Whose idea was it to rebuild the Jerusalem wall?
“Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ ” Nehemiah 1:8-9.
What was Jerusalem to God? “THE place where I HAVE CHOSEN TO CAUSE My name to dwell.” Jerusalem is HIS CITY. Jerusalem is the city of His people. God selected it as His place for His name to dwell and be with His people. Having the wall rebuilt was part of God’s plan. God laid the burden on Nehemiah’s heart to weep for the remnant left in Judah. God put the desire in Nehemiah’s heart to return to Judah and rebuild it. And Nehemiah was diligent to pray and seek God’s guidance and complete the task God had put on his heart.
If Nehemiah dropped the ball, if Nehemiah had turned from God, much like Jonah tried to do, and others in the Bible did, God would have rebuilt the wall without Nehemiah, because it was His desire, part of His plan, to rebuild it. But He wanted Nehemiah to do it so God could teach Nehemiah something about himself and God, and something about how refreshing diligence can be. He wanted to display His awesome power and be glorified through Nehemiah. And He wanted to teach us how refreshing true diligence can be.
Nehemiah’s diligence faced obstacles at almost every turn, but God equipped Nehemiah for his journey from the beginning. In order for Nehemiah to do what God wanted him to and what Nehemiah longed to do, he had to get King Artaxerxes on his side. Remember, Nehemiah was still a Jew, a servant to the king, and in captivity. Not only did the king grant him leave to rebuild the wall, he offered Nehemiah letters for the governors along the way to assure his safe passage. He also sent a letter to his keeper of the forest so Nehemiah would have all the building materials for the wall as well.
Did God make a way for Nehemiah or what? God made Nehemiah’s rough path smooth. God assured Nehemiah he would “let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and the rough ground become a path, and the rugged terrain a broad valley.” From Isaiah 40. God cleared the way for Nehemiah to complete his task. He will do the same for each of us.
Nehemiah and the exiles who returned to Judah with him rebuilt the wall. Judah was restored, its people turned back to God, usury was abolished, Nehemiah was appointed governor, he took a census, the people built houses, the Feast of Booths was restored, the people confessed their sins, the people returned to tithing. God restored the Sabbath. God restored Judah to the place where God chose to cause His name to dwell.
What an awesome, refreshing story of diligence and total dependence on God to do something great for the glory of God.
Now, not every diligent servant of God at One Heart is going to be burdened with a desire to serve like Nehemiah. Not every man or woman after God’s own heart will rule over a kingdom like David’s. But as Brother Gearl taught us Sunday diligence is still a key ingredient in our lives of we are to be refreshing to others.
Like Nehemiah, many of us have heard from God a calling to do something for His kingdom and glory. It might be ushering or teaching a class, or cooking a meal, or visiting shut-ins or volunteering in the children’s ministry or going on a mission trip, or sing in the choir, or one of a dozen other ministries.
Regardless of the call God has on our lives, if it is a genuine call from God, no matter what the ministry or the service, accomplishing the task will require us to be diligent in the effort. That means we need to genuinely evaluate the opportunity God has placed before us. We’ll need to seek God’s direction, no matter how big or how small the service may seem, and declare our total dependence on God and seek His guidance and direction to complete the task without dropping the ball. We’ll need to understand and appreciate the value of the assignment.
We’ll also need to understand that, if we’re in the business of doing God’s business, Satan wants us to fail. He’ll send his demons and discouragement, doubt, disappointment, fatigue, momentary setbacks, negative friends (remember Job’s?) or anything else he can think of to get us to drop the ball. We can defeat Satan with God’s Word, the full armor of God, prayer and encouragement from those engaged with us and more. But we can never make the mistake that we can go up against Satan alone. Satan always wins the one-on-ones with us.
And during our service we must always remember that we’re in the game for an eternity and there’s a much bigger picture we’re helping to paint. We should never think that the task we have is insignificant, unimportant, or that we won’t be contributing anything to the body of Christ. If we’re doing God’s business, we are working to bring glory to His Holy Name, and no service, no effort, no gesture done as if doing it as unto the Lord will go unnoticed, unappreciated or unrewarded. Ever.
Remember, God put the burden on your heart to serve, wherever it is. It’s God’s burden on your heart, because God wants to work in you, through you, and as you to bring glory to His name. He wants to teach you about your true self and about Himself. Your diligence will be a sweet fragrance to God and refreshing to all those whose life you touch with your service.