September 3

Nehemiah 4:16-18 (NIV) 16From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

The enemies of Judah were furious over the wall being built. The remnant had worked hard, and the wall was half finished. The leaders of their enemies began to insult their work in range of their hearing to discourage them. When the enemy insults you, know that he is afraid of the work being done through you. About the time they became tired and discouraged from the insults and by the massive amount of rubble to be moved, the enemy began to plan an attack. The enemy often attacks when we are physically weary and discouraged. He watches for the weakest moment. But the Jews got wind of their plot.

Nehemiah had half of the men guard the other workers. The ones who hauled the materials had a weapon in one hand and worked with the other. The builders had their weapons handy. They devised a plan to rush to the aid of any place where the trumpet was blown. From the crack of dawn until it was too dark to work, they built and watched for the enemy. When the enemies found their plan was discovered, they gave up on the idea of an attack.

We are building too. We are laborers for the Kingdom of God. Some of us haul material and some of us stand guard, but all of us need to have our sword at our side. We need the Word of God in our hands ready for the battle. The enemy will try to discourage and insult you because he is the Accuser of the brethren. That is the time to take heart. He is attacking because he sees the good work done through you. If you are a laborer on the wall, get a brother to cover your back and watch for you in prayer. Listen for the trumpet call so that you can help your brothers that are being attacked. They may be working on a different section of the wall, but remember it is all a part of the same wall.

Encouragement: Before we know it, every stone will be in place and the New Jerusalem will descend.

September 3

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

This is the chapter on love. The previous chapter is about the gifts of the Spirit, and it ends with Paul declaring that he will show us a more excellent way. The verses above follow that declaration. Paul is saying that no matter how gifted we are, love is an absolutely essential ingredient.

If we have a gift of heavenly or earthly languages but do not have love, the words will be just a bunch of noise. It is the love of God through the gift that powerfully affects lives. When you share with people you meet, if love is not the motivating power, not just love for God but God's love for them, then your words will have little or no affect. It is the unconditional love of God for them that causes the words to grip their mind and heart.

If you have a gift to hear what God would have you speak to others, and understand the mysteries in God's word, and know a mountain of information about the work of God, it will be fruitless without love. Even if you have faith that can cause mountains to move, if love is not behind it, you really are nothing. Is this also telling us that there are those that have these great gifts that impress people, but their lives amount to nothing lasting?

There are many actions in the world that appear to be genuine goodness. Could a person actually give up their possessions and even their life and it not have the motivation of genuine love. Paul says, "Yes!" "Good" works gain us nothing if they are not done out of the love of God. The lesson is to seek to have our hearts overflowing with love so that the expression of our gifts will bear fruit that lasts.

Remember: Is the genuine unselfish love of God motivating you?