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One step forward, two steps back...

"Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table,as well as those who came to us from surrounding nations"(Nehemiah 5:17). My husband I recently headed out with our kids and another family to paddle to an island we love. Our friends had never been, and they enjoy the great outdoors as much as we do. As we drove our paddle boards out to the boat launch,...

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Representing God Well

Nehemiah 5:1-12a As disconcerting as the disturbance in Nehemiah 4 was, in Nehemiah 5 an even more troubling disturbance occurs. This time the actors causing the disturbance are not from outside the community, but from inside. Having an outside enemy can unite a community. Consider the unity in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Having an enemy within, however, c...

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Righting Wrongs

"Restore to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses,also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oilthat you are exacting from them" (Nehemiah 5:11). Prior to Covid one of my sons told me about a time in his school hallway where he witnessed a bully picking on another student. What he remembered ...

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It's Never Really (Just) About the Wall

But out of reverence for God I did not act like that (Nehemiah 5:15). You might remember from Nehemiah 3, the "job assignments" chapter, that some nobles from Tekoa "would not put their shoulders to the work" of rebuilding the walls. We gave them a dismissive brush-off ("Selfish entitled jerks!") and moved on, assuming we were done with them, that their only role in the s...

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Bravado or Godly Courage?

Nehemiah 5:1-13 Nehemiah has motivated the Jews to overcome 100+ years of inertia. They are rebuilding their crumbled walls while summoning courage to resist foreign opposition. That is hard enough, but they continue to face decades-long oppression from their own rulers: exorbitant interest, high taxes, demands for collateral, even slavery. What kind of courage is needed ...

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It Gets Worse First...

Meanwhile, the people of Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble we cannot rebuild the wall." Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will kill them and put an end to the work." The Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us" (Nehemiah 4:10-12). Ah, it se...

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Touchstone

"what my God had put in my heart to do" (Nehemiah 2:11) and Nehemiah 4:1-6 Have you ever embarked on a new challenging endeavor? (Writing these devotionals counts as that for me!) Nehemiah and Co., all those years ago, embarked on a new challenging endeavor. Let's look for the similarities in our experiences. Starting out by sensing God's direction, and having an inner ...

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Opposition, too, is Mortar

After I looked things over, I stood up, and said ... "Don't be afraid of them.Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers,your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses" (Nehemiah 4:14). Have you ever faced opposition while you were trying to complete a goal, or perhaps experienced it in a relationship where you can remember the words ...

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When (Not If) Opposition Comes

Nehemiah 4 What are you trying to rebuild? It isn't likely the walls of a city, but whatever it is it matters: to you, to God, and perhaps to others. Just know this: opposition will come. Here, for Nehemiah and the Jews, it comes - and it comes immediately - from clear enemies. Sanballat and Tobias, likely fearing the rebuilding project as a threat to their place in the ...

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However...

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed When they heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead they were very angry. They all plotted to come together and fight against Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:1, 7-8). Rebuilding is hard enough work all by itself. Add in some opposition, however When God works not eve...

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