Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
- Start your day with God
- Renew your spirit
- Refocus your faith
Now the Show is Available in Podcast
If you like to listen to your favourite show at your own time and the place that suits you best, then podcasts are for you, just download episodes or listen online via your smartphone, PC, laptop or tablet. Moreover, by subscribing you will receive a notification every time a new episode is available, so you never miss a thing.
Listen via Podcast
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked. I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall.”
Everything seemed to have been going so well. Not only did King Artaxerxes give Nehemiah the leave that he requested but supplied him with wood for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Nehemiah had then made the 1000-mile journey to the city and inspected the broken walls and found it just as he had been told. He called the people together and challenged them to rebuild the walls and they were eager to start. Surely everything would now flow beautifully – but no! Even before the building work started the opposition got going. The builders were mocked and ridiculed and had to face the dangerous allegation that their work would be an act of rebellion against the King.
'And the king granted these requests, because the gracious hand of God was on me.'
Nehemiah’s appearance before King Artaxerxes went incredibly well. Not only did the King grant him all the leave that he wanted, but he gave Nehemiah letters to the governors of Trans- Euphrates to ensure his safe travel, together with access to the royal forest for wood to help with the reconstruction of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s response was that this happened because the gracious hand of God was on him. When things go well in our lives it is so important that we immediately turn to God in praise. If we have succeeded in sport we need to praise God for the gift of our bodies and the strength he has given us. If we have done well in our studies or business then we need to praise God for the skills and abilities that he has graciously given us which have made the success possible. If our families are healthy and doing well then we need to praise God for the way in which he graciously gave them to us in the first place. Every day provides us with reasons to praise God.
The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
This was a terrifying moment. King Artaxerxes noticed that Nehemiah was looking sad. He could tell that there was something troubling his wine taster but Nehemiah had to be very careful what he said. The King was extremely powerful and if he didn’t like the answer it could have been the end for Nehemiah. We then read that Nehemiah prayed. It must have been a quick one, indeed it is often described as an arrow prayer. In the previous chapter we saw Nehemiah praying at great length but now time is of the essence and he can only offer up the briefest prayer to God.
“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honouring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favourable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
Nehemiah is on the verge of taking the boldest step of his life. He is going to ask King Artaxerxes, the mighty ruler of Persia, a question which might well land him in a lot of trouble. It could so very easily go wrong. In view of this, he brings his majestic and humble prayer to an end by making the bold request that God should grant him success.
'I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.'
My car has gone in for a service today. A few minutes ago, I received a video on my phone from the garage in which I saw a mechanic giving me a guided tour of the underside of the vehicle pointing out all of its imperfections and indicating the work that would be needed over the coming months. Whether I liked it or not, I needed to know the facts and face up to them. In a sense that’s what happens when we come into the presence of a holy God. The truth about our lives is suddenly revealed. The fact is that we are sinners and we live in a community that is sinful. Nehemiah knew that he had to be absolutely honest with God.
“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer!”
These words give us a wonderful insight into Nehemiah’s understanding of God. Everything that follows in this book flows out of these few words. Nehemiah’s courageous actions were the result of the way he understood God, and the truth is that it’s the same for us. Our understanding of God (or to use the technical term - theology) will shape the way in which we speak and act.
'When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.'
Not surprisingly many people have a special affection for the book of Nehemiah. It offers us an engaging first- hand account of a man of huge courage and faith. Here we meet Nehemiah in Persia which was about 1000 miles away from Jerusalem, his ancestral home. Many years before Jerusalem had been attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, and much of the population had been taken off into exile. That must be as humiliating a punishment as could be imagined but for the Jews, for whom the land was a gift of God, it was an excruciating penalty. The people longed to return to their homeland and were eager for any snippet of news. On this particular day Nehemiah had heard the latest and it is a story of unrelieved misery. Although many of the exiles had returned to Jerusalem they were in great trouble and disgrace and the walls of the city were broken and the gates burned with fire. For Nehemiah there was no way in which the news could have been worse and he responded with tears and prayer.
'And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.'
Generosity is a beautiful thing. I had the blessing of a very generous aunt. She never married and was a devoted follower of Jesus. She was generous with her time especially to neighbours who were in need. Although she held a very senior executive role she was always happy to do the most menial jobs and would think nothing of it. She died whilst taking a neighbour to hospital and that seemed to sum up her life. She was always very generous with her money and was always looking for creative ways of helping people and planted firmly in my teenage mind the blessing of being generous.
'I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.'
Advertising is a major influence in the modern world. Its deliberate intention is to stir up discontent. We are continually urged to buy newer, trendier, brighter, faster and more efficient products. Being consistently pounded with these messages it can be difficult to live contentedly but that must surely be the most desirable life of all. To live with contentment is to live a life without strain and stress because things are fine the way they are and don’t need to change. Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said, “He who doesn’t find a little enough, will find nothing enough.” There is wisdom in this quotation but Paul wouldn’t have agreed with it. His contentment didn’t flow from a particular philosophical understanding of life but from his relationship with Christ. Because he was completely secure in his faith it didn’t matter what his personal circumstances were.
'And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.'
Never in history have those words been more important than right now. When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 no-one could have foreseen the way in which it would completely transform the way in which we access information. Our mobile phones are the gateway to a world of information and that has incalculable benefits. But the downside is undeniable. It has never been easier to view destructive and depraved information which is able to ruin lives. In such a situation we desperately need to hear Paul’s words. We need to become fixated on those things that are excellent and worthy of praise.