September 2

Nehemiah 2:17-18 (NIV) 17Then I said to them, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." 18I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me. They replied, "Let us start rebuilding." So they began this good work.

Nehemiah went in to serve the king his wine with a sad face. The king had never seen him like that, so he asked what was wrong. Nehemiah shot a quick prayer to God, and though he was afraid, he made the request the Lord had put on his heart. He could have lost his job and even his head, but the gracious hand of God was upon him. The king gave him orders to return and rebuild the wall, soldiers to protect him on the journey, and orders for timber from the forests. The king just wanted to know when he would be back. That shows you how trusted and liked Nehemiah was.

When Nehemiah arrived, he surveyed the damage. Then he gathered all the officials and told them why he had come and the testimony of how God had given him favor before the king. The people responded to the vision and wanted to get started.

God puts a burden on individuals' hearts for what He wants to do through men. He inspires leaders to get support. God is the one that gives favor. We will often fear our situation, but when we commit it to God in prayer, we will see God touch hearts. Finally, we need to share the testimony to encourage others to see God at work. Soon after an inspiring beginning, opposition often shows up. Leaders of surrounding people groups came to claim Nehemiah was rebelling against the king. It was an old trick that had some success in the past, but not this time. Nehemiah focused on what God wanted done, not the taunts of the enemy.

Consider: Nehemiah's testimony stirred the people to share the vision. Do you have a testimony to share of how God has been leading you?

September 2

1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, 18 (NIV) 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

This chapter is about the gifts of the Spirit. Various denominations and schools of doctrine interpret what is meant by each gift differently, but there is one thread running through the teaching on gifts that seems to be the main point. Whatever the gift, it is for the common good. It is to build up others in the body of Christ. We are dependent on one another just as a body is dependent on its other parts.

Whatever the gift, it is distributed as the Spirit sees fit. All gifts are from the same Spirit, so gifts are not going to be opposing other gifts. Together, the gifts are for a whole and healthy body. We can ask for the more beneficial gifts, but God is the One who arranges the parts as He desires. He sees the whole picture and knows who needs what gift in what fellowship.

We have run into a great deal of trouble in the modern church by insisting we all have the same gift. Some churches believe everyone has the gift of evangelism, while others believe everyone has the gift of tongues. There are a diversity of gifts distributed as God sees fit for the common good. Some of the less noticeable gifts are the most needed and therefore the most common. Just because your gift is not the showiest, don't think it is not as important to the body as the one who speaks forth the word. Without you, the body would be handicapped. Understanding how and why God distributes the gifts makes it important for us to find a place of fellowship where we are ministered to and can use our gift.

Consider: Have you found your place in the body and become a functioning member yourself? That is God's plan for you.