1 Troubled Times
"But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble." Psalm 37:38
We are in troubled times. With the unemployment rate at peaks across our country, many are facing financial troubles. With each company that closes its doors, the rippled effect touches so many of our lives. In addition to the financial troubles, we have family and friends burdened with physical pain and suffering. Where can we find help in these times of trouble? Like David, we can turn to the Lord God of our salvation and find "strength in the time of trouble". Look at verses 3-7 of this same chapter. "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:..." Do you see the pattern? Trust in the Lord, delight thyself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, and rest in the Lord. Then verse 34 tells us to "Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land:..." Follow these steps and find strength from the Lord in the time of trouble. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." (Psalm 37:24-25)
2 In The Time Of Trouble He Shall Hide Me
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?... For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." Psalm 27:1 & 5
We are beginning a new theme searching the scriptures for help "In Time Of Trouble". In Psalm 37 we found comforting promises, "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD... Rest in the LORD,... Wait on the LORD..." We can't do any of these things on our own. The secret is in verse 39, "But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble." and in our verses above, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" We can't find strength from the Lord until we fully trust in His salvation. We must first turn to God for salvation before we can pray to Him for help through our daily troubles. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (John 3:7) Again in John 3:16 we read those familiar words, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus left His home in heaven, and came to this old sinful world to die on the cruel cross and pay for our sin. If you want help for your troubled life, you can begin by finding help for your troubled soul. Admit that you are a lost sinner, Believe that Jesus came to give His life to pay for your sin and Confess. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved...For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9 & 13)
3 The Beginning Of Troubled Times
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Genesis 3:6-9
We can go all the way back to the first man and woman and find the beginning of troubled times for mankind. God put Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden where they had all their physical needs met. They walked and talked with God for all their spiritual needs. But, they disobeyed God's command and ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Since that day, every person has been born under the curse of sin. Sin was the beginning of man's troubles and sin still causes trouble today. God called to Adam and Eve in the garden and said, "Where art thou?" Is He calling to you today? You may be lost, searching for help in your life. He can give you forgiveness of your sin so that you can find peace in your soul. You may be one of His children, with sin buried deep in your heart. Is your pride, or bitterness causing you to want to hide from God's presence? Is He calling "Where art thou?" to you today? Jesus calls, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock? if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) Open the door of your heart with confession, and find peace through the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 A Nation In Trouble
"Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!" Jeremiah 8:14-15
We saw yesterday how sin can bring trouble in an individual's life, so it is not hard to understand how sin can bring trouble on a nation. I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah and page after page, chapter after chapter, tells of the trouble God would bring on the children of Israel and Judah. God gave Jeremiah the dreadful message of the coming invasion of Babylon. "And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:" (Jeremiah 16:10-12) Has our nation also followed the same path as God's chosen people? We need to turn back to the God who founded this country. Jeremiah was a prophet to the children of Israel, but we can learn from the sign at the potter's house. "Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter: saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. (Jeremiah 18:3-8) God has blessed our nation. We need to turn back to God, as a whole, and serve Him.
5 A Troubled World
"O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD." Jeremiah 22:29
We looked at the beginning of trouble for woman and man. We talked about a troubled nation. This morning as I was reading in Jeremiah, God showed me a troubled world. I can hear the desperation in Jeremiah's voice as he pleaded, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD." This world that God created, had turned away to false gods. God's chosen people had strayed so far from God they offered their own children as burnt sacrifices to Baal. (Jeremiah 19:5) God showed Jeremiah the sin of the people and gave him the message of judgment. Babylon destroyed Jerusalem, just as God had said. Jeremiah was heartbroken. In the book of Lamentations (1:16) he cries, "For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me:..." Jeremiah wept. Today we live in a troubled world. You don't have to listen to the news very long, or read very far into the newspaper to see the terrible, sinful condition of the world. How long has it been since you wept for lost souls? How many times have you prayed for those in trouble? Don't turn your eyes away from the troubles of the world, but let the tears of love and concern fall at the Lord's feet and pour out your heart in prayer for a troubled world.
6 When People Don't Hear
"Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house; and said to all the people, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words. Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD." Jeremiah 19:14-15 & 20:1-2
God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn of His judgment on that wicked city. Jonah ran from God and did not go until he spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale. God sent Jeremiah to warn His own people of the coming judgment, and Jeremiah spoke all that God told him to speak. But, the children of Israel and Judah did not listen. Jeremiah was put in stocks for proclaiming God's message. Jeremiah preached and the people did not believe. "O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name..." (Jeremiah 20:7-9) Jeremiah told God he would just stop warning the people, because they didn't believe him. But look at the next words, "...But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." (Jeremiah 20:9) Jeremiah had to keep on giving out the message. Many times people don't believe us when we try to witness to them. They may mock us, or they may bring us harm. But, we need to keep on being a voice for the Lord. Keep on telling the world about God and our wonderful Savior. Don't give up on people, and don't give up on God.
7 Why Are You Troubled?
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled?..." Luke 24:36-38
Jesus asked His disciples, "Why are ye troubled?" Are you troubled? So many people are troubled over the possible pandemic of swine flu. As the school year ends students are stressing over final exams and end of the year projects and papers. For those graduating, stepping out into life can be troubling. With the high unemployment rate, young and old alike are troubled over trying to find jobs. Take your cares and burdens to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to stand with you and give you peace that only He can give. Let's look at some of the comforting words of our Lord. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."(John 14:1-3) And in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Let the Lord help you carry your burdens.
8 Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." John 14:1
Going into the Easter season, we looked at the words of Jesus. Let's look again to these comforting words to troubled hearts.
There are many things today that trouble our lives. The newspaper and television news keep us informed of all the problems and hatred in our world today. We face disease, sickness, and death in our families and among our friends. But Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled". A belief in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ can be comforting in our troubled world. In this same chapter Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14:16-18) When we trust in the Lord for our salvation, He gives us another Comforter, The Holy Spirit. He lives in our hearts and guides us in our daily walk.
9 A Very Present Help In Trouble
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
As a parent, I always wanted to be there when my children needed me. As they began to grow, and go off to school I knew that there would be times in their lives when I would not be there to help them. If my daughter fell on the play ground, or my son was bullied by another child, I was not there to give them the instant help they needed. All I could do was keep them in my prayers day and night, and trust in the Lord to be there with them. The Psalmist says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." God is our refuge and hiding place. In Psalm 32:7 we also read, "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." God is also our strength, as we read in Psalm 37:39, "But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble." These two points are great, but the part that brings them closer to us is the last phrase, "...a very present help in trouble." God is "very present" in my life. As I wake up each morning I thank Him for bringing me through another night and blessing me with another day, and I pray for strength. With this constant privilege of prayer I am reminded that He is "very present" in my life, not only in the times of trouble, but every minute of every hour of every day.
10 A Help Forevermore
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber...The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and for evermore." Psalm 121:1-3 & 8
Yesterday we read that the Lord is "a very present help in trouble". It is comforting to know that if trouble comes today, I can find help in the Lord. In Psalm 121, I see that I can lift up my eyes and look up to heaven to find help for my soul. God will never be surprised or confused by the trouble in my life, because he "made heaven and earth" and everything is in His control. If trouble comes in the night, I don't have to wake Him up, for He does not sleep. In the last verse of this Psalm we also see that God is a help to us forevermore. I like the way the Psalmist wrote this last verse. "The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and for evermore." I don't have to worry about my future. God has been with me every step of my past and He walks with me today, and I am sure that He will be with me forevermore.
11 God's Message To Asa
"And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Eded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them." II Chronicles 15:1-4
Mike was reading this morning and God showed him this message to Asa, which can help us today. First of all, God told Asa, "The LORD is with you, while ye be with him;" If we want someone to be close to us, we get close to them. In the same way, if we want the Lord to be close to us, we need to get close to Him. We can do this by reading God's Word and prayer. The next part of the message says, "...and if ye seek him, he will be found of you:..." In Matthew 7:7-8 we read these familiar Words of Jesus, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Again in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Jesus does not hide from us in a childlike game of hide and seek. If we seek Him, He has promised to be there for us. Last of all, we see the sad message to King Asa, "...but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you." There are many people today who say they don't want anything to do with Christ. Well, unless they turn from their pride and look toward God, they will get what they want. Hell will be full of people who did not want God. We need to learn from the example of the Children of Israel. When they followed God, He blessed them. When they forsook the Lord, they experienced great trouble. When they turned back to God in their trouble and sought the Lord, "He was found of them." Don't wait until you find yourself in the middle of trouble to seek the Lord. Walk and talk with God daily. "The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you."
12 The Opposing Forces Of The Foes
"Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem." Ezra 4:1-6
When you start building a work for the Lord, you can be sure that Satan will rise against you. If he can't get you from without, he will try to get you from within. This was the first tactic of the enemies to the children of Israel. They tried to join forces with them under the guise of helping them. The leaders of the Israelites were wise to their ploy and refused to let them help build the temple. It is sad to say, but there are some in our churches today who hinder the work of the Lord. They join in the church services, but instead of building up the church, they are tearing it down. They weaken the true members who are working for the Lord with their words and deeds. Paul warned Timothy of some of these evil devices saying, "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." (I Timothy 5:13) Some people trouble those that are working by continually giving counsel against them. There are a few people in this world who are never satisfied with anything that is done. They don't want to do the work themselves, but they find something to complain about with each new project. In some cases the work is hindered by force. "Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia." (Ezra 4:23 & 24) The enemy will stop at nothing to frustrate and hinder the building of God's house. We all need to work together in our churches and strengthen the work of the Lord.
13 Encouragement From A Leader
"Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." Nehemiah 2:17 & 18
A reference in my Scofield Bible states that the book of Nehemiah takes place 14 years after Ezra returned to Jerusalem. The people built the altar, they built the temple, then they stopped building. They had opposition in building the temple, so maybe they thought the opposing forces would be too strong against them. It is hard to fight a continual battle to do what's right. When the things we do are challenged, it gets harder to keep standing up for good. Maybe they had gotten used to how things looked and they were able to overlook the ruins. Our hearts gradually become hardened to sin and we lose sight of God's perfect will for us. It could be that they got tired of working and just decided to sit back and take it easy. This reminds me of the verse, Zephaniah 1:12, "And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees..." When we are first saved we have a zeal to work for the Lord, but after a while we lose that "first love" and sit back and take it easy. The work of God must go on. There is no time to quit. It is sad to say, but maybe they just didn't care anymore. They may have lost their hope. Don't give up on the Lord's work. Notice how Nehemiah encourages the people. "Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me..." He bragged on the goodness of God. "...as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me." He assured them that the king was also on their side. They needed a leader, who was zealous for the things of God, to lift their spirits and pull them all together to build the wall. "And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work." I can see them filled with excitement as they burst out, "Let us rise up and build." We need to encourage one another to keep on keeping on. If you are still breathing, the Lord isn't finished with you yet. Don't get discouraged when the way gets tough, just keep building on to the work of the Lord.
14 The Ridicule Of The Enemies
"When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel." Nehemiah 2:10
We begin our verses today with Sanballat and Tobiah. When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to repair the walls these two men got mad. We see them mentioned again in verses 19 & 20. "But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem." Notice in these verses that now these two have become a trio with the addition of Geshem. They tried laughing at them in an attempt to discourage the children of Israel. When we try to build a work for the Lord, the world will often laugh at us. When we witness for Him, there will be those who laugh at us, but don't let that discourage you because in Matthew 9:24 we read how the people laughed at Jesus. "He said unto them, Give place; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn." Back to Nehemiah, when they saw that their mockery did not stop the Jews, they despised them. In chapter 3 the work began and we see these men again in chapter 4. "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Nehemiah 4:1-3) Their mockery continues and now they have an audience of their brethren and the Samarian army. Nehemiah prayed and the people kept on working. "Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work." (Nehemiah 4:4-6) When we get "a mind to work" we won't let a little ridicule stop us. Let us continue, "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." (Nehemiah 4:7-9) The list of enemies grew, but still the work continued. Don't let the ridicule of others stop you from doing the Lord's work. Keep on working, and keep on praying, and let God do a work in you.
15 Great And Mighty Things
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3
A short while ago I started reading through the book of Jeremiah and God began to show me all the troubles of Israel as they went into captivity. This week for our devotional reading I have been looking at the troubles they faced when they went back to Jerusalem, in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. God has burdened my heart for those around us facing troubles today. This morning as I continued my reading in Jeremiah, God spoke to me with an amazing truth. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." (Jeremiah 33:3) There, among all the sorrows of Jeremiah, God speaks. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Here, today, in my life, God speaks, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." I kept that verse close to my heart all day and as we finished up our week of Revival at church God showed us great and mighty things, which we knew not. We met to worship our Lord and give praise to Him, and He blessed us with His amazing love. Call unto the Lord. Look to God for the answers to your troubles. Trust in Him and look for "great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
Happy Mother's Day
16 A Mother's Joy
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." III John 3
I want to take a break from our "Troubled Times" devotions to wish "Happy Mother's Day" to all mothers. God blessed me with a Christian mother who brought me up in church and I count it a priviledge to go to church together as we share so many of God's blessings on our lives. I am also thankful that my husband was brought up in a Christian home full of God's love. In the year 1980 God gave us our first son, and I learned what being a mother really meant. I experienced love and joy with each new milestone in watching my children grow. I learned patience, and even heartache as troubles touched their small lives. I felt truly blessed when God saved each one. I felt the sorrow of separation each time one of them grew old enough to move on to a new life and family of his own. And now, I feel the grandeur of being a grandmother of three grandchildren. God has been so good to me through the years and I can look back on my life feeling so unworthy of His greatest blessings. There are so many feelings that come with being a mother, and I could never explain them all. But I can say with the Apostle John, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (III John 3) The greatest joy comes from knowing that they are following God and walking in the straight and narrow path that leads to heaven. Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. May God give you souls for your labor of love. Our children are the only things we have on earth that we can take to heaven with us.
17 More Opposition But The Work Goes On
“And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease... And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me." Nehemiah 4:10-11 & 16-18
We talked last week about how the enemies laughed at the people building the wall. Tobiah said, "Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Nehemiah 4:3) When they saw that their laughter had not stopped the work, they resorted to force. They planned to kill the people as they worked on the wall, so all the workers kept their weapons by their side. They also had the trumpeter ready to sound an alarm if the enemy attacked. Many of us may face ridicule from unbelievers when we take a stand for the Lord. A few have also faced danger for their stand for Christ. I think the message for us today is that we will have opposition from the world when we do the Lord's work. These verses also show us that we don't need to quit. We need to help protect each other and keep a watchful eye for the enemies. Don't give up. Just keep trusting the Lord and keep on working for Him.
18 Trouble Within The Walls
"And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.” Nehemiah 5:1-6
The Jews had been carried away into captivity to be servants to the Babylonians. A remnant had returned to Jerusalem to build the altar, the temple, and now the walls about the city. They had overcome many obstacles and were making progress on the wall. They were spending all their time building on the wall, and had spent all the money they had on food. Many had mortgaged their homes to be able to get enough corn to eat. They left a land of bondage, and had become servants to their own brethren just to be able to eat. Nehemiah became angry when he learned that the rulers and rich Jews were taking advantage of the people. "Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen: and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer... Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them. Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them;..." (Nehemiah 5:7-8 & 11-12) I like the way Nehemiah said, "Then I consulted with myself..." I always think about this verse when I catch myself talking to myself. It must be ok, because that is what Nehemiah did. I can see him walking around in small circles as he muttered their words over in his mind and tried to decide what to do. The rulers were taking all that these poor Jews had just to give them corn, and they were charging interest. I am a firm believer that God wants us to give to those in need. I don't "do yard sales" because I feel that if God gives me more than I need, I should give it to someone who can use it. It blesses me to be able to pass things along to someone else who can make good use of items that I no longer need. We have a Mission Project with our youth at church to send money to Nigeria to help feed, clothe, and school the children there. We have been blessed and God has provided all our needs and many of our wants. We need to pass His blessings along to those who are less fortunate. I think that if you will pray about it and "consult with yourself" God will show you how you can help others in need.
19 Prayer For Strength
"Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner... For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." Nehemiah 6:1-4 & 9
I am sure that Nehemiah and the Jews who worked on the wall were getting discouraged by Sanballat and Tobiah by this time. The more that they progressed on the wall, the more of a challenge they faced from the opposition. Notice the prayer of Nehemiah, "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." When you don't think you can go on any farther, remember this simple prayer. When I was younger, I used to like to push mow the yard. I enjoy being outside, and it gave me some exercise. As I get older, I can't mow as long as I could before, so I mow off sections and it takes me longer to do the yard. Last weekend I mowed off a section that was bigger than usual and I realized that I was going to have a hard time finishing that part. When it seemed like my energy was about gone, I prayed that God would give me strength to go a few more rounds. After about ten minutes, I thanked God for helping me, and prayed that He would give me strength to go another ten minutes. With His help, I was able to finish the part I had begun. As I thought about that I realized that I should pray often for God to "strengthen my hands." David said, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?... Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalm 27:1 & 14) Have your adversaries tried to beat you down? Has your strength failed? Trust in the Lord and pray the simple prayer of Nehemiah, "Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."
20 Will They Revive These Stones?
"But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?" Nehemiah 4:1-2
We had revival at our church last week and Preacher Charles Mustian brought a very good message from these verses one night. Just as the question was asked here in the book of Nehemiah, "...will they revive the stones...?", we can look at ourselves through the Holy Spirit and ask if we can be revived. The preacher brought out three points about these stones, that we can compare with our lives. First, all the stones had been through the fire. "...will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?" Have you been through fiery trials in your life that have left you down and out? The Apostle Peter tells us, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (I Peter 4:12-13) We all go through fiery trials in our lives. Secondly, all the stones had a fall. They were in the heaps of the rubbish. Sometimes we fall. We may fall into temptation or fall into discouragement. But even if we fall, we don't have to stay in the rubbish. Last of all, they had all been forsaken. Many times we feel like our family or friends have forsaken us, and let us down. But Christ will never forsake us. In Hebrews 13:5 we read, ",,,for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Whatever troubles have got you down, whether you have been through fiery trials, cast down, or forsaken, let the Lord revive you. Paul said, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (II Corinthians 4:8-10) Pray for God to "revive the stones".
21 "Thou Art My Hiding Place"
"Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." Psalm 32:7
Our Pastor, Jeff Woods, preached from Nahum 1:7, "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." He also read, "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." (Psalm 27:5) Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." And Psalm 50:15, "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." As I woke up the next morning I had been dreaming that I was looking for someone. I looked through the crowds of people, but could not find my friend. I continued to look and finally saw her sitting next to a larger person on a bench. God seemed to speak to me through that dream, with the verses still in my mind, "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me..." I could not find my friend because she was sitting next to someone bigger than she. God showed me with this simple truth that He is bigger than any friend or foe I have. The closer I sit next to my Lord, the harder it will be for trouble to find me. He is bigger than all my problems. The closer I walk with Him, the more I will feel His presence and help in the times of trouble. When I played hide and seek as a child I would often stand up next to a tree. I could hide quite well if I found a tree that was bigger than me. I knew that the closer I stood against the tree, the better I would be hidden. The Psalmist said, "Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." Do you ever wish you could hide from your trouble? May I suggest that you get up real close to God? Once you feel His presence, you can sing those songs of deliverance and glorify Him.
22 Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Many Christians know this verse in their mind, but I think they forget it in their heart. When troubles come into our lives, we wonder what good can come out of it. This verse does not say that all trouble is good, but it does say that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Do you love God? Are you a child of God, born again through the precious blood of Jesus? Everything in our lives works together according to God's purpose. Let's look at the following verses. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:29-32) Those are some powerful words. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" When trouble comes into your life, try to remember those words. God gave us the ultimate gift when He gave His only Son to die so that we might live. Those thoughts can bring hope even in the darkest nights of our lives.
23 We have a lily in our valley…
“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Song of Solomon 2:1
Have you been in the valley of discouragement? In Numbers 21:3 the Israelites had victory over the Canaanites, but the very next verse says, “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” Even the great prophet Elijah sat down under a juniper tree in discouragement after his victory over the prophets of Baal. (I Kings 19:4) We get discouraged because of the way. Maybe you are in the valley of decision. If so, you are not alone. “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14) And we can’t forget about Solomon, the wisest man and king over Israel in the valley of despair. “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:20) Joshua 7 tells of the valley of disobedience and defeat. Or, you may be going through a valley of dry bones. The LORD carried Ezekiel to a valley of bones and “they were very dry.” (Ezekiel 37:2) Do you find yourself in one of these valleys? David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Yes, we go through these valleys. But we have a Lily in our valley. He comforts us, He protects us, and He provides for us. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27) If you are in a valley, look around for the lily.
24 We have an adversary…
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…” I Peter 5:8 & 9
We can go to church on Sunday and have a glorious service and wonderful fellowship with our Christian family… only to wake up on Monday morning stressed under the attack of the devil. He is our adversary. We need to expect his powerful attacks when we are doing a work for our Lord. The 10th chapter of Daniel tells us of a vision of Daniel. “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen… and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire… and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent… Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me;…” The angel fought against the devil three weeks when trying to deliver his message to Daniel. After delivering the message He told Daniel, “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea be strong.” That is the message I want to give you today. When you face tribulation and temptation from the devil, “Be strong, yea be strong.” Pray with David, “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.” (Psalm 25:2)
25 We have armor…
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
Yes, we have an adversary… but, we also have the armor of God. We need the armor of God “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:12-17) God has given us armor, not only defensive armor, but the Word of God as our offensive armor. Take a stand… with the Word of God.
26 We have a Comforter…
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16&17
When we face pain and sadness, it helps for someone to comfort us. Jesus knew his disciples would have great sadness in His suffering and death on the cross. I think He was trying to prepare them. Jesus spoke these words at the last Passover with his disciples, after Judas had gone out. He speaks of “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost…” in verse 26. Chapter 15:26 begins, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father…” And once again in John 16:7 He says plainly, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Four times Christ told the disciples He would send the Comforter to them. The disciples did not understand how the Comforter would manifest unto them and not the world. (John 14:22) Just as the world cannot understand today. But we understand because we can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us. We can have inner peace when trouble comes. We can have joy in the midst of tribulation. We can find comfort in our times of sorrow. We have all this and more… with our Comforter.
27 Stand Still
"And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Exodus 14:13-14
Preacher Jeff Woods used this chapter in his sermon Wednesday night and it goes along with one of the verses I wanted to use as we finish our theme on, "In Times Of Trouble". The children of Israel had fled from their bondage in Egypt and the Egyptian army pursued. As the children of Israel stood with the Red Sea ahead of them and the army behind them, they cried to Moses. I like those words of Moses, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD,..." Many times in our lives we flee the enemy and come to a point where we can go no further. In those times, we need to "stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD". This verse goes right along with the verse I planned to use in Isaiah 40:31. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Sometimes, even in the midst of trouble, we need to "stand still" and "wait upon the LORD".
28 Cast All Your Care Upon Him
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7
I often find myself singing that great old song, "Are you weary? Are you heavy hearted? Tell it to Jesus, Tell it to Jesus... You have no other, such a friend or brother. Tell it to Jesus alone." Are you weary? I am weary. Are you heavy hearted? I am heavy hearted, loaded down with the cares of daily living. I am weary and tired. I can share my problems with my family and friends, but they can't always ease my burdens. They may not feel my pain, or understand my sorrow. But there is one that I can go to, my Lord and Savior. He cared so much for me He was willing to die a cruel, painful death so that I could have everlasting life. If we stop and consider His amazing grace, and loving mercy, we would once again remember how much He loves us. The cares of this world would grow smaller, in comparison to the great love of our dear Savior. It is such a blessing to know that we can find comfort in the Words of our Lord. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Don't let fear and anxiety overcome your soul. Tell it to Jesus. Don't let troubles and trials cause you to sink in deep depression. Tell it to Jesus. When you feel that no one else cares, remember that Jesus cares. He can lift you up. The 23rd Psalm is a wonderful picture of how our Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."