In Nehemiah 13, Nehemiah finds that the Israelites are still surrounding themselves with foreigners and involved with intermarriage. This was something that God spoke against many times in the Bible. Today, people seem to not grasp what this means, and take it as something of discrimination. The truth is, intermarriage, has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with Who you worship. When we look at the concept of intermarriage today, we look at it as a relationship between believers and non-believers.
The Bible tells us that if we are involved in a relationship with a non-believer (someone who does not believe in God as the One True God), then we the believer, may be led astray. The Bible warns us to therefore not become seriously involved with a non-believer so we do not tread on this unsteady ground. For us, this means we as Christians should not date or marry someone who is not a Christian. Even if we have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, if we marry or date someone who is not a Christian, we could be in danger of being derailed from our walk. As a Christian, we should not even desire to be seeking someone who is not seeking Jesus first.
I speak of this from a personal perspective. I have been there and have done that—and it was a road that was certainly off course, but thankfully God has used it for His glory. In my case, it wasn’t a matter of someone not professing Jesus, but someone not living for Jesus. We do not simply need to look for someone who has the lip confession, but the life confession. There’s a difference. In Nehemiah 13, we see that Nehemiah mentions Solomon to the people. King Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. He succumbed to being led astray by foreign relationships. Nehemiah basically asks the people why they think they could be wiser than him. Today, understand the importance of a good, godly relationship. If you are not yet married, remember that there is a proper way. God must be first in your life. Then when the time is proper, the one you seek should be seeking God first, even before you. That is the relationship that will be blessed and honored. May you find the one, who first seeks the One.
“Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.” – Nehemiah 13:26 [ESV]
In Ecclesiastes, we read about casting our bread on waters. In doing so, it will be found after many days. We are also advised to not stand around observing the wind instead of sowing the seed. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Bible gives us great wisdom for handling money and making investments.
The bread that is cast on waters, is actually grain. Note that the word waters or seas—this is important. This means that it is not that you are casting your grain in one place, but that you are spreading things out. This means you don’t put all your apples in one basket. Practically living this out means you have a budget that includes not only your general life bills (housing, utilities, transportation, etc.), but room for giving and room for saving. It also means you shouldn’t simply save for one thing, but rather save in different ways. For me, I follow what Dave Ramsey teaches in his Financial Peace University, which is a biblically based teaching. There is emergency fund, vacation saving, car saving, etc. Giving is the same way. On top of the church tithe, we are blessed to be a blessing in other ways. This may include supporting other ministries, fundraisers, and even blessing someone you personally know who is in need.
Notice this passage speaks about tossing out this grain upon the waters (remember multiple areas) and not hold back waiting to see if there’s a sure thing. This doesn’t mean that you are carelessly tossing money in the air and watching it fly away. This means you are trusting God with your money, with all your investments. If you continue reading, note that the passage mentions the work of God who makes everything. Solomon proceeds to advise us to sow in the morning and evening, that we do not know what is going to prosper. We simply trust God. Today, cast your bread upon the waters. If you are not in control of your money, you won’t want to cast it. If that is the case, dig deeper into what God’s Word teaches about money. Check into more information about Dave Ramsey material. Remember, we aren’t meant to cling—we are to cast. Peace is available my friends.
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” – Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 [ESV]
David addressed his son Solomon with some important words that we too can claim for ourselves. Solomon was entrusted with the plans to build the Temple, as we are entrusted with the Great Commission. David told Solomon not to be fearful or anxious. He basically said, “Son, don’t get discouraged. God is with you.”
God is with you too! You are not simply given direction and told to walk alone. As David told Solomon, “(God) won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch.” What does this mean? To be left in the lurch means to be left without assistance, without support needed in a difficult situation. To be left in the lurch is when you are left by someone at a particular time when you need them to stay.
Trust me friend, God does not leave you. The Holy Spirit is right with you every step of the way. You are not on this journey alone. The road might be rough, but you are going to make it! Let us finish this race together!!
“David continued to address Solomon: ‘Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. He’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. You have all the priests and Levites standing ready to pitch in, and skillful craftsmen and artisans of every kind ready to go to work. Both leaders and people are ready. Just say the word.’”
-1 Chronicles 28:20 [MSG]
We read in Isaiah that the idols are “empty as the wind.” When we think of wind, you don’t see anything there. It’s this movement of air. You can’t see it. The only reason you can tell the air is moving is because you see trees dancing in the wind or lightweight objects like leaves are carried by the strength of the wind. Or perhaps you feel the air blowing on your skin or through your hair.
The Bible says that idols are “foolish, worthless things.” When we think of idols, we often think of the man-made items that the people in biblical times worshiped. We read about different gods they worshiped that were made of wood or other materials and looked like an animal. But man-made idols can be anything that takes the place of God.
Ecclesiastes speaks of chasing the wind. Solomon writes of everything being meaningless. But what does that mean? Is everything meaningless? Is life meaningless? Not at all. Solomon understood that meaning could only be found in God. The idols we have on this earth—for some people it is money, a career, family, a particular person, gambling, etc—are all foolish, worthless things that cannot do a thing for us. With Jesus Christ we find meaning. There is no emptiness; there is only fullness. He satisfies completely. He makes whole. He completes.
“See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.” – Isaiah 41:29 [NLT]
We all have different images that come to mind when we hear the phrase “tragedy.” In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote that “a great tragedy” was that people who would “work wisely with knowledge and skill” would end up leaving the fruits of their labor to someone else, “someone who hasn’t worked for it.” Imagine your job. You invest your whole life excelling and doing great things for your area of business. Then one day, all the reward for that hard work goes to someone else who was not around for all those late nights you put in at the office. Imagine working hard since you were of age to work, but then having it all taken from you to get a bed at the county nursing home. To many people, these examples are to them “a great tragedy.”
What we need to always remember is that we are only here temporarily. We are not here building a huge dynasty for ourselves, but rather, we are here to fulfill the purpose our Lord has planned for our lives. We each have a purpose—we each are significant and have a great contribution to make to the world. It is a great tragedy to work so hard and for it to seem meaningless. But it’s a greater tragedy when we do not know our true purpose in life—when we do not have a relationship with Christ.
We have a choice. We can work hard to have this “great tragedy” or we can work hard serving the Lord with joy. We can work hard to build up something here on earth or we can work hard so that God gets the glory He alone deserves. We will all face this great tragedy and it is a great tragedy—but we will receive something so much better than anything we could have here on earth. Let us continue to serve the Lord with joy, awaiting this beautiful, “great tragedy.”
“Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.” – Ecclesiastes 2:21 [NLT]
People like to talk. I know I talk a lot, sometimes more than I should. Solomon advised that when we “enter the house of God” we are to do two things. We are to keep our ears open and we are to keep our mouth shut. If we are not entering the house of God with ears to listen, why are we even there? We are to approach the Lord for wisdom, for guidance, to seek His will for our lives.
At the same time, Solomon says that we need to keep our mouths shut. Why? Because we tend to approach God and tell Him what we want—what our plan is for our lives. But that’s not necessarily what God wants for our lives. If we are too busy telling God what we want Him to do, we are not focused on listening to Him tell us what we were made to do, what is our purpose—the plan for our life.
Today consider how you enter the house of God. Consider how you read and study your Bible. Do you have your ears open? Do you have your mouth shut? Are you listening for what God has to say or are you using your mouth to interject with your instructions?
“As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:1 [NLT]
Have you ever given an excuse that you were waiting for the right moment to do something? Solomon wrote that “farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” And because “they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” If you do not get started with something, how will you ever get to the finish line?
When it comes to what God is calling you to do, if He says it is time to get started, we cannot sit and wait for the “perfect weather.” We all are weak and are only able to accomplish what we were created to do through God’s strength. Yes we must wait for God, but when He’s telling us to move forward, it is time. We should not be sitting around waiting for something else to happen for us to move. We shouldn’t say we are not ready because God says we are ready—through Christ we are ready.
Today do not sit around watching every cloud. There is work to be done. We need to plant so we can later harvest. If we wait around for the perfect time, we will find that there is no perfect time than the time God has chosen. He has a beautiful plan—trust it!
“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4 [NLT]
I just finished working on this new project, Settling Down With God: A Study of 1 Kings. Funny enough, when God gave me the title, I initially thought that He wanted me to write about coping with AdHd in a biblical manner, because AdHd is something that both my daughter and I have learned to deal with over the years. Nonetheless, I waited for His direction and later learned that I was way off course.
I was very excited to dig deeper into 1 Kings for this project, as it is always a book I enjoy reading. There is so much there; I am always amazed.
For my first three books, and my 4th book (the Daily Good complimentary 14-day Devotional), I actually used my own personal photography. Each of the photos on all four of those books were taken in Australia. I wanted to do things differently this time around. My daughter is quite the artist and I asked if she could design the book cover. She merely was told that it was a Bible study book on 1 Kings.
As my daughter completed the book cover, I was working on the text. When we both were finished, my daughter sat by my side and helped to edit the cover till it was as she thought best for her vision. She told me that the puzzle pieces were used on the cover because it represents how each one of us is a special piece, we each are different, but we belong to one body. Then she said at the same time, our lives are made up of different pieces. I was so impressed by what she has already learned so far, to see her vision brought to life, and to work with her on this project.
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“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.” – 1 Kings 14:25-27 [NIV]
We read that “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 21). Then the passage mentions high places, sacred stones, Asherah poles, and even male shrine prostitutes. The people were engaged in horrible, sinful acts. The people were committing idolatry. Then the judgment for their actions followed. The king of Egypt attacked and the treasures were taken. The gold shields that Solomon had made were carried away, and Solomon’s son has them replaced with bronze shields.
When we look at this replacement of the shields, it reminds me of something that a criminal does, replacing something real with something fake to pretend that the fake item is the real thing. At the end of the day, the deception is deception and can never be truth. Even if the shields were replaced, it was easy to see that they were not the original gold shields. Solomon made those gold shields when he was doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The shields were just one of many things that pointed to the splendor of Israel when following the Lord.
Today let this be a reminder of what truth is and what is not considered the truth. Let us remember that we have the option of having a true, real relationship with God. We can attempt to fake it by having a Bible on our bookshelf or attending church on Sunday, but there is no replacement for the real thing.