Nehemiah 5:14-7:73a; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Psalms 33:1-11; Proverbs 21:8-10
Today is the 13th day of August. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. And welcome to a brand-new week that is shiny and sparkly. Nothing’s really happened. And we get to write the story of our lives together with God on this week. And we get to decide now to do exactly that, no matter what comes up, as the book of Nehemiah is actually teaching and training us in. So, we’re in the book of Nehemiah but we’re in a new week so we’ll read from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week. And picking up where we left off yesterday, Nehemiah chapter 5 verse 14 through 7:73.
Ok. So, in the book of Nehemiah we had a long list of people who had returned from exile first, the first people to come back to Judah and Jerusalem. And that took up the second half of our reading. But the first half of our reading was Nehemiah coming out of this confrontation that he had with the Jewish nobility who were enslaving other Hebrew people. And they kind of got that all out of the way. Everyone agreed to set all Hebrews free. And, so, we continued with his thoughts going forward. And a lot of his thoughts that we read today were essentially prayers of him kind of pouring out to God what had been going on and then asking God to remember. And this is important because it reveals Nehemiah’s relationship with God, the fundamental and foundational piece of his leadership. And we see that play out in his determination. He’s saying, look, for twelve years I have never taken what I could have taken, what was allotted to me as the governor, I didn’t take it. The previous governors did but it put an incredible burden on the people. Nehemiah says, their subordinates also oppressed the people but I didn’t do this because of the fear of God. Instead I stayed with the task, the construction of the wall, and we worked. We didn’t by any land. That’s kind of an interesting little piece but…it’s like…this is like a booming new market. Right? Jerusalem is a major city that’s been lying in ruins. And, so now it’s being rebuilt. So, this is a great real estate opportunity. He’s saying we just didn’t do that. That’s not why I came here. I didn’t come here to explore opportunities. I came here to do a specific thing, to protect the temple by building the city walls. And, so, Nehemiah asks God to remember him for all that he’s done for the people. So, the walls are built but the gates are not installed yet. And all those on the outside have watched all this and they’ve tried to intimidate and they’ve come against us in every way they can, including letters back to the emperor. All kinds of stuff. And they make one more attempt by sending him messages: come, come we need to have a talk, we need to can get on the same page. And Nehemiah kind of having been through this says something really, really important, ‘Why would I do that? Why would I come down from the wall to meet with you? Why would I let the work stop on the wall and come to talk to you guys who have only tried to intimidate me?’ And they do this four times. And Nehemiah responds the same way. And then they do it the fifth time only revealing the truth. They have a rumor going around that they plan to leak to the king back in Persia, that Nehemiah’s true goal in building this wall was to declare himself king. Now, that’s not only intimidating on the outside, it’s a direct assault on Nehemiah’s heart in all of this because none of that was the truth. So, they’re saying to him, ‘you are not you say you are and we know what your true heart is intending to do.’
And I am telling you, if you are in leadership of any sort, you are going to run into this. People’s misunderstanding of you and assumptions built about you when they don’t even know you, people’s judgments about or against you when they have no idea. And even within this Nehemiah story is this kind of envy over Nehemiah’s position. And even envy of his goodness. Like, they’re thinking there’s got to be more to the story, there’s got to be some kind of hidden agenda here because that’s how it would be for them. So, a lot of times when you’re getting that kind of resistance in the path that you are walking down with God the assault against you is only revealing what’s in the hearts of those who are assaulting you. I mean, if there is no truth in it then they’re simply exposing themselves.
And the plot even thickens in all of this because that there’s so much communication between the nobility, that as the wall reaches its completion, even some of the people whose lives are devoted simply to worshipping God and caring for the temple are involved. They had been manipulated, trying to get Nehemiah, to try to get everybody on the same page, when Nehemiah knew everybody is not going to be on the same page. This wall is a security for some and a threat to others and there’s nothing that we can do about that. Not everybody is going to get on the same page. These plots to maybe capture or imprison or even kill Nehemiah were thwarted simply because he had a singular mission, a specific outcome in mind, and he would not deviate or become distracted no matter what. No matter the intimidation from without or the intimidation aimed at his own heart. But the wall got built, which gives us all some opportunity to reflect.
What is your wall? What are the distractions that keep you from building it? What is the intimidation that has come against you within and without? What disgorgements have you faced and why? And are any of these things legit? Because hardship and obstacles are going to come no matter what you’re trying to build. Like, that’s just part of it, that just happens. And we look at it as all bad because it feels like it’s coming against us but it also gives us an opportunity reflect and correct course. Like, is there any truth in any of this? And if there’s not then I can discard it, I know what’s going on here. And if there is then there’s the opportunity to invite the Holy Spirit into it. For Nehemiah, there wasn’t. We know this story. He was the cup bearer for the king. He had heard what was going on in Jerusalem, that the temple was being built but there was nothing to protect it. He began to feel a desire in his heart, a pull to be swept into that story. He waited and interceded for months. He finally got the opportunity and the permission to go and he stayed faithful to that specific task for which he was commissioned, to rebuild the wall. And he knew that when he did his mission would be accomplished and that none of the things that were being said about him were true. And, so, with a clear heart and a clear conscience he could stay singularly focused on the specific task that he had a passion to complete, that he felt invited into. And that’s important because when you have divided motivations, like all of the insinuations that we’re coming against Hananiah, that he’s just doing this so he can become the king or that he’s doing this to manipulate people or for any kind of other sinister reasons. He knew those things weren’t true. And, so, he did not feel the need to validate those insinuations by coming down off the wall and having summit meetings all of the time so that everybody could get a piece of the action. This wasn’t about action. This was about protecting the temple. And he didn’t have any impure motivations. And, so, he was able to say, ‘look I’m playing any of these politics, I’m not doing any of these games that people do people, that people still do, that happen all of the time. I’m not playing any of those games. I do not care what anybody thinks. I’m here for a very, very specific thing and I’m going to accomplish it.’ And that’s clear-headed and that’s clear-hearted leadership. And the wall got built. What is your wall? And why are you building it? And as you consider those questions, you have the book of Nehemiah to overlay as a tremendous encouragement or as a necessary rebuke. The bible becomes a mirror into our own souls once again.
Father we invite you into that because the questions that arise in Nehemiah as we look at our own lives go to the deepest of our motivations, the posture of our heart, the voices that come and speak around what we’re doing - whether to intimidate or to encourage. It encompasses everything. And what we see in Nehemiah is a person deeply committed and unwaveringly focused. So, we invite You to show us the distractions, the things that have pulled us off course and intimidated us. Help us Jesus to see what’s really going on here. We need Your guidance and Your Holy Spirit in the same way that Nehemiah did, in the same way that all of the people that we’ve met in the scriptures so far this year did, in the same way that everyone in the world does. But we’re tuning our ears and our hearts to You and inviting You to speak. Come Jesus. Show us what is that wall and why are we building it. Ask this in your precious name. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayers and Praise Reports:
This is Peg in Texas and I join everyone in prayer this night, praying oh Father I give you praise for Yourself, for Your deep love, for Your great power, Your omnipotence. I praise You for the omnipotence of Jesus Your son. Oh, He knows all, He understands all. He is able to work in every hurtful, harmful, bewildering, sad, lonely, and painful situation. Sometimes our bodies are sick or our minds or our will to see You is missing. We sometimes don’t know which way to turn. We stew and we fret and we realize that we need You. Oh, Father we need you in the everydayness of our situations. We need You to change things and we need You to show your power in is and through us. Oh God You’re able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. And, so, that’s why we come to You. We need You. Father God, so many of us need to experience Your omnipotence, Your power in our lives. We are a hurting bunch. Father, for Jake and his family, they need you in their life, in their lives now. His spirit is crushed over the untimely and tragic death of his dad. Lord, please help Jake. Give Jake and his family the ability to get to the next things in life, to live positively in the days ahead and to know that You never leave nor forsake. I pray for those that have been struggling or are struggling that call about their struggle with alcohol of drug addiction or porn addiction. I don’t remember their names but you know those who are sincere and desire relief. You have removed the case from so many, the desire for many. You have given strength to turn back from temptations and we ask freedom from addiction for those who are struggling. We ask that you answer the prayers of many a mom and dad and many a grandparent that see addiction in their young loved ones. Oh Father they too…
Hi Daily Audio Bible family. This is your brother Luke in Colorado. I‘m just taking the dog out for a walk and enjoying this beautiful evening. I’m in an open space and everything is so green and lush and…ah…God is glorious. Well, my friend Sam is coming into town in a few days and he’s been in a wheelchair his whole life. And the first time, when I first encountered Jesus, a few days later Sam called and said I’m so glad you are part of the family and I said, ya man…like…and the Holy Spirit came over me and some people I was in a tent with, they said, dude, Sam is going to be healed. He is going to walk. And since then many things have happened and we’d gotten confirmation before that Sam was going to walk and the Holy Spirit has told me many times and I just need the prayer of Christ’s body over my buddy Sam. I want to see this take place and I want to be like those men lowering their buddy through the roof knowing that Jesus will heal them. So, if you guys could be my friends and help me lower my buddy down to the feet of the Lord, that would be awesome. I love you guys so much and Gods peace be with you and shelter you through everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Oh the depth of and riches of these scriptures we’ve been listening to Brian read to us. How unsearchable. His paths are beyond searching out. And…ah…I just had to call…this is Candace from Oregon…just to say to you Brian and to Jill because it must have been you singing afterward on the podcast today. I believe it’s August the 9th. But you were talking about…you really, really made clear to me more than ever, Brian, what to do about this, in the Corinthian, what was going on there…and…ah…it was just so…like…oh…you know…like…we go too far in one direction or another and never hit the mark. And you and Jill with that song after. The power of the Holy Spirit who was right here with me, took me exactly to exactly where I needed to go in repentance and desire to just be completely turned over to God. I felt reassured. And you know, today I get to see my teenage grandson. And so, Lord be with everyone of us. Put us right with You. Help us to give up on our own devices and listen to…to Your Holy Spirit every step of the way. Thanks Brian. Thanks Jill. And thank you Jesus. Thank You Holy Spirit.
Hi Dabbers. This is His little Sherri from Canada and I’m just calling because I’m having a bad day today, which is ridiculous because in the grand scheme of things my problems are not that big a deal but they feel like it today. Anyway, I’ve learned from experience that whatever I’m going through is never just about me. And, so, I need to be encouraged today and I’m calling to encourage myself and to anybody out there who needs it. I’m going to read a blurb called Pity Party. So, I’m listening to myself as I read this. I’m having a bad day. At least that’s my cover story. The truth is, I’m just feeling sorry for myself and I am enjoying my pity party in a gloomy greedy sort of way and I don’t feel like coming to my senses. So, it’s quite a while before I get around to knocking on Papa’s door. But as soon as I do I hear Him say, come in. I drag myself onto His lap and sit there silent and still, nursing my misery. He puts His arms around me without saying anything and waits. Eventually, I murmur I don’t know what to say to You. I don’t even deserve to be here. His answer, always the same answer, surprises me, as if for the first time. Would you like to worship me, He asks. As if that solves everything, as if he’s offering me the world. I look up at Him at last. His smile is soft yet oh so eager. I find myself saying, yes please. And with those words joy begins.