Posted by: robert0199 | April 13, 2021

Therefore, God

32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. 34 Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them. 35 Even in their own kingdom, and amid your great goodness that you gave them, and in the large and rich land that you set before them, they did not serve you or turn from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. 37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.
(Nehemiah 9:32-37 ESV)

Nehemiah is asking the Lord, who keeps covenant with his people, to not let the hardship that came upon their kings, princes, priests, prophets, fathers, and all the people seem to be little. He states that while the people have been wicked the Lord acted faithfully and he was righteous toward them. He prayed that the kings, princes, priests, and fathers did not keep the Lord’s law or pay attention to his commandments and warnings. When they were given the land they were promised they still did not turn from their wicked ways. Thus, they were slaves and the rich yield of the land goes to the kings the Lord set over the people because of their sins. The kings ruled over them and their livestock and they were in great distress.

In our time due to the sins of the people, the government the Lord has set over us is trying to take more and more of our income through excess taxes, and more of our freedom through restrictive laws creating a heavy burden and we are in great distress.

Heavenly Father, We come to you admitting our wickedness and our choice to follow our own ways neglecting to follow your commands and warnings. May our repentance cause you to heal our land and provide rulers who will remove excess restrictions on our freedom and reduction of our taxes. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 10, 2021

They Were Disobedient

26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
(Nehemiah 9:26-31 ESV)

Time and again the people turned away from the Lord and did evil in his sight. When they did so they were given into the hands of their enemies. But, when they turned back to the Lord and cried out to him in his mercy he forgave them and returned them to the land. They being a stiff necked people once they had been restored world turn again to wickedness and abominations before the Lord and would again be given to their enemies. Despite all this the Lord in his mercy did not make an end of them, or forsake them for he is a gracious and merciful God.

In our lives we have at times been disobedient to the laws of the Lord and turned away from him. In his goodness he brought about circumstances that cause us to return to his ways and to repent of our wickedness. He accepted our repentance and returned us to fellowship with him and has not forsaken us to this day.

Heavenly Father, We give you honor, glory, and praise for your goodness and loving kindness toward us even when we attempted to go our own way neglecting your way. We thank you for providing us with the means to repent and return to fellowship with you through your Son Jesus. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 9, 2021

You Gave Them

22 “And you gave them kingdoms and peoples and allotted to them every corner. So they took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness.
(Nehemiah 9:22-25 ESV)

In this section, Nehemiah points out that the people were given all the kingdoms and peoples the Lord had promised them. They took possession of the land of Sihon king of Heshbon and the land of OG king of Bashan. They were fertile and had children that were as numerous as the stars, and they were brought to the land you had given them. They went in and possessed the land. They drove out the Canaanites and did whatever they wanted with them. They took fortified cities and the land full of good things wells already dug, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. They ate and were filled and delighted in the Lord’s goodness.

When we find land to purchase and complete a building project of a space dedicated to the Lord we are delighted with the goodness of the Lord and his provision for us and we give him thanks and praise for his goodness toward us.

Heavenly Father, Each day you remain with us giving us guidance and wisdom to carry out the work you have called us to do. May we give you thanks and praise for your goodness and loving kindness toward us. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 7, 2021

They Acted Presumptuously

16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.3 But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.
(Nehemiah 9:16-21 ESV)

These verses include descriptions of several of the sins the people of Israel committed while they were in the wilderness. From appointing a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt to building a golden calf to worship as their god they were disobedient to your laws. Yet, you in your mercy and steadfast love did not leave or forsake them. You continued to lead them in the wilderness, provide manna and water, and sent your spirit to instruct them for the forty years they were wandering in the wilderness.

As we live our lives and reflect on them, we find that during the times that we were sinning and turning away from the Lord he did not leave us, nor did he stop providing us with his love and mercy. We can give him thanks and praise for his steadfast love even when we were far from him.

Heavenly Father, There were many times in our lives when rather than follow and depend on you we chose to go our own way to our disadvantage. But, in your love and mercy you did not forsake us but you graciously accepted us back as we chose to return and depend on you. We give thanks, praise, and honor your name for your steadfast love. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 7, 2021

And You Saw

9 “And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, 10 and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day. 11 And you divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land, and you cast their pursuers into the depths, as a stone into mighty waters. 12 By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go. 13 You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments, 14 and you made known to them your holy Sabbath and commanded them commandments and statutes and a law by Moses your servant. 15 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.
(Nehemiah 9:9-15 ESV)

Nehemiah is stating the Lord had seen the affliction of Israel in Egypt and brought them out through the Red Sea by dividing the waters and allowing them to cross on dry land, but not Pharaoh and his servants because they acted against the people. He led them through the desert with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He came and gave the people good commandments, laws, and rules; and made known the Sabbath day. He provided bread from heaven for their hunger and provide water from a rock for their thirst. He commanded that they go into possess the land that he had sworn to give them.

As we move ahead with gaining land and doing projects, we consult with the Lord, and look to him for guidance and wisdom. As we do so we find that our plans are fulfilled and the name of the Lord is blessed and glorified.

Heavenly Father, We come to you looking for wisdom and guidance when we are looking to acquire land to provide for a building to worship you and provide for the needs of our parish. May we take the time to listen to what you have to say as we proceed. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 6, 2021

You Are the Lord

“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name  Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous. (Nehemiah 9:6-8 ESV)

Nehemiah declares that the God of Israel alone is Lord. He states the Lord made heaven with all its host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and the Lord preserves all of them; an he is worshiped by the all the host of heaven. He states the Lord is the God who chose Abram and brought him out of the Ur of the Chaldeans, gave him the name of Abraham, found his heart to be faithful, and made a covenant with him to give his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. He said that because the Lord is righteous he kept his promise.

As we intend to further the kingdom of the Lord this short passage shows us that the Lord is faithful to keep his promises and will remain with us as we seek to find land, build buildings, and to worship him with all of our hearts. If you do not know the Lord seek him and you will find him.

Heavenly Father, Your faithfulness to us as we attempt to further your kingdom is worthy of honor and praise. We give you thanks that as we move you give us wisdom and remain with us keeping our hearts strong and peaceful. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | April 1, 2021

On the Twenty-Fourth Day

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. 2 And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God. 4 On the stairs of the Levites stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani; and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
(Nehemiah 9:1-5 ESV)

On the 24th day of this month the people of Israel assembled having fasted and dressed in sackcloth with earth on their heads. They spent 1/4 of the day listening to the reading of the law, and another 1/4 of day day repenting of their evil and in worship of the Lord. The Levites cried out to the Lord with a loud voice and they encouraged the people to stand up and bless the Lord whose name is exalted above all blessing and praise.

On Good Friday we spend time reflecting on our unrighteous deeds that caused the Lord to be put to death on the cross. We give him thanks for taking on the sin of the world and standing in the place of all sinners giving those who will the ability to return to a relationship with God the Father.

Heavenly Father, We exalt you and the name of your Son Jesus as the propitiation for our sin through the redeeming acts of his life, death on the cross, and resurrection. We exalt your name as the name above all names. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | March 31, 2021

On The Second Day

13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths3 during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of  olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and  brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those  who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun  to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first  day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day  there was a  solemn assembly, according to the rule. (Nehemiah 8:13-18 ESV)

The people came to Ezra on the second day and learned that they were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month and that it should be published in all of their towns. They were told to gather branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm and other leafy trees to make booths for themselves. So they went and gathered branches and made booths for themselves on the roofs of their homes or in the courtyards of them. They lived in them from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to the last day. Ezra read from the book of the Law of God during those days. They kept the feast seven days, and had a solemn assembly on the eighth day.

In our time the week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is a reflection of the feast of booths. As we gather together to hear again the story of the the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, his activities during the week, and his betrayal by one of his apostles seemingly ending in his death on the cross. On Easter Sunday we remember his resurrection and rejoice that death has now been defeated and all who come to him will be able to have a relationship with the the Father and are heirs to his eternal kingdom.

Heavenly Father, We give you thanks and praise that through the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus we now have a relationship with you and have become heirs to your kingdom. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | March 31, 2021

This Day Is Holy

And 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 wept as they heard  the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to  anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your  strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all  the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had  understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:9-12 ESV)

When we hear the words of God’s law we are convicted of our wrongdoing. We can become disheartened and grieve for our lost holiness. However, the Lord God sent his son Jesus into the world to be the propitiation for our sin and pay the price of it for us. This is a reason we need not grieve, but ought to rejoice because by Jesus life, death, and resurrection our relationship with the Lord is restored and we are his adopted sons and heirs to his eternal kingdom now and forever.

Heavenly Father, We give honor and glory to you in thankfulness for the sending of your Son Jesus into the word to provide the means for us to be restored to a relationship with you. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Posted by: robert0199 | March 30, 2021

Ezra Reads The Law

1 And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
(Nehemiah 8:1-8 ESV)

The people gathered into the square in front of the Water Gate. Ezra was told to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. Ezra brought the book before the assembly, both males and females, and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from the book from early morning to midday, in the presence of all who could understand. The people were attentive to the Book of the Law. Ezra stood on a wooden platform that was built for the purpose. Beside him were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right, and Pdaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshulam on his left. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above them, and the people stood as he did so. Ezra blessed the Lord, and all the people answered Amen lifting their hands. They bowed with their faces to the ground worshiping the Lord. The Levites helped the people to understand the law. They read from the book clearly and gave understanding, so the people understood what was read.

In our time when we gather to worship our priests or ministers have passages read from the Bible and they comment upon the readings, so that we will understand what has been read, and be able to apply it to our lives.

Heavenly Father, We give thanks for the word written in the Bible that we read and hear read week in and week out, and for ministers who have taken the time to study and learn the meaning of what it says that they can give us understanding of what we read and hear and apply it to our lives. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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