How are you doing so far?
This next chapter is meaningful to me because I have a passion to help the poor and needy. I am in the city where people can live in astronomically expensive penthouse high rise towers and still over 54,000 people sleep in the city run shelters.
Chapter 5: Nehemiah Helps the Poor
The people here are coming to Nehemiah that they are in need of food and their family members are being used to work the fields. They see him as their leader and are looking for help.
“When I hear their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.” (v7)
The injustice breaks Nehemiah’s heart. I am so happy that he is a leader with a compassionate heart! He scolds the nobles and officials for their actions. “They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.” (v8) “So I continued, ‘What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?’” (v9)Would you call others out for treating people unfairly? Will you join with organizations that help the needy?
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)How are you answering His call to help those less fortunate?
“I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.” (v18)
Nehemiah gave up what was his for the benefit of others. It makes me think… am I just taking everything that is supposed to be mine. I worked for it. I am building this wall. I deserve this. God also calls us to help those in need, even if it means it hurts us a little bit. Maybe I can’t go out to dinner as much, but for me: I would rather eat at home one more time a month and be able to support organizations such as Compassion! Maybe it’s that you make your morning coffee at home instead of getting it on the way to work and that money can be used for good. I don’t know. What are your ideas?
This next chapter has one of my favorite verses in it!
As with any good work, Nehemiah encounters even more opposition.
People come over to distract him. I just love, love, love his response “‘so I sent messengers to them with this reply: ‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave and go down to you?’” (v3)
He refuses to be distracted from the work that God has put on his heart. He is being called away to a village to meet these enemies, and he will not stop working.
What is your good work right now? It could be as simple as making reading The Word a priority! You want to carve out “you and God” time daily. The enemy will try to distract you from doing it by telling you that you are too tired, too busy, you have more important things to do. Your good work could be being a stay at home mom fighting the enemy of exhaustion and frustration. It could be like me at work fighting the enemy of stress. In high stress environments, it is hard to remember what our purpose really is: to love others as we love ourselves. In school, it can be easy to say, oh I will study later, that project can wait. We need to be like Nehemiah “But I prayed ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” (v9) This is your work that God is having you perform for Him right now!
“When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” (v16)
“The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven” (Deuteronomy 28:7)
What is calling you away from your good work? When distraction comes, respond with: “I am doing a good work and I cannot come down!”