What Nehemiah was trying to do was tense and dangerous. He had returned to Jerusalem to lead the fledging Jewish community in rebuilding their city walls and creating a stronger presence. The territorial officials opposed this project, and they were determined to stop it even if they had to murder Nehemiah. They accused him, ridiculed him, and sought to intimidate him. Finally, Nehemiah received a message telling him to flee for there was a plot afoot to kill him that very evening.
“Should such a man as I flee?” Nehemiah said, as he stood his ground.
What did Nehemiah mean by that phrase? Did he mean, Such a strong man… or such a brave man… or such a well-protected man?
No. He meant, “Should such a man who is doing God’s work, living in His will, standing on His promises, and guarded by His grace flee?”
Nehemiah’s boldness didn’t come from his own resources. He knew his God—and the people who know their God will fight, not flee.
Oh my soul, put on Christ, and put off fear: put up prayer, and put down dread. From whom should such a man as I flee? Of whom should I be afraid?William Mason
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31
For more than fifty years, my dad strove for excellence in his editing. His passion wasn’t to just look for mistakes but also to make the copy better in terms of clarity, logic, flow, and grammar. Dad used a green pen for his corrections, rather than a red one. A green pen he felt was “friendlier,” while slashes of red might be jarring to a novice or less confident writer. His objective was to gently point out a better way.
When Jesus corrected people, He did so in love. In some circumstances—such as when He was confronted with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matthew 23)—He rebuked them harshly, yet still for their benefit. But in the case of his friend Martha, a gentle correction was all that was needed (Luke 10:38–42). While the Pharisees responded poorly to His rebuke, Martha remained one of His dearest friends (John 11:5).
Correction can be uncomfortable and few of us like it. Sometimes, because of our pride, it’s hard to receive it graciously. The book of Proverbs talks much about wisdom and indicates that “heeding correction” is a sign of wisdom and understanding (15:31–32).
God’s loving correction helps us to adjust our direction and to follow Him more closely. Those who refuse it are sternly warned (v. 10), but those who respond to it through the power of the Holy Spirit will gain wisdom and understanding (vv. 31–32).
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah experienced one of the most dynamic victories in all of Scripture. Armed with unflinching faith in the Lord, he faced down 450 priests of the local false deities. God moved mightily, destroying the idolaters and bringing glory to Himself throughout Israel. What a fantastic win!
But right after this confrontation, when Elijah’s faith should have been at its peak, he became scared. In today’s reading, the prophet learned that the evil queen Jezebel had called for his death. Apparently forgetting God’s mighty victory just moments before, Elijah ran away. How could this be?
Elijah’s story reminds us that success and spiritual growth do not necessarily go hand in hand; our faith can waver at any time. In fact, when we’re successful and confidence is high, that’s often when we turn our eyes away from the Giver of strength and toward ourselves.
Your victory is always in God’s hands. Don’t be fooled: He may work in, around, or through you to accomplish His purpose, but it is always His victory. Have you been distracted by success? Turn your eyes back to God. All praise and glory are rightly His. And He is also the source of freedom from fear.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)
This fascinating bit of first-century pricing information, seemingly so trivial, provides a marvelous glimpse into the heart of the Creator. Of all the birds used for food by the people of those days, sparrows were the cheapest on the market, costing only a farthing for a pair of them. In fact, they cost even less in a larger quantity, for on another occasion Jesus said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6). The “farthing” was a tiny copper coin of very small value, so a sparrow was all but worthless in human terms.
And yet the Lord Jesus said that God knows and cares about every single sparrow! God had a reason for everything He created; each kind of animal has its own unique design for its own intended purpose. Modern biologists continue to waste time and talent developing imaginary tales about how all these multitudes of different kinds of creatures might have evolved from some common ancestor. Even some evolutionists have started calling these whimsical tales “just so” stories. They would really be better scientists if they would seek to understand the creative purpose of each creature rather than speculating on its imaginary evolution.
The better we comprehend the amazing complexity and purposive design of each creature, the better we realize the infinite wisdom and power of their Creator. Then all the more wonderful it is to learn that their Creator is our Father! He has placed them all under our dominion, and we need to learn to see them through His eyes if we would be good stewards of the world He has committed to us. We can also thank our heavenly Father that we “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). HMM
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred. —1 Chronicles 12:32
A prophet is one who knows his times and what God is trying to say to the people of his times….
Today we need prophetic preachers—not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits. It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on….
What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present. Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day….
Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. OGM019-022
Lord, I pray for that gift of prophetic insight. Move me beyond the knowledge You’ve enabled me to gain through education, reading and study. I pray that I might lead as one “who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the throne.” Amen.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. —Galatians 2:20
God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross….
What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?
Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.
Having done this, let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Savior, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power.
The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ. OCN004
There will be nothing in heaven that does not have the mark of the cross upon it. unknown