Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 14 - A Life of Obedience

Nehemiah 8

The last several chapters of Nehemiah seem to be a spiritual building for Israel. Now that the physical and emotional need for security was met with the rebuilding of the wall, it was time to focus on a spiritual rebuilding. After years of captivity, the Jews were unfamiliar with the law, and Nehemiah knew that knowledge of the law would bring a spiritual reformation for the nation of Israel. Nehemiah chose to use the Feast of the Tabernacle as the time to have Ezra read the law. The purpose for the Feast of the Tabernacle was to affirm Israel’s commitment to God and to recognize God as their source of guidance and security. It reflected on Israel’s time of wandering in the desert. It probably seemed a fitting time to gather the people to listen to a reading of the law. It was a moving experience for the people as they heard the law, probably the first time for most, and they cried as they learned how far they had strayed from obedience. Nehemiah, Ezra, and the priests instructed the people to celebrate and share with others rather than cry because it was a holy day.

Have you ever had a period in your life when your commitment to God hit a plateau or a decline? I have, and when I look back at those times, it always coincides with a failure to be in the Word and spending time with God. I don’t know why I let my walk slip at times, but I think it starts with small moments of disobedience rather than a giant leap in the wrong direction. There have been times that I skip my Bible study so I can finish a novel. There is nothing wrong with reading a novel, but it doesn’t need to become a priority over spending time with God.

As I read through chapter 8, I saw a clue into one of the first steps of disobedience for Israel. The exiles who returned celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles by building booths and living in them for the duration of the festival. This was commanded by God through Moses. In verse 17 we read, “The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was great.” Who is Joshua son of Nun? He is the same Joshua that crossed the Jordan and led the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho. If I am reading this correctly, that means that the Israelites had not been celebrating the feast the way God had directed them almost since they settled in Israel. It doesn’t seem like a major deal, but it was a small act of disobedience. One small act of disobedience can lead to another until you find yourself a far way from where God wants you to be.

Does your spiritual life need a new commitment? Is there a small area you have been disobedient to God? If your life is vibrant and growing, where do you need to watch your step to avoid a plateau?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 13 - Genealogy

Nehemiah 7 : 4 – 73

Sometimes chapters like chapter 7 can seem pointless to read; they are full of names that are difficult to pronounce and full of people that are never mentioned other than in the genealogy. Some genealogies such as David’s or Jesus’ is easy to understand why it is listed, but why is genealogy important? I’ve thought about what God would possibly want me to reflect on as I read through this chapter. The commentary in my Bible mentioned that this genealogy was particularly important because the Jews were returning from their exile. Showing that they were indeed a descendant of Abraham was important to prove that they were Jews, thus they were part of God’s people.

That really got me thinking about my spiritual genealogy. You see, the Bible assures of us of our genealogy. Thanks to Christ’s sacrifice, we do not need to rely on man’s record of our human genealogy to prove our place in God’s kingdom! Paul writes about this in several spots: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6. “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith…” Galatians 3: 6 – 8. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3 : 26 – 29.

Jesus’ death on the cross was for everyone! The Bible tells us that if we believe, His sacrifice has wiped us clean and we take part in God’s family. There is no need for a written record here on Earth to assure us of our inheritance, it is ours through faith. I cannot emphasize how incredible this is! These exiles needed their genealogy to prove they were Jews, otherwise they were considered unclean. We have an assurance that no man can take away: We are adopted into God’s family, no matter where we came from. Wow! Have you put your faith in Christ? Do you believe that He is the only way to salvation? If so, you are a part of God’s family.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 12 - Keeping Up The Defenses

Nehemiah 6: 15 – 7: 3

There is a road project near our house that started in May, and it is currently still in progress with a few more months to go. I thought about that project as I read about the building of the wall of Jerusalem. They rebuilt the wall in 52 days! I don’t know about you, but to me that is a testimony of God’s work. Verse 16 tells us, “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.” When God’s hand is in a building project, you know it! Whether it is rebuilding a life, family, church, or community; if God’s hand is in it, it will be hard to deny supernatural involvement. It just will not make sense! It is like God puts a stamp on the job that says, “God Was (and is) Here.”

In chapter 7:2, we read that Nehemiah appointed a leader with integrity and a healthy respect for God. In verse 3, we read that he set up rules of when the gates could be open and set up guards throughout the city. Nehemiah was not letting down his defenses just because the wall was done. He was setting up safeguards to keep the city protected in case someone got through their defenses. Isn’t that a very human temptation to finish a job and sit and relax? Nehemiah still did not relax; he continued to work on the city’s defenses.

What are our defenses? Let’s go back and look at the armor of God in Ephesians 6 : 10 – 18. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We need to be rooted in truth and faith, living a life that pleases God, stand firm in the peace that God gives, know that our salvation comes from Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and BE IN THE WORD. Nehemiah shows us in this section that even when the job is done, it is still our job to maintain the defenses.

Are you keeping up your defenses?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 11 - Temptations

Nehemiah 6 : 10 – 14

In this section, we see one last attempt by Tobiah and Sanballat to scheme against Nehemiah. They paid someone to give a false prophecy about Nehemiah; they told him that someone was going to kill him. They then encouraged Nehemiah to break the law by hiding in the temple and shut the doors. Only priests were allowed to enter the temple. Nehemiah recognized that this was not in line with what God would tell him and told him that he would not run away into the temple. He was able to recognize that they were trying to make him sin so they could discredit him.

Temptation is a classic scheme of the enemy. Every one of us is exposed to temptations every day. I know have stressed this point several times, but if we are not digging in God’s Word on a regular basis, we will not have the eyes to recognize when temptation is there. Nehemiah understood the difference between what man says and what God says. The best way to understand the difference is to read what God says. If it is not in line with the Bible, it is not what God wants for you!

Leaders are under constant scrutiny, and there are those that would wait until a leader messes up to “expose” them. If a leader falters, those under them can lose motivation or courage to finish the job God gave them. If you are in a position of leadership, do you have people lifting you up in prayer so that you are able to withstand temptation? If you are under someone’s leadership, are you lifting that person up in prayer?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 10 - What I Have Learned So Far

God has really spoken to me through this study of Nehemiah. I am really amazed at what I have been learning and what God is showing I need to change in my personal life. One of the main themes that continues to come back to me is the importance of putting a greater emphasis of prayer and time spent with God. Over the last year, I have noticed that my Bible study, prayer life, and time alone with God have been slipping severely. I have also noticed how much that has affected everything around me. If I don’t build my spiritual walls up, many fears, distractions, and annoyances come in and keep me from accomplishing the task that God has set before me. Those issues would have all still been there, but they would not have created the road blocks that I allowed them to create. I don’t want to just have good ideas and intentions, I want to complete the tasks set before me.

What do I need to do? I need to recognize the spiritual giftings that have been given to me and ask how God wants to use me. I need to use the resources that God has placed before me such as supporting and praying friends to keep me accountable and motivated. I need to spend serious time with God and LISTEN. I need to be prepared for the unexpected by spending time in the Word and praying.

I told one of my dear friends and prayer partners that God was taking me on this journey for something so much more than praying for my family. I knew that my family needed prayer; however, I also knew that God had some lessons to teach me and remind me. He is so patient! As I have struggled throughout this process to spend adequate time with Him, He has brought friends my way to call or e-mail me and encourage me. Even today, as I have struggled with motivation, He had a friend ask me how I was doing on this task. Thank you dear friends as you have prayed with me and for me through this process. I know that I am not done with Nehemiah, but I needed to reflect on where God has taken me so far.

Things I Learned So Far:
· Rebuilding ancient ruins takes more than one person – it requires cooperation
· Building requires preparation and planning
· Building requires motivation
· We need to be prepared for the unexpected
· To finish the job, we need to focus on God rather than fear and intimidation

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 9 - Fear and Intimidation

Nehemiah 6: 1 – 9

Have you ever heard the expression, “frozen with fear?” Have you ever lived that expression? I can look in my past and see times where I accomplished absolutely nothing as a direct result of fear. Fear turned into inactivity. I have seen ministries remain stagnate because of a fear of how people may react; so the leaders don’t do anything. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Basically, if we focus on our fears rather than God, we will fall into a trap…possibly a trap of doing nothing. Nothing doesn’t sound so bad, except that God always requires action from us.

In Nehemiah 6, we see that Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem tried a new approach with Nehemiah. They tried to lure him away from the building project so they could harm him. Nehemiah saw through their scheming and continued to send the message back to them saying he was too busy. In verses 6 and 7, we see that they made up some lies to throw fear into Nehemiah. In fact, verse 9 says, “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’” They were trying to use fear and intimidation to make Nehemiah unable to work.

What was Nehemiah’s response? He prayed for strength! I do find it interesting that at this moment, his prayer wasn’t that God would take care of his enemies; it was for strength to complete the project. Sometimes fear can make us lose focus on what God is calling us to do, and we instead focus on our obstacles and fears. I don’t think it is wrong to ask God to remove the obstacles, but I think Nehemiah set a wonderful example of praying for strength to complete the job set before him. Fear can sap our strength, and we need to ask God to provide us the strength we need when we are in fearful situations.

Are you loosing strength in response to fear? Have you called upon God to provide the strength needed to complete a project?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 8 - Generosity

Nehemiah 5

I read through this chapter with tremendous conviction. Even with the worst recession our country has seen in decades, we are still an incredibly rich country. I have been seeing reports on the news how some credit card companies are raising their interest rates to 30% across the board, even for customers that have been faithful in their payment plan. Now those people will be struggling even more to make ends meet. That is wrong. This morning I heard a report that estimates one in four children in America will not be receiving enough food this year. That is a staggering statistic. It is also wrong. There are people starving worldwide due to corrupt government, war, or famine; yet there is enough food to feed every person in the world. That is wrong.

Nehemiah saw a problem in Jerusalem; those with wealth took advantage of those who were poor. They provided them grain to survive, but charged heavy interest and made them sell their daughters into slavery and mortgage their fields. Nehemiah couldn’t understand how fellow countrymen could take advantage of those who were less fortunate. Nehemiah lent out grain, but didn’t charge for it. Nehemiah did not use his privilege to eat better than those around him, but invited fellow Jews to eat at his table. He worked on the wall without gaining anything.

There are a lot of people in need. I am convicted even as I ask the question: what am I doing to help those around me? What do I refuse to acknowledge that needs to have someone take action? I am one person, but what if I donated food to a food bank along with thousands of other persons? Have I been vocal about injustices around me? Will I allow God to open my eyes to the people around me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 7 - Opposition

Nehemiah 4 : 6 – 23
Ephesians 6 : 10 - 18

Sanballat, Tobiah, and others were very angry with Jerusalem’s immediate success. They decided to plot against them and create more trouble. Nehemiah’s answer was to pray and set up a guard. When word came back to Nehemiah that they were going to attack even stronger than they expected, Nehemiah divided up the people to have some working on the wall and others stationed as armed guard ready to fight. I like verse 15, “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.” Once again, Nehemiah gave credit to God for their success.

Nehemiah found himself in unfamiliar territory as a foreman, cheerleader, and now an army general. Nehemiah began to follow a familiar pattern: prayer, planning, motivating. His answer to the workers is found in verse 14 was, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” We’ve all been in situations where we feel under attack, whether it is situational or spiritual. Nehemiah’s example is one we can follow – he turned to God. I cannot overemphasize the power in having a relationship with God established in prayer. It keeps us ready.

He also planned a strategy – set guards with swords around the wall. We can’t go at our enemies with real swords, but Ephesians 6 addresses the armor of God. Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We can be ready for an attack by digging into God’s word. The more familiar we are with what God is saying, the more we will see attacks that contradict God’s word. We can stand on the promises that God has given us in the Bible.

I would also like to discuss Nehemiah’s ability to motivate the people working on the wall. He encouraged them and reminded them that God was on their side. Who is your Nehemiah? Everyone needs a friend, spouse, or accountability partner that will provide motivation when under an attack. It is hard to be self motivated, and God never intended on us doing a job alone, as we have seen earlier in Nehemiah. If you do not have someone you are accountable to, I would encourage you to take action and find that person! Having someone share my burdens, praying for me, and holding me accountable has made a tremendous difference in my spiritual growth.

Are you allowing your relationship with God to frustrate attacks of opposition? Are you using the armor and defending yourself with the Sword of the Spirit? Are you turning to friends that can help motivate you in difficult situations?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 6 - Lies

Nehemiah 4 : 1 - 5 – Lies

When my husband was in his sophomore year at music school, he took a required music history course taught by a visiting instructor. This class was a requirement to be accepted into the school of music education. This instructor had a heavy emphasis on medieval music and required the students to listen to 100 pieces of Gregorian chant and other medieval music for the final exam. This exam was a “drop the needle” exam, meaning that the professor would play a small segment of a piece of music out of the selected 100 pieces of music and the students were required to name the piece and composer. He failed the final exam, and was told by the school of music education that he would never make it as a band teacher. He didn’t accept this news as truth and transferred to another school of music, where he graduated with honors. As a music educator, his bands succeeded and received top ratings at district and state music festivals. He also had large numbers of children excited to begin band. If he would have listened to the opinion of others, he would have missed out on an incredible experience and joy to teach students to play instruments.

The Israelites faced tremendous opposition. We don’t know why Sanballat and Tobiah were so upset, but some scholars think it was because it seemed like a threat to have the city of Jerusalem protected. They were facing ridicule and being told that they were building a weak wall (verses 1 – 3). The enemy often tries to attack us with lies that seem true. I think of times in ministry when God was doing incredible things, but the people in the ministry were being bombarded with lies. Lies can destroy a ministry if we do not let God take control. We see in verse 4 that Nehemiah’s reaction was to turn to God and pray.

In chapter 2:20, Nehemiah replied to his enemies, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” The enemy would like to convince us that he has a share and claim on us, but we have been claimed by God through Jesus’ blood. I don’t care what mistakes you have made, or what someone has done to you, the enemy has no claim! God can rebuild whatever has been torn down. God can heal and restore any heart that has been broken. The enemy doesn’t want you to know this, so he will use lies to make you feel shame when God has already claimed victory.

What lies do you need to turn over to God? Have you spent time in prayer? Have you allowed God’s victory to be fulfilled in your life?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 5 - Cooperation

Nehemiah 3

As I am writing this blog, there is a house being built by Extreme Makeover Home Edition nearby. We have watched this show as a family; touched by the stories and amazed that the team builds a house in seven days. I’m not talking about an average sized home, these homes are often 3,000 square feet or larger. One week! When do you ever see a home built in one week? This task is not accomplished by the design team, although they are the people carrying the vision; it is not even accomplished by the builders. This task is accomplished because an entire community becomes involved and gets the job done.

Just like the homes that are featured on Extreme Makeover, the wall in our story was in disrepair and probably had to be removed in spots before it could be repaired. We saw in chapter 2 that Nehemiah had planned it out and came before the citizens of Jerusalem to share his vision for rebuilding the wall. The city was motivated and was ready to work; however in chapter 3, we see that more than just those living in the city were working on the wall. This became a national event. We see individual names listed in this chapter, but we see references that people from the surrounding regions came to help. Priests, men, sons, daughters, goldsmiths, farmers, rulers – they all helped to get the wall built. You can see how individuals or small teams built and repaired small sections of the wall. No one part of the wall was more important than the other because if one section of the wall was broken, their entire security was at risk.

I do find it interesting that it is mentioned in verse 5 that the nobles of Tekoa would not help. We are not told why, but I have to admit that I wonder if the job seemed too menial for them. That goes against what God tells us. There really is no lesser job when we are working and cooperating towards a goal. A church needs volunteers to run. Yes, the churches have pastors and other staff, but the work cannot be completed by only them. Ushers are needed to greet people at the door, instrumentalists and singers are needed to help lead worship, small group leaders are needed in children’s ministry, and I could go on. Is there a para-church organization that needs help in your community? Have you spent time praying for your family, church, and community? Imagine the possibilities if every person in your church became a small part in a bigger project. It would change the world! How are you going to change the world today?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 4 - Planning and Motivating

Nehemiah 2 : 11 - 20

If there is anyone that can teach us about careful planning, it is Nehemiah. As I read through this section of scripture, I am amazed at his planning. God gave him a vision; however, he didn’t march to Jerusalem and begin shouting out ideas to the Israelites as soon as he arrived. In fact, he did some careful observation in secret before he announced his vision.

In verse 11, we see that he stayed in Jerusalem for three days before he began his research. There is some wisdom to that. I wonder if he was getting a feel for the land and trying to observe the people in the city. After three days, we are told that Nehemiah went out at night to examine the gates and walls of Jerusalem. While the descriptions of the state of the wall do not go into detail, we are told in verse 14 that one of the gates were so destroyed that his mount could not fit through. I also noticed in verse 16 that the officials still did not know what he was doing.

Finally, in verse 17 we see Nehemiah sharing his vision. He waited until he had his evidence and shared the “disgrace” the city was in. After showing the problems with the wall, in verse 18 Nehemiah shares his personal testimony of what God had done to bring him to Jerusalem. I don’t think that is a point we should miss. Nehemiah laid out the problem, gave them a solution, and then encouraged them by reminding them that God’s hand was with them in this project. Why do you think sharing your testimony is important? It encourages fellow believers and reminds us that God does amazing things! It motivates us to get working, which is what happens at the end of verse 18 when the Israelites answer, “Let us start rebuilding.”

In verse 19, we see Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem mocking them. They even go as far as to ask them if they are trying to start a rebellion. What I find interesting is that Nehemiah does not really answer their question in verse 20. He knew he had the king’s permission, but he seemed to focus on the bigger picture and replied, “The God of heaven will give us success.” Once again, what a motivator! What could possibly be better than to remind everyone within earshot that this is God’s project, not Nehemiah’s or the king’s?

Has God given you a vision? Have you spent time in preparation and planning? If so, how can you use God’s demonstration of His power in your life to motivate those around you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 3 - Preparation

Nehemiah 2:1 - 10

How often are we in need and we do not ask? I am struck by the power in this section of scripture. If you remember from yesterday, Nehemiah had spent a lot of time before God in prayer. I think of some of my close relationships, and they are people into whom I have invested time. They are not my closest friends because I talk to them in passing; they are close to me because we have spent time with each other. I should even emphasize that it is quality time that has allowed those relationships to grow, not time at the movies. My closest friends are the people I have poured energy into. With that in mind, I cannot imagine that Nehemiah spent that much time and fasting before God without the relationship becoming more intimate. Chapter 1:4 says, “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Let me emphasize the word days – he did not pray for an hour or five minutes, he prayed for days! I also want to emphasize the culture; when the Israelites mourned, they tore their clothes and poured ashes on their heads. I think it is safe to assume that Nehemiah did nothing else but mourned, prayed, and fasted for days. I don’t know about you, but this is very convicting for me! I have not spent days praying before God. At the end of his praying, he then asked for favor before the king.

With what we are told in chapter 1, I think we can begin chapter 2 knowing that Nehemiah had an intimate relationship with God. Even then, I noticed that Nehemiah was still afraid when the king noticed that he was sad, yet he didn’t let that stop him. After the king heard what was troubling him, he asked Nehemiah what he wanted. What did Nehemiah do? Look at verse 4. He prayed again! Try to picture the scene. Nehemiah already admitted that he was afraid to tell the king why he was sad, and now the king asks what he wants. I can just hear the prayer, because I’m sure it sounded very similar to prayers I have made: Help me God…give me strength…give me the words…protect me! What happens next is amazing. Nehemiah asks for a leave of absence and the king asks for how long. Now Nehemiah is feeling empowered and asks for safe conduct and timber, and the king grants his wishes. What happened to the fear? I don’t think it disappeared, but when we have a success with God power, we begin to feel more confident in God’s power. Please don’t miss what Nehemiah says in the second half of verse 8, “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” The next thing we read is Nehemiah is on his way with his letters in hand with army officers and cavalry with him!

I would like to go back to the emergency prayer we see in verse 4. Nehemiah didn’t come before the king unprepared; he had been praying before God and developing an intimacy with God for days. The king may have caught him off guard with his questioning, but Nehemiah had spent time praying over this situation. If anything, maybe God had set up the situation for the king to ask questions rather than Nehemiah going before the king with his concerns. I would like to compare this prayer like a music performance. When preparing for a performance, a soloist will spend hours practicing fundamentals and practicing the piece of music he/she will perform. Before going out on stage, the musician will “warm-up” by running through some fundamentals and perhaps playing the piece one time through. I look at Nehemiah’s prayer in verse 4 as his warm-up; this is not a last minute prayer out of the blue. This is important! If we want to be ready and be effective, we need to spend time in prayer – practice. This preparation is important; we see in verse 10 that he has enemies unhappy with his success.

Are you spending time in preparation and growing your relationship with God?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 2 - The Importance Of Walls

Nehemiah 1

The idea of building walls is often viewed in a negative sense. One often thinks of building walls between each other so there is a lack of emotional contact and poor communication. The idea of building a wall around something can also be viewed as being confined to one place; being unable to move from the circumstance one may be experiencing. In Christian circles, we often refer to God tearing down the walls as He did for the Israelites at Jericho. It is hard to think of rebuilding a wall as a good thing.

The walls that I am referring to are the walls that were built around ancient cities as a form of protection. The bigger and stronger the walls around the city were, the better the city’s defenses were against an attack by an enemy. When I am talking rebuilding the wall as I am referring to my family, I am really referring to this type of wall. I want to see my family learn that they need to give God the authority over their reactions to the past and present. As long as the defenses are down, they are open to easy attacks by the enemy.

Nehemiah was a servant in the king of Persia’s palace. His brother and some companions came to visit and told Nehemiah about the destruction of the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah mourned the news and prayed and fasted before God. There were some points in his prayer that stuck out at me. The first was that he immediately confessed his own sin, his family’s sin, and the nation’s sin. He put himself in a place of humility. He then reminded God of a promise He had made, “But if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” Nehemiah then prayed for favor and success with the impossible.

Doesn’t God enjoy working with the impossible? The problem is, we often don’t ask for or even expect the impossible. I want to see and experience the impossible! I want to see God rebuild the ancient ruins that have been destroyed for generations. You see, the problems with my childhood didn’t start there, those generational sins where there long before I was born. It is time to see some rebuilding! My first prayer is that my family will see the need to give God the authority in our family – to be our stronghold. What are you praying over your family?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 1 - Why Nehemiah?

Before I can explain feeling God’s call to study Nehemiah, I must first explain some of my own personal history. As a child, I was sexually abused by my dad. My faith in God was strong, even as a child, which was started my personal healing. Over the years, God healed the wounds the way only He could and our relationship grew stronger. Since my earthly father did not show me what a father should be, I clung to the promise that God said in Psalms 68:5 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Through that process, I found myself praying for my dad, and by the time I was in college, I found myself dropping the burden of unforgiveness toward my dad.

My dad was an alcoholic and was emotionally abusive toward the whole family, which left us a broken family after my parents divorced. There are members in my family who do not speak to each other, which is not what God intended for the family. Being a wife of a children’s pastor, I feel a strong desire to see healthy families raising children with deep roots in God. I have ministered to children and parents alongside my husband and have prayed over my husband and children; however, God has recently shown me that I had given my own family up as a lost cause.

In Isaiah 61:3-4, God says, “…and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” I had always looked at this selection of scripture of how God has healed me and turned what was meant for my destruction and shame into beauty. I always felt that the rebuilding started with my own family - by not passing on the generational sins of my childhood family, and by raising my children to have a relationship with God. I still believe this; however, God has recently pointed out to me that I was not taking a look at a much larger picture. He asked me why I haven’t been praying for my childhood family.

With that conviction, I felt God leading me to study Nehemiah, which chronicles Nehemiah’s call for the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. I felt led to fast during this time of study and to ask for others to lift me up in prayer. I have three women praying for me and also studying Nehemiah. The following posts will be a documentation of this journey that God is leading me through.