Scripture Read: Nehemiah 1 - 2
Title: Nehemiah's Plan to Rebuild the City Wall
(H) Highlight verse: "O Lord! Let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to hold Your name in awe. Grant Your servant success today, and dispose that man to be compassionate toward him!" Nehemiah 1 - 2
(E) Explain: Nehemiah and Ezra were contemporaries. If you recall, Ezra had a call and a vision to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem while still in exile. Similarly Nehemiah had a call and desire to repair and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes cup bearer at the time of this writing. One day he inquired his brothers and and some men of Judah about the Jews and the remnant who survived the captivity. They told him the city was in trouble and the wall surrounding the city was full of breaches and the gates had been destroyed. This news caused Nehemiah to weep and mourn over the city. He prayed to God and implored Him to hear his prayers and grant him succcess and compassion from the king when he asked him to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.
Nehemiah asks the king for permission to go back and rebuild the walls and the king grants him his request. Nehemiah asks for a letter from the king so he go beyond the rivers and safely return to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, two men, Sanballet and Tobias were not happy that he was coming back to rebuild the wall. They began to taunt and mock Nehemiah for their work, but Nehemiah held fast and proclaimed that God would give them success in their endeavor.
(A) Application: Many Christians face opposition everyday simply because they are Christians. In the United States the opposition we face is not as extreme as those in countries that are hostile towards Christianity. However, we can face various trials and tribulations on a regular basis that can tear us down, cause us to respond poorly or retaliate.
I remember working various secular society (like many of you reading this today) and there were times I was mocked, ridiculed and taunted by co-workers simply because I was a Christian (or a Pastor). The reason for ridicule was unprovoked, but I knew that the opposition I was facing was not so much an attack on me as it was on the faith that I had in Jesus. Sure, there were times when I wanted to respond by lashing out or condemning someone to eternal damnation and hellfire (I know a bit extreme) but I knew that God was with me. The Spirit was in me and my response needed to be God honoring. Fortunately, over time most of my responses (or lack of responses) led to people backing off. Actually I ended up befriending some of my taunters and they may not have ended up being followers of Jesus Christ, but in the end some told me that they respected me and the faith I held on to.
I share my experiences with you not as a way to boast or preach, but to give encouragement to any of you who may be facing opposition in your life for doing the right thing (or nothing at all). Take courage, God is big enough to protect you, guide you, and bless as you remain faithful to Him and follow his calling on your life daily.
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that I remain faithful to you today and everyday. I pray for protection, guidance and success in walking faithfully with you when I face opposition from others who do not know you.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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