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Daily Devotionals
by Peter Kennedy
Series: Devotions In Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Devotional - You Reap What You Sow
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 29, 2014
Devotional - You Reap What You Sow

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's fury subsided.” – Esther 7:10

 

George Gordon Byron, commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet during the nineteenth century. His good looks and popularity proved to be a downfall. He had developed a reputation, as Lady Caroline Lamb wrote after meeting him, of being "Mad, bad and dangerous to know."

He had numerous affairs, deep financial difficulties, and severe problems with alcohol.

Lord Byron sowed all his life to the flesh. In his latter years, he realized that his wild and immoral lifestyle had brought about a harvest of grief. In his final days he wrote: "My days are in the yellow leaf. My soul is sear with sullen grief. It is as if the dead could feel the icy worm around them steel and shutter as the reptiles creeped to revel or their rotting sleep. Without the power to scare away the cold consumers of their clay."

 

The actions we sow, we sow also will reap. Today in prayer, confess to the Lord any sin in your life and seek to be Christlike in all that you do.

 

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver

 

God’s Word: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galatians 6:7

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Resolving To Do Right
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 26, 2014
Devotional - Resolving To Do Right

“When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged.” – Esther 3:5

 

On June 1, 2014, North Attleboro High School boy’s track team won the Division 2 Eastern Massachusetts title.

But when the official results came in the next day, the points from the track meet weren’t adding up. There was a clerical error in one of the final races.

“Originally they placed one of my athletes in second place, which scores eight points, and he actually got seventh, which only scores two points,” coach Derek Herber said.

“When they fixed it, to put the correct kid in second place, they switched the names but never switched the points.”

At first Coach Herber, who’s also a history teacher, thought, “I hope I’m doing my math wrong.”

He could have said nothing and his team would remained champions.

Or he could report the scoring error and cost his team the title.

“We called the state and told them that there was a mistake made,” Coach Herber said. His assistant coaches doubled checked the results as well and the state later confirmed the error.

“What coach did was absolutely right and it was great,” said senior Ian Flanagan. And teammate Jacob McKinnon said, ” Coach made me see that it wouldn’t have felt honorable to accept the trophy.” And sprinter Ryan Croke said of his coach, “It didn’t surprise me, he’s an honest guy.”

 

There are times in our lives when we must stand up for what is right. Today in prayer, ask the Lord to give you wisdom, courage, and resolve to do what is right.

 

“To cling always to God and to the things of God--this must be our major effort, this must be the road that the heart follows.” – John Cassian.

 

God’s Word: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - God's Perspective
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 25, 2014
Devotional - God's Perspective

“because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)” – Nehemiah 13:2

 

During World War II, the American Third Army led by General George Patton led the sweep across Europe. The 37th Tank Battalion led the Third Army - and Lieutenant Colonel Abe Abrams led the 37th. He was the most aggressive tank commander and he led the dash to the Rhine River, moving so fast that he captured an astonished German lieutenant general and his staff at their desks.  General Patton said: "I'm supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer - Abe Abrams. He's the world champion."

Fighting far out in front of the main body of the Third Army, Abrams was frequently cut off. During one incident Abrams found himself and his troops completely surrounded on all sides. From a human perspective, it was a very negative situation. But Abrams in characteristic optimism told his officers, "For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction."

 

We often do not have the full perspective of life. What might seem to be a negative can become a blessing from the Lord. Today in prayer, thank Jesus that life brings, knowing that He can change any curse into a blessing.

 

"I have a point of view. You have a point of view. God has view." - Madeleine L'Engle

 

God’s Word: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Pockets
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 24, 2014
Devotional - The Pockets

GIVING TO THE LORD’S WORK                                   Friday – June 24, 2014

 

“Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work.” – Nehemiah 10:37

 

Pastor Jerry Falwell wrote about the “5 Giving Pockets.” He said:

“Money that individuals give comes to the church from five sources, or "pockets." Obviously, these are not actual pockets, but symbolic pictures representing five major motives of church members in giving to their church. When church leaders understand the nature and source of their church’s income, they can better plan a strategy for outreach and growth.

First Pocket: Money for "Light and Heat Bills". This represents the desire of some people to contribute to the general fund. Members are motivated out of concern for the operating expenses of the church. "The light and heat" pocket represents money given to salaries, supplies, utilities and general maintenance.

Second Pocket: Money for "Missions". Certain members want to contribute most of their money to foreign missions. This appeal will motivate them to give more than any other appeal. Other members want at least some of their money to go to outreach, usually out of their concern for the Great Commission.

Third Pocket: Money to Support "Ivy Walls". Some members are best motivated by the needs of education. Because some church members value higher education, they direct their money to build college classrooms, libraries, or to equip science laboratories.

Fourth Pocket: Money for the "Cup of Cold Water". Some members are best motivated to give to humanitarian purposes. These members have compassion for the needs of their hurting brothers. They give to hunger projects, hospitals, and to provide housing and emergency relief.

Fifth Pocket: Money for "Bricks and Mortar". Some people are best motivated to give for buildings or physical expansion. This money is specially earmarked for church buildings. Some give large amounts to physical projects, but only occasionally fund other projects. However, almost all members want to give something for their church building projects.

 

No matter which “pocket” you like to give to, give to the Lord’s work. Today in prayer, ask the Lord to give you wisdom on how to best give to His work.

 

“For it is in giving that we receive.” - Francis of Assisi

 

God’s Word: “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Man's Stubbornness
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 23, 2014
Devotional - Man's Stubbornness

“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them” – Nehemiah 9:17

 

No other American President was as great a storyteller as Abraham Lincoln.

One time Lincoln was trying to make a point, but the individual he was talking with was unconvinced and stubborn. He had disregarded the truth and was entrenched in his own position. So Lincoln tried another tactic.

The President said, “Well, let’s see now. How many legs does a cow have?”

The disgusted reply came back “Four, of course.”

Lincoln agreed, “That’s right. Now, suppose you call the cow’s tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?”

The opponent replied confidently, “Why, five, of course.”

Lincoln came back, “Now that’s where you’re wrong. Calling a cow’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg!”

 

Often our own stubbornness blinds us to the truth. Today in prayer, praise the Lord that He loves us despite our stubbornness and is gracious and compassionate, desiring all people to come to Jesus for forgiveness.

 

“There are few people so stubborn in their atheism who when danger is pressing in will not acknowledge the divine power.” - Plato

 

God’s Word: “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” – Romans 2:5

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Studying The Word
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 22, 2014
Devotional - Studying The Word

“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” – Nehemiah 8:2-3

 

D.L. Moody was an American evangelist, pastor and Christian publisher. He concluded the following in a message entitled “How To Study The Bible”:

“Here let me say that the key to the whole Bible is Jesus Christ. You remember that, on the way to Emmaus with those two disciples, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He (Jesus) expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."  Notice those two "alls." The one theme of the Old Testament, in type and prophecy, is the Messiah; and the New Testament deals with His life on earth, and with the Church, which is His body, and with His coming glory.


Do not expect ever to exhaust the full meaning of Scripture. A supernatural God must have a supernatural Book. Finite minds cannot grasp the infinite. That is one reason why men who know the Bible best find it ever new.


Talmage has said that as the smallest dewdrop on the meadow at night has a star sleeping in its bosom, so the most insignificant passage of Scripture has in it a shining truth. Spurgeon said that the flowers of God's garden bloom, not only double, but sevenfold; they are continually pouring forth fresh fragrance. George Muller wrote that he had read the Bible through a hundred times in order, and every time with increasing joy. Whenever he started afresh it seemed like a new book to him. Joseph Parker recently said that he had preached twenty-five volumes of sermons upon the Bible, and that when he had written the very last words his feeling was that he had not begun it yet!
 

I thank God there is in it a height I have never been able to reach, a depth I have never been able to fathom, a length and a breadth I know nothing about. It makes the book all the more fascinating and proves it divine.”

 

Do you desire to study God’s Word? Today in prayer, thank Jesus for the Bible and take some extra time today to study God’s Word.

 

"We have done almost everything that is possible with these Hebrew and Greek writings. We have overlaid them, clause by clause, with exhaustive commentaries; we have translated them, revised the translations, and quarreled over the revisions...There is yet one thing left to do with the Bible: simply read it"  - Richard Moulton 

 

God’s Word: “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” – Psalm 119:14-16

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Strength From The Lord
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 19, 2014
Devotional - Strength From The Lord

“They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” – Nehemiah 6:9

 

The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. During the approximate 100-day period from April 7, 1994 to mid-July, an estimated 1 million Rwandans were killed.

When peace came to the destabilized country, the war weary people did not know how to rebuild.

In 2003, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the former leader of the rebel army that ended the genocide, learned about Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Church after reading his book, "The Purpose Driven Church". He found it so moving that he wrote to Pastor Warren, seeking help in making Rwanda the first "purpose-driven" nation and the first national model of Saddleback's The PEACE Plan.

As a result, Saddleback has sent more than 2,000 members to serve in Rwanda.

Today, Rwanda is regaining its strength politically, socially, economically and spiritually.

Pastor Warren's wife Kay said: "When we first visited Rwanda, we had no idea what we were doing or what we had to give, but we brought what we knew, which was the love of Christ."

 

When we run out of our own strength, we can look to Jesus for His power. Today in prayer, thank the Lord that He can carry and strengthen you to do His work.

 

“You become stronger only when you become weaker. When you surrender your will to God, you discover the resources to do what God requires.” – Erwin Lutzer

 

God’s Word: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Fearing God
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 18, 2014
Devotional - Fearing God

“So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” – Nehemiah 5:9

 

There is a psychological term for the fear of God; it is called "theophobia." This phobia is often the result of an overwhelming suspicion that we do not measure up to the standards of God. This phobic personality will avoid houses of worship, religious texts and interaction with others who may believe in God. Their fear may be expressed in visible horror or a lashing out at all who believe. They may also suffer anger, frustration, trembling, elevated heart rate, nausea, and weeping.

The best way to overcome this fear is to understand how we should fear the Lord. We shouldn't fear the Lord as we fear a tiger or immediate danger.

Rather, God's power and presence bring us to awe and a love of the Lord. As C.S. Lewis described it in his book "The Problem of Pain," you "feel wonder and a certain shrinking" or "a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant of or prostration before it".

 

We need to love the Lord and to follow Him in all that we do. Today in prayer, fear the Lord by loving and honoring Him in all that you do.

 

“The fear of God kills all other fears.” – Thomas Browne

 

God’s Word: “He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’” – Revelation 14:7

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - With All Of Your Heart
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 17, 2014
Devotional - With All Of Your Heart

“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” – Nehemiah 4:6

 

Carlos Vargas works long hours at his construction job, but every Monday at the end of his shift, he and a team of volunteers drive around New York City late into the night, hitting the streets in search of hungry homeless people who could use a bite to eat.

Carlos, age 52, moved to New York City from Yauco, Puerto Rico, more than 20 years ago in search of a better life. He recalled how heartbroken he was the first time he saw homeless people lining up in New York City streets.

"People back home say that New York is this great place, with so much opportunity," he said. "Then you see this. It just breaks your heart."

Several years ago, his pastor at the Cristo En Las Antillas  church in the Bronx was looking for volunteers to create a mobile food pantry and drive around the city handing out warm food and drinks. Carlos raised his hand to volunteer, noting it was the best decision he ever made, as if he had found his calling.

New York City's homeless population, at around 64,000, is the highest since the Great Depression.

"I have the heart to help my brothers in need," Carlos said. "We give them food, a blanket and the word of God."

 

Love the work the Lord has given you and do it with all of your heart. Today in prayer, praise Jesus for the work He has given you and do it with all of your heart.

 

“Work as if you were to live 100 years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.” – Ben Franklin

 

God’s Word: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” – Colossians 3:23

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Secret Of Our Success
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 16, 2014
Devotional - The Secret Of Our Success

“I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.’” – Nehemiah 2:20

 

n 1991, Paul Byrd pitched Louisiana State University to victory in the college world series. But the win didn't satisfy him.

"Everybody was jumping around on the pile and things like that. I had a lot going on in my heart and I'm thinking, 'We've just done what we've trained for my whole college career. What now? Is it this great? What now?' "

Paul said God used the championship as a wake-up call. It was then he surrendered it all to God.

"It was a time when God used that in my life to say, 'What's important? What am I going to stand for?' Five minutes before I die, am I going to care about the fact that I won the college world series or am I going to be worried about where I'm going?"

Paul went on to become a major league pitcher, not a star, but a good pitcher for five years. But his passion remains Jesus Christ.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't wake up and think, 'Wow! Somebody cares about me that much?' There's nobody in the world; I don't care who it is that's going to offer that to you! The moon doesn't reflect its own light. It reflects the light of the sun. And that's what I want to do. I don't want you to see Paul Byrd. I want you to see someone else. I want you to see the Son. I want to reflect Him. It's not about me. It's about Him. Hopefully when I leave you can say that. I was pointed to a Creator when I looked at that guy. That guy loved, and that guy had a power that this world couldn't understand."

 

The secret of success is to love Jesus and to have faith in Him.  Today in prayer, praise the Lord that we can have faith in Him and in Him we have success. 

 

“A man is not far from the gates of heaven when he is fully submissive to the Lord’s will.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

 

God’s Word: “He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” – 2 Chronicles 26:5

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Our God Is Awesome
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 15, 2014
Devotional - Our God Is Awesome

“Then I said: ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands’” – Nehemiah 1:5

 

Carl Boberg was born in 1859 in Sweden. He studied for the ministry and served a Mission Covenant Church. He wrote a number of hymns including the church favorite “How great Thou Art.”

It was one summer evening in the year 1885 at a country place called Kroneback, Sweden that Carl was invited to speak at a women’s meeting that benefited missions.

It was a beautiful day. All nature was arrayed in its summer finery. Both young and old enjoyed the hospitality of the home and roaming about the large estate.

Then a storm cloud was seen above the horizon and before long the sky was overcast, lightning flashed across the dark heaven and a downpour drove the visitors to shelter. Soon the rain stopped, however, and in the sky was seen a beautiful rainbow. Church bells could be heard from across the valley.

Enraptured with the wonders of it all, Carl that evening gave expression to his feelings in the writing of a nine stanza long poem entitled “How great Thou Art.”

 

Our God is an awesome God! Today in prayer, praise Jesus that He is awesome in all of His ways.

 

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder


Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,


I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,


Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” – Carl Boberg

 

God’s Word: “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” – Psalm 68:35

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Take Courage!
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 12, 2014
Devotional - Take Courage!

“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” – Ezra 10:4

 

In 1989, Communist East Germany was commemorating 40 years of being in power. With pride the communist leaders watched the military parades, their Armed Forces marching by, their tanks and cruise missiles being paraded before them.

But the Christian church in East Germany earnestly prayed. Michael Furchert was a teenager in East Berlin at the time. He remembers:

"My aunt had been arrested for lighting a candle in front of her apartment building as a sign of peace. My art teacher had been imprisoned for laying down a wreath of flowers for the victims at the Berlin Wall. Any unauthorized gathering in public was brought down by the STASI Secret Police.

Now thousands of East Germans came out of the churches filled with new hope, purpose and courage. With burning candles and flowers in our hands, we approached the soldiers that were lined up in the streets waiting for order to shoot... 

The military started to beat and arrest people and drag them away. They were waiting for someone to react, to pick up a rock, to overturn a car or start a riot. And the government would have had their justification to give the order to open fire...

Instead, one lady kneeling on the street praying, surrounded by military and police, arose and put a flower into the muzzle of a gun. She watched a tear roll down the cheek of the soldier who maybe deep inside his heart had been longing for freedom and liberty himself...

Not one shot was fired during the Peaceful Revolution. Instead the Berlin Wall came down."

 

Be of good courage and do not be afraid, the Lord is with you! Today in prayer, praise Jesus that in His strength you can have courage in any situation.

 

“God, grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right, even though I think it is hopeless.” – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

 

God’s Word: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Guilt Of Sin
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 11, 2014
Devotional - The Guilt Of Sin

“and prayed: "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” – Ezra 9:6

 

In 1989, Inaki Buenaposada was a 16-year-old language student living with a couple near Cambridge, England.  He remembers: "One day I saw a black bag in the garage (of the house where I was staying) and I thought it was rubbish. I saw the books and took three of them."

When his landlady became distressed at the books' loss, the student from Spain became too scared to admit he had them.

"I think it was because I wasn't man enough to face up to her at the time and tell her I was guilty" Inaki later admitted.

So he kept the books with him when he returned to Spain, along with his feelings of guilt.

Then in December 2013, the feelings of guilt became overwhelming. After nearly 25 years, Inaki returned to Cambridge to try to return the books to their rightful owner.

He said: "I want to return the books to the people I took them from, that is my only reason for coming."

 

When we realize the gravity of sin, we become racked with guilt. Today in prayer, confess any sin in your life to Jesus and give praise to Him that He loves you and died for those sins.

 

“You cannot repent too soon because you do not know how soon it may be too late.” – Thomas Fuller

 

God’s Word: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"--and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” – Psalm 32:5

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - When We Fast
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 10, 2014
Devotional - When We Fast

“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” – Ezra 8:23

 

Christian minister and author Marilyn Hickey has written an article entitled "The Power of Prayer and Fasting." She writes:

"A man once said to me about fasting, 'It seems that when I fast the world seems much more black and white, at least for a period of time. I see right and wrong much more clearly. I see good and bad, blessings and cursings, benefits and negative consequences, what is godly and what is ungodly. I am much more discerning about what lines up with God's commandments and what falls into the category of 'man's commands.''

I asked him what happened after he stopped fasting. He laughed and said, 'I am still very clear on these things, but there's also a time after I end fasting that the whole world seems more vivid and more colorful than ever before. I can distinguish tastes again. The sky seems bluer than before. The air seems crisper in the mountains. All of my senses seem to be heightened toward what is God's creation-which is always good- and what is man's invention-which very often has an element of evil to it.'"

 

We become more attentive to the Lord’s will when we fast and pray. Today in prayer, praise Jesus that He desires to answer your prayers, and seek His will through fasting and prayer.

           

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” – Andrew Murray

 

God’s Word: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” – Matthew 4:1-2

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Spending Time With Him
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 9, 2014
Devotional - Spending Time With Him

“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” – Ezra 7:10

 

James Martin Gray was a pastor in the Reformed Episcopal Church, a Bible scholar, editor, and hymn writer, and the president of Moody Bible Institute, from 1904 until 1934.

He used to tell a story that underscores the importance of reading the Scriptures for personal growth. James said that when he was a young Bible teacher he became deeply impressed by the peace and spiritual poise of a friend with whom he often talked. Since he wanted that same stability, James asked his companion the secret of his confident bearing and positive outlook. "It all started through reading Ephesians," said the man. James was surprised by this simple response. He had read Ephesians many times but had never experienced the same strength he saw in his friend. Noticing James' puzzled look, the man explained. "On one occasion, when I was on a short vacation, I took a pocket edition of Ephesians with me. Lying down one afternoon, I read all six chapters. My interest was so aroused that I read the entire epistle again. In fact, I did not finally lay it down until I had gone through it some 15 times." He then said, "When I arose to go into the house, I was in possession of Ephesians; or better yet, it was in possession of me. I had the feeling that I had been lifted up to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus--a feeling that was new to me."

This testimony encouraged James to master the Scriptures for himself. He began to saturate his mind and heart with God's Word so that he could freely and effectively communicate it to others.

 

We only become more like Jesus as we spend time with Him in His Word.  Today in prayer, thank the Lord for His Word and spend some extra moments today studying it.

 

“Believe me, sir, never a night goes by, be I ever so tired, but I read the Word of God before I go to bed.” – General Douglas MacArthur

 

God’s Word: “Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” – Psalm 119:17-18

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - In Him There Is Joy
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 8, 2014
Devotional - In Him There Is Joy

“For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” – Ezra 6:22

 

saac Watts was born July 27, 1674 at Southampton, England, the eldest of nine children. His father was a Dissenter from the Anglican Church and on at least one occasion was thrown in jail for not following the teachings of the Church of England. Isaac followed his father's strongly biblical faith and he would not follow the national Church of England. He was barred from attending the Universities of Cambridge or Oxford because of his faith. Instead, he attended an academy sponsored by Independent Christians. After completing his formal schooling, he spent five years as a tutor.

Isaac was described as frail and often sickly. His head seemed too large for his five foot tall body; his small, piercing eyes and hooked nose did not enhance his appearance any. He never married and he did not have any children.

One may think he did not live a life of joy, but they would be wrong. At an early age, Isaac devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures. In 1707 he published his first edition of Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In all, he wrote more than 700 hymns.

In 1719, he wrote the popular Christmas song "Joy to the World." It is based on Psalm 98:

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise."

One may notice in the lyrics of the song that there is no mention about shepherds, a manger, wise men, angels, or any other character or element that we normally associate with the Christmas story. The reason is Isaac Watts did not write Joy to the World to be a Christmas song. The original theme of this song was the second coming of the Lord.

The text was originally titled "The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom" when it first appeared in a hymnal of 1719.

 

There is joy when we realize how much Jesus loves us. Today in prayer, give your heart to Jesus and receive His joy.

 

“To be simply ensconced in God is true joy.” – C.C. Colson

 

God’s Word: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:46-47

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Lord Is Watching
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 5, 2014
Devotional - The Lord Is Watching

“But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews, and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darius and his written reply be received.” – Ezra 5:5

 

Pastor Ralph D. West describes a scene when he was a young father: "When my son, Ralph, was a boy, I took him to Toys-R-Us, and he got detached from me. Ralph being my first child, my fatherly instincts caused me to panic. Yet, because I could see the doors, I knew that he had not exited them. Up one corridor, I paced, and down another. around a corridor. around another aisle. peeping. looking to find him amid a crowd of people in the Christmas rush - but I could not find my son. I found a security guard and I asked him, "Do you have surveillance in the store?" He said, "Yes." I then asked, "Do you have a monitor?" "Yes." "Can I look at the monitor?" "Yes." Can you scan the floor?" "Yes."

The guard began to scan up and down the aisles, and there I saw my son playing with toys, but he was clearly in a state of panic. My son was all by himself among people he did not know. Our first child was feeling lost and alone, and I did not know what to do. I asked the guard, "Do you have an intercom?" He said, "Yes."

I said, "Keep the camera on him." Then I got on the intercom and said, "Ralph." My son looked around because he recognized my voice. I continued, "Stay where you are." He started looking around. "It's Daddy," I said. "Don't move. I see you although you can't see me. Stay where you are. I'm coming."

In those moments, when you think that God cannot see you or that you cannot see God, always remember that God sees you. The invisible hand of God is active and is looking after your life."

 

The Lord is not only watching but He actively is in control.  Today in prayer, praise Jesus that His eye is upon you.

 

“Faith is the gaze of the heart at God it is but the raising of our inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God.” – A.W. Tozer

 

God’s Word: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9a

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Don't Be Discouraged
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 4, 2014
Devotional - Don't Be Discouraged

“Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.” – Ezra 4:4

 

In 1912, medical missionary Dr. William Leslie went to live and minister to tribal people in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After 17 years he returned to the U.S. a discouraged man - believing he failed to make an impact for Christ. He died nine years after his return.

But in 2010, missionary Eric Ramsey made a shocking and sensational discovery. They found a network of eight reproducing churches in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where Dr. Leslie was stationed.

Based on his previous research, Eric thought the Yansi in this remote area might have some exposure to the name of Jesus, but no real understanding of who He is. They were unprepared for their remarkable find.

“When we got in there, we found a network of reproducing churches throughout the jungle,” Eric reported. “He would teach the Bible, taught the tribal children how to read and write, talked about the importance of education, and told Bible stories,” Eric noted. Dr. Leslie started the first organized educational system in these villages.

It took some digging for Eric to uncover Leslie’s identity. “The tribal people only knew him by one name and I didn’t know if that was a first or last name. They knew he was a Baptist and he was based in that one city and they knew the years.”

Eric concludes: “His goal was to spread Christianity. He felt like he was there for 17 years and he never really made a big impact, but the legacy he left is huge.”

 

Though you may not see results, if you are faithful to the Lord’s calling, there is no reason to become discouraged. Today in prayer, give Jesus your discouragement and follow Him in all that you do.

 

“A clear cut vision of what God wants you to do can survive under the pressures of discouragers.” – Marilyn Murphree

 

God’s Word: “Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” – 1 Chronicles 22:13

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - You Are Good
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 3, 2014
Devotional - You Are Good

“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11

 

When Australian Reuben Morgan first met American Jason Ingram in Nashville, Tennessee, the two Christian songwriters developed a fast friendship. They soon began writing songs together. Reuben talks about their second praise song, "Forever Reign":

"The message of the song is very confessional. Throughout the song we declare who God is, "You are good, You are love, You are light, You are hope, You are peace, You are joy and You are life." At the same time, we combine that message of who God is with our response, "You are good, You are good, when there's nothing good in me." I hope the song enlarges God in our view of Him. We need to know that God is not diminished by our circumstances, doubts or our response."

Ben Fielding, who is in the band Hillsong LIVE with Reuben, describes the response congregations to the song:

"It's been amazing to see the church singing "Forever Reign" and how the song has been received by our church. We first brought the song to our "Elevate" night where our creative team gets together and everyone jumped right on the song and were singing along by the 2nd chorus. On the night we sang for the album, everyone cheered when we started singing this song. People love the song and as a worship leader that means a lot when you know people are really singing from their hearts. As a confession, wanting to enter into God's arms and sing His Name is a blessing. The bridge, "My heart will sing, no other Name, Jesus, Jesus" is my favorite part of the song. When we sing it at Hillsong Church, the congregation just keeps singing that bridge over and over after we finish the song. It's humbling to be part of something that affects people in a personal way."

 

Let every day be a day of praise to Jesus. Today in prayer, praise the Lord for He is good and He is worthy of our praise.

 

"Oh, I'm running to Your arms

I'm running to Your arms

The riches of Your love

Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace

Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing

no other Name

Jesus, Jesus" - Reuben Morgan and Jason Ingram

 

God’s Word: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” – Psalm 145:3

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - God's Steward
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 2, 2014
Devotional - God's Steward

“When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.” – Ezra 2:68-69

 

Pastor Jason Leonard is a university pastor in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He wrote the following "What I've Learned from Tithing":

"I was 25 years old, making $438/month, with some change in a bank account, massive student loans and $14,000 in credit card debt when I started tithing regularly.

With all that debt, you might think the last thing I should do is start giving it away.  Shouldn't I fix my financial situation before I tithe?  Shouldn't I be making more money?  I mulled over these and myriad other reservations before I committed to tithing.

I had no clue what to do with money - how to make it or use it.  I didn't start tithing to get rich.  No financial advisor would have told me that's a good idea.  I didn't even do it out of obedience to some command in the Bible.

I started tithing because I was desperate, drowning in debt, and in need of a savior.

I realized, by God's grace, that my problem wasn't finances, it was stewardship and discipline with the resources I had been given.  Money was the symptom, the problem was me.  I started tithing to ask the Lord to help me with money.

Now I'm a millionaire. (not really)

Look, tithing started as a discipline.  There was nothing sexy about it.  It felt like torture.  Tithing out of $438/month isn't exactly extravagant, so I couldn't even boast in the amount I was giving.   I was at the end of my options though.  I couldn't see any way out of my situation.  In a final gasp of surrender, I decided to give God whatever I could out of my poverty.

Through this discipline, God began teaching me about stewardship.  I began learning to live on less than 100% of my income.  I began to understand at least some of my income wasn't just for my consumption.  I began to realize that I could use what God has given me to bless others.

Later, in God's gracious timing, I learned that my tithe wasn't the only thing God wanted me to give.  How was the rest of my income being used to further God's kingdom?  How was my whole life being used to that same end?  Tithing began as a discipline and became a lens through which I viewed everything God had given me. He was teaching me to use whatever he gives me to bless others and further His Kingdom."

 

All that we own belongs to God; we are His stewards. Today in prayer, praise the Lord that He has given you charge of some of His wealth and give to others as Jesus would give.

 

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” – Amy Carmichael

 

God’s Word: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Answering His Call
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 1, 2014
Devotional - Answering His Call

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing” – Ezra 1:1

 

When Americans or the British answer the telephone, most of them simply say, "Hello." Responses are a bit different in other countries:



- Germans tend to answer the phone by barking their last names such as "Schmidt" or "Mueller"

- In Denmark, the Danes will answer with both their first and last names.



- The curious French say, "Hello, who’s on the line?"



- Italians greet callers with "Ready" upon which the caller demands, "Who's speaking?"



- The Spanish give the command, "Speak!"



- In Greece, the people answer “Please”

- The Chinese proclaim, "Hey, hey, who are you?"



- In Mexico, they usually answer "Bueno," which means "Good" or "Well."

- In the Arab world, many answer the phone "May your morning be good."

- Those living in Russia or Poland often say, "I’m listening."



 

In a similar way, the Lord calls each of us. In Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah responded to God’s call by saying "Here am I. Send me." Today in prayer, consider how you answer the Lord’s call and then follow Him in all that you do.

 

"I would rather walk through a mile of burning brimstone every night than spend over again those midnight hours when I fought against the call of God." - Dr. Robert Bruce

 

God’s Word: “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing” – 2 Chronicles 36:22

 

By Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2014, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

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