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Friday, February 8, 2008
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"One Brick At A Time"
"But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat" (Nehemiah 4:9).
Last night Brooksyne and I spoke to Mike, a young friend of ours, who had just brought his wife, JoAnna and their newborn home from the hospital yesterday. Their first born, Adoree Eve, was born on Tuesday, two weeks earlier than the anticipated date. This evening we will be going over to meet the new family member and share a meal with Mike and JoAnna.
This is certainly an exciting time for them as well as those who've been expectantly waiting for the baby's arrival. Most couples now learn the sex of their baby ahead and the surprise is announced long before the awaited birth. They elected to wait until the big day so it's extra fun for the announcement of not only the baby's birth but also whether it's a boy or a girl.
I recall sharing Scriptural principles with Mike and Joanna around our dining room table several years ago during their pre-marital counseling sessions. Mike is a bricklayer and I drew an illustration from his trade as an analogy to building a strong, lifelong marriage. Today's Scripture verse suggests a cooperative arrangement of faith and action that applies not only to marriage but many issues of life. There's an application for each reader.
The setting for the book of Nehemiah takes place during the rebuilding of the long neglected walls of Jerusalem. These walls had been destroyed by the Babylonians some 150 years earlier and were vital for security reasons.
As with any major endeavor those with a heart to move forward in obeying God usually face opposition. Are you facing any opposition today? If so, you're in good company with other believers who are engaged in conflict with the spiritual forces of evil.
The specific opposition in today's passage was led by an "interesting" character by the name of Sanballat. This pesky fellow was persistent and creative in opposing the moving forward of God's work! We might give him the unenviable title of "Mr. Discouragement." It seems that he gained many followers, some of his distant relatives who remain to this day. In the immediate context of today's verse the opposition was threatening a physical attack, but there are many ways we will be opposed; if not in the physical, the spiritual.
Nehemiah writes about his God-given vision that included prayer, sacrifice, hard work, tenacity and common sense. "We prayed to our God AND posted a guard..." Nehemiah led the people in both spiritual action (prayer) and practical action (posting a guard). I place a high value on common sense. As followers of Christ I believe God can help us develop Biblically informed common sense when confronting the many challenges of life. It's not "unspiritual" to use this sense given to us by God.
Our Christian walk, ministry, marriage, vocation, childrearing and many other vital issues of life are much like building a firm foundation one brick at a time. This building project will continue all through life until we are called home. (A favorite author, Chuck Swindoll, also uses this illustration and has written a book based on this titled "Hand Me Another Brick.")
Active faith often has a cooperative element that is expressed as we trust God and are obedient using the common resources that He has given us. Today in your walk of faith you will likely face opposition of some type, perhaps even within the ranks of your own family or church. I urge you to remain steadfast and ever prayerful as you follow the example of Nehemiah, no matter the test you face! Keep building, one brick at a time.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You that You we are guided, not in our own strength or wisdom, but in the knowledge and wisdom of our omniscient God. It is not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit that we can stand against the tactics of the enemy as we build our foundation of faith, one brick at a time. Like Nehemiah, may our first impulse be that that of prayer and our second impulse be that of obedience. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Veronica was a foreign exchange student from Ecuador who attended our church while she was in the states a couple years ago. She's attending college now in her country but enjoying a break, so she came back for a visit with her host family, the Martins. Ester was sure pleased to see her again last night!
Today's photo: Our friends Galen and Nancy Martin live in a farmhouse built in the 1700's. Last night we joined them for dinner and I was intrigued by Nancy's creative use of an old window frame she had found in the barn. She turned it into a utensil rack using old meat hooks as hangers. Notice the red peppers hanging to dry!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"My Tribute" (Audio) This song was sung at our wedding in Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1976 by Melody, a friend who was blind. This remains our desire as we soon celebrate our 32nd anniversary and continue to lay bricks together!
"Trust And Obey" (Audio) Vocal (Audio) Instrumental
"I Will Trust In You" (Audio)
"Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" (Audio)
"The Solid Rock" (Audio)
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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