The Joy Of Understanding

Then Ezra read from the Book of the Law in the open square… (Nehemiah 8).

I love the simplicity of this! No sermon; just a straightforward reading of God’s Word. And look at how everyone responded…

  • “The ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law”
  • There was a respect for the Word of God and the God of the Word—“When he opened it all the people stood up…[then] they bowed their heads and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground”
  • The religious leaders “helped the people to understand the Law”
  • “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them understand the reading”

The result—“And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions [to those in need] and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

A mark of a godly leader is one who helps people make sense of God’s Word.

And when the people understand the Word, they are more likely to joyfully put it into practice.

This is part 10 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out the previous posts here:

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Saturday In The Psalms—My Praise Is Beautiful

…praise from the upright is beautiful (Psalm 33:1).

God thinks praise from upright people is a beautiful thing! That’s great … for the person who is upright.

Whose life does God think is “upright”?

Well, God helps me with that too! “The Lord looks from heaven” and He sees me (v. 13), and “He considers all [my] works.” But before looking at my works, He develops the inside part of me from which my works flow—“He fashions [my] heart individually” (v. 15). I am not an assembly-line, mass-produced product. I am a unique, one-of-a-kind creation!

So how do I get God to spend this individualized attention on me? “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him” (v. 18). Just standing in awe of His greatness—worshiping Him—asking for His kingdom to come and His will to be done—is the kind of invitation God delights in.

When I fear God it gets His attention and invites His individualized heart work on me. That makes me beautifully upright in His sight, and makes my praise pleasing to His ears. My praise glorifies God and increases my reverential awe of Him, which develops an even deeper fear of God … [and the cycle repeats!].

God delights in making my praise of Him delightful. I am a beautiful thing in His sight!


But none honors God like the thirst of desire,
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him;
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire,
And fills life with good works till it runs ov’er the brim. … 

Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of His marvelous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace. … 

God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvelous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above. —Frederick William Faber, Desire Of God

The Mystery & Meaning Of Marriage

John Piper’s insight of both the Old Testament and New Testament meaning of marriage is profound!

Here are the links to the Scriptures he references:

Piper’s conclusions:

  1. God modeled marriage on the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  2. Therefore, marriage has always been a witness (or a drama or a parable) of covenant love between Christ and the church.
  3. Therefore, the roles of husband and wife derive from the roles God designed for Christ and the church.
  4. Therefore, confusing or minimizing these roles obscures the meaning of marriage as a drama of the covenant love between Christ and the church.
  5. Therefore, let every husband seek to love and lead and nourish and protect like Christ, and let every wife love her husband and honor his Christ-like role, joining hands in Christ-exalting mission as God meant for the church to do.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible (book review)

Hands-down the best book for any aspiring, developing, or seasoned leader is the Bible! John Maxwell is a mentor of leaders that I have come to greatly appreciate over the year of my leadership development. So having John Maxwell’s commentary accompany my daily Bible reading time has been a  huge blessing! You can find this complete leadership development package in The Maxwell Leadership Bible.

The Bible is filled with leadership principles given by God Himself. John Maxwell is helping me compile various principles throughout the entirety of the Bible into cohesive units of study.

The Bible also presents us with various people who followed or violated God’s leadership principles. We are able to see the struggles that come to those who either ignore God’s directives or don’t consistently follow through on them. And we’re able to see the legacy of success that follows those who make it a priority to consistently walk in God’s precepts. Once again, Maxwell is brilliant at identifying these leadership lessons.

Normally I post reviews after I have read an entire book, but given the fact that my Bible reading time is in-depth and time-consuming, I wanted to post a review now to encourage Christian leaders to take advantage of this wonderful resource. If you want to use the Bible to grow your leadership capacities, the commentaries and insights provided by John Maxwell will be a huge blessing to you.

P.S. I am reading The Maxwell Leadership Bible on the Kindle version. I find it very convenient to tap on the footnotes, character studies, and leadership lessons that John Maxwell has prepared, and then quickly tap back to the biblical passage right where I left off.

How Should Christians Handle Unfriendly Earthlings?

Christians are citizens of Heaven who are merely passing through Earth, so this isn’t a Christian’s final home. Because of this, it’s not unusual for Earthlings to mistreat, insult, and even persecute these “aliens and strangers.”

How are Christians supposed to respond to this?

First off, let’s make sure the persecution is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (Matthew 5:11).

Jesus also told us that this persecution has a blessing in it: we would be able to share our faith in Jesus Christ at the highest levels on Earth: On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them” (Mark 13:9).

In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle tells us how to live with everyone, Christian and Earthling alike:

  1. Harmoniously—keep The Main Thing the main thing; don’t get caught up in petty arguments
  2. Empathetically—put yourself in others’ shoes
  3. Kindly—treat everyone like a sibling that shares the same parents with you
  4. Compassionately—be strong enough to handle other people’s stuff
  5. Courteously—remember this: manners matter!

This list may be easy to live out when people are friendly to you, but what about when unfriendly Earthlings are downright mean to you? In the very next verse Peter gives us two Don’ts and one Do:

  1. Don’t repay evil with evil—Jesus is our example of this (see 1 Peter 2:21-23)
  2. Don’t insult the insulters—treat others as you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31)
  3. Do bless those who slander and persecute you—Jesus says we get absolutely no credit if we only treat kind people kindly (see Luke 6:32-33)

In Psalm 35 David is dealing with people who are fighting against him. They are saying mean things and trying to do even meaner things. This prayer shows both God’s part and our part

God’s part—defend me against the evildoers … remind me of Your salvation … pursue those who are falsely pursuing me … stay close to me.

My part—listen to God’s voice of assurance … live quietly … don’t give others cause to mistreat me … pray for those who persecute me … continually turn my thoughts and praise to God.

Peter wraps up this thought with these words—Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even it you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:13-14).

Don’t give in to mistreatment and lash out in anger. Trust God to handle things. Keep on living a good life that is focused on bringing God all the glory due His name!

The Power That Comes After Delegation

I gave charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel… (Nehemiah 7:2).

Good leaders delegate.

The project of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem and hanging the doors had been completed, so it was time for Nehemiah to move to the next assignment God had for him.

To keep the momentum going which he had started, Nehemiah picked two trusted men:

  1. Hanani—his brother, who had previously visited Judah and brought back a faithful report about the condition of Jerusalem.
  2. Hananiah—a “man of integrity” and most importantly a man who “feared God more than most people do.”

These are good men that can carry on for Nehemiah. Nehemiah started the project, brought it to completion, and now new leaders are needed to keep the momentum going.

Notice that it is after completing the project and then delegating to new leaders that Nehemiah writes, “Then my God put it into my heart” to take on a new project (v. 5).

A mark of a godly leader is one who appropriately delegates so that he can receive God’s new assignment.

This is part 9 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out the previous posts here:

What Is The Church Supposed To Be Doing?

Before ascending back to Heaven, Jesus commissioned His followers. He gave them a mission which Christian often refer to as The Great Commission.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

There are several pictures in the New Testament of how the Church could live out this Great Commission, but one of the pictures that I find the most helpful is that of a Body.

The human body is an amazing creation! Just to accomplish the simple task of picking up something between our thumb and forefinger is a miracle in itself. The structure of bones and ligaments and tendons, the interaction of nerves in the fingers coordinating with the optical nerve, not to mention the enzymes and blood vessels that are all doing their part.

Yet if any part is not functioning properly, that simple action becomes more difficult. Maybe it even becomes impossible.

The Church is the same way. Every part of the Church Body has to be functioning in healthy order for the whole Body to be effective.

Here are four aspects of a healthy Church Body that the Apostle Paul lists in Ephesians 4:

  1. Caring for one another
  2. Mobilizing for evangelism
  3. Making disciple-makers
  4. Helping organize for more meaningful ministry

If every part of the Body is doing its part, we’re Living out the Great Commission.

If some parts are missing or unhealthy, we’re Wallowing in the Great Omission.

It’s not about your church (small “c”) or my church. It’s about all Christian disciples being a part of one Church—one Body—going into all the world and making disciples of all peoples. That’s what the Church is supposed to be doing!

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