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Our Highest Priority – Nehemiah 1:1 – 2:8

Introduction

Today in our study we will be in the book of Nehemiah.  Contained within our scripture text is a man who found God’s highest priority for his life.  We will never be at peace unless we live in God’s highest priority for our life.

Let’s start with a quick history lesson.  As the book of Nehemiah opens it has been 90 plus years since King Cyrus made the original decree allowing the children of Israel to leave the land of their captivity and return to their home land.  The book of Ezra records that only a fraction of the children of Israel heeded the call, 42,360, and were led by a man named Zerubbabel. Upon their arrival they went right to work restoring the altar and laying the foundation for the temple walls.  When God’s people get serious about serving and honoring God it is only a matter of time before Satan comes calling.  The neighboring communities, stirred up by Satan, assemble the lawyers and went to work trying to stop the children of Israel from building the Temple.  A temporary injunction was obtained and the work stopped. Ultimately a search of the official records was performed and the original decree from Cyrus was found granting permission for Israel to go and rebuild.  Well great, the good guys win! While it is true the injunction was overturned the children of Israel became their own worst enemy.  The prophet Haggai informs us the people put themselves first and God was offered leftovers.  Poor choices allowed the work of God to languish for many years leading up to the scripture text in Nehemiah.  People lived and died around them never knowing the one true God because Israel was busy collecting this world’s goods. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Day God Ran Out of Patience

Judges 10 – 12:7

Introduction
If you are familiar with the book of Judges there is a repeating theme: Israel does evil, God becomes angry, they are oppressed, they cry to God and God raises up a deliverer.  Our lesson subject today follows this pattern but this time there is a new wrinkle.

In chapter 10:6 Israel drifts away from God to act like the world around them.  In this case, at this point in time, it was worshipping the false gods of Baal and Ashtaroth to name a couple.  If we can set aside the specific sin and see it generally as acting like everyone else around them I believe we would be better served.  When we think of them bowing down to a stone or wood image we tend to think of it as not applicable to us whereas when we substitute the specific act with wanting to fit in then it applies to us today.  We can all relate to the drawing power Satan has against us to fit in.  The specifics of those temptations are different but the basic temptation is the same, wanting to act like, and fitting in with, the world. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Lessons from A Servant

 

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No Revival without Reformation

The following is an excerpt written by A.W. Tozer which I shared with a few men of God a while back but felt led to share with you all now. It sums up what is truly the dire need of today among Christians.

No Revival without Reformation – A.W. Tozer

“WHEREVER Christians meet these days one word is sure to be heard constantly repeated; that word is revival. In sermon, song and prayer we are forever reminding the Lord and each other that what we must have to solve all our spiritual problems is It “mighty, old-time revival.” The religious press, too, has largely gone over to the proposition that revival is the one great need of the hour, and anyone who is capable of preparing a brief for revival is sure to find many editors who will publish it…

…I believe that the imperative need of the day is not simply revival, but a radical reformation that will go to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies and deal with causes rather than with consequences, with the disease rather than with symptoms. It is my considered opinion that under the present circumstances we do not want revival at all. A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Is This All There Is? Is there nothing more?

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Introduction
Have you come to a point in your life when you are asking “Is this all there is?” “Is there nothing more?” A very rich and powerful king asked the same questions and recorded his pursuits for our reading. This man’s vast wealth allowed him to try anything his heart desired in his quest for the meaning of life. I hope you will join me as we look in on his journey to the meaning of life.

What we find in the book of Ecclesiastes is not God’s conclusions but rather man’s conclusions about the vanity of life when God is not the driving force. I am going to spill the beans a bit and let you in on the main theme…Life without a relationship with God is empty.

What do we really want out of life? I suspect I would get many answers to this question but they usually boil down to a few things: we want to feel secure, we want a purpose, we want to be happy and we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2013 in Lessons from A Servant

 

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The Cain Mutiny – Genesis 4:1-16

Introduction

Our lesson title comes from a book by Herman Wouk, published in 1951, chronicling the mutiny aboard the USS Caine, a Navy minesweeper in the Pacific during WWII.  This is not to be confused with Mutiny on the Bounty with Mr. Christian and Captain Bligh.

As you might expect we will not be arguing the merits of Captain Philip Francis Queeg or the actions taken by Steve Maryk.  We will be examining a mutiny of sorts that took place by Cain, son of Adam and Eve. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Lessons from A Servant

 

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A Sin Autopsy – Genesis 3:1-24

Introduction
When we hear the word autopsy we think of one thing, examining a body, internal and external, to answer one or more questions: how did they die, when did death occur, etc.  If you look the word up Merriam-Webster agrees and lists this as the 1st definition.  The second definition reads as follows…” a critical examination, evaluation, or assessment of someone or something past”.  What we are going to do today is more closely related to definition number two.

The thought of watching an autopsy, definition number one, would not be a pleasant thing.  An autopsy of sin isn’t going to be pretty either.  We know that sin has consequences. Unfortunately we have made bad choices and suffered the consequences for it.  In our critical examination we want to answer some questions as well: What was the sin, who did it, why did they do it and what were the consequences?  Our “something past” occurs all the way back in Genesis chapter three. The bible describes a temptation, the choice that was made and the consequences for that choice. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Lessons from A Servant

 

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The Greatest Commandment – Mark 12:29-30

I have a brother in Christ who not only loves the Lord, but also loves His word as well.  The Lord has given him several good studies and he wanted to share some of them.  He wishes to remain anonymous as he desires all credit and therefore glory to be given to the Lord.  So starting tonight, I will from time to time post some of his lessons and studies under the name ‘The Servant’.  Both he and I pray that these will be a blessing to the reader and covet your prayers.  Tonight’s post, ‘The Greatest Commandment’, marks the first of what will be many posts from The Servant, good Lord willing.

Jesus was asked about the first or greatest commandment; unfortunately the Scribe’s motive was not pure but Jesus answered him anyway.  What Jesus says next is the crown jewel of Christian maturity.  Mark 12:29-30  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Lessons from A Servant

 

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“I have written to him the great things of my law; but they were counted as a strange thing.”–Hosea 8:12

BiblesRUs

There are over 400 different versions and paraphrases of all or part of the the Bible in the English language today. Some think this is a positive development, but I think it has served to create confusion as to which represents the true word of God. The devil is the author of confusion… 1Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” The production of so many different versions and paraphrases has also led to a culture within modern Christendom of ‘tailored’ Bibles. In other words, man is searching for something to worship that he has control over. This is part of our sinful nature and is not too different from the pagans in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 10:2-5), or even today in foreign lands, who go into the woods, cut down a tree, and carve themselves a god to worship. These efforts by publishers to produce ‘Bibles’ tailored to particular audiences are also copied by many churches who, worshiping the ‘god of growth’, tailor music, sermons, and services to the tastes of the world in an effort to be ‘seeker friendly’.

All of these things are, in essence, putting the cart before the proverbial horse. First, Christ told us in John 3 that man loves darkness rather than light. Our sinful nature would rather the truth bend to our will than the other way around. Second, the apostle Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Paul was explaining that the unsaved man cannot understand God’s word and that it is foolish to him. Fallen man, since the tower of Babel, has been trying to reach heaven on his own efforts or works, to justify himself. But God has preserved His word and we should seek for the truth, not for a version of the truth which will justify our lives. For that kind of ‘truth’ is not truth. The only way we can know justification is for Jesus Christ to save us. Then we will know the truth and the truth will make us free.

Charles Spurgeon said it best, “Strange that there should be men so vile as to use the penknife of Jehoiakim to cut passages out of the word, because they are unpalatable. O ye who dislike certain portions of Holy Writ, rest assured that your taste is corrupt, and that God will not stay for your little opinion. Your dislike is the very reason why God wrote it, because you ought not to be suited; you have no right to be pleased. God wrote what you do not like; he wrote the truth. Oh! let us bend in reverence before it, for God inspired it. It is pure truth. Here from this fountain gushes aqua vitae–the water of life–without a single particle of earth; here from this sun cometh forth rays of radiance, without the mixture of darkness. Blessed Bible! thou art all truth.” (from the sermon ‘The Bible’ delivered Sunday evening March 18, 1855)

“I have written to him the great things of my law; but they were counted as a strange thing.”–Hosea 8:12

Think on these things …

 

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“They feared the LORD, and served their own gods…”

In II Kings 17 we have the record of the ten northern tribes of Israel being carried away captive by Shalmaneser king of Assyria.  It was the Assyrian way to remove a majority of the conquered people and to place Assyrian colonists in the lands they conquered.  When the colonists in this case moved into the land, bad things began to happen to them as the Lord sent lions among them to devour them because they didn’t fear Him.  So the king of Assyria sent one of the priests of Israel back to the land to teach them how they should fear God.  This was basically the blind leading the blind however since when the Israelites had lived there they didn’t live right either.  Before being led away into captivity, the northern tribes had become very idolatrous.  Now this priest has gone back to teach the heathen how to fear God…  Well this passage goes on to indicate that they learned how to ‘fear’ God but they continued to serve their own gods.  The men from Babylon worshiped Succothbenoth, the men of Cuth worshiped Nergal, the men of Hamath served Ashima, the Avites served Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.  This last thing was particularly troubling.  Their worship involved human sacrifice of their own children in order to have a hope of higher status among society ie. “the pride of life”.

“Well what has this got to do with us today?” you might say… My friend here in America we who call ourselves Christians are like these Assyrians. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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When the Light of the world came to decorate the greatest Christmas Tree…

Luke 2:1-14 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

This peace is not ‘world peace’ that everyone including Miss America contestants always say they want, but rather the multitude of angels were declaring that God has now sent His son to accomplish peace between God and His enemy… us. He sent His Son to die while we were yet His enemies so that there might be, for the first time since the garden of Eden, peace and good will toward men who believe. He sent the Light of the World to decorate the greatest Christmas tree ever in order to grant we who believe everlasting life and peace through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

THINK ON THESE THINGS… (and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!)

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