Nehemiah and the Wall: His People Forgive

We’ve seen over the past four devotions how Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around the city of Jerusalem. We looked at how he prayed before starting, then at his initial inspection of the walls, and at how his enemies plotted against him, and how he kept working anyway. Now we will see how he handled his people when they found themselves in another bad situation.

Nehemiah 5 New King James Version (NKJV)

1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”

There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them,for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?”

Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! 11 Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”

12 So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.”

Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. 13 Then I shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.”

And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord. Then the people did according to this promise. Read more

Nehemiah and the Wall: His Adversaries’ Plot

In the first part of our series, we saw Nehemiah’s reaction to hearing the walls of Jerusalem were still torn down, and the inhabitants we not safe from foreign invaders. We looked yesterday at Nehemiah’s inspection of the wall, and we saw the first glimpse of his enemies, those who despised Israel. Today we look at having a mind to work, and the scheming of Nehemiah’s enemies, and what he did to prevent them from coming to fruition.

Read more

March 7, 2018

Mark 11:25-26 New King James Version (NKJV)

25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Background

In the eleventh chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has just cleansed the temple, calling it a “den of thieves” instead of a “house of prayer for all nations.” After this powerful event, they passed a fig tree that Christ had cursed before entering the temple and it had withered away. They were astonished. So Jesus replies simply, “Have faith in God.” He tells them that faith can move mountains and that we are to pray, believing that we will receive the things we pray for.

Forgive & You Will Be Forgiven

We are called to examine our hearts each day and each time we pray. If there is something holding us back from Him, it will affect our prayer life. 1 John 4:20 says, If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Human nature makes the Christian fraught with contradictions like this. We bless God on Sunday, but Monday we issue curses to our brothers. We sing praises one day and listen to music about sex and drugs the next. We ask forgiveness from the LORD, against whom we have transgressed far more than any man has every transgressed against us, yet we won’t forgive the man.

For some of us, it’s easier to forgive, while others have a hard time. I am the type to assume someone didn’t mean to do wrong against me or others. It drives my wife mad because it can lead to me being “walked over” when I do that. She, however, is the opposite, especially when the one being wronged is me. That’s when the momma bear comes out. I can only imagine what she’ll be like when we actually have kids. But even with my ability to see the best in people, I still have trouble forgiving some people.

Pray For Your Enemies

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44

A few years ago I was teaching Music and Math at a Private Christian School. There were a lot of problems with forgiveness at the school in both the staff and the students. We did a study on forgiveness. We watched a video about it one day. I remember the speaker talking about “praying for his enemy.” He started with a typical, “okay, Lord, bless this guy,” and then he moved on.

His heart wasn’t in it. But he kept praying. He found eventually that he started actually praying, and his heart was softened. It wasn’t an immediate fix. It was a gradual softening. If we pray for our enemies, how can we continue to hate them?

We must also remember that this is true forgiveness when we are truly not sore or pained by their transgression. Because remember, anything that has ever been done to you was done tenfold to Christ, by you. So if He can forgive you of so much, why can’t you forgive them of so little.

Daily Challenge

I’m sure during this reading, you’ve had someone on your mind. Someone who has done you wrong. You may think they don’t deserve your forgiveness, or that you can’t forgive them. I want you to take a moment right now and pray for them. Start the prayer with a moment of asking the LORD to soften your heart. Then ask Him to help you. Then pray that your enemy know the LORD, if they don’t, and that the LORD blesses them and draws them to His forgiveness.