Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Three

Week Three: Learning To Overcome Obstacles

Nehemiah faced one challenge after another in fulfilling the vision God put before him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He faced the challenges by first relying on God and then following through, depending primarily on God’s provision, wisdom, and grace.  

The construction project was plagued with opposition. Sanballat, Tobiah, and others tried to halt the work with insults, ridicule, threats, and sabotage. Some of the workers became fearful; others became weary. In each case, Nehemiah employed a strategy to frustrate the enemies—prayer, encouragement, guard duty, and consolidation (chapter 4). But a different problem arose—an internal one. Rich Jews were profiteering off the plight of their working countrymen. Hearing of their oppression and greed, Nehemiah confronted the extortioners face to face (chapter 5). Then, with the walls almost complete, Sanballat, Tobiah, and company tried one last time to stop Nehemiah. But Nehemiah stood firm, and the wall was finished in just 52 days. What a tremendous monument to God’s love and faithfulness.

There have been many obstacles for us as well, and we will likely face more. Yet we can be sure that since God is leading, as we remain yoked to Him, we can persevere through the difficulties. How can we do otherwise?

Nehemiah 6
Psalm 104:1-5
John 15:9-21

Day 1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah hears that Sanballat and Tobiah are ridiculing and conspiring against the wall rebuilding project. What is the first thing he does? (vs.4-5) More threats came, and Nehemiah and his leaders turned again to God in prayer (vs. 6-9), and despite the weariness of God’s people, and the strength of their enemies, Nehemiah, inspired by God, led the people to persevere, as God protected their efforts. (vs 10-15)

Nehemiah never gave up or gave in. God guided him to a practical solution with the strength of heaven to see it through. Pray for the Lord to reveal to you the difficult times he has gotten you through. Give thanks to him, for his providence, wisdom, and grace. Close by praying Psalm 121.

Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 5

In the midst of a grand project, Nehemiah helps those in need. Although he was a man on a mission, and was uncompromising on completing that mission, Nehemiah never forgot God’s command that though it all, he must take care of those in need. As a leader, he set a beautiful example of generosity, and called his fellow Jews to do the same. This was in the midst of battling the opposition. When in dire straits, we too can get “tunnel-vision,” seeing only the big task or goal and forget our call to love others and take care of those in need. What are the needs you see in your community? Pray the Lord shows you how you can be an instrument of his provision to those in need. Close by praying Psalm 4.

Day 3

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 6

When the opposition fails, they play dirty. They lie, they cheat, they will use any means, fair and unfair to come against us. But we know we have one enemy, who is God’s one true enemy. It is not a person or people, but the father of lies, Satan himself. He will try to deceive us into sin, as he did with Nehemiah. But Nehemiah was not deceived. Under God’s care he persevered and trusted God to see him through. Take vs 16 to heart and claim it as your own, and our own as God’s Church. Pray Psalm 3 for God’s protection and blessing.

Day 4

Scripture Reading: John 15:9-21

Jesus teaches about remaining connected to him through all things. This flows from his love for us that he invites us to “abide” in. How do you experience the abiding love of God in Jesus Christ? What are the ways he touches you? How do you experience his love? 

How is it that we can experience a higher quality and quantity of God’s love by sharing it with others, or giving it away? In what ways have you been tempted (especially lately) to hoard his love and keep it to yourself? In what ways have you experienced his blessing by generously sharing it? Close by praying Psalm 23.

Day 5

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 7

The wall is finished and the Exiles return. Interestingly, Nehemiah puts worship leaders in charge of the Gates of the rebuilt wall. Why do you think that is so? So many families and groups are named as those who came up from exile to re-inhabit Judea, their land of promise and ancestral home. What promises of God are you looking forward to for yourself and for His Church? Pray for the Lord to reveal the good things he has in store for you and for us. Close with prayer in Psalm 13.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week Two

Week Two: Who Is The Leader And Rebuilder?

While God appoints human leaders for times and seasons, He is the one who inspires, creates, and provides what is needed. He is our leader. How have we seen God lead us? To what extent are we willing to serve Him? Are we willing to count the personal cost and still persevere in serving Him?

Nehemiah 3:1-27
Psalm 22:3-11
Mark 10:17-31

Day 1

Scripture Reading: Psalm 22:3-11

In this Psalm of lament we hear the words of Jesus from the cross. The Son of God, the one through whom all things were created; whom the angels delight in and adore, gives himself over to be disgraced and physically destroyed, that we would obtain the grace and mercy of God. This “broken man,” is our King! The writer here, and Jesus himself, may have been on the edge of despair, yet he comes back repeatedly to trusting his heavenly Father. The Father allowed the Son to suffer and the son willingly gave up his earthly life that life abundant would be showered upon all who believe in him and follow him as savior and lord. What does it mean to serve a disgraced leader like Jesus? What benefits were there for Jesus to gain from what he suffered? What benefits were gained for us by Jesus’ suffering? Do we appreciate that all of this was God’s plan? Jesus was not a victim, but one who gave himself up for us. How have you/we suffered injustice?  Do we understand that God allows this and, in his good time, brings a better outcome from it?  What examples can you think of in your life and in the life of the church? Pray for God to open your mind to the good things he has for you. Be thankful to him for all of it. Close in praying Psalm 22:23-31.

Day 2

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 3

In Nehemiah chapter 3 we see the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem, and the leaders who oversaw different sections of the wall’s rebuilding are named, along with a description of the part of the wall they built. God gave Nehemiah the wisdom to assign different sections of the wall to be built simultaneously by different teams, so the wall would be built quickly and efficiently, and be high enough (half its eventual height) before strong opposition was able to mobilize against it. While Nehemiah was the superintendent of the entire project, he and the workers knew it was God’s project and all were under His sovereignty. How have you experienced God working through multiple people to see His work accomplished? Are you willing to play the part God has for you, even though it may seem menial, and you may be nameless in it? How has God blessed you when you’ve responded to him in this way in the past? Spend time in quiet contemplation with Him and ask him to reveal to you his call to serve him and be willing to accept whatever he has for you. Close by praying through Psalm 4.

Day 3

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-22

This is a familiar passage concerning the wealthy man who came to Jesus asking how to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ two part answer disheartens him, because he was not willing to part with his wealth. Jesus still loved him, yet there is a lesson for us if we would be true disciples of Jesus, and not just admirers of him. There is a cost to being a disciple, a true Christian. Are we willing to give up what we’ve perhaps spent years in attaining, whether that be monetary wealth, stability, security, or comfort? Yes, Jesus tells us the poor will always be with us, yet he also calls us repeatedly to share generously what we have with others as he leads us. Are we willing to ask Jesus what he is calling us to give, knowing it will cost us? Put yourself in the place of this rich man and have this conversation with Jesus. Take joy in knowing you cannot out give him. Whatever he asks you to give he will give back to you even more, and do good in the world through what you give for the benefit of others. Close with praying Psalm 8.

Day 4

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:23-31

After the action comes the lesson. Jesus teaches on how difficult it is to be with Him in His kingdom if we hold too tightly to our wealth and possessions. He says on human terms it is impossible! Only by being generous toward God can we fully be his disciples. Pray and spend time with the Lord and ask him to show you how he wants to bless you and others, by having you loosen your grip on your money and possessions. Pray though 1 Corinthians 9:6-11.

Day 5

Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:1-22

In the midst of this passage we see David’s prayer acknowledging the sovereignty of God over all provision. We say the words every week at offertory time: “all things come from you o Lord, and of your own do we give to you.” David encourages the people to join in the building of the temple as God puts on their hearts to contribute, and he sets the example of giving generously himself. In Nehemiah’s time, the people of Jerusalem contributed their gifting to the building. In our time we have seen, and many of us have contributed sacrificially to our building project. Thank you and may the Lord bless you for doing so. As we near completion we will have needs in bringing things to fruition in this building to bless the community we are in. Pray to God to show you, if and how he is calling you to play a role in bringing this to fruition. Pray Psalm 150 in tankful celebration for who God is.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Devotionals - Week One

Week One – A Wall Rebuilt, A Church and City Revived

Introducing a five week series on Nehemiah, we look at the chronology and historical background of Nehemiah's wall and what it means for us to live into God's vision for the Church.

Nehemiah 1:1-11
1 Peter 2:1-6, 9-10
Psalm 14:2-3
Mark 10:35-45

Day 1

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 1

What is at the heart of Nehemiah’s prayer to God (vs. 6-10)? What is his posture before God?What are the things he asks of God. Pray through Psalm 51. Conversationally ask God in your own words what is at the heart of Psalm 51. What do you need to turn over to him, ask for forgiveness from him, for what do you need help from him? Pray for the Lord to show you his will for you and his delight in you.

Day 2

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 30

As you read through this chapter, prayerfully contemplate this covenant oracle from God, and how the children of Israel paid the price for not keeping their part of the covenant. The consequences for Israel were to be conquered and exiled. Was what we suffered as a church consequence of our sin either corporately or individually? Are there things we still need to repent of, knowing we serve a gracious God? Pray through Psalm 86 and know the goodness and forgiveness of our loving God.

Day 3

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10

Prayerfully read though this passage as if the Lord were speaking it to you personally. What are the things God is calling you to “put away” (vs 1). How has the Lord built your Spiritual house? What is good about your Spiritual house? What is lacking in it? Pray for the Lord to increase the good, build up what is lacking, and tear down what is not of Him. Pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to make clear the differentiation of what is good, what is lacking, and what is wicked, as our eyes can be blinded by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Spend some time in vs 9-10. How have you experienced this partnership with God? How do you long to experience more? Thank him and ask him for more. Close by praying Psalm 127.

Day 4

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:35-45

How have you been like James and John? (asking for greatness and notoriety, drinking the cup set before you by the Lord) Contemplate and pray how the Lord is calling you to serve him as he outlines in vs 43-45. Count the cost of what that would look like for you. Prayerfully decide if you choose to follow Jesus’ example and command of Servanthood. Close with pray in Psalm 121.

Day 5

Scripture Reading: Acts 2

We know this as Pentecost, the unleashing of the Holy Spirit upon the believers. To what end was the Holy Spirit released to the disciples? What was their response? How have we responded to the unleashing of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in the life of this Church? Pray for God’s fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom and will to respond as He calls, that His name would be glorified and the Good News of his Son, Jesus Christ, experienced in the lives we come in contact with. Close with prayer in Psalm 149.

Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith Introduction Letter

Beloved in Christ,

These past few months have been exciting for me, and I hope, in a good way for you as well. In June, we finished up our Destined for Joy campaign with extraordinary results. We committed to pray, work and give $2,362,929 three years ago to the Vision God gave us for His Church. By His grace, empowering the generosity and sacrificial giving of His people, we have contributed $2,388,083!  Statistics show that typically, for giving campaigns to be considered “successful”, 85 - 90% attainment of pledged amounts is all that is expected. But thanks be to God, we harvested over 101% to give to the Vision of Church of the Apostles, and because of it, have been able to purchase land and begin a building project.  

This, coupled with the breakthroughs we’ve enjoyed in reaching the surrounding community through our Willow Springs partnership, interaction with our new neighbors, the growth in breadth and depth at Apostles Campus Church at George Mason University, and the miraculous healing we’ve been privileged to witness our Lord accomplish through our Healing Ministry, has tuned me deeper into times of pause, prayerfully contemplating the good things our Lord is doing through us, as we respond humbly in service to His call.   

Reflecting on all of this, as I watch the walls of our new building rise, I am inspired to share with you the Book of Nehemiah, as both lesson and inspiration for us in this season of watching our walls rise. God called Nehemiah from exile to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall of the city for the sake of God’s people in the city. 

For the past six years, we have, in a way been in a state of exile, not sure where our home is. Now, God has made it clear where that will be and the walls of His church are rising on Lee Highway. What is the future God is calling us to in this place, in this season? If you remember our groundbreaking ceremony back on August 19, our children, the next generation, were the ones to break the ground for this new expression of Church. We did this because we see this place, this “city on a hill”, as the place from which we and our children for generations to come, will come to know Jesus Christ and more fully make him known. Our city, Fairfax, desperately needs to know and experience the love of God in Jesus Christ. The story of Nehemiah some 2,500 years ago can help us to understand how in our place and time we can rise to the occasion and make Christ known.

Over the next five Sundays, we’ll look at the Book of Nehemiah in our message time on Sunday. In the weeks between, we will provide a format for each of us to take a closer look at God’s Word and contemplate what He is calling each of us to do. I ask and pray that you follow along, take the time to prayerfully contemplate each week’s message and each day’s devotion that you will experience for yourself what God is calling you to do individually, and Church of the Apostles as His Church.

I commend this all to you in Christ Jesus.

Your servant in Him,

Joseph Acanfora+