"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 10, 2012
Prior to the book of Nehemiah, the Jews had been taken captive from Jerusalem. Nehemiah opens with questioning some men about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and about Jerusalem. They answered, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
When Nehemiah heard this report, he sat down and wept. Not only did he feel the immediate sorrow of the news, but for the next several days he mourned and fasted and prayed.
Nehemiah was in a prestigious position as cupbearer to the king. I'm sure he lived in comfort and had all his needs met. He had direct contact with the king, and the king knew who he was. Yet Nehemiah was willing to risk his position, and possibly his own life, to take an extended leave of absence and go help the people of Jerusalem rebuild the city wall and repair the gates.
Nehemiah had never been sad in the presence of the king prior to this, and the king noticed his downcast countenance and questioned what was going on. "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."
Although he was afraid, Nehemiah said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"
When the king asked what he wanted, Nehemiah asked permission to be sent to Jerusalem to rebuild it. The king asked how long he would be gone, then granted permission for Nehemiah to go.
It's one thing to repair or clean up something that belongs to you or something that affects you personally, but it's something altogether different to get involved when it's for the benefit of someone else. We may pitch in and be gung-ho for a short time, but then it's easy to loose our enthusiasm for the project; especially if we don't think we are being properly appreciated for our efforts or it ends up taking up more of our time than we thought it would.
The Jews were not the ones who had broken down the wall or burned the gates. It was done by the enemy, when they came and took the Jewish people into captivity. The enemy had no respect for Jerusalem and had done much damage.
The attitude of the Jewish people and Nehemiah could have been, "We're not the ones who did all this damage, therefore, we shouldn't be responsible for the cost of repairs. We shouldn't have to do all the work ourselves and spend our time and effort in doing all this rebuilding." Yet if they were unwilling to do the work, then it would never have gotten done, because no one else cared.
I'm sure the people were weary from being exiled. It had to have been heartbreaking to return to their beloved city and find it burned and destroyed. Most had likely lost their homes and all their possessions. They had to start from scratch. The last thing most of them probably wanted to do was start working on a huge project like rebuilding the wall and repairing the gates. I'm sure when they finally returned from being exiled and returned to their homeland, they felt hopeless when they saw all the destruction. When they saw the huge mess their first thought may have been, "Where do we even begin? There's too much work to be done!" They may have even felt like God had rejected them and forgotten about them.
But God spoke to Nehemiah's heart and sent him back to Jerusalem to encourage the people and oversee the work that needed to be done. They needed the walls and gates rebuilt to protect their city. They needed someone who could come in and give them the support and direction that they needed.
Nehemiah came in and divided the people into groups and made each group responsible for a particular gate or section of wall. By working together, they got the job completed.
They had those who spoke negatively against them, and had to be on guard for the enemy, and had those who tried to stop their progress, yet by joining together and being in one accord they overcame all obstacles and were successful.
Sometimes God may require us to get involved in a situation that looks impossibly difficult, or to help someone who has lost hope and is doing nothing because they feel overwhelmed, or to stand strong with a group in order to accomplish a particular job. At times we may feel like saying, "But God, this isn't my problem! I didn't have anything to do with this situation, and shouldn't have to get involved to fix it." We may try to find excuses why we can't participate. "I'm too old," or "I just don't have the extra time," or "I've tried to help before, and no one appreciated my efforts," or "No one ever helps me when I need something done," etc.
When God prompts us to get involved, He's not really interested in our excuses and arguments. He knows our schedules, age, health, personal situations, and whatever else is hindering us from committing ourselves to obeying Him. But God also knows our strengths and won't ask us to do something that we are incapable of doing.
Nehemiah could have felt sorrow over the condition of Jerusalem and the Jewish people and cried a few tears over their situation; yet made excuses why he couldn't leave his current position and go help. Instead, he risked a lot by asking permission of the king to take a leave of absence from his position of cupbearer and travel to Jerusalem. But he was more willing to take that risk and obey God, than to remain in comfort and live in disobedience and the guilt of knowing that he could have been of great help yet chose not to.
Is God prompting you to get involved in something, and you are hesitant in obeying? You are never going to fully have peace until you surrender your will to His and submit.
I have several jobs going on right now at work. One is about 5 years old. It was supposed to be about 5 months. It just keeps dragging on and on, apparently without end. Another job is just a few weeks old. It's hardly even designed yet. You can probably guess which one I prefer to work on. It's so much easier to work on a project that's just getting started. There are hundreds of tasks (it's probably an 8 month project) that I can work on. Most of them are interesting and exciting.
Nehemiah didn't just start the rebuilding project. He saw it to the end. And that wouldn't have been an easy job. After almost a year of working, all the little details still had to be finished, not just 'good enough'. A strong wall doesn't do much good if the door isn't hung securely. From projects I've worked on, I can just picture the doors just propped up to look about done, but not secured. After a month of moving them out of the way each morning, then propping them up each evening, they might just get left off to the side all the time. I can also picture that one guy who doesn't really want to be there, who doesn't want to go all the way to the river to get another bucket of water for the mortar, so just puts his section of the wall together with weak mortar.
They had a little advantage. They could see all the work they'd done, and see where they were going with it. I don't know if they had blueprints, but they had all surely seen well built walls and gates, so had a fair idea what to expect.
We can look at our lives as our Jerusalem Wall. We work to follow God's will. We usually need to work with others to share the load. We don't always get to see the blueprint, though. That doesn't make our work any less important.
Fall has arrived, which puts me in the mood for cold weather meals, as well as other foods that we connect with autumn: soups, chili, apples, pumpkin, etc. If you have a favorite fall recipe that you would like to share with our readers, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy trying new recipes and would love to hear from you.
Mr. Bud Candy
(This recipe was submitted by one of our readers. Thanks so much!!)
1 (16 oz.) jar dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 (16 oz.) jar dry roasted salted peanuts
1 (12 oz.) pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (4 oz.) bar sweetened German chocolate (green packaging), broken into pieces
3 lbs. (two 24-oz. Pkgs.) white almond bark, broken into pieces
(There are several brands. Manufacturers have lowered the ounces in some packaging, so use the equivalent of 3 pounds. Some packages of almond bark may have candy coating written on the package.)
Put the ingredients into a 4 or 5 quart crockpot in EXACT order as listed. Cover and cook on lowest setting for 3 hours. Do NOT remove lid during this cooking time! Turn off and allow to cool slightly. Mixture will not be melted but will be soft. Mix thoroughly and drop onto wax paper by teaspoonful or use a teaspoon size cookie dropper. Makes approximately 150-170 pieces, depending on how large you make the pieces.
NOTE: This candy is best when you follow the recipe exactly and don't make alterations to the ingredients. Make other variations and changes at your own risk (for example, using pecans or almonds instead of peanuts; or white chocolate chips instead of the almond bark). This is the voice of experience speaking! Please take into consideration that it may alter the quality of the finished product. Also, there seems to be discrepancies in the terms crockpot and slow cooker: This recipe is for a crockpot which, on low, will only melt the ingredients. A slow cooker will get hotter and start to cook the ingredients, resulting in an inferior product.
Enjoy! This recipe is great for gift baskets and the holidays.
When Jax and Devin got together, they had both gotten into a really bad habit of constantly (and I do mean CONSTANTLY) saying, "Oh, no way!" Although Devin is deaf, that is one phrase he can vocalize that you can clearly understand. Not that these are bad words, but they both were saying this every two seconds, over and over and over again.... and it got really annoying!! I cannot even express just how annoying this was to the family members who had to consistently hear it. So they were both told that they were no longer allowed to say this, and would get reprimanded should a family adult member overhear them.
Just this week, I have begun babysitting Jax on Mondays. He was telling me some big whopper of a story and without thinking I said, "Oh no way, Jax!" He answered, "Don't say that, Retta! That's dangerous!!" Oops! I'm sure he does think those are dangerous words because he has gotten into trouble many times for repetitively saying them. I apologized and he said, "Devin says it too much, so we can't say that anymore." Nothing like laying the blame on the one who wasn't here!
Family is not about blood.
It's about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it most. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon