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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.