The Visitation & JOY of Fellowship – A JOY-Filled Advent #3

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Today, we witness the visitation of Mary and the Joy of fellowship. Do you need more JOY in your life? Who doesn’t? Advent is the perfect time to receive and share more JOY with others! Mary and Elizabeth will show us how.

Join us today as we travel with Mary 90 miles to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. We will drop in on a special meeting of hearts to partake in the delight, the prayer, and the JOY of Fellowship.

The Advent JOY Podcast

Welcome to A JOY-Filled Advent Podcast #3, based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.  Last week, we heard how God supernaturally begot the Son of God in the Virgin Mary and gave an old woman, Elizabeth, past her time conceiving a child. We discovered any barrenness in life can become a breakthrough! “For nothing is impossible with God!”

Advent JOY in the Hill Country

Today, we travel with Mary down the 90-mile road from Nazareth to the Hill Country of Judea, near Jerusalem. We will drop in on Mary’s visit to her old cousin Elizabeth. Both women are expecting, rejoicing over the births to come, and thrilled to see each other.  Join the podcast today as we cover these exciting points:

The Visitation – Leaping for JOY (Luke 1: 39-45)

  • John the Baptist leaps for Joy
  • Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims words of JOY.
  • Mary praises and skips with JOY.
  • Jesus is always joy-filled—even in the womb!

The JOY of Fellowship – God Knows Our Need (Luke 1: 31-33)

  • Fellowship in the Scriptures is translated from New Testament Greek Koinonia, occurring 20 times in the New Testament.
  • Elizabeth brought out Mary’s JOY, and Mary brought out Elizabeth’s JOY. True fellowship strengthens and encourages faith.
  • Elizabeth praises Mary for believing Gabriel.
  • The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb to Elizabeth.

The Magnificat – Mary’s Song of Praise (Luke 1: 46-56)

  • Magnificat was the first word in Luke 1: 46 found in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible (4th-century common language of the people) and it means “my soul magnifies.”
  • The Magnificat is a canticle – a liturgical song from a Biblical text.
  • The Magnificat shows Mary’s love for Scripture. She knew the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) well.
  • The Magnificat reflects themes from many Old Testament Scriptures – the powerful arm of God, His mercy to all, His justice and faithfulness, and His care for the poor and afflicted (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Psalm 34:2, 35: 9, 103: 17, 107: 9, 132: 11, 138: 6).

 Three Months of Sharing Hearts

  • We can only imagine the comfort Mary and Elizabeth must have been to each other. They talked of the Scriptures to be fulfilled because they knew well the promises regarding the Messiah and the one who would precede Him. They shared the stories about Gabriel as his message had changed each of their lives. They would have known of Gabriel’s former visitations and announcements recorded in Daniel 9.

Advent Application

  • We can respond to these verses of JOY shared between Mary and Elizabeth by 1) Asking God for Advent JOY (He wants to give us His JOY), 2) Rejoicing in God’s goodness, 3) Preserving a quiet time for prayer, and 4) Sharing JOY with others, especially during Advent. God has JOY for YOU.

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Wrapped in JOY and Armored in Prayer – Joyful & Battle Ready #8

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Wrapped in JOY & Armored in Prayer

Pray at Every Opportunity (Ephesians 6:18)

Wrapped in JOY and Armored in Prayer

Is there a way to stay wrapped in Joy and Armored in God? This final podcast of the Joyful and Battle-Ready series focuses on the key to living in  JOY and being protected with armor. So join the podcast today and discover how prayer secures your JOY and activates your armor.  Join us today as we cover these points:

True and Lasting JOY

  • As the Scriptures point out, prayer is the key to staying wrapped in joy and armored.
  • Psalm 16 reminds us that God offers the fullness of JOY in his presence.
  • In John 15 11, Jesus says, Abide in my love…  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
  • To abide in God’s love means we are always in communication with him in prayer.

Prayer and JOY

  • Essential points covered in the last eight weeks include: 1) receiving JOY from God the Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our fruit bearer of JOY, 2) asking God to increase your capacity to receive His Joy and Love, 3) Praising and thanking God-two of the five forms of prayer associated with JOY, 4) Using the Prayer and Holy Imagery to defeat Joy Busters, 6) Rejoicing to stop worry, 7) Reading and Praying scripture leads to deep spiritual JOY.
  • Prayer is the path to JOY.

Prayer and The Armor of God

  • After the armor message of Ephesians 6: 17, verse 18 says: With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones (NABRE). The NRSVCE translation says: Pray at all times…
  • Interestingly, PRAYER isn’t called a piece of armor but is connected to the armor.
  • There was not any punctuation or separation of sentences in the original New Testament Greek manuscripts, so the need to pray at all times connects to the armor.
  • We have found that each piece represents Jesus, whom we come to daily, and, in a sense, we “put on Jesus daily.” So we put the armor on with prayer.

Pray at Every Opportunity in the Spirit

  • Prayer to Christians is like oxygen to life- live and breathe with prayer.
  • Many Christians say, “All we can do is pray.” We should say, “We will pray. God will hear, and He will change everything.”
  • When prayer is the atmosphere we breathe, and we keep breathing it, the Holy Spirit is released to work in unimaginable ways, and supernatural graces and gifts are poured out.
  • Heaven will even surprise us when we stay connected with the King of Kings and His Kingdom in prayer!

Pray at all times, Aware of His Presence

  • The Catholic Church defines prayer as a “vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (CCC 2558). It is “Christian…insofar as it is communion with Jesus Christ” – ” a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ”(CCC 2565, 2564).”
  • Prayer is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In relationship with a living God, we are continually communing with our Savior. God is with us always. He is for us. He is our Helper in all things.
  • Praying at all times means you are constantly connecting with your closest friend.

Praying at every opportunity

  • Praying at every opportunity, as translated in the NABRE, conveys that opportunities arise at various times of every day and evening. We need to pause momentarily and give that event or situation to Jesus.
  • For example, in Nehemiah 6:9, he prayed, “But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Confidence in Prayer

  • Praying at every opportunity establishes a deep personal bond between you and your Heavenly Father in everything you do. It is always heart-to-heart with your heart speaking directly to the Heart of Jesus. He hears you.
  • Pope Francis says, “Prayer is more than just a physical, emotional, or intellectual act; it is an inner desire to encounter God with confidence.   God has revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. So, the prayer of a Christian brings us into a relationship with God without any fear or trepidation. One can establish a relationship built on confidence with Him in prayer” (May 5, 2020).

Personal Reflection

  • Remember all that God taught you in Ephesians 6 about standing strong and firm in battle. Read Ephesians 6 often.
  • Visualize yourself putting on each piece of the armor of God—the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Shoes ready to Proclaim the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Lord of God, plus, Praying at every opportunity in the Spirit. Act it out in your mind. Try it!

 Cup of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially the one that starts next week:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women’s small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

 

 

 

The JOY of Scripture & Wielding the Sword of the Spirit (Joyful & Battle Ready #7)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Did you know that JOY is associated with reading and praying with scripture? The Word of God promises a deep spiritual joy in interacting with God via His Word.  Join the podcast today as we cover the pleasures found in the Word of God and how to use the Word as a Sword of the Spirit to protect your mind and emotions from attacks of the evil one.

Join us today as we cover these points:

Deep Spiritual JOY

  • Happy in Psalm 1 (ASRAI in Hebrew) more closely means—a deep spiritual joy (Ross, A. P. (2011).
  • The BENEFIT is the deep, joyous pleasure and satisfaction that will come when you listen to the Lord in verses of Scripture and interact with Him around the verses.

Four Stages of Prayer

  • In The Armchair Mystic, Rev. Mark Thibodeaux describes four stages of prayer, summarized as: Talking at God, Talking to God. Listening to God speak in Scripture daily and Resting in God’s presence,
  • Stage 4 is the goal.

Joy and Healing

  • Another benefit of reading and praying God’s word: HEALING
  • Basil the Great said: “The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness… (Spidlik, T., & Drake, P. (1993).

 WRAP – Simplified Lectio Divina for Reading and Praying with Scripture

  • WRAP is an acronym for reading, praying, and reflecting on Scripture, and it works best if you journal what you hear (from WRAP Yourself in Scripture, a book by Karen & Larry Dwyer, Institute of Priestly Formation,
  • WRAP aims to foster a personal encounter with Jesus in the Scriptures so that the words come alive and you hear God speak to YOUR HEART.
  • It’s a form of Lectio Divina— which the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as reading to hear God speak to you and meditating on His Words so that it becomes your prayer (CCC 1177).

WRAP Method

  • W: Write down the verse that inspires you or seems to arise out of the passage.
  • R: Reflect on the principles/ ideas the verse is inspiring in you & record your thoughts. (Mull Over, Mentally Picture, Mutter, & Memorize.)
  • A: Apply the principles. Write down your response to the Scripture & how it applies to your life today.
  • P: Pray and praise. Talk with Jesus about what the verse opened in your heart.

The Sword of the Spirit

  • In Ephesians 6:17, Paul calls the Word the Sword of the Spirit.
  • The Roman soldier carried his sword in his belt (or girdle).
  • The Romans employed two types of swords: the “rpomphaia” (Revelation 1,2), a large, long, and broad sword that took two hands to wield, and the “makchaira” ( Ephesians 6: 17), a short 6” to 18” sharp and piercing dagger for hand-to-hand combat.

A Formidable and Sure Defense

  • Hebrews 4:12 describes the WORD of God as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, …able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
  • The Word brings truth where there is falsehood, light where there is darkness, and joy where there is sorrow. Psalm 119: 11, 105
  • Luke 4: 1-13 shows Jesus using the Word of God in defense all three times.
  • We can speak the Scriptures to help us stand firm against temptations, discouragement, fear, or other attack on our faith.

An Offensive Weapon

  • You can hide God’s Word in your heart to help identify and reject sin and strengthen your inner person.
  • When you share the Word with someone—especially a word that deeply moved you—it is a sword that pierces another’s heart.

Personal Reflection: Sword of the Spirit Declarations

  • You can WIELD THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT with these Declarations from God’s Word:
  1. I will love and read God’s Word daily (Psalm 119: 11, NRSVCE).
  2. The Word of God is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119: 105, NRSVCE).
  3. The Word of God is my defensive weapon as Jesus showed in his fight with the evil one (Matthew 4:10-11, NRSVCE).
  4. When I gently share the Word of God with others, I can be confident that God’s Word is “living and active (Hebrews 4:12, NRSVCE).

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour cup of Joy women’s small group study accompanying this podcast.  It’s free! The next opportunity if for Advent JOY.

  • For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation – Joyful & Battle Ready #6

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation (Joyful & Battle Ready #6)

Are you ready to stop the worry and return to JOY?  Worry is the big JOY thief that brings on fretting. In only a few dances with fretting, you will be exhausted. Your JOY will be sidelined. Join us today and discover how to stop the worry, return to JOY, and put on the Helmet of Salvation to protect your thoughts and reasoning about what God has done for you.

Join us today as we cover these points:

Do You Worry?

  • You will find that worry is not only a joybuster but also a joy thief.
  • In Matthew 6: 25 34, Jesus talks directly to us about worry.

Worry Defined

  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines –  to give way to anxiety or uneasiness, to allow one’s mind to continually dwell on difficulties and troubles, to think about problems and become distracted.
  • Even Jesus shows the anxiety and distraction connection.
  • Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but there is a need for only one thing (Luke 10 41- 42).

Fretting

  • The Hebrew word we translate as fretting includes firing up rage and kindling anger.
  • The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a fret as a worry, an annoyance, a discontentment that gnaws at you.
  • Fretting eats away at your peace.
  • Psalm 37 advises, Do NOT fret.

Actions Advised in Philippians 4: 4-7

  • Rejoice means to return to joy. Actively be glad, actively pursue joy.
  • In prayer and supplication, make your requests known to the Lord.
  • For every need you express in prayer, offer a thanksgiving about something related.
  • Receive peace. The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The Helmet of Salvation

  • Ephesians 6:17 says we must “take the helmet of salvation.
  • Pope Francis says the helmet is “not so much that of acknowledging the Resurrection of Jesus — everyone believes in it — but of believing in the resurrection of the dead.”
  • The helmet of a Roman soldier called a galea, was designed to cover the head with thick leather enclosed in beaten metals of iron and bronze, protecting the head from weapons of warfare causing injury.
  • The helmet of salvation shows that Satan’s flaming arrows target our minds and are directed at our faith in Jesus, who paid the price for our salvation with his passion, death, and resurrection.
  • The devil will try to discourage you and destroy your faith.

Personal Reflection: Helmet of Salvation Declarations

  • Take the Helmet of Salvation in defense against the evil one who pushes doubts to divert you from the truth of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
  • Starting today, say the Apostles Creed often.
  • Remind yourself of the Helmet of Salvation Declarations with the truths from Scripture:
  1. Eternal life is in Jesus, and it’s for me (Romans 8: 12).
  2. I will not be anxious about my salvation (Romans 5: 8-9).
  3. I do not need to worry; I can know I have eternal life (1 John 5: 11-13).

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour cup of joy women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

 

 

 

Defeat Joy Busters & Take Up the Shield of Faith (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #5)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

How are you at defeating Joy Busters?  Everyone faces those situations that can steal their JOY. But you can develop a plan to stop their impact on your life. You can become AWARE of the JOY Busters, UNDERSTAND their sources, and TAKE ACTION to stop their influence. Join the podcast today to uncover the actions you can take to defeat JOY Busters and learn how to” take up the shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows” coming at you.

JOY Busters

  • Merriam-Webster defines a buster “as a person or thing that breaks up, overpowers, or eliminates something.”
  • A JOY buster breaks up, overpowers, or steals your joy and includes, for example, interruptions to plans, hurt feelings, discouragements, fear, family quarrels, busyness, complaints, and weariness. Today, we will cover these points:

Joy Busting Responses

  • How do you respond to JOY Busters, called JOYBUSTING?
  • Joybusting happens when our emotions take over, and our responses leave us with more negative feelings and challenging relationships.
  • Joybusting includes, for example, angry outbursts, discouragement, fretting, gossip, negative thoughts, overeating, over partying, over drinking, over shopping, profane talk,  procrastination, promiscuity,  more quarrels, bitterness, and more.

Plan to Reject Troubles of the Heart

  • In Galatians 5: 16-26, St. Paul reminds us that to conquer the JOYbusting, which he calls “works of the flesh,” is to LIVE by the Holy Spirit.
  • Timothy Gallagher says each person needs an action plan to reject troubles of the heart (JOY busters and joy busting): (1) Be aware, (2) Understand, and (3) Take action. (The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living, 2018).

 TIP: Three QUICK Actions to Defeat JOY Busting

  • You can take three simple actions to stop JOY Busting: thanksgiving, imagery, and persistence.

(1) Thanksgiving – immediately turn to Jesus with genuine thanksgiving

(2) Imagination- use holy imagination and picture Jesus with arms outstretched. You give him your joy buster.

(3) Persist – Persist in praising God and remembering the Thanksgiving JOY.

  • Also, consider getting a prayer partner to pray for more JOY for each other and to defeat JOYbusting.

The Shield of Faith

  • Ephesians 6:16. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
  • Pope Francis, when speaking on this verse, tells us how important it is to take the shield of faith: The devil is a liar; he is the father of lies. And as St. Paul says, we must be girded in the truth, armored in justice.Without faith, you cannot go forward; you cannot defend the salvation of Jesus. We need this shield of faith because the devil does not throw flowers at us but “flaming arrows” to kill us (General Audience, October 30, 2014).

The Roman Soldier’s Shield

  • In Roman history, at the time of Paul, a military soldier held a body shield to about 2.5 x 4 feet to protect himself from an enemy who hurled flaming arrows (dipped in pitch and set on fire) called “plumbata.”
  • Often, the soldiers interlocked shields in a “tortoise” formation – they raised their shields together overhead and in front so it looked like a tortoise.

Faith Defined

  • The word for faith used in New Testament Greek is “pistis,” which means to agree with, trust in, and live out what you believe.
  • Translated belief or faith, it appears at least 200 times in the New Testament
  • Hebrews 11: 1 defines faith, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” and then gives examples, including Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

Jesus is Our Shield

  • The Lord God says he is our shield. See Psalm 28:7, Psalm 33:20.
  • Proverbs 30:5. Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Take Up Our Shield of Faith

1) Read the Word of God every day and keep the Scriptures in your mind and heart. Romans 10:17.

2) Pray that moment. Hebrews 2:2 says.

3) Turn to a Prayer Partner or prayer group – In Tortoise Formation, you lock shields with others.

Personal Reflection –Shield of Faith Declarations

You can take up a shield of Faith against temptations, fear, and doubt.” Call on the name of Jesus and repeat these truths aloud and often.

  • When the devil sends the flaming arrow of fear, you say Psalm 56:3. O Lord God, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” or Isaiah 41: 10. [the Lord says] … I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
  • When the devil sends the flaming arrow of temptation and doubts, you say Romans 8: 33-34. Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. He forgives us.
  • When the devil sends a flaming arrow saying you are getting old or God no longer cares and cannot use you, you say in Isaiah 46:4, The Lord says, even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Or Psalm 92: 13-14. The Lord says They are planted in the house of the Lord…In old age, they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap…

Finally, thank the Lord daily for your joys and for helping you defeat the JOY Busters.

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

Links

Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes – Joyful & Battle Ready #4

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes

Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes

Singing for JOY &  Slipping on Gospel Shoes (#4 JOYFUL & Battle Ready)

Are you singing for JOY? Did you know there is a connection between praising God and experiencing more JOY and Peace? Join our podcast today as we cover singing for JOY and slipping on shoes, ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

JOY and PEACE

When we praise God, we surrender everything to Him and proclaim that He is God, and we are NOT. He has everything in our lives under control, and even when we do not see it, we can trust Him. Even in hardships, we can sing praises to the Lord, and he will comfort us with deep, calming JOY. In addition, we can put on shoes of Gospel peace as part of the armor we wear everywhere we go.  In our  JOYFUL & Battle Ready series, Podcast #4 will cover these points:

The Praise-Joy Connection

  • Are your prayers primarily prayers of petition?
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #2644 encourages us to use all five forms of prayer: blessing/adoration, petition with contrition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
  • There is a particular link of JOY with praise or thanksgiving prayers.

Enter God’s Courts with Praise

  • Psalm 100:3 says: Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise…
  • Pope Francis tells us to “NOT be formal Christians, prisoners of formality” (January 28, 2020).

A Garment of Praise

  • In Luke 4, Jesus said he was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61: 3- “to provide the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of discouragement.”
  • Jesus can give you a garment of praise, and it comes with the oil of JOY.

Paul and Silas Praise in a Desperate Situation, Miracles Happen

  • In Acts 16, at midnight and in the wretchedness of a Philippian jail, imprisoned Paul and Silas praised God as chains fell off and prison doors were opened.
  • CCC #2639 says, “Praise is the form of prayer…it gives God glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply for who he is.”

A Garment of Praise

  • Praise God with the psalms, instruments, singing, shouting, and clapping hands (Psalm 150, 100).
  • Praise does not have to be complicated. You can tell Jesus you love Him and praise Him …
  • Spend just one minute of praise this week, and it will be life-changing.

The Armor of God – The Battle Shoes

  • Ephesians 6: 15: As shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
  • Roman soldiers wore shoes to avoid the battlefield’s rocks, sticks, and debris.
  • Shoes were a combination of heavy sandals and boots with soles of layered leather clenched together with metal studs that could grip the ground for traction.

Peace

  • Isaiah 52: 7 says: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
  • Peace means harmony and tranquility, without inner conflict, even amid chaos and upheaval.
  • In John 16: 33, Jesus said: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Proclaim

  • In Mark 16:15, [Jesus] said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
  • The best way to start sharing your faith is to share your relationship with Jesus, including His answers to your prayers and your thanksgiving.

St. Pope John Paul II

  • Pope John Paul II in Catechesis in Our Time (1979) said the faithful must proclaim the Gospel message. The Gospel kerygma: – “ the initial ardent proclamation by which a person is brought to the decision to entrust himself to Jesus Christ by faith — is gradually deepened, developed,”  and “channeled towards Christian practice in the Church and the world” (CT 25).
  • Remind your friend how much God loves her and wants her to experience His love and presence.
  • Invite her to entrust her life to Jesus, to give Him their baggage and shame, and to ask for forgiveness.
  • You can prepare yourself with a few words of Scripture about God’s love and how Jesus is the sacrifice for all sin. Invite the person to trust Jesus now.
  • Then, of course, invite your friends to church and keep helping them along the Christian journey.

Personal Reflection – Shoes of Peace Declarations

  • These Shoes of Peace Declarations from Scripture can help you stand firm in peace so that you are “ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”
  • When the devil tries to make you afraid to proclaim, you can proclaim: The Prince of Peace lives in me. (John 14:23). I have his peace. I will not let my heart be troubled or afraid. I will stand firm in Jesus, my Lord, and my strength, my God in whom I trust.  Repeat John 14:27.
  • When the devil whispers, you are NOT ready to proclaim the Gospel. You say: In Jesus, I am prepared and willing to share the Gospel with anyone. It is what Jesus calls me to do. I am not ashamed to talk about Jesus and my faith with family, friends, or others. Repeat Romans 1: 16.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
  • Finally, remember to praise and thank the Lord -just one minute of praising the Name of Jesus every day can be life-changing and joy-filling. You can find a free bookmark on my website to help you with ways to praise the Lord.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Heaven Rejoices & We Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #3)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Heaven Rejoices & We Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness

Heaven Rejoices & the Breastplate of Righteousness

Heaven Rejoices and We Put on Righteousness

Did you know you serve a joy-filled God who rejoices over you?  Join us today as we cover the rejoicing of heaven and the songs God sings over you. You will discover how to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness to protect your heart, keep the JOY, and stand firm against the devil’s lies of your unworthiness.

Heavenly JOY

Last week, we defined true and lasting joy, and with that in mind, we prayed with the More JOY Prayer Guide. We pursue JOY,  invite JOY, and pray for more JOY! This week, we start with Heaven’s JOY. Today, we cover these points:

The JOY of the Lord

  • “The joy of the Lord is my strength” is the source of our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • God and all of heaven are joyful and want to share it with us.
  • Some think God is a grump; if we follow him, we are destined for a life lacking any fun. That is NOT the truth.

Heavenly JOY

  • The Scriptures call our attention to God’s joyful creation (e.g., Psalm 61: 12-13).
  • The Lord takes pleasure in you and even sings over you (e.g., Zephaniah 3: 17).
  • God is a celebrating God (e.g., Luke 15: 20-24).
  • The angels rejoice when one sinner repents (e.g., Luke 15: 8-10)

Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness Over Your Heart

  • We put on the “breastplate of righteousness ” to protect our hearts (Ephesians 6: 14).
  • In spiritual language, the heart “refers to our inner orientation, the core of our being,” including our “thoughts, feelings, and desires.” (Fr. John Horn, S.J., Heart Speaks to Heart, IPF Publications).
  • Jesus is concerned for your heart (Matthew 15:19).
  • So is the devil, so you must guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

What is Righteousness?

  • The Catholic Dictionary of the Bible defines righteousness as “communion in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which we begin a new life in the spirit –a life in which we live in Christ and Christ lives in us”( p. 743).
  • Righteousness can be summarized as the Right Relationship and Right Living (e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains Righteousness: “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It was granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. …It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy” (CCC, 2020).
  •  The Scriptures tell us we do not have to produce righteousness on our own; we can look to “Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 17).

Personal Reflection: Breastplate of Righteousness Declarations

  • Lies: The devil will whisper lies to attack your thoughts, feelings, and desires, especially saying you are unworthy.
  1. You cannot expect God to keep loving you and helping you.
  2. You should be discouraged and fearful. You do not deserve His help.
  3. You can never be holy; it’s too difficult to follow God and be righteous.
  • Truths: When faced with spiritual warfare, put on the breastplate of righteousness. In the mighty power of Jesus Christ, speak these Breastplate Declarations (inserting your own name in the verse).
  1. In Jesus, I am the righteousness of God. (Repeat 2 Corinthians 5: 21).
  2. I live in Jesus Christ. I am forgiven and free. I refuse to feel discouraged, downcast, or fearful. (Repeat Galatians 2: 20).
  3. I will follow the ways of the Lord because they will bring JOY, not hardship. (Repeat Psalm 19: 9 and 14 aloud.)

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Drenched with JOY & Armored in Truth (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #2)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Drenched with JOY & Armored in Truth

Drenched with JOY

Would you like to be drenched in JOY and armored in truth?  Are you willing to put on the armor of God to stand firm to keep the joy, to stand strong against fear, and to put on the armor of God to protect yourself from lies?  Join us today as we cover how to define JOY, receive more joy, and put on the belt of truth.

Heavenly JOY

Last week, we learned that Jesus has complete JOY for you, God the Father has JOY and pleasures for you, and the Holy Spirit produces JOY in your life. So, how do we get more of this JOY?

Today, we cover these points:

A Niagara Falls of God’s Love & JOY

  • Many times, we come to our Heavenly Father—who is a Niagara Falls of Love, and we hold out only a teaspoon to catch it.
  • We must increase our capacity to receive more great love and joy.

Defining JOY

  • After searching many definitions of Joy and primarily based on the teachings of our last three popes, we find a definition of true JOY.
  • We cover the quote from my book, Wrap Yourself in JOY.
  • The definition involves mind, soul, body, and spirit and its Trinitarian.

 

The More JOY Prayer Guide

  • We ask God to increase our capacity for JOY.
  • We receive His Love and Joy daily.
  • We thank Jesus for the JOY Rays.
  • We praise Him with Scripture.

It’s Warfare

  • Ephesians 6 was written when Roman soldiers and guards surrounded Paul in prison.
  • The Holy Spirit likely inspired him as he observed the Roman soldier’s armor.

The Belt of Truth

  • The BELT for a soldier served as a girdle to support his core or loins and stabilize his weapons.
  • Pilate answered Jesus, “What is truth?”
  • In John 14:6, Jesus defined truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • Run to Jesus, our truth. Let him lead you.

Put on Truth

  • The devil’s favorite lies are targeted at your JOY, happiness, and identity as a Christian.
  • Do not give into deception, diversion, discouragement, or division.
  • In John 17: 17, Jesus prayed, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your [God’s]word is truth.”
  • Fill your mind with the truths of God and His word. Don’t let a day go by without reading Scripture, even for just 5 minutes.

Personal Reflection: Biblical Belt of Truth Declarations

Girdle UP!! Make Jesus your Core.  Do not give into deception, diversion, discouragement, or division. Declare and remind yourself of these truths:

1.     For Deception (Identity), the Truth: I am the daughter [or son] of God. God knows me and loves me. Romans 8:15.“

2.     For Diversion (God doesn’t hear my prayers), the Truth:  My prayers are powerful and effective, and nothing can separate me from the love of God. He listens, and He is answering.  James 5: 16.

3.     For Discouragement (You are fearful- God can’t meet your needs), the Truth: The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and a sound mind.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can understand His Word and reserve time to pray and read Scripture daily. 2 Timothy 1:7.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study for seven weeks.  It accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Embrace the JOY and Stand FIRM! JOYFUL & Battle Ready #1

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Do you find it difficult to embrace JOY and at the same time stand firm in life’s battles? You are not alone. Daily, we all face challenges and fears. Join us today as we discuss embracing true JOY, standing firm, and being strong in the Lord when facing fears and struggles.

Happiness and Joy are Not the Same

About 45% of 12,000 people surveyed say they have not felt true happiness since before the pandemic. Around 25% surveyed say they don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy (Oracle).  The natural question is this: Are JOY and happiness the same thing? We will find that happiness depends on external circumstances, while true joy is “a gift that fills us from within” and “is to be searched for and shared continuously (Pope Francis. May 10, 2013).   Today, we cover these points:

You Are Made for JOY

  • If you allow God to give you His JOY, it will change your life.
  • It can even change the atmosphere around you!
  • Three Scriptures help you get started in your search for more JOY: John 15: 9-11, Psalm 16: 9-11, and Galatians 5: 22-23. JOY and LOVE are fruits of the HOLY Spirit, the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit living within YOU.
  • Jesus died for your sins and mine. When he arose from the dead, as promised (e.g., John 14: 15-26; John 16: 7), God sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to produce deep, lasting JOY in your life.

JOY and Love From the Trinity Declarations

  • Jesus, my Savior. You love me like the Heavenly Father loves You, and You want to give me your JOY—complete JOY. Thank YOU, Jesus, I embrace it. (John 15: 9-11)
  • Heavenly Father. You LOVE me and offer me gladness and fullness of JOY in Your presence.  Thank YOU, Father, I receive it. (Psalm 16: 9-11)
  • Holy Spirit. You love me and produce the fruit of JOY in & through me. Thank YOU, Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today. (Galatians 5: 22-25)

It’s a Battle!

  • Now, we move to Ephesians 6: 10-14, where we are told by St. Paul we must be prepared for battle.
  • Therefore, when Paul wrote Ephesians 6, he was imprisoned “in chains” (v. 20) and knew hardships, challenges, and struggles.
  • Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and stand firm.

Stand Firm, Stand Strong

  • To stand is a military term meaning “to hold a position” and “to resist an impending attack” (Collins).
  • To stand firm as Christians means we are prepared to resist an attack, and we look to our commander, Jesus Christ.
  • “To be strong in the Lord means to rely on God’s strength, God’s power, and God’s courage.

Wiles

  • Paul calls the attacks we face the devil’s wiles (cunning strategies and ensnarement).
  • In the book The Devil You Don’t Know, Fr. Louis Cameli says there are many common wiles of the devil with which you will struggle, including Deception, Division, Diversion, and Discouragement.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (409) clearly speaks: This dramatic situation of “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” [1 John 5: 19] makes man’s life a battle.

Recognizing Spiritual Warfare

  • Recognize if you are in spiritual warfare and facing some arrows or wiles.
  • You may be facing what the Bible calls the devil, tempter, murderer, accuser, liar, stumbling block, and adversary.

Personal Reflection – The Rs to Stand Firm and Stand Strong

  • You can “strengthen yourself in the Lord” and not depend on your own strength to fight against the wiles, using the “3 R’s” to combat the devil in any of your struggles:
  1. REMEMBER and Receive God’s Love and JOY. Daily, declare the JOY and Love from the Trinity declarations.
  2. RESIST the devil, his wiles, and temptations. Don’t let the accuser win. Participate in the sacrament of reconciliation and go forward.
  3. RENEW your mind with Scripture. God’s Word will give you strength to stand firm and resist the wiles and lies. See Romans 12:2.
  • Finally, be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10). Weakness is no excuse to lay down and be spiritually slaughtered. The Lord wants to be your strength in weakness. Call upon the Name of Jesus. Try to memorize and declare every day this week: Ephesians 6: 10-14. Put your name in the words so you pray with Scripture.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study for seven weeks.  It accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE  #11 – Nehemiah Recaps, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Finale & Recap: “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

Nehemiah Finale & Recap, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength”

Consider Nehemiah. Do you need more HOPE and JOY in your life? Nehemiah recaps: The JOY of the Lord is Your Strength.” God is waiting for you to come to Him.  Join us today for the finale of Nehemiah where you will be reminded the Joy of the Lord is Your strength.

Moving Day, Dedication & Praises

In our last podcast, covering Nehemiah Chapters 10 – 12, we joined moving day as many Israelites moved back to Jerusalem. Then they signed a Curse and Oath agreement, promising to support the temple, honor the Sabbath Day, uphold a religious marriage, and serve God in everything. After the priests purified the people, the gates, and the walls, they implored God’s presence at the dedication ceremony. Nehemiah appointed two praise processions on the walls. They praised and worshipped with thanksgiving, singing, rejoicing, and trumpeting so loud that all in neighboring towns heard them!

Twelve Years Later

Things change.  After serving as Governor of Jerusalem for 12 years, from 444 to 432 BC, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to serve King Artaxerxes. Sometime later, he “returned to Jerusalem.”  What a shock!  Nehemiah found the people had fallen away from their commitment to God and covenant promises. Today, we cover these points in Nehemiah 13 and the finale of the Book of Nehemiah:

The Falling Away (Nehemiah 13: 6-9, 15, 22, 30)

  • What caused the people to fall away so quickly? They were not reminded daily of God and His ways.
  • When the high priest fell away from God, so did the people.
  • The Bible warns often about forgetting God (see Deuteronomy 8: 13-16)

Nehemiah Addressed Breaking God’s Commands (Nehemiah 13: 1-5, 22-30)

  • The Israelites gave their children in marriage to pagans who did not use the sacred Hebrew language.
  • They stopped obeying the commandments of keeping the Sabbath Day holy and paying tithe.
  • The high priest Eliashib allowed Tobiah to move into the temple storeroom, where the offerings were kept.

Remembrance

  • Remembrance was a theme throughout the book of Nehemiah: The people forgot God again and again, but Nehemiah kept calling them to remember God, his faithfulness, and his promises.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service (a common prayer, from Psalm 106: 4-5.)

The Finale

  • It is sorrowful to know that after all the building and recommitment, the people fell away from God.
  • It is good to remember Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. God is faithful and we all must return to him again and again. He offers us His strength, His JOY and His hope.

Nehemiah and Hope

  • The Book of Nehemiah has reassured us that prayer changes everything, that every obstacle can be overcome, and that every false accusation can lead to persistence, more prayer, and joyous victory.
  • Declare with Nehemiah: God is with us!  God is for us! God is at work! God has a plan that changes everything!
  • With confidence, we can exclaim: The JOY of the LORD is my strength! (Nehemiah 8: 14).

Personal Reflection on the Book of Nehemiah

Let’s close with some reflection on the principles you can apply from the book of Nehemiah.

(1) Call on your LOVING GOD in the MESSY SITUATIONS (Chapter 1).

(2) SUPPLICATE (Chapter 1).  You can use Nehemiah’s ACTS Model: 1) Adore God 2) Confess sins, 3) Thank God, and 4) Supplicate.

(3) Pray for FAVOR & depend on God to open doors. (Chapters 2-3).

(4) Become a Perfumer; All Vocations are Needed (Chapter 3).  Become a perfumer and help build. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet aroma of prayer to every stinky situation.

(5) Face Opposition & Stand FIRM Against Insults (Chapters 4,  7). Nehemiah showed a 3-pronged approach to defeating opposition: 1) pray, 2) declare the truth instead of believing lies and 3) work together with others.

(6) When angered, step back first (Chapter 5) & Face Slander (Chapter 6): Pray, Speak the Truth, and Persevere. eep the sword of the spirit- the Word of God in one hand and your work tool or skill in the other.

(7) Declare the Joy of the Lord is My Strength (Chapter 8).

(8) Create a personal Prayer BOOTH! in your home (Chapter 8). Your corner of a room is like a spiritual booth where the Israelites celebrated the Feast of Booths to offer praise, and thanksgiving and read His Word.

(9) Remember God Will Never Forsake You (Chapters 9 & 13). After experiencing God’s great faithfulness, the people fell away into sin into the rebellion-revival cycle.

(10) Become a “Praiser” and Read God’s Word (Chapters 10-12). Nehemiah called the people to worship, to praise and to offer thanksgiving to God.

Personal Prayer Response

So, what will you do NEXT? How can you start building now? Nehemiah models personal intercession with the ACTS model.

  • Adore God and praise His greatness and faithfulness.
  • Confess your sins and those of your nation and families with a contrite spirit.
  • Thank God for His blessings and promises.
  • Supplicate or pray with a passionate heart for what you need and for others. Incorporate Scripture, when possible.

Remember: The JOY of the LORD is YOUR Strength!

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss a one-page study guide accompanying every podcast in each series?
  • It’s called a Cup of Joy Women’s group and is a fantastic way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide all the free resources and even Zoom meetings for facilitators.
  • In September, I start my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready. It’s a perfect time to form a Cup of JOY women’s group for the 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu, or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #10 – Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers! Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life.

Nehemiah Calls Praisers & JOY Fills Their Hearts

Do you need an uplift? Becoming a praiser could change your life. Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life. Join us today as Nehemiah calls all praisers and demonstrates the impact of praise.

Rebellion-revival Cycle

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites as Ezra read God’s Word aloud and they realized how disobedient they had been to God and his commandments, falling into a rebellion-revival cycle: (1) Rebellion against God and His law; (2) Warnings from the prophets and teachers, but to no avail, (3) Repentance from sinfulness and calling out to God; and (4) Intervention when God rescues them from the enemy oppressors. Today, in Nehemiah Chapters 10 -12, we follow the people as they sign a new covenant with God rededicating their lives and the walls and gates to Him. Today we cover these points:

An Oath to Follow God (Nehemiah 10: 29-35)

  • The curse and oath agreement meant “they could expect a blessing for obedience, or a correction from God if they did not follow through on obeying His Law.
  • They signed a public agreement promising to pay their tithes to support the temple, to honor the Sabbath by not buying or selling, and to uphold a religious marriage, not uniting with those who worship other gods or idols.

Moving into Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11: 3-35)

  • Nehemiah shares a long list of the people and the vocations of those who moved into Jerusalem, including leaders, warriors, Levites, temple gatekeepers, overseers, and singers.
  • Repopulating Jerusalem was essential because it would mean the more who lived there, the safer the city would be.
  • There was a special stipend for the singers who sang praises daily and led worship in the temple.

Dedication Joy (Nehemiah 12)

  • Chapter 12 opens with more names – but this time the names are those of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel.
  • Nehemiah is recalling the history and heroes in public record who sacrificed much in returning to Jerusalem.
  • He wanted all to remember these good men as part of their heritage.
  • Nehemiah lists the Levites who were heads of households plus the singers who led praise and thanksgiving with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Purification JOY (Nehemiah 12: 27-30)

  • It was time to dedicate the walls once they moved into Jerusalem and returned to worship and obey God’s laws.
  • They would seek God’s presence and blessings.
  • The Levites purified themselves, the people, and the walls. See Psalm 24: 3-6

Praising JOY (Nehemiah 12: 30-43)

  • Next, the praisers joined the dedication ceremony.
  • He sent one company of praisers in one direction singing and giving thanks (v. 35). They included the leaders and the young priests playing trumpets while others played and praised with all kinds of musical instruments.
  • Then the other company made up of Nehemiah and half of the people processed in the opposite direction on the walls singing, giving thanks, and playing trumpets too. Finally, they all met at the house of God and sang their hearts out to him. “They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (v. 43).

Offering JOY

  • The last activity of the dedication ceremony involved joyfully offering tithe to God – to support the temple, the priests, and those who led worship.
  • All of Israel gave the daily portions and tithe for the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Levites. The Levites even paid tithe to the priests.

Personal Reflection – Become a Praiser

  1. Have you considered becoming a praiser? So how can you add more praise and thanksgiving to God in your life?
    1. Become a singer of praises to God. Even if you can’t carry a tune, sing with online or CD worship music. Join others in singing praises. As you sing the words from your heart, they become your prayer.
    2. Read Psalms of Praise. You can start with Psalms 145, 146, or 150 traditionally known as praise psalms.
    3. Begin all prayer with thanksgiving and words of praise. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him, bless his name.” So the way to come into God’s presence, the king of the Universe and the Savior of the World is to come with thanksgiving and praise. For example, you can say, I praise you, Jesus or  I love you, Lord. Bookmarks for praise are available on my website.

One final point to remember is this.

  1. Don’t forget the power of praise to defeat enemies and negative situations (e.g., see Nehemiah 2 and 3). Remember  2 Chronicles 20:21 when King Jehoshaphat followed the Lord’s counsel and appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor. They lead the army into battle. As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the …enemies.., who had come against Judah, so they were routed. .. they all helped destroy one another. The Lord won a fabulous victory as the enemies were defeated and the army never even used their swords.  If you are discouraged, or fearful and have pressing needs, consider praising God often. God will fight battles for you and lift you up when you turn your attention to him.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss the one-page study guide accompanying this podcast or others in my last few series?
  • You would be forming a Cup of Joy Women’s group, and it’s a great way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide you with all the free resources. In September, I will be starting my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready--It’s a perfect time to form a cup of JOY women’s group with that 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website WRAPYOURSELFINJOY.com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #9 – Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

Consider Nehemiah Chapter 9. Do you feel forsaken by God ever? Always remember this: God is ready to forgive. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounds in steadfast love.  Join us today as Nehemiah says, God will never forsake you.

Celebrating God’s Goodness

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites on Rosh Hashanah and the Feast of Trumpets. Many had stopped celebrating the feast days and gave up their faith because of the brokenness of their homeland, families, and lives. In Nehemiah 8, when Ezra read the Word of God aloud, the people wept loudly, mourning for their sins. Nehemiah and Ezra told them: “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Next, they celebrated the Feast of Booths when each family spent seven days in a   booth remembering God’s goodness, reading the Word of God, praying, praising, and thanking Him to commemorate how God had delivered them from Egypt by parting the Red Sea, and cared for them in the desert for 40 years where they lived in simple huts.  In Chapter 9, two days after the weeklong celebration of the Feast of Booths, the people are together again for a day of national confession. Today, we cover these points:

National Confession (Nehemiah 9: 1-3)

  • The people gather for 6 hours – three hours reading the words of the Torah and 3 hours confessing sin.
  • They were reminded of how far they had fallen from God and His commandments.
  • As Hebrews 4: 12 tells us, the Word of God had pierced their hearts and revealed their sins.

Remembering God’s Care and Praising Him (Nehemiah 9: 5-26)

  • Ezra called them to worship God and recall the ways that God cared for them since Abraham.
  • God gave them the Ten Commandments.
  • For 40 years in the wilderness, God cared for them so they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

Fasting, Dressed in Sackcloth, Dirt on their Heads (Nehemiah 9: 3, 26- 38)

  • The people stood in fasting – an act of penance to show remorse in skin-tearing sackcloth with dirt on their heads –all painful acts showing deep sorrow for their sins before God.
  • They cried out for ” stiffening their necks “and “not obeying the commandments.”

The Four-Stage Rebellion-Revival Cycle

  • After experiencing God’s great faithfulness of God, they fell away again and again.
  • The Rebellion, Warnings, Repentance, and Intervention cycle could be called the rebellion-revival cycle.
  • But before long the Cycle repeated, and the Israelites became “slaves to this day.”

God Did Not Forsake Them (Nehemiah 9: 17)

Verse 17 seems to be a turning point in the chapter: “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. God will forgive us when we confess the sins of our generations and commit to changing directions.

Personal Reflection on Nehemiah 9

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture?
    • Confess your sins. Nehemiah shows us where to begin when you want to be renewed in your spiritual life: Remember what God has done, confess your sin and the areas where you have fallen away, and praise and worship our glorious God again.
    • Make a Change. True repentance and sorrow for your sins mean you want to change direction. Nehemiah 9:38 says the people made a firm agreement in writing to promise to change direction. What change in direction are you willing to make at this time?
    • Read Scripture. All the chapters in the Book of Nehemiah remind us how essential it is to hear, read, and take the Word of God to heart. How will you find more time to read and pray Scripture? If you do, it will revive your spiritual life and the lives of those around you. Start today with just 5 minutes of scripture and form a prayer from your heart to God that responds to what you read.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free, and I will help you get started. Go to Cup of Joy Women or email me at Karen@WRAPYourselfinJOY.com for information.

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #8 – Need Joy in Your Life? Nehemiah Points to a Prayer Booth!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people: "The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength."Consider Nehemiah Chapter 8. Do you need more JOY in your life? Are you seeking a revival in your faith? Nehemiah will show you the way. Join us today as we cover creating a spiritual “prayer booth” for rejoicing, reading Scripture, recalling what God has done for us, and receiving new JOY.

Wall Completed

  • Nehemiah and the Israelites completed the walls and gates in 52 days (Nehemiah 6).
  • Now Nehemiah begins restoring his beloved people’s faith (Nehemiah 7 & 8).

Fortification and Worship (Nehemiah 7: 1-5)

  • Nehemiah assigned gatekeepers to keep the city free from enemies so the people could worship without threats.
  • He appointed singers to praise the Lord day and night and to lead worship. It nurtured a close relationship with God.
  • He appointed the Levites to watch over all things holy.

Historic Memory

  • God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to register every person.
  • Historic memory is crucial to the survival of any nation or culture.
  • Nehemiah had to remind the people of their heritage and that God was with them as the returning remnant.

The Gathering – New Year’s Day (Nehemiah 8: 1)

  • It’s October 444 B.C., New Year’s Day, called Rosh Hashanah on the Hebrew Civil calendar.
  • The Feast of Trumpets on the Hebrew religious calendar calls for the people to prepare for the holy days to come (Leviticus 23: 23-24).

Hunger for God’s Word and Joy (Nehemiah 8: 2-8)

  • The people gathered to hear Ezra read from the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
  • The people stood up the entire time from morning to midday, starved and thirsty for the Word of God.
  • It takes only a few fallen-away generations to leave the next ones destitute and ignorant about God.
  • Ezra blessed the Lord. All the people responded, “Amen, Amen.” Thus, they (1) thanked God with their “Amen”, (2) praised God by lifting up their hands, and 3) bowed down in adoration and submission to God.

Weeping & JOY (Nehemiah 8: 9-12)

  • It took hearing and understanding God’s Word to begin the healing of broken hearts and dreams.
  • The Word of God revealed their sin, they were grieved, and they confessed their sins before God.
  • Nehemiah and Ezra told the people: “Don’t be grieved, for the JOY of the LORD is your strength”(v. 10).

The Feast of  Booths – 444 BC (Nehemiah 8: 13-18)

  • The Feast of Booths, also called the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) was celebrated for seven days.
  • God called the Israelites to recall how they wandered the desert and lived in booths or huts while God provided for them.
  • The Feast of Booths commemorates God’s provision and guidance, and the Israelites must live in booths to celebrate it.
  • They read the Word of God, rejoiced, offered thanksgiving, and worshipped God with their families in huts/booths.
  • God’s Word led them to repent; God’s Word changed everything, and they were filled with much joy.

Personal Reflection – The Feast of Booths Application

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture? You Could
    • Prayer Booth. Set up a Holy Place (call it a booth or secret place) in your home where you can pray, praise, read Scripture, and write in your prayer journal. Your booth is your secret place – it’s like a spiritual booth/or hut/where the people celebrate the Feast of Booths. It’s a place to put yourself in God’s presence in your home. You offer praise thanksgiving and worship.
    • Listen. Take time daily to read Scripture and allow God to speak to you. You can ask the Holy Spirit to set the Words afire in your heart and help you understand as you read. Try to record a few sentences in your journal of how the Lord speaks to you.
    • Receive the JOY of the Lord. “For the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Ask Jesus for JOY as you read His word. (See John 15: 11 & Psalm 1.)

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose another of my podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #7 – Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope #7 - Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere!

Nehemiah reads slanderous letters from Sanballet

Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere Always

Look to Nehemiah. Are you facing slander?  Have mistruths been spoken about you? You can overcome the discouragement and discern the lies, deception, and diversion around you! Nehemiah will show you how. Join the podcast today as he shows us to always pray, speak the truth, and persevere. Today we cover the following points:

The Outcry of the People

  • In Nehemiah 5, the immoral and unlawful practices of the Jewish nobles and officials brought many families to poverty.
  • After he stood back in anger, Nehemiah demanded that nobles and officials follow God’s laws, or as a consequence, they would lose their possessions in God’s justice. The Jewish officials made an oath to do this and responded, “Amen,” and “praised the Lord.”

Three Attacks from the Opposition

  • In Nehemiah 6, the enemies from surrounding countries become fearful about losing authority and moneymaking practices.
  • They conspired to stop the building with a 1) Fake Meeting, 2) Slander Campaign, and 3) False Prophecy.

Diversion – The Fake Meeting Scheme (Nehemiah 6: 1-4)

  • They invited Nehemiah to a “fake meeting” in the hills of Ono, a day’s journey away (near Tel Aviv today).
  • It sounded like a neutral place, but he discerned it was a scheme to do him harm.

Division- Lies & The Smear Campaign (Nehemiah 6: 5-9)

  • In an unsealed letter, Sanballat accused Nehemiah of a treasonous plot to revolt and overthrow the king.
  • Sanballat knew that others would read the lies and slander would be spread everywhere.
  • The scheme had worked twenty years prior when the King of Persia shut down the rebuilding (Ezra 4).
  • Nehemiah declared the truth to confront the lies and prayed: But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Deception –False Prophecy Trap (Nehemiah 6: 10-14)

  • Tobiah and Sanballat hired Shemaiah, likely a priest and prophet, to mislead Nehemiah.
  • He prophesied that he should seek refuge in the temple and make an offering.
  • Shemaiah tried to use tales of terror and “religious speak, saying the enemies planned to kill Nehemiah.
  • Nehemiah knew entering the temple would be a sin that the enemies would use to discredit him.

The  Completed Wall

  • God blessed Nehemiah, answered his prayers, and helped the Israelites complete the wall in only 52 days.
  • This was a great victory for the people because of opposition from the same enemies over twenty years.

Personal Reflection

  • Today, Nehemiah reminds us how to respond to life’s assaults: Pray, Declare the Truth, and Persevere.
  1. When you are facing discouragement, especially from diversion, division, or deception, pray like Nehemiah, Lord, strengthen my hands! and thus, ask God to help you discern the truth and persevere.
  2. Declare the truth. Don’t be distracted by rumors or slanderous accusations. This is the devil’s way of making you compromise with evil. Instead, speak the truth in love. Declare the Scriptures. For example:
    • Romans 8:15: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  Declare: I am a daughter of God!
    • Timothy 1:7: [F]or God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind. Declare: I don’t have a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.
  3. Commit your work to the Lord and stay focused.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #6 – Angry? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Angered While Rebuilding? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

Consider Nehemiah. Do you get angry easily?  Do you get riled up? Nehemiah shows us to step back before acting. It never works to respond with emotions. In Chapter 5, during their rebuilding, the people face opposition from within their ranks. It seems that if the opposition doesn’t hit us from without, it comes from within. Join the podcast today as Nehemiah reminds us to step back, then stand up and keep focus when facing opposition. Today we cover the following points:

Fight for Your Families

  • In Nehemiah Chapter 4, the people were making progress when more persecution made them fearful.
  • Nehemiah prayed and encouraged the people saying: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4: 14).

Outcry and Poverty (Nehemiah 5: 1-5)

  • Many were in poverty: inflation had become rampant and taxes were unbearable.
  • In order to pay the taxes, the families borrowed money from others using their own children as collateral.
  • If loans could not be repaid, their children, and even the wives and men, would be sold as slaves..

Step Back & Take Time to Think (Nehemiah 5: 6-7)

  • Nehemiah was very angry with the nobles and officials who took advantage of their kin.
  • Leviticus 25: 35-38 and Deuteronomy 23: 20 instruct them not to charge interest if they lend to the poor.
  • Nehemiah did not show his angst. He stepped back and collected his thoughts.
  • He gives us the first step in resolving conflict from within – step back.

The Symbolism of the Oath & Gesture (Nehemiah 5: 6-13)

  • Nehemiah confronted the nobles who were enslaving their own brethren and children.
  • He implored the officials to 1) repent of their sins and respect the Lord by following His Law, 2) stop charging interest, and 3) restore everything they took.
  • Using the Word of God (Torah at the time) and a conciliatory manner, he spoke the truth.
  • In one dramatic prophetic act symbolizing the solemnity of their oath, Nehemiah shook out the fold of his garment … In this, he emphasized that judgment would come to those who did not keep their oath before God. The assembly confirmed it with a passionate “Amen.” They “praised the Lord … and did as they had promised.

The Governor

  • Nehemiah kept his focus on building the wall.
  • He used his money earned as a cupbearer to support Jerusalem’s poor and suffering people. He worked more for God’s approval.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
  • He was asking God for continued grace in the work and most importantly, for the Lord to remember him when it comes to eternal life and rewards. We can pray with the same words.
  • The Lord promises He will remember you. Hebrews 6: 10—11 says this: God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. (Good News).

Personal Reflection

  • Please reflect on the principles that Nehemiah models and we can apply:
  1. Step back. Do not be led by anger. Collect your thoughts. It never works to respond with emotions. Ephesians 4: 26. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
  2. Stand up. In love, confront Christians with the Word of God when they are sinning against Him. Forgive always. 1 Timothy 5: 20 reminds us:  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear.
  3. Focus. Keep your focus on what God has called you to do. Keep building, pray always, and never give up. (Luke 18: 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged [give])
  4. Remember the poor. Do not take advantage of the less fortunate. Instead, help them. Psalm 15: 5, Do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
  5. Pray with Scripture. Remember me O my God, all that I have done for your people. In this prayer, we also remind ourselves that our rewards are eternal when we choose to follow Jesus and as His disciple, we build up others in Christ.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. I will even join you via Zoom.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #5 – Facing Opposition? Nehemiah Shows the Best Approach for Success!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah 4 | Facing Opposition? Nehemiah 4 Shows the Best Approach for Success! #podcast #christianpodcast #catholicpodcast #nehemiah4

Work with the Sword of God in one hand and a trowel in the other.

Nehemiah 4 Shows the Best Approach for Success!

Have you looked at Nehemiah 4? Do you ever face opposition in the midst of a daunting task? How do you respond to insults or ridicule? In Nehemiah Chapter 4, the people face criticism, ridicule, name-calling, and insults as they try to repair the burned-down walls and broken gates. Opposition happens to all of us. Join the podcast today as Nehemiah shows us the best approach for success to overcome opposition and discouragement.

Family by Family, Brick by Brick,

In our last episode, family-by-family and household-by-household and brick-by-brick the people started to repair the walls and rebuild the gates. The builders worked side-by-side, beyond their own giftedness or vocations to do God’s work and repair the walls and gates of their holy city. Of course, their enemies came to stop the progress.  They face criticism, ridicule, name-calling, and a constant barrage of insults. This can happen to any of us. Today we cover these points as Nehemiah shows us the best approach to overcome opposition:

Anger Turns to Criticism (Nehemiah 4: 1-6)

  • Sanballat and Tobiah mocked the people: “Will they sacrifice” or “finish in a day?” (They are asking, will they call upon their God or how could their God help build anything in a short time?)
  • Criticism and ridicule only added to the discouragement. This sounds just like the devil, doesn’t it?
  • The people were doing God’s work and they did not need the troubling criticism. See John 14: 27.

Nehemiah Responds to Insults with Prayer (Nehemiah 4: 1-6)

  • Nehemiah did not return their insults with insults.
  • He responded with a prayer, likely aloud, as he went into the midst of opposition.
  • Based on Jeremiah 18:23,  Nehemiah prayed aloud- they will face God and what they say will come back on them.

A Guard of Protection (Nehemiah 4: 7-9)

  • The people responded to the opponent’s increased anger with prayer.
  • Then, they set up a guard of protection around the clock to keep the enemy’s efforts from succeeding.

 Nehemiah’s Three-Pronged Approach (Nehemiah 4: 9-20)

  • Nehemiah models how to face the opposition: (1) Pray first, (2) Declare God’s truth, (3) Work heartily.
  • Together with a sword in one hand and a tool in the other hand, they continued to build.

Join Together and Keep Working (Nehemiah 4: 21-23)

  • For Christians, we must join together by praying together, declaring God’s truth to each other, and working together.
  • God can use cracked, worn-out, old tools when we commit our work to Him.

Personal Reflection

Ask God where the broken gates are in your life—spiritual or otherwise. and what weapons you can use to rebuild the brokenness. You can follow Nehemiah’s model in overcoming the opposition.  1) pray, 2) declare the truth of God’s word instead of believing the lies and 3) work together with a sword of the spirit, the Word of God, in one hand and your work in the other hand. Use your prayer journal to record your action response:

  1. For example, pray Nehemiah 4: 14. Simply insert your name for the “I” and “my.” AND Insert the names of your friends and family members in the places of kin, sons, daughters, etc.
  2. For example, declare “God will fight for my family members, my community, my friends and my country.” Speak aloud with the truth of God’s Word (e.g., Romans 8:31. and Isaiah 41:10).
  3. Work together with other Christians. Ask a friend to pray for your needs and for MORE JOY, and you pray the same for them. Use the ACTS acronym to intercede for the needs. *End your prayer time by sitting in silence and receiving God’s love and joy for you.

Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose another podcast (e.g. Finding More JOY).

  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #4 – Perfumers Needed! Nehemiah Calls for Your Help!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Perfume-makers needed- Nehemiah calls for your help! This is a podcast of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network and talks about Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope. podcast, christian podcast network, catholic podcast network, Nehemiah

Become a Perfume-maker

Nehemiah Calls Perfumers

Nehemiah calls the Perfumers. All teams need workers from all walks of life with a heartfelt desire to build—even beyond their known skills.  Most importantly, the “perfume makers” provide sweet-smelling assistance, even though their hands are soft and they are not seasoned builders.  Join us today as Nehemiah reveals team-making skills and appoints the perfumers.

Let Us Start Building

In our last podcast, we joined Nehemiah as he secretly inspected Jerusalem at night time. He saw the many ruins but was inspired that God was leading the rebuilding. Although the ruins had accumulated over many years, he inspired the people, and they replied, Let us start building! Today we cover the following points:

Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Broken Places

  • We all have broken places in the lives of our families, our communities, and our nation.
  • These areas of shame or ruin, physical or spiritual, need rebuilding so Nehemiah will encourage us.
  • In ancient cities, like Jerusalem, the gates were essential to the existence of a people. Gates were entrances to the city and provided military protection. The walls represented strength and defense.

The Gates

  • Outside the gates were stalls like farmer’s markets, where traders sold goods of all kinds.
  • Inside the gates, the leaders met and held court for those seeking justice.
  • If the walls or gates were broken, the loss of protection, commerce, justice, and meeting spaces would be devastating.

Meet the Workers (Nehemiah 3: 1 -8)

  • The high priest Elisheba with his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They started the example for repair plus they consecrated the doors and an entire area to God.
  • The men of Jericho came a long way to build and were included with everyone living nearby.
  • The Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles with status and pride refused. Keep building!!
  • The perfumers [perfume-makers] made repairs but had no building skill; they likely brought some sweet-smelling perfume. Making life smell good is an important skill too. Sweetness or perfume in attitude, speech, and effort is an essential contribution in itself.

More Workers (Nehemiah 3: 12-32)

  • Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs with his daughters offering an example of involving the family in rebuilding.
  • Anaiah and others made repairs beside their homes as they wanted their neighborhoods to be safe.
  • Merchants rebuilt the walls and gates, likely taking days off from their own work to build the community.
  • Nehemiah Chapter 3 lists those who answered the call to rebuild the brokenness. One by one they tackled all the gates in the city, repairing doors and adding bolts and bars.

Teamwork: Everyone’s Effort Needed  ~ Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope

  • Teamwork was essential.  The builders worked for the glory of God—for the place of worship, for the people of God and not for pay.
  • Hebrews 6: 10-11.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones- his people. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, NABRE

Gates

  • Nehemiah mentions the names of each of the gates that were repaired.
  • There is symbolism for Christians in the Sheep Gate, Fish Gate, Dung Gate, Fountain Gate, and most other gates too. (See bookmark on my website for more meaning of the gates and symbolism.)

Personal Reflection

You can reflect on the principles that apply to your life. In prayer, using your prayer journal, consider these questions:

  1. Where do you have burned gates or broken walls in your life (or family or nation) that need restoration?
  2. For example, burned gates are open portals of darkness into our lives. They can include addictions, uncontrolled imaginations, extreme fears, emotional hurts, lack of forgiveness, unholy media, pornography, unrestrained tongue, or other sinful habits. God wants to heal you and help you rebuild gates or walls that need rebuilding. Ask Him.
  3. Where does God want to strengthen you and give you joy? Ask Jesus to help you change hopelessness, discouragement, or procrastination attitudes into hopefulness and joy.
  4. Become a perfume maker! If you feel you lack giftings, become a perfumer and set your mind to building anyway. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet attitude of prayer to every stinky situation. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15: God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost…

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #3 – Need Favor? Let Nehemiah Encourage You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem at night

At Night, Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem, James J. Tissot (1896-1903)

Need Favor?

If you need favor, let Nehemiah encourage you.  When you pray for favor, you are asking God to give a powerful person sympathy or judgment supportive of your needs or for help to turn a bad situation around. After Nehemiah prayed, God gave him favor with the king, and the king gave him everything he asked for.  Join us today to discover how to trust God more and ask for favor when approaching challenges.

From Susa to Jerusalem

It’s about two to five months after Nehemiah left the king’s presence, due to the time it took him to make the 500-mile journey from Susa to Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes of Persia granted his request to return to Judah and rebuild his city. Nehemiah said, [T]he king granted me what I asked, for the gracious hand of my God was upon me [also translated as “the favor of my God was upon me.” Today we cover these points:

Governors Displeased (Nehemiah 2: 8-16)

  • The land surrounding Judah was controlled by enemies of the Jewish people.
  • Sanballat the Horonite was governor of the province of Samaria and a native of Horonaim, a city of Moab.
  • Tobiah the Ammonite was the governor of the province of Ammon in Transjordan. Both were positions under Persian rule.

God Gave Him Favor (Nehemiah 1: 11, 2: 12)

  • God put the desire in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2: 12).
  • God gave him wisdom and discernment as he went into the midst of opposition.
  • He prayed: Give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of this man! (Nehemiah 1:11). This man was the KING, and God gave him mercy and favor with the king.
  • Psalm 84: 11-12 encourages us to pray for favor: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

Encouragement (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Nehemiah first had to encourage his discouraged people and inspire them to rebuild.
  • The joy was infectious, and the people said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.
  • Sharing what God had done in his own life motivates others to trust Him too. Calling others to come alongside you in partnership inspires them to work together and do God’s work.
  • The people had lost their identity as a people of God. We must remember our identity as children of God.

Obstacles & Opposition (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Sanballat, Tobiah, and later Geshem opposed a restored Jewish province, for it threatened their trade and authority.
  • The enemies confronted the people with lies, but Nehemiah refused to answer the lies. He stood his ground.
  • We too must stand our ground. We must seek the Lord first, pray, and do his work. God is with us. Romans 8: 31 says: If God is for us, who is against us?

Personal Reflection

Be inspired to ask God for these requests that Nehemiah has demonstrated. Write the answers in your prayer journal.

  1. Ask God to put His desires into your heart as he did for Nehemiah.
  2. Ask God for favor this week for a needed solution to your needs. God gave Nehemiah favor with the king and the king gave him more than he could imagine.
  3. Ask God whom you can inspire with hope and joy this week. Nehemiah shared his testimony of how God was with Him, helped Him, and called him and his people to this work.
  4. Use the ACTS acronym to aid in the elements for personal intercessions as Nehemiah displays.

Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.

  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.You can choose from among my four podcasts (The Joy Series, Advent JOY, Esther & Turn-around JOY or Nehemiah: Rebuilding Hope and JOY).
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #2 – Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Teaches Intercession!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope & JOY: Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession!

Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession (St. Takla.Org)

Procrastinate or Supplicate?

Do you procrastinate or supplicate when you face a broken situation or difficult task? To procrastinate means you put off doing something often because you don’t know where to begin. Do you feel stymied because something beloved to you seems shattered and you don’t know what to do or where to begin? Join us today as Nehemiah shows us how to supplicate to our God for restoration and new hope.

Intercessory Prayer

Nehemiah teaches about interceding for a people and a nation. Nehemiah demonstrates powerful intercession. The prayer of Nehemiah starts the process of bringing great solutions to great difficulties and a broken nation. Today, we cover the following points.

Five Forms of Prayer

  • There are at least FIVE forms of prayer. “The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus instructs in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic 5 forms of prayer:” 1) blessing, 2) petition, 3) intercession, 4) thanksgiving, and 5) praise” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2644).
  • Intercession is simply “asking on behalf of another—it knows no boundaries and even extends to our enemies” (CCC #2647).
  • Nehemiah’s prayer in Chapter 1 is foremost intercession, but it also brings in the other 4 forms of prayer.

The Themes of Intercessory Prayer

  • The four themes of Nehemiah’s prayer teach supplication.
  • The themes model personal intercessory and fit the ACTS acronym.

The ACTS Guide for Intercession (Nehemiah 1: 5-11)

  • A = Adoration. Nehemiah praises and adores God first (v. 5). Praise God’s greatness. Begin prayer with adoration. (Psalm 100: 4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!)
  •  C = Confession. Nehemiah deeply loves and is devoted to God, yet he confesses his sins. He confesses his nation’s and his family’s sins as if they were his own (v. 7).
  • T = Thanksgiving. Nehemiah prays with gratitude for God’s mercy and promises (v. 8-9). (Philippians 4: 6: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.)
  •  S = Supplication. Nehemiah asks God for his needs and for the needs of his nation and family (v. 11). In the process, he is changed.

Nehemiah’s Supplication to God is Answered (Nehemiah 2: 1-8)

  • Nehemiah’s four months of prayer, fasting, and waiting on God paved the way for God to make a way.
  • No procrastination. By grace via intercession, Nehemiah courageously made requests to the king.
  • The king was sympathetic because the King of Kings had opened his heart. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah favor, granted his request to rebuild the brokenness, and even gave him supplies and assistance.

Personal Reflection

Consider the following aids for increasing personal intercession.

  1. Keep a prayer journal (e.g., a small, inexpensive notebook with lined paper).
  2. Prepare to intercede: WRITE concerns, LISTEN to God’s desires, and include SCRIPTURE.
  3. Use the ACTS guide with your prayer journal to record your personal intercession and answers.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime. Contact me for free materials and help to get started.
  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and share your faith by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. For information, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #1 – Messy Situations? Studying Nehemiah can help!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Messy Situations?

Do you have messy situations in your life? The Book Nehemiah will remind you of God’s presence and power to transform brokenness and disappointment. You can overcome the fear and discouragement. Join our podcast today and allow Nehemiah to teach you to walk with God in new hope and joy.

Inspires Our Faith Today

I hope you were able to listen to my last podcast series – Esther and Turnaround JOY. If you enjoyed the book of Esther, I know you are going to love Nehemiah.  The Book of Nehemiah speaks to our faith today, even though it was written almost 2500 years ago. It will inspire you and your family in times of discouragement, trouble or worry in the face of life’s difficulties.  Nehemiah reminds us all how God’s presence and power are with us and can transform lives. Today we cover the following points.

History

  • The Book of Nehemiah is considered a historical book in Scripture meaning it is part of recorded history. It details the third return of God’s people from the Babylonian captivity, that occurred around 605 BC.
  • In 478 BC, during the reign of King Ahasuerus, Esther, and Mordecai, through God’s providential hand, helped save the nation of Israel from annihilation. The Book of Nehemiah follows the time after Esther.

 Meet Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1: 1-3, 11)

  • Nehemiah lives and works in Suza, the winter home of the Persian kings. He was the cupbearer, who tasted every drop of wine and morsel before the king could consume it. We might call him a professional wine taster and food connoisseur in our culture. However, this position is much more. If the cupbearer dropped dead or would not eat in fear of poisoning by the king’s enemies, the king would know not to eat it either!

Talk to God First (Nehemiah 1: 4-6)

  • Our lesson here is that Nehemiah talked to God. The first thing he did in great emotional pain over the destruction back home was to turn to God. He took his emotional pain and heartbreak to God in prayer. He did not immediately try to fix the problems.
  • Nehemiah knew only GOD could bring solutions to such devastation so he worshipped the creator, the great and awesome One, the Holy One, and the loving faithful One. Nehemiah knew the situation was the result of the nation’s sin – it was not God’s fault.
  • In verse 5, Nehemiah gives us this example: Adore and Worship God before you intercede for a problem. Jesus taught us the same. When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he said, to pray like this, Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be the NAME.

Four Names for Praising God

  •  “O LORD (v. 5) is the first name.” In the Hebrew, the word is “Yahweh.” Yahweh is the divine personal name that God gave in love for the people of Israel to use. Yahweh is the Lord God, the self-existent one who is always present. You can say:  O Lord you are with ME. O God, You love me and never leave ME.
  • “O Lord of Heaven (v. 5).” In Hebrew, of Heaven is “Elohim” which refers to God, the creator of the heavens and earth and the judge of the universe. He reigns throughout all eternity and is unlimited in strength and time. You can say: O Lord of Heaven, the Mighty One, you are MY Creator.
  • Great and awesome God (v. 5).” In Hebrew, the word translated great is “Hadol” which refers to the magnitude and importance of God. Psalm 48:1 uses this word in praise: Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.  The word ” Hael ” translates as ” awesome” in Hebrew, meaning awesome and holy reverence expressed to God, whose deeds are Magnificent.  You can say: God is MY great and awesome God.
  • God who keeps covenant and steadfast love (v. 5). In Hebrew, the word used is “Chesedh” and it means the God who guards His covenant relationship by keeping His promises of steadfast love and unchanging devotion to His people.  “Chesedh” is used in Psalm 40: 11: Your steadfast love and faithfulness keep me safe forever! You can say the Lord God keeps ME safe forever. He is MY loving, devoted God. (Note: Hebrew words are from Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary, 1992, #3069, #430, #410, #2617).

Personal Reflection

  1. Which of the names for God that Nehemiah uses would you like to use more in your prayer?
  2. How will you spend a few minutes adoring God with these praises?

Cup of JOY Women

       If you would like to host a weekly one-hour “Cup of Joy Women” study on Nehemiah with your friends that accompanies this podcast, email me: WRAPYourselfinJOY7@gmail.com.  I will send free materials and get you started.

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