Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big God for a Big Job

I hate to admit it but I am easily overwhelmed by the "big picture" when there is a big job to be done. Recently, I was gone for a few days to go to a conference and upon return, I unexpectedly had to leave again for 3 more days. And oh man, when I get out of routine, things pile up fast. Needless to say, it's taken over a month for this house to return to order : )

Can you even imagine for a moment the BIG job that awaited Nehemiah and the Israelites? Sure there were a lot of people willing to do the work but where to start?? And who does what?? I organize a local conference for orphan care/adoption every year and work with a team of about 5 or 6 people. My head sometimes swims with all the details and oversight to make sure each thing gets done in the time it needs to. But, I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the organization needed to oversee 42 different groups of people. I mean how crazy is that??

There were 3 things that stood out to me in Chapter 3: the people, the repairs and the process.

The people
Like I said before, there were a LOT of people. There are 42 different groups of people recorded along with many individuals and anonymous people. Notice how they were all kinds of people too... nobles, officials, priests, governors, lay people, townspeople, sons and daughters. Warren Wiersbe points out in Be Determined, how this reflects what Paul said in 1 Cor. 12&14 about the many members of the Body that make up the Church. It takes all kinds to do the work of the Lord... and each person has their place.

The repairs
If I've learned anything about studying the Bible, it's that you always pay attention to repeated words. Well, it's pretty hard to miss that "repairs" is a repeated word : ) The word means to make strong and firm. They weren't trying to accomplish some shoddy work... they were building to last. It's also interesting to note that though the walls were torn down... something still existed in the form of the wall in order to be rebuilt.

The process
This was the most fun part for me to study. Another tool in studying the Bible is to always pay attention to locations. If you are unfamiliar with the layout of the city of Jerusalem, it would be easy to skim over the many gates and towers during this chapter. You have to be willing to dig to uncover jewels : ) Luckily for me, I have a map of the walls and gates of Jerusalem in my Bible. So, as I read through this chapter I located each gate on the map. It was very rewarding to take this extra time to discover that there was a specific order to repairing the wall. They started at the north end of the city and went counter-clockwise in a circle until they came back to the Sheep Gate again. Isn't it just like our God to be so orderly? I also was blessed to read commentaries on the significance of the names of each gate in light of the order in which they were repaired... I'd encourage you to investigate this for yourself!

Chapter 3 was very powerful for me in light of a recent family crisis. When facing insurmountable tasks, obstacles and trials as an individual, family or church.... what can we learn from this chapter?

*I think we can learn that God will use many, many people... great and small. He will use many different kinds of people to be the fulfillment of the Body of Christ. After all, it is for HIS glory that we do all things.

*I think we can learn that God will rebuild the sacred things of God, whether it be His people, relationships or ministries, to make them strong and firm... He won't use some "quick fix". His ways are not our ways... and most definitely not America's "instant gratification" ways. His ways are also not the newest fad or creative idea but rather, His ways are timeless and never changing... ahh, the importance of knowing our God through the WHOLE Word of God and not selective passages.

*I think we can learn that God will use a process that is orderly, significant and meaningful. We should never want to rearrange the process/order of things God has designed. If we remember that "all things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus", we can know that every part of whatever process we go through in life is necessary and for our own good and more importantly, for the good of the Kingdom of God. (Obviously, I am not talking about willfully choosing to sin here.)

I pray God is encouraging you as much as He is me in this study! Can't wait to get to chapter 4 next... it's a toss up between 4 and 6 of which one is my favorite so far : ) Thanks to all who have commented and or let me know they are joining me on this journey with Nehemiah... I really enjoy hearing what God is saying to each of you personally and how much is blesses me too!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do we have the confidence to succeed?

Well.. I hope you haven't lost interest in our friend, Nehemiah, since I've taken soooo long to post again. But I know you won't be disappointed in the truths you will be SURE to discover about our awesome God in this precious book!

We left off the story with Nehemiah requesting permission from the king of Persia to go back home and rebuild his homeland... the city of David. Our text today is Chapter 2:9-20. Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem despite the displeasure of several officials in the land. He inspects the destruction by night so the officials and Jews would not know what he was doing. Then he makes his announcement.

Nehemiah gives his testimony, in a sense, of how God has been working in his life up to that moment. He invites others to join in what God is doing. Their response... Let's do it!!

What do we learn here...
I think it's interesting to note the process that Nehemiah goes about gaining the support of his people. First, he investigates the situation thoroughly and therefore able to speak knowledgeably as to what he is proposing. Secondly, he speaks to the people with the plan and backs it up with God's favor and the king's favor. Nehemiah speaks with confidence because it is God's WILL(ch. 2:12) to rebuild the wall and city!!!

One application could be...
... when God speaks to you to "do" something.... 1. educate yourself and investigate 2. be sure you KNOW it's God's will and can speak confidently being able to back up what you're doing with Scripture. Do we have the confidence to succeed? It must be the RIGHT confidence. I love the last verse of Ch. 2...

"So I answered them and said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you(the enemy) have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem."

We don't have anything to fear when we are following God's will... HE will give success... just as in fact He has already succeeded!!

I would love to keep going on to chapters 3 and 4... I am anxious to share the beauty of these next scriptures but I will leave you today with this and pray to meet with you again in a few days for those next treasures!