Since my travel route has changed a few months ago, I needed a new shortcut. I tried out this shortcut many people are probably familiar with; however, I’m not good with shortcuts. A few times I missed the right turn and my shortcut turned into a longcut. After a few misses, I focused on my surroundings to find something that would help me remember where to turn. It was then I saw the two lions.
When I saw the two lions, I was in the middle of a worship session, singing along with the radio to “Lion and the Lamb” by Big Daddy Weave as I navigated the route. I considered the Lion as I saw the lions. Then I thought of a series we were doing about chasing a lion—meaning chasing the dream God has placed in our hearts, just as Benaiah chased a lion into a pit. Two lions. The Lion of Judah and the dream He has for you.
Nearly every day this week, I have passed those two lions at least twice a day. I continued to think about the Lion and the path He placed before me, the dream He placed in my heart. I considered the intensity I chase Jesus and the intensity I chase where He leads. We are called to be fierce. We are called to jump into pits. We are called to chase after God. He’s not running from us. He’s not hiding. The chase is all about the heart. It’s all about wanting nothing more than Him. It’s about God being your everything. If He’s your everything, you run toward Him will intensity. You run with full force. You run uninhibited. You run focused. You run, not looking back. Today, consider what or who you are chasing. If you are pursing God, are you doing so with passion, with intensity?
“It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.” – Hebrews 11:27 [NLT]
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [NIV]
I love reading Nehemiah 8, and picturing all of the people gathered to listen to the Word of God. I find myself sometimes grieving over what I see around me. There are so many people who are not looking to hear God’s Word. Rather than attending church with ears to hear the Word, people often have ears closed. Many times I see people scrolling along on their phones or I see people with roaming eyes. I have even heard people having full on conversations during the message.
As Ezra read the Word of God to the people who assembled, they stood around hoping to understand. They continued to listen as “he read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” They “listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” When they heard what God’s Word said, they “lifted their hands,” and they “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces on the ground.” The passion, the desire, the love for God’s Word is simply beautiful. I have seen this before. I have felt this many times. It is my prayer that you have this constant passion, this ever-present desire, this unending thirst for God’s Word.
We are so very blessed to have God’s Word within reach. There was a time when there were only scrolls, and not many were accessible to all. People would gather to hear. We now have shelves with various translations. What a difference!?! But the passion they had for the Word when it was not so accessible often times seems to be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. Have you wept over God’s Word? Have you sought it out with great desire? Have you clung to His Word? Have you found yourself spending the day meditating and chewing on His Truth? Today, ask the Spirit to light a fire in you so you regain passion for 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…Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” -Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6 [NIV]
25) Don’t lie
26) Don’t act in anger – James 1:20 – Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. [NLT] Anger motivated by pride. Anger that lingers.
27) Give no opportunity to devil
28) If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. [NLT]
29) Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [MSG]
30) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. [MSG]
- Bitterness, harshness, embittered resentful spirit
- Wrath, passion, rage, bad temper
- Anger, resentment, animosity
- Quarreling, brawling, clamor, contention, shout
- Slander, evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language
- Malice, spite, ill will, evil behavior, wickedness, vicious disposition
Proverbs 29:11 – A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back. [NASB]
Proverbs 29:22 – An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. [NIV]
Proverbs 30:33 – For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife. [NASB]
1 Timothy 2:8 – Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. [HCSB]
Holy Spirit – common to each believer – Spirit of God ties each of us together
Acting in a negative matter breaks the binding of the Body. It is the opposite of unity. Anger can divide a church (2 Corinthians 12:20)
Never let anything bring division to His Body. Speak life. Look out for the best interests of others…
Bible Study Questions:
Ephesians 4 focuses on the unity of the body of Christ, the Church, and living as children of Light. What are some of the items Paul tells us to refrain from to promote unity and righteous living?
Ephesians 4:27 says not to give the devil an “opportunity” or “foothold” or “place.” What does this mean? Why is this so important?
The passage says, “Be angry” but in some verses we read that a fool loses his temper, commits many sins, and stirs up conflict. Where do we draw the line? How can anger be okay?
What Fruit of the Spirt do you think is important to live out these words Paul has written in this passage? (read Galatians 5:22-26)
Why does Paul spend so much time talking about unity?
What have you seen be most divisive in the Body?
What can you do to promote unity?
This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:
You have a great opportunity. I would say it is the greatest opportunity you will ever have in life. All you need to do is to look. All you need to do is to seriously look. Do you want it more than anything else?
I remember when I was younger and I would take an interest in something. I would gather piles of books and search online and seek out all I could find on the topic so I could get to know more. I wanted to know more. It was a great desire. A passion.
God is not far from us. Our Heavenly Father promises that when you look, when you seek with all your heart, when you truly want to find Him and to know Him, He will “make sure you won’t be disappointed.” You can never use an excuse that you are having trouble finding Him. Today I ask you, do you want Him more than anything else?
“’When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
‘Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree.
‘I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you’—God’s Decree—‘bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.’”
-Jeremiah 29:13-14 [MSG]
Did you ever fight tooth and nail for something? Perhaps there was some injustice in the world that caused you to stand up and boldly state your resistance. Maybe you had a circumstance arise that demanded you fight hard. Today’s passage speaks of a love for God’s law, a love that causes one to fight tooth and nail.
Fighting tooth and nail means fighting with every means available. You don’t hold back. You use everything you got in the fight. You put it all on the line because you care so much. Today’s passage says that if you love God’s law, you will fight just like that to defend it, to stand up for it, to uphold it.
Did you realize you were in a tough battle in this world? Not only is there a battle for your soul which Christ already sealed as a victory so long as you believe, but there is another battle all around this world. People are battling to knock God out of His creation. People are trying to take away public prayer. People are trying to ban people from practicing Christianity. People are stealing Bibles, twisting Scripture, and improperly representing Christ. If you love God’s law, if you love God, I pray you fight tooth and nail. He doesn’t need you to fight for Him—you need you to fight for Him. It’s about passion. It’s about love. It’s about being all in though many in the world are totally out. You can sit on the sidelines and desert God and His Word—“you’re free to embrace depravity,” or you can fight. You can stand firm. You can boldly declare the Name of Christ and embrace His will for your life.
“If you desert God’s law, you’re free to embrace depravity;
if you love God’s law, you fight for it tooth and nail.”
-Proverbs 28:4 [MSG]
I love reading Nehemiah. It is so awesome to read of the restoration and to see the people returning to God. I cannot help but smile from ear to ear when I read about Ezra bringing forth the Law. The Bible says he read it aloud from daybreak until noon. Can you imagine that being done today? Some people shift in their seats when the pastor’s sermon goes over a half hour.
These people were so eager to hear the Word. The people “were all ears” it says. All ears. That’s amazing. I love it. Sadly it’s not something we hear of often today. The only people I see like this are those who struggle to get their hands on a Bible. In places like Kenya, they have a lack of Bibles so families or even an entire church share one Bible and pass it around. And they cannot wait to get their turn at reading God’s Word. They want to hear it that badly.
Today, I am praying for each one of you. I am praying that you will want to hear God’s Word with such intensity, that you would want to be “all ears” for His Word. If you have such a passion for God and His Word, it will overflow out to everything around you. That my friend is a beautiful thing. May we all be all ears.
“So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.”
– Nehemiah 8:2-3 [MSG]
It is great to be passionate and focused on something. It is good to work hard at whatever you do as if working for the Lord (Colossians 3:17). But as Todd Adkins says, it “doesn’t matter how hard you work if you’re working on the wrong things.” The question is—are you working on the wrong things?
To answer that question, we need to have an understanding of God’s will. We need to understand our purpose in life. We also need to have a good understanding of God’s Word. So how do we understand God’s will and word and our purpose? We need to look to Him who has the answers. I cannot tell you your purpose—only God can direct your path. I cannot tell you God’s will for your life—only God through the Holy Spirit can provide the enlightenment you need. I can help you understand some Bible passages—only you can take them as your own and do something with it.
Sometimes working at the wrong things means SIN, that horrible three-letter word. It might sound bad that some people work so hard at sinning, but when you get caught lying to someone, you will find yourself lying to more and more people in an attempt to not let the first lie get uncovered. That is working hard at the wrong things. An affair, a lie, a theft—can all lead us down a road we should never travel. Today, examine your current situation. Focus on Him- His will, His word, and His purpose for your life. Keep the passion on working for the Lord, not working on the wrong things.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” – Jeremiah 2:13 [NIV]
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” – Colossians 3:23 [HCSB]
As I was doing my grocery shopping, I walked pass a young man stocking shelves. One of his co-workers passed by and asked, “You’re still doing that?” The response of the young man was one I’ve heard time and time again—“I’m here for eight hours either way.”
Yes, he will be there for eight hours. He will get paid the same no matter how much effort he puts forth with stocking the shelves. But this thought that it does not matter—that I do not need put forth a good effort—is something very negative and it greatly impacts our society.
We are told to do everything as if it was for the Lord. Today look at the effort you put forth, the attitude you have at your workplace, in your home, at church, in your relationship with God, etc. Do you give God your best effort or are you going through the motions till the time is up? Does it really matter? How would an onlooker see you stocking shelves—with joy serving the Lord or just passing time?