Lots of things are important, but only a few things are eternal. In fact, the only eternal things are God, people, and God’s Word. In a world of constantly shifting values and priorities, the only way to make sure we have our priorities straight as followers of Jesus is to keep our sights set on the eternal things…when we do THAT, amazing things begin to happen in all the other important things too! As Nehemiah continues his pursuit of restoration in Jerusalem, we see him zeroing in on the eternal things with amazing results.
1. People matter more than projects.
- Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking the project is more important than the people it will benefit. The Bible always emphasizes names; names reveal something integral to each person’s character. But also, when we run into long records of names like here in Nehemiah 7, we’re reminded that the most critical parts of any work of God are the people involved.
- The Bible “remembers” people––oftentimes, those are people we wouldn’t think to remember, like the number of Gentile women whose names are recorded in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Reflect on the ordering of your own priorities. Is there any person or group of people you have deprioritized under a project or task? Who do you need to “remember” and how?
2. People need the Word of God.
- Before the real work of restoration happened, Ezra read the Word of God to the people of Israel, while others explained the Word. Isaiah 55 says the Word of God “never returns void,” which means every time we read the Word of God it bears fruit in our lives. It might not be in the way we want it to be….it might be in the form of conviction of our own sin! That’s because God’s Word doesn’t accomplish the purposes we want it to––it accomplishes the purposes God wants it to.
- We can’t keep ourselves close to the heart of God without the help of spiritual disciplines. Even when we don’t “feel” like it, if we are faithful to open our Bibles, spend time alone with the Lord, spend time praying for others, God’s will will happen in our lives because we will be putting ourselves in the position to hear from him.
Are you consistently putting yourself in a position to hear from God? What are you going to do this week to incorporate the spiritual discipline of reading Scripture on a daily basis?
3. Simply respond to Jesus.
- The people didn’t stop at hearing the Word of God––they paid careful attention to it (Nehemiah 8:13), and they celebrated the work of God.
- God has already spoken to us with the testimony of Scripture, so our job is to respond by obeying his commands. When we do that, God promises to meet us where we’re at with grace for the ways in which we’re still learning and growing.
What is the response you need to make to Jesus today? What is he saying to you, and how do you need to obey him today? Ask yourself this question every day this week.
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?