The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
I’ve been the fool in this Proverb more than once. One example, in particular, comes to mind. A few years ago, I was running a rapidly growing tech startup and planning to hire our first full-time sales rep. Like any good entrepreneur, I took the time to draft a document detailing the type of person I thought we needed for the position. And with that plan in hand, I went out and hired someone we’ll call Michael who perfectly fit my description.
The only problem was that I neglected to ask my existing team what they thought about my job description. Shortly after Michael started, members of my team came to me asking why I hired someone with Michael’s experience when what we needed most was someone with an entirely different background. They were right, of course, and eventually, we had to let Michael go. If I had simply asked for input on my hiring plan on the front end, I could...
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
You and I are always planning something at work: projects, marketing campaigns, hiring strategies, budgets, goals—the list goes on and on. God’s Word frequently extols the wisdom of planning (see Proverbs 21:5; Proverbs 24:27; Luke 14:28). But it also gives us a lot of instruction for how to plan in a God-honoring way.
Today’s passage is a great example: You and I are called to commit our work and our planning to God. To ask him to lead and guide us as we make decisions about the future.
Why is this so important? Beyond the fact that God commands it, let me share two reasons.
First, committing our planning to the Lord is wise because he knows the future and you and I don’t. As God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you.” Now, this was spoken specifically to the Jews living in exile, but it is also true for us. We...
So the wall was completed…in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:15-16)
While detained in a concentration camp in 1941, Olivier Messiaen, a Christian and renowned composer, cobbled together a few dilapidated instruments in the camp and miraculously composed a masterpiece called Quartet for the End of Time. Years later, when an esteemed pianist sat down to master Messiaen’s wordless music, she was an ardent atheist. “But as she pored over the music and tried to comprehend what Messiaen was trying to say, it had a profound effect. ‘Little by little,’ she said, ‘I started believing.’”
That story powerfully illustrates a truth we see in today’s passage from Nehemiah: Excellent work can preach a powerful sermon about the glory of God! While...
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Paul is crystal clear in today’s passage that Christians are called to expose darkness. To, as pastor Timothy Keller says, “bring every dimension of life…under the rule and law of God.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that we hold non-Christians to the same standard as Christians (see 1 Corinthians 5:12). But we can still expose darkness and fight for kingdom principles without appealing directly to “the rule of God” with our non-believing co-workers. Why? Because as C.S. Lewis says, Christian or not, “human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.” Your co-workers likely agree that discrimination, fraud, and lying are wrong, even if you don’t quote the myriad of Scriptures that call these things sin.
So if we aren’t going to...
…when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Nehemiah 4:7-9)
Nehemiah was leading the people in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, but they were met with considerable resistance and threats (see Nehemiah 4:7). How would Nehemiah and team respond? Today’s passage provides the answer: “we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (emphasis mine).
The word “and” is the key to appreciating this text. Nehemiah and company didn’t just pray. They didn’t “let go and let God.” They trusted in prayer and the abilities God had given them to...
Then I [Nehemiah] said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
As we saw last week, Nehemiah was a Jew in exile, working for King Artaxerxes of Persia (see Nehemiah 1:11 – 2:1) when he heard that his ancestral home of Jerusalem had been destroyed (Nehemiah 2:3).
Decades before Nehemiah heard this news, another Jew, Ezra, led God’s people to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (see Ezra 6:14-15). But today’s passage shows us that when Nehemiah made it to Jerusalem, the rest of the city remained “in ruins.” So Nehemiah led the people in the “good work” of restoring and renewing the city...
I [Nehemiah] took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king (Nehemiah 2:1b-5a)
Scripture commands that we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). But what in the world does that look like at work? Today’s passage helps answer that question. But first, some context.
Nehemiah was a Jew in exile, working faithfully as a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia (see Nehemiah 1:11) when one day, he heard that Jerusalem, “the city where [his]...
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
The Association for Psychological Science describes a “scarcity mindset” as “people seeing life as a finite pie, so that if one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else.” The opposite is an “abundance mindset” which “refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.”
In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul is calling believers to live their lives with a mindset of abundance. Why? Because we worship the God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) who will...
For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. (2 Corinthians 8:17-21)
For years, my friend had sold millions of dollars in artwork featuring a passage of Scripture. Then he discovered that the Bible translation he was using in the artwork was copyrighted, which could have meant he owed the copyright owners a lot of money in royalties.
The chances that the copyright holder would’ve ever noticed my friend’s oversight were slim to...
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
The dictionary defines a “yoke” as “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.” When two animals are yoked together, they have no choice but to move in lockstep as they work. They are bound to the unilateral actions of the other.
In the context of human relationships to be unequally yoked with unbelievers is, in the words of one commentary, “to be in a situation…that binds you to the decisions and actions of people who have values and purposes incompatible with Jesus’ values and purposes.”
With that in mind, it’s clear that Paul is not saying we...