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Weekly Bible Devotion By Books

April 13-18, 2020

Enter the Presence of the Lord

(All) O my strength, I will watch for you.
For you, O God, you are my fortress.
(M)You have been to me a fortress,
(W) and a refuge in the day of my distress.
(All) O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love. (Psalm 59: 9-10, 16-17, ESV)

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 2:17-18; 6:15

2:17-18 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.

6:15 So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.

Thoughts to share: A Leadership in a Time of Ruins and Reconstructions

When we open the book of Nehemiah, it was 13 years after Ezra led the second wave of exilers and did the initial reforms in their hearts. What we know is that the city wall of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt. The city was still in ruin state from the destructions a century ago. The city gates were broken. The returned exilers were pressed and were in great trouble and shame under the attacks and insults from their neighboring provinces. What was missing? What was to be done?

Nehemiah was the central figure that God raised for that difficult and shameful time. Nehemiah was the descendent of those first Judah exiles. His grandparents and parents went through the time exiling to Babylon and then to Persian periods. Like Ezra, he had bi-cultural background. He worked in the palace and was well received. Apparently, he was a good Babylonian first and a good Persian later. In the meantime, he was surely nurtured in a Jewish family and wide Jewish community. He was familiar with their history and people, and that faraway land he had never been there. He had no problem identifying himself with returned exilers.

Nehemiah was appointed as a governor. He was given the responsibility of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. In 12 years, his leadership was shined through this reconstruction project. We are going to focus on some aspects of his leadership. We shall see that he is still a good leader model for us today to learn from.

Firstly, he had a deep passion for the people on that land. Sitting in glorious Persian palace, he was greatly troubled by the news from his brother about how the people in Judah did and how the city of Jerusalem was. He had compassion toward the people and that remote homeland. (1:1-4; 2:2-3)

Secondly, he got a vision. He determined to rebuild the city wall as his first project. He went to survey the city of Jerusalem at night to confirm his vision. (2:5, 11-15)

Thirdly, he had plans. He planned carefully and thoroughly. He earned king’s attention and favor through his good relations with the King. He was granted favor, material and human resources, and King’s authorization. He was able to lead the third wave of exilers to return to city of Jerusalem.

Fourthly, he anticipated, prepared, managed the dangers and oppositions during the progress of the building project. He was aware of those persistent challenges in the past. He was not afraid of confronting them and defeating their thwarting schemes. He prayed to God and trusted God for helping them. He strengthened defense and stayed watchful mode. (2:7, 20; 4:9, 26; 6:1-14)

Fifthly, he knew how to mobilize people and manage the progress of project. Those returned exilers were in depressed, discouraged mood. Nehemiah shared the story how God and King had supported them through him. He gave a calling and goal, “come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision. “He was able to get all classes of people involving the building project. He determined that building work and defense must go hand in hand to ensure the project’s progress and completion. It was rather impressive that his leadership made the ruined Jerusalem for over 150 years rebuilt in 52 days. The city of Jerusalem was again protected, livable and functional.

Sixthly, he honored the special character of the city. Jerusalem was and should be a holy city. The city should be for all tribes of Israelites. He gave equal opportunity for all 12 tribes to reside in the city in the process of repopulation the city. He coordinated with the Scribe and Priest Ezra to re-institute law reading, to re-make the covenant with God, to cleanse the lifestyles of the people, and to reform the policies and practices of the temple according to the book of Law.

Seventhly, he had integrity in his personal character and lifestyle. To lighten people’s financial burden, he did not use the salary of being a governor. He did not buy his own estate. He and his servants focused on the project of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. He shared daily food with his officials and servants together. He prayed to reply on the grace of God to live on during those 12 years.

Eighthly, he prayed. He prayed for his people. He prayed for his plan. He prayed for God’s will. He prayed for the progress of his project. He prayed for the challenges on the course of work. He prayed for the character of the city and people.

Have we seen the leadership style of Nehemiah? Is such leadership very contemporary and biblical? Do you desire to be a good leader for your team and project? In light of the example of Nehemiah, which area have we done well? Which area will we need to grow? May you discover or reflect your leadership within yourself. May you take time and effort to develop your leadership skills and character. May you have passion and courage to use your leadership, especially in where needs repairs, rebuilding, and restoration. Moreover, may you pray. May you invite God in your leadership. May God use you mightily and uphold you in his grace now and in the future.

Prayer suggestions

Our great leader Lord, you know how important a leader is either in your kingdom or in your universe. You intend to bestow the talents to your children for good use. We give ourselves to you. Help us to discover our leadership within ourselves. Give us courage to bring out the leadership within us for your work and your glory. Lead us to the opportunities to be trained, to be educated in leading. Use us in the leadership for your glory. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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