Nehemiah – Obstacles

 Searching His Word
  Seeking His Heart

Nehemiah rallied the wall-building troops with persuasive voice and authoritative demeanor. They divided up the work load and rebuilt side by side, neighbor next to neighbor. Even some from near-by towns came to join the project. 

As always, Satan reached out to overtake the good like a prowling lion. The obstacles began through three antagonists, one north of Judah, a second east of Judah, and a third trouble maker south of Judah, all who came to mock and ridicule.

But Nehemiah stood up to them.

“The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” Nehemiah 2:20

The work began, priests and merchants, goldsmiths and commoners all reconstructing together. Once again, the antagonists complained and ridiculed vowing to join together in war against Jerusalem.

Nehemiah got word of their plan. Not to be undone, he posted guards day and night around the workmen. Each workman kept sword, spear, or bow with him at all times. Nehemiah prayed with them and stood by them. He reminded the workers—

“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14

The workers stayed alert and continued their work, but later, instead of trouble from without, trouble started brewing from within. A famine, due to lack of grain, had set up a series of challenges. 

“We are mortgaging our fields, vineyards, and homes to buy grain.” Nehemiah 5:3

“We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields.” Nehemiah 5:4

They complained that their fellow Jews had caused them to—

“…subject our sons and daughters to slavery.” Nehemiah 5:5

Nehemiah again met the obstacle directly. He called together the nobles and officials who had caused this situation and pointed out their lack of integrity. Their guilt was obvious.

They kept quiet for they could find nothing to say. Nehemiah 5:8

Nehemiah followed through by committing them to better practices.

These were only some of Nehemiah’s obstacles, but each time he dealt with them head on.

What a great lesson for us. We all deal with obstacles, things that set us back in some way. A wayward child who is plunging head long into dangerous territory; a health issue that is dragging us down, an aggravating kink in a major project, a gnawing flaw in a relationship. Name your issue.

Have you prayed about it? Have you grabbed the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God? Have you dealt with it head on? That would be Nehemiah’s strategy—not a bad idea!

~ Joyce ~  





Spartan Race

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

My crazy kids (son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons) entered the Spartan Race at Fort Knox last weekend. This kind of race, held in several locations across the country and in other countries, is more than a running race; it involves a number of obstacles.

True enough, the one who gets to the best time is the winner, but it is more a test of endurance and strength. Just to make it to the end is a massive achievement. Thus, those who manage to cross the fire at the end receive a heavy medal piece to hang around their necks.

Historically speaking, the Spartans were an elite group of Greek fighting soldiers from Sparta who were renown for their prowess and ability to fight off large numbers of enemies – the real “he-men” of old.

The obstacles along the way in this race might include climbing a wire-type wall, scooting up a heavy rope and back down, swinging on movable monkey bars of sorts, carrying a heavy ball a distance (30 pounds for women, 50 pounds for men), or crawling under a barbed-wire fence. Well, you get the idea. I’m already worn out just thinking about it!

Combine this with the fact that the temperature last Friday was nearing 97 degrees with a heat index well over 100. Can you say perseverance? It reminds me of the words of the writer of Hebrews;

… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

Of course you are beginning to see the comparisons to our own lives. Sometimes we feel like we’re in a race of endurance.

A young mother feels overloaded keeping her household duties going with her children, meals, school preparations, while working at a demanding job. A husband has a demeaning boss who expects the impossible and then he goes home to rebellious teenagers. A wife spends hours taking her husband back and forth for medical treatments, wondering all the while how much longer he will have to live. A daughter deals with the endless tasks of dealing with an aging parent. Parents are at their wits end with what to do about their drug-addicted son.

If you can’t complete an obstacle in the Spartan Race, you have to do 30 “Burpees” (a series of arms up, squat, push feet back, do a push-up, squat, stand.) 

Periods of our lives may feel like this at times. Obstacles beyond what we can bear followed by something equally challenging.

Once again the Hebrew writer gives us advice;

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2

When we are overwhelmed with the troubles of life, may we hear Jesus words;

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Did my kids make it over the finish line? Stay tuned next week!

~ Joyce ~