November 29, 2014
READ: Nehemiah 2:1-9
So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified (v.2).
Nehemiah was grieved at the report of the dire state of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:3). He shared God’s heart for the holy city, but could do nothing about it in his position as a cupbearer for the king in distant Susa. Then his opportunity to make a difference came in a most unexpected way: by risking his life in making a request of the king (vv.4-5). A cupbearer wasn’t even permitted to express unhappiness on his face, let alone describe his grief because of the state of his distant home. To say anything was to court death. But Nehemiah did.
God often places His servants in life-threatening positions. For instance consider Queen Esther’s life-threatening risk (Esther 4:11). Gideon went into battle with just 300 men against a vast army (Judges 7:7). Surely the boy David had no chance against the giant Goliath! (1 Samuel 17:4,33). Time and again those chosen by God were placed in seemingly impossible situations, and God told them (as He commanded Joshua), “Be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:9).
The exemplary responses of the heroes of the faith prove to be a challenging lesson for all of us. Esther said, “Though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die” (Esther 4:16). David had such great trust in his God that he rebuked Goliath as they met on the battlefield, telling Him, “Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head” (1 Samuel 17:46).
God still might ask you today to risk it all for Him, but the wonderful promise is that He will accomplish the task. He will also equip you with the courage you need to stand. “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). —Russell Fralick
365-day plan› Ephesians 1:3-23
Read Ephesians 6:10-18. When God commands us to be strong, He equips us with the weapons we need!
What difficult thing is God calling you to do? How can courage—based in your faith in God and His Word—provide what you need to move forward?