Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Enduring to the End

Read: Nehemiah
“Also that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women also and the children rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” Nehemiah 12:43

For the Israelites their hard work and long suffering paid off in a joyous celebration. They endured to the end and God Himself made them rejoice.

Following after God is always worth it in the end. The pains and struggles that accompany a task from God will always result in my best joy and highest celebration if I endure to the end and do not grow weary in doing what is right.

I keep coming back to all these people had to endure. The work was far more than overwhelming just by itself, but then their burden was increased as circumstances worsened. The picture I have is of them working with a shovel in one hand and a spear in the other. It reminds me of a couple of things. There is a time to rest, but there is also a time to suck it up and get it done. There is a time to sit still and pray, but there is a time to charge the flippin hill. Those contrasts are difficult to discern sometimes. It also reminds me that following after You does not mean that everything will go easy. Some things do. As these folks were returning to Jerusalem the Persians gave to them freely to provide for their way, but once they got to work their enemies came from all around to make their job troublesome. In the midst of a great task it is easy to lose sight of the good that happened as the troubles mount.

I can so relate to this story. I call out to You asking that You fill me with the discernment I need to know when to press and when to sit. I pray that I have the strength I need to maintain the work, defend against attacks, lead my family and not give in to discouragement. I trust You. I know that You have called me to be where I am and I know that You will lead me through. Keep me holy before You, fill my heart with worship, and empower me to be faithful with all that You ask.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wasted Promise

Read: Nehemiah 8
“Behold, we are slaves this day, and as for the land that You gave to our fathers to eat the fruit and the good of it, behold, we are slaves in it.” Nehemiah 8:36

For several generations the Israelites tried living their lives according to their own terms. In the end their stubbornness towards God landed them in the most pitiful of places; they were slaves in their own land of wasted promise.

Periodically I will watch a show on a life of promise wasted. I have seen athletes waste their potential, business executives squander resources, politicians lose their office, and religious leaders lose their influence because they chose a way that seemed right to them but its end was death. As I watch these shows it is easy to point fingers and cast judgment. It is tempting to look at their choices and determine I would have done better. I let myself off the hook because I look at their wealth and opportunity and decide that they were trusted with much more than me. In doing this I covet what was once theirs and lose sight of what has been given to me.

In John 14, You tell me that I will not only do the works You did but that I have the potential to do even greater things. Jesus, this challenges me greatly. When I look at my life I have a tendency to base my success on what I see around me but I realize that is a false test. The true test of success is only determined by looking at the potential You have placed inside of me. As I close my eyes and picture Your life on earth I am intimidated by what I see. My life still does not reflect the core of power that graced You on this earth, my love still does not contain the selflessness with which You loved others, and my passion does not pursue the Father’s heart any where near the level that Yours did.

This season of life continues to feel like I am in transition and circumstances are forcing me to make choices at a quick pace. I do not want to be a slave in my own land of promise. At the moment I sense that I have lost connection with your power, love and passion and I pray today that You lead my heart back to Yours. There is a lot of fight left before me and I do not want to arrive at the end of this battle only to have become a slave to my own bad choices. I pray that You would invade the distance that I sense lies between us. Draw near to me as I seek to draw near to You. Let Your presence radiate in me, Your power fuel me, Your love transform me, and Your passion consume me. All that is me I set aside today and exchange it for all that is of You. I truly desire the greater things You desire me to have in You and there is honestly nothing in my heart that wants to turn back until I see Your face. I do not want to waste a single promise that is mine through You.