Encounter: Read Nehemiah 4:1-10 in at least two different translations, Max De Pree says that, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Do you agree? What was the reality for Nehemiah and his people? Underline or write down what the reality in this passage.
"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." - Billy Graham
I was reading an article this week by Bethany Hodak as she described how a certain artist has brought to life the impact of fathers in all cultures, she writes, “This Father’s Day, I will be celebrating not only the indelible impact of my own father on my life, but also the impact of millions of men across the globe who dedicate themselves to giving their children every chance and opportunity. The ripples from their choices are felt for generations, and works by artists like Debasmita Dasgupta help us celebrate these men as the heroic figures they are.”
I posted one of Debasmita’s works with Renew this week because it reminded me that it’s easy to say Rise Up & Build, but it is only possible to do the work of building if the workers themselves make a commitment to all it takes to repair the gaps that have allowed bad things in. Especially when there is opposition to building God’s way of life into our own.
From the time Nehemiah says, “Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace,” with the proclamation that the God of heaven will help them succeed, the resistance popped up its dirty head. But in spite of the opposition, these men along with their families kept progressing even when his own people wrote a song to let him know they would not be participating“…we will never be able to rebuild the walls.” It is at this point leaders can fold, go back to what they know is not risky, “You know, those walls have always been like that, why bother?”
Just as Debasmita’s art celebrates the impact of fathers on generations, we can allow what Nehemiah does next to call us to mind the gaps in the walls we see in our own homes, cities and nation.
In the midst of resistance from all sides, even from his own people, Nehemiah stands up and addresses the crowds, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the great and awe-inspiring Lord, and fight for your countrymen, your sons and daughters, your wives and homes!”
Whenever we begin to build the walls of the Kingdom, we will experience opposition, that is a guarantee. The builders in Nehemiah’s time held a weapon in one hand while they built with the other. How do we fight the battle when resistance comes?
We take the words of Paul, “For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide.” (2 Cor. 10:3-4 TPT) and then we find our strength to do so by putting on the full armor of God; truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, our salvation with the Word of God.
Where is God calling you to Rise Up & Build and are you ready to face the opposition? Take time to listen to this song (so different than sung by Nehemiah’s discouragers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4CwKroZtCI, because it may look like we're surrounded but we're surrounded by You! This is how we fight our battles Eden, let it strengthen as you build!
Reflect: Have you ever experienced opposition as you began to do a work or ministry for the Lord? The hymn writer, Joseph Scriven, wrote these words: “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we will not carry, everything to God in prayer.” Is there something grieving or troubling you that you could stop and pray for right now? Is there something that your small group, like Nehemiah, could commit to praying for over the next four months especially where you’re experiencing resistance to building?
Encourage: Don Carson says that, “although God sometimes works through supernatural and spectacular means, he commonly works through ordinary people who take responsibility … and seek to act faithfully even in difficult circumstances.” Do you agree? How might God be calling you to take responsibility? How can you encourage other Christians to take responsibililty for the gaps in the walls of our families, cities and nation?
Read Nehemiah 4:1-15. How do we, as followers of Jesus in Muncie, Indiana, face opposition in our attempts to make a difference in this world? How are we being called to be fathers to the fatherless?