Well, today is National Heroes Day here in the Bahamas. It is the day we look back and honor those men and women who have made significant contributions to our nation. It could be in education, defense, politics, government, innovation or business. Generally, such honorees have been focused, committed to the cause they pursued, and succeeded against the odds.
Nehemiah was also a man committed to a cause and with a single focus – building the wall of Jerusalem. Nothing would deter him from the task. In fact, the closer he got to completing what God called him to do, the harder the enemy fought to stop him. They sought to discourage, distract and discredit him.
Here is what Nehemiah said:

When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it — though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates. Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono…” But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

The enemy’s strategy was to distract him from his mission and harm him. But, Nehemiah stayed focused on the”great project” and refused  to give in and be distracted.
When you attempt to do what God wants, there will be detractors and distractions which will seek get you off course. Sometimes the distractions  will be obvious – too much time checking email, watching too much television, or playing games on our phone.  Other times they will be more subtle and detrimental.   Sometimes even good things can distract you from your mission, if you’re not careful.
So when you’re on the wall doing what God has called you to do and distractions come,(big or small) respond like Nehemiah: “I’m NOT coming down”!

Freedom Bearer

Have you ever felt like you were trapped with no way out? Maybe it is an unhealthy, marital relationship. Maybe it is an addiction to pornography or drug or alcohol. May be you are drowning in financial death. May be you are simply trapped in a meaningless routine life?  Well, you are not the first to feel overwhelmed.
As we read the fifth chapter of Nehemiah, we discover that the Jewish families in Jerusalem are deep in debt. Some have borrowed to the point that their children are taken into slavery. Can you imagine being so pressured by your financial situation that you put your own children’s freedom in jeopardy? Well, that is exactly what is happening.   Nehemiah could have ignored the situation. He could have taken a “that’s – not – my- problem” attitude but he did not.  Nehemiah took action to address greed and financial oppression by the local leaders. He was a champion for the people of God. He was not only a builder of the wall, he was a freedom bearer to the people he loved.
Jesus also calls and empowers us who have been made free to liberate others. Are you a bearer of freedom to others?  Do you confront injustice when it raises its ugly head in your community?

Integrity Matters

There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about integrity especially as it relates to Judge Kavanaugh’s  and his nomination to the US Supreme Court. Many have questioned his integrity in the light of several allegations involving sexual misconduct.
In the Old Testament Nehemiah faced a difficult choice which involved integrity.. The people’s vineyards, lands, and houses were at risk because of outrageous taxes imposed by the king. Now, the people suffered doubly as their own Jewish leaders extended loans with enormous interest rates. Their leaders behaved like loan sharks! Nehemiah could’ve taken the easy way out and kept quiet. Instead, he chose integrity.



Nehemiah had a vision, he developed a plan, and he motivated and engaged people to make the vision a reality.  Notice, “the people worked with all their heart.” That’s the key to success. They were not halfhearted or lukewarm. They were all in!
I am reminded of the word of Jesus:  “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30). There is no middle ground when it comes to following Christ. You are either following him, or you are following something, or someone, else.  Your relationship with Him shouldn’t run hot and cold, depending on your circumstances or current emotions. Through thick and thin, ups and downs, Jesus asks you to be “all in” with Him. God works in and though people who are fully yielded to Him to change the world!
You can’t give half your heart and expect full heart results. Just like you can’t put in 20 hours and wonder why your paycheck isn’t based on 40 hours.  The same is true in your commitment to Jesus and his Kingdom. You must be ALL IN – in worshipping, serving, giving, loving, and sacrificing!  You must give 100 percent effort in securing a win for our Coach and our team!
Jim Elliot put it in perspective this way:,” He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Jesus went “ALL IN” for you. Are you “ALL IN” for Him?

Be Ready!

Each morning most of us have a routine in getting ready for the day’s activities, whether it’s school, work or  leisure. I remember when I worked as a retail store manager; my team had a daily process in getting ready for the customers. When the store opened, you had to have store cleaned, all sales signs up, registers opened, sales associates in place, and a warm smile. You had to be ready for the customers and day’s challenges.

Because Nehemiah had a real and menacing threat from the opposition, he ensured his people were ready to face any attack.  Nehemiah had the people keep their swords close by at all times. He took his enemy seriously and prepared  his people to defend themselves at a moment’s notice.


Grease or Glue

In a car friction is constantly wearing out the engine parts and wasting energy. Hence the need for lubricants: substances that fight friction and allow moving machine parts to slide past one another more smoothly.  Lubricants allow many parts work together efficiently. Glue, on the other hand, is a sticky substance which is used to join things together permanently. Can you imagine putting glue in the engine of your car?
There is no doubt that work goes faster when everyone works together. It is vividly shown in  book of Nehemiah.  It is also true when we look at work in the ministry of the church. It is not just about how quickly chairs get set up or put away after a service or event, but also about the  eternally significant work that the church is charge to complete – helping people know Jesus, find freedom and purpose, and make a difference for God’s glory.
The church has a lot of work to do, but it will never get done unless we all step up and do our part.  Success comes when we work together like the people of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah.
Henry Ford reminds us:
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”.
The church of Jesus Christ is called to be a mighty force in the world that not even the gates of hell can stand against. However, if each of us  fail to stand up and take seriously the work assigned,  the church will not have the momentum to ring the door bell of hell let alone knock down its gates.
So here are some questions to think about when it comes to the church and your contribution in making a difference in the world for the glory of God: Am I acting like grease in the axles or glue in the gears? Am I high maintenance and low return or am I low maintenance and high return? Am I a burden to the work God is trying to do around me or am I making the burden lighter?   Read 

Shared Burdens – Lighter

A burden is a load which is too heavy and needs to be shared; but each of us should bear our own responsibilities, and not be lazy, expecting others to do our work for us.

Burdens are different: they may be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual; and we are not designed to carry them alone. Christ’s instructions  is to love one another in such a way that the burden is shared (John 13:34).  The Apostle Paul reminds us: Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. – Gal. 6:2

Jerusalem was not a small village but a large city covering a significant area but as everyone worked together diligently the work got done. Working together lightens the burden of the work God has for us.

Much of the work that the church does relies upon everyone doing their part. We all have a role in God’s house when you’re tempted to wonder whether your part matters, remember you make a huge difference!

Ask this: How can you use your unique gifts and talents to build God’s house?

The Gates

As you read the book of Nehemiah, especially chapter 3, you discover that Jerusalem had lots of gates. some less prestigious than others and let’s face it most people could only name only a couple if they tried. Besides being part of a city’s protection against invaders, city gates were places of central activity in biblical times. It was at the city gates that important business transactions were made, court was convened, and public announcements were heralded.
When you look at the gates from a construction and strategic standpoint, there is no gate or wall that is more or less important. Sure, some might be more prestigious than others, I believe I would rather be working on the Fountain Gate than the Dung Gate, but all were important. If all of the gates were rebuilt, except one, Jerusalem would not be a safe city.  If one gate did not get rebuilt it would be open season on the inhabitant of Jerusalem. Their defenses would be worthless!
The same is true of the work of the church.  Sometimes the work we do might seem insignificant, but there is a huge purpose in it and can have eternal consequences. One thing we can be sure, Christ promised that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against the church.
Your Work Is Important!!

Action Counts

“If we don’t fight for what we ‘stand for’ with our passionate words and honest actions, do we really ‘stand’ for anything?” ― Tiffany Madison, Black and White
Nehemiah did more than complain about a problem. He did more than pray. Nehemiah acted. With courage, Nehemiah spoke to the king. Not satisfied with, “Someone else will do it,” Nehemiah boldly made his request to the king. While we all doubt God sometimes, it is usually a lack of action that keeps us stuck, not a lack of faith.
Just because our hearts are broken doesn’t mean we’re willing to do something about a problem. We can be sad about what’s happening to us or around us and do absolutely nothing about it. We can talk about the problems in our community, but it is action that will bring change.
Faith without works is dead (James 2:20). We’ve got to respond to the opportunities God gives us. Is your heart broken for something? Do you know what to do? Are you ready to initiate?
Here is a simple prayer: Jesus, I have a burden. I know what to do next. I want to be a next level doer. Give me the courage to act!

Your Little Bit Matters

Stephen Edgecombe |30 September, 2018| Devotional

We were not designed to bear burdens alone. When we see the brokenness in our communities and the world, the solutions seem overwhelming. A God-sized vision is simply too big for any one of us. The church’s mission—to go into all the world and make disciples—is too big for one person.  We need the help of others.

God gave Nehemiah a desire to see Jerusalem’s wall rebuilt, but Nehemiah did not complete the task on his own. Nehemiah 3 lists 43 different groups of people who helped to bring the wall to completion. The historian Josephus recorded the circumference of Jerusalem’s walls at about 4.5 miles. Other sources tell us the wall was 15 feet thick and perhaps 12 feet high. Rebuilding the wall was a big job.

The cooperation of the people in rebuilding the wall is a great example of how the church was designed to function. Some completed large sections of the wall while others made small repairs. Everyone shared the burden and together they finished the job. They were not professional builders; simply ordinary people willing to follow an extraordinary vision.

Paul reminds us that we all have a role in the church (Romans 12:4-8). When you’re tempted to wonder if your little bit matters, remember: You make a huge difference! We are all ordinary people with unique gifts. But when we’re using our gifts and working together, we can make a bigger difference than any one of us could do alone.

How can you use your unique gifts and talents to build the church?

Read: Nehemiah 3

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