Watching Daily At My Gates

March 23 Read Nehemiah 4:1-6

There are three things of note in this short section of Scripture. First of all we have the mocking of the wicked. When Christians go forth to carry out the commands of God, the wicked will try anything to stop them. Mocking is usually one of their primary weapons. Human nature is such that when mocking occurs, those who are mocked pull back from their intended plan. Secondly, we see Nehemiah’s reaction to the mocking. He goes to God in prayer. Nehemiah was a praying Christian. Are we? Thirdly, we see that the people were of a mind to work to build the walls of Jerusalem. Are we willing to work for the church of God? Will we persevere in the face of tribulations and carry out that work? May God give to us the grace to persevere until Christ returns. Sing Psalter 99.

March 24 Read Nehemiah 4:7-15

The wicked hates the righteous and will do all to bring God’s work to nought. This was Satan’s plan from the beginning; and even now as we await the return of Christ, Satan will try to take any and every righteous man or woman, young or old, from the flock of Christ. We must follow the lead of Nehemiah. First of all we must pray. We pray for protection under the sheltering wings of our Lord and Savior. We pray for the wisdom to work in such a way that the cause of Christ and his church be furthered. When we trust in God, he will show to us that way. Let us fight the fight of faith “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Sing Psalter 100.

March 25 Read Nehemiah 4:16-23

We see several practices that Nehemiah put into effect during this building of the wall. First of all there was the readiness to fight the fight of faith. Are we ready? Do we build with an eye on the enemy? Satan is always vigilant where the church is concerned. We must watch out for him and be ready to engage in the battle of faith at any and at all times. Secondly, the people cooperated with each other throughout the city. Not only were they concerned with what was happening at their front door, but they were also watching what was happening “across town.” Is this our attitude for God’s church throughout the world? Are we watching out for them? Are we praying for them? Finally Nehemiah and others put their personal comforts last. This, too, must be our attitude. In this world the prevalent philosophy is “me first.” What is our attitude? Sing Psalter 369.

March 26 Read Nehemiah 5:1-5

If it was not bad enough that enemies from without the church oppressed the people of God, Satan moved some from within the congregation to oppress some of them. Those who were poor and could not even afford the necessities of life were forced by their neighbors to give up all that they had including their children just for daily bread. Do we love our neighbor? Do we keep the second “great commandment”? God forbid that we not help those in need around us. Let us look for ways to perform true Christian service among the household of faith with whom God has placed us. Let us fight this battle of faith against our common enemy the devil. Sing Psalter 24.

March 27 Read Nehemiah 5:6-13

Upon hearing the complaint of the people, Nehemiah became angry at those who had been oppressing them. His anger was a righteous anger based upon God’s grace. God had been gracious to Israel in having them delivered from the bondage of Babylon. They had taken that good gift and had turned it to their profit. What about us? Do we oppress those of the church in a similar manner? Do we withhold good from those who need help? We have been recipients of God’s good gift of grace. Let us live lives of thankfulness in gratitude for that gift, and let us care for God’s people as he gives to us opportunity. Sing Psalter 386.

March 28 Read Nehemiah 5:14-19

God’s people are called to be examples to those around them. Not just those in authority are called to do that, but everyone must be an example of God’s love. Nehemiah definitely was that good example. He was that not for his sake but for God’s sake and for the sake of the people of God. As the king-appointed governor he had the right to expect a salary provided by the people of Jerusalem. For the good of those people he did not take that salary, but rather out of his own pocket helped a number of people. Let us strive to be good examples. All of us have that opportunity to some measure. In doing so we show that we love God and love our neighbors. Sing Psalter 186.

March 29 Read Nehemiah 6:1-9

Satan does not quit. In the whole of chapter six, at least eight times the work was threatened by one of his workers of iniquity. The work, as Nehemiah puts it, is a great work. It is a great work because it is God’s work. We must remember this in whatever we do for God’s church. No matter how small the task may be, it is a great work. Nehemiah found strength in one thing and one thing alone. He found strength in God as his short prayer in verse 9 states. We need to find our strength in the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. In him only is strength. May we make that our prayer from this time forth and forevermore. Sing Psalter 224.

March 30 Read Nehemiah 6:10-14

Once again we see another attempt to make Nehemiah afraid and to halt the work of the Lord. In this attempt Nehemiah’s enemies try to entice him to sin by going into the temple where he does not belong. Sometimes we are told that we may do what God has forbidden because it is for a “good cause.” Nehemiah did not believe that, and we must not either. We must keep ourselves pure from all manner of sin so that we might appear blameless before our God. Now we know that the only way to do this is through the blood of Christ, but yet Christ himself exhorted us to be holy even as he was holy. May God give to us the grace to flee sin and to walk in his ways. Sing Psalter 161.

March 31 Read Nehemiah 6:15-19

We see two items of note in this portion of God’s Word. First of all we see in verse 16 that even the heathen had to confess that the work of building the wall was God’s work. God had given to his people the zeal to begin and to carry out this huge task. The wicked knew that with all their “scare” tactics this project was only completed by God’s hand, and they hated that fact! The second thing to which we must pay heed is another of Satan’s tactics. Satan will have the church become friends and even marry with the world. This was the sin of Baalpeor mentioned earlier in Scripture. This sin is also pointed out in Revelation in the letter to the church at Pergamos. We must be careful about whom we befriend. We must be careful for God’s sake and for the sake of his church. Sing Psalter 1.

April 1 Read Nehemiah 7:1-2

After the city walls were built Nehemiah’s work was not finished. The organization and care for the city and its inhabitants was just as important. First of all those who did service to the church were appointed. A porter was important in the church. He had a work that was necessary. God has given to us porters, and we must honor them for the service they do for God’s glory. Secondly we see singers appointed. Singing along with the chief part of thankfulness, prayer, is a characteristic of the faithful church of God. If a church will not sing the songs of Zion, the church will have troubles. Finally two leaders were appointed. It was not nepotism that caused Nehemiah to choose his brother, but rather it was the characteristics that both he and Hananiah possessed. They were faithful and feared God above many. These must be the characteristics of not only church leaders but all of God’s people including its young people. Let us be faithful and fear God. Sing Psalter 26.

April 2 Read Nehemiah 7:3-38

Sometimes we may wonder why these long lists of names are recorded on the pages of sacred Scripture. The answer is quite simple: God wanted us to learn from them. As Nehemiah was reorganizing life in Jerusalem, he needed to know who had come back and where they lived. We believe in the line of continued generations. We want our names recorded in a group of people who will inhabit the new Jerusalem. The day will come that we will hear the list of the 144,000 read in heaven. What a joyous day that will be! Let us look forward to that day with both eagerness and with patience. Sing Psalter 241.

April 3 Read Nehemiah 7:39-73

As Nehemiah continued through the registry of the people of Israel, he comes to the priests and Levites. Some of them could not be admitted to do the work as their genealogy was tainted. Those who do the work of the Lord must be pure in all ways. We also see that besides the priests were the temple workers, the Nethinims, as well as the temple singers. There are many different ways in which God has appointed his people to serve him. Finally, we see that there was support for Jehovah’s worship. Do we support his worship in this day and age? Are we happy with the place God has given to us? Have we kept ourselves pure so that we can worship properly? All of these are proper questions for the church of today. May we worship correctly, which way is in spirit and in truth. Sing Psalter 257.

April 4 Read Nehemiah 8:1-8

After the wall was built something more was needed. That something more was the understanding of what was written in God’s Word. It matters not what type of physical structures we have. If we do not have God’s Word as our guide, we have nothing; and all that we do will come to nothing. Let us go to the Word. First of all, we need to go to that Word each Lord’s day. We need to hear it expounded by a faithful preacher of that Word. Secondly, we need to open our copy of the Word daily, and ask the Spirit to illuminate our hearts and lives with that Word. Let us allow that Word to be a light upon our way, and then we will surely see the way that we need to follow each and every day. Sing Psalter 333.

April 5 Read Nehemiah 8:9-18

As the people heard the Bible read to them, they began to weep. They wept because they heard about both their sins and things that had caused them to go into captivity. But Nehemiah, Ezra, and other Levites comforted them and told them that the day was to be a day of joy for it was a special day of thanksgiving. This day had the feast of the booths as its focus. The people began to rejoice, but they remembered the poor and had food sent to them. We need to daily read the Bible so that we do not forget God’s wonderful promises found within its pages. Those promises will sustain us in whatever place we are in our lives. May our God give to us the grace to daily read and study his Word. Sing Psalter 337.

April 6 Read Nehemiah 9:1-3

After reading the Word of God, the people of God were moved by their sins. They saw that they needed to go to God because of those sins. They first of all put away from themselves all that would distract them. Then they confessed not only their individual sins, but also the sins of the nation. Finally they worshipped Jehovah. This is the way that we must worship every day. When we have our daily devotions no matter how long or short they are, we must follow these steps, We must especially do this on the Lord’s Day as we enter his house. Let us go to his Word daily, and let it provoke us to do what is right in his sight. Sing Psalter 339.

April 7 Read Nehemiah 9:4-19

Throughout the Bible we find prayers of God’s people. These prayers can serve to instruct us how to pray. We do well to read them so that we can know how to pray. This prayer starts with the declaration that God is God alone. We must acknowledge this; we must believe this with all our hearts. If we do not, we might as well stop praying immediately. Secondly the prayer confesses that God is the sovereign maker of heaven and earth. This, too, must be our belief. If we have any inkling of evolution in our soul, again, we cannot pray as we ought. Finally, the people confessed the sins of the fathers. They did this because corporately those were their sins. Let us learn from these prayers, and let us pray without ceasing. Sing Psalter 242.

April 8 Read Nehemiah 9:20-38

As this prayer ends, those making it realize that those sins which brought them into captivity are still with them today. They knew they could not say how awful those people are because those sins still resided within them and their children. We must be no different. We cannot say that any sin does not cling to us. We must confess our sins each time that we pray. We must ask for the covering of the cross to rest upon us. We can do this because our God is the covenant-keeping God. Let us go to him and on the basis of that covenant ask for forgiveness often. Sing Psalter 83.

April 9 Read Nehemiah 10:1-31

As children of God, we are bound to put off the old man of sin and to embrace the new man of righteousness. Part of doing this is to walk in the commandments of our God. It means we must live the separate life of the antithesis. We must separate ourselves from the world and live unto God. We also must keep God’s day holy. This means that there is a very real practice that follows doctrine. The two are inseparable. As we learn and have learned the truth, let us walk in that truth each and every day. Sing Psalter 251.

April 10 Read Nehemiah 10:32-39

Notice the last phrase in this section. They pledged themselves not to “forsake the house of our God.” The previous verses give an account of the offerings that they would bring for the work of the worship of Jehovah. They knew what they had to do and they pledged that they would do it. We need to take these words seriously. It is our obligation to carry forth the work of God’s kingdom. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” It is not the amount that is important; it is the willing heart. We must pray for such a heart, and we must give the gifts of thankfulness for the great gift of salvation that God has given to us. Sing Psalter 226.

April 11 Read Nehemiah 11:1-18

It was discovered that there were too few people to properly inhabit Jerusalem. Therefore, a plan had to be devised. The plan was that one out of every ten families would give up their place in their home village and live in the city of God. Notice in verse one that these families were willing to do so. Are we willing to do whatever is necessary in God’s church even if it means giving up something that is dear to us? This does not mean that we pick what we want to do, but rather that we do anything for the work of Jehovah. Let us willingly do what is needed for God’s glory and his kingdom. In that willingness we will be blessed of God. Sing Psalter 407.

April 12 Read Nehemiah 11:19-36

God preserved the singers! As we read through the Psalms we see that a number of those Psalms were written by and for the sons of Asaph. Here in this list of those who returned from captivity we find the sons of Asaph. Also in verse 23 we find that the king commanded that they were to be cared for. Although we confess in the catechism that prayer is the chief means of thankfulness, singing is another important way that God has given to us to show our gratitude for the great salvation which he has afforded to us. Let us sing, and let us sing often. Sing Psalter 430.

April 13 Read Nehemiah 12:1-26

Throughout the history of the church there are those whom God has appointed over the church. We should be thankful for such faithful men whose work is to care for God’s work on our behalf. They have their callings. Like the Levites of old each of these callings is different. Some must preach, some must rule, and some must care for the poor. Those who returned from captivity needed such men who put in order the proper worship of Jehovah. In today’s church we need and should crave such men to put in proper order the worship of Jehovah. Let us pray for those men and respect them for the office to which they have been called. Sing Psalter 350.

April 14 Read Nehemiah 12:27-39

God’s people throughout history have dedicated structures unto God. Quite often we have dedicated churches, schools, and other buildings because of the purpose for which they were erected. We might not think that a wall would be so significant. The wall around Jerusalem signified not only the protection that it afforded to Jerusalem, but also the protection that God places around his people. We forget this often. We tend to think that we can take care of ourselves when, in reality, we cannot. Let us give thanks unto God who cares for us. Let us go around Zion and mark the walls that surround her. God’s care has been with us; let us acknowledge that care with our prayers and our lives. Sing Psalter 225.

April 15 Read Nehemiah 12:40-47

As society in Jerusalem was becoming re-established, the rulers made sure that those who were busy with God’s work were cared for. This meant that offerings had to be taken and then distributed to those men who brought God’s Word to his people. We must remember this as well. God’s ministers must be cared for by his people. Their daily needs must be provided for. This is an obligation of those who have been afforded the gift of salvation. Are we careful in this matter? Do we give liberally to the kingdom causes? Each week as we enter God’s house may we be ready to be a cheerful giver when that time of the worship service comes upon us. Sing Psalter 109.

April 16 Read Nehemiah 13:1-9

One of the reasons that we hear the law read each Sabbath day is that we might know our sin and flee from it. Israel, as the whole law was read to them, realized that there were some things that had to be changed in its society. One of those things was to rid themselves of people with whom God had commanded that they were not to associate. Even one of their despicable enemies, Tobiah, had been allowed to take up residence in a temple chamber. These sinners had to be cast out. Do we cast out of our lives both sins and sinners? We must pray for the grace to do this every day. Only in this way will God be glorified in his church and by his people. Sing Psalter 40.

April 17 Read Nehemiah 13:10-14

Each week as we prepare to go to God’s house to worship before him, we must prepare to give to the kingdom causes. This preparation cannot be hit or miss; it cannot be just an afterthought. The offerings that we give in worship are also commanded by God. They are part of what we term the regulative principle of worship. They are a part of the worship service in which we are afforded an active role. Let us be, as Paul terms it, cheerful givers. Let us bring our offerings each week as tokens of the thankfulness for being released from the captivity of sin. Sing Psalter 137.

April 18 Read Nehemiah 13:15-22

After Nehemiah built the wall, there was other work that he needed to accomplish. He had to work at helping Israel build a spiritual wall around themselves. One of the areas which was crumbled was the keeping of the Sabbath. Nehemiah reminded Israel that this was one of the sins for which they had been taken captive. Nehemiah becomes very proactive in this work, but when he is finished he goes to God in prayer. He prays that God bless this work as well. May we keep the Sabbath day holy every week until Christ returns. Sing Psalter 250.

April 19 Read Nehemiah 13:23-31

Nehemiah’s final actions dealt with those who married young men or young women from foreign heathen lands. While we do not have the injunction not to marry those who might be called foreigners, we still must marry in the Lord. The consequences of marrying unbelievers are many. First of all, like Solomon, they will turn the believer to sin. Secondly, the children of such marriages will not know what is right. Thirdly, and most importantly, the name and honor of our God will not be upheld. We must be careful about with whom we associate in our lives. We must keep God’s law and in that way keep our lives pure. Sing Psalter 360.