We started reading Nehemiah this morning and this is most interesting because he is “in Susa the citadel” [1 v.1] and after he receives news from his home country that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” [v.3] he “wept and mourned for days … praying before the God of heaven.” [v.4]

            Nehemiah had been promoted as a trusted servant to be “cupbearer to the king.”  [v.11]. This was a very responsible position.  He says that when I next came “before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.’ “ [2 v.1,2]

            The king’s question makes Nehemiah “very much afraid.”  God was testing Nehemiah’s heart, his faith! He makes an ‘instant’ prayer in his heart!  We read “I prayed to the God of heaven.  And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favour in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” [4,5]

            Nehemiah writes, [v.8] “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” [v.8].  So his “heart” – we could say – his faith in God, was tested!   When he gets to Jerusalem, he says to the non-Jews who oppose his call to “arise and build … you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.” He declares, “”The God of heaven will make us prosper” [v.20]

            What are we declaring – at the very least to each other – today?  Surely we must “arise and build” up our faith – to the uttermost! We look at what we read today in Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians, he told them, we “wait forhis Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Our aim is “not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” [ch. 2 v.4]  Nehemiah’s heart was tested.

             This is an aim that must flow out from “our hearts” and, as a result … we “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls (us) into his own kingdom and glory.” [v.12]

By Bro D.Caudery

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