It’s hard to believe, but Monday in chapel, we came to the end of the book of Nehemiah and have just one more summary message next week in our Faithful series.
I started our message with a familiar illustration of the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer. A thermostat doesn’t change based on circumstances; it maintains the temperature to which it was set. A thermometer, in contrast, changes temperature based on the environment it is placed in.
Nehemiah was a thermostat. He maintained his commitment to absolute obedience to God’s Word. But when Nehemiah returned to Persia, the people became thermometers, allowing the culture to influence them. In our passage today we see how spiritual carelessness leads to evil actions with severe consequences.
We examined four points with applications to our lives today:
- Unwise Associations (1-9) – Do we have associations in our lives that cause us to compromise on what God’s Word says? Have we made peace with our sin?
- Unkept Promises (10-14) – Have we made promises to God that we have not kept?
- Unholy Sabbaths (15-22) – Have we allowed materialism, sports, etc., to become more important to us than worshiping God? Are we maintaining proper balance in life by resting?
- Ungodly Marriages (23-31) – Is there an area of our lives where carelessness has led to disobedience?
Our spiritual fire is destined to go out if we don’t continually stoke it through staying rooted in Scripture, studying it and meditating on it daily. We must surround ourselves with godly influences and not forsake assembling together. I pray each of you – as I pray for myself – never lose your commitment to hold fast to God’s Word and your desire to honor Him in everything you do.
He is faithful; we can trust Him.
Now more than ever, our nation needs hope. We are in a time of great uncertainty. No one knows what is going to happen next. For many, the fear of death is becoming very real. Now more than ever, we need some good news.
It was my privilege this morning to speak to our Cedarville family in a special Good Friday online chapel presentation. In this time of uncertainty, we find our hope in the only thing we can be truly certain of, the truth of God’s Word. Looking at 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, we were reminded of the reason for our hope — the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We reviewed three main points in this passage:
- Substitutionary Atonement: Christ died on the cross for my sins and in my place, and He was buried.
- According to the Scriptures: Jesus’ death fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures. God’s Word was written so we might believe and be saved.
- Supernatural Resurrection: On the third day, Jesus raised from the dead. We have a risen Savior who will someday make all things right.
That is the Good News that gives us hope. That is why we are not afraid and do not despair during these uncertain days. We know that we have been reconciled to our Creator because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We know that we have the hope of eternal life because He overcame death.
Join us for this special Good Friday chapel. I pray your soul finds rest and peace in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Monday it was my privilege to continue our Faithful series from the book of Nehemiah, speaking again from my library in the Stevens Student Center. We miss having the music to prepare our hearts, but we trust the Lord to remove distractions and help us to focus on His Word.
We came to Nehemiah chapter 12, looking at verses 27-47. Here we find the culmination of the story of Nehemiah. Ezra has rebuilt the temple. Nehemiah has built the wall. The people who were once exiled, held captive in a land where they did not want to be, have been brought back to their home. But the story is about so much more than a building or a wall or the people. It’s about worshipping and giving glory to the almighty, sovereign God who so richly deserves it.
We studied three key points in the passage:
- Preparation for Celebration (27-30)
- Procession for Celebration (31-43)
- Provision for Continued Celebration (44-47)
Like the people of Israel who had been living in a vulnerable city with an uncertain future, we find ourselves in difficult days, in situations where we don’t want to be. Yet, God was faithful to His people Israel, and He will be faithful to us. I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to be thankful no matter what. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we have much to be thankful for. Our focus should be on our Savior, not on our circumstances. And, Lord willing, we look forward to being back together again soon, celebrating and giving God all the glory.
I was privileged to continue our Faithful series in the book of Nehemiah, this time from my library in the Stevens Student Center. It’s not what we want — I miss being in the chapel with thousands of students praising Jesus together. But we are trusting in the sovereignty of God during this time.
As we came to Nehemiah chapter 11, we were reminded again that the book is not just about building a wall but about the people truly worshipping the living God. We learn that the people’s focus — and ours — should be to strategically live and work for God’s glory.
Our text is divided into four sections:
- Actions taken to populate Jerusalem (11:1-2)
- List of settlers (11:3-24)
- Other villages (11:25-36)
- Priests and Levites (12:1-26)
The leaders led by example; they modeled what they wanted the people to do. The people trusted the sovereignty of God. Do we? We see God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We also are reminded that the depth of God’s grace is greater than the depth of our sin. It doesn’t matter what you have done; God can use you to do amazing things. It’s not about our strength; it’s about God and His power. He uses a host of people to accomplish His purposes, but we must first make glorifying Him our priority.
We are in a difficult season. There is much we don’t know, but we know things may get bad. After a little over a week of isolation, we are already tired of it. We recognize it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take endurance to get through.
Yesterday, I spoke to our Cedarville family — scattered all over the country now — from Hebrews 12:1-2, where we’re commanded to run the race with endurance, looking to Jesus.
But how do we do this? How do we not despair when things get tough? This passage shows us three ways:
- Follow the example of the “cloud of witnesses” – the Old Testament saints who trusted God during difficult circumstances and were blessed. He was faithful to them, just as He’ll be faithful to us. That’s why we don’t have to worry.
- Let go of the things that hold us back. It’s time to examine our lives for things that distract us.
- Look to Jesus. Our money, our talents, our political leaders are not our hope. Jesus is the only one who holds our future.
As we walk through challenging days ahead, may we run the race with endurance, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. God is faithful. You can trust Him.
Watch as we discover how to endure during difficult times.
Wednesday in our mostly empty chapel, it was my privilege to continue our Faithful series in the book of Nehemiah.
In chapter 9, we previously saw that the people had confessed their sin and then confessed God’s goodness. In light of God’s faithfulness in their lives, they committed to obey His Word.
We examined three main points and applications from chapter 10:
- Submission to the Word of God (9:38; 10:29) – Do we trust God’s promises, even in these uncertain times? He has never failed us. Our souls can rest in His Word.
- Separation as the People of God (10:28-31) – Do we trust God with our sexuality? Are we willing to wait for God’s timing? Do we take a stand for what is right?
- Support for the Worship of God (10:32-28) – Do we trust God with our tithes? Are we giving him our first fruits or what is left over? How are we stewarding all that He has entrusted to us?
Now more than ever we need to cling to the truth of God’s Word. Even in the middle of uncertainty, He is in control. God is faithful. You can trust Him.
These are uncertain times to be sure. We are having to change the way we do things. We are being inconvenienced. Life as we know it is not the same for now.
It was my privilege to speak directly to our students and other members of the Cedarville family Monday from James 4:13-17, even if it was in a mostly empty chapel.
We take so much for granted. I confess that I’ve taken some of the blessings we enjoy at Cedarville for granted: meeting together in daily chapel, seeing students in the dining hall, experiencing vibrant community every day. What we must never take for granted is tomorrow. We cannot know nor control the future, but I am so thankful that we serve a God who does.
Join us for Monday’s chapel and be encouraged by our faithful God who will hold us fast. May He use these difficult circumstances to draw us closer to Him.
On Monday, we hosted the largest visit event in Cedarville’s history. More than 1,000 prospective students and their families joined us in chapel as we continued our Faithful series from the book of Nehemiah, this week coming to chapter 9.
Have you ever needed a mirror? Maybe you’re like me: When I wake up in the morning, my hair is going several different directions. I need a good mirror so I can see what I need to fix.
We also need a good mirror for our soul. How often when we look at ourselves spiritually, do we overlook things we need to fix? The Bible, the mirror for our soul, shows us who God is and who we truly are.
In Nehemiah 9, we read one of the greatest prayers in all of Scripture. Here, we get a glimpse of the graciousness and mercy of God. The people were exiled because of their rebellion, but God is ready to forgive them. In this prayer, Nehemiah is confessing what he knows to be true about God, and he also confesses what he knows to be true about himself: God is good, and we are not. He is the promise-keeping God to a promise-breaking people.
In this passage, we learn 10 truths about God that reveal His goodness:
- God discloses His uniqueness (5-6).
- God created the heavens and earth (6).
- God keeps His promises (7-8).
- God saves His people (9-11).
- God cares for His people (12-15).
- God is good, and we are not (16-18).
- God sustains His people (19-21).
- God gives generously (22-25).
- God models mercy and patience (26-31).
- God reveals His righteousness (32-37).
Every day I need a mirror where I can examine my condition to realize that my soul is in far worse shape than my hair, and I am in desperate need of a Savior. I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to be in Scripture every morning to see His reflection clearly in the mirror of His Word.
Join us as we walk through Nehemiah 9 together and discover that God is good, and we are not.
Maybe you have a similar problem that I have. I find it easier to sometimes just hear, but not obey. In fact, I tend to bristle when I hear the word “obey.” We all do, right? We don’t like advice; we don’t like mandates. Things like, “read all directions before beginning” or “list your accurate weight on your driver’s license.” Or, how about biblical mandates like “forgive others as Christ forgave you” or “be anxious for nothing”?
As we reached the end of Nehemiah chapter eight in our Faithful series on Monday, we discovered what the power of the Word of God did for the people, and what it should do in our lives. Nehemiah and the people heard the Word, obeyed the Word, and then celebrated the Word. They were doers of the Word and not hearers only.
We see these three truths:
- Explanation (8:13-18) – We should have an appetite to study God’s Word, reading Scripture with a longing to understand — not just as a habit or obligation.
- Application (8:16-9:3) – In the Word we discover that God is faithful; we can trust Him. We don’t have to trust the world around us, but the God who created the world. He will provide.
- Celebration (8:17; 9:3,5) – The only response to the truth of God’s Word is to worship Him and repent of our sin.
My prayer for myself, and for each of you, is that every day we are transformed by the power of God’s Word so that we may serve Him and point others to Him and His glory.
Join us as we discover God’s desire for us to become true doers of the Word.
During our GO conference this year, which ran from January 7-9, we heard challenging messages about embracing missions as a way of life from Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. On the last evening of the conference, Dr. Akin challenged our students with a message from The Journals of Jim Elliot, who died in 1956 at the hands of the Huaorani people of Ecuador, whom he was attempting to evangelize. Elliot’s story remains a powerful testimony to the importance of spreading the Gospel. You can listen to conference messages online.