Today’s text: Nehemiah 4-6, Revelation 17
A few days ago I had the opportunity to have most of the employees I supervise together at one place at the same time. I took advantage of the occasion to give them a small gift for Christmas but more importantly to remind them of the value of their commitment. I reminded them that the sacrifice they had made in going beyond what is required does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I told them of the importance of what they do and how much better we are as an organization because of each one of them. I did this for two reasons. First, because I believe it and secondly because I know that when dealing with the public it doesn’t take long to realize that there are more people willing to complain than those wanting to compliment. We have all had those days when we’ve headed out with a song in our heart and smile on our face only to cross paths with someone who just didn’t care much for music and was determined to make us give up on smiling all together. There are those who seem to be determined to rob us of our joy. After we have had the opportunity to meet a few of those more ‘memorable’ folks it can become difficult to maintain a proper perspective. We can easily lose sight of the significance of our calling and become discouraged in our efforts.
In today’s text we read about Nehemiah and his commitment to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. The task was daunting. The walls lay in ruins. When he went to examine the condition of some of the more distant parts of the wall he found the rubble to be impassable. After investing a significant amount of sweat equity in the project Nehemiah met a few of the more ‘memorable’ neighbors. Almost any project has its Sanballat and most have a Toiah, or a Geshem around just to keep things interesting. Their rhetoric and ridicule soon become a tiresome grind. We all have experienced the venom of those who seem bent on discouragement but like Nehemiah we can not let that distract us from the calling. In his response to the discouragers, Nehemiah lays out a good pattern for us to follow:
- First he took his situation to the Lord. Bringing our needs before the Lord and seeking his wisdom should be commonplace in our daily walk and even more so in times of distress.
- Secondly he added to the security of the workers by strengthening their defenses. There is wisdom in quickly addressing obvious deficiencies or making corrections to oversight when and if necessary.
- Thirdly he addressed the sin and oppression that was ongoing in the form of slavery and charging of usury. We likewise need to rid ourselves of anything that may separate us from the favor of God.
- Fourthly he resumed with commitment the task for which he had been called. While we may not be able to control the circumstances that we find ourselves in, we can control our response to them. Never lose focus on what is most significant.
As you look around you will find that many are in need of encouragement. They may be dealing with gift return lines, snow covered roads or just grouchy people but we all need to be reminded that we are loved, that we are of importance, and that what we do really does make a difference. Be an encourager.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.