Saturday: Nehemiah, The Sharing Leader
Text: Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people. (Nehemiah 5:17-18, NIV)
Teach: The world is looking for leaders with the integrity to live what they believe. It would have been easy for Nehemiah to tell others what to do, after all, he was the governor. He came with the endorsement of the king. All too often we see that power results in corruption. Nehemiah was different. He was the kind of leader who set the example. He asks no more of his people than he was willing to give.
Take: Timothy was a young pastor of an influential church. It would have been easy to be intimidated. Paul encouraged his young friend by reminding him: Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (1 Timothy 4:12) In essence, don’t be swayed, be the example.
Task: Paul was aware of the pressure to conform to the world. He told the Romans that they weren’t to let the world squeeze them into its mold, but instead be transformed by the renewing of their minds (see Romans 12:1). Seek God’s guidance to be the kind of believer who sets the example of godliness.
Friday: Keeping Our Promise
Text: At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised. (Nehemiah 5:13b, NIV)
Teach: It is one thing to promise, but it means nothing without follow through. Nehemiah chastised the people for their behavior. It could have easily become a divisive matter. Instead this confrontation turned into a worship service. They agreed and broke into praise.
Take: Jesus reminded his followers of the former teaching that required the keeping of one’s vows. He was referring to Numbers 30:2, “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” Whether we keep our vows or not speaks to our integrity and our relationship with God.
Task: Jesus, and later his brother James, remind us that we need to let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Vows and promises are powerful things. Do not be hasty to make a vow or promise that you will not be able to keep. Consider some of the promises you have made and how God helps you keep them. Give thanks for his strengthening power that makes you able.
Thursday: Accepting Responsibility
Text: 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.” (Nehemiah 5:11-12, NIV)
Teach: Nehemiah was a man of action. He required that the lenders stop charging interest and return a portion of what was taken. This was major. Nehemiah didn’t just shame them for their actions, he called them to make things right. It wouldn’t solve all their problems, but it was a huge step in the right direction.
Take: We live in a time when very few people accept responsibility for their actions. We blame everyone else. The reaction of the people to comply with Nehemiah’s instruction was commendable and an excellent example for us today.
Task: Accepting responsibility when we’re wrong can cost us—just as it did the lenders in Nehemiah’s day. Ask God to help you bring what you do in line with what you believe even when the cost is great.