On the wall with Nehemiah: God’s MANIFOLD mercies!

Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the message blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

Over our Nehemiah study, where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked,  when you are weary on the wall, getting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, which motivated them finish the work triumphantly!

While this project is complete, there are some other very important learning points in the remaining chapters of Nehemiah! For example, gatekeeping from our chapter 7 lesson,  preparing to apply God’s word from our chapter 8 lesson) and why we should be mindful of a condition called “stiff neck” in chapter 9. Let’s  finish up Nehemiah 9 as the Israelites continue recalling what God has done and how they reacted.

So when we last left off, the hardened-necked people were not heeding God’s commandments, refused to obey and forgot what the Lord had done for them (verse 17).

BUT…

(Love these turning points)

The people said that God is ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and did not forsake them–even when they made a golden calf to worship taking the place of God (See Exodus 32).

YET..

While the Israelites turned their backs on God, and forgot what He did, God’s manifold (many and various) mercies continued in this way: (Nehemiah 9:18-25)

God did not leave them to rot in the wilderness
He never took away the cloud or pillar of fire
He never failed to instruct them
He did not withhold manna or water
He kept them in the wilderness for four decades
He made sure they lacked nothing
Their clothes stayed fresh and feet did not swell

AND ON TOP OF THAT…

God STILL gave the people kingdoms, nations and land..
Their children multiplied like stars of heaven—the Israelites were brought into the land, JUST like God promised.

They overtook cities, got houses filled with goods, water wells, vineyards, olive yards, fruit trees in abundance.

They ate, were filled, got fat and delighted in God’s goodness.

God’s manifold mercies in effect. 

NEVERTHELESS…

IN spite of all God had done, verse 26  says they were disobedient, rebellious, cast the law behind their backs and KILLED the prophets who warned them to come back to God.

BCU Fam, as we apply this part of the lesson to ourselves, as we recall the many things God did for us—the provision, protection, healing, comforting, saving us, and so on, how many times were we disobedient to what God said? Rebellious to the Word of God and cast it away in favor of doing what we felt was right or wanted to do? How many prophets (your pastor, that mother at church, friend, even a stranger) did we kill with a look, silence or even our words, when they warned us about going against what God said?

God’s manifold mercies in effect. 

Now, God will keep His Word no matter what we do or don’t. Know this—there is a penalty for disobedience. God allowed the Israelites, to be delivered into the hand of the enemy, due to their choice to stiffen their necks and disobey. When they cried out for relief, in God’s manifold mercies, He delivered them.

After the deliverance, (verses 27-29), the Israelites straightened up for awhile, BUT they got evil again and God LEFT them to the enemy to have dominion over them. Yet when they cried out, God delivered them– many times— according to His manifold mercies.
The Lord convicted the Israelites in wanting them to listen, but they did not. Hardened necks made a comeback, they wouldn’t listen or heed God, no matter who told them they were wrong, and time and time again, the people were still being delivered in the hands of the enemy because of their choice to sin..

NEVERTHELESS..

Verse 30 says God was still merciful—He did not consume or forsake them because He is a gracious and merciful God.

And while the Israelites got to keep what God gave them (verses 32-37),  they were servants in their OWN land,  had to pay “tribute” (excessive tax) to the kings, and those who ruled over the Israelites had dominion over their bodies and cattle, putting the Israelites in great distress. Verse 38 concludes where the Israelites FINALLY get what happened and now need to covenant to do what God says. My Lord!

BCU Fam, we are not unlike the Israelites at all. As God, in His manifold mercy continues to bless and warn us,  we often will continue doing what we like, not realizing or caring that there is a cumulative cost to actions that go against what God said. And to that end, here will be a pay day coming.

Sin always keeps it’s price hidden until it’s time to pay. And that payment can cost you in time, money, missed opportunities and even your life. Your eternal life! Rather than take God’s mercy for granted, let’s take advantage of the mercy God has extended to us TODAY and covenant with Him, His help to stop willfully and continually going against His Word. NOTHING on Earth should keep us from Heaven. Amen? Amen!

This concludes Nehemiah 9, BCU Fam! We’ll plan to wrap up the remaining chapters the next time we’re together.  In the meantime, as you reflect on God’s mercy, what you took away from this post, so please leave a comment in the designated section below.

As a reminder, if you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and now YouTube! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

Love,

BCU

What lessons can we learn from the wilderness?

Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the message blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

Over our Nehemiah study, where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked,  when you are weary on the wall, getting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, which motivated them finish the work triumphantly!

While this project is complete, there are some other very important learning points (like gatekeeping from our chapter 7 lesson and preparing to apply God’s word from our chapter 8 lesson) in the remainder of the chapters in Nehemiah. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah 9 as the people continue to reflect on the Word and what God has done.

Scene: (Nehemiah 9:1-5) This was a time of reading the law, confessing sins, worship and reflection as the Isrealites recall the time they were in Egypt and God’s protection, mercy and provision while wandering in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:43).

In verses 6-15, the people of God lay out who God is and what all He had done:

How God is God alone and how He made heaven, stars, the earth and preserves ALL!

How God brought Abram from Ur, changed His name (to Abraham) and promised to give Abraham land, and well as multiply his seed for his faithfulness and righteousness.

God saw the affliction on the Israelites in Egypt and answered their cry.

The Israelites saw many signs and wonders while being delivered from Pharaoh and their oppressors. God parted the Red Sea for them to walk across and took care of their enemies with that same sea–right before their eyes!
God led them by day as a cloudy pillar and a pillar of by night so they knew where to go.
He gave them right judgements, true laws and good statutes and commandments
God provided food, water and gave the Israelites water and promised land possession.

This is WONDERFUL, right? Look at all the BLESSINGS poured our on God’s people!  As we pause here, can we name the times God saw is on our oppression, sickness, depression, joblessness, family situations–whatever it was—Think about how God and GOD alone delivered us from those situations! How He took care of the enemy for us! And even in the midst of the trial, the hard time, the grief, the pain, He provided us both spritual food (a Word to refresh, correct, redirect and encourages us), and natural food to strengthen our bodies. God is GREAT and greatly to be praised!

BUT….

We see a turn of events with verse 16.

Nehemiah’s people read the their ancestors “dealt proudly, ” “hardened their necks” and “hearkened not” to God’s commandments. Let’s stop here and talk about hard necks. That means stubborn and not “leadable”.

In those days, typically two oxen did the plowing and the plow master had an “ox-goad” to help steer the animal to where he wanted it to go. An ox-goad was a light pole with a spike on it, used to prick the animal on his neck to speed him up or to go in a straight line. If the oxen didn’t obey, he was labeled stiff or hard-necked–what we usually call “hard-headed”.

So after being in bondage, captivity and free again—looking at ALL those blessings, God is now dealing with a prideful, stiff-necked group of people who refused to obey. The nerve of them, we say? Not so fast, BCU Family!

Now before we judge the Israelites too harshly, let’s put ourselves in their place. Two paragraphs ago, we were rejoicing about how God blessed us through our turbulent, crying, stressful times. How quickly after God heard our cry did we walk in disobedience?

Did we deal with God in our pride–maybe refusing to give Him glory for something He did? Touting our denominational pride, rather than humbling thanking God for saving you and lovingly witnessing to others? Not asking God for any help–trying to do things on our own?

Did we not harken to his commandments regarding handling the situation at work or home His way? Did He command us to “hold our peace” (keep quiet), but instead we said what we wanted because it had to be said?

How stiff were our necks when it God reminded us that we are to love our neighbors (co-workers, cashier, strangers) as ourselves?  Did we heed the urge to help them or to say a kind word? Did our necks stiffen when we were prodded to stop and pray? Did we tell God, “but, I’ll be late!” “Just let me answer this call.”,  “I’ll read the Word later”.

These are just a few of the ways we mimic the Israelites–whether intentional or not. Once we recognize areas that we have not surrendered to God completely, that’s our opportunity to do just that—we DO NOT have to continue walking contrary to God’s Word–that’s why Jesus came! He took all of our sins and nailed them to the cross, making an open show of them triumphantly! (Colossians 2:14-15). And when we have the Holy Ghost down on the inside (see Acts 2:38), we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us yield who God wants us to be–more like Him! Amen? Amen!

God gives us time, space and opportunity to be transformed to His likeness–because He is merciful. In an upcoming podcast, we’ll take a look at how the people of God realized how far off they were, the magnitude of God’s mercy and the result of willful disobedience. I’m looking forward to that post and hope you are as well!

In the meantime, we’d love hear what YOU took away from what we talked about today, so please leave a comment in the designated section below.

As a reminder, if you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and now YouTube! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

Love,

BCU

Starting the application process..

Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the message blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

Over our Nehemiah study, where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked,  when you are weary on the wall, getting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, which motivated them finish the work triumphantly!

While this project is complete, there are some other very important learning points (like gatekeeping from our chapter 7 lesson) in the remainder of the chapters in Nehemiah. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah 8:1-12 and explore how we want to prepare, take in and apply God’s Word.

Scene: After the wall was up,  the enemies were out of sight and now the people were gathered together at the water gate to hear the Word of God. If you recall in our Nehemiah 3 study, we talked about how the water gate represented the Word of God and how it’s reflected in our lives. We should continue to wash ourselves in the Word to stay clean.  Psalm 119:9 backs this up by asking the question “How do we cleanse our way? by taking heed to thy word.”

v2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

v3 Then he read from it, in front of the open square which was in front of the Water Gate, from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and women, those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Application point 1: There were no comfy chairs, air conditioning, kids church, lounge area or anything to make hearing the Word more comfortable, yet they listened with understanding and were attentive (there is NOTHING wrong with any of these things, mind you). The point is, since we have these things, are they helping us pay attention to the Word?

If we had to recall the entire message we hear on Sunday, would we be able to? What about what we just read? What Word did you read three days ago? How many times were you distracted from the Word? A hunger pang, wondering about dinner, the ironing you forgot, the call you need to make, how tired you are, the look you just got? A phone call? Typically when we get distracted God is speaking directly to us and we miss what He said. It’s like God gives the answers to the test, but we were so consumed with the test environment (we have the terrible too’s–too hot, too cold, too tired, too long) we miss the answers to the test. 

v6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.

v7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the Law and people remained in their places.

v8 So they read from the Book of the Law of God, translating and explaining it so that the people understood the reading.

This is why we need called and anointed, word-steeped preachers, teachers, exhorters, and bold saints—who  rightly divide the Word of truth. There are SO many using the Word to profit themselves, so we should BE the laborers God is calling us to be AND hold one another up in prayer as we co-labor for souls we interact with, so we know to explain the Word of God to them, as they come to repentance and strive to live holy.

v9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law.

Application point 2: The people realized how far they were from applying the Word. When God convicts us, do we shrug and say, “well, Lord, I hear you, but…”,  “I just can’t do it because she…” “The Lord knows we’re dust…”  Yes, our frame is dust, not our souls. They live on forever. And what/how we decide to apply the Word can effect our lives here and after we leave here.

We may not weep after every sermon, but our hearts should ache with the desire to WANT to do better, to strive for perfection, to please God in ALL our ways, rather than excusing our actions because it’s easier to stay in the flesh. It takes EFFORT to walk in the Spirit, to NOT tell someone else, to NOT give into the anger, bitterness, wrath, unforgiveness—that’s what God wants us to do, as we strive for perfection.

Also, the reason the leaders were trying to tell the people not to mourn was this was a celebration–the festival of booths/Tabernacles. This symbolized the time they were in Egypt and wondered in the wilderness, reflecting on God’s provision, mercy and protection (see Leviticus 23:43).

v10) Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

So even if you’ve messed up, repent, wash your face, dry your tears, eat, drink, bless someone else and allow the joy of the Lord to stregthen you. Obviously, these people did not have the Holy Ghost as we know it, but God allowed them to have joy, cause He’s consistent like that.

Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control–Galatians 5:22-23), and it’s an inside job. Whatever spirit is planted on the inside, the fruit of that comes out. So carnal plants yield carnal fruit and when the Spirit is planted on the inside, good fruit comes out. Unless we poison it with the weed killer–“Round-up” (aka un-Christlike behavior the the enemy brings by). When the Spirit is on the inside and activated, regardless of what’s going on outside the joy remains on the inside and comes out.

v11) So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.

v12) And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.

What about you, BCU Family? Once the Lord calls us out on something, after repenting, so we allow ourselves to walk in the forgiveness and rejoice because we are being chastened  by our good Father, so we can live, or do we “mourn” (Hebrews 12:5-12).  It’s needful to hear the Word of God–Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and even more critical that we DO what the Word of God says ( James 1:25). Our [eternal] lives depend on it.

We’ll take a look at how Nehemiah and his people reacted in hearing the Law (Word of God) in an upcoming podcast, as we continue to spotlight scriptures to close out our Nehemiah study.  In the meantime, we’d love hear what YOU took away from what we talked about today, so please leave a comment in the designated section below!

As a reminder, if you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and now YouTube! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

Love,

BCU

Ready to go??

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Are we really, really for the rapture..or prepared to leave Earth to be with the Lord without reservation? As a Holy-Ghost filled, baptized in Jesus name believer in Christ, I often speak to God throughout the day. I kinda figured that with His grace, I’ll be able to breathe a prayer as needed before I get out of here.

A while ago, I was training a class when I heard a SUPER LOUD crash and the lights went out. Because the crash came so suddenly and loudly, it took me about 15 seconds to collect myself. For that short time, I didn’t even have the presence of mind to pray, and I “know better”! So what happens if you are saved, in the middle of letting someone “have it” who wronged you and the Lord comes? Will you have time to breathe a prayer of forgiveness? What if you are not saved according to Acts 2:38-39, and today is your appointed time to die? How do you know if you’ll have time to repent, be baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost?

My point? Saved folks: we need to stay prayed up, and ask the Lord to forgive us for any sin we asking forgiveness for whatever sin we have committed willfully– not practicing, mind you, I mean a slip or unknowingly. (For the extra-holy among us, I John 1:8 says if we say we don’t sin, the truth is not in us). We also should practice living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as opposed to how people may treat us. Know that the energy we spend retaliating, worrying about things God asks us not to do can be better spent focusing on what we can do–praying and fasting in faith and trusting that all things work together for them love him and who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). If our focus is there, we’ll be in a much better position to be ready whenever He comes for us.

If you don’t know Jesus, now is a good time to get give your life to Him. Look at all the earthquakes, strange weather patterns, famine, heartache, increases in murders, suicides and the like. The Bible tells us this is just the beginning of sorrows. What more are you waiting to do? Isn’t the partying getting old? Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, being with a different person nightly tiresome? Why keep self-medicating to numb the pain of the past and fill your brokenness? Jesus is THE only one who can fix what’s broken. Being saved is NOT a life doomed to just church and Bible study (albeit important and needful fundamentals). Christ came that you might have life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). I am not speaking of pure prosperity, rather the peace of knowing a Savior who loves and is with you on your worst day (we do have those sometimes), He supplies your needs, the desires of your heart, according to His will and guarantees you a place in Heaven. Doesn’t that sound good? It’s yours for the asking no matter WHAT you have done– big or small! So just:

Repent— acknowledge you are a sinner (we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God Romans 3:23) and let the Lord know how sorry you are about your sins.

Be baptized in Jesus name Acts 4:12 says there is no other name under heaven where you can be saved. Your sins will be washed away! This act symbolizes your old self “dying” and you becoming a new creature.

The Holy Ghost will come : This baptism of the Spirit is where Jesus fills you with the Holy Spirit. The initial sign of this speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives you utterance. It happened in Acts 2 and STILL happens today. The Holy Spirit is ESSENTIAL in order to live according to God’s plan. This is the Keeper.

I won’t lie and promise that you will never be sad, lonely, heartbroken, or face trouble in your Christian walk. What God does promise is that He will take us through our trials and we will become stronger in Him for it, trust Him more and be able to encourage others as well. Am I right, saved readers?

I truly hope that this post has blessed you today. I share God’s heart in that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). Come on over to the “won side” with Jesus. Saved folks, let’s keep our spiritual house in order at all times and practice walking the peace God promises us in Philippians 4:6, shall we? Unsaved readers, its not too late–take advantage of God’s offer today!

Be blessed today and always!