I arrived in Jerusalem and learned of the wrong that Eliashib had done in
turning over to him a room in the courts of The Temple of God. I was angry, really angry, and threw
everything in the room out into the street, all of Tobiah's stuff. Then I ordered that they ceremonially cleanse
the room. Only then did I put back the
worship vessels of The Temple of God, along with the Grain-Offerings and the
And then I learned that the Levites hadn't been given their regular food
allotments. So the Levites and singers
who led the services of worship had all left and gone back to their farms. I called the officials on the carpet,
"Why has The Temple of God been abandoned?" I got everyone back again and put them back
on their jobs so that all Judah was again bringing in the tithe of grain, wine,
and oil to the storerooms. I put
Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of
the storerooms. I made Hanan son of
Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, their right-hand man. These men had a reputation for honesty and
hardwork. They were responsible for
distributing the rations to their brothers.
THINK: In these earlier days, what do you notice
about the way of life God required his people to abide by? Why do you think this was important to him? What do you think their relationship with God
was like? How might it be different from
your relationship with him?
Strict. Oppressive. Distinct.
Sanctified. Disciplined. Conspicuous.
Maybe a bit peculiar. Do any of
these describe the way you feel when you think about how God has asked His
people to conduct themselves? It's not
any wonder that so many people have a view of God as rule-driven and a
relationship with Him as being no fun. I
know, in my own life, having had a hard time trusting the truth from the Bible
about how God thinks about me, these words just amplified the thoughts and
feelings that I would never measure up, that I would never be able to be good
enough, or to do enough good to deserve what His Son did to save Creation from
an eternity in Hell.
I know the depths of the truth of those thoughts and feelings, but I also know
that they are exactly the reason Christ had to come and die on the cross. The truth is:
if any one person could ever be good enough to live this life and not
need Jesus as a sacrifice, then God would not have had to send Him. Because if one person could do it, then
everyone would have to have within themselves the ability to save
themselves. And we simply do not. We are not able to save ourselves. Period.
what does that have to do with the question asked above, about why God requires
His people to abide by so many rules? If
we are going to call ourselves His people, should there not be something
markedly different about our lives, so that others living around us can see
that we are different. Even if that
difference just looks odd or peculiar or conspicuous, at first. And wouldn't the fact that we do look odd,
different, peculiar or conspicuous give us that many more opportunities to
share the reason for our faith, to share the reason why we have chosen - on
faith - to walk this absurd-looking path, that shouldn't logically work, but seems
are called to be in the world, but not of the world. What that means to me is that while we are
here our lives should look different enough to make people wonder what in the
world it is that makes us have so much peace and joy when the world is in a
tailspin of chaos and agony and fear. IN
the world, but not OF the world.
beyond that, God is holy. If we are
going to call ourselves His children, if we hope for Him to call us His
children, we have to live our lives by the rules that He has set. Who are we to question God's "because I
said so"? If we know anything about
God, it is that nothing happens without a reason. Our inability to see the reason or to
understand His motives shouldn't matter.
Just like with our own children, who do not always get to know the why,
for a myriad of reasons, neither do we.
And just like with our own children, who sometimes eventually reach an
age where they are mature enough to handle hearing the reasoning behind the
instruction, we also SOMETIMES reach a maturity level where God will reveal to
us His behind-the-scenes work. Then,
what was so confusing or frustrating, becomes so perfectly clear that we wonder
at why we ever questioned Him in the first place.
PRAY: Become aware of God's presence with you
now. Share your thoughts with him,
including what you noticed about your own relationship with him. Let this lead you into silent prayer,
pondering what's happened in your life since you last talked with him and
whether there is anything you need to clear up.
Listen for what he might be saying in response to you. If you don't sense him saying anything
directly, be open to other ways he might try to communicate with you (such as
through other people or recent experiences).
Lord, You are omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. You alone can claim this. You alone know the beginning from the end,
and You Alone will decide what and when I get to know the ins and outs of even
my own life. Forgive me when I have
failed to trust your sovereignty.
Forgive me when I have smirked at your holiness. Forgive me when I have abused your grace by
sinning and then just asking for your forgiveness with no real desire to repent
and turn away from the actions you consider abhorrent. I thank you that you remember that I am just
dust. I thank you that you saw me in all
my sinfulness, knowing that I would let you down over and over and over again,
and still decided that there was something in me worth saving. Thank you that you love your creation so very
much and that you are not willing that any should perish.
Father, I do not know why you have led
my family to this fight we find ourselves in right now, but what I do know is
you are leading us through it. I know
that every hard thing I have ever gone through has strengthened me for where I
am right now. And I know that all the
hard things I am going through now are strengthening me for fights still to
when I think of our situation now, I envision an arrow that has been shot at a
target. An arrow does not have to try to
find the target on its own. Never once
have I seen an arrow, in the air, wondering where it was supposed to go. Help me to remember that you are the perfect
archer, and you hit all the targets you aim at, and you nail the target every
time. It is humbling that you would pick
me to be an arrow. I desperately want to
hit the target at which you have aimed me.
targets are closer and the path has been a straighter, faster shot. Some targets are farther away, and you have
had to aim higher to get a good trajectory and account for the wind, so the
path takes longer than I want. I can see
the target. I know where I am supposed
to go. I desperately want to get there,
but I have to take the path that has been set for me. Forgive me for doubting you in my
frustration at how long the path is taking.
Help me to remember that I have hit every target you have selected for
me, and for which I have allowed you to use me.
Your purposes will always be satisfied.
Some people will choose to be used by you. Others will not. Help me to remember, that when I am brave
enough to allow myself to be used by you, Your Will is going to be
accomplished. Remind me of that when I
start to feel like the path is taking too long.
I will arrive precisely on time for Your Agenda to be satisfied. Never too soon. Never too late.
Dear Lord, help me to remember, when I cannot see the target, that you do not
shoot an arrow just to shoot an arrow. Your Word does not return to you
void. Therefore, if you have sent it out
into the world, it will happen. By the
same token, if you have fired me as an arrow, you will hit your mark.
this I pray in Your Son's Precious and Holy Name, Amen.
LIVE: Think about the passion Nehemiah demonstrates
for honoring God. What would your life
look like with more passion? How might
you honor God with your lifestyle the way Nehemiah desires to honor God? Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with
all your passion and prayer and intelligence. …Love others as well as you love
yourself" (Matthew 22:37, 29). With this command in mind, think of one small
new habit you could cultivate that would honor God in a particular area of your