Nehemiah

Distractions

By Karen Polich

Every one of us are rebuilders. Our lives weave in and out of rebuilding and restoration. At times the process seems to flow smoothly, then the reality of conflict sets in. Sometimes the conflict is internal, we struggle to move forward and see things through. Other times it comes from those around us; not wanting to see us succeed in restoring what has been lost. Wherever it comes from, distraction can lead to destruction if we aren’t ever mindful.

Many things that can distract us from the restoration that we set out to complete.

In reading Nehemiah 6, we learn that distractions came to Nehemiah during a critical time; the walls were complete, but the gates were not. His enemies tried to lure him away, they wanted him to be vulnerable. Nehemiah handled them with wisdom and focus, not allowing them to divert him from the goal. He realized that they were desperate.

Pastor Michael Cook gave us 4 points to remember when it comes to distractions during restoration.

  1. Your progress affects more than just you.
  2. Your derailment affects more than just you.
  3. What if God uses our spiritual growth as much for others as for ourselves?
  4. In the midst of restoration, one must discern God’s voice form the voice of the enemy.

Listen to Pastor Cook’s Restore series via podcast here.

Often fear sneaks up on us during our rebuilding efforts. Fear can hold us back from achieving the very thing we have been called to do.  It shakes us, making us question ourselves until we can become paralyzed.

Nehemiah refused to let fear devastate him. If he had given into the fear, the outcome would not have been the same. We must seek God’s discernment. The seductive voice of this world can take us away from the significance of what God has called us to accomplish.

What I choose affects more than just me. How I journey through the struggle will impact others. I can choose to listen to God, fighting to see the results of my rebuilding efforts, or I can choose to see the results of my derailment. Rebuilding something is never easy, but perseverance is always better than quitting. God is constant and near, He will walk this journey with me and my heart will rejoice each time I can stop and say, “Yes, it is restored!”

Will you ask God for the discernment to follow through and finish today?

 

Internal Destruction

By Karen Polich

Pastor Michael Cook’s Restore sermon series brings us to Nehemiah Chapter 5. (Listen to the podcast here.)

Here we learn that the fight continues, but this time it is not from an outside enemy. The conflict against restoration comes from within. The battle comes from insiders involved in the restoration. Those working on rebuilding the walls faced the challenges of having walked away from their livelihoods and all supporting elements that kept their families fed and cared for. This meant that they were in a position of having to borrow money. Interest was piling up and children were being lost to pay debts. They began to cry out with the frustration of a difficult situation.

When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are charging your own people interest!’ Nehemiah 5:6-7

Those Nehemiah accused remained silent. Isn’t that the way it goes when we are called out for our selfish ways?

There is usually little to say in return. This brings us to the question we must ask in the middle of restoring anything.

Who am I here for?                         

  1. I am here for me.
  2. I am NOT here for me.

The difference is like two hearts with no way of recognizing the beat of the other.  It brings us to the simple, yet monumental command from Mark 12:31, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

God has called us to serve Him. When we have a heart of service, we stop focusing on ourselves and are able to love others as we should. It is easy to love ourselves. It is easy to look out for our own interests, but what about putting the needs of others first? If you have a heart that beats for others, restoration will look completely different.

Nehemiah’s leadership was courageous. He challenged the officials and nobles to give it all back and made them take an oath holding them to their promise. He called them out in front of God, saying ‘In this way may God shake out of their houses and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!’ Nehemiah 5:13 He knew that accountability was necessary.

We all face difficulties and situations that need restoration. The first step is asking God to join us in the rubble so that we can begin to restore what has been lost.

The question remains, what kind of heart will you have in the midst of restoration?

Beginning Steps

By: Karen Polich

Last week Pastor Michael Cook looked at Nehemiah and his anguish. He was in mourning, fully in the “Kleenex phase”. Now, we watch Nehemiah moving into the “cup phase”. This is the defining moment. The grieving is over; he is leaving it behind. Read Nehemiah 2: 110. Listen to the Restore sermon series podcast here.

The idea of restoration suggests something is wrong. A significant loss has occurred. With it, we lose other things. We may lose our ability to trust others. We lose our next step, or we lose people.

What about in your life? What about my life? Are you and I moving forward towards restoration? If not, we risk getting stuck. We cannot rebuild anything when we can’t move forward. Nehemiah recognized this and made a courageous move in revealing his anguish to the king.

The concept of loss is deeply personal. How long should it take to be ready to move forward? Losing a loved one doesn’t invoke the same sense of loss as losing a job. Both are painful, but they are not the same. What a complex issue! Understand that in the complexity of this, there is no simple answer to how it will look when we experience loss and are ready for restoration. When we find ourselves at the extreme of either no grief, or stuck in grief, this should cause concern.

These four steps will help us as we move forward:

1. Embrace uncertainty. We can’t plan everything. If we aren’t willing to move forward despite the unknown, we will never move forward.
2. Acknowledge fear. It is difficult. We can acknowledge fear without allowing it to paralyze us. It is huge to advance and not regress in the fear. Your sadness and hurt will not rebuild anything.
3. Anticipate God’s favor. We often forget this lesson. Always anticipate God doing something amazing. Communicate this with your life, your heart and your actions. God has His majestic Hand on the situation.
4. Expect complications. We all have people like this in our lives (Nehemiah 2:10). Complications will try to derail everything you are doing.

Condensed into one word moving forward equates to: COURAGE.

Joshua 1:9, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Are you ready to take the beginning steps of restoration? Embrace courage and let God do something amazing.