Nehemiah 13

As a father and influencer of people I was impacted by today's reading.  It is a stark reminder of how important a role I play as a godly leader.  When Nehemiah left there was a vacumn of strong leadership and no one to uphold and live out the right way of doing things.  So what naturally happens is that people go back to their old ways that were not pleasing to God.  As parents and/or people with influence in the lives of others we need to take this role seriously.  We must continually live in lead in such a way that helps to keep people focused on what is right.

The other thing I noticed is the importance of reading God's Word.  The more we take time to read God's Word the more we are kept on track about what is honoring and pleasing to the Lord we love and want to please.  Take time to continue to develop the habit of reading the Word and allowing it to transform the way we live.

Nehemiah 12

The walls were rebuilt, God had been faithful and there was a great celebration.  Sounds like a good idea.  This month is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Let's start celebrating.  At our home in the month of November each day we write down one thing we are thankful for and put it in a jar, then we read them all at our Thanksgiving meal.  We've gotten a late start this year but at least we are doing it, better late than never.  Same for us at DSC.  Let's take time to celebrate.  Today in our posts let's share what we are thankful for and how we have experienced the faithfulness of God.

Ready?  Let's go...

Nehemiah 11

Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem

The walls have been rebuilt and there is a need for the people to come back to the city because it is "the holy city."  It is where the temple of God is situated.  The place of worship.  The city that symbolized that they worshipped Yahweh.  What is relevant to me is that the leaders of the people led the way, they did not send in others while they stayed out, they settled first.  They declaration of devotion to God was followed up by actions.  Understand that the choice to live in the city was not an easy one.  It meant becoming the target of the enemy, but before they asked for others to live in the city the leaders took the first step.  

Lord, help me to always lead from the place of follow me as I follow Christ.  With my kids, the people at church and anywhere else I have influence, I want to be a leader of integrity.

Nehemiah 10

Today's passage is a good example of the people devoting themselves to follow hard after God. They made a public covenant together to follow God's ways.

The church in Acts chapter two did the same thing and I want to encourage you to consider devoting yourself to...
being taught to obey what God has commanded,
fellowship with one another in the family of God,
corporate prayer,
putting God first in your life
and being a witness to the world around us.  

"We assume the responsibility..."

Nehemiah 9

We really haven't changed much since the days of Nehemiah and Ezra.  God loves His people and showers them with blessing, but the blessing becomes the thing that comes between them and God.  They grow to love the gift more than the GIver.  But God loves them and knows that the best thing for them is to love and follow Him, so He allows them to experience hardship and trial so that they will turn back to Him.  In the moment of the hardship they do call upon God, but as soon as He shows up and rescues them they go back to the same bad habits.  Any of this sounding familiar?

The end result is that they find themselves slaves in the very land that was supposed to be a blessing to them.  And instead of them reaping the blessings of the land it is given away to others.

How often we find ourselves slaves to the things that God has blessed us with and it becomes something that keeps us from Him.  He blesses us with a great job and it becomes the reason that we don't have time for God.  He blesses us with finances and we enslave ourselves to debt and then don't have time for Him because we need to dig ourselves out of a hole.  He blesses us with kids and they become the center of our world and God is pushed out.  The end result is that all the joy and benefits that come with those blessings get reaped by others.  Don't let it happen!  Like the people in our story today, recognize the way we are sinning and repent.  Turn our attentions back to the One who should be the King of our lives.  He loves us...But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Nehemiah 8

There is a lot of great lessons to be learned from today's passage and I would love to hear from you about what you gleaned from it and what the Holy Spirit spoke to you, but allow me to use this moment to share on a related topic.

We see the family of God coming together and being taught as well as taking time for living life together.  We also see them devoting themselves to prayer and celebration.  This is found in today's chapter but even more importantly it is found as a model for church living in the New Testament.  I keep asking myself and you,

"What would it look like if the family at DSC committed ourselves to...

  • Being taught the Word of God and then letting that knowledge change our everyday living
  • Really living out being a family (kind of like the family Gary Emery spoke about on Sunday)
  • Praying together
  • Celebrating Christ as the highest priority of our lives
  • Witnessing to an onlooking world about the good news of redemption

What would that look like? 

Tonight we have an opportunity to commit ourselves to prayer together. 
Will you join with the rest of the family? 
Will you make no excuses and make it a priority? 
Will you join us for prayer and worship this evening and see what God can do through people devoted to these things things that help make us more like Him?

Nehemiah 7

When I grow up I want to be a leader like Nehemiah.  In verses 1-3 of today's reading we get a great deal of wisdom on how to lead people.

When the wall was completed Nehemiah took time to celebrate. 
He also was wise in understanding that just because the wall was built meant that the city was safe, so he appointed gatekeepers to keep watch. 
He also made sure that the gate would only be opened at certain times so as to keep the danger to a minimum.
Nehemiah also delegated responsibility to people.  He didn't try to do it all himself.  And when he delegated he was careful whom he chose.  People of integrity and who cared more about what God thought than what people thought.

The book of Nehemiah is filled with leadership tips like this, and we would do well to take heed of them.  In some way we all lead because we all strive to influence people. 

But as important as it is to understand how to lead properly we must also understand that effective leading requires good followers as well.  If the people did not heed the wisdom of Nehemiah because they didn't see the big picture, or thought that his recommendations were stupid, they would find themselves in great danger and would not have succeeded in rebuilding the walls.  Leaders are not better than followers, or more superior than followers.  Leaders have a role to play in the unfolding of God's plan and followers have a role to play in the unfolding of God's plan.  We all need to understand our roles and play them well.

Nehemiah 6

What a great example and encouragement Nehemiah is to me.  Here is a man faced with great opposition while he is doing what God called him to do, and not to mention that what he was doing would be beneficial to many.  You see the issue was not really the rebuilding of the walls but the safety of God's people.  The walls were a means to an end.  Nehemiah cared more about the people than the walls.  With God it is always about people, isn't it?

So here is Nehemiah trying to do what God called him to do and to help people and he faces immense opposition from those who did not care about the people.  What makes me sad is that the very people that Nehemiah is trying to help are in cahoots with those who don't care about them.  Yet Nehemiah does not give up and get cynical about the people he is trying to help, he stays strong and remains wise to the ploy of the enemy.  He does not get distracted and try to take shortcuts.  He does not give in to fear and self-pity. 

Too often we allow the enemy to trick us into doing something that goes against what God stands for (Nehemiah going to hide in the temple would have been wrong) because we get scared and instead of trusting God we trust in ourselves and bend God's rules with the rationale that He will understand.  But God wants us to stand firm and see His salvation in our lives.  Let us be men and women of courage like Nehemiah and don't let enemies or personal problems cause us to deviate from the task God has set before us.

Nehemiah 5

“What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?

Nehemiah reminds God's people of our responsibility to be His representatives.  When we treat people, especially those who are part of our family, unfairly it goes against what God stands for and make us and Him a reproach to those looking at us.  Then Nehemiah goes the extra mile to say, look at my life because it represents what is the godly way.  What a great challenge to us...become more like Christ so that we can be His representatives to an onlooking world in a way that brings honor to God.  In fact our motto should be like Paul's...'follow me as I follow Christ."  

Let us walk in a way that pleases God and is a witness to the world around us of the transforming power of God.

Nehemiah 4

9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.  16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.

I love the picture here and the practicality of Nehemiah.  He prayed first because he knew that God was their Protector.  But having prayed he used the God-given gift of his intellect to come up with a plan.  It showed the dependence on God and Nehemiah's understanding of working in partnership with God.  Too often I see people who pray and ask God to help them and then they don't do anything else, just waiting for God to do something.  Many times the answer is there already and we need to use the gifts He has given us and work in partnership with Him.  It is my experience that many times God does not provide a easy way out, He provides a way out but it requires effort and action on our part.