December 16 – Success Is In God’s Work

“The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build,” – Nehemiah 2:20 (NASB)

In March 445 B.C. Nehemiah follows his contemporary Ezra and together they are the ones who organized the return of the people from Babylon to Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s role was restoration of the city’s walls and defenses. It has been 70 years since the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple of God. True to the prophecy through Jeremiah, God brings the people back. But it is not so easy. The people living in the land were a mix of Israelites from the Norther Kingdom and the people the Assyrians has shipped in from other lands. These are the people who become known as Samaritans and are hated by Jews. They give Nehemiah grief and trouble. Lies and false reports are sent to the Persian king as well as threats of attacks. Sanballat and Tobiah were the leaders of the troublemakers. Nehemiah makes it clear who is the power and authority behind their effort. He declares what is God’s promise to them and instructions to build first the walls and establish order to govern. The walls are completed in September 445 B.C. – seven months. Nehemiah then appointed to serve as Governor by the King of Persia


July 9 – With Joy Comes Strength

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB)

These words were spoken by Nehemiah, governor of Judah during the time when the people of Israel rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. It was time for a holy day of remembrance. The people were weeping in much sorrow because of their sins. “For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.” (v.9) When they heard and understood God’s law, they understood their violations of it. Not tears of joy, but penitent sorrow came forth as they were grieved by conviction. Nehemiah encourages them the same as we can be encouraged when we have grief over our failings before God, our family, friends and others. Strength come from the Joy of the Lord.  How does it come? It comes through the grace and mercy of God who wants more to draw us into repentance and confession than to punish or discipline us harshly – even when we deserve that.  What we do not deserve is the Joy of the Lord but He gives it to us just as he gave it to these children of Israel. That Joy which comes only from the Lord is what infuses strength into our spirit to do the right things.


July 8 – A Name Worthy to Worship

“Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” – Nehemiah 9:5 (ESV)

This verse from the book of Nehemiah is a demonstration of proper worship of God. This chapter is an account of the people’s reaction after hearing the Law of Moses read. They likstened for 3 hours about the sins of their fathers and for 3 more hours confessed that they had been partakers of similar evil deeds. In response to all of this, they worshiped. Some were a surviving remnant of Israel that was left and not carried away to Babylon; some also those who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon after 70 years of forced exile. Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and took nearly all of the excellent, educated and young to live in Babylon during the three mass exiles. While this is a long confession of sin, it is within the recitation of God’s mighty redemptive acts on Israel’s behalf. Indeed, an expression of worship. We might something about true worship from these words. It begins with acknowledgement of the greatness of God’s name and learn that God’s name is glorious and deserves to be spoken with the greatest of awe and recognition that no other name is greater or higher in all creation.


January 16 – Fail Not to Be Mindful

“They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” Nehemiah 9:17 (ESV)

The company of people in this passage, had resisted the wonderful and miraculous acts God had done for them. After 400 years as slaves in Egypt, God freed them and led them out from under Egyptian oppression. But the Children of Israel were stubborn, stiff-necked and rejected God’s plan. Where He might have said, “Alright then, go your way and be damned for all I care.” Or, perhaps, “I did all this for you and this is how you show thanks and appreciation to Me?” But God is not like that. God forgives graciously and shows mercy. He doesn’t lose His temper and his love toward us is unfailing. God does not forsake us when we refuse to remember what He has done to rescue us from death and eternal separation from Him. And fail to acknowledge what He does for us each day. The list of what God did for Israel is long as is the failures in response. Even when we idolize someone or something other than God, He does not forsake us in our wildernesses. Great promises should encourage us to remain faithful by the grace He gives us.