A daily devotion for August 4th
9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king's letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me (Nehemiah 2:9b).
Nehemiah not only came with a full military escort, but also it is apparent from this account that he came with the full authority of the throne of Persia behind him. If you set out to change something in your life for the better, you have the full authority of the throne of God behind you; you may proceed with full confidence that the unseen, but real, power of God is backing you up!
Nehemiah met two very troublesome enemies when he got there: Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. A Horonite was a devotee of the god Horon, a local deity of Palestine. This indicates Sanballat was a pagan. Tobiah was a citizen of Ammon, which was the country that we now call Jordan. Ammon was one of the tribes descended from Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and thus related to Israel, but still an enemy.
This situation sounds very much like normal Christianity. I have always enjoyed the definition of a Christian as one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble! It is God's way to let us face troublesome difficulties. But He also has unknown provisions waiting for us, as we will see in Nehemiah's case.
I shall never forget once sitting at lunch with Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and hearing from his own lips the story of how the Wycliffe organization came into Mexico. This was back in the 1920s at a time when Mexico was very sensitive to anything religious. The Mexican people had just thrown off the shackles of the church, and they were very opposed to public preaching or the building up of churches. Townsend went to a tiny Indian village up in the mountains and began to work there, translating the Scriptures into their language. Although he could do no preaching, he found that he could help the people. Their economy was suffering because they had poor crops, and he taught them how to dam up a stream and divert the water to their fields. He also taught them certain industries they could establish right there in the village. Soon word of the changes there got back to Lazaro Cardenas, who had just been elected president of Mexico. One day the president drove out in his limousine to the Indian village, and, when Townsend saw the presidential limousine, he went up to it to greet the president and introduce himself. The president said,
You're the very man I came to see. He invited Townsend to come to the capital, and they became close friends. He opened a wide door to the entire work of Wycliffe Translators, and later presidents continued that support.
In many wonderful ways God demonstrates that He can work in our lives! This is what Nehemiah relied upon. If you are struggling with some habit, some attitude of mind or heart that has possessed you, limited you, and made you difficult to live with, and you want to be free from it, you can expect God to help, often in ways that you cannot anticipate.
Lord, teach me to be open and aware of the different ways You are looking out for me and providing for me. May I never refuse an offer of help that comes from You.
Life Application: Do we believe that God works in our lives? Do we rely on His power and provision given to us through Jesus to help us in every situation?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.