New Series Check it out here:Freedom
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Endurance: “the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear. (Webster’s)” Obedient, enduring, integrity driven leadership stays the course to the call, it lasts, and it withstands wear when faced with opposition. It must demand endurance in order to persevere to the end!
Nehemiah set out with a blessing from God and the king (his two highest authorities) and immediately encountered those who were displeased with the work he was setting out to do. Firm in his confidence and mission he left them, he separated himself from those who despised the mission. Nehemiah understood what God had placed on his heart and he did not let anyone stand in opposition to the task at hand. He was obedient, and knew how to combat that which stood in the way of his work.
As a servant leader Nehemiah demonstrates a strategy to “last” in the face of opposition. Immediately upon taking his first step from his positon with the king he encounters the displeasure upon reaching the governors. He encounters even more displeasure as soon as he called out to the people to assemble them for the work. In the first instance Nehemiah left them, in the second he faced them with words of declaration affirming the work has put before him!
As leaders we must assume that we will face opposition all along the way. When we take our first step, when we assemble our teams, when we have completed a major step or even before we began. Obedient, enduring, integrity driven leadership must discern when to move on from opposition or when to declare God’s victory in its face. Both of these approaches reinforce our obedience to the captive and strengthen our endurance.
What has already stood in opposition to your call? To your heart of compassion? Assuming that the forces of darkness want to halt the plans of God’s redemptive restoration, how is the enemy first trying to stop you? Sometimes is looks like a person, a life crisis, perhaps your health, or even your schedule. Be on guard; freedom leadership demands a stand against its opposition.
“I don’t work for the church, I’m not at their leadership meetings, I have no power to change things and I certainly don’t think they would listen to me. Nehemiah may have heard from God but he also had a high position with the King. His position is what let him change things and care about the people of God. That’s not me, that’s not my story, and it certainly is not my position.”
Have you ever found yourself saying any of these things? Perhaps you’ve gone through seasons where you feel powerless to make a real difference in the world. Maybe you have a job that has nothing to do with your faith and you feel like you will never actually be able to make a real difference! You may find yourself aligned with the heart and mission of God but feel stuck with your limited time and resources to reach the lost and the hurting! You are not alone!
Nehemiah is a perfect example of how God is the one who chooses His workers and laborers. Nehemiah was presented with the need for the captives and he choose to align himself with the heart of God. Nehemiah endured in prayer with the Father and in turn the Father was able to use Nehemiah’s platform to reach the captives.
Every move Nehemiah made he consulted with the God of the universe. Even when the King asked him about his countenance, he first asked the Lord about how he should respond. In turn God so moved in his boss (the King) that Nehemiah was granted the time and resources to meet the needs of the captives.
When we align with the heart God we step into leadership. When we step into leadership we have a responsibility to consistently and continually seek the thoughts of God in every move we make. How then can God use you exactly where He has you for His glory?
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38 (ESV)
What moves you to compassion? Wars, earthquakes, shootings, tsunamis, floods, you name it and we are surrounded by a world filled with tragedy. Yet our distance from a tragedy can seemingly steal the reality of its devastation. Sorrow for a moment does not sustain the rebuilding of families, lives, loss, and hurt that follow in the weeks or even years ahead. The scope of devastation reaches beyond the natural disasters or terroristic acts we have become accustomed to. What about the tragedies of broken homes, sexual abuse, divorce, aloneness, or degrading of your very identity? These represent the unseen tragedies of our generation.
When Nehemiah heard the cry of the war captives we see that he sat down. He paused his life, he wept and he mourned. It was not for a moment but, for days that he felt the burden of the captives. Nehemiah represents the heart of God, who is not far off when pain enters our world, but intimately concerned and moved to compassion. Nehemiah was aligned with the heart of the Father to grieve and to restore what the enemy had stolen.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
If we look further Nehemiah was not simply sad for a season, he was distressed and moved to fast and pray. He felt the heart of God and moved in to align himself with the heart of God. With his full person he responded to the need; he engaged his mind, his emotions, his physical body, and his very soul to pick up the mantel of mission for Jerusalem. The prophet’s mission was to align with the heart of God for the people.
To respond to the heart of God is to lean in. It demands that you recognize that the Spirit inside of you is forming you to look like Christ; bearing the fullness of God on your life. Just as Christ took on the sin of the world before the Father, so also Nehemiah represented the heart of God by mourning, representing the people in their sin, declaring God’s character, and speaking a destiny of hope over them. Nehemiah entered into compassion with a spirit moved to represent the people before God. How then shall we be ambassadors for our generation and in doing so produce the heart of God to this world?
“That Holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God”
Have you not heard? These people are fighting for utter survival. Their defenses and protections were stripped from them and many were taken off into bondage and slavery. Trouble and shame plagued those who remained and the darkness of the time overtook them.
This is the report given to Nehemiah when he asked about Jerusalem’s state after the exile. The people had turned away from God, their protector and king, to do things in their own strength. This left them exposed to their enemies who destroyed their city, their walls, and separated families by taking captives.
The very same things can be said of our communities today. This is the cry of the war captives. They have been carried away by their enemies; fear, depression, anger, addiction, jealousy, bitterness, pride and unbelief. These enemies have torn down their walls of protection, tortured them with abuses, rejection, humiliation, shame and pain. Do you hear their cry for help?
For Nehemiah’s time God rose him up to heal the land and the people. He simply heard the news of the captives and was moved to mourning and seeking an answer from the Lord. There was no special call but a deep moving of compassion. Would you hear the call of the war captives? Would you rise up to assemble the team? Would you let compassion overtake you that you would seek the Lord on how you could bring back the captives from this generation?
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me”
It has been 3 weeks since I’ve seen snow or smelled mountain air. Here there is just a constant sea breeze in the air and humidity.. lots of humidity.
I miss the snow but I promise I’ve stopped praying for it! Snow consumes my prayers… almost every year… almost all year. I want snow for my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents day, the day after Presidents day, and pretty much all of February! I can’t even say I mind driving in it. I grew up in Buffalo…. enough said!
One of the last snow storms of the season the office was shutting down and people were canceling their sessions. My co-therapist and I saw it as another opportunity to conquer the elements and meet the needs of a family we work with. So off we went…. over the mountain… the big one… in Wayne County…. where on the other side… all bets are off… especially when it snows!
Heading out there was not too bad! The roads had about an inch of snow. We made it through. Although we could not make it up the driveway, we parked and 3 hours later we knew we needed to leave. The roads were less than pretty. We were driving in 4 inches of an unplowed mess. We laughed and said “this is nothing,” knowing that it was bad! We went through red lights and all sorts of things just to keep our momentum up the mountain!
As I drove home I was so very eager to get home. I really did not care that their was snow on the ground, I knew how to drive in the snow! I had a destination in mind.
When I turned onto the main strip, I knew I needed to take the main roads to my house, no back road driving would be smart on a stormy night like that (even for a Buffalo driver).
Then it happened… right before my eyes…. I could not control it! All of a sudden I was behind a snow plow. For a moment I thought: “this is cute, I can follow behind the plow.” And in the next moment I had a cool thought about how the Israelites could follow God as a pillar of fire by night. The red and orange blinking lights in the dark reminded me of that Bible story. I thought on it for a moment, thinking that I would be able to pass them up. But soon I realized the plow was going way slower than I would have traveled, and regardless of the dangers of venturing out on my own,I wanted to get home more than I wanted him to shovel me a path.
As the road widened I realized their was not one, but three plows in front of me and suddenly they spread out across the road. There was no way to pass them. I was trapped to follow their tracks all the way home.
And that is precisely what happened they traveled all the way down route 6 from Carbondale to Dickson City….no opportunities to pass… just forced to follow!
God spoke to my heart that night. Admonishing me that He was in charge of my path, my direction, my speed, and my safety. He only asked me to look at Him. Just like I could only see as far as the plows in front of me, their is no better focus than on the face of God. There is no real way to pass God when your on His road following Him. My pillar of smoke by day and fire by night.
As I have moved to Florida I am thankful for this quiet lesson from God. Im sure going to miss the snow but my desire is to keep my eyes focused on God and to remember that there is nothing better than when God makes your paths straight.