Have you ever prayed this prayer?
“Lord I’ll do whatever you want, except…”
Have you ever prayed “except” prayers?
“Lord You know I love You and I’ll do whatever Your will is, except please don’t make me move from my house and community I love so much. It’s just that I’m doing so much good for Your Kingdom here.”
If you have prayed a similar prayer then you are in good company. I have found myself praying in that manner, or more accurately I do not pray with abandon to the Lord because I fear He may have me leave my comfortable home and community and go serve Him somewhere else. How many Christians have refused public service because they don’t want to live in the state capital city or even worse, Washington D.C.!?
Sometimes serving the Lord means leaving your pleasant home and peaceful community for the hustle and bustle of the big city. So it was in Nehemiah’s time:
“Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 11:1-2)
Jerusalem needed to be repopulated and many times people did not want to leave their quaint countryside homes for the busy cities. In some cases during ancient times people were forcibly relocated to help maintain the city life; Herod Antipas used this technique to fill his cities. Nehemiah knew that Jerusalem needed to be repopulated but he wanted to lighten the burden on those who would come. First Century A.D. Jewish historian Josephus wrote in Antiquities of the Jews:
“But Nehemiah, seeing that the city had a small population, urged the priests and Levites to leave the countryside and move to the city and remain there, for he had prepared houses for them at his own expense.”
Nehemiah set the example for public service by making Jerusalem his home and providing homes for the leaders he knew were needed to lead the nation of Israel back to prominence. It takes a daring and dynamic leader to motivate a people to uproot their homes and go into public service. And what at first may seem a burden will always turn into a blessing when God’s people dwell among each other. I would venture to guess that there are many Christians who would hesitate for a moment or God forbid even refuse to board the Heaven Express should it arrive to whisk us off to glory. Perhaps that is why we will have to be “snatched away” when Jesus returns for His church before the tribulation. Matthew Henry put it this way:
“In all ages, men have preferred their own ease and advantage to the public good. Even the professors of religion too commonly seek their own, and not the things of Christ. Few have had such attachment to holy things and holy places, as to renounce pleasure for their sake. Yet surely, our souls should delight to dwell where holy persons and opportunities of spiritual improvement most abound. If we have not this love to the city of God, and to every thing that assists our communion with the Savior; how shall we be willing to depart hence; to be absent from the body, that we may be present with the Lord? To the carnal-minded, the perfect holiness of the New Jerusalem would be still harder to bear than the holiness of God’s church on earth. Let us seek first the favor of God, and His glory; let us study to be patient, contented, and useful in our several stations, and wait, with cheerful hope, for admission into the holy city of God.”
I cannot describe how much Pastor Henry’s words challenge me. Am I ready to truly serve my King Jesus? Can I say “no matter where” instead of “except” when I seek the Lord’s will for my life? Do I approach godly service with a carnal mind or a cheerful hope?
Go back and read all of Nehemiah 11.
Those are not just a bunch of ancient, hard-to-pronounce names.
Those were people; just like you and me.
They left their homes.
Now imagine reading your name among those.
Are you ready “to be patient, contented, and useful” in your appointed station?
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