elegance, refinement, loveliness, polish, beauty, style, poise, charm, elegance, kindness, decency, favor, mercy, charity, leniency, blessings, prayer, thanksgiving, dignity, honor, distinguished are just a few. Are not all these words descriptive of Jesus?
I want to share a story that was part of our recent retreat—“Empowering Presence” where God’s grace was overwhelming and sufficient.
What if you woke up one morning unable to speak? You knew you could speak…you could think the words but no intelligible words were coming out of your mouth. You could walk as normal to the bathroom, go to the kitchen, start breakfast and get dressed, but no words.
This actually happened to a friend of mine several years ago, and not only did it happen once but twice! When this friend had gone to sleep the previous night everything was good, but when she awakened the next morning it was just as I described…no words. What I did not tell you was that her husband was at his work and that she still had to awaken their daughter and see her off to school! She was alone in her home with a sleeping daughter, and there were absolutely no words.
So, what does momma do? She does the usual. She goes into her daughter’s room, lays her hand on the daughter and begins to pray in the Holy Ghost…You see, this was commonplace. Every morning she was her daughter’s alarm clock…momma praying in the Holy Ghost. The daughter thought nothing of her mother praying in tongues. So, at breakfast Mom is still praising and giving God the glory because h
He was worthy. My friend kissed and waved good-bye to her daughter, then called her husband at work still unable to speak in her normal speech. They are now at the hospital…nothing is wrong. My friend is admitted for observation! Nothing is wrong…The doctors are astounded (except for maybe one or two who know my friend). My friend is experiencing the grace and the power of God to overcome every obstacle in her life and that of her family.
God’s amazing grace was so overwhelming, that when she awakened and could not speak, the kindness, the goodness the compassion of God that she had become familiar with met the enemy head-on; instead of fear operating in her daughter’s life…what is happening to my mother? …was met as she awakened to what was an everyday experience…her mother praying in the Holy Spirit.
If that had happened to you what would you have done? God had given my friend grace to overwhelm her enemy…he was not going to win her peace of mind that day or the next! God’s grace is sufficient to overtake any battle. Even Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 that when he prayed for God to remove a thorn in his flesh, God answered and said that His grace was sufficient…His love, His peace, His great joy, His patience, His faithfulness, His goodness, His kindness, His gentleness and His self-control.
That sounds kind of like the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating though the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against these things there is no law.” This means that nothing can stand against these fruits.
So, my friends, when in time of need, cry out to our God. He is sufficient in everything He says and does on behalf of His children. His grace can never be separated from his love for us.
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Special Events
In everything give thanks! — Really? In everything?
Have you ever found yourself murmuring, grumbling or complaining? Me, too! But then I’m reminded about the story in Exodus, how the children of Israel, after seeing God’s mighty deliverance, began to grumble. Exodus 15 begins with God’s people rejoicing, singing, dancing, praising! God had moved miraculously on their behalf to free them from bondage in Egypt. A few days later, in the wilderness, when they found water, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. Did they continue to rejoice, knowing their great and awesome God would provide? No, they grumbled. (Ouch! How often have I grumbled instead of rejoicing, trusting, asking, believing?) Well, Moses cried out to the LORD Who showed him what to do. Problem solved, water became sweet, and people could drink. Yea, God!
So, they learned their lesson, right? Wrong! Next thing you know, they were grumbling again. This time they were hungry. Their complaints were directed at Moses and Aaron, but really they were complaining against God! (See Exodus 16:8) Again, God provided miraculously, and the people saw His glory!
The story continues in Exodus 17 with the people thirsty again and grumbling once more. Amazingly, God provided yet again in a miraculous way! Is it possible that in their difficulty, God’s people really didn’t trust God’s goodness and His faithfulness? In our difficult times, do we really believe that God is faithful and will provide? If so, then rather than grumbling, complaining, murmuring, let’s give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. (See I Thessalonians 5:18)
The list of God’s gifts and blessings is endless! How good is our God who created the heavens and the earth! How many are His blessings to us, His children!
In everything give thanks? — Yes, for sure! Our amazing God is faithful!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The Christmas season often brings us to a place of remembering things that used to be in our past. We cherish the memories of our childhood celebrations, the warm relationships with family, and even the traditions that seem to be set in stone.
Yet in the midst of the warm memories, we have an expectation of something new that is beginning to be seen on the distant horizon. The anticipation of the New Year begins to invade our thoughts — new opportunity to do things right and second chances to change things you want to improve upon. January is often advertised as the month to organize and put things in order. HGTV and DIY networks program more shows at the beginning of the New Year about flipping houses, restoring bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, etc. The focus is on getting rid of the old and replacing it with new.
Daniel Webster defines new as something that is recent in origin, something introduced to our knowledge not before known. One could conclude that knowledge has always existed but not necessarily revealed until an appointed time.
However, a great teacher once said, “Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new on earth. Does anything exist about which someone might say, ‘Look at this! Is this new?’” It happened ages ago; it existed before we did.
We make New Year’s resolutions based on the old while hoping and expecting the new to take its place. Most of the time our resolutions are great ideas that fall to the wayside, because we don’t have the ability to make things new. However, there is a person that is able to succeed in making all things new.
Revelation 21:5 (BasicBibleEnglish) And He who is seated on the high seat said, “See, I make all things new.” And He said, Put it in the book; for these words are certain and true.
Jesus Christ is the original Fixer-Upper, Bathroom-Crasher, all-time great restorer. His favorite thing to do is to restore everything that has become broken or weary and not capable of being used for its original purpose.
2Corinthians 5:17 (International Version) Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new!
Colossians 3:10 (Passion Translation) For your new creation life is continually being renewed into the likeness of the One who created you; giving you the full revelation of God.
In the measure of time, Jesus Christ the Creator provides opportunity for you to renew your heart by a change of affections — to change the heart and affections from natural enmity to the love of God and to implant holy affections in the heart. I encourage you to begin your New Year with the resolution that you will allow Jesus Christ to take out the old heart and place in the new.
Happy New Year 2016. We write all the changes in the book; for these words are certain and true.
Judy Parks, Former East Texas Area Aglow President
Finally, after a lengthy wait, another person came out to get me. She was a nurse and was going to give me all the information I needed to prepare for surgery. However, when we went to her office, I tried to make conversation, but she wanted no part of it. I made several attempts to talk and be friendly, but to no avail, so I fell silent and looked around her office. I was so surprised to see on her wall two plaques with Scriptures. She had been so unfriendly, I would have never believed she was a Christian.
As I left, I could not get that out of my mind. I was thinking of the non-Christians that come into her office and see the scriptures hanging on the wall. I began to wonder what they think of her.
This encounter made me realize that we are the only Jesus or Bible that a lot of people see. It is really important that we remember to let our light shine and show that Jesus is the only way. If we wear our crosses around our neck or display Christian things, we need to act like Christians and demonstrate the kindness and character of Jesus. Having a kind word for someone or even just smile can make such a difference to someone.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Let it shine for all to see.
Mary Daniel, East Texas Area Vice-President of Finance
It’s fall… almost…soon there will be a chill in the air, and the leaves will begin to turn colors and then fall. It will be time for sweaters, boots, scarves, football games, warm cocoa and one of my person favorites…fresh apples and popcorn! I can taste it now!
Sometimes we think it’s a time to slow down… “hunker down” for the winter and just wait until spring…another word might be rest. Instead, I believe this is a time that we need to continue to be courageous and bold in our spiritual authority. Don’t let the smoke of the campfires lull us to a sense of false security. Your enemy…my enemy is crouching at our doors and waiting for us to let our guard down so that he can “waltz in” and take over…Will you allow this to happen on your watch?
In Biblical times, spring was the time that the kings went to war. It may be fall in the northern hemisphere, but let me tell you it is spring in the southern hemisphere! And we must continue to pray and intercede for our friends and families here in this nation as well as around the world.
“Draw an arrow from your quiver. Aim high. Release the arrow. Draw another arrow. Aim high. Take careful aim. Release your arrow…PAGA! You will hit your mark. Your quiver is full of arrows. You have an unending supply!” (Word spoken at the South Central Regional meeting, July 2015)
Let us enjoy the preparations for the winter (summer) months, but let us not shirk our responsibilities as watchmen on the walls of our homes, our nation(s) and Israel. Our quivers are full of arrows. Each time we reach for a new arrow, one is provided. Every time we take careful aim with our prayers — praying as God would have us pray, we will hit our mark! Keep on praying, don’t lose heart…the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. He will give us the victory!
Linda Carpenter, East Texas Area Vice-President of Events
GETTING ON TRACK AND STAYING THERE
What do we do when life takes an unexpected turn? Where do we look when our situation doesn’t make sense? How do we cope with disappointment, pain & heartache?
Recently a friend compared our lives in Christ to riding a train. It’s God’s train and He has laid the tracks to our final destination along the path of His choosing. After embarking on this journey by receiving Christ into our lives, why do we sometimes question the route along which the train is travelling? How lovely instead, to enjoy relationship with our loving Father as we travel along, even when the train takes a totally unexpected route!
Years ago I read a story about a young girl travelling with her father. She could have been terrified at the crowds of people all around, fearful of getting lost, anxious, troubled, worried. Instead, she was completely at peace, enraptured with the privilege of taking a trip with her dad. She was content to know her daddy was with her, that he knew what he was doing and he would take care of her and all the details. Rather than fret about things she didn’t understand, she enjoyed the trip immensely, taking in all the new sights and sounds, secure in the presence of her loving father. The details didn’t have to make sense to her. She trusted the one she knew was watching over her.
Words of Scripture join together to form a beautiful song of encouragement for challenging times: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. I will never fail you, never forsake you, even to the end of the age. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5 & Isaiah 41:10)
So in every situation let’s lean in close, trust the heart of our Father and enjoy the journey!
Arlene Seekatz, East Texas Area Vice-President of Administration
There is often a debate about wearing protective clothing while participating in bicycle riding, skateboarding, cross country biking, motorcycle riding, or any other sport that has potential for injury while participating. Some people say that wearing the clothing impairs their freedom to move and is too costly. Others argue that no matter what the cost, wearing the clothing insures no long-lasting injury and provides freedom to enjoy the activity. It is all a matter of choice for the individual participating in the activity.
Similarly, God has provided, free of charge, a protective covering for all prayer. Using God’s word in prayer is like weaving a protective blanket and forming total protective covering over you while engaging in the activity of prayer. Some people choose to pray using their own words that they decide should apply to the situation, whereas others use the written word to pray God’s perspective over the situation because of the protection it guarantees both to the one praying and to the subject of the prayer.
God’s Word is more powerful than any other word spoken by man or by other false gods. His Word brings victory because of the blood sacrifice and the truth proclaimed in prayer. His Word stands firm in the heavens and is fastened to eternity. It has been established before time and will endure past time. God’s word is productive. When applied through prayer, it becomes alive and manifests the tangible answer to the situation. God brings success through His spoken Word. Using God’s word to form your prayers guarantees answered prayer. He tells us in Isaiah 55:11: “In the same way, my words leave my mouth, and they don’t come back without results. My words make the things happen that I want to happen. They succeed in doing what I send them to do.”
Choosing the perfect name brand for our adventure in prayer assures us the victory we desire. Hebrews 1:3 (PT) declares: “The Son is the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor, the exact expression of God’s true nature—his mirror image! He holds the universe together and expands it by the might power of His spoken word.” We pray in the Name of Jesus, and it is His written Word that provides protection to cover us and insure our safety as we move on to the finish line.
Be encouraged. Available to you is all the protective equipment you need and the most effective name brand for your adventure in prayer – the Name of Jesus! It is a matter of choice.
Judy Parks, East Texas Area President
Every driver has seen the words written at the bottom of his or her side view mirror the words “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” It’s put there to warn the driver against changing lanes prematurely, which might cause an accident.
God uses the natural things of the world to reveal the spiritual.
You can be going through a difficult time and think that you are all alone in your problems, but you must remember that Jesus, too, is closer than He appears. He is always right beside you. God knows what you are going through, but He allows you to walk through challenging circumstances for a reason. Looking back at the difficulties I have walked through, I realize that Jesus was with me every step of the way. I learned many lessons through them, and I cherish the fact that He never left me or forsook me. My faith grew exponentially during this time, and, as a result, I have confidence to pray for others and know that He hears my prayers.
When you glance at that mirror while you are driving, let it be a reminder that Jesus is closer than He appears. Don’t change that lane without seeking the Lord; let Him guide you to switch lanes when it is His timing to avoid those avoidable accidents.
When you are looking for Jesus in your situation, remember that He is closer than you think.
Mary Daniel, Vice-President of Finance
First, leaders lead by example. Nehemiah followed God. That is the fundamental thing — we are all to follow God. Eliashib, the high priest, built the Sheep Gate and a part of the wall with his brethren the priests. (v. 1) Eliashib was willing to get his hands dirty and work alongside those he led. So are we to do. Verse 1 also notes that the priests consecrated their work. We, too, are to dedicate our work to the Lord.