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We Did It! But God Did It!

The Scripture Reading today is Nehemiah 6:15-16 & 7:1-2.

Over the last few lessons, we have watched Nehemiah take on the challenge of rebuilding the wall of “old” Jerusalem according to a burden God placed on his heart. He has had opposition both from the neighboring city “kings,” and even his own people, who viewed the project, as we might say, “Nehemiah’s own pet project.”

However, since God was with him, and the people, despite personal hardship, for the most part, kept on laboring, and the wall was completed in fifty-two days labor. Elul is equivalent to our August-September time frame. The Jews had worked between the planting and harvesting of the spring crops season, minimizing the heavy work periods of spring planting and fall harvest. God is gracious to His people and is not a hard task-master. He provides the time necessary to get His work done.

The key verse in our passage is 6:16. “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost self-confidence, because they realized the work was done with the help of God.” God had overseen the project, all the way back to giving Nehemiah a burden back in Susa, in chapter 1. Now the project was done and ready to be a blessing to God’s people.

This is not just a point of curiosity in history. God helps us accomplish things today which brings Him glory. I look around me and I see Veterans Chapel. When the Government closed a number of posts around the country, some chapel communities began to beg the government about keeping a given chapel open to the retiree population. About a dozen chapels were left open. Some were on larger training posts which could be staffed by a chaplain team. Most struggled to exist. Many opposed the idea for any number of reasons. But God also provided leaders in the military who favored the idea. The congregation did their part in lobbying for the idea, or working to keep the property up. In Indianapolis, we even got the building moved on to the USARC property. Some thought it would never happen. But it did. About a half dozen chapels were saved in Reserve or National Guard posts. Another four or five were left opened under military oversight as civilian ministers or retired chaplains carried on the ministry.

Opposition from both inside and outside worked against the chapels remaining open. But people worked and prayed, and somehow this chapel remains as the only retiree chapel in the entire US military. Last physical year the US Army declared all World War II vintage chapels in working condition be declared a Historic Building of the UA Army. God has done it, but also we did it!

I thing the lesson is, God will do His work, but He uses His people and even the non-believers to accomplish His work.

Nehemiah had enemies without trying to stop his wall building project. There were also people in the inside who were nay-sayers. Some had personal gain to be made for that opinion, many were just hesitant to step out and see God use them. But God ultimately gave them the wall they worked for.

According to Persian History, this region of the Persian Empire was obnoxious to the Empire. They were too small, even if they got united, to make any overt action against Persia, but were still troublesome. When Artaxerxes built a wall around Jerusalem and elevated its “king” to Governor of the sub-providence, the troubles were smoothed over.

God’s method for each believer is to use us as part of His overall plan to accomplish great things for God. We see this in our story in Nehemiah today and even in the story of Veterans Memorial Chapel. What does He have in mind for you to accomplish?

God Bless you,

CH Jim Odell

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