Rise Up and Build

Nehemiah 2:17-20
 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? 20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
I have heard the phrase “rise up” a lot over the last few years. Many times it is attached to a determination to not allow circumstances to keep a person down. The Atlanta Falcons football team adopted this as a motivational slogan. It is attached to the battle against social injustice, racism and oppression. The modern use of this term exudes self-determination, self-reliance and (in the end) a feeling of being self-made.
Nehemiah looked at the expectant faces of the man who had followed him on his midnight ride through Jerusalem. He saw the faces of men who had been oppressed. But that was not his focus. He saw the doubt and defeat in their eyes, but that was not what moved him. He saw the disdain and cynicism in a couple of faces, but those did not distract him. His eyes were on his God and the task he had been called to do. He had let them follow him so that they would see what he saw and feel what he felt. Then he turned their focus on God! The condition of the city moved him, but it was his God that lit the fire in his heart. The passion for His holiness and glory among the people. When the men saw this they were moved as well with the same desire shown by their leader and said, “Let us Rise Up and Build!”
What is your focus? There are needs all around us, true. The truth is that until the return of our Lord there always will be. Is it wrong to reach out to the homeless and the hurting? Is it wrong to want to feed the hungry and clothe those with nothing? Is it wrong to stand against racism and oppression? No, of course not – as long as our focus is right! If we are doing it simply for the goal of relieving the suffering in others lives – then the results will be short lived. But if our eyes are on Christ – on sharing His love and grace – showing them the power of Christ to transform and build from the ruins of a broken life – then the results will last for all eternity.
Today as we Refocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us turn our eyes to Christ. He is the only source of true peace and only through His grace can a broken life be redeemed. Don’t overlook the needs, but as we rise up to build up others let us always be pointing up to Christ!


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