Today’s Bible Reading: Nehemiah 5:14-7:73; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Psalm 33:1-11; Proverbs 21:8-10
One of the reasons why our society is crumbling under an increase in immoral behavior is because we have no fear of God. But a healthy fear of God – a reverence of Him – can control our inherently bad behavior. As an example, Nehemiah could have taken advantage of the people in Jerusalem as others did, but he didn’t because He knew God would have seen and he would have had to answer for his behavior (Nehemiah 5:15).
Nor did Nehemiah take advantage of his situation (Nehemiah 5:17). This is the life God calls us to lead. One that is not based on self, but is based on serving unselfishly.
Nehemiah had a very important skill necessary in a leader or anyone who serves Christ: discernment. While the invitation from his enemies in Nehemiah 6 may have seemed innocuous, Nehemiah realizes that it was a trap (Nehemiah 6:2) and replies with one of the greatest lines in the Bible: “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”. Nehemiah wasn’t going to give the enemy any time – he stayed focused on what God wanted him to do.
So often we let Satan distract us from what we are doing for God, or even preventing us from getting started in doing anything good for God. Ungodly friends, television, overtime… Satan will use all these things to distract us. We need to develop discernment just like Nehemiah to recognize these things for what they are.
Notice that attacks from our enemies often start out as erroneous accusations (Nehemiah 6:6). All that matters is what God thinks and what God says. Pay no attention to the words in your head or from those Satan uses to distract you from your great work.
Nehemiah’s discernment also keeps him from entering the Temple – a place were only priests were allowed (Nehemiah 6:10-13). Often times our enemy will clothe his tricks in spiritual talk. In these cases it helps to know God’s word so we can discern fact from fiction.
Its amazing that the walls of Jerusalem had been broken for over 100 years yet they were repaired in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). The job itself wasn’t difficult. But no one had the courage or will to rebuild them. What is there in your life that you’ve decided is too difficult but which could have been done by now had you only started long ago? I can think of a few things in mine.
Nehemiah was not a mason or construction worker. He was not a leader before coming to Jerusalem. He was just an ordinary human being just like you and me. The difference between Nehemiah and most other people is he loved God and was willing to give up his own comforts (he lived in the palace of the Persian king) to serve Him.
After the walls were rebuilt Nehemiah could probably have run for mayor and won in a landslide. But he did not do what he did for political or selfish reasons. He did it for God who had been so good to him. Instead Nehemiah turns over the leadership of Jerusalem to his brother in a very unassuming manner (Nehemiah 7:2).
God remembers His people. He never forgets when someone does something for Him. The people mentioned at the end of Nehemiah 7 gave up the comforts of Persia to live in the broken-down city of Jerusalem. Life for them wasn’t easy there. But God noticed. And He recorded their names for all eternity in the Bible.
Although you and I were born too late to have our names in the Bible, God is still noticing and remembering any act of kindness and anything we do to glorify Him.
In their letter to Paul the Corinthians had asked about marriage, which Paul addressed in previous chapters, and also about eating certain foods (1 Corinthians 8:1). Notice though that Paul changes the subject to the difference between knowledge and love.
God is not impressed with what we know – or more accurately, what we think we know – because we really don’t know much (1 Corinthians 8:2-3).
Likewise, a Christian with a stronger understanding of God should not behave in a way that would make a spiritually weaker Christian (maybe a new Christian) sin. For example, since all other gods are false, eating meat sacrificed to them is meaningless and does no harm. Experienced Christians know this. But younger ones may not. So a stronger Christian should not use his knowledge to behave in a way that would confuse the younger Christian and cause the younger to go against his conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7-11).
The better course of action is to act out of love for other Christians. The strength of others’ faith should be more important to us than our knowledge.
Praising God is a good thing – it is something that is right for us to do (Psalm 33:1). After all, God has given us so much and continues to watch over us. We can praise God with our voices – simply by talking to Him – or with music (Psalm 33:2). One of the things we can praise God for is His unchanging nature (Psalm 33:11). Nothing can deter Him from what He sets out to do. “Nothing” strongly implies that God is by far the most powerful force in all of creation.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post