Focal Point

But the earlier governors–those preceding me–placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Nehemiah 5:15 (NLT)

Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.
Nehemiah 5:16(NIV)

This verse is written after Nehemiah has begun the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and gates, that God placed on his heart.(Nehemiah2:12)  As cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah gained favor and his requests were granted to the point of fulfillment. Now he is Governor and is working on the wall.

In Nehemiah 3  we see the listing of people and their roles in rebuilding the gates or walls of Jerusalem. You also see who is working next to who.

Verse 16 is a response to what we read about how other governors have acquired land and wealth, and then “lorded it over the people.” in Verse 15. Nehemiah is saying that he devoted himself to his work, rather than getting distracted by wealth or being greedy like the previous governors. He did not like how those governors had been a burden or treated the people, he saw it as a lack of respect for God. Some translations say Nehemiah didn’t act like the other governors because of his “fear of God” (ESV).

Wow. Character.It is disrespectful to God to disrespect people. People are the most important priority to God and if we as leaders cannot control ourselves with how we treat others, or ourselves, then we are disrespecting God. There is thus, a lack of reverence for God due to our lack of reverence for His creation.

It is easy to say that God is first in my life, but if there is greed or pride or showing off,  or promoting self over others… it is a distraction from putting your hand to the mill … or rather, getting the mission done! Do not become distracted and make other things in life more important in your own mind.

Later in the day, after writing the above post, I was speaking with a close friend and she shared how a pastor had inspired her when he had spoken of how God should be seen all over our day. Having kids and being married, and wanting nice things is- all fine …but our focal point should be God and painting that across our day!

Dear Lord, keep me humble in heart and mind, and my eyes on You. I desire to show you respect through my daily actions and words to those around me.  You are my example of love, peace, grace, and joy.  May my focus be on being a better vessel for you. Keep me from being distracted, and thank you for helping me to get Our work done. Give me vision Lord, open up my mind to see more than I already do, yours, 

Rest is Holy

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
Genesis 2:1-2 (NIV)

We all know what happens next … man is made.

Rest. Holy.

Completion… then rest…then new beginnings on Day 8. 

Rest is a powerful place … the place of stillness before new things are done or put into action. Wow. Peace. Today I was reminded of the understanding that Peace is a Force. Rest is a force too … it is so easy to get caught up in doing lots of things and rushing around and getting ‘busy’. Too busy to rest, and be in His presence…the place where …there is such powerful stillness. Powerful…because it is here …the silence before the storm….before new things are birthed…when you are immersed in the spirit…

rest is also a place where we can be…should be….at any given moment. A place of communing with the Holy Spirit.

Intentional resting in Him. Peacefulness. Grace. Mercy. Powerful presence ….of being with Him.

A place of looking back and experiencing completion … and at the same time looking forward to the ‘unknown’….the possibilities and potentials of the future..such peace in that stillness..yet…also fervor…. desire… passion … increased intensity … drive… desire for more.

Lord, I desire to rest in Your presence, always. To taste and see Your goodness, to know that You know everything that is going on in my life, and to experience the peace of resting with You. Wash over me, Lord. Be with me. Thank you for Your beautiful loving presence.

Escape!

When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”
Genesis 19:17 (NLT)
 

Context: If you read around this verse in Genesis 19, you might recognize the story of Lot and his wife being rescued from Sodom just before G’d destroys the city. G’d has sent the angels to destroy the city (Genesis 19:13), and after having a horrifying night (I won’t go into that .. but check it out ;)) the angels asked Lot if he had any other family, and told him to hurry and leave! Lot’s son-in-law didn’t believe them. Can you imagine the urgency of the situation?! It is so … real .. Remember where Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt … yes … if only she had run and not looked back... That is THIS Story.

The verse spoke to me about leaving behind a place of pain, when you have healed and dealt with the pain. So, for example … you break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, and you know that the relationship is not what you want for marriage. (Personally I think we should not get too far … and should do the research friendship phase effectively so we don’t move into messy relationships.) However, if you find yourself leaving a relationship that you don’t want to continue with, don’t go back into it. Be sure. Heal. Make amends in your heart. Break any soul ties. And get out of there … don’t look back.

On another angle, maybe you were hurt deeply by a person 10 or 15 years prior, but you never forgave them. You still carry the pain and it still affects you. These types of situations require deep healing. Once healing is done, then you can let go of it. Give it to Jesus and move on with your life – don’t go dwell in that valley, that low emotional place. Just like the verse says, Run for your life. Don’t look back or stop in the valley. Escape to the mountains.

This morning I came across the following quote just after I read and prayed about the verse above. “Let go of the thoughts that don’t make you strong.” Wow. Thought life. What is your thought life like? Are you dwelling in the valley? Or are you thinking up and onward, to the mountain top – the place where you are seeing miracles and praising and jumping for joy! When you are standing on the mountaintop – what you see is more mountain tops! More awesome and exciting things that God has for you!

Yes, everyone goes through valleys … and some valleys aren’t because we choose to be there – some valleys are because of other people’s choices or the situations we find ourselves in. But let us do what we can to keep peace within… the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7):

7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:7-9 (NLT)

Thought Life

That is my prayer today: God, that Your heavenly peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, would guard my heart and my mind. Strengthen me, Lord, that even in the valley I will focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely in Your sight. Amen.