The story of Nehemiah has been on my heart lately. When I’m weary and tired, stressed and overwhelmed, his story keeps coming to mind. It can be an encouragement to anyone trying to ‘build up’ something in their life – faith, a marriage, a child’s self-confidence. Discouragement will come, and the Enemy will rise up when you try to establish a solid foundation in any area of your life. This post will be the first in a series of posts related to faith building, so that you are prepared for anything life throws at you. We will look at the story of Nehemiah as an illustration. Turn with me this week to Nehemiah 1:1-11.
Unlike most of the called prophets of the Old Testament, Nehemiah was just a regular person like me and you. In fact, he was a Jewish servant to King Artaxerxes of Persia. He lived in the Persian Empire after the nation of Israel spent seventy years in captivity under Babylonian rule. Only a remnant of the Jewish people lived in Jerusalem after this time, as the city laid in ruins.
Nehemiah, however, is not your average servant. He was the king’s cup-bearer (verse 11), a position of importance and one that had direct influence on the king because he would have been in the king’s presence on a daily basis.
Interestingly, even as a Jewish servant, Nehemiah appeared to be someone of status within the Persian Empire:
1. He served the king directly.
2. He is seen later as one that was entrusted with great responsibility and a natural-born leader, governing Israel for 12 years.
3. He appeared to be well-supported and/or had means, because as governor he did not accept payment for his duties.
Starting to make the papers! Read the entire Tidewater News article using the link below. The Tidewater News services Franklin, Southampton, and Isle of Wight Counties here in Virginia. Special thanks to Merle Monahan for doing this story!!
This same article will soon be appearing in the Suffolk News Herald as well.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Dear Family and Friends,
Today I am so grateful to be able to tell you that Love Echoed Back has been officially released by Westbow Press!
Currently, you can purchase a softcover, hardcover, or e-book copy through various online stores, such as www.westbowpress.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com. It will be available in regular bookstores soon. Be one of the first to receive a copy! And, don’t forget to go to www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com and write a review.
Please feel free to share this post with family and friends!! With the release of the book, I am looking forward to going out and sharing what Jesus has done – so if you have a church, a small group, a men’s or women’s group, or any other event that would be an appropriate venue, I would love to come and share my story in person! You can communicate those requests through my blog’s Contact Page.
Can’t wait to see how God will use this book!
Humbly walking with Him,
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
–Proverbs 31:30-31 NLT
If you had told me two weeks ago, ‘life is going to be radically different,’ I would never have imagined that I would be facing what I face today. My mother’s stroke has reminded me once again of the frailty of this life and the strength of the one and only Savior we cling to daily. The strength of my mother is amazing. Battling back from this setback will take time, but she has come out of the gate swinging.
There have been times in the past that we, like most mothers and daughters, have had opinions and viewpoints that didn’t agree with one another. However, this I know, we have never disagreed at who should be in charge of our life -Jesus. My parents raised me up in a traditional Southern Baptist church, and my Christian roots run deep because they took the time to rear their children to know the Lord. I promise you, nothing stood in the way of attending church each and every Sunday. Did I stray when I was older? Sure, a little. We all stray from God at different moments in life, but I have returned to that ‘old, rugged cross’ time and time again.
In our culture, when we think of kindness we think of simple acts, such as providing a meal, sending flowers, or giving a gift of money. All these things are kind, but Jesus wants us to go deeper. Supernatural kindness starts with the Golden Rule:
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT
The kindness Jesus speaks of can only be born out of a grateful heart. Those who have received and accepted true kindness are eager to return it. Read more
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 NLT
Tonight as I pondered what to pen in this post, I could not help thinking about all the things I am hopeful for. The past two weeks have been pretty exciting, and there were days filled with hope and promise. Much of it revolves around the dream the Lord has placed in my heart. I am thrilled by all the things that are falling into place, not just surrounding Love Echoed Back, but the future possibilities that are ahead of me as well.
However, the pressure of balancing work, home, and the call on my life has also been building. On top of everyday chores around the house, my current project list at work has become dramatically heavy as we push to meet an upcoming deadline, and I am in full prep-mode for the She Speaks Conference at the end of July. Oh …and there is that manuscript to get back to the publisher.
Now, not for a moment do I believe the battle raging around the events competing for my time is some sudden coincidence. The devil is clearly putting up hurdles, thinking he will wear me out before I can cross the finish line. The true challenge before me is not time management, but to not lose hope!
Each year, at the end of July or the first of August, a team of volunteers from Believers Church goes down to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Believers partners with the local church there, Verbo Church, via Orphanetwork. As August draws near this year and the time to return to Nicaragua comes, I am getting excited all over again. Each year as we go down, we see growth in both the church and the structure of the orphanage as well as the children it serves.
I have traveled to Nicaragua several times now, and it never gets old. There are a lot of logistics to work out for a trip of this nature: timing, financial ability, arranging flights, and packing. However, the most important thing needed, before going, is time to reflect on what the Lord’s will is for the trip. When we go out in the Lord’s name, we have to allow Him to have all of us, and we have to do everything for His glory. So as I sit and think about the next trip, I contemplate what Jesus would have me to do this year.
Do you realize that we all have a mission? We are all called to be Christ’s ambassadors.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
For those who profess to be Christ followers, I ask: “Are you sheepish?” Oh, I don’t mean shy or embarrassed easily, that would be the total opposite of what Jesus meant. When teaching on who is a true follower and what they will do, Christ used the following example:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” John 10:1-5 NLT (emphasis mine)
So, now that you know Jesus’ definition of a follower, I ask again, “Are you sheepish?”
1. Do you recognize the voice of Jesus?
If you are like most folks, your home is one of your most cherished possessions. We feel safe and protected when at home. Home is where the heart is, right? Homes can also be an expression of our inner personalities, our likes and our dislikes. Is your home a one-story or a two-story, brick or siding, large or small?
Regardless of what our homes look like, they contain things that are dear to us, such as our families, our photos, and those things we keep stuffing in the attic or the basement! However, there is one thing that can make or break the structure of our home – the foundation. A bad foundation can lead to a major disaster.
Just like our physical home, our spiritual lives must be built on a solid foundation. Jesus would use the following parable to make this point:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Ezekiel 37:1-2 NLT
In this Old Testament passage, God gives Ezekiel a vision of a large valley full of human bones. Interestingly, this is not an area of fresh war, but a desolate valley covered with bones “scattered everywhere.” The bones are brittle in nature, described as “completely dried out.” This is an area of isolation and hopelessness. Depressing to say the least.
Then God asked Ezekiel something seemingly impossible.
Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Ezekiel 37:3 NLT