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.
We were excited to welcome our Board of Trustees to chapel last Thursday as we continued in our Faithful series, looking at Nehemiah 8:1-12.
In this passage we see the word “understand” (or “understood”) five times. We see the word “people” 13 times, and we find “joy” three times near the end of the passage. In Scripture, repetition means that something is important, so we better pay attention. There’s something in this passage that the people (that’s us) should understand, which will lead to great joy. So what is it?
We must understand the Word of God to experience the joy of its truth. God speaks to us through His Word, and if we want to be mature followers of Christ, we need to let it do its work of teaching us and growing us into who He wants us to be. Time in God’s Word should be our daily practice and priority.
From this passage we discover these four truths:
- Read and study the Word.
- The Word reveals who God is.
- The Word reveals who we are.
- Properly understanding the Word ultimately brings great rejoicing.
There is a battle for our souls. We can either believe the truths of God’s Word or the lies of the enemy. I pray you daily dig into God’s Word, understand its truths and make them central to your life, and truly experience the joy of the Lord.
Let the Word do its work. This is the way. God has spoken.
How many of us actually stay to watch the credits after a movie? I’ll admit that, at least until Marvel movies came out, I usually leave the theater right after the last scene of the movie, skipping over the credits that recognize those who contributed to the movie.
As we came to Nehemiah 7 Monday in our “Faithful” chapel series, we discovered that this chapter is a lot like movie credits: We may have a tendency to just gloss over it. The chapter is full of a long list of names that are hard to pronounce, and we may wonder why God would include this in the Bible, anyway. But if we take the time to stop and see what’s there, we’ll discover — as with all Scripture — God has something for us to learn here.
As we studied this passage, we divided it into three sections and found practical application in each:
- Delegation (1-4) – Nehemiah delegated responsibilities to men who were faithful and God-fearing. We need to be faithful in whatever tasks God gives us right now.
- Registration (5-65) – Nehemiah walked so closely with God that he recognized when God was putting something in his heart. We will only hear God’s voice when we have spent time with Him through His Word and prayer.
- Contribution (66-73) – God wants generous people who support His work.
The big idea of this passage is this: God is faithful, and we can trust Him. The passage is not about God counting people, but that people counted to God. In the chapter, we find the fulfillment of promises God made to His people in the books of Daniel and Jeremiah. When God makes a promise, He will deliver.
Join us as we walk through Nehemiah 7 and discover our promise-keeping God.
What do you fear? Spiders? The dark? Thunderstorms? How about not being accepted? Not fitting in? Or maybe, not being loved?
Those fears don’t go away; they follow us through our entire lives. But as believers, those who have been accepted by God because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can have confidence in our sovereign and holy God. We fear God, not man.
As we continued in our Faithful series, on Monday we came to Nehemiah chapter 6, where we find Nehemiah faced with situations that could have made him afraid. In fact, we discover that he is told to be afraid five times. But Nehemiah’s decisions are driven by his love and fear of the Lord, not by fear of man. Like Nehemiah, when the lies of the enemy cause us to fear, we need to replace them with the truth of God’s Word.
We find application for our lives through four key points in Nehemiah 6:1-19.
- Peace Summit (1-4) – There are times we have to have the resolve to say no to something we shouldn’t do. Can we say no to temptation? To something not wise?
- Rumors of Rebellion (5-9) – If we take care of our character, living the way we should, God will take care of our reputation.
- Treachery in the Temple (10-14) – God’s will never contradicts God’s Word.
- Spies in Your Midst (1-19) – Who are our friends? We should not be close friends with anyone who would try to lead us away from walking with the Lord.
God is faithful; you can trust Him. Fear God, not man. Join us as we walk through Nehemiah 6 together.