August 8, 2017
LET IT GLOW
It was an ordinary day in the life of Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, when his brother Hannani stopped in for an unexpected visit. A cupbearer was required to taste drinks and food before the Persian King Artaxerxes did in order to make sure it was not poisoned. The two men would have spent much time together and became close. A cupbearer held a prominent, honorable, responsible, and influential position in the kingdom. Nehemiah risked his life all the day long. What a job!
It was good to have family with whom he could share. But a smile quickly turned into a frown when Nehemiah asked about home-Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that survived the exile. They were in great affliction and reproach for the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were burned. (They had remained in this condition since Nebuchadnezzar caused it some 150 years earlier.)
How did Nehemiah react when he heard such distressing news?
He sat down and wept. In fact, for days he mourned, fasted, and prayed to God. His reaction of remorse was similar to that of Ezra whenever he found out he spiritual condition of the remnant in chapter 9.
When we hear bad news, especially about our family, it often takes away our breath. Our compassion and sympathy arises. We want to help those in need.
Are we aware of needy people in our neighborhoods and churches? Are we tenderhearted like Nehemiah?
LET IT GROW
The Jews in Jerusalem were in deep trouble and severe distress and bearing terrible afflictions. They were being reproached and disgraced by the surrounding people and nations. They hardships were described as:
- economic depression due to famine (5:1-3);
- oppression due to the greed of certain wealthy farmers and businessmen (5:4-5);
- persecution as harassment and ridicule from their neighbors (4:1-24);
- defenseless against enemy attacks since the wall was down and gates were burnt (verse 3).
Do we feel empathy, identifying with those in need around us? Are our eyes and ears open to others?
Psalm 111:4 and 145:8 describe God as being full of compassion and gracious.
1 Peter 3:8 NLT says, Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.
What an example for us.
LET IT GO
Seek the Lord as to how to show compassion, love, and grace toward my brothers and sisters.
Be aware of the needy around me and help them in whatever their situation.