Staying Focused – Nehemiah 6:15-16

staying_focused“So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16, NLT).

Nehemiah Chapter 6 recounts the extraordinary political intrigue taking place behind the scenes attempting to prevent Nehemiah and the Jews from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

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Fallen – Judges 7:2

FallDownStairs“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself.’” (Judges 7:2, HCSB).

Having proven to Gideon that He was present with him, God next demonstrated that His presence was all Gideon really needed to defeat the Midianites.

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Sad Song or Hopeful Hymn – Deuteronomy 32:36

TragicSong“The Lord will indeed vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants when He sees that their strength is gone” (Deuteronomy 32:36, HCSB).

Deuteronomy 32 is called the Song of Moses. It is a song that was intended to warn Israel through the ages of the consequences of apostasy and disobedience to God.

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Bad Weather Farmers – Psalm 126:5-6

badweatherfarmer“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (Psalm 126:5-6, NLT).

Do you sometimes seem to be doing everything right and everything goes wrong?

You are faithful to God, planting seed for His Kingdom by serving and obeying Him in every way. Then, in the middle of your faithfulness and obedience, first one problem or tragedy strikes, then another, and then another.

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The Terrified Disciple – Mark 6:49-52

terrified“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:49-52, HCSB).

Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and found something new in it? That’s what happened to me as I read again this familiar story of Jesus walking on the water.

Admittedly, Mark’s version of this story does not include an important element described in Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:22-33). In Matthew’s version, Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Jesus until he notices the wind and the waves, and consequently, begins to sink. So Peter’s faith (or lack of it) is usually the focus of this story for us.

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Opportunity Knocks – Mark 6:37

opportunity-knocks“But Jesus said, You feed them. With what? they asked. We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!” (Mark 6:37, NLT).

Before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand (or ten or fifteen thousand, actually), He first commanded the disciples to feed them!

Now His command could be interpreted in two ways. Either Jesus was commanding the disciples to let Him empower them to perform the miracle or He was trying to teach them a lesson about God’s miraculous provisioning.

We usually interpret His command to the disciples in terms of the latter, but let’s take the perspective that He was actually commanding them to feed the five or ten or fifteen thousand.

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