What Does It Mean to Stand?

One of my favorite songs by Donnie McClurkin, Stand, begins like this:

What do you do when you’ve done all you can

And it seems like it’s never enough?

And what do you say when your friends turn away

And you’re all alone, alone?

Tell me, what do you give when you’ve given your all

And it seems like you can’t make it through?

Well you just stand when there’s nothing left to do

You just stand, watch the Lord see you through

Yes, after you’ve done all you can, you just stand.

As I began to think about the 9th chapter of Nehemiah, I heard Stand so clearly. The Jews who had lived in a foreign land had returned to Jerusalem, their homeland, and had worked hard to rebuild the wall of the city. They read the Book of the Law of Moses and mourned when they realized how far they had come from keeping God’s commandments. Nehemiah encouraged them by saying,Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

After a time of rejoicing, the people gathered together for a time of prayer and fasting, confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers. They spent a quarter of the day reading the Book of the Law of the Lord and another quarter in confession and worship.

Then several dedicated men encouraged the people to STAND UP!  As I read verses 5 – 6, I saw THREE STEPS IN STANDING:

1. Humble yourself and make His name great- “Bless the name of the Lord your God forever and 

         ever!” 

2. Remember and Celebrate God’s past deeds- “You have performed Your words, for You are

righteous.” Most of Chapter 9 covers God’s mighty acts in the history of His people.

3. Remind God of His promises- “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome

God who keeps covenant (promise) and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seems small before

You.”

God is great and greatly to be praised. He delights in helping us. Like a mother hen gathering her chicks, He desires that we come to Him, realizing our need and draw strength from him. He is our peace, our comfort, our everlasting Father. Let us boldly acknowledge the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the same God who is there for us at every turn.

All the promises are “Yes and Amen in Christ!” He has called us to rest in Him. Do you find yourself struggling, distracted, frustrated in your circumstances? If you do, STAND!

Next week, read Chapter 10 and meet me at the “Water Gate.” Let’s continue to drink deeply!

As always,

Patricia

 

 

Our Time to Celebrate!

“Not now, Nicholas! Pop-Pop’s sleeping.” My grandsons, Nicholas and Christian, are early risers. That can be dangerous, considering they enjoy beating on anything from sun-up to sun-down. Before they go to bed, I remind them they cannot come out of their room until it’s light outside. The last time they spent the night Nicholas started drumming on his bedpost at 6:00 a.m. Ugh! Who needs an alarm clock? When he really wants me to join his party, he yells, “Dance, Mommo! Dance!”

That reminds me of a time of celebration in Nehemiah 8:13 – 18. The people of God brought out the Book of the Law of Moses and had Ezra, the scribe, read it. They realized how far from God they had wandered. Nehemiah told them not to sorrow but to rejoice, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Their celebration, The Feast of the Tabernacles,  lasted eight days. The tabernacles were booths or huts made of various tree branches. The people sat under the booths and rejoiced, remembering how Joshua and their ancestors had set up tents during their years of traveling to the Promised Land, conquering giants along the way.

Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come.  God desires that we count our blessings. He decrees a party, a time of celebration!

I want to share two memory verses to encourage you today:

The first is Psalm 27:5, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”

The second is Psalm 91:1-2,  “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust.”

Let’s join together and make Our God big! He is our Tabernacle! Let us remember, rejoice and be glad in Him! Are you with me?

For next week, read Nehemiah 9:1-8 and answer these questions as you study, using the GROW METHOD, G: God 1st-Pray; R: Read the passage; O: Observe key words and phrases; and W: Write your thoughts.

1. What happened on the 24th day?

2. How did they honor God?

Until next time, let us remember what God his done through Jesus Christ and celebrate His goodness!

As always,

Patricia

 

Have You Ever Heard of Water Gate?

1972. What a banner year for my husband and me. Why? That’s the year Willie and I got married. Something else happened a couple of weeks before our wedding, an event which brought down a powerful man in the Nation’s Capital. In an attempt to bug offices of the Democratic Party’s National Committee, five men broke into Watergate, a hotel in D.C. Their goal–to help President Nixon’s re-election campaign. A major investigation occurred and heads rolled. After a series of events, the president resigned in disgrace. It’s amazing how a name, originally carrying a positive meaning, changed into something so negative. There’s another Water Gate (different spelling) which has significance for you and me.

In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, we find God’s people gathered AS ONE in an open square in front of the Water Gate, a place which led down to a spring. They had recently returned from captivity and gathered for the reading of the Law of Moses. Under Babylonian rule, many had worshiped foreign gods, married foreign women and adapted various customs of their captors. Some had been born in captivity and had no idea who they were. Nehemiah enlisted the help of Ezra, a man skilled in studying the word, to read out loud to the people. When they heard the word, they realized how far they had fallen as a nation and wept bitterly. Nehemiah told the people not to mourn any longer. He said in Chapter 8, verse 10, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” All the people quieted down, set out to help others and celebrated. God’s grace overrode His judgment. That’s good news!

What about you and me? Maybe you’ve been bound by fear or doubt due to sickness or divorce or unfulfilled relationships or unemployment or completed financial ruin or wayward children. You name it. Perhaps you’re thinking there’s no way my circumstances will ever change. You feel alone. The good news is GOD IS WITH YOU. HE PROMISED NEVER TO LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU. Circumstances change but He does not. Are you thirsty? It’s time to bathe in the water of the Word–daily.

We are a part of the Body of Christ. We are our brother’s keeper. Let us reach out for help or to give help when we see others in need. Our turn may be just around the corner! No one need sorrow alone. Then let us remember Neh.8:10 again, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Jesus paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Let us remember the cross but not stop there. He rose on the third day! Hallelujah! We will trust in the name of the Lord!

Assignment: Read Neh. 8:13 – 18 and answer:

1. What was the discovery?

2. What did the people do?

Until next week, let’s grow together.

As always,

Patricia

 

 

Have You Ever Felt Forgotten?

 

Have you ever watched the TV shows Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are? Basically, both shows involve famous people who go on a search to discover more about their ancestors. They usually begin the search with a deep hunger to know more about someone in their father’s or mother’s bloodline. The journey of discovery often takes them back to faraway places.  About five years ago, I started my own search. I knew my grandmother came from Annapolis, but I wanted to know more about my grandfather, who came from Monroe, N.C. You see, I had traveled there with an older cousin Myrtle, my sister Bessie and my cousin Lillian when we were kids. We were thrilled to meet one particular household of cousins and had a great time, but after that trip, we never went back and soon lost touch. I’ve made myself content but occasionally wonder who I’d find if I ever went to Monroe again. Would anybody even remember me, my cousins or the visit?

In the book of Nehemiah, Chapter: 6- 70, we see another list of people, the first wave of exiles who returned to Jerusalem after spending years in a foreign country, Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar. God directed Nehemiah to register the people by genealogy ( family lineage). About the same time, Nehemiah found that earlier list. Forty-two thousand people had been listed. But one verse troubled me. In verse 61, one group had a serious problem: They could not identify their father’s house nor their bloodline. That was serious! No one could verify if they were Israelites. They were excluded, considered as outcasts, devoid of privileges. Their fate was in the hands of the priest, who had to cast lots to determine their destiny.

I can imagine how the undocumented ones felt: scared, lonely, alienated, like lost sheep, forgotten. Since studying this passage today, I’ve been hearing a familiar praise song by Israel. I may have mentioned it in a previous post: “I am not forgotten, never forsaken. He knows my name.” Often, during times of extreme temptation–sickness, joblessness, divorce, incarceration, bankruptcy, and the like, the devil wants us to think God has forgotten us. We may feel like undocumented aliens, in a foreign land, but we have to remind ourselves who we are, children of the Most High God! Trials will come, but God is Our Father and we are not forgotten!

Memory Verse: Romans 8:37- 38  “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

WEEK TWELVE ASSIGNMENT: Read Chapter 8:1-12 and use the GROW METHOD  to find your treasure. (G-God 1st; R-Read; O-Observe key words;and W-Write your thought). Answer these questions:

1. Who was Ezra and what did he do?

2. What advice did the leaders give the people?

Keep digging!

As always,
Patricia