The Church – not a local expression of it but the universal one true Church – must lock arms and get to work together. We must move forward in both sharing our faith and expressing our faith in ever-increasingly hostile environments.
Have you ever been afraid? Have you ever feared doing something? I’m not talking abut a fear of heights or a fear of swimming with crocodiles. No, I’m talking abut a fear of answering a call God has on your life. Perhaps that call involves moving somewhere you’re not familiar with or taking a job that you feel you don’t fully understand. You know what I’m talking about: fear of the unknown.
But what about your faith? Shouldn’t that override your fear? Well, yes it should. But sometimes engaging our faith in a time of fear is difficult. We don’t know what that looks like so we often times just give in to fear and wait longer than we should. So what doe it look like when my fear of the unknown (whether it is a job, a call, or where I live or what I do) intersects with my faith in an all-knowing, all-good God? Hmmmm.
Fear and Faith
I’m beginning a series of devotionals from the book of Nehemiah. I’ve wanted to do this for some time but kept putting it off for some reason. I’ll blame it on the winter blues. With the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere) fast approaching, I figured I’d better get off my you-know-what and get to writing this devotion. So beginning Monday March 23, 2015, I will begin publishing my devotions from Nehemiah. I hope you profit from my observations. This week I’m focusing on introducing you to the book of Nehemiah and the series of devotionals coming up in the next few weeks and months.
The book of Nehemiah is actually titled Ezra-Nehemiah in the Hebrew canon. This is because the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are seen as one in the Hebrew canon. They were first divided in 1448 when a Hebrew manuscript first divided them. Since then that division has been the norm.
Nehemiah means “YHWH comforts” and was authored by – you guessed it – Nehemiah! Now there is the possibility that another chronicler worked on this book as well but the majority of the writing belongs to Nehemiah since the vast majority of Nehemiah is in the first person. Ezra appears to have combined his work with Nehemiah’s. Another possibility is the chronicler may have combined Ezra and Nehemiah into one work at a later (but not much later) date. Speaking of dates, the date of writing for Nehemiah is sometime around 433 – 400 BC.
From reading the book of Nehemiah, one comes away with multiple purposes for the book. Among these purposes is the historical one of providing a record of the reconstruction of the destroyed city of Jerusalem to the spiritual one of emphasizing of covenant renewal in the restored community in Jerusalem. While there are more purposes we can find in the book of Nehemiah, I want to focus on these two for various reasons.
The first reason is to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to His word. We’ll see this early in Nehemiah when Nehemiah recalls the promise of God to restore His people to the Promised Land. The second reason is to demonstrate that even through severe trials God’s plan is always good regardless of the obstacles in the way. The third reason I want to focus on the above two purposes of Nehemiah is because of thir direct application to us today. We need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the past as we navigate the treacherous waters of the present and future.
I think the title of this series gives away my application of this book: what happens when my fear collides with my faith. Throughout the individual devotions I hope to provide a practical application to what we have just learned. I hope those applications will provide you with encouragement to face the ever increasing difficulties of life in general.
As we stand on and for our faith, we must realize that opposition to us and our faith is mounting. We are facing difficulties now and will continue to face them in the future. The Church – not a local expression of it but the universal one true Church – must lock arms and get to work together. We must move forward in both sharing our faith and expressing our faith in ever-increasingly hostile environments.
I hope you enjoy this series. But more importantly I hope you both profit from and are encouraged by the observation I make. To God be all the glory!