Daily Reflections January 13, 2017
For being a cupbearer, it becomes evident that God has gifted Nehemiah with the ability to be a great organizer. The number of the sections that were built and repaired are overwhelming and this is obviously not intended to be a comprehensive list. The task before Nehemiah was massive but God equipped him both with the competence and community to carry it out.
The people were clearly devoted to working hard to see the work accomplished. The workers were not limited to contractors or professional builders. There were guilds of goldsmiths, perfumers, and merchants who spent considerable time and expense to take up the construction. Even the chief priest, whom one would expect to be a distant supervisor, got his hands dirty. We might notice that the work of God seems to be different than the work of the world. When God calls his people to a task, the lofty positions and occupational barriers between them begin to dissolve. Their aim and affection are united which bring them into unity under the power of God. This is part of God’s redemptive plan! One commentator helps explains the significance by saying, “Rather than simply providing security, the walls encouraged in the people of God a sense of identity and distinctiveness. Their restoration also represented a reversal of the humiliation of defeat and destruction suffered because of Israel’s sin (cf. 2:3, 17). Like the restored temple, the rebuilt walls would assure the Jews of God’s redemptive presence among them.”1 When we grasp this picture, we begin to see that this seemingly mundane chapter is actually quite meaningful.
In the next chapter we will see the reaction of the enemies but it is important to note that not all the Jews were convinced or excited about the rebuilding as well. In verse 5 we read, “And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.” (Nehemiah 3:5) We do not know exactly why they denied to help; maybe they were too proud or maybe they were afraid of being ambushed by their enemies. Whatever their reasons, this should serve as a sobering reminder that there will always be people inside the camp who refuse to get on board with our sense of mission. But we are not discouraged, God will always accomplish his will whether through us, around us or despite us, thanks be to God.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
1Mervin Breneman, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, electronic ed., vol. 10, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 192.
Acts 13 records the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. In this passage, we see several aspects of the Christian call to service. They are as follows:
1. Call and empowerment.
3. Boldness in Gospel preaching.
4. The Salvation of some.
When God calls He also provides. Paul and Barnabas were set aside by the Holy Spirit to go out as missionaries. Those in authority in Antioch recognized this and prepared them for the work through prayer and fasting. Blessings were prayed over them and then they went. Missions work is ineffective unless it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we have the opportunity to go on a missions trip we need to be sure that we are going because the Spirit has called us to that opportunity and not out of curiosity for a place that we may have never been. Or, because we want our youth to see what “real” poverty is.
When we are called by the Spirit into missions we need to realize that there will, most assuredly, be opposition. The devil has a vested interest in opposing Christians. He hates us. That is why Peter wrote:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)
Opposition comes in many forms. It can be a direct confrontation like we read from Elymas, it can be from persecution like Paul and Barnabas faced from the Jews in Pisidia. Opposition can also be emotional, or physical in the form of a felt depression or exhaustion, and sometimes it can come from people who know and love the Lord who may not understand your calling.
In spite of opposition, however, Paul and Barnabas preached with boldness. They did not shrink back from their calling. While these two men had a specific calling to be missionaries, we all have the call to preach the gospel.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
Scholars accept this as a universal command to all Christians. We are to go, and as we go we are to make disciples by preaching the gospel to them. We, like Paul, are to be bold in our witness. Not shy and unassuming. We have the greatest treasure known to mankind: The gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, and that HAS to be shared!!!
Lastly, we see that through the proclamation of the gospel, some will accept it unto salvation, and some will reject it; effectually condemning themselves.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)
It is not up to us who will be saved. Only God knows that information. We are to be proclaimers of the gospel. We are commanded to tell as many people as is humanly possible about the joy and salvation found in Jesus Christ.
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch