As my MIL and I continued through (and finished) the book of Nehemiah this week, God kept challenging me, day by day, chapter by chapter, to grow deeper with Him, to be rooted in His Word, and to apply these lessons to my daily life.
Nehemiah 7 – This chapter of Nehemiah has the potential to wear us out with the difficulty of the lists of names, the number of people counted, and the various gifts that were presented to the Lord. But when we take them time to actually read this chapter, we find the characteristic of man that is worth emulating. In verse 2, we learn about Hananiah. He was a “faithful man and feared God more than many”. This phrase stuck out to me and made me ask some questions and see the application to my life: How am I known by others in my life right now? Will I be remembered when I’m gone? How will I be remembered? When people see me or think of me, what type of characteristics stick out? How can I make God more reflective in my everyday life (and not just my online persona)? To start, I can complain and gossip less. I will make it a point to direct people to God in EVERYTHING that I do, not just “churchy” things.
Nehemiah 8 – A few things jumped out at me in this chapter:
- When Ezra (the priest) read the book of the law of Moses aloud to the people, they were attentive (v.3) Am I attentive to the Word of the Lord, either when I read it or when it is read aloud to me? This answer varies, but it shouldn’t. CONVICTED!
- The people’s response to the reading of the Word was to worship. What is my response to the Word? What is the response of my church, my peers, my family? Is there a visible response? I know the Word has changed my life, but do other people SEE this change? Is it truly visible or is it just internal? I want the changes to be visible in my life, therefore, I need to be attentive to my attitude, demeanor, and reactions.
- Verse 10b can be a popular verse, but I wonder if it’s often taken out of context. “…the joy of the LORD is your strength”. This verse was spoken when the people had been mourning and weeping for their sins. Nehemiah and Ezra are telling the people to not be grieved for the JOY of the LORD is their strength. That JOY is restoration and redemption. Application to real life: What is my strength? How do I make the LORD’s joy become my strength? How do I access His joy? I need to look to Him in the good times and draw my strength from the joy that comes from knowing Him and knowing that I have been redeemed. I can get through the tough times of life knowing that He has delivered me in the past and He will continue to deliver me in the future. That gives me JOY!
Nehemiah 9 – As the people confessed their sin to the Lord, their recounted their history which includes His faithfulness and compassion (v. 17, 31, 33) as well as their stubbornness and shortcomings. As I reflect on my life, I can see God’s faithfulness and compassion on me. Yet as His creation/child, I need to reflect Him. I need to be more faithful and compassionate toward others. This is definitely a struggle and an area I need to improve.
Nehemiah 10 – The people made an oath (vow/promise) to God and signed it. The promises they made were ALL based on His Law (v.29), and they were all specific, measurable, and realistic/doable. Application to my life:
- Are the goals I set and promises I make to God reflective of His Word and will? I try to make them be.
- Are they specific and measurable? I need to be more specific and not just “as He wills” although submission is important. A
- re they realistic and doable? Yes, the generally are, especially if I faithfully follow through with them.
- Do I follow through on my promises, ie sign my name, make it official/legal or do I just make them and move on? This is certainly an area that could use some improvement. Accountability to key here. Sharing my goals with others and staying true to my word is something I’m working on and have grown.
Nehemiah 11 – This is a long list of hard-to-pronounce names that seems irrelevant to me/us today. But hidden in this list are specific jobs that the people were called to perform. Application to today: God has ordained for us (me) to be at a specific place at a specific time for a specific purpose within the local and universal church in order for His will to be done and the church to thrive. What is your role? What is my role? My role is to grow in Him, point others to Him, and to glorify Him in ALL that I do. Right now, that role includes serving as pianist and assisting my husband in his ministries as deacon and youth leader. I need to encourage other moms and other women (younger and older) to strive to grow in God and live out His Word in our daily lives and activities.
Nehemiah 12 – The Levites were divided into groups to praise God at the dedication of the wall. Verse 43 jumped out to me. The people could offer sacrifices and rejoice ONLY BECAUSE God had given them the joy. And their joy was heard “from afar”. Wow!! This has great application for today! We can offer God sacrifices (not blood sacrifices like in the Old Testament, but sacrifices nonetheless) and praise Him because ONLY HE has given us the JOY (redemption/restoration from chapter 8). It’s nothing WE can “muster up” on our own. Can others hear my joy “from afar”? How far does it reach? I’m learning that as I continue to share my story via social media and my blog, others are saying “me too”. But I’m also learning that as I share my story and His joy with those in my every day life, I can inspire them who then inspire others and so on, and that means other people can hear echoes of my joy, HIS joy. AMAZING!!!
Nehemiah 13 – Nehemiah had gone back to Babylon and then returned to Jerusalem and saw how the people had quickly regressed and were sinning against God in various ways. He was bold and confronted them, reminding them of God’s laws and consequences. Application:
- Do I confront people (Christians) when I see them walking in sin? Yes, I try to. When I do this I need to have more compassion. I also need to be bold and confront those (with grace) who I may not be “best friends” with…others within the church who may need prodding to do better. I hope others do the same for me, but regardless of others’ actions/inactions, I need to do better at this.
- Just like Nehemiah reminded the people of the laws like tithes, Sabbath, and marriage, these are still things we need to take seriously today. Do I take them seriously? How can I do better? How can I encourage others to do better? I do take them seriously. Having an accountability system is great for knowing where I stand and how I can do better. I can encourage others by praying for them and living this out in my daily life…being a real life example.
Reading through the book of Nehemiah while looking for daily real-life applications has helped me tremendously. I have learned that:
- I don’t have to have a theology background to do work for God because He uses ordinary people to carry out extraordinary missions (chapter 1).
- I have to be brave, ask for specific requests, and have the courage to follow through regardless of what my enemies OR PEERS may think, knowing that God will give me success when I’m following Him (chapter 2).
- I want to work zealously for whatever God has called me to do TODAY, not letting anything stop me (chapter 3).
- I’m going to live my life so that outsiders will want to stop me because of the visible success and I’m going to rely on God through prayer and have the right attitude to work with others to carry out His will (chapter 4).
- I will show my fear of the Lord by confronting people with love about their sin while I continue to work hard and be generous with what He’s giving to me (chapter 5).
- When people look at “my work”, I want them to recognize God’s role (chapter 6).
- Being known as being faithful and a God-fearing woman is more important than any THING I could accomplish (chapter 7).
- I am going to take God’s Word seriously and rely on His redemption for my joy and strength (chapter 8).
- I am living my life with more focus on His faithfulness and compassion (chapter 9) while I follow through on the goals I have set through prayer (chapter 10).
- I will obey God by serving Him where I am, the time I’m here, and the purpose He has set for me (chapter 11).
- I will make worshipping God my full-time job (chapter 12) and be bold when I observe others sinning, knowing that through God’s grace they can be restored and “do better” and I will accept this correction myself.
I’m not sure if my study of Nehemiah has impacted you, my dear reader, or if you’ve even made it this far in this blog post. But I plan on continuing to share what God has taught me through His Word as I grow deeper in Him in 2019. I pray that God will continue to use my thoughts on His Word to positively impact your life and challenge you to worship Him by living for Him while applying His Word in your everyday life. Please keep in mind that each person reads and applies God’s Word in an individual way. These thoughts are simply MY thoughts…as simple, untrained woman who is striving to know God deeper. If you disagree with me, GREAT!! Read the Word for yourself, study it, talk with others, and do what you feel is best. But be sure to be IN HIS WORD daily!
Now…on to Esther!!!