Ridicule. It’s a shameful way to influence opinion.
But…that’s what Sanballat and Tobiah did to Nehemiah: “What are those feeble Jews doing?…even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”
But…the Lord enabled Nehemiah to ignore their ridicule.
Sadly…ridicule is a regular part of discourse in our day. It’s at work…in politics…contract negotiations… entertainment.
And…sometimes it is a part of conversation around the lunch counter. People use ridicule as a way to push people toward conformity.
Why is it a sinful practice? Because it depreciates others. It blemishes the image of God…implanted by the Creator.
Ridicule – it’s always wrong.
A receptivity to the Word of God. How responsive are you?
Are you like a pathway – so the Word of God is quickly stolen away?
Are you like a rocky place – so the Word of God takes root for only a short time?
Are you like a thorny place – so that the Word of God is squeezed out by the cares of life?
Or are you like good soil – so that the Word of God produces a rich harvest of righteousness?
It is good to take inventory on this…especially if you have been exposed to God’s Word over and over. It’s easy to be unresponsive.
So…listen carefully – and be obedient to God’s Word.
I and me – or we and us. How you use these pronouns will define your style of leadership.
Consider Nehemiah’s use of pronouns: “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, the gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”
It was all about we and us. It marked the participatory style of Nehemiah.
It’s a principle…lead with a spirit of cooperation and participation. It works every time.
Why did Jesus pour His life into the twelve disciples? Because He knew that kingdom work is not a solo enterprise.
Make it we and us.
The wall of the unknowable. You can go only so far…and no farther.
Like the origin of deity…where did God come from? Or space…where does it end? Or time…where does it begin?
The same is true with doctrine…God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. How can God be in complete control and yet man be able to exercise his free will?
Some turn to science. But…they hit the same wall. Origins confound the wisest.
The right decision is to accept your limitations…and embrace the revelation of God in the Bible. It tells you what you need to know.
The wall of the unknowable – it’s God’s way to teach you to trust.
Simplicity and complexity. The first is God’s way…the second is man’s way.
Jesus told stories – simple and understandable. The multitudes flocked to listen. His words were profound…yet simple.
In contrast…the scribes and Pharisees built barriers based on complexity — lengthy rules and traditions…limitless ordinances and practices.
That’s always man’s way. The early church flourished with a simple message – “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” Succeeding generations kept adding rituals – exchanging simplicity for complexity.
Complexity caters to pride. People are attracted to displays of human creativity.
This is why Paul said: “But I fear, lest…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Keep it simple – that’s God’s way.
Monitoring emotions. Good behavior makes that demand.
Prisons are filled with people who didn’t monitor their emotions. In a fit of rage they acted in ways never imagined.
It’s the reason behind some marriage failures. It’s the reason why people sometimes lose their jobs. And…it’s often the reason for divisions within the church.
People fail to monitor their emotions.
We turn to Jesus for a perfect example. In the face of criticism…He spoke words of truth. Before Pontius Pilate…His words were carefully chosen. And…His words spoken from the cross reflect complete control.
Unmonitored emotions are like a rollercoaster…up and down – with highs and lows. That’s not the way to live.
Monitoring emotions – the Holy Spirit will help you.
A good feeling. That is…a moment or relief from the disappointments of life.
So…some ingest mind-numbing drugs –but sadly…terrible consequences quickly sweep away any hope of relief.
Others engage in every manner of debauchery.
What are they looking for?
The Bible calls it the joy of the Holy Spirit — a “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
That’s the good feeling for which the soul craves — the end of a frantic quest.
Then…every sin is swept away — a sense of peace brings comforts to the spirit – there is hope for the future.
Today…Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. Let Him in.
A good feeling – unspeakably good.
Religious activity…and a heart of devotion. They are not the same.
Jesus highlights the difference: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Of course…on that day many will protest: “…did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”
Listen to the Lord’s rebuke: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”
It’s a stern warning.
There are people who go through the motions…but with no heart devotion. On such…judgment will one day fall.
So…check your heart. Do you have a passion for God?
Let your devotion say yes.
One of a kind. That’s what determines value.
A coin – one of a kind. A painting – one of a kind. A car – one of a kind.
The same is true of you. You are one of a kind.
The psalmist said: “…you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” He knew he was one of a kind.
You are not a carbon copy…you are an original.
The devotion you bring to God is unique. No one else can offer the special worship that you give to God.
Many people lose sight of their value. They think of themselves as worthless.
And…sadly society sometimes treats people as throwaways – without value.
Not so. God see it differently.
One of a kind.