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Series: Devotions In Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther
Devotional - Resolved To Do Right
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 27, 2017
Devotional - Resolved To Do Right

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

 

On May 19, 1856, the temperature reached 90 degrees in Washington D.C. At 1:00 p.m., Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner rose to speak. It had taken him two months to schedule floor time. The crusading antislavery Republican intended to address the explosive issue of whether Kansas should be admitted to the Union as a slave state or a free state.

Senator Sumner had carefully written every word of the address in longhand and arranged for an advance printed edition—112 pages long. By the time he entered the chamber on May 19, he had memorized every word of the address he entitled "The Crime Against Kansas."

Resolved to speak the truth against the atrocities of slavery, Sumner spoke for five hours over two days. He singled out two Democratic senators as principal culprits in this crime that supporters of slavery had perpetrated against Kansas and the nation's democratic institutions.

Two days later, an enraged South Carolina Congressman, Democrat Preston Brooks, nearly killed Sumner. He beat Sumner with his cane until the cane broke.  Senator Sumner spent months convalescing and was unable to return to his senate duties for another three years.

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Our Turnaround God
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 26, 2017
Devotional - Our Turnaround God

“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

 

Charlotte Gambill of Bradford, England writes the following:

"For most of my life, I have lived in the same city in England. Although surrounded by stunning countryside, the city where we are building our church and ministry is one of the most deprived and neediest parts of our country. Our city has become famous for all the wrong reasons: escalating crime rates, one of the highest-ranked cities in Europe for child poverty, and violent racial riots that have been watched in horror on global news networks. I would be lying if I said I have always loved living in my city. The truth is that on more than one occasion, I have asked God to relocate me somewhere less desolate and desperate. I remember as a young girl going forward to many altar calls declaring, “Here I am, Lord; send me!” Yet my apparent willingness to be sent was tempered by a less apparent agenda of the places I would be willing to be sent to — and my hometown wasn’t one of them.

When I married my husband, Steve, who happens to be American, he was living in the beautiful state of Washington. With its impressive mountain range and cascading waters, it presented stunning scenery year-round, from sweltering summers to snowy winters. I thought God had finally granted me my escape route. I would not only relocate cities, but nations! Yet God did not move me geographically; He moved me spiritually. Instead of giving me a great escape, He gave me a great turnaround partner in my husband, who felt God ask him to leave his idyllic backdrop and relocate with me to my needy city, which we now both call home. God began to show us the life He wanted us to build on this desolate hillside, the barrenness He wanted to fill with life, and the forgotten people toward whom He wanted to extend His love and kindness. Our world needs to know the power of our turnaround God."

 

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 turnaround 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Give To The Lord's Work
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 25, 2017
Devotional - Give To The Lord's Work

“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 Kevin Coughlin wrote the following memoir about the attitude of giving on his trip to the Philippines: 

“On the northern slopes of the Island of Mendoro, there is a squalidly poor tribe of people known as the Manyans. Ninety percent of them are believers in Jesus. Their huts require repair after every storm. They do not know about indoor plumbing. Their concept of electricity is fluorescent bulbs driven by batteries, and only the very wealthy one percent of the tribe has these. The children go naked until puberty, and even then their rags are pathetic. All the people I met have bad teeth, and their bellies are swollen from malnutrition. But their eyes and smiles are warm, sparkling, and genuinely joyful.

They held a pastor’s conference in April, where I was taken by a national pastor/friend. There were 80 pastors who represented about 65 churches in the hills. The biggest church there has 75 people in it. At the conference everyone was squatting in their breech-clothes eating rice and fermented fish-heads with their fingers.

Here was the topic of intense discussion: How do we dig a little deeper to get enough pesos to send along with three Christian missionaries from the tribe, Yangunsi, Gunye, and Makario? We need more resources to send these men to the lost souls on the island of Paloswan, so they can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

 

No matter how much you have, consider how 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Man's Stubbornness
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 22, 2017
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

 

Otou is the father-of-three. He and his wife Katayama Yumi live together in Nara, Japan. More than 20 years ago Otou stopped talking to his wife. He would talk normally to his children. And Katayama continued to love her husband and speak to Otou but to no avail - he would only nod or grunt in reply. It was a one-way conversation.

The bizarre problem came to light after the Japanese couple's 18-year-old son, Yoshiki, wrote into a TV show asking for help.

Yoshiki said he had never heard his parents speak since as far back as he can remember.

Speaking on the TV show, the father Otou explained his stubbornness for giving his wife the silent treatment.

He felt she was not giving him enough attention.

"When the kids were born my wife was very involved and busy in raising the kids.

I was kind of... jealous. I was sulking about it.”

Then in December 2016, the Japanese show plotted to fix the situation by arranging a meeting between them at the same park where they had their first date.

And the strange situation had a talkative ending.

After visibly struggling, Otou managed to utter a few words to his wife as they sat together on a bench in Nara Park.

Otou said: "Somehow it's been a while since we talked.”

With his stubbornness melting, the couple engaged in their first conversation in more than two decades.

The pair promised their future together wouldn’t be so quiet.

 

God’s love is stronger than our stubbornness. 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Study His Word
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 21, 2017
Devotional - Study His 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

 

Phillips Brooks is best known today as the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” However, previous generations considered Brooks as the greatest American preacher of the nineteenth century.

He was born in Boston in 1835 and educated at Harvard and at Virginia Theological Seminary. After ten years of ministry at two churches in Philadelphia, he returned to Boston in 1869 and was rector of Trinity Church there until 1891. 

On the subject of bible study, Phillips said the following:

“The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope, then he sees worlds beyond: but if he looks at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through, to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it; and so they see only the dead letter.”

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Strength From Our Fellowship In Christ
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 20, 2017
Devotional - Strength From Our Fellowship In Christ

“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 first Baptist Missionary Society meeting occurred in October 1792. Twelve ministers

signed an agreement to establish the missionary society.

One characteristic of the missionary society stood out above all the others: these men loved each other and were profoundly committed to strengthening each other's hands in God. They did this even when they were far apart from each other.

In 1793, the first missionaries, William Carey and John Thomas, were sent to Bengal, India.

One of the twelve ministers was Samuel Pearce. He waited over a year for his first letter from Carey after he had left for India. But when it came, Samuel was overjoyed. Here is what he wrote in a return letter to Carey:

“The account you gave us inspired us with new vigor, and greatly strengthened our hands in the Lord. We read, and wept, and praised, and prayed. O, who but the Christian feels such pleasures as are connected with friendship for our dear Lord Jesus Christ?”

 

Only through the friendship of Jesus Christ can we strengthen others. 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Fear Of The Lord
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 19, 2017
Devotional - The Fear Of The Lord

“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

 

Eugene Asa Carr was a career army officer when the civil war broke out. During the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas, on March 7, 1862, Carr led the 4th Division of the Army of the Southwest in the fighting around Elkhorn Tavern. He was wounded in the neck, arm and ankle and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. According to the official citation, Carr had "directed the deployment of his command and held his ground, under a brisk fire of shot and shell in which he was several times wounded."

How could Carr live such a brave life without fear?

He wrote: “The only sure way to take fear out of living is to keep a respectful fear of God in our lives, which means to maintain a reverent attitude toward His place and influence in the scheme of things. This brand of fear is a healthy ingredient, a deterrent to want, a spur to courage and confidence, an insurance against loss, a source of comfort and understanding at any age.”

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Work With All Of Your Heart
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 18, 2017
Devotional - Work 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

 

Marion Wade was born in Arkansas in 1898. He grew up in a Christian home, but he didn’t accept the Lord until he was an adult. Marion left school after the 8th grade in order to help support his family. It wasn’t until 1930, at the age of 32, that Marion gave his life to the Lord.

When Marion made his decision, he did it whole-heartedly. He developed a strong personal faith and a genuine desire to serve and honor God in all he did. Taking his personal convictions into the business world, he saw great worth in each individual. As a result, he respected every customer and employee, believing that each one had been made in God’s image.

In the midst of the Great Depression, he began a new home and office mothproofing company. His business expanded and he began to offer carpet and rug cleaning as well. Then in 1954 the name of the company changed to ServiceMaster. The company that Wade founded more than 60 years ago is still thriving today because he worked whole heartedly for the Lord.

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - The Meaning Of Success
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 15, 2017
Devotional - The Meaning Of 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

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, and author who resisted the Nazis and was executed for speaking out against Hitler. In his book “Ethics” he wrote about Christ and success:

 “In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things, the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best an object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done…With a frankness and off-handedness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum that the end justifies the means…The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.”

 

The secret of success is to love Jesus and to follow 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Awesome Is The Lord
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 14, 2017
Devotional - Awesome Is The Lord

“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

 

In 2006, Jon Abel was flying to El Cajon, California to pick up a new guitar. The Lord was leading him to write worship music full time.

On the flight, Jon remembered: “being so excited, like a giddy kid on his first flight ever, sensing that I was in the middle of something bigger than me. I felt alive, humbled, and in awe of this great God who would give so much to a guy so undeserving. As we reached cruising altitude, I opened my Bible to Psalm 47 and read:

“Clap your hands all you nations;

Shout to God with cries of joy.

How awesome is the Lord Most High,

The Great King over all the earth!”

That’s when ‘Awesome is the Lord Most High’ was born.”

Jon and his wife Cary finished writing the song over the weekend. Soon afterwards, Jon met Chris Tomlin and Chris recorded the song. The song praises God for his awesomeness.

 

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

 

“Raise your hands, all you nations

Shout to God all creation

How awesome is the Lord most high.” – Jon Abel

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Take Courage
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 13, 2017
Devotional - Take Courage

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

 

On February 23, 1997, a priest named Oscar Romero was installed as Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador. His appointment dismayed a number of his fellow priests and delighted the repressive governing regime. Romero was known as a conservative and both the government and reform minded priests thought he would remain silent on the human rights abuses that were occurring throughout the country.

Romero soon proved them wrong. During his priesthood he had spent time with the peasant farmers that made up his congregations and his attitude to politics changed. He saw the ways power and wealth were manipulated to the advantage of a small group of wealthy families. For the poor majority this resulted in hunger, children dying because their parents could not afford medicines, and extreme violence, including beatings, rape and murder, when they dared object.

Two weeks after his installation, Archbishop Romero’s friend, Rutilio Grande, was murdered by the paramilitary. Grande had been creating self-reliance groups among the peasants and was seen as a challenge to the status quo. Romero remembered: "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, 'If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.'"

Romero demanded the government investigate the murder, but his demand was met with silence. He courageously continued the work of Rutilio Grande.

Three years later, on the May 24, 1980, Archbishop Romero was celebrating mass when he was gunned 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Ashamed Of Guilt
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 12, 2017
Devotional - Ashamed Of Guilt

“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 June 2015, Conner Dawes was in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Britain with a friend when the pair spotted a man walking alone through the town center at around 10pm.

Conner followed the young man for about five minutes before approaching the him in an alleyway. 

There, Conner knocked him to the ground and pulled off his coat before snatching his phone and wallet. 

The victim suffered a cut to his eye and as a result of the robbery.

After he left the scene, Conner looked inside the man’s wallet and found some personal information about him, including that the man he had attacked had a form of autism. After wrestling through the guilt, Dawes decided to turn himself in, telling police he was “scum” and should be arrested.

The young man was given a trial to determine his punishment. Judge Silvia de Bertodano stated at the hearing, “You may not have known this young man had Asperger’s, but you knew he was vulnerable because he was on his own at night. This is a young man who struggles in life, and he has described in moving terms how much worse that struggle has become as a result of this.” It is clear the judge felt strongly about this case, but what she said was nothing Dawes didn’t already understand when he decided to turn himself in. The 19-year-old is now serving two years in jail.

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail    

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Pray and Fast
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 11, 2017
Devotional - Pray and Fast

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

 

Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea is the largest church in the world with over 700,000 members. The staff has such a belief in the power of prayer and fasting that they rarely, if ever, counsel people. If someone comes to them with a great problem or urgent need, their standard answer is, “go to Prayer Mountain and fast and pray for three days”.

Prayer Mountain is a church owned facility on a hill for the purpose of prayer, meditation and fasting. It contains over 200 prayer grottoes as well as a three-story hotel.

If the person returns with the problem still unmet, they tell them to go and fast and pray for a week. If the problem is still unmet, the counsel is to fast and pray for 10 days. And if direction is still not met, the pastors advise to go and fast for 40 days. No one has ever returned after a 40 day fast and prayer without knowing what to do.

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Study His Word
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 8, 2017
Devotional - Study His Word

“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

 

When John G. Mitchell, of Multnomah School of the Bible, was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, he heard Dr. G. Campbell Morgan preach.

Dr. Morgan was a prolific author; writing about 80 works in his lifetime, not counting the 10-volume set of sermons. He also wrote extensive commentaries on the entire Bible. 

As John listened to Dr. Morgan preach, it was evident that he knew his biblical text.

Young John was impressed. In fact, he asked the visiting Bible teacher how he understood Scripture so well. "If I tell you," he replied, "the chances are you would not do it."

After further prompting by John, Dr. Campbell disclosed, "I read a book through 40 to 50 times before I even start to study it."

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Shouts Of Joy
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday Jun 7, 2017
Devotional - Shouts Of 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

 

In 1944, Stuart Dauermann was born in Brooklyn, New York into a Conservative Jewish family. Music was Stuart's first chosen career, and it was in his second year as an undergraduate majoring in Music Theory at the Manhattan School of Music that he was invited to a discussion group where he began investigating the Newer Testament. It was 1962 when he became convinced that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and the Nations.

In the early 1970’s, Stuart came up with a melody that had a Jewish folk song style, with an irregular meter, and a 4/4 time signature. The song had a joyful rhythm.

Soon afterwards, Steffi Karen Rubin heard the tune. Steffi was from the Bronx and also a Messianic Jew. She had been reading Isaiah 55 and paraphrased verse 12 to make the lyrics of the popular Christian song “Trees of the Field.”

The song was first published in 1975 and this joyful song continues to be a favorite for more than 40 years.

 

There is joy when we know Jesus. Today in prayer, give your heart to Jesus and receive His joy.

 

“You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace,

The mountains and the hills will break forth before you.

There’ll be shouts of joy and all the trees of the field

Will clap, will clap their hands.” – Steffi Karen Rubin

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - God Is Watching
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Tuesday Jun 6, 2017
Devotional - God 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

 

In the Vatican Museum, there is one room dedicated to tapestries. Along the long walls hang tapestries from two different periods and regions.

The ones on the right were made in the 17th century in Rome for Pope Urban VIII (Barberini), depicting scenes from his life. These are nice but the most amazing tapestries are along the left wall.

Here you have tapestries woven in Brussels by Pieter van Aelst’s School, from the 1500's. They made the tapestries based on drawings by Raphael’s pupils, during the pontificate of Clement VII. These tapestries depict the life of Jesus.

Each tapestry took years to make. They were finely woven by the best weavers of the day (who were in Flanders, or Belgium), out of wool but also silk, and gold and silver thread.

One of the most amazing of these works is entitled “The Resurrection of Christ.” It took seven years to weave and is much larger than the other tapestries in the museum. The work is a wonderful example of "moving perspective," a technique you find sometimes in paintings such as the Mona Lisa.

As one approaches the tapestry, if you keep your eyes on Jesus's eyes and keep walking, it will appear that his eyes are tracking you as you walk. By the time you pass the tapestry, His eyes are still with you!

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Don't Be Discouraged
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Monday Jun 5, 2017
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 December 1940, Major General Richard O'Connor led a relatively small force of 31,000 men against the Italian army stationed in Egypt.

What made this so extraordinary was the Italian army had 250,000 men, more than 8 times the British force. O'Connor attacked anyway and had fewer than 2,000 casualties. In the process they destroyed 10 Italian divisions, took 170,000 prisoners and captured 400 tanks and 850 guns - one of the most remarkable feats of arms in history. The decisive factor in the Italian loss was their low morale - because they weren't happy with the alliance with Germany, and they certainly weren't prepared to die for Mussolini. So they broke and retreated at a crucial moment. Discouragement was the key to their defeat.

 

Be encouraged! In Jesus Christ we have victory. 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - God Is Good
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Sunday Jun 4, 2017
Devotional - God Is 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

 

In June 1940, France fell to Nazi Germany. Pastor André and Magda Trocmé were serving in the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in south-central France.

The Trocmés became very involved in a wide network organizing the rescue of Jews fleeing the deportation efforts of the Nazi implementation of their Final Solution. Pastor Trocmé and other area ministers encouraged their congregations to shelter "the people of the Bible" and for their cities to be a "city of refuge." The Trocmés were a catalyst whose efforts led to Le Chambon and surrounding villages becoming a unique haven in Nazi-occupied France.

Pastor Trocmé refused to accept the definitions of those in power. "We do not know what a Jew is. We only know men," he said. Between 1940 and 1945 when World War II ended in Europe, it is estimated that about 3500 Jewish refugees including many children were saved through the Trocmés’ efforts.

One of the sayings of Pastor Trocmé to his congregation to encourage them to do good things was: “Look hard for ways to make little moves against destructiveness.”

 

God is good. Today in prayer, let the goodness of God be part of your life.

 

“The great gift of Easter is hope - Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” – Basil Hume

 

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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - Give According To Your Ability
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Thursday Jun 1, 2017
Devotional - Give According To Your Ability

“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

 

Robert A. Laidlaw founded the Farmers Trading Company, one of the largest department store chains in New Zealand. He began tithing his $3 weekly salary at age 18.

Two years later, he covenanted with God to give 10% of his salary—up to a predetermined amount. Above that amount and up to a larger amount—15%. Above this amount and up to a still larger amount—20%. All above a still larger amount—25%.

At the age of 25, Laidlaw decided to change the above graduated scale and give God 50% of all his earnings.

Forty-five years later, he testified: “In spiritual communion and in material things, God has blessed me 100-fold, and has graciously entrusted to me a stewardship far beyond my expectations when, as a lad of 18, I started to give God a definite portion of my wages.”

 

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 He 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

Devotional - His Calling
Posted by Peter Kennedy on Wednesday May 31, 2017
Devotional - His Calling

“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

 

In 1889, George W. Truett was studying law and, occasionally, preaching at Whitewright Baptist Church in Whitewright, Texas when the pulpit needed filling. One night in a church business meeting, an older man arose and, in part, said, "This church has a duty to perform, and we have waited late and long to get about it. I move, therefore, that this church call a presbytery to ordain George W. Truett to the full work of the gospel ministry." This motion was made and seconded without consulting Truett.

The 23-year old Truett was thunderstruck. He rose to his feet and said, "You have me appalled; you simply have me appalled."

But one person after another stood up and said, "Brother George, we have a deep conviction that you ought to be preaching." He begged them to hold off for six months. They said, "We won't wait six hours. We are called to do this thing now … we dare not wait … we must follow our convictions."

Truett recalled, "There I was, against a whole church, against a church profoundly moved. There was not a dry eye in the house—one of the supreme solemn hours in the church's life. I was thrown into the stream, and just had to swim."

 

In a similar way, the Lord calls each of us to do his work. 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 2017, Devotional E-Mail   

DEVOTIONS IN EZRA, NEHEMIAH, AND ESTHER

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