Ignited For God

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Nehemiah 8:5-6 ( ESV)

“And Ezra opened the book in all the sight of the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood.  And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” 

Nehemiah 8:8 ( ESV)

“They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave sense so that people understood the reading. “

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Just Wow!

Every time I read this scripture of how the people stood, worshiped and wept I get chills.  I see revival taking place among the people and in their hearts. This was a group of people who  were hungry to hear the Word of God read to them. They not only craved to hear God’s Word but they wanted to make sure that all those around them knew what was being said and understood what was being said.

 

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Where We Have Been

For the last couple of months, I have been on the journey of studying Nehemiah with the Ladies’ Life Group at the church where I worship. We have been using the Nehemiah Study by Kelly Minter.  The first week on this journey we read how Nehemiah has found out that the wall of Jerusalem has been destroyed and how he wept. He knew he had to go back and help his people rebuild. Yet, he began this journey of restoration with much thought and prayer.  We have journeyed with Nehemiah from recruitment of workers, how to handle opposition in the midst of restoration and building to the week where the  people have come together for worship.

 

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Response

I can’t help but get excited when I read how the Israelites responded to the reading of God’s Word.  The older generations were being reminded of God’s instructions and being convicted of the importance of being obedient to God’s Word. Until of recent, when I read this passage, I thought of the audience of being mostly made up of adults. Yet, in Kelly Minter’s study of Nehemiah, she references to what would be like to hold the attention of her young niece and nephew.  Would they have stood still for six hours listening to scripture being read?

It was Kelly’s referencing the idea of her young niece and nephew being in such an audience that I realized that there were young children in that audience hearing the Law of Moses being read for the very first time. I am not just suggesting only young children but teenagers and young adults as well were hearing these words spoken for the first time in their lives.  Thus, the older generations were having to explain what was being read. Picture it, a father and mother bent over to explain to their young children what was being read.

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Thirsty

The Israelites were thirsty to hear God’s Word to the point that when Ezra opened the Law of Moses they stood. The people  lifted their hands in worship and they bowed in reverence to the reading of the Word. As I said earlier, they were having revival!

When I reflect on this passage I think of those in other countries who are thirsty and get excited when someone shares God’s Word with them. As I read how the people stood and worshiped, I see images in my head of tribes in other countries of how they hold nothing back in their worship. They raise their hands, they dance and they express pure joy of being in the presence of the Lord. They will literally risk their lives to worship, to own a Bible and to carry the gospel to other places and people.

Then, I think about us in the United States and our cooperate worship. Yes, we have some who raise their hands in worship. But are we truly in authentic worship with our Creator, or, are we worshiping with the list of things that await us as soon as the last amen is said to dismiss us for the day? Are we critiquing the sermon, the music or a program within the church in our minds instead of being in complete worship in the presence of the Lord? Are we truly thirsty to hear the Lord speak to our hearts and be in worship with him?

 

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Bending Over

In  my vision of parents explaining what was being read to their children and older adults explaining to younger adults the meaning of what was being read, I thought about the generations coming behind me. It made me evaluate how well had I explained the scriptures to my son as I raised him up in the church. Had I really emphasized the importance of genuine worship and being in the presence of God? Or, had I raised him as this is something we do on Sundays and as soon as we leave the church building the secular life continues on? It is my prayer that I did teach him what it means to be in genuine communion with God not only in a Sunday morning service but as he went out into the secular world after the worship service.

As the years click off, my eyes are being opened up more and more to a world that is hurting. We have generations coming up that have not even heard the name,  Jesus. Of recent, I have seen and read stories of children in other countries that their only desire in this world is to have a Bible. There are people hungry and thirsty for the Word of God to not only be read to them but to be explained to them.

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Ambassadors

For those of us who believe, it is our responsibility to share the gospel with those who are hungry and thirsty. We need to be bending over and kneeling  beside those who have never heard the words of our Father. It is our duty to explain to them that they have a Father who loves them.  We must share how he sent his Son, Jesus to take on our sin on a cross and die so that we can have eternal life.

Just as the people in Nehemiah worshiped with great reverence as Ezra read from the Law of Moses  it is my prayer that we become ignited for God as they were on that Sabbath  day. May revival take place in our hearts that the joy of the Lord is in our hearts beyond the capacity that we can’t contain ourselves. The joy of the Lord should fill our hearts to over capacity to the point that we will not and cannot rest until we share this joy with someone God places in our path. Not only can we not contain it when it comes to sharing but our hearts are so full that we desire nothing but to be in genuine worship with our Creator.

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Dear God,

Just as you ignited the hearts of the Israelites may you set our hearts on fire. There are those you place in our path who are hungry and thirsty. Their hunger will not subside nor will their thirst be quenched until they hear Your words that you have spoken since the beginning of time.

May we be in worship with You not just on Sunday but in all that we do 24/7.  As we journey with You may we seek where You are at work and join You in  Your work. You give us no task that is too difficult. You are our strength. It is through serving You we experience great joy in our hearts. In all that we do, we give You all glory and honor. 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Suggested Reading: Radical  by David Platt

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Restoration

He who is seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone and the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

restoring

One thing Jim and I like to do is go out and about and find pieces of furniture or other items that we can re-purpose or restore. I have several items in my home that we have stumbled on while on such excursions that Jim has taken time to restore.  The end result is we have pieces that aren’t perfect. Some of these pieces have markings that with all the sanding and rubbing one could do they will not come out. Jim and I call these markings/scratches character marks which only add to the beauty of the piece we have restored. Along with the character marks, we also have a new conversation piece in our home.

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Not long ago, I was singing with our local hospital choir at a memorial service being held at our hospital for employees that have passed away within the past year.  After the service was concluded, I was speaking with our choir director regarding all that I had gone through last year and how God led me to healing waters.  “My soul/spirit has been restored” is what I told our director. Her response to me was not only “God is good” but she told me that this year is the year for restoration.  The word restoration has echoed in my mind since that morning I sung with the hospital choir.

Bible with heart

Since that moment of hearing that it is the year for restoration, I have begun hearing stories of healing and lives being restored. The healings have not just been physical healings but emotional and spiritual healings. There are people I have prayed for over time that have turned back to God and allowed to be their source of strength and hope.

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Of recent, Jim and I had heard the most beautiful story of restoration. About a week ago we were on our way to the beach. Before getting to our destination, we decided we needed to stop at a Kmart for some snacks and other last-minute supplies. As we approached the check out lane with our items, I noticed that the clerks hands were shaking. I thought to myself; “I wonder what kind of disability does she have “ but the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear that it was not a disability.

Within me, God spoke and told me that she had overcome some sort of addiction but what kind I did not know until it was our turn to check out.  As she began to check us out, this clerk  asked where we were from and where we were going. We told her and then she began to tell us her story. She had lived in the area we were in at that moment for nine years. Jim asked her what brought her to where she was now. Her response was; “the law.”

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This clerk had lived on the coast and had been an alcoholic  which led her to be homeless and getting into trouble with the law. She was brought to the town where she currently resides and admitted into a rehab unit.  Through this rehab program she began to find peace with God. This girl explained where she had been and how through the twelve-step program she learned that God was the source of her strength. She explained how she had tried to find strength in a bottle and got nowhere. The clerk went on to say that she is thankful to God everyday for all that he gives her and for bringing to where she is now. Now, not only is she nine years clean but she has a steady job, a place to live and is a sponsor to three women through AA.

Beauty from ashes

 

She went on to share with us that the first thing she tells the ones she sponsors is that you need to surrender all to God and allow him to be the source of your strength.  As Jim and I began to gather our bags, the clerk apologized if she took too much of our time by sharing her story. Jim’s response was; “you didn’t take any time away from us at all.  He went on to tell her that her story of restoration was beautiful and we would pray for her.”  It was in those few minutes of the check-out lane where Jim and I saw God at work in someone we did not even know.  What a wonderful treasure we were given in those moments and one we will never forget.

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If I gathered all those who read my posts together in one room and went around asked; “do you know someone who is in need of restoration?”.  It is without a doubt each person would know of someone who is down in that pit at this moment trying to crawl out and is desperate for hope. These persons have looked to other things besides God for strength and it has gotten them nowhere.

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The best thing we can do for those who are lost and feel as there is no hope is to persistently pray for them. By being persistent in prayer, we are  placing the person and situation in God’s hands.  From my own personal experience my prayer consist of asking God to place others in the person’s path that can lead them to healing.

Heart

Not only is prayer the best thing we can do for a person in need of restoration, but having non-judgemental ears and heart is also important. You see, the person in harm’s way already feels bad about themselves and what they are doing.  What we have to do is lead by example. This example is having a  Christ-like attitude when it comes to helping them. After all, Jesus not only healed the physical illnesses/disabilities but he He healed the spiritual as well.  He did it in a non-judgemental fashion with saying as He healed them; tell the Good News and go and sin no more.”

God's timing

Restoration may not come right away and this is where our faith comes into play. The pieces that Jim and I have purchased over the years and that have been restored did not happen over night. Some pieces took days, some took weeks and some are taking years to complete. It is in God’s time where restoration will take place.

When restoration does take place, you will see such inner beauty and joy beam through the eyes of a person that was once hurting. Yes, they will have scars but they are scares of experience. The scars of  experience can be the light of hope in leading others to God’s strength, peace and kingdom.

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When restoration does take place it is important for us again to be non-judgemental but be unconditional in our interactions with them.  We need to give God the glory for the person who has changed their lives for the better.  Just as the father of the prodigal son celebrated his son’s return, we also are to celebrate the person who has chosen to come back and be a part of God’s kingdom.

Ability to change

My prayer today is that if you know of someone who is needing hope and strength that only God can give that you will  start by persistently  praying for them. Then, love on them with a Christ-like heart and show them His grace through your actions toward them.  And, just as the lyrics to the song goes; “don’t give up hope, some people change.  Love finds a way, some people change.”