Preparedness and perseverance
Nehemiah 4: The common laborers held a tool in one hand and a spear in the other.
Nehemiah thinks the threats of his enemies to attack the builders are more than just hot air. Prayer is backed up by planning. He stations armed guards, divides the work crew up into builders and defenders, and distributes weapons to every worker. He also assigns trumpeters to each work crew so that they can quickly call for help if an attack comes. Some are given double duty: they’re guards at night and workmen by day. They sleep in their clothes with weapons at hand. A key phrase is: “and so we kept working.” Nehemiah and his crew’s commitment to the task is impressive. Even without the threat of an attack their job is a daunting one as they attempt to build a great wall out of rubble. Great accomplishments often include working through opposition and discouragement. It might be said that the greater the goal the more difficult the task. How do I respond in such situations? Do I work with “a tool in one hand and a spear in the other” or do I decide it’s too hard and find an easier route? Nehemiah’s story teaches us the importance of preparedness and perseverance.
Take Away: Preparedness, perseverance, and prayerfulness: these three are keys to accomplishing great things in the Name of the Lord.
Don’t waste the blessings of life
2 Chronicles 14: While we have the chance and the land is quiet, let’s build a solid defense system.
Asa’s one of the good guys to lead Judah. He enjoys 10 years of peace in the early part of his reign and he takes full advantage of it. Now only does he clean house, getting rid of the idols, etc. that have crept into his kingdom he also persuades his subjects to join him in fortifying the major cities of Judah. Any nation should be thankful for 10 years of peace. After all, peace is an all too rare national condition. Sorry to say but history proves that the “war to end all wars” is yet to be fought. So even when peace is achieved and we’re tempted to dismantle our defenses and focus on other things, reality calls us to take advantage of the current situation by preparing for whatever comes next. Not only is this true on the national scale, it’s true of our individual lives as well. Life has both good and bad days. When things are going well we need to be careful we don’t foolishly act as though hard times are gone forever. Most certainly they aren’t. On one hand, I want to enjoy the good things that come to me. I want to look toward heaven and say a sincere word of thanks and live as though I really appreciate the blessings that come. On the other hand, I want to be aware that life won’t always be easy. As much as I’m able I want to prepare for the day when it’ll be my turn to experience some of the hardship of life. Asa’s a good king because he doesn’t “waste the peace.” From a personal point of view, I don’t want to “waste the blessings” either.
Take Away: Live wisely.
The coming crisis
Genesis 41: Egypt was the only country that had bread.
Joseph rises to power in Egypt based on some of the king’s dreams. When the king is troubled by the dreams and wants someone to explain their meaning to him, Joseph, under the inspiration of the Lord, comes through. His new job is to take advantage of the coming seven years of bounty in preparation for the following seven years of famine. Joseph does such a good job of this that, once the famine hits, Egypt has enough grain for its own citizens and plenty to sell to surrounding nations too. I know there’s a huge difference of scale, but we’re expected to do the same thing in our lives. We may not have a vision or a dream or some other specific advance knowledge of what’s coming but we do know this: every person goes through both good days and bad. That’s not only true of our financial picture, it’s also true spiritually. I need to take full advantage of times of spiritual refreshment. Right now I may have extra time to spend in the presence of the Lord, to bask in the light of his love. Later on, a crisis will come (note: I didn’t say “might come”) when there will be no time for quiet reflection on spiritual truths. I need to fill the storehouse of my life with the good things the Lord is providing for me right now so that when I need them, they’ll be there to help me through troubled times.
Take away: What am I “storing up” now that will help me when it’s time to make a withdrawal?