I’ve Got a Secret!

I pulled a friend aside at church last week and told her I had a secret to tell her. God had shown me something and I was about to explode with the news, or so I thought. When I got home I realized that out of my excitement I had shared the information prematurely. Have you ever opened your mouth too soon and wished you hadn’t? Fortunately for me, my friend is a woman of integrity. The lesson was not about her; it was for me. When I later read Nehemiah, I began to understand the importance of timing and keeping my mouth shut.

Last week we learned Nehemiah had asked the king of Persia for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. In chapter 2:11-20, we discover his PLAN OF ACTION once he arrived at Jerusalem:

1. He waited three days before he did anything. We need to be still and allow God to speak to us.

2. He got up at night. He acted when God showed him to move, not when it was convenient and not when others could see you. 

3. He only took a few “good” men with him. Some people can’t go where God is taking you. They’re just not ready.

4. He checked out the Valley Gate, the Serpent Well, the Refuse Gate and the Walls of Jerusalem. He also examined the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool. In our own lives, we’ll have some valleys, we’ll get bitten by events, we’ll need to let go of some trash and our walls will seem broken down from time to time. But “there is a Fountain, filled with blood, born from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunge beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains!” Hallelujah! We can wash in the King’s Pool!

5. The officials–Jews, priests, nobles, officials, or others–did not know where he had gone or what he had done. Are you a secret agent, C.I.A? Are you CALLED IN ANONYMITY? Or do you want to be seen?

6. He finally went to his people, gave a report and invited them to join the cause.  A passionate leader imparts vision after assessing the situation.

7. He faced opposition from three enemies: Tobiah, Sanballat, and Geshem and answered them with confidence in God. WHEN THE ENEMY COMES IN LIKE A FLOOD, GOD IS OUR DEFENSE!

Memory Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11, NIV).”

WEEK FIVE ASSIGNMENT: Read Neh. 4:1-9 and answer:

1. What were the enemy’s tactics?

2. What was Nehemiah’s prayer?

3. What was the result?

Until next week, stay on the wall and GROW!

As always,

Patricia

 

 

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AWAKE!

A loud knock startled me from my sleep this morning. What in the world was that? Eyes wide open, I lay in bed a few more minutes, thinking that someone was trying to get my attention. I never went to the door, but I knew the Holy Spirit was calling me to prayer. With so many crises in the world–disease, famine, hurricanes–God is calling His people to get up and listen to His instructions for the day. He is praying for us and we, in turn, are to take our assigned place on the prayer wall. I desperately wanted to go back to sleep but wondered what would happen if I didn’t heed the call. No doubt, Nehemiah felt the urgency of his hour.

In Chapter One of Nehemiah, we find him faithfully fulfilling his job as cupbearer for the king of Persia. While there, he got word that his hometown, Jerusalem, was in shambles–walls broken down, gates burned, survivors hopeless. As Chapter Two opens, Nehemiah decides to approach the king and ask permission to go back home and do something about the problem. The king was not a “happy camper” when Nehemiah approached him with a sad face. But he went afraid. IS GOD ASKING YOU TO DO SOMETHING AND ARE YOU AFRAID? THEN WELCOME TO NEHEMIAH’S WORLD! AND MINE. WE can not let fear stop us from fulfilling the call on our lives. Have I done that before? You bet! More than once. But thank God for second, third, and fourth chances. IS GOD CALLING YOU TO LAUNCH OUT?  The very person Nehemiah feared was the person who provided the resources he needed to get the job done.

The king gave Nehemiah letters for safe passage through enemy territory, strong men to accompany him and a “coupon” to get enough wood to repair the gates, the city wall, and BUILD A HOUSE FOR HIMSELF. GO figure! The dude promised the king he’d be back and planned to build a house there. That brother had FAVOR!!!!!!!!

Whatever your assignment, know that God has prepared the way and the resources. Go forth and stake your claim! It’s already done!

Memory Verse: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory through CHRIST JESUS (Phil. 4:19).”

As you read the next assignment, remember to use the GROW METHOD:

G- GOD. ASK HIM TO OPEN YOUR EYES.

R- READ.

O- OBSERVE KEY NAMES, PLACES, AND REPEATING WORDS.

W-  WRITE 3 – 5 SENTENCES WHICH SUMMARIZE WHAT YOU READ AND HOW IT APPLIES TO YOU.

WEEK FOUR ASSIGNMENT: Read NEH1:11-20 and answer these three questions:

1. What was Nehemiah’s strategy when he got to Jerusalem?

2. How did he motivate the people?

3. Explain how he faced opposition.

Until next week, happy reading!

As always,

Patricia

 

 

Take Me to the King!

What do you do when somebody sends you a text or calls with bad news? A few months ago I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband Willie when a text came from my sister: “I’ve got bad news. Call me when you get the chance.” Right away I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and my mind began to take different routes trying to figure out what the news might be. Had somebody been in an accident? Had somebody died? Was it a friend or relative? How was I going to handle it? Right away, I made a conscious decision to do something “highly spiritual.” I texted her back with this plan of action: “I’m at dinner. I’ll call you when I finish eating.”

Now I consider myself to be a woman of prayer, but my default mode was “have something to eat.” Last week we looked at a person named Nehemiah, a “cupbearer” for the king of Persia. His job was to taste everything to test for possible poisonous drinks or food. As you remember, he was a stranger in a foreign land.  One day some friends came with bad news about his hometown: “The survivors who are left from the captivity…are in great distress, the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned.” How do you think Nehemiah felt about his kinsfolk and home? Right, devastated! He, no doubt, remembered the good times when all was well. 

  Chapter One, verses 4 – 11 sum up the steps Nehemiah took when he heard bad news:

1. He cried and mourned for many days, fasting and praying before God. His crying had purpose.

2. He reminded God that He was a Covenant Keeper.

3. He asked God to listen and keep His eyes open.

4. He confessed his own sins and the sins of his people.

5. He reminded God about the importance of repentance and God’s response.

6. He asked for success and mercy from his captor.

What about us? I believe God establishes patterns that can bring about powerful answers to prayer. As we follow Nehemiah’s journey, remember to use the GROW Method of study.

G- God-Ask Him to open your eyes.

R- Read the assigned passage.

O- Observe key words (Names, Places, Repeating Words)

W- Write 3- 5 sentences to sum up what you read, the principle or rule, and your application.

WEEK THREE ASSIGNMENT: Read Nehemiah 2: 1 – 10 and answer these three questions.

1. Explain how Nehemiah approached the king?

2. What specific things did Nehemiah request?

3. What do you learn about approaching God?

MEMORY VERSE: Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus .”(NKJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your faithfulness in teaching me to seek you before I take action. Help me to release all my cares to you, knowing that you hold the world in your hands. I trust myself to your care. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Happy reading! As always,

Patricia

P.S.  A change: I’ll be posting on Mondays.

 

 

 

What’s in Your Cup Today?

Do you find yourself in a strange place with a strange group of people at a strange time? Are you spending your time begging God to change your circumstances rather than asking Him to show you why you are there? Have you considered the probability that you’ve been anointed and appointed for a specific assignment at this particular time in your specific place with your specific gifts and talents? Nehemiah, a character in the Old Testament, found himself in that exact situation. Who was Nehemiah? He was God’s chosen man in a specific place for a specific purpose.

Let’s take a closer look at this person. Like you and me, he was a real person with real emotions. No doubt, he had some “good days” and some “bad days.” Bad days? Yes, you know those times when you can’t make any sense out of what’s happening around you. Everything within you wants to sulk, to find a corner, sit down and stick your thumb in your mouth.

The truth of the matter is it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. I know. I’ve had many pity parties since I’ve been saved. Oh, I’m sorry if I forgot to invite you. Then again, you’ve probably had a few of your own. Nehemiah was a stranger in a foreign land and his hometown had been destroyed by a fierce enemy. Ever felt like you’ve been hijacked or “jacked up”? Then I invite you to go on a journey to discover how to stay focused when you know you have an assignment and all hell is breaking loose around you.

 WHAT DO WE KNOW FROM THE INTRODUCTION AND NEHEMIAH 1:1-3?

#1. He was the son of Hacaliah, whose name “means “the Lord afflicts; wait confidently.”

#2. He was in Shushan, the citadel, in the month of Chislev. Hmm…certainly wasn’t in his hometown, Jerusalem, but in  the Persian capital. We call that country Iran today.  Now that brother was in a strange land( and not by choice) in December, according to our calendar today. Brrr!

#3. He was the “cupbearer to the king.” Imagine that! He held the king’s cup. Poor thing? No, he held a high position. Then again, I can imagine him praying every day: “Lord, please don’t let there be any poison in this cup today.” If Nehemiah tasted the contents and died, at least the king would not be stupid enough to take a swallow.

# 4. He was a Jew. Guess I should have said this earlier, but he was one of God’s chosen people.

What about you and me? Sometimes we feel like we’re in a strange land, like God has forgotten us. But He hasn’t. Remember, He knows who we are, what He’s put in us and our assignment(s).

DID YOU MAKE ANY OTHER DISCOVERIES ABOUT THE MAN NEHEMIAH? SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

WEEK TWO ASSIGNMENT: READ NEHEMIAH 1: 1 -11 and write 3 – 5  sentences in your journal or notebook which explain the problem Nehemiah discovered and his immediate actions.

As always,

Patricia

Have you answered the two most important questions in life?

It’s been frequently said that every human being has a deep desire to have two questions answered: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Once those questions are answered, you develop a personal GPS which helps you in making decisions about the future. Many people struggle to know God’s will for their lives. Some feel like they’ve spent their entire lifetime in some dead-end job or that they’ve chosen the wrong major in college because they swallowed the American dream of acquiring the big house and the fancy car. What if you could know you were doing exactly what God intended for you? What if your circumstances didn’t meet your expectations but you discovered that you were chosen for a particular task because God, Our Creator, gave you everything you needed to get the job done?

Tough questions, right? Leaves a lot to think about. I’ve begun following an interesting character in the Bible, Nehemiah, to see how God chooses a specific person to fulfill a specific task during specific circumstances. I’ve asked God to help me become more disciplined in my thought life. If anybody had a big job to do, Nehemiah certainly fit the bill. I figured if an entire book was named after him, God must have had a tremendous assignment for him. And above all else, Nehemiah needed the ability to FOCUS. I understand that the same God who helped Nehemiah is the same God who helps me. Are you ready to join me on the journey?

I want to get inside Nehemiah’s head and understand what he faced as a man of God. I believe there are valuable lessons for WOMEN AND MEN to learn here. We’ll search for answers to FIVE BASIC QUESTIONS over the next few weeks :

1. Who was Nehemiah?

2. What was his assignment?

3. What challenges did he face?

4. How did he handle his challenges?

We’ll use a method I call GROW:

GOD FIRST- ASK FOR UNDERSTANDING

READ THE ASSIGNED VERSES

OBSERVE KEY WORDS -NAMES, PLACES, ANYTHING REPEATED OR THAT STANDS OUT

WRITE WHAT YOU LEARNED IN THREE TO FIVE SENTENCES (In a journal or notebook)

 

WEEK ONE ASSIGNMENT:  Read your Bible’s introduction to Nehemiah and  Chapter 1: 1 – 4. Follow the GROW METHOD.

DIGGING DEEPER (For those who desire a richer study): Do an online search of the name Nehemiah and add notes.

NEXT WEEK:  I’ll meet you back here and we’ll talk about our findings. I’ll tell you what I found and I hope each of you shares a point of interest in the comment section also.

As Always!

Patricia