Something struck out to me as I re-read Chapter 5.
Chapter 5 is about Nehemiah trying to help the poor. Long story short, Nehemiah calls a meeting to accuse the nobles and officials because they were exacting usury from their own countrymen. Fortunately the meeting is successful and an agreement to stop the usury is reached. Nehemiah later says that he was appointed to be governor in the Land of Judah but neither he nor his brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. He says, however, the earlier governors who preceded him had placed a heavy burden on the people and took pieces of silver from them as well as their daily food and wine. The former governors' assistants had also taken advantage of the people, but out of reverence of God, Nehemiah did not act like that.
What stood out to me were verses 15-16, which said, "But the earlier governors – those proceeding me – placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from [the Jews ]and in addition to food and wine. Their assignments also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence of God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work of this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land" (Emphasis mine).
Nehemiah chose not to do the things that were around him.
Fam, at times we will be faced with challenges were it seems like EVERYONE is doing "it" ("it" meaning, anything like usury, debauchery, malice, drinking, clubbing, etc.)
But we won't have to do it because we are different.
We're Christ's :)
It reminded me of Daniel 3, where King Nebuchadnezzar made a ninety-feet-tall image of gold, and summoned all the people to bow down to it when they heard a sound (Daniel 3:5). The people bowed, but Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose not to bow down with the others because they feared God.
At times, we will be faced with an opportunity were EVERYONE (or it seems like everyone, or it just might be everyone in your group or city) is going clubbing or doing whatever, but you won't be going clubbing, because you'll be choosing to be faithful to God.
Of course it's hard to see "a lot people doing these things", and as cliché as it may sound, it's not easy, but it will be worth it.
I remember when I first got Saved (when I first became a Christian), I was still clubbing until God asked me to surrender that part of my life to Him. I had made so many friends from all this going out, but my Abba said to me one night, "Tawana, you have one foot and hand in the world, and the other hand and foot on Me."
I was stuck and didn't know what to say. I even spoke to someone about this, asked them for prayer about what God was asking me to do (I'll explain later why it really wasn't about clubbing, and why I took it to wise counsel for prayer ;-)
God was faithful and reminded me a few times before I surrendered and wanted Him instead of this "stuff!"
You see, what was underneath was more of a fear of "is He going to catch me when I let go of these things?" I didn't know what to expect and that's where the fear came from.
God wanted me to know that I could FULLY trust Him, and that I had to unfold my tightly gripped fingers, and hold onto Him instead. And surely He was faithful, and most of all, He caught me.
As I surrendered to Him, the journey of going deeper in the Bible began.
As I started spending time with God, I'd go back to my room after class and read and study the Bible. The Lord was faithful to me through it all because He would speak to me as I read His Word. I started off using a Bible plan on YouVersion, which was great because it had a nice commentary to accompany the study, and as a new Christian I really really needed that! :)
Even though it seemed like "everyone" else was out "having a good time" with these things, He wanted to tell me that He loved me and that I didn't need all these types of things. With His faithfulness, spending time with Him was priceless compared to the things I had oh so "missed out on." Did temptations come? Of course! But we keep going regardless of every fiery dart that comes our way.
Even though people around me were still clubbing, I didn't do that because I wanted to honor God.
He wanted me to honor Him with my life so that He could honor me. He wanted me to be His.
Now, I won't sit here and say it was so easy and perfect and la la la...it wasn't, but it was worth it.
I did lose "friends", but really, as the quotation marks express, were they really friends if they weren't excited to see me read the Bible or stop the things that drew me away from God? True friends stayed as I grew deeper in the Lord, and new ones came along as well.
Whatever we give up on for the sake of Christ, Our Greatest Friend replaces with even greater.
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." -Matthew 19:26
My point is this: Serving God is going to come with costs.
Losing others will come as well, but that's because God created us to be holy and consecrated for His use, not Holy and "available for all extra things around us". For His use, because we are His.
It may sound like: "wow, I will be restricted from xyz" etc, but I pray for grace and revelation for us to always look at it this way:
1. We're human, so we will have random moments of "oh...If only I were doing xyz or going to xyz", or moments of "this is hard work!" So I pray for grace to take us by storm when these moments come.
2. To always remember that we are not doing this alone. Jesus promised that
He would ask the Father, and He would give us another Advocate, who will never leave us - John 14:16.
And that when the Father sends the Advocate as Jesus' representative--that is, the Holy Spirit--We will be taught everything, and will be reminded of everything Jesus has told us. - John 14:26.
So we're not alone in this.
3. Remember whose you are and who your Daddy is.
He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lord, the Great Redeemer, Provider, El-Shaddai....and if He is all these things, as a daughter or son, we become heirs, princesses, princes, a royal priesthood and so forth!
Side Note: This just reminds me of Proverbs 31 where King Lamuel's mother tells him that it is not for kings to drink wine and rulers to crave beer because they might drink and forget what the law says. She wanted to say that because he was of king value, and didn't need to be involved in things that could potentially bring his value down! When one is a king (small k), they don't have to do these things, because they are precious and would now have a different focus in life. That's why King Lemuel's mother is saying: "give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more" (Proverbs 31:6). Her advice to her son was, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy" (verse 8-9): Now this was King Lamuel's royal duty, not the former.
We, as royal priesthoods, should also seek the best, and to "do the best" in terms of being empowered by Our Abba, Your Daddy, who is in Heaven, who Has said that "everything is yours."
Fam, remember this: It may not be easy for us in our own strength, but it's easy for God. He wants to see us holy, consecrated, and set aside, all for His glory! RememberHe loves you very much <3
Always In Jesus Name,
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