September 5

Nehemiah 6:2-3 (NIV) 2Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: "Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono." But they were scheming to harm me; 3so I sent messengers to them with this reply: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?"

The gaps in the wall around Jerusalem were filled, and the work was nearing completion. The workers were worn out, but they had to still hang the gates. The enemies tried one last desperate attempt to stop them. If they could pull the leader away from the city, they could kill him. Then they stood a much better chance of attacking the city and reopening the walls. After four invitations failed, they tried treachery. They sent an unsealed letter that declared that Nehemiah intended to make himself a king and revolt against Persia. They thought for sure that Nehemiah would come defend himself, but Nehemiah saw through their schemes. Finally they hired prophets to lie and counselors to cause Nehemiah to fear. Remember that the hand of God is upon Nehemiah. That makes all the difference.

Those in leadership in your church are often tempted when the work is nearing completion. It is then that they are most tempted with pride, most vulnerable to invitations from the enemy. Lies are just another tactic of the enemy to discourage and defeat the leader. The Devil is the father of lies. When all else fails, the enemy will inspire those from within to cause you to fear or invite you to sin. Pray for your leaders, especially when the work is going well. Pray that the hand of God be upon them to give them discernment. Pray that they will see through the plans of the enemy and not yield. Pray that they will see the great work they are doing and refuse to "come down". Encourage them to stick it out until God's work is completed.

Remember to pray for "the workers" that their hands will be strengthened.

September 5

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

This could be the motto of chaplains and many other pastoral ministries, but it is for all Christians. Paul calls God the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Here is a wonderful difference between Christianity and most other faiths. The God of the Bible is compassionate. The gods of many other faiths are like those in Paul's world, dispassionate and unconcerned. They merely demand obedience, submission, and worship. Our God is loving and compassionate. His desire for our submission comes from his compassion and love. To submit to Him is to find the best path for our lives.

He comforts us in all our troubles. No matter what we are enduring, we find that our Savior is there to encourage and direct us. Even when we are suffering because of our own sin, we find that He is there to comfort and guide us to victory. He encourages us to share that comfort with others who are in trouble. We take the comfort God has given us and share it with the world. The verse that He used to encourage you, use to encourage others. That insight that blessed your soul, use to bless another person. God sovereignly arranges you to meet people who are going through things like you have experienced.

We suffer for being Christians, for bearing his name, because our obedience causes us loss and abuse from the world. That is an overflow of the sufferings of Christ. We share in his sufferings because we endure things we would not endure if we were not obedient to Him. In the same way, we share the comfort we receive by being in Him. It is an overflow from the God of all comfort in our lives.

Remember: Watch for opportunities to let His comfort to you overflow into the lives of those He brings into your life.