I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Devotions Serving with Intelligence

Read: Nehemiah 1
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,…–Nehemiah 1:4 (KJV)

In many ways, Nehemiah had a cushy job. As cupbearer to the king, he lived in the palace, wore fine clothes, and had the attention and confidence of the king himself. (It was Nehemiah’s job to not only serve the king his food, but also to taste it to make sure it had not been poisoned. You’d have to trust your cupbearer since your life was in his hands.)

Yet material possessions and worldly success (especially for a member of a conquered people–the Jews) meant little to Nehemiah once he heard the bad news of his own people and country. The news weighed heavily on his heart.

He could have immediately gone to the king to ask advice, or could have run off to try to help the situation on his own. He might, instead, have considered his delicate position and prestige at the court and ignored the promptings of his heart. He did none of these things.

What he did was to set himself to earnest prayer. He did more than dash off a simple, shallow missive for the safety and well-being of his people. Realizing sin as the foundation of the problem, Nehemiah, identifying himself with his people, confessed both corporate and individual sin, asking God’s forgiveness. Nehemiah knew prayer and seeking God’s guidance was the key to what he did next.

Throughout, his attitude, both toward God and toward the foreign king he served, was one of gratitude and sensitivity. With careful planning and organization, Nehemiah showed himself a man of wisdom and faith.

He showed courage by daring to attend the king with a sad expression–a king (if he was like other rulers of the time) who insisted all who came before him show only a pleasant countenance. Nehemiah might have lost his head. He didn’t. Instead, he found favor in the eyes of the king who agreed to send him to his homeland.

Because Nehemiah had already prayed and sought God’s guidance (and continued to do so), planned and organized, he was able to carry through on his desire to make a difference. He did not falter when others tried to harm him and to undermine his mission.

Lord, help me to listen to Your leading and when You speak, help me first to pray, then plan, and, finally, commit myself to completing whatever job You have for me to do whether it is as simple as a timely phone call or as long term as raising my children to serve You. Amen.

Monday: Nehemiah 2
Tuesday: Nehemiah 3:1-3; 4
Wednesday: Nehemiah 5
Thursday: Nehemiah 6-7:1-3
Friday: Nehemiah 8:1-10, 18
Saturday: I Chronicles 28:9

(c) 2018 Carolyn R Scheidies
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