October 16, 2018

In the Church, every believer is not only a saint, but a priest also. The Latin word for priest means bridge builder. Is your life building bridges that make it easy for others to see Christ and desire to know Him, or is your life turning people away from Jesus? A priest is not only a bridge builder, but a message giver. What is your life’s message? Please open your Bible to First Peter chapter two, and listen as Pastor Ray Viola completes his discussion of verses four through ten.

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October 16, 2018

In the Church, every believer is not only a saint, but a priest also. The Latin word for priest means bridge builder. Is your life building bridges that make it easy for others to see Christ and desire to know Him, or is your life turning people away from Jesus? A...

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October 15, 2018

The Church is an ever-growing collection of living stones surrounded by construction scaffolding. For these stones to be fitly joined together into a single, beautiful edifice, Jesus, the Master Builder, must knock off our rough edges as He shapes us into images of...

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October 12, 2018

Jesus is the Stone that saves some and causes others to stumble. To the Christian, He is the Precious Cornerstone of our faith, but to the world, Jesus is not precious at all. One cannot use popular opinion to judge something’s value. The world was wrong about Jesus...

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October 11, 2018

Hypocrisy literally describes someone who puts on a “false face.” They act one way when they are around other Christians in order to fit in, but in secular settings, they are just one of the gang. Scripture also describes them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. For those...

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October 9, 2018

Obeying the Holy Spirit develops purity in our lives that yields a fervent love for other believers. However, there are things that can cause this love to grow cold: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, and envy, to name a few. We should lay aside these attitudes so that our...

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October 8, 2018

When a person is going through hard times, they are vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. It is tempting to throw your hands up in the air, and say, “What’s the use?” Then run back to the former lusts, trying to comfort your flesh, rather than feeding your spirit....

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October 5, 2018

How do you show somebody that you love them? You spend time with them, and you do things that will bless them. By spending time in prayer, in God’s word, in fellowship with other believers, and living obedient, god-fearing lives, Christians show their love for Jesus....

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October 4, 2018

Scripture tells us that the ways of this world, many of which seem right to carnally-minded men, end in destruction. However, you can have living hope in Jesus Christ, because He rose from the dead. If you abide in Christ in this life, your eternal destiny is certain...

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October 10, 2018

Just as a malnourished, physical body will not develop properly, a person can inhibit their spiritual development by harboring toxic attitudes. Allowing God’s word to cleanse and nourish your soul can do wonders for your spiritual growth. Please open your Bible to...

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October 3, 2018

The Apostle Peter wrote two general epistles to Jewish believers that were dispersed throughout the known world. He reminded his scattered brethren that it is God’s power that keeps them, even in times of persecution. In truth, the only way that the devil can get a...

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October 2, 2018

There’s nothing wrong with meaningful tradition. You see, it is very easy it is for a new generation to come along and take for granted the blessings that previous generations struggled and sacrificed to attain! The Jews didn’t make that mistake: They established the...

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October 1, 2018

“D Day”, the day appointed by Haman’s decree for the slaughter of God’s chosen people in the Persian empire, had finally arrived for the Jews. However, because of God’s mighty intervention, Mordecai’s counter decree had changed that “D” from “destruction” to...

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September 28, 2018

Mordecai could not erase Haman’s command for the Jews to be slaughtered, but a counter edict granted the Jews the right to defend themselves on the appointed day. It is one thing to write a liberating new edict, but quite another to get the message out to the people....

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September 27, 2018

Esther and Mordecai were secure in the king’s court, but Haman’s irrevocable decree was still a threat to the rest of the Jews. Wealth and personal security could never satisfy Esther so long as her people were still in danger. To her, the most important thing in life...

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September 26, 2018

Haman was dead, but his murderous edict was still very much alive. Long after wicked people are gone, the consequences of their evil words and deeds can still linger. Even today, innocent people are suffering because of what was done by guilty people who now lie in...

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September 25, 2018

The Bible contains an unchanging principle of sowing and reaping. Haman sowed anger against Mordecai, and he reaped anger from the king. Haman wanted to kill Mordecai and the Jews, but the king killed Haman using the very gallows that Haman had built to hang Mordecai....

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September 24, 2018

In the second banquet that Esther prepared for King Ahasuerus and Haman, she finally made her request known to the king. She had to delicately and dangerously accuse Haman without incriminating the king, who had approved of Haman’s desired decree of death for the...

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September 21 2018

God’s providence intervened at just the moment Mordecai was to be condemned to death. Instead of a humiliating death, Mordecai received prestigious honors that Haman coveted for himself. The thing Mordecai wouldn’t do for Haman–bow down–Haman had to tell others to do...

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September 20, 2018

Timing is important. For example, when Mordecai prevented the assassination of King Ahasuerus, his noble deed was recorded in the offical records, but he remained unrewarded for five years. Then, according to God’s perfect timing, the king was reminded of what...

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September 19, 2018

Don’t let hatred and its resulting bitterness build in your heart. Like Haman, you will find it backfiring against you. If the mere mention of someone’s name provokes you to anger, confess your malice and bitterness as sin. Ignoring bitterness, hiding it from others,...

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September 18, 2018

When God’s people prayed and fasted along with Esther, she received remarkable courage and wisdom. Then she courageously placed her life into God’s hands by going uninvited into the king’s presence. Today’s narrative shows how she deftly handled a dangerous situation....

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September 17, 2018

When Mordecai learned the details of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews, he sent word to Esther asking her to approach the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was easier said than done, because unsolicited audiences with the king could be fatal! Esther wisely...

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September 14, 2018

When catastrophe looms, seeking the Lord’s direction through prayer and fasting will do more than any other response. As we will see in the book of Esther, the Lord heard the cries of the Jewish people, and He will hear your cries for help in times of need and...

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September 13, 2018

After Haman’s promotion, everyone in town bowed to him when he passed, except Mordecai. When Haman discovered that Mordecai’s refusal to bow was because he was a devout Jew, he was furious. Haman’s vengeance would not be satisfied with the destruction of Mordecai...

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September 12, 2018

Haman is one in a the long line of powerful people that have tried to destroy the Jews. It is unclear why Ahasuerus promoted him, or why God allowed it. However, in the end, it was Haman and his sons that perished, and the Jews that prevailed over their enemies---Just...

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September 11, 2018

Mordecai was Esther’s cousin and adoptive father. He was a very wise man that was willing to do that which was inconvenient and uncomfortable. God used this selfless man to save the life of a Persian king and an entire generation of Jewish people. How might God use...

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September 10, 2018

Mordecai was Esther’s cousin and adoptive father. He was a very wise man that was willing to do that which was inconvenient and uncomfortable. God used this selfless man to save the life of a Persian king and an entire generation of Jewish people. How might God use...

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September 7, 2018

Vashti had been deposed as the Persian queen for disobeying King Ahasuerus. This led to a search for her replacement from among all the virgins in the kingdom. This resulted in the king’s chamberlain bringing a beautiful young Jewess named Hadassah, who took the...

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September 6, 2018

It seems that Vashti was a woman of integrity; however, she probably served Persian gods and not Jehovah. Honesty and moral integrity are desirable, but they insufficient to please Jehovah. It is only His Spirit and the blood of Jesus that make us truly capable to...

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September 6, 2018

It seems that Vashti was a woman of integrity; however, she probably served Persian gods and not Jehovah. Honesty and moral integrity are desirable, but they insufficient to please Jehovah. It is only His Spirit and the blood of Jesus that make us truly capable to...

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September 5, 2018

After entertaining people of power and influence for six months, Ahashuerus hosted a seven-day party at his palace for all the people of Susa. Wine flowed freely at this event, and, while intoxicated, the king made an outrageous request of Vashti, his queen. Vashti...

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September 4, 2018

The book of Esther does not mention God’s name. Yet it was written to encourage the returned Jewish exiles by reminding them of God’s faithfulness and that He would keep His promises to the nation. Regardless of what is happening in your life, remain faithful to God,...

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September 3, 2018

Nehemiah displayed righteous indignation when he saw what was going on in the Temple when he returned from Persia. There are things that are legal and acceptable in our society that are downright wicked and sinful. To say so is not hate speech. However, God’s word...

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October 2, 2018

There’s nothing wrong with meaningful tradition. You see, it is very easy it is for a new generation to come along and take for granted the blessings that previous generations struggled and sacrificed to attain! The Jews didn’t make that mistake: They established the...

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August 31, 2018

After twleve years in Jerusalem, Nehemiah had to return to Persia for a couple years. When he came back to Jerusalem, he found that changes had occurred in Judah that were in serious violation of the Mosaic Law. Moreover, an enemy had established a center of...

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August 30, 2018

During the dedication of the completed wall around Jerusalem, two large thanksgiving choirs continuously circled the circumference of the wall. One group moved in a clockwise direction, and the other in a counterclockwise direction as they praised God while being...

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August 29, 2018

There is a huge difference between being a great singer and being a great worship leader. Good Christian music as a form of entertainment and encouragement has its place, but the purpose of worship is to glorify God and to give Him the honor that only He is worthy to...

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August 28, 2018

The LORD ordained Jewish priests to mediate between God and His people. All the priests were to come from the tribe of Levi. These priests served as types or foreshadows of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who ever lives as the only true Mediator between God and...

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August 27, 2018

God’s gives His children different gifts but one Spirit. This was true in Nehemiah’s day, and it is true now. Whether it is leading the congregation in worship, maintaining the Lord’s buildings, protecting the people of the flock, or any of the other myriad of talents...

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August 24, 2018

Nehemiah knew that one person could not do it all. In any church in which God is working mightily, one will find a host of servants within the ranks of leadership (such as assistant and associate pastors, elders, deacons and secretaries) in whom and through whom God...

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August 23, 2018

After being essentially a ghost town for seventy years, Jerusalem needed to be repopulated after the Temple and the city walls had been rebuilt. Fittingly, the leaders chose to live in Jerusalem as examples for the rest. These leaders had no right to expect the people...

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August 22, 2018

The covenant that the people of Jerusalem made with God affected three major areas of their lives: marriage, the way in which they conducted their business, and the extent to which they supported the Lord’s work. Even today we must see that our marriages, careers or...

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August 21, 2018

Today’s passage records how a nation collectively entered into a covenant with God. It was wonderful for the whole nation to feel that something had to be done about their sin problem. However, without individuals saying, “I will do something about this,” their...

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August 20, 2018

The ultimate purpose of reading God’s word to the people was so that they would understand God’s Law. Reading the Word distinctly and explaining it in simplicity are still great needs in the church today. The best way to study Scriptures and to get an understanding of...

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August 17, 2018

When Ezra read God’s word to the people of Jerusalem, the response was moving. In signs of reverence for God and His word, people lifted their hands or bowed their faces to the ground. Sometimes shouts of praise interrupted the reading. Do you still find the reading...

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August 16, 2018

With the city walls rebuilt, Nehemiah recognized that the people of God also needed to be built up. Therefore, he had Ezra read God’s word to everyone. While the city walls provided physical protection, God’s word gives us spiritual protection. Please open your Bible...

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August 15, 2018

Nehemiah recognized that, in order for worship in the Temple to be pure and according to God’s commandments, the priests and Levites serving in the Temple had to have pure, verifiable genealogies. Similarly, if Christians are to truly worship and serve the Lord, their...

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August 14, 2018

Today’s passage contains a list of the names of those whom God had called by His grace out of Babylonian captivity to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Interestingly, the Greek word for “church” is ecclesia, which means “the called out ones”. Like the returning exiles,...

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August 13, 2018

Though they had completed the wall, Nehemiah wisely realized that attacks would continue. Likewise, we should not be deceived: There will be no true peace until we get to heaven. If you are doing anything for God, there will always be some battle, some attempt to...

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August 10,2018

Though the Lord had called Nehemiah, He did not remove the challenges and make everything easy. Because Nehemiah’s work was built on a foundation of prayer and God’s word, he knew what he was doing, why he was doing it, and Who he was doing it for. Therefore, trusting...

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August 9, 2018

When Nehemiah’s enemies falsely accused him of trying to make himself king, Nehemiah denied the charges and prayed. He realized that only the Lord could truly deal with his situation. When opposition builds up against you, it is tempting to pray, “God, get me out of...

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August 8, 2018

With Jerusalem’s wall nearing completion, Sanballat and Tobiah were desperate, because their efforts to stop its construction were failing. So, they tried a new approach: They attacked Nehemiahʼs character using rumors, deceit, and false reports. Unjustified attacks...

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August 7, 2018

Nehemiah feared the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a key to living the Christian life successfully. The fear of the Lord does not mean that you are afraid of Him, like He is the neighborhood bully; it means that you are afraid of doing anything that would cause Him...

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August 6, 2018

In the first part of the wall-building project, Nehemiah’s challenges as a spiritual leader were primarily from enemies outside of Judah. However, before the walls were finally rebuilt, he encountered the most difficult and intense kind of problem almost every...

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August 3, 2018

Besides external attacks, the Jews faced internal threats when working on the wall. Judah was the strongest of the tribes, but they began to lose heart in the battle, because they were focusing on their obstacles rather than focusing on God. This is the fiery dart of...

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August 2, 2018

Isn’t it interesting that God’s people often find it difficult to work together, but God’s enemies don’t? There is a Satanic conspiracy against the people of God that is alive and well on planet earth, and his agenda is to steal, kill, divide and devour the people of...

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August 1, 2018

After work on Jerusalem’s wall started in earnest, it was not long until Sanballat, the governor of Syria, started making trouble for the Jewish people. Predictably, any real move of the Holy Spirit or any significant growth in a work of the Lord will soon meet with...

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July 31, 2018

The people of Jerusalem used the dung gate to carry refuse out of the city. Until the Lord takes us home, we inevitably say things we shouldn’t, do things we ought not, or have attitudes that are amiss. Therefore, to help maintain unity in the Body of Christ, we must...

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July 30, 2018

Even a strong, organized leader like Nehemiah needed the help of priests, administrators, and many others (even politicians) to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. No one can do it all alone. Likewise, whatever we do for Jesus involves other people, and it is important for...

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July 27, 2018

When Nehemiah was about to start his work, two prominent men (Sanballat and Tobiah) rose up to thwart his efforts. Likewise, our spiritual enemies do not care much when God’s people just plan, talk, and pray, but when God’s people start doing something, then God’s...

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July 26, 2018

Nehemiah persisted in prayer for four months before the LORD gave him an opportunity to tell King Artaxerxes about his burden for Jerusalem. When the king asked him to speak, Nehemiah was spiritually and practically ready to ask Artaxerxes to allow him to return to...

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July 25, 2018

When Nehemiah prayed, he knew that he was praying to an almighty, sovereign God that keeps His promises. This includes His promises to chasten His people when they are disobedient, as the exiles had experienced during their captivity in Babylon. That is why confession...

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July 23, 2018

Nehemiah was secularly employed as a cup bearer to a Gentile king. Nevertheless, because he made himself available to God, the LORD was able to use Nehemiah in a mighty way. Any great work of God and for His kingdom begins with God doing a great work in somebody...

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July 24, 2018

There was a time when prayer and fasting were the key resources for godly men and women. Nehemiah was a man of action, but he was a man of action, because he was a man of prayer. We would do well to follow Nehemiah’s example today instead of trying to jump in and fix...

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July 20, 2018

True repentance is a change of heart that produces a change of action and a change of direction. For example, it’s one thing to say, “I’m sorry.” It’s quite another to say, “I’m sorry. I will stop doing it, and I’m going to live differently now.” This is exactly what...

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July 19, 2018

After praying and fasting, Ezra charged the people of Judah to separate themselves from the Gentiles living in the land and from their foreign wives. True revival can only come on a personal, congregational, or national level when God’s people are willing to confess...

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July 18, 2018

Prayer and confession always go hand in hand. Ezra’s sorrow and remorse greatly impacted the people of Judah. Ezra’s prayer was more productive than a sermon, for when the people saw him praying, weeping, and in mourning, they realized the severity of their sin....

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July 17, 2018

As Ezra prayed, he reflected on God’s remarkable goodness and grace, because He brought back a remnant of His people from exile, and He had allowed them to live in the Promised Land again. Once again, Israel had a safe position, a standing in God’s favor and in His...

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July 16, 2018

What does it mean to spread out your hands to God? It means that you are not concealing anything. It means when you go to God in prayer, that your mind and soul stand absolutely naked before Him. Ezra went to God with his hands and his heart wide open. He was holding...

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July 13, 2018

When Ezra arrived with his delegation, he found that the Temple had been rebuilt, but not the city walls. Spiritually, many of the returning exiles were in bad shape. They had intermarried with the heathen. Immorality and idolatry were rampant. When Ezra learned of...

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July 12, 2018

Before beginning the long and dangerous journey back to Jerusalem, Ezra ordered the people to pray and fast. As they humbled themselves before God, they sought His guidance and asked for His protection. As heavenly-bound pilgrims, we also need God’s guidance and...

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July 11, 2018

As Ezra surveyed the people that were about to return with him to Jerusalem, he noticed that no Levites were among them! It would have been pointless to return to Jerusalem without Levites: They were the ones that were to teach the Law to the people in word and deed....

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July 10, 2018

The opening verses of today’s passage lists the names of people that returned to Jerusalem with Ezra. This list reveals that God specifically notes those who journey by faith. These people left the comforts of Babylon and took a long and dangerous journey to start a...

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July 9, 2018

As we come to the end of Ezra chapter seven, we will see that God not only moved King Artaxerxes to fund and enable the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, he also moved the king’s heart to make it beautiful. Likewise, the Lord not only wants to build His Church, but...

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July 6, 2018

Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, to do it, and to teach others. This is the duty of everyone charged to teach the Word, whether they are the head of a household in a family or a pastor or teacher in the church. The key to understanding God’s Word...

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July 5, 2018

The first six chapters of Ezra concern captives that returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel. Events in chapter seven concern a second group that returned with Ezra almost sixty years later. Ezra redeemed the time during his days of captivity so that when God placed a...

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July 4, 2018

The enemies of God’s people had tried to stop work on the Temple by writing letters to Darius, King of Persia. Their plan failed in a monumental way! Not only did Darius command that they fund the project out of their own treasury, he also commanded them to provide...

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July 3, 2018

Judah’s enemies did not believe that Cyrus ever issued a decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple. Therefore, Judah’s enemies sent a letter that asked for a search to be made of the royal records. While they were certain that no such decree...

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July 2, 2018

Not long after work had started on the Temple, many Jews got involved in building their own homes, and lost interest in the Temple. Others were feeling discouraged and defeated due to the constant opposition and attacks of their enemies. It was at this time that God...

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June 29, 2018

Our adversary the devil is never going to leave us alone. Therefore, spiritual warfare always accompanies spiritual progress. To deter you, he will try to get you to compromise. To hinder you, he will try to frighten or discourage you daily. He will also try to...

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June 28, 2018

Angered by the refusal of Zerubbabel and Jeshua to allow non-Jews to join in building the Temple, the Samaritans sought to stop the construction. They tried to discourage and frighten God’s people by bribing officials to lie about them to King Cyrus, who was funding...

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June 27, 2018

When Judah’s adversaries heard that the Temple was being built, they came to Zerubbabel and sought to do him in. It wasn’t when they were building their own houses or doing their own thing. However, when the people were serious, committed, and dedicated to building...

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June 26, 2018

New wine must be put into new wineskins, because old wineskins can become rigid and inflexible. However, if you take an old wineskin and repeatedly soak it in water, it can regain its elasticity. If Christian’s are not being continually soaked in God’s Word, they will...

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June 25, 2018

The Jewish exiles that returned from Babylon searched the Scriptures for how they should worship and serve the LORD. When they found what Moses wrote, there was no controversy. They had not only returned to the land, they had also returned to the Law of the LORD....

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June 22, 2018

Chapter two of Ezra lists the Jewish exiles who returned to Judah. Nebuchadnezzar had deported their parents to Babylon seventy years earlier. This list confirms that many exiled Judeans responded to Cyrus’ decree mentioned at the end of Second Chronicles. It was a...

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June 21, 2018

Second Chronicles ends with a message of hope. After seventy years of captivity, God moved the heart of Cyrus, a Gentile king, to release willing Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the LORD’s house. No matter where we’ve been or how long we’ve been held captive,...

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June 20, 2018

In the days of Zedekiah, the people mocked God’s messengers, and rebelled against Babylonian authority that had granted by God. If people will no longer listen to the word of the LORD, then judgment or, in Judah’s case, exile was God’s only option. He had no other...

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June 19, 2018

The last chapter of Second Chronicles summarizes the reigns of Judah’s last four kings. None of them were good in God’s eyes. Their evil reigns culminated in their captivity and exile for the people of Judah. Nevertheless, this book ends with a word of hope for the...

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June 18, 2018

God has places for everyone in His kingdom. Accordingly, God has given us all strengths and abilities. When we use them in the Spirit, they are powerful. However, if we use them in the flesh, it can be painful to us and to those around us. Josiah’s life gives us...

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June 15, 2018

Josiah led by example. He gave unto the LORD thirty thousand of his own sheep and three thousand of his own bullocks for a Passover sacrifice. Following Josiah’s lead, the men under Josiah also gave generously. We too should lead by example. Parents, what kind of...

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June 14, 2018

Josiah encouraged the priests and Levites in their service unto the LORD. Everybody needs to be encouraged in the things of the LORD. The Bible says that, because the LORD is holy, He sees those who are in Christ as being holy, which means that they are set apart for...

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June 13, 2018

Every time there is a revival, it comes as a result of people living by God’s word, which the Chronicler called “The Book.” It was no different in the days of Josiah. When the high priest found "The Book” when they were repairing the Temple, the reasons for Judah’s...

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June 12, 2018

Imagine a twenty-year-old going through the nation, grinding to powder all of its idols. Josiah did this, and he was not very popular with the godless people who were liberal in their theology and their lifestyles. God’s chosen vessels for reform and revival are...

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June 11, 2018

Due to the sins of his grandfather Manasseh and his father Amon, Josiah took the throne at a dark time in Judah’s history. Nevertheless, he followed the LORD during his relatively short life. He was consistent in season and out of season, and the godly example of this...

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June 8, 2018

Because Manasseh and his people would not listen to the warnings from the LORD, punishment finally came. The king of Assyria took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, and carried him to Babylon in chains. Decisions made contrary to God’s word inevitably have...

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June 7, 2018

Manasseh turned the Temple of God into an idolatrous brothel to worship the Canaanite goddess of fertility. When he repented, he removed the idols, but he did not destroy them, as God commanded. When his son, Amon, became king, he found these demonic relics, and...

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June 6, 2018

Manasseh, who was born during during the worst years of the reign of his father Hezekiah, was the longest-reigning king of Judah. He was one of Judah’s most evil kings. Longevity is not necessarily a sign of God’s approval, but it is a sign of God’s patience, for...

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June 5, 2018

When Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem, he made some errors in judgment. It was one thing to speak against Judah and its leaders. However, it was another thing altogether to mock the LORD God of Israel. In their written and verbal assaults, they mistakenly equated...

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June 4, 2018

Not long after Hezekiah’s great Passover celebration and the ensuing revival, the people of Jerusalem experienced a great test of their faith. Sennacherib and his fearsome Assyrian army put the city under siege. This is so like Satan, our spiritual enemy, who attacks...

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June 1, 2018

Abundant giving is a sign of a revived hearts. Hezekiah had asked the people to bring tithes and offerings to Jerusalem to support and encourage the Levites in their service to the LORD. So much came in that it took four months to gather and organize it all. Hezekiah...

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