December 20 – Jesse Tree Story Day 21
This week we invited all of our mom and kid friends over for cookie baking and decorating and Christmas caroling, and my heart is filled with joy. So many warm and loving hugs ! It’s so joy-giving to see the glimmer in kids’ eyes as we do all of these special things that we only do at this time of year. How can we not focus their joy on Baby Jesus, helping to prepare their hearts too?
READ: Neh 1:1-2:8, 6:15-16, 13:10-22
Nehemiah was an Israelite and a servant of King Artaxerxes of Babylon. He was an exiled Jew just trying to rise out of his circumstances in a foreign country, and God had plans for him. God pulled a few strings, and somehow, some God-way, Nehemiah was the royal cupbearer, which was a prominent position because of constant proximity to the King. I could see Nehemiah being used by his friends to put a good word in for them when he’s delivering the King his wine. That kind of prominence. After Jerusalem’s exile, a few Jews who survived attempted to start things over in Jerusalem but had zero protection from their feisty neighbors because of all of the destruction in the city. When Nehemiah found out about this, he poured his heart out before God begging for Him to look favorably on the Israelites again. In vs. 1:6-7, Nehemiah confesses his and the Israelites’ sins. He knows he needs a Savior. God sees him drawing near, sees his heart, and presses one of the execute buttons on His mighty plan.
Kings during this time had unchecked power and were someone to be feared. Nehemiah was in a position where he could influence the King, but he knew he had to tread carefully. His interaction with King Artaxerxes in vs. 2:1-8 shows fear and courage but most importantly, I think, inserts little prayers to God for courage, words, and focus. When you pray, is it all at once like at bedtime, is it a memorized prayer, or do you have a constant conversation going with God throughout your day to acknowledge Him in everything? Nehemiah had a servant’s heart for God, and this is what made him successful, God working through a willing servant.
The action alone of re-building Jerusalem was enough to point others to God. In vs. 6:16, Nehemiah says, “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.” When we are true servants of God, our actions can and will point others to Him.
Nehemiah as a servant of God was crucial in re-building Jerusalem, but not just that. In summary of vs. 13:10-22, Nehemiah was working on re-building hearts for God too, getting the Israelites back on track to obey the law of Moses and love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Though he didn’t know God’s true purpose for him, Nehemiah ultimately served God by preparing the way for our once-and-for-all King Jesus.
You want my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength so You can use me as Your servant.
Thank You for the example of Nehemiah’s life in service to You. Help me be more like Nehemiah. In my every day, help me prepare the hearts of my family, consistently pointing them to You through actions, words, and love. Thank You for joy! Thank You for My Savior!