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Connect the Testaments

June 21: Position, Prayer, and Strategy
Nehemiah 1:1–3:32; 1 John 4:13–15; Psalm 108:1–13
Trying to make a difference in the world can be disheartening; it’s easy to feel like merely a drop in the bucket.
When Nehemiah first heard about the suffering of His people, he could have been discouraged. When he learned that the returned exiles were “in great trouble and shame,” living in a city with no walls (Neh 1:3), he could have said, “I’d love to help, but what can I do from this far away?” Instead, he decided to take action (Neh 1:3), and he did so thoughtfully. Rather than making a rash decision, he prayed (Neh 1:4–8). He then volunteered to be the one to help God’s people (Neh 1:9–11), even though doing so meant risking his life.
As the cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah recognized his unique place of influence and acted upon it (Neh 2:1–3). He chose to appear saddened before the most powerful man in the world by hanging his head. His actions could have been perceived as a sign of disrespect, which was punishable by severe beatings and even death. But God protected Nehemiah, and the king honored his request (Neh 2:4–6).
Nehemiah’s initial actions show his character, but his later actions show his leadership. He moved from being a man of influence to a man of strategy. Immediately upon arriving in the city, Nehemiah inspected the city walls, found the craftsman, and began his work (Neh 2:11–3:32). He realized the urgency of his task; his people needed this wall to survive against the surrounding nations.
Nehemiah’s story offers an example of identifying providence, responding to the pain of others through prayer, and acting strategically. It’s a lesson in what it means to be a leader who follows God’s leadership. Nehemiah stands as an example of one who takes action that is well-researched, strategic, and prayerful.
What are some ways you are providentially positioned to do God’s work? How have you led while following His leadership?
John D. Barry


 Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.

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