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October 13, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Matthew 26
Audio: Matthew 26

Nehemiah 6 (ESV)

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. 14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.

15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. 17 Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. 18 For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as his wife. 19 Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

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Next: Nehemiah 7

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This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me (Nehemiah 6:13). 

    What Is Sin?

    The word sin is not often heard in many mainline churches – even churches who claim the name of "Christian." In our culture today, few consider the sinfulness of their life choices because few know what the Bible says about sin. Even many that do know what the Bible says seem to justify their choices through redefining biblical terms and explaining away clear teaching in Scripture. 

    Two terms which often get disregarded are sin and guilt.

    One bestselling "self-help" author and "motivational" speaker Wayne Dyer wrote in one of this mega-hits that guilt "must be exterminated, spray-cleaned and sterilized forever. We have to get rid of guilt."

    How does he say we should get rid of guilt? He said, "Do something which you know is bound to result in feelings of guilt. Take a week to be alone. If you’ve always wanted to do something, despite the guilt engendering protestations from other members of your family, these kinds of behavior will help you tackle that omnipresent guilt."

    He goes on to say, "Defy your guilt, spurn your husband, spurn your children, attack that sense of self-disapproval head on.  Do something that is sure to make you feel guilty and just keep doing it till you don’t feel guilty anymore.  Refuse to hear the cries of conscience, the duties of family responsibility, the appeals of your loved ones.  You owe it to yourself.  Sear your conscience."

    Dyer is certainly not the only author to write such horrible advice under the guise of "help." 

    Ruth Crowley, better known by her pen name "Ann Landers" was a national institution and cultural icon due to her syndicated advice column in newspapers for 56 years. One piece of advice she gave was about sin.

    She said, "One of the most painful, self-mutilating time and energy consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt. It can ruin your day, or week, or your life. It turns up like a bad penny when you do something dishonest, hurtful, tacky, selfish or rotten. Never mind that it was a result of ignorance, stupidity, laziness, thoughtlessness, weak flesh or clay feet, you did wrong and the guilt is killing you. Too bad, but be assured, the guilt you feel is normal. Remember, guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world."

    But the Bible says, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

    If people remove the feelings of guilt from their lives, there will be no need to repent and turn to God. And let's face it, most do not repent because they don't feel guilty for the decisions they make. 

    Another reason people don't repent is they don't like the idea of giving up things that they enjoy – even if it's offensive to God (even if it is sin). 

    In John 3:19, Jesus said, "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."

    The "Dictionary of Theological Terms" says, "Sin in Scripture is used to describe any act of transgression of God’s law (e.g., James 1:15). Disposition refers to the determination of the will. In Romans 7:8 sin is used to describe the evil disposition of man’s fallen will. This disposition is the voluntary product of a rebellious and lawless self-determination. In Luke 6:43–45 the Lord Jesus clearly lays down the position that the state of man’s soul produces his sinful disposition, which in turn produces sinful acts. Thus the underlying state of the sinner is sinful."

    In today's chapter, we learn that Nehemiah is concerned about sinning by being "afraid." 

    God wants us to trust Him. One of the ways this trust is built in us is in situations where we are afraid (or the potential for us to give in to fear is there) but we get beyond it and learn to trust the Lord in all circumstances.

    Are you surprised “being afraid” can be a sin?

  2. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
    Jesus in Matthew 7:15-16

    It never occurred to me that people would actually “set up” or pay “false prophets” to mislead others. My word! Where is the fear of God? One would have to have no fear of Him — which means no faith in Him, really — to do that! 

    I always thought false prophets were likely acting in ignorance, that they believed what they were saying really was of God, when it was actually coming from another source. But to prophesy falsely on purpose? To deceive? In the “name of God”? I shudder to think what awaits those people when they stand before Him.

    This gave me great pause this morning, as I thought of a few of my friends who have shared experiences of being “prophesied over,” of having someone in a church or worship setting say, “God told me ________” and go on to give them some “word from God” concerning the friend. Were these prophecies really from God?

    I don’t know if they were or not, and I wouldn’t be the one to say so.

    A false prophet might not necessarily use the opportunity to “prophesy” for pay, but how about for attention, power, prominence, title or other perceived benefit?

    How can we know whether we should consider what someone who says they have the prophetic gift is saying?

    Off the top of my head, I would judge them first by whether their words are biblically sound: Is what they’re saying in any way opposing what Scripture clearly teaches?

    Then I would consider their character and integrity: Do they have a reputation for being honest and trustworthy in all things, including financial transactions, relationships, and responsibilities?

    Then I would consider their humility: Is this a person who rejects the spotlight, someone who wants God to receive all glory, honor and praise, and who does not trumpet their title or role as either a “prophet” or any other “elevated” status?

    Finally I would consider their reputation: Is this “prophet” a godly man or woman whose life among believers and unbelievers reflects Christ in speech, in manner, and in serving?

    And then of course I would pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment.

    Nehemiah used wisdom and discernment in considering what the false prophet was saying to him, and recognized in the very nature of the prophet’s instruction that they were not to be trusted.

    And so God’s work continued until the wall around Jerusalem was finished:

    “And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” 

  3. I was shocked by what Wayne Dyer wrote – I honestly was dumbfounded. He's a "motivational speaker"?!?! All I see is a very dangerous man. 

    I've struggled with guilt my whole life. Any time I hurt my parents, or did something I wasn't supposed to, I would have a stomach ache. I felt awful, and it wasn't the fact that maybe I had been caught or may get caught, it was truly the pain I caused them that hurt me so badly. 

    When I was doing whatever it was I was doing, all I cared about was myself and getting drunk and/or high. Then I didn't feel anything, and I thought it made me happy. 

    These days, I've cleaned up my act, but even an argument in which I feel I am "right" can make me sick. I used to blame this on my Mother, accusing her of "instilling" a crazy amount of guilt in my sister and me. 

    I love my family more than I can put into words, and I want so much for my parents to be relaxed and happy in their later years. I want then to feel loved and supported and taken care of. 

    Sometimes it's so hard because I see sin happening all around me everyday, and i'm just desperate for everyone I love to be saved. 

    I know, though, that God is in control of every situation, and I have to let go and lay it at His feet. 

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