Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me … and they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. Nehemiah 2:18.
With sorrow-stricken heart, the visitor from afar gazed upon the ruined defenses of his loved Jerusalem. And is it not thus that angels of heaven survey the condition of the church of Christ? Like the dwellers at Jerusalem, we become accustomed to existing evils, and often are content while making no effort to remedy them. But how are these evils regarded by beings divinely illuminated? Do not they, like Nehemiah, look with sorrow-burdened heart upon ruined walls, and gates burned with fire?
Nehemiah bore a royal commission requiring the inhabitants to cooperate with him in rebuilding the walls of the city, but he did not depend upon the exercise of authority. He sought rather to gain the confidence and sympathy of the people, knowing that a union of hearts as well as of hands was essential in the great work before him.
There is need of Nehemiahs in the church today,—not men who can pray and preach only, but men whose prayers and sermons are braced with firm and eager purpose…. The success attending Nehemiah’s efforts shows what prayer, faith, and wise, energetic action will accomplish…. The spirit manifested by the leader will be, to a great extent, reflected by the people. If the leaders professing to believe the solemn, important truths that are to test the world at this time, manifest no ardent zeal to prepare a people to stand in the day of God, we must expect the church to be careless, indolent, and pleasure-loving.
Nehemiah was a reformer, a great man raised up for an important time. As he came in contact with evil and every kind of opposition, fresh courage and zeal were aroused. His energy and determination inspired the people of Jerusalem; and strength and courage took the place of feebleness and discouragement. His holy purpose, his high hope, his cheerful consecration to the work, were contagious. The people caught the enthusiasm of their leader, and in his sphere each man became a Nehemiah, and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor.
Conflict and Courage p. 264
—–Please pray for Amy who has kidney stones and is in pain. Rose
—–Requesting prayers for Jani’s recovery and Scott’s surgery. Miguel
—–Please pray for my niece Ariana who is in a medically induced coma and very ill. Donna
When Ronnie Jay and Esther were children, I worked part time. That was no problem, as Eileen, who is ten years older than Esther, was there to baby-sit. One summer, our landlord gave Eileen a job. It was necessary then to leave the younger ones alone for a few hours while we worked. In Washington state it was legal for a child as young as 10 to baby sit a sibling and Ronnie Jay was a little older than that.
Each time I had to leave for work, I would explain to them that Eileen was working just down the hill and made sure that they had phone numbers for her, Ron, and me just in case their were any problems. I also instructed them that they were not to let anyone, not even friends, inside the house. There were to be no exceptions.
Their best friend, Travis, lived about 1/4 mile away and the three of them enjoyed playing together. He would often come over to our house while I was gone. The three friends wanted to play together, but Ronnie Jay and Esther knew better than to let him in. They thought and thought of a solution to their problem. What could they do?
They knew that having such a good friend that close would make it really easy to think up a reason why he should come inside. They knew that I expected that they would obey completely and not put temptation into their own path. Finally one of them had an idea. Their friend would stay on the screened porch and Ronnie Jay would open the window. For awhile that was enough as they could talk together. Soon, that wasn’t enough, so they took the screen out of the window. That way they could pass toys back and forth. They thought this was a great solution. They could obey and still play together. After all, he wasn’t exactly in the house, he was just leaning his top half inside.
Just before it was time for me to come home, Ronnie Jay would put the screen back in the window. In this way, I never knew as they were very careful not to tell me of this arrangement.
How often we do the same. How many times we put temptation into our own path and get just as close to our pet sins as we dare, thinking that we are strong enough not to fall again. We want desperately to do something God’s Word says we shouldn’t, so we get just as close to it as we dare or rationalize and do it anyway. We are like those children thinking of a way around the command.
I once heard a minister say that some people seem to think that the Ten Commandments are just ten suggestions. How often we live like that were the case. We analyze and rationalize them away as mere suggestions. We decide that it won’t hurt to get just as close to disobedience as we dare while appearing to obey. Suddenly, we find ourselves to have fallen headlong into sin.
Solomon advises, “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Prov 4:27 Paul adds, “flee fornication” “flee idolatry” 1 Cor 6:18,10:14 “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim 2:22 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.” 1 Tim 6:11-17
Our Great Creator and Redeemer, He Who only hath immortality, pleads with us now with His arms open wide to receive us, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die,” Eze 33:11 “I will dwell in [you], and walk in [you], and I will be [your] God, and [you] shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:16-18 Think of it! The Great King of the Universe is waiting with longing desire for us to turn away from our “darling sins” and say as did David, ” Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” “Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path.” Ps 73:25, 27:11
May we stop getting just as close to sin as we dare and, instead, fully obey our Dear Saviour from a heart of full of love for His Great Love for us. May we accept the grace and forgiveness that our Dear Saviour offers for He is “merciful and gracious and abundant in goodness and truth.” Ex 34:6 May we come to Him for cleansing from all that separates us from Him for He is ready to receive us now while the door of mercy is still open.