Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nehemiah-So Overworked We Became Mean

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 5

From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I must admit, the years I'd spent growing up in Babylon as a servant seemed really difficult at the time. My Jewish brothers worked, how we worked to stay alive in the foreign country, to build homes, to please those who had power over us.




And now this problem. 

Every man worked on his section of the wall around the city of Jerusalem either by doing the physical work or by guarding those who did the physical work. We were tired. Hadn't eaten a decent meal in a while. Probably didn't drink enough water, either. 

We were cranky.

On top of lack of sleep, we tried our best to keep up. I mean, my Jewish brothers who worked on the wall got along just fine. Each man doing and give more than could be expected.

The problem was the nobles. These men refused to do any work. They didn't think they needed to. They even paid workers to do their assignment.

The nobles continued to get wealthier while the men who worked on the wall to protect the city left their fields. Their farms didn't bring in enough food as a result. Several families begged the nobles to lend them money.

And that's when the trouble began.

Because the men weren't there to work the farms the farms didn't produce enough food to pay the bills. The families couldn't pay back their debt to the nobles. They had to sell family members into slavery to stay alive.

Really?

Our nation is struggling and our own rich noblemen are taking slaves from those who cannot pay a debt because they are building the wall to protect the those very same noblemen and all the others Jews from our enemies? I was ANGRY.

I called the nobles and officials to a meeting and said, "You are taking money from your own countrymen! Can't you see how we worked to by back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles? And now you are selling your brothers into slavery for yourself??? What are you doing?"

The nobles and official stood quietly. They couldn't find anything to say.

So I said more, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid mockery from our Gentile enemies? I, and my brothers, and my men are also lending the people money and grain. You...you need to stop taking tax and any other monies from your brothers. Give back their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and houses immediately. Give back the fees and taxes you're charging, you know I'm talking about the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine, and oil. Give it all back."

A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!! At this point
the men have built these walls half this height.
Photo Courtesy
The nobles apologized. "You're right. We'll give it back. And we will not demand anything more from them. We'll do as you say."

 They may have felt sorry then, but I couldn't take their word as a promise. I called the priests and made the nobles and officials promise in front of the priests to follow through with their word.

After they said their promises, I said, "In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!"

Well, I think they understood not to cross their brothers again. 

All the men who had gathered, including the priests said, "Amen," and praised the Lord.

And...the men did as they promised.







Come back next time to see what happens.
*********************************************************************************************
sources: New International Version, New King James Version 



Monday, September 26, 2016

Jonathan Goforth-God Wouldn't Let Me Wear Rags to Preach

By Mary Vee
Year: summer 1887
Jonathan Goforth-28 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal



A man's suite worn
in the 1880's
Photo Courtesy
My name is Jonathan Goforth. I will be a missionary to China some day. Deep inside, I feel the day is getting closer. Until then, I am doing what God shows me to do.

Preaching practically everyday was on my top two favorite things to do. I spoke at the jail, at the mission, and at churches. My schedule didn't have room for any new opportunities...and that was what I liked.

The problem, though, was my suit. I still wore the same suit my mother finished making for me days before I left home. I'd bought material for a new suit, but the guys in the dorm ruined it within the first week of college. They're sorry, but I still could use a new suit.

This may sound odd, but I took the problem to God. Yes, God listens even to our concerns about clothing. I prayed every night and day, asking Him to give me a new suit. I'd work for the money. I'd trade work for the fabric. Whatever God wanted me to do, I would do.

One day, I happened to be walking down a street with many shops. A tailor stood outside his door and watched the people walking by. As I walked near he called to me. "You. Young man. Yes you. Come into my shop I have something to show you."

Well, this was a typical way shop owners used to get people into their store. Once the customer was inside, they tended to buy something. I didn't have any money so I shook my head and kept walking.

"Young man, if I could have only a moment of your time. Please."

Well, I couldn't resist. He seemed so determined to show me whatever. I decided I'd look at the item, politely say no then leave. We walked into the store.

"Wait right here," he said to me.

So I did. The tailor had some very nice suits displayed. He walked out of the backroom carrying a black suit. I have to say, it was a magnificent suit. One only a rich man could afford.

He took the jacket off the hanger and held it out for me to thread my arms through. I hesitated but respected him. He walked around me, smoothing the back, tugging on the shoulder seams, pulling down on the hem. "Yes.This fits you perfectly. It's for you."

I took the coat off, "You don't understand, I could never afford this suit coat. Thank you." I handed it back to him but he wouldn't take it.

"Young man, a wealthy customer ordered this suit. He was the same size as you. I received a message from him saying he no longer wanted it. Now, I'm stuck with this suit. I'm giving it to you--for free."

Can you imagine the fifty thousand thoughts I had swirling around in my head? God gave me a suit!! He put in the mind for the rich man to order the suit at this time. He had the tailor finish the work today. The wealthy man was the same size as me. And now the tailor wants to rid himself of this magnificent suit!!!

I held God's gift in my hand--speechless. And let me just say, I am never speechless!! But I was then.

I decided to only go to this man's shop when I needed to buy a suit. He deserved the business for his kindness. And I did. Even years later, I made sure I came to this city and visited his store when I needed a new suit.

God is so good to us. He even supplies the little things we need.


Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nehemiah-Strength in Teamwork

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 5

From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I must admit, the years I'd spent growing up in Babylon as a servant seemed really difficult at the time. My Jewish brothers worked, how we worked to stay alive in the foreign country, to build homes, to please those who had power over us.




After a really rough start back home in Jerusalem, my Jewish brothers and I have found strength and courage. Thanks to God who gave us the ideas, we have made progress on the walls surrounding the city despite the bullying from men who were not Jews.

Half of my men did the work rebuilding the walls, while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and armor. These guards posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who worked rebuilding the walls. Those who carried rock, mortar, or tools did so with one one hand holding a weapon. Each builder wore his sword at his side. 

I also had a few men with trumpets positioned next to me armed with trumpets. We had designed signals to have specific meanings. The messages were conveyed to the whole city with the trumpet blasts. This way brothers on the west wall would know if trouble happened on the south wall. The team effort made us strong. When the trumpet signal warned of trouble, men from all parts of the city ran to help. We had our confidence in the God who would fight for us.

The trouble didn't stop, though. Our bullies took the challenge to pester us even at night. I ordered the men who worked on the walls during the day to not go home, but to stay inside the city at night and guard against our tormenters. 

A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!! At this point
the men have built these walls half this height.
Photo Courtesy



Neither I, nor my brothers, nor my men, nor the guards with me changed clothes or took time to bathe. Each of us had a weapon, even when we went for water.

Even still our problems were not over. Since the men were working night and day on the wall, there was no one to tend the fields. Food became a problem. 











Come back next time to see what happens.
*********************************************************************************************
sources: New International Version, New King James Version 


               

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nehemiah-The Bullies Tormented Us...The Men Wanted to Give up...Nevergiveupstories

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 4

From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I must admit, the years I'd spent growing up in Babylon as a servant seemed really difficult at the time. My Jewish brothers worked, how we worked to stay alive in the foreign country, to build homes, to please those who had power over us.

I thought those days were difficult.

Until now.

I was sent to Jerusalem to insure the people would rebuild the walls. Sanballat, his friend Tobiah, and their band of bullies have said the meanest, most discouraging words, or so we thought, until now. 

Until now the Jews rebuilding the city wall have endured the harassment. 

Sanballat, Tobiah, and their evil, bully friends have upped their tormenting to epic levels. 


The Jews were tired. We'd worked day and night searching for good bricks in the rubble, making new ones, spreading mortar, and hoisting the bricks above our heads until they fit in place on the wall. We hadn't taken a break. How could we with men like Sanballat and his band of bullies hanging around?

Sometimes when bullies say mean words over and over and over, the evil starts to wear a person down, right?  We know just how you feel.

This time Sanballat said to the working men, "Before the Israelites know it or see us, we'll be among them and will kill them and put an end to their work." Of course they added a dastardly laugh. 

The Jewish workers became afraid. They came to me. "Whenever we turn, they will attack us. How are we suppose to work? Tell us, Nehemiah. This is so discouraging. We can't keep working like this."

A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!! At this point
the men have built these walls half this height.
Photo Courtesy
They were right. The Jews needed help. I prayed and asked God for an idea how to give the men a sense of safety while they worked. God told me and I did as He said. I pulled some of the workers off the wall and stationed them behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places. I placed them by families so the men from Benjamin would guard where their brothers worked. The men from Reuben would guard where they worked, and so on for all the tribes of men. 

After the guards stood in place I saw the plan looked good. I went to a place where all the workers could hear me and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of Sanballat and his friends. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, you sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

When our enemies heard that we knew all about their plot and that God had ruined it, we all returned to the wall, each man to his own work.

We chose not to be afraid, God was with us, and we would stand up and fight for our family, and home. We chose to never give up.

Never. 

The wall would be finished.

And Jerusalem...rebuilt.




Come back next time to see what happens.
*********************************************************************************************
sources: New International Version, New King James Version 
               

Monday, September 19, 2016

Jonathan Goforth-The Day The Bullies Showed An Interest In My Projects

By Mary Vee
Year: summer 1887
Jonathan Goforth-28 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal




Toronto late 1800's - Photo Courtesy
My name is Jonathan Goforth. I will be a missionary to China some day. Deep inside, I feel the day is getting closer. Until then, I am doing what God shows me to do each day.

One year of college has come and gone. I'd taken a lot of harassment from the guys who stayed in my dorm and sat in my classes. Okay, it was more than just harassment, they physically hurt me several times, destroyed my belongings, and made life really miserable.

I made it a personal policy to never return their meanness. Strangely enough, word spread throughout the school that I didn't retaliate, hide, or go home proving I was a serious student.

The word also spread that large audiences attended the services where I preached. What was my secret, besides studying and prayer? I visited each home in the area of any church that scheduled me to speak, inviting each person who lived in the house to come to the service. Apparently, the people were so honored I'd paid them a visit, they all wanted to hear me preach. Once the guys at the college heard the news, the harassment and teasing stopped. 

I mean, I didn't visit people or work hard to preach and get good grades just to make the guys stop. I did all of those things to prepare for missionary work in China. I showed only my sincere heart to honor and serve God.

Not only did the teasing stop, but the guys also showed interest in my side projects. I'd heard about some of the books J. Hudson Taylor wrote and read them. These works inspired me. If I could have left the next day for China, I would have.

In the meantime, God put an amazing idea in my head. I used every spare bit of change to buy copies of Taylor's books and sent them to local pastors. Letters poured into my mailbox with the gratitude of the pastors. Every time I found more change, I bought more and sent them to other pastors. Each time, letters came to my mailbox with pastors showing an interest in China's missions. The guys in the dorm were curious what I was doing. I loaned each a copy of Taylor's book. The next night all of them came to my dorm room bringing change to give to my cause. "This book has to get to into the hands of every pastor in Canada," they said. They stayed and helped me package up books and take them to the post office.

My classmates asked questions about China and what I hoped to do there.

The last three years went much better for me. I had friends. Some of the guys helped me with Greek and Hebrew, two really difficult languages to learn. I, in turn, help where I could. 

Graduation day drew closer. So did China.

And now, I needed a new suit. The four-year-old suit I'd worn for every event requiring nice clothes looked worn, to say the least.

So, I needed a new suit coat, and I didn't have any money. I didn't have any money because I used every spare cent for mailing the Hudson Taylor books to the pastors.

How was I going to get a new suit? I'm going to think and pray about this for a week and let you know the answer next Monday.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Nehemiah-Our Enemies Plot to Stir Trouble..BUT We Prayed and...

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 4

From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I was sent to Jerusalem to insure the people would rebuild the walls. I rallied my Jewish brothers to get busy. Each to his own task. The worked moved along at a great pace...until.


Sanballat started the trouble. He was so raving mad about Jerusalem's walls rising in front of his face. He, of course, was not a Jew and enjoyed seeing hardship brought on the Jewish nation. He lived here with his body not with his soul. 

Sanballat no sooner finished tormenting the working men when his buddy, Tobiah from Ammon started in. Tobiah yelled, "What these Jews are building is such bad quality--if a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!"

Ah, Yeah. That was a wicked thing to say.

I was angry, really angry at these men who dared to stop us from completing the job God gave. So, I prayed to the God of Heaven who listens to the cries of His people, "Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn these men's insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders of Jerusalem."

I said my prayer loud and strong for all the men to hear. I would not sit around, nor cower while those who did not approve of this project ridicule us. 

I would stand strong and show the Jews that obeying God and refusing to back down to bullies was the right choice.  

I congratulated the men for each portion they completed. This was a huge job, but we had workers. Strong workers that could do the work. So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height then took a break. In truth, the people worked with all their heart..and the sight brought such a powerful energy within me I cheered them on to do more, I worked next to them, and we all praised the God who empowered us.

I knew this would not be the end, though. Sanballat and Tobiah gathered Arabs, Ammonites, and the men of Ashdod. Their spies told them we had gone ahead with the repairs to the Jerusalem walls and were filling in the gaps. 

My spies said Sanballat's furry rose to epic levels. He and his men stood and shouted, raising their fists. 

A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!! At this point
the men have built these walls half this height.
Photo Courtesy
I know what fueled this anger. 

If the Jews completed the walls around Jerusalem, they would become unified, would worship their God, and turn away from idols. The God of Heaven would protect them. 

Sanballat's men had heard the stories of what happened in the past. To the Egyptians, the Philistines. Moses. Samson. Elijah's challenge against Queen Jezebel. King David. Esther. So many more. They'd heard the stories how God protected, fought, restored, provided for...they heard them all...and were afraid.

Sanballat and his men made a plan to come and fight against us, to stir up trouble against the rebuilding of the wall. 

But...

We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to ward off this threat.



Come back next time to see what happens.
*********************************************************************************************
sources: New International Version, New King James Version 
               


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nehemiah-Building City Walls While Bullies Watched

By Mary Vee
Nehemiah 3-4


From Nehemiah's Journal




My name is Nehemiah. I have been a servant in Babylon for a long time. I was cupbearer to the king. 

I was sent to Jerusalem to insure the people rebuilt the walls. Once I arrived, I inspected the city's main protection, the walls which were supposed to be designed to keep trouble away. 

They walls had crumbled. Pieces were scattered. Last time I wrote, I shared with you about the challenge I had convincing those who live in Jerusalem to get busy and build the walls. After a time of talking and praying, the people finally agreed. They just needed a little nudge.


The city walls we needed to build had the shape of a right foot. At the top, where the toes would be, were the (from left to right) the old gate (where the big toe would be), the Fish Gate, where the next toe to the right would be, the Sheep Gate, in the center, the Master gate, where the fourth toe would be, and the East gate, where the little toe would be. 

Of course the real walls were much bigger than a person's foot. These walls surrounded the great city of Jerusalem!

Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started work to rebuild the Sheep Gate. When they finished, they dedicated the entrance to God and set the doors in place. They rebuilt that section of wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred to the right and the Tower of Hananel to the left.

Men from Jericho built the adjoining sections and Zaccur built next to them.

The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put the doors and bolds and bars in place. 


A Jerusalem gate. They are not small!!
Photo Courtesy
Meremoth repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam made repairs. Next to Meshullam, Zadok also made repairs.  The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors .

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. 

He made fun of the Jews, and in the presence of his own associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall?" He paced in front of our workers and shouted more. "Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day?" He walked close to the workers and taunted them. "Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble--burned and useless as they are?"

He laughed.

Unfortunately the workers heard everything he said. His words hurt their spirits. I was afraid they'd give up again.

Come back next time to see what happens.
*********************************************************************************************
sources: New International Version, New King James Version 
               
1. What was the first gate worked on?
2. Who rebuilt it?
3. What might have slowed the men from working?
4. What looks like a right foot?
5. Do you think the men will stop working again?