Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nehemiah: Leadership Principles

I hope you've enjoyed reading the book of Nehemiah along with me over the past several days. I know I've gleaned many new things that I'm still mulling around. We all are leaders in some capacity or another so reading the book of Nehemiah can give us some godly principles to use in our daily life. Here are a few that I saw.

Seeing God's Heart
Nehemiah's heart was touched when his brother brought news of what was happening in Jerusalem.  He  was in the palace with an influential position.  He could have let the conversation go or simply prayed a quick prayer that God would help, but instead his concern became a desire for action.  He allowed himselfl to see God's heart concerning the danger Jerusalem faced without a wall of protection, and began to pray for the favor of God to go to  Jerusalem and make a difference.  If we are going to do anything for God we have to allow Him to share His dream with us and desire to see it come to past. 

His Life of Prayer
Throughout the book of Nehemiah we see Nehemiah praying to God for help and wisdom.  His first prayer was to ask God for favor with the king and to be allowed to go to Jerusalem and work on the wall.   "Strengthen my hands" was a prayer he prayed when he realized his enemies wanted him to give up the  task. He also asked God to remember those things he did for the people.  Each step of the way we see Nehemiah praying.  Some folks thought Nehemiah's prayers to be bold and brash, but if one is going to do something to change the world they must know who they are in Christ and be willing to seek God at every turn.

Nehemiah would not come down off the wall despite all the distractions that the enemy sent his way. The book of Nehemiah is a roller coaster ride of a book.  Just when it seems like one crisis is contained Nehemiah is having to put out another fire with enemies, supposed loyal officials, false accusations and even physical threats and attacks.  He had to build moral among the workers, assign protection details, and stay steady while a steady stream of voices made it seem he should come make a deal.  Anyone who desires to be a successful leader will have to develop similar tenacity in times of trial.  People who desire to make a difference cannot be moved because some obstacles come their way.  Prayer and steadfastness go hand in hand.  Do you fall apart at the first sign of trouble?  Steadfastness is learned project by project trusting God each time more and more.

Nehemiah was a voice of right and wrong. Some that read the book may cringe at his insistence on right living before God.  He told the people that they should not marry folks that were foreigners and served other God's. He was adamant about not allowing the Sabbath to be profaned.  He invited Ezra and the scribes to read the Word of the Lord aloud to the people so that they would know what was right and wrong.   He wasn't afraid to rock the status quo.and speak up even when the offenders were the rich and powerful.   Godly leaders have to keep themselves pure and also be wiling to speak. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Nehemiah 13: Keep bad influences out

The first verse talks about not allowing Moabites into the congregation. My first thought is the book of Ruth which tells of King Davids Great-Grandmother who was a Moabite who was better to her mother in law than ten sons and through her linage both King David and the Messiah were born. The difference being Ruth accepted the Lord leaving behind idol worship. This chapter talks about how Nehemiah had to re-establish proper influence and behavior in Judah. Wrong influences can lead us down a wrong path. We are to guard a path being careful what influences we allow in our life. There is a delicate balance between ministry and allowing bad influences. The High Priest Eliashib was closely aligned with Tobiah who had fought against the building of the wall. He had even given Tobiah rooms in the storehouse rooms of the temple and caused defilement. It is hard to believe that someone who was suppose to safe guard the house of God would instead cause it to be in jeopardy. The high priest was too blinded by his connection to Tobiah to see the damage being done to his people. He also had allowed his son to marry Sanballat the Horonite's daughter. The very people who hated that God's people were succeeding. When we connect with people who do not serve the Lord we run the risk of falling away from God just as King Solomon did when he married many foreign women. Perhaps we think we can handle it, but it the end it causes us to fall away.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nehemiah 12 The Dedication of the Wall

It was an exciting time. The chapter starts out with a list of the Priest and Levites who came to the land back in Zerubbabel's time. The Priest and the Levites were called come to the dedication of the wall and to set up up the rotation of the ministries. Everyone came to the big celebration. God had restored the temple and now the Wall was built. What the enemy wanted to destroy God had built. Two great choirs sang great anthems of praise and thanksgiving. Ezra led the procession. Each choir scaled the wall in separate directions along with the leaders who sounded trumpets. Men, women and children rejoiced at the hand of God. Rejoice, Rejoice, God has triumphed. Rejoice the people of God believed and kept up the work in the face of discouragement. Rejoice, the enemy no longer could run a muck unhindered by a wall of protection. Rejoice, lies had come to naught. Rejoice. God's people made a loud noise and great procession...a show of their gratitude toward God Almighty in power and strength. It amazes me at how many times in the Bible God encourages His people to rejoice, to celebrate...to bring thanksgiving as a gift before Him. There are things that you have to celebrate in your life. Take a moment today to celebrate and thank Him. The chapter also deals with roles that were established for the temple. Roles to minister. God has a role for you too.... pray as you listen to his voice.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nehemiah 11: Choosing where to live

You win the lot...and get to move to Jerusalem

Chapter 11 is interesting.  Jerusalem was under populated.  Many of the Jews lived in the surrounding towns which had family lands.  When people came back from captivity they went back to their family homes and settled.  We've studied all the trials Israel went through building the wall. Now the commitment became even higher for some who didn't live in the city. They cast lots and agreed that one out of every ten would live in Jerusalem.  It would be a life change that would effect their family line and their everyday life.  I don't know about  you but it would be hard for me to depend upon a lot to decide where my family would live.  However, their commitment to the good of the country made them willing to sacrifice their own freedom of choice in regards of where to live.  They considered the lots a way to fairly choose and that God would be in the choice. What sacrifices are you willing to make?

Jerusalem needed to be properly populated to keep a defense.   I wonder how the families reacted and if they began to have a love for their new circumstances.  There are two ways  you can handle things that create a God ordained change.  You can follow the new path in peace and find joy in the new circumstance or you can follow the new path but be resistant to finding purpose and joy.  Chapter 11 names some of the people who left their land and home to move to Jerusalem and start a new life.  What changes are you undergoing in your life?  Remember God can give you wisdom and purpose for your everyday life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Binding Promise part 2 Nehemiah

Yesterday we examined the promise that the Jews made to God.  Remember their promise involved the marriage of their children,  the Sabbath, tithe and offering and loyalty to the house of God.  If we are not careful we may assume it was all about following a set of rules that don't really relate to us today.   Remembering their genuine repentance and desire for God helps us understand that their promise was about relationship and wanting to stay in a position to please the Lord.  These promises were from a heart of love.

Marriage to unbelievers had caused many of the Jews to loose their love and devotion to the Lord.  The parents were responsible for arranging marriages and sometimes they were arranged for the perceived financial or power broker benefits to families involved.  This promise was an acknowledgement that choosing someone who loved God was more important than any other benefit that may be brokered through a marriage to an unbeliever.  God desired the adults who married to stay true to Him and the children born to have a godly influence.  That brings their promise into modern focus.   We usually marry for love in our country...but if we love God we can see that the consequence of marrying an unbeliever can have the same bad consequences the Jews faced.  Many young people have been drawn away from the Lord while trying to please someone whose heart isn't attuned to Jesus.  Someone may seem pleasing....but if we want to please the Lord we won't go down that path.  We need to be careful who we allow to influence our life.  Think about how this aspect of the promise should affect your walk.

Honoring the Sabbath was very important.  It consisted of remembering God, resting, spending time with family and a day of worship.  How can this promise relate to you?  What do you do to honor God on the Lord's day.  You may be resisting a little bit.  The phrase "worship God everyday" comes to mind.  It is a true statement...however that doesn't negate that we are called to set aside the Lord's day to honor him.   The flesh may not always want to do this....it might be a temptation to sleep in or go to a ball game...but the Word says, "Neglect not the gathering of yourselves together".   Don't forget the rest part...set aside time to relax and renew your body and spirit.

Gifts of tithes and offerings.  Some would love to think that tithe and offering was simply an Old Testament command.  When we examine the promise it is evident that they wanted to promise to obey out of love for God and His house.  They didn't want the temple to fall in disrepair or the ministry have to abandon the house House of God. They understood that the temple was important to their relationship with the Lord and they needed to keep a clean heart before the Him.  Do you have a passion for God's house and the spread of the Gospel?  What can your support do for your local house of worship?