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Not only is opposition to the rebuild coming from the enemy outside the city, but also within God’s people inside the city. In Jerusalem, greedy leaders became loan sharks, piling interests onto loans given to their poorer neighbours, breaking God’s law. The poor, unable to pay back the loans, had to sell their lands as collateral, or had they no l…
 
Proximity doesn’t always equal intimacy; Judea and Samaria were neighbours but always at odds with one another. When Sanballat, king of Samaria, sees the Israelites rebuilding the temple, he opposes them by questioning their strength, motives, capacity, vision, and ability. The devil doesn’t antagonise God’s people with thunder, but by questioning …
 
Four months Nehemiah prays for a breakthrough, and then with the king’s approval, he returns to Jerusalem to help them rise up and rebuild the temple. Jerusalem was once the city of God, but it had become the city of fools. Sometimes we can become so accustomed with brokenness, we forget it exists. In order to do something about brokenness, we have…
 
Nehemiah could have minimised the tragedy of the destruction of his home city, or felt apathy toward it. He is living in Susa, the most liveable city of Persia, and has influence as the loyal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I. Yet, Nehemiah wept and prayed. First, he adores God and praises his glory, realising that he cannot do anything without God. S…
 
Light cannot have fellowship with darkness; A believer cannot marry a non-believer. For those already in relationships with unbelievers, however, the Bible says to persevere so that your holiness might stir the heart of the other. Yet, cases of non-believers coming to faith because of a faithful significant other are few and far between. If you are…
 
The rebuild requires complete devotion to God’s word, that we would obey and live his word, trusting the hand of God’s grace. In a culture where the Bible is challenged, and in a world that pulls and pushes us away from God, we need to take time to pray that God will help us believe in the inspiration of scripture by faith. The Bible is not merely …
 
Seduction, suffering, and slander of God’s people left the temple unbuilt so God’s prophets, Zechariah and Haggai, called the people out on their inaction. Haggai rebuked God’s people for prioritising building their own houses while God’s house remained in ruins. Rebuilding the temple was necessary to rebuild relationship with God. We cannot waltz …
 
God’s people are prone to experience seduction, suffering, and slander. The world seduces us with compromise — that if we adapt our beliefs to fit the culture around us we would be supported.Christians are judged more by their reactions than their actions. We don’t plan to be seduced, nor do we plan to react badly to displeasing situations. Yet, ne…
 
Church is not a consumeristic product or spectator sport, it is a commitment that calls for investment from all hands on deck. Rebuilding the church requires an altar of our God, obedience to God’s word, all hands on deck, and is marked by tears and joy. The early starts of the rebuild centred on repentance and desire for God’s word as Israel remem…
 
In exile, Israel wept. They were spiritually distant, unsure of God’s promises, and caught in complete darkness. These last few years of lockdowns have caused frustration and loss, and we are now coming out of the rubble and must work together to rebuild the house of the lord. The rebuild begins with God, who never gives up, but promises to rescue …
 
The tomb is empty: if it weren’t, all the Romans and Pharisees needed to do was go to the tomb and show Jesus’ body to his disciples. Yet, his body was never found. Furthermore, women, who in the first-century were not valid witnesses, were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. One of the women was Mary, a former prostitute, and when she bows…
 
How should we feel about the death of Christ? We ought to remember that it was a death undeserved in the place of a life undeserved, Barabbas. Like Barabbas, we have all committed treason against the king of the universe through rebelling against him through our sin, making a mess of the life he’s given us. Like Barabbas, we are responsible for the…
 
Pride is the innate desire of our hearts to be entitled to more than what we have. Pride takes, humility gives. We are to daily clothe ourselves with humility by casting our anxieties onto Christ and being watchful for the devouring devil by staying sober-minded.God is supreme, all-knowing, and all-powerful: We are not. May we humble ourselves ther…
 
Suffering refines true faith and removes the dross of false faith. Opposition to Jesus and friction with the world forces us to decide where we stand and counterintuitively can be a source of joy as we share in Christ's sufferings.When bad stuff happens, respond with good. Whatever people say about us, do what God thinks is right. We live in light …
 
As Christians, living for God in these last days, we must be alert yet not alarmed with the war of ideas between the world and the Christian life. This is not our home, but still find yourself some travel companions: the church, the only place where pursuing godliness is celebrated.Don’t be surprised by suffering or by antagonism to the Christian l…
 
If you want to live an authentic Christian life, speak the truth, pursue peace, and let God reign supreme in every sphere of your life. By this we “honour Christ as holy” and become zealous for doing good.When Jesus calls us to follow him, he calls us to a life abounding in truth and full of grace. Even in suffering and hostile environments, we are…
 
Marriage is a live drama of Christ and the church. If we are to live righteously in the home, we must partner together — husband and wife — to live humbly and understand each other. Christ loved the church not by dominating her, or belittling her, but by washing her feet and sacrificing himself.When the Bible says that wives should submit to their …
 
We are wired to resist pain, yet as Christians we are called to be like Jesus even when it hurts. Though God is opposed to slavery, he plays the long game and calls his people to fight injustice not with injustice but with humility and grace. When we’re treated like slaves in the workplace, suffering for doing what is right, we are to be encouraged…
 
While we live as elect exiles, we can’t drink from the spring of living water while at the same time poisoning it with the sin of the flesh. Our right thinking ought to shape our right living. If we are in Christ, we will abstain from sin, pursue a life of beauty, and honour all — even government.Living in what was the world’s most locked down city…
 
Jesus, as the chief cornerstone, is infinitely precious. The chief cornerstone was the largest and most expensive stone used in building. It had to be perfectly cut, and it reminded the other builders who began the work. Jesus must be the foundation of life, for when we believe in him, the cornerstone will not be put to shame. The world may shut yo…
 
The Bible is more than the best selling book of all time, it is the living word of God that is life-giving, lasting, and maturing. Thus, we obey the Bible by believing it, and being born again. Our rebirth is not something we gain ourselves, but something that God alone can give you through the life-giving and life-restoring word of God which does …
 
How do we remain faithful to Jesus in a post-Christian secularist age? By understanding that we are exiles sojourning on earth as temporary residents in a foreign place, and our home is in heaven. Although the world will try to tell us that this life is all there is, God has placed eternity in our hearts and we will find that nothing else will sati…
 
The Great Commission is global, for all nations, because in Christ we are all one. We as the global body of Christ exist to know Jesus and out of the overflow of our knowledge of him to make him known. Instead of building walls, Christians should be building bridges. May we recognise the need for the gospel in our city, sharing the hope of the good…
 
Everyone is a disciple to something that influences us, and is part of our environment. Who are you a disciple of?A disciple of Jesus is someone who loves, trusts, obeys, and is becoming more like Jesus.There is nodiscipleship without community. As part of the body, we are to encourage one another using the gifts God has given us. This is more than…
 
Baptism is a symbol of our engagement to Jesus, and is open to every believer. Faith is about word and action. The Great Comission instructs us to be baptizing and teaching the faith. It is amazing to see what God can do when we meet together and read through the Bible. It is not complicated, and could be as simple as meeting up with someone over c…
 
To understand Christ’s authority, look at the cross. His authority is self-sacrificial and humble, giving rest to the weary. He has come to give us eternal life and rest to the weary, freedom from sin, and Satan, and death. Instead of living our own truth and submitting to our own authority, let us fall down and submit to the kingship of Jesus, who…
 
The first Christmas is historical fact. Some of the first witnesses of Jesus’ birth were pagan magicians, shunned characters that a religious Jew would not have put into their story if it weren’t true. The first Christmas, though predicted by prophets, was still unexpected. He was born in a poor town, slept in a manger, hung out with tax collectors…
 
As Josiah dusts off the book of the law, he realises that Israel has been at war with God. Showing true repentance, Josiah tears his clothes and made a covenant with God, steering an entire nation away from idolatry and back to God, even reinstituting the Passover which hasn’t been kept since the judges. His efforts were so great that Josiah was ca…
 
Jehu was anointed by God to strike down Ahab, the former king who did more evil than any king before him, committing atrocious idolatry with his wife Jezebel. Jehu, directly and indirectly, slaughtered the entire house of Ahab and Jezebel, and all the worshippers of Baal. Idolatry angers God and incurs his righteous wrath. Like Jehu, our world want…
 
Every king of Israel was ranked and measured against one criteria: their faithfulness to God. All that mattered was whether they lived to lead others to God, and to please God, not their military success, riches, geographical expansion, or political influence. Every bad king fell away from the correct worship of Yahweh and to idolatry, which was th…
 
Wisdom without worship is worthless, and kings rise and fall when they lose sight of the wisdom of God, take pride in themselves, and seek to build Eden on Earth through money, sex, and power. Solomon, made king at the age of 12 with the death of his father David, was offered anything by God, and he chose to ask for wisdom. This led him to become r…
 
A mondegreen is a misunderstanding or misinterpreting of a section of a song. In a similar way, many of us have misunderstood the figure of Zaccheus, seeing him as a short man who climbed a tree to see Jesus. Yet, Zaccheus was a rich tax collector, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. His riches meant that he was corrupt, and had gotten a…
 
When will the cost be too great for you to follow Jesus? Despite having kept the commandments since youth, the rich young ruler had one thing he lacked: giving up his all to follow Jesus. After he walked away saddened, the disciples were shocked and said: ‘who then can be saved?’ To which Jesus says: ‘What is impossible with man is possible with Go…
 
For twelve long years, the bleeding woman was outside looking in. For twelve long years, she was touched by no one. When she reached out by faith to touch Jesus, in hopes of healing, Jesus calls her his daughter, and says that her faith has healed her so she can find shalom. That is, the full restoration of peace with each other and peace with God.…
 
Chaos is the disruption of God’s good design, and the forefront of the darkness in the spiritual realm that is over the world. The forces of evil in the spiritual realm knew that Jesus came to overthrow chaos and the power of darkness. Darkness is also self-destructive, and in the same way that Legion was cast into the herd of pigs and drowned in a…
 
The woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears was a ‘woman of the city’ known to be a sinner and prostitute. Her alabaster flask was her appeal, and once the flask is broken to pour the ointment there is no turning back. Furthermore, a Jewish woman wouldn’t reveal her hair until her wedding night, yet here she was breaking her flask and u…
 
Widows were the most vulnerable of society. When Jesus saw a widow had lost her only son, Jesus had compassion on her, without her even asking for help. He then raises her son from the dead, unafraid of becoming polluted by being near a dead body because Jesus is the source of life.God is never too busy for us, nor is he unable to do the extraordin…
 
The law mandated that the unclean had to live in isolation outside of society, and if they ever came across another person they were to shout their shame and say: “Unclean! Unclean!” Lepers, wherever they went, were unclean outcasts who no one dared approach, lest they too become unclean. Yet, in Luke 5, we see the leper approaching Jesus, bowing f…
 
Jesus, like Moses, is in the desert at the edge of the Jordan river. Where Israel spent 40 years there because they failed to be faithful, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert and persevered. In the desert, Jesus relived the story of Israel and rewrote the ending. The devil wanted to offer Jesus the crown without the cross, to give Jesus the glory wit…
 
In 1st Century Israel, Rome controlled Israel through tyranny. It is a time where Israel felt isolated and hoped for redemption and freedom from political oppression. Simeon was ‘a righteous man who waited for the consolation of Israel’ and didn’t die until he saw the Messiah. Oppression through sin, brokenness, and evil isn’t just out there — it’s…
 
True worship is about approaching God on his terms. Anything apart from that is false religion. The institution of the tabernacle is a microcosm of creation, and of God’s will regarding offerings. The willing of heart (God’s people) bring the resources and the wise of heart (builders) make it happen. God wants us to use our gifts to bring beauty in…
 
In a tent outside of town, God’s presence dwells away from his people as a reminder of what could have been had they not disobeyed in idolatry and their stiff-neck ness. How often do we forget that the prize of heaven is the presence of God? On the mountain, God reveals himself to be firstly merciful, abounding in love, and slow to anger. He is not…
 
Israel’s priests are the mediators between the holy God and a sinful people, representing God to the people and the people to God. They were to stand before the Lord for the people: offering gifts and sacrifices for sins, helping those who are ignorant or astray, teaching the people, and interceding in prayer. In their consecration, the priest put …
 
The tabernacle is the sanctuary of God’s holiness, the place of his absolute morality, perfection, glory, and goodness. As such, because of sin, no one could enter his presence without specific boundaries and rules in place. Even the outer sanctuary was designed to separate the people from God. The sanctuary of our king is full of blue (like the se…
 
We are always ready to accept the terms and conditions for any company we use, but whenever we hear about God’s terms and conditions we become hesitant. Making the terms and conditions a religion is a problem, but wanting a relationship with God without accepting the terms and conditions is like telling your loved one you love them but don’t want t…
 
When we read the Bible, we must remember we are travelling to a foreign country and be good travellers. We must understand the context of the time (the ancient near-east 3500 years ago), and then we can see that God was indeed showing mercy to the vulnerable and oppressed. By Exodus 20, the Israelites were rescued from their slavery in Egypt and gi…
 
Like us, Israel doubted, disobeyed, and were divided. The ten commandments ultimately reveal the heart and holiness of God, as well as the chief goal of our life.The idols we bow down to are never static, and your religion is what you do in your solitude. We are to give our all to God and see the disconnect between what we know, and what we do. Man…
 
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