READ NEHEMIAH 3:1-32
In our highly individualistic culture we tend to focus on the one person who appeared to make the difference between victory and defeat. However, anything of substance is rarely accomplished through the efforts of one.
In sports we mistakenly credit one player for a team’s success. Michael Jordan wasn’t an NBA champion until he had help. Emmitt Smith broke the NFL career rushing record because of the blocking of an all-pro offensive line. Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters happened with the help of eight other players on the field.
The vision to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem had been born in the heart and mind of Nehemiah but the vision would not have been fulfilled without the work of many. Nehemiah may have provided inspiration and structure for the work but the people provided effort and perspiration in their work.
In this week’s reading we see the names of many individuals. However, many more worked on the walls whose names are not listed.
Reflect & Respond
- Are you willing to contribute to the work accomplished by a team?
- Are you content to serve without recognition?
- Are you satisfied to know that your contribution made a difference?
READ NEHEMIAH 4:1-14
How does it feel when you come up against opposition or criticism when serving the Lord?
How do you typically respond?
As Nehemiah and the Israelites made progress on rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem opposition and criticism arose. Some mocked the work being accomplished. Others openly opposed the work. Still others threatened the workers.
We, too, should be prepared for opposition as we serve the Lord. Anytime we work to bring glory to God we will encounter hostility. People unwilling to serve will find fault with the work by those who stepped up. As hard as it may be to believe, some will actually attempt to derail the progress made by others.
Sadly, we in the church too often view people in other churches as our competition. This simply is not so. We are part of a very large family and we serve our Father together.
Reflect and Respond
- Pray daily for the work God is doing through the people in another congregation
- Look for opportunities to affirm the work you see others doing outside our own church family.
- Consider how you might cooperate with others who are serving God in various ways.
READ NEHEMIAH 5:14-16
For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah—from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes—neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance. The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God, I did not act that way.
I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall.
Nehemiah had been sent to Jerusalem by the King. He was given resources by the King that he certainly could have used for his own comfort. Instead, Nehemiah saw himself as part of the team God had called to reconstruct the wall.
Reflect & Respond
- Do others see you as a hardworking contributor to the overall vision of our church?
- Are you among the first to serve at a church gathering or do others serve you?
- Is there an area of the church in which you simply will not serve?
If so, reflect over why?
READ NEHEMIAH 6:14-15
Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.
So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun.
I CAN’T, HE CAN
If the task your team has accepted to fulfill seems large or impossible, remember the work accomplished in Jerusalem. Remember Nehemiah and the faithfulness of God.
Reflect and Respond
Spend time this week praying over the work your team has committed to fulfill.
- Pray for those who oppose the work and leave the response up to God.
- Pray for continued courage and commitment within each team member you serve alongside.
- Pray that God will receive all the glory for each and every accomplishment your team realizes.
READ NEHEMIAH 13
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
FAITH IS NOT PRACTICED IN A VACUUM
The passage from Hebrews 10:24-25 serves as an important reminder that faith is not something practiced alone. It’s critical that we surround ourselves with other believers who can and will encourage us to pursue love and good deeds. Simultaneously, we should also be prepared to offer the same sort of support to those around us.
One way to ensure we are regularly connecting with other believers is by making a point of meeting together consistently. This may involve creating margin in our lives and setting boundaries that allow us to prioritize these gatherings.
LET LOVE LEAD YOU
When we do come together, it’s essential that we’re actively encouraging and admonishing one another.
- It’s not enough to simply think kind thoughts.
- We need to put those thoughts into action and actually say them to the intended person.
- Admonish sounds harsh but when done gently it motivates us to be better.
- By correcting wrong thinking and gently restoring one another, we can strengthen our bonds and grow in our faith together.
Our identity in Jesus puts responsibility on the whole family. We can find comfort in the knowledge that we’re not alone on our spiritual journey as we cultivate strong relationships with other believers.
Reflect & Respond
Spend time this week reflecting over your commitment you your church family.
- Have you made meeting together a priority in your weekly rhythm?
- Where do you need to create margin?
- Is there something you need to say to someone that would be an encouragement?
- Stop and send a text, write an email, or make a phone call…don’t delay in encouraging someone.
- How well do you receive feedback from others…even when it seems harsh?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive truth, especially difficult truth.