Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Leadership Observations in the Life of Nehemiah

     Nehemiah and Leadership

Nehemiah 1:1-11, 2:1-20

A.     Nehemiah consulted with his brothers and other men from Judah (1:2)

1.        Leaders consult with peers, which may include family.

B.      Nehemiah inquired of the Jews who escaped and survived captivity and Jerusalem (1:2)

2.        Leaders are concerned of others well-being.

3.        Leaders are concerned about foundational and symbolic cities and/or geography.

4.        Leaders are cognizant of other’s circumstances—(surviving and escaping).

C.     Nehemiah learned of the wall of Jerusalem being broken and its gates burned. He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for days before God (1:3-5)

5.                  Leaders understand the significance of physical structures:

                                               i.     Spiritual – The wall in those days signified the strength of one’s god. Thus a destroyed and burnt wall reflected poorly upon God.

                                             ii.     Geographical

                                           iii.     Societal

                                            iv.     Political

                                             v.     Emotional

                                            vi.     Relational

6.        Leaders wholly, authentically invest themselves in others’ lives—weeping and mourning for days

7.        Leaders submit themselves to God (Nehemiah uses your servant (NASB) eight times in the first chapter in referring to himself, the Jews and Moses)

8.        Leaders pray to God

9.        Leaders fast before God

10.     Leaders seek God in recognizing, acknowledging, and speaking God's awesomeness

11.     Nehemiah reminds God of His covenant and loving kindness for those obedient to Him (1:6)

12.     Leaders understand the consequences of disobedience to God.

13.     Leaders understand the significance of obedience to God.

14.     Leaders seek God’s attention when praying

15.     Leaders Know God’s Word, and Character--as much as humanly possible--which is a lifelong, perpetual gaining and growing.

D.     Nehemiah confesses sins of sons of Israel and himself (1:6-10)

16.     Leaders confess personal sins

17.     Leaders confess corporal sins

Summarization of Leadership Principles


Nehemiah serves in upper management with King Artaxerxes, as his cupbearer. Consequently, a self-centered leader would lack concern for others, especially those who lack adequacy to aid one's secular gain.

Conversely, Nehemiah's God-centeredness immediately illuminates as he inquires of his brother and peers regarding the status of the Jews who survived and escaped captivity and about Jerusalem. Nehemiah deeply grieves for days over the destruction of Jerusalem's wall because of its spiritual and societal implications.

He recognizes this results from disobedience to God, the vulnerability of the Jews without the wall, and the symbolism of God appearing weak to society. Nehemiah responds with fasting and prayer, along with confession of sins of him and the Jews as a whole.

He pleads to God, reminding God of the covenant, including God's promised response of the Jews obedience and disobedience. Nehemiah diligent planning included prayer while speaking to the King, this also provided God's favor before the King.

Nehemiah responded to the King's questions with specific plans, including the necessary approval letters of others in authority over his route to Judah. Nehemiah's leadership displays the significance of loving God, including his people (Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37-40). His leadership and vision relies on knowing God's word, the necessity of obedience, preparation and prayer.

A few Admirable skills/principles noted before engaging the King

 1.     Nehemiah is concerned about the Jews and Jerusalem
a.     Nehemiah records specifics of month, year, and location of inquiry (1:1)
b.     Nehemiah consults with peers and experts (1:2).
c.     “I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. (1:2)
2.      Nehemiah responds to destruction and disobedience with grief for days, before God.
a.     Sat down
                        i.     Lack of physical strength caused from deep mourning
         ii.     Displays long duration of events

b.     Wept

Rick E. Meyer
Running on Faith Ministry, Inc.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5 Lessons from Philemon 1:4-7

Five lessons from Philemon 1:4-7

1. Perpetually Thank God for the Love and Faith of others in Prayer.

2. Instigate Faith by recognizing Christ’s internalized abilities in you, for Him.

3. Be joyful and comforted in other’s love.

4. Righteous living refreshes the hearts of saints.

5. Righteous living results in the joy and comfort in fellow Christians.
Background on Philemon

Author: The Apostle Paul during his first imprisonment

Date: A.D. 61 - 63
Probably the summer of A.D. 62 since Onesimus who carried this letter accompanied Tychicus who carried another of Paul's letters to Collosse.

How are you at forgiving others?

What about those who ripped you off?

Let’s take a look at Philemon. This is the shortest of Paul’s epistles with 334 Greek words , written around 60-62 AD. The greeting of ‘grace’ appeals to the Greek readers, while ‘peace’ resonates with the Hebrew audience.

The author, Paul, was born in Tarsus as Saul, his birthright included residence of Rome. Some believe his father or grandfather earned Roman citizenship through military service.

Roman citizenship provided great legalistic benefits. Presumably this is why he was beheaded instead of crucified like Christ and Peter.

The Cydnus River, navigable from the Mediterranean, ran along Tarsus enabling amazing business opportunities and wealth as this river also resulted in fertile, alluvial soil which enhanced the agricultural industry.

Paul was highly educated. Tarsus hosted an “Ivy League” University. In Jerusalem, Paul received instruction from Gamaliel who advised the Sanhedrin. Ironically, Gamaliel advocated against persecuting Christians.

Paul’s ancestry includes the lineage of Benjamin, thus Israel and Saul / Paul is considered a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” and a Pharisee. His beginning was absent the epitome of Christ’s image.

Saul persecuted the church, yet his legalistic righteousness was considered perfect. He served as the guard of coats while Stephen was stoned. Later on the road to Emmaus, Christ asks, “Why do you persecute me?” He humbly responded, and was blind for three days. He then adamantly served Christ, while serving as tent maker.

Philemon’s slave, Onesimus, who stole him blind then departed for Rome. Somehow this slave connected with Paul, becoming a Christian.

From a Roman prison, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus; carbon copying all the other churches in Colosse, whose residents were mostly Gentiles. Philemon’s house afforded capacity for church services.

Paul who received GraceGrace from Christ, says to Philemon: Look Onesimus is straightened out; please take him back, treating him like a brother.

Can you imagine forgiving an employee who stole from you and being asked to accept them as an equal business partner? Paul says if he owes you anything send me the bill. Oh yeah, have a bed ready for me as when I get out this place, I am coming to visit.

Many in Colosse had difficulty believing that faith in Christ alone was sufficient for their salvation. They also believed in mysticism, and Jewish legalism; not exactly the role models of Grace.

Paul, who grew up in wealth, education and persecuting Christ, is asking Philemon to follow in Paul in seeking Christ ahead of human desires of revenge.

Background on Slavery in Rome:
Professor Alan Watson describes the Romans maximizing slaveholder benefits of slavery by “maximizing the profit and minimizing the risk.”

Slavery was considered, “A misfortune that could happen to anyone.”

Freed Slaves could potentially receive full benefits of Roman citizenship.

Through end of 1st Century – Romans had approximately 40% slaves.

Rome's focus since around 200 B.C. included Conquest and Slavery of nations.

Roman citizens became captured and enslaved by the enemy, thus losing their Roman citizenship.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Biblical Approach to Tough Life Decisions:

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17, NASB)

Several years ago during a run, George—not his real name—brought up that he and his wife were considering making an offer on a larger home that included a guest house in the back. He spoke of the financial considerations such as the sellers reducing the asking price a few hundred thousand dollars as well as the unknowns associated with restructuring his business. Additionally, several positives and reluctances of the new home weaved into the conversation.

After listening to George make his point during the first three or four miles on the trail, I felt there were some Biblical questions, so I asked a few questions such as: (Note: “You” includes George, his wife, and family as applicable.)

Ø  What is the purpose of your home?

Ø  What is the ultimate purpose of your business?

Ø  Are you seeking God’s wisdom in this and all decisions? Why or why not?

Ø  Are you praying about this decision?

Ø  Are you investing your heart, mind, and soul in Bible study while seeking God’s wisdom?

Ø  How will/may you continue serving the Lord in your current home?

Ø  How will/might you serve the Lord in the new home?

o   For example: Would you consider opening the back house to missionaries returning to the U.S. for one or several weeks, or to other people to serve and glorify God?

The conversation resumed during another run a week or two later. George shared that he and his wife decided that staying in the current home enabled them to continue serving several widow neighbors. They also lacked internal peace regarding pursuing the different home.

In the last two months, two other runners discussed considerations of new employment opportunities which included relocating away from Dallas.

They, like most of us, focused on the difference of net household income, difference in cost of living between Dallas and the other city, social opportunities, and distance from family and current friends. Each of us can easily understand and relate to these concerns and considerations.

However, our relationship with Christ mandates our focus rest solely on serving and glorifying Him. I proposed the same and similar questions as the above with each of them. They each thanked me for this perspective. It’s all God! We simply strive to obediently serve Him.

Our responsibility as Christians always rests in pointing those seeking wisdom to the source of all wisdom who is God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit as found in His word, the Bible; along with intense prayer. Every aspect of our life centers on serving, glorifying, and pleasing God. Period!

            Success is pleasing God!
            ~ Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint,
Senior Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition,
Dallas Theological Seminary

Conversely, our sinful pride and ego seek to place emphasis on personal gain for both the person giving advice as well as to those seeking advice. Worldly wisdom focuses on serving and glorifying ourselves and the world. The prosperity gospel focuses on using God and scripture as a catalyst for self-gain.

Most popular and famous pastors and Christian speakers preach some degree of the (errant) prosperity gospel, because that’s what people like to hear. Most people want the focus of their life on themselves instead of on God.

~ Dr. Charles Baylis,
Professor of Bible Exposition,
Dallas Theological Seminary

Whenever you, your family, friends, or peers face decisions, always point them to God’s wisdom through Bible study and prayer.

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:13–17, NASB)

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17)

Seek to Serve, Glorify, and Please God in Everything!
Rick E. Meyer
Running on Faith Ministry

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Food for Thought: Intentional Plagiarism reveals character.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hope --> Mustard Seed vs. Mustard Tree

Did you know that an individual mustard seed is 100X to 200X smaller than the smallest objects seen by most flying birds?

During last Wednesday’s post-run coffee, one of the runners shared that his neighbor Joe (not his real name) committed suicide the previous day. Joe left behind his wife and children. Joe lived in an upscale Dallas neighborhood, driving luxury automobiles.

Based on descriptions shared, this business owner appeared to “have it all.” However, his business was evidently failing and his debt, including credit cards, escalated. Unfortunately, Joe lost hope. He could no longer see a viable path to resolving his life’s challenges.

Unfortunately, Joe’s story is too familiar. Stories remain of a few investors choosing suicide after the Stock Market crash of 1929.

A former friend told about one their family friends who leapt to her death many years ago from a bridge stretching over the Missouri River between Omaha and Council Bluffs due to hopelessness caused by debt accumulated from gambling.

In the past year, other running friends have shared that friends of their children chose suicide. Whether the hopelessness arises from financial pressure, social pressure, or any number of challenges in life; those committing suicide see no other way of escaping.

Regardless of the external and psychological cause, each become blind to any hope!

While I am deeply saddened when hearing of suicides, I do not condemn them as a person may choose in only a relatively short time to make a permanent decision. For example, a suicide prevention psychologist spoke to our high school psychology class in the 1980s. He told of a man who attempted to shoot himself in the head, fortunately this man survived.

The man later shared with our guest speaker that the instant he pulled gun’s trigger everything went into slow motion, including the bullet spiraling down the barrel. He immediately regretted his decision. Fortunately, this person survived. I reflect on this story each time I hear of someone committing suicide.

Regardless of your challenges in life, the hope of God found in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit always exists. Just because you fail to see it in your dark moments, know that God is with you and loves you. Seek Him! For example, in Mark 4:30-32 Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed.

The Kingdom of God  

And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? “It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE.” (Mark 4:30–32)

The kingdom of God resides in each of those who know Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; NASB95). Did you know that an individual mustard seed is 100X to 200X smaller than the smallest objects seen by most flying birds?

The diameter of a mustard seed measures an infinitesimal 1 mm to 2 mm; the size of one particle of fine sand or approximately 4/1,000 the size of a Corn Seed. Conversely, most birds cannot see objects smaller than 20 cm[i].

However, Jesus instructs us that this dust sized seed that is invisible to the birds of the air will in few short weeks provide food, rest, shade, and shelter for a group of birds.

Amazingly, this near microscopic seed[ii] contains every molecule of genetic information necessary to grow, flourish, and significantly affect the world. Within only a few weeks, this miniscule seed that is too small for the birds of the air to see, will soar to heights of eight to twelve feet and house and feed those same birds. Just as the seed is complete, so is the word of God.

Therefore, your hope in God remains complete even when you cannot see it amidst your otherwise seemingly hopeless circumstances. If you or someone you know becomes blind to hope, direct them to the appropriate help.

Running on Faith is trusting in the presence of the Kingdom of God, which is the power of God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This trust exists whether God’s presence seems like the mustard seed is too small to see, or the evidence of God’s power is as magnificent as a full grown mustard tree supporting the birds of the air.

Yes, God will create a path out of your challenges. It may not be easy or quick. Yet, He will come to your aide and He does and will love you and your family beyond your wildest imaginations.

Always Trust God!!!

Rick E. Meyer
Running on Faith Ministry
Dallas, TX