Sunday Devotional: Nehemiah 2:17-18

“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”  And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.”  Nehemiah 2:17-18

Jerusalem had been destroyed, the people sent into exile.  Many years later, the Jewish people were able to begin to return to their homeland.  They slowly began to rebuild.  However, by the time of Nehemiah, there still wasn’t everything rebuilt.  The walls to the city still laid in ruin.  Nehemiah felt called by God to leave his job as the king’s cupbearer for a time and to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.

Nehemiah speaks to the people in Jerusalem, those that had returned to the homeland.  He rallies them to the cause of rebuilding the walls.  It would be tough work.  But God was with them.

There are times in our life when we need to rebuild.  In those times, we need to turn to God to provide the strength, the ability, the means in order to rebuild.  This week, let us be like the Israelites in saying “Let us rise up and build” and strengthen our hands for the good work we have been called to do.

Sunday Devotional: Hebrews 11

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews 11 is in many ways a record of faith.  The writer of Hebrews takes time throughout the chapter tracing back those in the Bible who lived by faith.  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and so on are mentioned throughout the chapter.  People who lived by faith.

That first verse of the chapter is an important one.  Those people who are listed afterwards are examples of what that first verse is talking about.  Some things I want to highlight are hope and faith.  It is important to have hope.  When circumstances are rough, when times are tough, when you are hurt and brought down, it is important to have hope.  We are able to have hope because of God.  God is always there and will never leave us or forsake us.  He will never hurt us.  He will never let us down.  He will never betray us.  People can let us down.  People can hurt us.  But God won’t let us down or hurt us.  He’s there to heal us.

Like the writer of Hebrews says, faith is the assurance of things hoped for.  By faith, we can follow Christ and serve Him.  We can trust Him that He wants what’s best for us and He will reveal what that is.  The writer gives example after example of those in the Bible who, like us, had hope and acted on it through faith.

Let me encourage you (and myself as well).  Don’t lose hope.  Don’t lose faith.  Keep persevering in the faith.  Keep following Jesus.  Be assured that faith and hope in Him is well founded.

Say Goodbye to the Bad Things

I am a fan of the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”.  I didn’t get into the show until a few season into the run when I was in seminary in Kansas City.  But I quickly got caught up and have watched every episode since then.  I’m sure you will get several posts about the show and about the character Ted Mosby.  When I see the character of Ted, I see some of myself in him.

Last Monday’s episode had a scene that was very poignant and stuck with me.  To set the scene, Ted and Lily (one of Ted’s best friends) are talking about a list that Ted has written up about all the things he wants to enjoy one last time before he leaves New York for Chicago.  I love how Lily responds:

“You wrote all these things to say goodbye to but so many of them are good things.  Why not say goodbye to the bad things?  Say goodbye to all the times you felt lost.  To all the times it was a no instead of a yes.  To all the scrapes and bruises.  To all the heartache.  Say goodbye to all the things you really want to do for the last time….The good things will always be here waiting for you.”

I wish I had video of this but the words still hit home.  Bad things will come.  But I plan on holding onto the good things wherever I go because I know that God has blessed me a lot even when the bad things are around.

Miley and The Importance of Thinking

Let me go on record by saying I did not watch the MTV Video Music Awards this year (by the way, I find it funny that MTV, which does not show music videos, would still have a Video Music Awards show).  I have not watched the replays.  I say this to say that the only thing I know about what happened at that event is because A) twitter blew up about it & B) so did the rest of the internet and TV.

Yes, I’m talking about Miley Cyrus’ “performance” (to put the term loosely) that night.  I think I can safely say that the majority of people thought unfavorably about it.  Let’s just call it what it was, it was horrible.  It was a train wreck.  It was every kind of analogy to bad you can throw out there.  There was no word that I heard after the fact saying that anyone liked it.

So on Tuesday, I saw that Miley was interviewed for the first time after the event.  One would hope that with all the negative feedback that maybe she would feel bad about what she did or how she acted.  Unfortunately, that would be not the case.  Miley in her interview said the following:  “We’re three days later and people are still talking about it. They’re overthinking it. You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me.”

When I saw this quote, my first immediate thought was “That is the problem.  You didn’t think.  If you had thought about it, you wouldn’t have done what you did.”  Unfortunately, this is the point where Miley is at now.  She doesn’t think about what she does, she just does it.  On top of that, the people around her let her do it.

I shared that quote with my friend Marty and he brought up a point as well.  He said “It seems to me that the problem is that her behavior doesn’t even cross her mind. It’s not even a blip on her radar,…you become calloused to sin.”. It’s not like Miley just woke up that morning and was like “I’m going to perform out there in a horrible manner.” She has been on this path for awhile now. She has gotten more provocative and risque until she’s at the point now where it’s just disgusting pretty much.

But you know what?  That’s how all of us can be when it comes to sin.  We can start down a path and before too long get to a point that we don’t even recognize where we are or how we got there.  One good thing (among many) as followers of Jesus is that we have the Holy Spirit with us.  He is there to console us when we are hurting but He is also there to convict us when sin is involved.  He also is there to warn us when temptation comes.  We also have fellow believers that we can turn to when we’re struggling and encourage one another to good works.

Unlike what Miley said, it is important to think.  It is important to think through your actions.  It matters.