Imagine if you invested a chunk of your life in creating something…we’ll call it an “Oofgablook”. You made sure to dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s in the process of creating the Oofgablook. You knew, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, that you had created an impressive Oofgablook. It would stand the test of time! But once everything was in place, you had to find the right set of people to take care of your Oofgablook and move on. So, you did. You trusted these people with the care of this Oofgablook.
Flash forward five years or so- you’ve moved on and had a great life. But, you decide that it’s time to go check on your Oofgablook. You arrive to see the Oofgablook in complete shambles. The people you left in charge haven’t taken very good care of the Oofgablook. It’s been knocked over a few times and scribbled on. There’s mud, paint and coffee splattered all over it. It doesn’t really look like an Oofgablook anymore…it looks more like a Gablookoff!
The people you left in charge didn’t share your heart. They hadn’t invested the initial time and energy in the creation of the Oofgablook, so they struggled to understand its significance. In the same way, Eliashib didn’t care about Jerusalem the way that Nehemiah cared. He failed to lead the people to pursue a lifestyle in adherence to God’s laws (Nehemiah 13). Essentially, there was a disconnect between the person who had created the Oofgablook and the person who was left in charge.
Flash forward to the earliest believers, they have been left the foundation for a church. They have some leaders and Scriptures and their experiences with Christ. But, they are being torn apart and persecuted! They have every reason to throw off the burden of this Oofgablook…but they don’t. Instead, they throw themselves wholeheartedly into it! And they do this, not on their own, but as one. I love the imagery in Acts 4:24.
This isn’t like when Nehemiah built a city and left a priest in charge. When Jesus began building a church, He left people in charge that shared His passion. People who were passionate about pursuing a life that represented Him.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. -Acts 4:32
Are you currently seeking out a body of believers that will inspire you to invest in God’s Oofgablook (aka the church)?
How are you shaking off your own insecurities to fully commit to participation in the body of Christ?
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with with Jesus.” -Acts 4:13
As an introvert, I hate being seen. I just don’t like being the center of attention. But as a daughter of the one true King, I am realizing that because it’s my identity, I must be seen…so that He can be seen through me. If I follow Him, and when I spend time in His presence, something about me changes so that people can tell I am His. It’s the peace and faith that line my face, the way I dress, speak, and how I spend my time. I can’t hide it.
But that’s not every day. Because there are days when blending in with the world is an easier road to take. When I don’t say something when someone makes a nasty comment about “those Christians” or when my clothes aim more to appeal to the male eye or to fit in with my peers than to glorify my God and honor my future husband. When I worry and pack my day with a thousand un-important concerns of this world.
Each morning when I rise, I make a choice on the person I will present to the world. If I spend quiet time praying and studying the Word in His presence, it will be known that I am His. Even if I don’t say a single word about Jesus all day, people will see Him through me.
Or I can choose to sleep in a little, or pack my day so full of everything else that time with Jesus dwindles to a hurried prayer at bedtime. And its likely that day, and maybe even the next day, not many people will know I am His. Because I spent no time with Him. I did not have His boldness or His peace. I was probably frantic, stressed, consumed by the world and myself.
Today, you also have the choice. Will people know you are His? Or will you seamlessly blend in with the world around you?
Tension, distraction, lack of spiritual peace. These are some of the side effects for holding on to sin. I used to believe that not confessing my sins before God wouldn’t affect me (plus, I was ashamed). But the pressure kept multiplying, until I threw my hands up, and cried out to God.
On October 31* the people assembled again, and this time they fasted and dressed in burlap and sprinkled dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. -Nehemiah 9:1-2 (NLT)
Place yourself, amongst those people that assembled together back then. We are them! Confession of sins, repentance – sprinkled with humility – is the active ingredient to allow God the opportunity to transform us and our situations! God wants to help us, without any shame placed upon us. The end result is, you and me, standing before God, in spiritual peace, giving praise like the people did in verse 5!
*Hebrew on the twenty-fourth day of that same month, the seventh month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. This day was October 31, 445 B.C. NLT by Tyndale House Foundation
Opposition is sure to come when we serve the Lord, whether publicly or privately. In Nehemiah 4-6, disapproval grows as progress is made. In trying times, remember God’s greatness and that He sent you with a purpose to make a difference; furthermore, remind those who are helping you.
“I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your songs and daughters, your wives and homes.’” –Neh. 4:14
Instead of focusing on the bad, there are two things to keep in mind when we are doing work we feel God has us called to: first, devote your work to His kingdom (Nehemiah 5:16); second, be devoted to your work (Nehemiah 6:3). Don’t be distracted by the discontentment of others, but be fueled by it. Ask for help from the Lord and rest in knowing He has your back and let your work ethic and finished product ultimately exemplify Him.
“When all our enemies hear this, all surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” –Neh. 6:16
The New Testament reading today pointed people to God as well. 3,000 people were saved in this passage. Take a second and let that soak in—three thousand. And they weren’t just a random group of people, they were the people of Israel. Isn’t it amazing how our God can take a cupbearer and make him a rebuilder of a nation (Nehemiah) and take those who persecuted His son and change their lives forever? That said, we must take note that the promise of God stretches to the least likely receivers of the gospel. We are not to be intimidated by opposition, but to take it as an opportunity to reach those far from His word and share His glory through our work and our words.
“For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” -Acts 2:39
Is there a certain task or job you avoid because of the backlash it might spark? Is it the opposition or the difficulty of the job itself that is scaring you away from it?
What are ways you can begin to tackle that facet of your life to better glorify the Lord?
I tend to look at others in the church community and be wowed by their involvement. People who serve on a billion teams, worship leaders, prayer volunteers… the list goes on. In comparison with these people, I feel average. Ordinary. So, where and how could I fit in? How am I supposed to make any kind of difference in the church, my community, or for His kingdom?
At these moments of overflowing insecurity, remembering who our God is can make a huge difference on our outlook. Let this be your reminder: Our God is not average and He makes nothing ordinary, including you and me.
In the first part of Nehemiah, we read the description of the broken state of Jerusalem. Hearing this news breaks Nehemiah down and shakes his soul deeply. Upon time in prayer and waiting until the right moment, he is given the opportunity to rebuild the city and head the project himself!
“So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.” –Neh. 2:4
Here is my question: what rattles you? Because whether you realize it or not, you fully have the capacity in Christ to address that issue and change it for the better, to change it for His glory! How empowering a message! All it takes is our decision to start.
Jumping forward to Acts 2:1-13, a miracle unfolds. What these two stories have in common is this: our God and His power. In the Old Testament passage, we see God’s feet on the ground. Our effort are required to make a difference for the glory of His kingdom. In the New Testament passage, we additionally see how incredible He is in providing for us as His messengers when we make ourselves available and ready to serve Him with all we are.
So don’t be intimidated by others in the church. Be empowered by them and take charge in issues that shake you. Even if you might feel small against an impossibly big task, remember you have a powerful Father in Heaven who provides endless support and awe-inspiring miracles.
What have you been thinking about getting involved in and what is holding you back?
What is the first step that you can work towards this week to start addressing it? Maybe it’s steady prayer on the potential issue, talking to someone (family, friends, church leader, etc.), or maybe it’s finally taking the leap and deciding on jumping into it.