Courage To Arise And Build

Nehemiah is one of my favorite stories to read about in the scriptures. Nehemiah got things done. Nehemiah had a plan and vision. Nehemiah was a great leader. Nehemiah was a man of God.

We can go on and on about these characteristics he had. Today, I want to consider another great quality Nehemiah had.

Nehemiah had great COURAGE.

In Nehemiah 1:1-4, he received terrible news. But the news he received didn’t crush his spirit. He indeed felt terrible. But he cried out to God. He turned to God. While he was in great pain hearing the news, it didn’t crush him. Rather, he had the courage to trust in God and continue to find a way to make a difference.

We need to have the courage to continue and to find ways to make a difference. Nehemiah could have received the news of his family and brethren, cried, and then continued on with his work. But he didn’t. He had the courage to arise and build. This is the mindset we must have.

But that’s not all. Nehemiah had the courage to speak. In Nehemiah 2:1-5, we find Nehemiah making a great request to King Artaxerxes. This took a lot of courage. Nehemiah had a lot riding on the line. Yet Nehemiah had the courage to open his mouth. This may not seem to be like a big deal, but it is. When it comes to arising and building, we will have to open our mouth.

We will need to open our mouth to help encourage our spouse and our children.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth when things need to be corrected.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth and apologize when we are wrong.

I’m sure there are other examples we could consider. The point? We need to have the courage to open our mouth like Nehemiah. We will have to override the fear of rejection, difficulties, etc. Nehemiah had the courage to ask the king. He got a YES!

Finally, we are going to need the courage to finish. At times, it can be easy to arise and build. People do this every New Year. People get excited. They listen to podcasts. They read blogs. They are ready for growth. But. They. Don’t. Finish.

I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. This is where we will need to have courage. The courage to see something through even when it gets hard. That’s what Nehemiah did. He faced opposition, Nehemiah 4:1.  But he had the courage to finish building the wall. Let’s strive to have the courage to arise and build. Let’s go.

King David: A Real Man

I love King David.  He did so much in his life.  David can teach us many valuable lessons.  He’s also a great reminder about what it means to be a man.  There’s much confusion in our society about the role of men.  What can we learn from David?

    1. David loved the Lord.  That’s what real men will do.  Real men will submit to the true and living God.  David certainly did.  He had faith in God.  He had a relationship with the creator of all things.
    2. David wasn’t afraid to show his emotions.  People today think that a man is a wimp if he shows emotions.  I say that’s silly.  Jesus wept.  David wept.  Read the book of Genesis and see how many times Joseph cried.  Real men have no problem showing their emotions.  David poured his heart out to God, Psalm 32, Psalm 9.
    3. David was a leader.  He solved problems (like defeating Goliath).  He took action when it was needed.  It takes courage to take action.  That’s what we must do.
    4. David was skilled at many things.  He was a musician, a king, a warrior, and tended to the animals.  As men, we need to have a variety of skills.  We need to be knowledgeable when it comes to how things work.
    5. David was not perfect.  However, he was able to own up to his mistakes.  Many (including myself) think about his adultery, his poor decision of numbering the people, and a list of other sins we could mention.  Yet we often miss the fact that David repented of his sinful behavior, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.  That takes courage.
    6. David was a great friend to Jonathan.  Their relationship would make men today uncomfortable.  They loved one another, 1 Samuel 18:1.  Shame on people who try to change their close friendship and make it some sexual type of relationship.  As men, we need to learn how to be close to one another.
    7. David was a student of God’s word.  He had to make a copy of the Law for himself, Deuteronomy 17:18-20.  He spent time regularly in God’s word.

David was a MAN.  Both young and vintage men need to be reminded of him and learn from him.  Let’s be MEN.

Daniel – For You Have Strengthened Me

And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.” Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
(Daniel 10:16-19)

We’ve already looked at the fact that the visions that Daniel and others saw had an exhausting effect upon them. “By reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.” God’s express purpose is to put these men into a position where they will need both strength and wisdom from him. Daniel will need strength to recover from what he just experienced. He will also need wisdom even to begin to wrap his mind around it and understand it.

Who put Daniel into that condition? God. Who will bring strength back to him? God. This is a consistent pattern throughout Scripture. Who led the Israelites out of Egypt? God. Who brought them right up to the Red Sea so that they would be trapped on one side by the water and on the other side by the pursuing Egyptians? God. Who allowed the Israelites to hunger in the wilderness? God. Who then fed them? God.

What is Daniel experiencing of which we all need reminding? That strength comes from God. The words of this heavenly being and his warm touch upon Daniel brought him strength. Daniel then asked for more of it!

And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Let’s ask for more of it today, too.

Daniel – Men Who Didn’t Cower

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
(Daniel 3:28)

It’s not just a little kids’ story about 3 Jews and a Fiery Furnace. What we see here is the power of faith in God and the courage it gives men and women to stand in the face of overwhelming persecution.

What we see here is a King who was filled with rage and fury because people under him dared to stand and oppose his orders. He wasn’t used to that. Everyone cowered and whimpered and caved in to his every demand. That’s because everyone knew the penalty of going against the King. So when these three men stood and refused to bow down to the King’s golden image, he was furious. In fact the Bible tells us in Daniel 3 that he was so angry that he had the furnace heated 7 times its normal heat. His anger led to the death of the men who were commanded to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace.

This is how those in love with themselves and their power react when others go against them. They can’t handle it. They are used to everyone bowing down and being “Yes-men.” When someone dares bring up an opposing idea, or stands up and says, “No,” then that power hungry man goes into a full out rage. The goal then becomes to simply destroy the opposition and stamp out any hint of disloyalty.

We see in this in college campuses, churches, board rooms, and in government. There are those who cannot “tolerate” someone with an opposing view, even while they may be making a claim to be tolerant and accepting. But how do they (we) respond when someone stands up and questions the dear leader? If you see a Nebuchadnezzar response then you can understand what kind of leader you are dealing with.

But be encouraged by men like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, because eventually (with God’s mighty hand of help) they gained the respect and admiration of King Nebuchadnezzar. He saw, as the above verse says, that they “yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” Granted, not every time we make a stand will we gain the respect of those who oppose God’s ways, but many will see your courage and conviction and will marvel at such faith. Nebuchadnezzar did. He went from trying to execute them to promoting them!

May God give us the courage and conviction of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Can you be courageous and afraid at the same time?

Today, please read this section from Judges 6. God called Gideon to deliver the oppressed Israelites from the mighty and powerful Midianites. Gideon was a man of great faith, but he also needed to have reassurance from God on multiple occasions. He also showed great courage, but at the same time he was very afraid. Is that possible – to be afraid and courageous at the same time?

Gideon showed us by his example that he had fear, but his courage and faith carried him past that fear. God called Gideon to destroy his father’s idols…think about that. You are going after a man’s religion, and not just any man, you are directly confronting the idols of your father. This was necessary for Gideon to do if he was going to lead the people of Israel against the Midianites.

Read the following excerpt from Judges 6:

Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
(Judges 6:24-32)

Men, please meditate upon this today. We have all kinds of fears, but that does not mean we lack faith or courage. It is what we do in the face of our fears that shows our faith and courage. Take a page today out of the life of Gideon. Face the fears; confront them in faith. Remember God is with you supporting you just like He was with Gideon.