Recently I have appreciated reading through the book of Nehemiah and studying the life of one of God’s great Old Testament leaders. As a leader he displayed courage and perseverance, even though he encountered hostile enemy’s who consistently attempted to destroy him and God’s purposes. To restore the wall around Jerusalem the labor force needed to be well organized, productive, and focused on the task and this they where! This demonstrated Nehemiah’s leadership style, vision and willingness to delegate responsibility. In today’s culture we would celebrate Nehemiah’s accomplishments and leadership style. Speaking engagements would be arranged-business schools would grant honorary doctorates-he may even be knighted!! All future leaders would have a desire to understand and study the strategies and tactics used, so that they could model his success.
However at the heart of Nehemiah’s leadership strategy is complete and total dependence on God. Nehemiah wept over the sins of his people and repented over the sins of his family. He had a clear recognition and concern for his calling. Throughout his circumstances he continually committed his way to the Lord by consistently praying. This is a wonderful example for us all to emulate. Some of the lessons we can learn from Nehemiah’s prayer life are:
- Prayer makes us wait upon the Lord for his timing and action (Neh. 1:11-21).
- Prayer focuses and clarifies our vision for God’s purposes (Neh. 1:4-10).
- Through the process of prayer our hearts become quiet and clear in direction (Neh. 1:11).
- Prayer activates our faith for decisive action (Neh. 2:4-5; 4:9).
I encourage you to become a leader who prays.
David was at the pinnacle of his royal rule. God had blessed everything David turned his hand to. Military success occurred in every battle, his family was blessed, other kings honored his rule by forming peace treaties with Israel. The Levitical priesthood established the nation as worshipers before Yahweh with David being one of the primary song-writers. He was an example to the entire nation as a man who worshiped and praised before the Lord. God also had promised further unconditional blessings for David’s house. In human terms David had it all. However, as so often happens when we are in a position of comfort and blessing idleness can set in. Boredom, which results in a lack of purpose and devotion to God can creep in and destroy our lives. David was lulled into compromising and committed adultery which also resulted in the murder of an innocent man. . He attempted to cover-up his sin and by doing so sinned further.
A faithful prophet sent by the Lord confronted David and David acknowledges that he has “sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13). The penalty for adultery and murder was death but God in his grace restored David. There where consequences for David’s sin, his own family would turn against him and four of his sons would die prematurely. However, God by his grace enabled David and Bathsheba to bear a son named Solomon. The Lord renamed Solomon – Jedidiah - meaning “beloved of the Lord”.
David poured out his heart in repentance and called out to God knowing that God’s love is steadfast and his mercy abundant. He knew that only God could forgive and create within him a clean heart. The same truth applies to us today. We have a loving and gracious God who is ready to forgive. No sin is beyond his forgiveness or grace. We may suffer the consequences of our sin, but God’s forgiveness grant’s us eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son. When we enter into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus we to are “beloved of the Lord”.
Throughout the story of the Bible we regularly encounter God’s promises either to his creation or his people. When God judged the earth and mankind through the flood God promised never to judge the earth again in that way. Often we look to the heavens and are reminded of this fact as we view the splendor of a rainbow. God in his grace set a sign in the sky as a reminder of this promise. Within the story of David, God again is shown as a promise keeping God.
David wanted to build God a house. Nevertheless, God promised to build David’s house. God instituted an unconditional covenant with David. The elements of the covenant included an everlasting throne an eternal house and an everlasting kingdom. The covenant is called eternal and is underpinned by God’s faithfulness. God made an oath with himself and because it is impossible for God to lie this oath is certain and unconditional.
However from this time forward there where repeated acts of disobedience on part of the nation. But God’s promises still stood, God is faithful -in fact- Christ the son of David came to offer the Davidic kingdom after generations of apostasy. God’s grace is super-abounding and his promises are true. When God’s word declares that it is “by grace you are saved through faith” believe it, because it is true. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, no hardship, no tribulation, no danger, no war, neither death or anything in creation can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God gives us wonderful promises and as he was faithful to David so he is faithful to us through the promises given through Christ Jesus.
David is described as a “man after God’s own heart”. As I have studied the life of David, I have noticed that one of the prominent characteristics of his attitude towards Saul’s household is total respect for the Lord’s anointed. On several occasions David is presented with the opportunity to kill his enemy, but instead he honoured God by respecting the position and authority given to Saul by the Lord. David would not raise his hand against Saul; he would not kill the Lord’s anointed.
David’s response to the news that Saul and his family were dead was astonishing,
“they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” (2 Sam. 1:12)
This lament gives a glimpse into the heart of David. He mourns, weeps and fasts for the loss of Saul – his enemy – and for Jonathan and the solders who lost their lives at Gilboa (1 Sam. 31). David shows no condescension or disrespect at Saul’s demise. Instead, he displays great emotion, love and honour. David’s leadership and values impact his men for they also mourned, wept and fasted.
This outpouring of emotion reveals a man who can truly forgive his enemies, one who rightly trusts in the Lord’s purposes and plans. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, to forgive and turn the other cheek. In your heart do you respond like David toward authorities that God has ordained? Do you allow God’s plans and purposes to direct and control your life? Spend time today praying for your enemies and ask the Lord to control your thoughts and emotions towards those who persecute you.
I often find that when I declare something publically concerning my faith, within a short period of time I am tested in relation to that statement. I am not alone in this predicament. I am sure we can all think of a situation where we have said something that publicises our faith and then we have to put our words into action.
This happened to David as he acted faithfully towards King Saul. Saul wanted to kill David, however, David knew that God would deal with Saul. David would not raise his hand against Saul even though he had the opportunity to do so (1 Sam. 24). Instead he appealed to Saul saying God should be their judge and avenger.
David was immediately put to the test. Would his actions affirm his words? David requested some food and provisions from Nabal (a rich farmer) for himself and his men. David’s army had cared for Nabal’s shepherds and because they where hungry and low on supplies they requested aid. Nabal met this request with disdain. David’s immediate response was to strap on his sword, seek vengeance and destroy Nabal and all his men.
However, the Lord used Abigail (Nabal’s wife) to teach David a valuable lesson. She says to David “When the Lord does for my lord all the good He promised and appoints you ruler over Israel, there will not be remorse or a troubled conscience for my lord because of needless bloodshed or my lord’s revenge” (1 Sam. 25:30–31 HCSB).
God used Abigail to reinforce His desire for David’s action to be consistent with his words. David was to trust fully in God’s ability to avenge any wrongdoings. David learnt this lesson and applied the truth that God will avenge. Nabal died 10 days later, when he was struck down by the Lord. Far too often we take things into our own hands instead of trusting in God’s justice and mercy. Let’s look to the Lord in all our conflicts and seek His will for our actions.
Throughout the 10 years that David was pursued by Saul, David’s character was refined by the hardships and adversities that he faced. He was treated as an outcast and was frequently on the run. He was not only despised by Saul but also betrayed by those he assisted. However, during these years the Lord was refining David’s heart. A transformation was taking place and he learnt to inquire of the Lord in all things. Gone were the tendencies to manipulate and lie as he discovered the reality of fully trusting in the Lord. His circumstances didn’t change immediately, but his faith and trust were strengthened.
As it was in David’s life, so it is in ours. We often face financial, relational, health and spiritual hardships. These issues can press in on us hard, and at times our first response is to manipulate or try to control and solve the problem. We easily forget to stop and commit our ways to the Lord. Even though God seems to be hidden and far removed from us during difficult times, he is right beside us.
David pens these wonderful words in Psalm 56:3-4:
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
David constantly sought God’s presence and guidance through prayer and meditation upon the words of God. He learnt that through hardships and adversity godly character was built, resulting in fears being dispelled.
Remember that times of adversity can help build your faith through perseverance. A heart of thankfulness will result when we thank God for the difficult times and the opportunity to rely completely on him. Thank God that Jesus suffered on the cross and counted us worthy to suffer for his name. Rejoice that God has allowed us to be counted worthy of his kingdom.
When you hear the word inheritance, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I ponder over the material possessions, jewellery, furniture and tools that are significant to my family. I think of the words of wisdom, the legacy and character of those family members that have gone before. In my library, I have a bible from a distant cousin who was a missionary in China in the 1920s. Within six months of arriving, he contracted a fatal illness. Of great worth to me was the hand written letters and study notes contained within his treasured bible.
This type of inheritance – though important – pales into insignificance when compared to the inheritance we receive as followers of Christ Jesus.
Our inheritance is a kingdom that cannot be shaken. It is an everlasting kingdom and one that endures throughout all generations (Ps. 145:13).
It is a kingdom that is both spiritual (within our hearts) and physical (with a King, subjects, territory, government and culture). The centre of this kingdom is God and the Lamb. The triune God of the universe. This kingdom will be diverse, as all peoples and nations will be represented.
As part of our inheritance we will reign and rule with Christ over his kingdom, the new heaven and the new earth. Christ is the sovereign ruler of the entire universe and we are co-heirs with Christ. We are sons and daughters of Christ and in a future day we will have the earth entrusted to us to rule and reign over.
Be encouraged in your faith, God has marvellous things in store for those who trust and obey his calling in their lives. He has a kingdom that we will inherit, a kingdom of peace, prosperity and immense glory.
From Nathan Potts – Pastor
When I mention the word “worship”, what comes to mind? It may be a picture of a pipe organ, a mass choir or the simple serenity of an archipelago voice. We all have different views and preferences about worship. At times we can be active in worship and at other times we can be passive. However, one constant, in any form of worship is the object to whom worship is given. Within the Christian faith the object of worship is the triune God of the universe.
Scripture reveals that within heaven, worship of the Lord our God and the Lamb who was slain – Jesus – is consistently occurring. Revelation 4:8 states that worship is unceasing, it never finishes, it is eternal. All creation in a future day will fall in worship to the Lord our God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:3). The heavenly hosts and the redeemed will all experience undistorted worship as reverence is rightfully given to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
David in Psalm 16:11 says:
“You make known to me the path of Life;
in your presence is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Heaven will not be a place of boredom. Joy and pleasure will be perfected in heaven. God grants deep satisfying eternal joy. Joy that is free from the power of corruption caused through sin. If we think heaven will be boring then our view of God’s character is flawed. God is the one who designs pleasure and joy and this will be perfected when we are finally in His presence. All we do and all we say will be an act of worship resulting in “fullness of joy”.
From Nathan Potts – Pastor
Randy Alcorn in his book titled Heaven makes a poignant observation saying that within Christianity we do not address or teach or consider heaven as a subject. As I thought about this statement I asked myself when was the last time I heard a sermon or received encouragement about our future eternal home. I concluded that it was a long time ago.
Why is this the case? Maybe as Christians we are too comfortable with our earthly home? Maybe our view of heaven is tainted and we consider the subject a bore? In Revelation we read that Satan slanders three things: God’s person, God’s people and God’s place – Heaven (Rev. 13:6). One of Satan’s weapons is to cloud our judgment and destroy our hope in the place that Jesus has prepared for us. However, God instructs us to set our minds on things above, not on things of, this earth (Col 3:1-4).
Therefore, what is the truth about our eternal home?
God and Christ both dwell in heaven. Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand interceding on our behalf (Heb. 7: 25). Jesus has won the victory over death and has sat down at the right hand of God, to rule and reign (Heb. 1:3).
Many fellow Christians are already there enjoying the splendour of being in God’s presence. Jesus tells his disciples that their names are recorded and written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Those who trust Christ also have their names written in the Book of Life (Phil. 4:3) assuring us that we have an inheritance waiting, a title deed in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). This inheritance is imperishable, undefiled and of pristine quality and character. Jesus has delivered us from the fear of death.
As a boy I always enjoyed looking to the heavens to contemplate the grandeur of space, as a Christian I need to look towards heaven and contemplate the magnificence of the inheritance waiting for me. “Hallelujah what a Savior.”
From Nathan Potts – Pastor
Our society is preoccupied with the afterlife. This may be a symptom of the forthcoming election and the uncertainty of the outcome. Somehow I think not!
Look in any bookstore and you will find a myriad of authors who claim to have been beyond the grave and back. Human beings often think about eternity, especially when a loved one passes from this life. People want to know what happens beyond the grave.
The Bible is not silent about the afterlife. God created human beings with an eternal characteristic, the soul. We have a terminal disease called mortality with a death rate of 100%. Unless our Lord returns soon we will all die and when we die our souls will be separated from our physical bodies and we will be ushered into eternity.
In Psalm 139:16 we read that our days are numbered and determined by our Lord. Job affirms that our months and days are appointed by God (Job 14:5). In the book of Hebrews it states “it is appointed unto man to die once”. Our mortality is affirmed but do you fear death?
We should not fear death for Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death. Paul asks “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). The only thing that takes away the fear and sting of death is a relationship with the one who has died on our behalf. If we don’t know Jesus we will fear death – however, trusting that Jesus grants us eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23) provides hope and security for our souls.
Heaven is a real physical place, a place of splendour and glory because it is God’s dwelling place. Jesus has promised to return and take us to this place, O what a day for those who believe in the promises of God.
From: Nathan Potts – Pastor