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Faith Stretching-December 4, 2023

How's your faith working? Just fine? Or does it need a little tuning up?

Monday Morning Devotion-December 4, 2023

Faith Stretching

The God of Heaven will help us succeed.  We, His servants, will start rebuilding this wall.     Nehemiah 2:20

*from 2021

       Nehemiah had a soft, cushy job.   He was the official cup bearer/food taster for the King of Persia.  What's more King Artaxerxes and the Queen liked him.  In the midst of this comfortable easy life God called on him for a difficult task.  He was told to go back to Jerusalem and lead his people there in building a wall.  The old one was pretty much broken down and thieves and enemies could just come into the city at will.

            There was only one problem.  Nehemiah had no idea how to build a wall or anything else.  He did not have a blueprint,  heavy equipment, or any idea how to do this.  He didn't even have a hard hat.

            But God can be persistent when he has a plan for you.  Have you discovered that?  Is there something that you are ignoring, putting off or just flat out don't want to do that you continue to have this nagging feeling about?  Sometimes God works that way.  If He wants you to do something He just won't leave you alone.

            Yeah, you do have a free will so you don't have to do something you don't want to do, but God has a way continuing to bring it up in little ways that are worrisome.  Even downright aggravating, so finally you say:  "What the heck I might as well do this even though I really don't know how to do it."

            You can identify with Nehemiah's predicament.  He was a person who was big on prayer and  prayed a lot.  This situation that his homefolks were in, being vulnerable to anybody or any group that wanted to waltz right in and harm them, is what kept coming back to him in his prayers.  As soon as he had received word that the conditions back home had deteriorated, he started to pray.

            Nehemiah was unhappy and it began to show in his work.  King Artaxerxes noticed that Nehemiah was not his usual self.  His pleasant countenance was sad and showing the effects of his worry.

            When the King asked him what was wrong, he explained and asked permission to go back home to Jerusalem and "rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried."  It is estimated that the population at that time had dwindled to around maybe a thousand people as some of those who had been scattered to other places began to return.  Without the protection of a wall that number was in danger of decreasing again.

            Nehemiah wanted to go home and help but I don't think he expected to be the one who was in charge of building that great big wall to surround the city.  Tony Dungy writes:  "Nehemiah stepped out to rebuild Jerusalem's walls without any idea how it would go or how he would accomplish such a daunting task.  He could not see the end of the project, but he knew that God could.  And since he was doing this for God, God would lead him every step of the way.

            "Nehemiah did have control over some things, and he carefully brought those aspects to the project.  He surveyed the ruins and resources, laying out careful plans and gathering and equipping committed people to build the wall, then assigning each group a section of the wall to complete."

            And here's the smart thing that he did.  He assigned the workers sections of their wall to build that was in their own neighborhood.  These were places that were near their own homes.  They didn't have to get up and go way across town each morning to build a section that was by the homes of others.  But as each section of the wall was completed, they began to help in other areas knowing that every section had to eventually be connected in order for this whole wall experience to work.

            The work was hard, the days were long, there were nay-sayers who predicted failure and the experience was tedious.  Yet there were moments to rejoice along the way.  As each new partition was built and fitted to the one next to it the wall began to take shape and they could see God's hand in it."

            And as Nehemiah had told them from the start  "the God of Heaven will help us succeed."  In Nehemiah 6:20  we read: "So, on October 2 the wall was finally finished---just fifty-two days after we had begun.  When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated.  They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God."

            Dungy poses this question to us: "Have you ever been in a position like Nehemiah?  You feel certain that God has called you to take charge of something, but you may have a lot of questions in the back of your mind.  Let it be a faith-stretching experience for you."

            In his book Uncommon Life:  The Daily Challenge  Dungy closes each day's devotion with an UNCOMMON KEY.  Here's the one for this lesson:

            "Whenever you know God is calling you to do something, be confident that He will guide the process, even if a successful outcome is hard to imagine.  He will get you to where He wants you to go."

Prayer:  Lord keep us strong in the faith no matter what the task is that you call us to do.     Amen!



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