Have you ever come to an account or a passage in Scripture and find it hard to engage with, confusing, or maybe it’s a record of historical events and it’s difficult to see what you could learn from it, or how you could apply it to your daily life and walk of faith?
Sometimes, I confess, that’s how I feel about passages in the Old Testament when I’m reading a list of names, numbers, or details that only seem specific for the people or culture of that day. Then I recall the wise words the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy when he reminded him that all Scripture is inspired by God and useful for every believer—to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness and equip for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). There is also the incredible blessing of learning more of the character of God as He reveals Himself through His Word and points us to Jesus.
So, then, it’s with this in mind that we come to our passages today in Nehemiah, and in the gospel of Luke. Let’s take a moment to ask God, by His Spirit, to speak, to show us something new of Himself, and to teach us how to live in the light of what He reveals in His Word today.
Nehemiah’s career path was varied! His resume would have made interesting reading as he went from being cupbearer to the king in a Persian Royal Court, to re-builder of the walls of Jerusalem, and then governor of the people and region of Judah.
Despite the different jobs, situations, and challenges Nehemiah faced, the constant through all of Nehemiah’s life was that it was marked by the godly characteristics of faithfulness, wisdom, generosity, integrity, obedience, humility, and compassion.
We should be encouraged, as Nehemiah is such an inspiration and example for us. We see him, no matter what place he finds himself in, living in reverence for God, dependent on prayer, and with faith-filled trust in the promises of God. Nehemiah was concerned for God’s glory and had a heart for God’s people, and this was reflected in what he said and did.
Even while living in exile, Nehemiah would have known from the promises he learned from God’s Word that exile was not going to be the end of the story for God’s people: the temple would be rebuilt, God would fulfill His covenant to Abraham, and a Messianic King would come to rescue His people. And Nehemiah knew that God was a faithful, promise-keeping God.
Even when his present circumstances did not indicate how or when God would work it all out, Nehemiah demonstrated hope and faith because he trusted the Word of God, had a prayerful dependence upon God, and believed in the continual faithfulness of God to His people.
Could God be speaking to you today, dear friend, spurring you on to stand firm and keep trusting His promises, even if you can’t see how He will work out all things for your good and His glory?
Maybe you need the reminder that, just like Nehemiah, you, too, have been placed in a prominent position by God to be used to lead His people, and you have the responsibility to lead wisely, courageously, humbly, and faithfully. Take heart in the assurance that God equips all those He calls; so you can know and rely on the power of His Spirit working in you and through you.
Or, perhaps it’s the challenge of how Nehemiah was generous with all God had given him, and that’s a prompt to our own hearts to share, cheerfully, with open hands, the resources God has blessed us with, whether that be money, time, or talent.
Throughout our study we see a record of the faithfulness of God, and we see Nehemiah’s life lived faithfully in response to the God whom He serves. How good and necessary it is for us to have godly models, like Nehemiah, to be inspired by and who exhort us on in following Jesus. We can still, at times, get discouraged by the awareness and reality of our own weaknesses and failings, our faithlessness, and the reliance on self rather than dependence on God.
It’s vital that we encourage our hearts as we remember that faithfulness is on the list of the fruit of the Spirit the Apostle Paul tells us of in Galatians 5:22. Even if the soil of our hearts is at times hard, dry, shallow, or stony, the Holy Spirit is committed to growing His fruit in the lives of believers who long to live obediently and be transformed into being more like Jesus. So, let’s ask God to help us be faithful . . .
Faithful to His Word—in a world that has no interest in or seeks to distort the truth.
Faithful to His Church—wherever He has placed us to worship, serve, and grow together.
Faithful to the One who calls and redeems us, restores and sustains—He gave His all for us.
Faithful with all that God has entrusted to us—growing in the grace of giving, faithful in much or with little.
Faithful to share the goodness of the Good News of Jesus—in our family, workplace, school, or neighborhood.
And all for the glory of God—great is His faithfulness to us.
Week 3 Challenge:
Nehemiah was not deterred by the attempts his enemies made to distract and discredit him. What can you do to remain focused on the work God has given you? This week, take time to open God’s Word and seek Him for specific direction. Knowing His Word is the only way we can be sure that what we are asked to do is from Him.
Week 3 Reading Plan
Week 3 Memory Verse
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